78 Heydon to Burton and Chifley

Cablegram Austdel 216 PARIS, 15 November 1948, 4.40 p.m.


On 12th November United Kingdom Attorney-General indicated that it was proposed to send a communication to the Eire Government which would probably be published outlining the important consequences which might result from the repeal of the External Relations Act of 1936. The draft referred to other Dominions and to the Chequers talks. The Minister pointed out that the Chequers talks were to have been resumed but that no further talks had taken place.

Fraser for New Zealand and Pearson for Canada adopted the same attitude. All agreed that nothing should be left undone to retain the maximum degree of co-operation and agreement with Eire.

On 14th November the Lord Chancellor and Noel-Baker arrived in Paris and called a secret conference on the general questions of the position of Eire and India in relation to the Commonwealth in which the three Dominion representatives, Fraser, Pearson and the Minister all stressed the importance of keeping India in the Commonwealth. Beasley was present at the Conference.

The upshot was an invitation from the United Kingdom Government to Eire Ministers to resume the Chequers talks and it is likely that these talks will resume within the next 48 hours.

It does not now appear possible that Eire will refrain from repealing the External Relations Act. However, the time may be opportune to lay down principles as to trade relations and citizenship rights which might possibly be regarded as establishing a sufficient link with Eire to enable Eire to return to the Commonwealth upon a new footing.

The objective throughout has been to lessen public feeling and disputation about both Eire and India, to retain India within the British Commonwealth and, if possible, to facilitate Eire's re- entry at a suitable time. Further efforts will be made towards ensuring India's new constitutional arrangements being such that she is a member of the Commonwealth.

The talks have been treated as highly confidential and no reference has been made to them in the Press.

[AA: A1838/2, 1521/1]