76 Evatt to Chifley

Cablegram Special E18 LONDON, 17 October 1948, 11.30 p.m.

IMMEDIATE TOP SECRET PERSONAL

1. Following my telegram 17, a lengthy meeting on Eire's relationship with the British Commonwealth took place to-day at Chequers. Attlee presided and Saint Laurent, Fraser and I were present. Dominion representation was confined to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, because of the substantial population of Irish descent in each case. Discussions were preliminary only but our presence was justified and helpful in preventing breakdown of talks. While no commitment was made, Eire representatives seemed favourable to making a declaration that, despite the repeal of the Act, Britain and all the Dominions would not be regarded as foreign countries. This might be the basis of a broader declaration which would, at any rate, ease the position and prevent a political breakdown which might be embarrassing. Talks will be resumed later, but some progress has certainly been made.

2. Official communique is being issued by the Prime Minister and is, of course, carefully non-committal.

3. After talks with Nehru and others, I am confident that India will remain within the British Commonwealth, for which I have worked hard during the past two years.

4. So far I have been able to take fullest part in the London Conference [1] and, at the same time, perform Presidential duties at Paris. [2] I am also, of course, working hard on the Bank case.

[3] The hearing of the application will take place on Monday, October 25th.

1 That is, the British Commonwealth Prime Minister' Conference, which began on 11 October 1948 and at whichEvatt represented Chifley.

2 Evatt was president of the UN General Assembly for its third session.

3 The reference is to litigation over the Chifley Government's attempt to legislate for the nationalisation of banks.

[AA: A9420, 5]