No. 350 NAI DFA 26/95

Letter from Timothy A. Smiddy to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(Secret and Confidential)

London, 19 March 1930

League of Nations

I interviewed this afternoon Lord Passfield on the subject of your minute of the 18th March,1 with reference to the Council of the League of Nations.

I set forth the reasons why my Government had decided to be a candidate for Election to the Council of the League this year and informed Lord Passfield that before re-affirming decision it had ascertained that Australia will not seek election.

Lord Passfield confessed that he did not know much about this subject and did not make any reference to China or the desires of Sir Eric Drummond. He said that in the event of any other Dominion being a candidate, the Government of Great Britain could not take sides. On the other hand, if there was concurrence on the part of the Dominions, that any one Dominion should seek re-election, or if they were agreeable to support the candidature of any Dominion, he said it would be difficult for Great Britain to take an attitude contrary to theirs.

He stated that one difficulty that presents itself to him is that any Dominion seeking re-election this year to the Council would tend to confirm the belief in some countries, especially France, that Great Britain and the Commonwealth were acting as a unit and therefore had a preponderance in representatives on the Council of the League, putting other countries at a disadvantage. He illustrated this by the objections of France and the United States to the Delegates from the Dominions to the London Naval Conference asserting co-equal claims with the delegates from other countries.

I pointed out against this that each of the Dominions is an independent Member of the League and has as good a right as any other nation to seek election on the Council; and it was to emphasise this claim that the Irish Free State became a candidate in 1926 as no other Dominion wished to seek election. In 1927 the Irish Free State supported Canada in her candidature, on the principle that any State Member of the British Commonwealth of Nations was fully entitled to such candidature. He agreed that there was a good deal in that point of view.

He told me he would take the matter up with the Foreign Office and inform me of their attitude towards our candidature for the Council.

He also stated that he would consult the other Dominions on the subject in order to determine the attitude of his Government. He asked me if South Africa would be a candidate, and I informed him that so far as I knew, she would not. I shall definitely ascertain this information tomorrow from Mr. te Water,2 though I assume that his answer will be to the effect that South Africa does not contemplate at present seeking election to the Council.

[signed] T. A. Smiddy

1 See No. 349.

2 Charles T. te Water, South African High Commissioner in London.

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