Imperial Conferences

Imperial Conferences

J. B. M. Hertzog (Union of South Africa),
W.T. Cosgrave (Irish Free State). Seated: Stanley Baldwin (United Kingdom), King George V, William Lyon Mackenzie King (Canada).]

Imperial Conferences (Colonial Conferences before 1911) were gatherings of British Empire government leaders in London in 1887, 1897, 1902, 1907, 1911, 1921, 1923, 1926, 1930 and 1937. In 1894, a Colonial Conference was held at Ottawa, Canada dealing mostly with matters of communications. The 1907 conference changed the name of future meetings to Imperial Conferences and agreed that the meetings should henceforth be regular rather than taking place while overseas statesmen were visiting London for royal occasions (jubilees, coronations).

The conferences were a key forum for Dominion governments to assert the desire for removing the remaining vestiges of their colonial status. The conference of 1926, agreed the Balfour Declaration, which acknowledged that the Dominions would henceforth rank as equals to the United Kingdom, as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The conference of 1930 decided to abolish the legislative supremacy of the British Parliament as it was expressed through the Colonial Laws Validity Act and other Imperial Acts, and recommended a declaratory enactment of the United Kingdom Parliament, passed with the consent of the Dominions, although some Dominions did not ratify the Statute until some years afterwards. The Statute of Westminster 1931 was enacted by the Imperial Parliament in pursuance of that recommendation.

The 1932 British Empire Economic Conference held in Ottawa discussed the Great Depression.

After World War II, with the transformation of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations, Imperial Conferences were replaced by biennial Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conferences, renamed Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings in 1971

ee also

*Imperial War Cabinet
*First Colonial Conference
*Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

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