The discrepancy between legal theory and actual fact that is so pronounced a characteristic of the British Constitution is particularly marked in the case of the power of the Parliament at Westminster with respect to the British self-governing Dominions. These Dominions are, of course, the most important elements of what has long been known as the British Empire. As a matter of fact, this priority has, as is well known, caused in recent years far-reaching modification of the whole prevailing idea of empire. The existing situation is, like so many things British, the product of long historical development and the result of peculiar conditions.
The self-governing Dominions are to be contrasted not only with the United Kingdom, with which the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are officially grouped; they are likewise to be distinguished from the remainder of "His Majesty's Dominions". Though this latter category technically includes such things as Dependencies, Protectorates, Spheres of Influence, Mandated Territories, and Areas of Chartered Companies, a consideration of British imperial relations involves, in addition to the self-governing Dominions, more especially the Crown Colonies and India.
The list of British self-governing Dominions is composed, at the present time, of Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State, and, perhaps, Southern Rhodesia. The administrative relations of these Dominions with the British Crown are managed by the Dominions Office. At the head of this Department is the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, an official created in 1925. Previous to the beginning of the nineteenth century, business