Page:Problems of Empire.djvu/14

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a fiscal policy for the nation at large which is now engaging attention in this country, Mr. Brassey has modified his Free Trade views. His earlier speeches[1] indicate an anticipation that the circumstances of national life might compel consideration of a change of trade policy, though such a change might not be to the advantage of the United Kingdom. He now believes that such a change has become necessary, not only on Imperial grounds, but also in the interests of the United Kingdom. That the burden of defending the Empire is becoming too heavy for the taxpayers of the mother country alone is an argument constantly used by Mr. Brassey in these pages. He has, after many years of thought and study, arrived at the conclusion that it is only through some form of commercial federation that the Colonies will be induced to relieve the mother country of a share of the burdens which are beginning to weigh heavily on her shoulders.

On the soundness of this conclusion I do not wish to express an opinion. There are many others like myself who still hold that, independently of the fiscal questions which now chiefly occupy people's thoughts, there are imperative reasons for welding the Empire more closely together. Whatever be the result of the present debate, those issues remain.

Meanwhile, I welcome this opportunity to record my conviction, formed from much study of national problems and close observation of public opinion at home and abroad, that no political party can hope to command the support of the British people at large which does not make a broad Imperial policy, based on

  1. Cf. pp. 16 and 38.