No. 638 NAI DFA 5/57

Letter from Michael MacWhite to Joseph Walshe (Dublin)
(1008/27/32) (Confidential) (Copy)

Washington, 1 March 1932

The Secretary of the British Embassy, Mr. Michael Huxley, called to see Mr. O'Donovan on Sunday last. He was anxious to get some information relative to the outcome of the elections in the Saorstát and seemed rather perturbed over the declared intention of the Fianna Fáil party to abolish the oath of allegiance and withhold the land annuity payments.

Mr. Huxley thought that repeal of the Article of the Constitution embracing the oath would be a very serious matter for all concerned as the thread that joined the Saorstát to the British Commonwealth of Nations was so finely drawn that it had almost approached the vanishing point already, so much so that Foreign States were asking them why the Free State which was drifting away from them should get preferential treatment to the detriment of those whose friendship for Britain is unquestionable and of long standing.

It was true, he continued, that the Irish Free State was Britain's best customer, but the total of Irish purchases from Britain was very small in comparison with the total of British exports. Besides, Britain could purchase the commodities she now obtains from the Free State in several countries whereas we could find no purchaser for the bulk of the articles we export outside of England.

Referring to the land annuities, Mr. Huxley said that an item of three million pounds would hardly be missed out of the British budget which approximates eight hundred millions. He also said that a considerable portion of the land stock was held by Free State citizens. From the way he spoke one might be inclined to conclude that Great Britain would be willing to sacrifice the land annuities rather than that the oath of allegiance should be removed.

I cannot say whether Mr. Huxley was expressing his own personal views or not, but even if he were they should carry some weight in view of the fact that his sister is Lady Harding, wife of the Permanent Undersecretary for Dominion Affairs.1

[signed] M. MacWhite

1 Sir Edward Harding.

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