93 Report to Meeting of Prime Ministers

PMM(48) 14 LONDON, 19 October 1948


STATUS OF HIGH COMMISSIONERS Report of the Committee of High Commissioners and Officials We were invited by the Prime Ministers' Meeting to consider certain questions in connection with the status of High Commissioners [1] in the light of- (a) a note by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom circulated as P.M.M.48) 9 dated 13th October, 1948 [2];

(b) the discussions in the Prime Ministers' Meeting on 18th October (P.M.M.(48) 7th and 8th Meetings).

2. Our discussions were attended by the High Commissioners for Australia, South Africa and Ceylon [3], and by representatives of Canada (Mr. Pickersgill and Mr. Leger), Australia (Mr Oldham), New Zealand (Mr. McIntosh), India (Sir Girja Bajpai) and Pakistan (Mr.

Mohammed Ali).

[matter omitted]

4. Summary of Recommendations 1 . High Commissioners should rank with Foreign Ambassadors for purposes of precedence. (Section 3 (i)).

2. The practical application of this principle would be for each Commonwealth Government to determine, but the maximum degree of uniformity between Commonwealth Governments should be aimed at.

(Section 3 (i)).

3. The practice of treating High Commissioners and Ambassadors as separate groups should be abandoned unless there are decisive technical objections to doing so. (Section 3 (iii)).

4. While there are arguments for a Commonwealth representative being able to become doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, there is no objection, on the assumption that this is not pressed, to the diplomatic doyen of the Diplomatic Corps continuing to take precedence over other Ambassadors or High Commissioners. (Section 3 (iv)).

5. Subject to (4), Ambassadors and High Commissioners should take precedence in strict order and date of appointment. (Section 3 (iv)).

6. Seniority of countries should be abandoned as a basis for precedence of High Commissioners inter se. (Section 3 (V)).

7. It should be left to each Commonwealth Government to decide whether High Commissioners should be styled 'Excellency'. (Section 3 (vi)).

8. Precedence of visiting Cabinet Ministers should be regulated as in (6) of P.M.M. (48) 9 of 13th October. [4] (Section 3 (vii)).

9. It is not recommended that High Commissioners be accredited by the King. The question of providing some form of credentials for them should however be considered. (Section 3 (ix)).

10. Title. Strong objection was voiced by the majority of the Committee to the term 'High Commissioner'. If, however, that title was to be changed, the general sense of the majority was in favour of 'Ambassador', despite the arguments against that style.

(Section 3 (viii)) Signed for the Committee


1 Commonwealth countries agreed that High Commissioners should be accorded a higher place in the order of precedence in the countries to which they were accredited.

2 Attlee made six suggestion about means by which the status of High Commissioners, could be raised.

3 Respectively J.A. Beasley, Leif Egeland Sir Oliver Goonetilleke.

4 paragraph (6) reads 'Visiting Cabinet Ministers would or be given any place in formal Tables of Precedence, but as a matter of courtesy they would in practice be placed at formal functions above the High Commissioners of their coutries,-at least on any occasion when they were representing their Governments'.

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