No. 57 NAI DT S4731

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Diarmuid O'Hegarty (Dublin)
(E.A. 1/26/3)

Dublin, 12 January 1927

A Chara,

I am instructed by the Minister for External Affairs to request you to have the following matter placed on the Agenda of the Executive Council for an early decision:

1. It will be remembered that the question of the precise nature of the Governor General's position was discussed at the Imperial Conference and the conclusions arrived at appear in Sec. IV (b) of the Imperial Conference Report. They are as follows:

a)    The Governor General holds in all essential respects the same position in relation to the administration of public affairs in the Dominion as is held by His Majesty the King in Great Britain, and is not the representative or agent of His Majesty's Government in Great Britain or of any department of that Government.
b) The practice whereby the Governor General of a Dominion is the formal official channel of communication between His Majesty's Government in Great Britain and His Governments in the Dominions might be regarded as no longer wholly in accordance with the Constitutional position of the Governor General. It was thought that the recognised official channel of communication should be, in future, between government and government direct.

Details were left for settlement as soon as possible after the Conference had completed its work.

2. It will also be remembered that the New Zealand Premier did not receive the proposed change in the channel of communication with much enthusiasm. The insertion of the sentence 'The Representatives of Great Britain ... accepted the proposed change in relation to any Dominions which desired it' was in all probability due to New Zealand's attitude, and it seems to the Minister that it will be left to the Dominions to say whether they desire the change or not.

3. The Minister therefore proposes to send a Despatch to the Dominions Office suggesting that the change should take place at the earliest convenient date.1 The Despatches and all communications and documents hitherto coming through the Governor General would then be addressed to the Minister for External Affairs and would be privately dealt with by this Department. The secret Foreign Office papers would form part of these general communications and all the papers hitherto kept in the Vice Regal [Lodge] would be transferred to the custody of the Department of External Affairs. Outgoing communications would also issue in the last instance from this Department.


Mise le meas,
[signed] S.P. Breathnach

1 See No. 62.

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