No. 406 NAI 2003/17/181

Minute from Joseph P. Walshe to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)

Dublin, 15 December 1936

Sir Harry Batterbee phoned me this morning at 10.30 and asked me if we could send them immediately twelve copies of the Dáil Reports for Friday and Saturday, the 11th and 12th December. I told him that they would not be ready until tomorrow evening but that we should send them as quickly as possible.

I then remarked to Batterbee that some of our papers this morning had said that the Dominions Secretary was about to make an important statement this afternoon on the Acts passed on Friday and Saturday. I hoped very much that any statement made would not imply in any way any right in the British Parliament to control our legislation. Any assumption in his Minister's statement of the right to exercise any sort of control over us would only lead to further quarrels and to new difficulties being placed in the way of reconciliation. He would remember what a trail of trouble followed public statements of his late Minister which contained that assumption. He said that as far as it was in his power any statement made would not cause any trouble. Indeed, as far as he could see from what he had read in the Press there was no difference in substance between us.

I asked him what particular point he wished to look up in the Official Reports - was there any particular statement of which he wanted the exact words or context? He said that of course there existed all the difference in the world between saying that the King's power and functions had been diminished or eliminated and saying that he, the King, no longer existed. I read out for him five or six sections of your statements made during the course of the debates on Friday and Saturday, all of which made it quite clear that, while we were eliminating the King's functions from our internal affairs, his position in external affairs remained substantially as it had been. I went on to say, following your instructions, that we had now got on to a solid basis from which we could work. The next thing was to get the whole country on this basis. We intended to do nothing further about the position of the King: it would remain as it now is. I emphasised right through the conversation that the chief object of the Constitution Bill was to eliminate the internal functions of the King.

The statement made by Mr. MacDonald in the House of Commons this evening was as follows:-

Mr. GARRO JONES asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what attitude has been adopted by the Dominions, including the Irish Free State, towards the new Act of Settlement?

Mr. M. MacDONALD: As was explained in the Debate last Friday, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa associated themselves with the Act which was passed that day through this Parliament. As regards the Irish Free State, the Dáil on Saturday last passed an Act which included provision to give effect to His former Majesty's Instrument of Abdication and the necessary consequential change in the succession.

[signed] (Sgd) J.P. Walshe

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