No. 622 NAI DFA 11/3A

Memorandum by Francis T. Cremins on the Cabinet Sub-Committee on the General Disarmament Conference

Dublin, 4 January 1932

A meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee appointed by the Executive Council to direct the work of preparing for the Disarmament Conference was held on Saturday, 2nd instant. The Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Defence were present, and the following officials of this Department attended: Mr. J.P. Walshe, Mr. J.J. Hearne, Mr. Cremins and Mr. Boland.

A discussion took place on the draft Convention for the Limitation and Reduction of Armaments, and the Sub-Committee decided that the delegation to the Conference should accept this draft Convention as a basis for the Conference discussions.

The various matters raised in the British Government's despatch of the 17th December, 1931, including the Inter-Department Sub-Committee's report transmitted therewith, were also considered and it was decided that Mr. Hearne should attend with the High Commissioner the Inter-Commonwealth discussions in London, and press the point that the expedient of global figures adopted in regard to numbers of ships and tonnage in the London Naval Treaty should (assuming that the London Treaty would govern, for those who are parties to it, the naval items of the draft Disarmament Convention) be strictly confined to those items in which it had already been accepted in the London Naval Treaty, and should not in any circumstances be extended to Land or Air items in the draft International Convention. Instructions were also given that a formal despatch setting forth precisely the Irish Government's standpoint on this matter should be sent at once to the British Government.1 It was suggested that if the London Naval Treaty were to remain a governing instrument so far as limitation and reduction of naval armaments was concerned, a provision should be inserted in the Disarmament Convention by virtue of which transfer between the Members of the Commonwealth of the tonnage and numbers of ships allowed to all the Members of the Commonwealth under the London Naval Treaty should be effected.

The bearing of Articles 6 and 8 of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 on the question of limitation of armaments so far as the Irish Free State was concerned, was also considered, and it was decided that these articles should be regarded as governing factors for this country. Article 6, it will be remembered, provides that until2 an arrangement has been made between the British and Irish Governments whereby the Irish Free State undertakes her own coastal defence, the defence by sea of Great Britain and Ireland shall be undertaken by British Forces. Article 8 deals with military establishments and provides that such establishments of the Irish Free State shall not exceed in size such proportion of the military establishments maintained in Great Britain as that which the population of Ireland bears to the population of Great Britain.

It was also decided that, if necessary, if the question of transfer of tonnage quotas as between the Members of the Commonwealth came under discussion at the Disarmament Conference, the delegation should make clear to the Conference the bearing of Article 6 on the Irish claims.

The Cabinet Sub-Committee directed that the Department of External Affairs should consult with the Department of Defence with a view to obtaining from that department as early as possible the definite figures which the Minister for Defence proposes should be inserted in the tables (Land, Sea, Air and Budgetary) annexed to the draft International Convention. These figures, before being forwarded to the delegation at the Conference, should be submitted for consideration to the Cabinet Sub-Committee.

[initialled] F.T.C.

1 See No. 624.

2 The original reads 'when', which is clearly an error.

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