No. 544 NAI DFA 11/3

Draft memorandum on the Disarmament Conference by the Department of External Affairs for the Executive Council1
(Secret) (Copy)

Dublin, 20 April 1931

1. The General Disarmament Conference will meet on the 2nd February, 1932, and preparations for it are already being actively pursued by the League of Nations and by the various States of the world individually.

2. The work of the Conference will be based on a draft Convention drawn up by the Preparatory Commission on Disarmament. The draft Convention is a complicated document in which political, military and financial considerations of a technical nature are inseparably bound up with one another.

3. The British Government have set up a Cabinet Committee, consisting of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretaries of State for Dominion Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Air and War, 'to advise as to the policy to be adopted at the Conference and to direct the work of preparation so far as this country is concerned'. This Cabinet Committee desires to 'take an appropriate opportunity of consulting the Dominions º in such manner as may be found generally suitable'. The other Commonwealth Governments have been asked to 'nominate representatives in London' for the purposes of this consultation.

4. With regard to the question of our preparation for the General Disarmament Conference, the Minister for External Affairs has the following objects in view:-

(i) To make as effective a preparation for the Conference as our resources will permit, in order that we may be able to play a reasonably prominent part at the Conference and not be in the hands of the British delegates when technical questions arise at it;
(ii) To co-operate to the fullest possible extent with the British in this and other Defence matters, but to do so in such a way as to maintain beyond question the principles that our co-operation is that of one State with another, and that the special relationship in defence matters established by Articles 6, 7 and 8 and the Annex to the Treaty is a political and not a constitutional relationship, i.e. that it is a relationship between two States and not a relationship of one part of a State to another;
(iii) To avoid 'group consultation' in London at this stage with a view to avoiding 'group consultation' later at the Conference itself;
(iv) In order to give effect to the objects outlined in paragraphs (ii) and (iii) above, to parallel here, so far as may be possible, the preparations for the General Disarmament Conference made by the British Government.

5. Having regard to the considerations set out in the preceding paragraph, the Minister for External Affairs proposes:-

(i) That our preparation for the General Disarmament Conference should be entrusted to a Cabinet Committee consisting of the Vice-President, the Minister for Defence, and the Minister for External Affairs;
(ii) That a Sub-Committee consisting of officials of the Department of External Affairs, the Department of Finance and the Department of Defence should be set up to prepare the ground and to make final proposals to the Cabinet Committee; and
(iii) That constant communication between the Cabinet Committee here and the Cabinet Committee in the United Kingdom should be maintained by despatch or through the channel of the High Commissioner, but that the High Commissioner should be instructed not to attend any meetings of the British Cabinet Committee or of any other organ set up by the British Government with a view to preparing for the General Disarmament Conference, whether such meetings are attended by representatives of the other States Members of the Commonwealth or not.2

1 The Cabinet Committee proposed in this memorandum was agreed on by the Cabinet on 4 May 1931 (Cab. 5/60).

2 Handwritten marginal annotation: 'Mr Cremins. Submitted, F.B., 20/4'.

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