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Official Designation

Volume 464: debated on Monday 2 May 1949

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asked the Prime Minister what steps he took to secure the agreement of His Majesty's Governments in other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire to the progressive substitution in official usage of the term "Commonwealth," for the term "Empire"; and how far it is the intention of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to put an end to the official use of the expression "British Empire."

Terminology, if it is to be useful, keeps step with developments without becoming rigid or doctrinaire. All constitutional developments in the Commonwealth, the British Commonwealth, or the British Empire—1 use the three terms deliberately—have been the subject of consultation between His Majesty's Governments, and there has been no agreement to adopt or to exclude the use of any one of these terms, nor any decision on the part of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to do so.

Will the right hon. Gentleman, being aware, as he is, that the use of the words "British Empire" is held in high respect throughout the British Empire by a great many people, see to it that they are not by daily use pushed out of the picture, and other phraseology adopted in their place?

The hon. Member knows that opinions differ in different parts of the British Empire and Commonwealth on this matter, and I think it better to allow people to use the expression they like best.

If, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, His Majesty's Government have taken no decision, why do they take every opportunity to cut out the words "British" and "Empire"?