No. 161 UCDA P150/2179

Confidential report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 14) (Secret)

London, 23 March 1938

Mr. Malcolm MacDonald called a meeting at five this evening in his room at the Dominions Office of the High Commissioners. In addition to Mr. MacDonald there was Mr. R.A. Butler, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs. All the High Commissioners attended except Mr. Massey1, who was out of town.

We were handed a copy of a telegram - nine foolscap pages in length - which was being despatched to-night informing the several Commonwealth Governments of the main lines of Mr. Chamberlain's speech on foreign affairs to-morrow, Thursday, afternoon in the British House of Commons.

We read fairly quickly through the telegram without being able to study carefully the full significance of its numerous paragraphs.

Before the discussion began I called Mr. MacDonald's attention to the fact that the 'Daily Telegraph' last week had stated that the British Prime Minister was considering the opinions of the other Commonwealth Governments. I also referred to a reference by the Parliamentary Correspondent (generally well-informed from Whitehall) of the London Times in its issue of to-day to messages which had passed between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Governments of the Dominions, and also to a question which is to be put to Mr. MacDonald to-night in the House of Commons as to whether the Dominions were consulted with regard to the situation which was created by Mr. Eden's resignation from the Government. There seemed to me to be a risk that the conclusion might be drawn that Éire had been consulted by the British Government on this question of foreign affairs and I wished to make it clear beyond any doubt that I was attending the meeting solely for the purpose of receiving any information which the British Cabinet wished to have transmitted to my Government. In no sense was I there for the purpose of consultation.

Mr. MacDonald agreed entirely and said that both his office and the Prime Minister's office had tried to get the press to give the correct view. The British telegrams were despatched to the Commonwealth Governments and the meetings of High Commissioners, including the present one, were called simply to acquaint the partner2 Governments of the position and intentions of the British Government. It was true that whilst some Dominion Governments had, on receipt of these telegrams and reports from their High Commissioners, instructed the latter to inform the British Government of the views of the Governments they represent, other Commonwealth Governments did no more than receive the information. It was therefore quite clear to him that the meetings - such as the one then in progress - were for information only.

Some desultory discussion then took place on the draft of the final form of the telegram which the Department will doubtless receive this evening.

[signed] J.W. DULANTY
High Commissioner

1 (Charles) Vincent Massey (1887-1967), Canadian High Commissioner in London (193546), Governor General of Canada (1952-9).

2 Underlined by reader

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