No. 347 NAI DFA EA 231/3/30

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

London, 28 February 1930

I attended a dinner given last night by 'Canada Club' in honour of Colonel the Hon. J.L. Ralston,1 Minister of National Defence, Canada. H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught was in the Chair.

Colonel Ralston, in replying to the toast given in his honour, made an impressive, interesting and informative speech. He dealt in a general way with the political status and the economic achievements of Canada. He remarked that in 1913 Canada had 3,325 million dollars of outside capital, of which Great Britain had 75 per cent and the United States of America 20 per cent. In 1929 Great Britain had 38 per cent and the United States of America 59 per cent. Canada now held 60 per cent of her securities.

Mr. L.T. Pacaud, Secretary of the Office of the High Commissioner of Canada, remarked to me that Mr. Vincent Massey, Minister in Washington, is likely to be offered the post of High Commissioner in London; and I believe that, if so, he will accept, as I interpreted remarks made by him when I was in Washington that both he and Mrs. Massey would like to live in London.

I had a long conversation with Lord Passfield who was on my right at dinner. He referred to the application made by the Ministry of Defence of the Irish Free State to send for courses here some of the officers of the Aviation Corps, and said that he had taken the matter up with the Army Authorities who are agreeable to the proposal. They stated to Lord Passfield that if any of the officers, who are appointed to take the courses, took part in the fighting in Pre-Treaty days they would find themselves in an unfriendly atmosphere. Those officers who joined the Irish Free State since the Treaty will be welcome.

Lord Passfield referred to the ever-growing difficulty of administering Government. The Executive has burdens with which it can hardly cope, thereby throwing increased power into the hands of the permanent officials. It is, in his view, inevitable that self-governing Parliaments will be set up in Scotland and Wales. In this respect the Government of Northern Ireland may furnish a precedent for similar Governments in England, Scotland and Wales, all being related to the Parliament of Great Britain as in Northern Ireland to-day. Yet, he did not wish to convey the impression that he favours the permanent separation of Northern Ireland from the Irish Free State. He said that the Northern Parliament had been too liberally dealt with by the preceding Governments of Great Britain.

He asked if the Republican movement in the Irish Free State was waning in view of legal recognition of equality of status of all the Dominions and Great Britain; and if the rank and file of the people were becoming more cognisant of their independence. I told him that my personal opinion was the majority of the people were in favour of the Treaty as now interpreted; and that the implementing of the Report of the Conference of Experts on the Operation of Dominion Legislation and the abolition of the right of an Irish Free State citizen of appeal to the Privy Council would be calculated to increase this majority. Finally, the withdrawal of British troops from our ports would have beneficial effects in this direction and engender a still more friendly attitude to England. He made no comment on these two latter statements. I then said, if the removal of these restrictions were effected, we would be virtually a Republic. He commented that there is no inconsistency in having a Republic within the British Commonwealth of Nations - a conception which is foreign to the minds of many jurists here. In fact, he said, that previous to the Great War there were two Republics in the German Empire - Lubeck and Bremen.

I remarked that the British Commonwealth of Nations was a political organisation unique in history. He said, yes, that its most interesting feature was that it unfolded the idea that 'loyal to the Crown or King was a different relationship from loyalty to authority'. Many people here - he continued - still believe to be loyal to the King one must be loyal to the Government. He remarked in this connection that the Crown can sometimes perform a concrete function, as recently - though he said it was a small matter - in the case of General Strickland in Malta. The Government of Malta, to which Strickland was partial, recently was about to ask Strickland for a dissolution to which he was favourable. If Strickland acted on the advice of the Ministers such consent would be of a partisan character. Hence, Strickland was instructed by the Dominions Office to refuse. Fortunately, Lord Passfield said, the Ministry of Malta did not seek the dissolution.

Unfortunately, the dinner did not permit a detailed discussion of some of the interesting points raised by Lord Passfield which might have disclosed some other aspects of his mind on the status and relations of the nations in the British Commonwealth of Nations.

[signed] T.A. Smiddy

1 James L. Ralston, Canadian Minister for National Defence (1926-30) and delegate to the London Naval Conference (1930).

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