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The Colonial Conference of 1902 followed the conclusion of the Boer War and was held on the occasion of the coronation of Edward VII. As with the previous conference, it was called by Secretary of State for the Colonies Joseph Chamberlain who opened it on 30 June 1902.[1]

1902 Colonial Conference
1902 Colonial Conference.jpg
Front row left-right: Sir Robert Bond (Premier of the Newfoundland Colony), Richard Seddon (Prime Minister of New Zealand), Sir Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister of Canada), Joseph Chamberlain (Secretary of State for the Colonies (Chairman)), Sir Edmund Barton (Prime Minister of Australia), Sir Albert Henry Hime (Prime Minister of Natal), Thomas Fuller (Agent-General for Cape Colony)
Dates30 June–11 August 1902
CitiesUnited Kingdom London, United Kingdom
Heads of Government7
ChairJoseph Chamberlain
(Secretary of State for the Colonies)
Follows1897 Colonial Conference
Precedes1907 Imperial Conference
Key points
Imperial defence, imperial council, customs union, Imperial Preference

Chamberlain used the occasion to resubmit his earlier proposals made at the 1897 Colonial Conference for an Imperial Council made up of colonial representatives which would act as a quasi-Imperial Parliament and make decisions for the colonies on imperial policy. This proposal, along with Chamberlain's idea for a unified imperial defence scheme, was rejected by most of the colonial prime ministers. While New Zealand proposed that each colony provide a special force for imperial defence in the case of war, Canada and Australia both believed this idea undermined self-government.[2]

Chamberlain also proposed an imperial economic union or customs union with free trade within the empire and tariffs against goods from outside of it. The colonies, however, passed a resolution rejecting imperial free trade. A resolution in favour of imperial preference as proposed by Canada was approved and Chamberlain agreed to bring the idea to the British government. However, this plan was not implemented until the British Empire Economic Conference in 1932.[2]


The conference was hosted by King Edward VII, with his Colonial Secretary and the Premiers of various colonies or their representatives and members of their cabinets:

Nation Name Portfolio
  United Kingdom Joseph Chamberlain Secretary of State for the Colonies (Chairman)
Lord Selborne First Lord of the Admiralty
Rear Admiral Wilfred Custance Director of Naval Intelligence
Lord Onslow Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
Gerald Balfour, President of the Board of Trade
Sir Montagu Ommanney Permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies
Sir Francis Hopwood Permanent Secretary to the Board of Trade
Sir Thomas Holderness Secretary of the Revenue, Statistics and Commerce Department, India Office
Sir John Anderson Secretary to the Conference, of the Colonial Office
  Australia Sir Edmund Barton Prime Minister
Sir John Forrest Minister of Defence
  Canada Sir Wilfrid Laurier Prime Minister
William Stevens Fielding Minister of Finance
Sir William Mulock Postmaster General of Canada
William Paterson Minister of Customs
  Cape Colony Sir John Gordon Sprigg Prime Minister
Thomas Fuller Agent-General
  Natal Sir Albert Henry Hime Prime Minister
  Newfoundland Colony Sir Robert Bond Premier
  Colony of New Zealand Richard Seddon Prime Minister


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Conference of Colonial Premiers". The Times (36808). London. 1 July 1902. p. 6.
  2. ^ a b Historical dictionary of European imperialism. Greenwood Publishing Group. 1991. p. 138. ISBN 0313262578.
  3. ^ Papers relating to a conference between the secretary of state for the colonies and the prime ministers of self-governing colonies; June to August, 1902
  4. ^ "The Life an Work of Richard John Seddon". Retrieved 24 July 2017.