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Friday, 15 September 1911

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - The honorable senator has raised a legal question, and I do not, of course, give my own opinion in reply to it. I am advised that the proclamation would be a general proclamation exempting the vessel, and would not bring it under the conditions laid down for a licensed ship. My recollection of the matter is that this clause is necessary in connexion with the most favoured nation clauses in a number of existing treaties. By these treaties, the British Government undertake to give equal rights to countries that reciprocate. There are very few of these treaties now in existence that bind the Dominions, but there are some ; and at the recent Conference we brought forward the question, and secured an undertaking from the British Government that they would enter into negotiations with the countries with which such treaties still exist, and endeavour to secure for the Dominions the same rights as they have now, so that we may not be brought under their provisions unless we so desire.

Senator Millen - The right of independent action.

Senator PEARCE - Just so. But, until these treaties are denounced, we, as a part of the British Empire, are bound by them. This particular clause was introduced, therefore, in order to enable usto deal with the ships of countries with which such treaties had been made.

Senator Millen - It is more the effect of the clause that I question.

Senator PEARCE - I think the effect of the clause will be as Senator Millen indicated, and that a foreign vessel that is not required to be licensed will not be subject to the conditions which apply to licensed ships.

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