asked the Lord Privy Seal whether at the Imperial War Conference of 1917 Lord Long either gave or supported any pledge that the Canadian cattle embargo would be removed; and whether he was speaking for the then Government?
If the hon. and gallant Member will refer to Command Paper 8(173 of 1917, he will see the exact words used by my Noble Friend at the Imperial Conference of 1917. As far as I know, there had been no previous Cabinet decision, and Lord Long said that he spoke for himself, as his name had been brought into the discussion. Lord Ernie was of course the Minister of Agriculture at that time.
Did not Lord Long say the position was that the restriction was to be removed and that the Board of Agriculture would take the necessary steps to do so, and, if so, was that a pledge or was it not?
As to the first part of the question, I should not like, from memory, to affirm or dissent. If the hon. and gallant Member is quoting, I am obliged to him for the information which he has imparted. I do not put any interpretation upon it; if the hon. and gallant Member desires to put an interpretation upon it, no doubt he is competent to do so.
Is the Government any more competent to give a pledge in this matter, without the sanction of the House, than in the case of a preference?
The Government is competent to pledge itself; its powers to give effect to the promises it makes are dependent on the support which it receives.