No. 604 NAI DFA 19/6

Confidential Report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(Secret and Confidential) (Copy)

London, 23 November 1931

In order to see me and to receive from me the letter which the President had addressed to him1 Mr. MacDonald absented himself from a conference on India which was being held in the Cabinet Room at Downing Street this morning.

He read the President's letter and said that he agreed with every word of it; that if he were Mr. de Valera he would be jubilant over Mr. Churchill's speech - one of the most mischievous speeches ever made in the House of Commons. I mentioned to the Prime Minister that Mr. Thomas had told me that he was very apprehensive on Friday because there was practically nobody on the front bench but himself and the Solicitor General. I was not mentioning this in any complaining sense but the Prime Minister asked me to explain to my Government that practically the whole of the Cabinet were engaged for the whole of Friday from early morning until very late in the evening on a matter of the most urgent character. Mr. MacDonald himself did not seem to be so troubled about the House of Commons as Mr Thomas had been. He thought that they ought to manage in the House of Commons without very much difficulty though there may be some. What the Lords would say of course nobody could say, but if the Lords insisted on an amendment then it would come back to the House of Commons and his Government would refuse to accept it.

In the latter event presumably the Parliament Act2 would operate and the worst we should suffer would be a delay possibly of about eighteen months. The Prime Minister added that Lord Londonderry had been speaking to him about the question only last evening and that he was going to support the Government position on the Statute. He asked me to convey his assurances to myGovernment that everything he and his colleagues could do to prevent anything untoward happening to the Statute of Westminster Bill was being done.

[copy letter unsigned]

1 See No. 602.

2 The power of the House of Lords to permanently veto Bills from the House of Commons was removed under the 1911 Parliament Act and replaced by a temporary suspensory veto.

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