62 Garnett to Strahan

Letter CANBERRA, 5 November 1948

CONFIDENTIAL

I am directed by the Acting High Commissioner to say that in view of recent speculation in the United Kingdom Press about proposals alleged to have been discussed recently in London by Pandit Nehru and certain other United Kingdom and Commonwealth Ministers for India's future relationship with the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom authorities have felt it desirable to make the following points available unofficially for guidance purposes:-

(i) It is the case that questions relating to the future association of India with the Commonwealth were discussed informally between Pandit Nehru and certain United Kingdom Ministers and other Commonwealth representatives in London recently. The matter was not however raised in the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers.

(ii) It will be recalled that Pandit Nehru stated publicly on his arrival in this country that he hoped that whatever India's decision might be as to her future constitutional status a close association between India, Britain, and the Commonwealth might be maintained.

(iii) The decision as to India's future constitutional status rests of course with the Indian Constituent Assembly which is to resume its deliberations early this month.

(iv) In the light of his impressions of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meeting and the opportunity provided by talks both in London and Paris, Pandit Nehru will naturally report to his colleagues in the Indian Cabinet and will give such advice as he thinks fit to the Constituent Assembly.

(v) It would be quite wrong to assume that any precise formula providing for a special constitutional relationship between India and the Commonwealth has been worked out. It would be for India herself to put forward any proposals in this connection that she might wish to make and the matter would then be one for consideration in its legal and constitutional aspects by the Commonwealth as a whole.

(vi) It would not be in the public interest, least of all in the interests of India herself that there should be any attempt to prejudge this issue by speculation as to what may have passed in private and confidential conversations.

2. It is desired to emphasize that this guidance was given in London quite unofficially, i.e., it will not be attributed to an official spokesman.

[AA: A1838/283, TS899/6]