331 Mr M. MacDonald, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 120 LONDON, 7 December 1938, 2.12 p.m.

Your telegram 6th December. [1] Following question was addressed to the Prime Minister [2] in the House of Commons on 5th December:(begins) To ask the Prime Minister, whether he is aware of the recent declaration of General Hertzog, the Prime Minister of South Africa, that His Majesty's Government had taken up the attitude that if any Dominion is attacked this country would go to its aid, but if this country is involved in a war, each Dominion would do as it liked; and whether this is the policy of His Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister gave the following reply:-(begins)

I have only seen a brief Press report of the statement to which I expect the Honourable Member refers. The general position is that it is a matter for each member of the British Commonwealth to decide the extent to which it will participate in any war in which another member of the Commonwealth may be engaged. But I am sure I shall be rightly interpreting the wishes of the people of this country if I say that, if any other part of the British Commonwealth were attacked, we should without hesitation go to its aid. (ends)

No supplementary questions were asked.

1 Document 326.

2 Neville Chamberlain.

[AA : A1608, 051/1/1]