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2 Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London

Cablegram unnumbered 2 February 1937, Herewi

On 10 July 1936 Cabinet approved in principle the appointment of Australian Counsellors at the British Embassies in Washington and Tokyo.

In a letter dated 14 October 1936 from the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, the United Kingdom Government agreed to the proposal, provided that the Australian representative in each case be subject to the authority of the British Ambassador, who was to have the right to see all communications sent to the Commonwealth Government. There was no apparent objection by the Commonwealth Government to these conditions.

In subsequent correspondence Eden passed on the suggestion of Sir Robert Clive, British Ambassador in Tokyo, that, because there would be insufficient work to occupy a full-time Australian Counsellor, the Australian Trade Commissioner in Tokyo, Colonel E.

E. Longfield Lloyd, should fulfil both functions. The Commonwealth Government, however, considered that the combination of Trade and External Affairs representation was an undesirable administrative arrangement and by November 1936 it had been decided to defer the Tokyo appointment. (For the documents on this subject, see AA: A981, EA Dept 152.) In cablegram 20 of 30 January 1937, not printed, the High Commissioner in London, S. M. Bruce, advised Prime Minister Lyons that the King had formally approved the appointment of an Australian Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington.

Your No. 20. Appointment Australian Counsellor at Washington.

Desire you submit name of Major F. K. Officer, Department of External Affairs [1] for approval of Foreign Office and British Ambassador. [2] If approval forthcoming, a simultaneous and single announcement can then be arranged United Kingdom and Australia, both as to decision to appoint Counsellor and name of first appointee. Feel this would be preferable to two announcements provided there is no objection final point of procedure.



The last of the pre-war Imperial Conferences was held in London from 14 May to 15 June 1937 and was attended by representatives of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Southern Rhodesia and Burma. Newfoundland was represented by the U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the colonial empire by the U.K. Secretary of State for the Colonies.

The members of the Australian delegation and its advisers are listed below, together with the other principal delegates.

Planning for the Conference began in 1936 when it was agreed that its major concerns would be foreign affairs and defence, although there would also be some discussion of economic, constitutional and legal matters. Australia's suggestions for the agenda are also listed below.

The United Kingdom and the Dominions prepared a number of memoranda, some of which were circulated prior to the opening of the Conference, and further papers were prepared during the course of the Conference. A list of the papers prepared for the Australian delegation is also presented below, with the document numbers of those which have been printed in this volume.

Delegates attended plenary meetings for the opening and closing sessions of the Conference, on 14 May and 15 June respectively, and during the intervening month there were twenty meetings of principal delegates. Sub-committees gave specialised attention to a number of topics, including imperial shipping, economic questions, constitutional questions, civil air communications, polar questions and the New Hebrides. Opportunity was also taken by some delegates for discussions outside the Conference program itself, such as those between the Australian Minister for Defence, Sir Archdale Parkhill, and the Chiefs of Staff Subcommittee of the Committee of Imperial Defence (see Documents 35 and 47).

This volume contains only a small proportion of the extensive documentation prepared for and generated by the Conference.

Selection has been confined largely to Australian papers and speeches, but other material has been included to show reactions to Australian proposals and the context in which Australian statements were made. As with the rest of this volume, only matters of foreign policy are printed: technical considerations of constitutional, legal, economic, defence and other matters have been excluded.

A number of memoranda prepared for the Conference cannot be precisely dated. They are printed with the first (approximately) dated paper.


On 18 November 1936 the United Kingdom asked the Dominions (circular cablegram B182) to indicate particular aspects of foreign affairs or defence policies they wished to discuss.

Australia's suggestions were contained in cablegram 115 to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs on 28 November, as follows:

'We suggest that discussion on Foreign Relations should include-

(a) Review of the international situation, of British and Dominion foreign policies, including the relation and attitude of Dominion foreign policy to British foreign policy.

(b) Policy in regard to the League of Nations, especially in regard to questions arising out of proposed reform of the Covenant, embracing such issues as access to raw materials and return of colonies.

(c) Review of relations with particular countries having special significance vis-a-vis the United Kingdom or particular Dominions, eg. Japan, Germany, United States.

(d) British policy in the Antarctic, including operation of Whaling Convention.

(e) Inter-Imperial relations and status of Dominions, including specific questions such as method of consultation and treaty procedure.

(f) Nationality and status of married women and extension of principles involved in the Hague Convention.

(g) British policy in regard to the New Hebrides.

In regard to Defence, we consider that there should be-

1. A review of the political and strategical considerations relating to Imperial and local defence.

2. A review of problems relating to the basis of Australian Defence policy with special reference to- (A) Invasion; (B) Raids; (C) Priority of Provision for Defence; (D) Time Factor.

3. Consideration of the further development of principles of Imperial co-operation in Defence.

4. Consideration of Australian questions of an individual Service nature relating to the Navy, Army, Air Force and Munitions Supply Organisation.'

These and other agenda cables are located on file AA: A461, C 326/1/4, i.


Foreign Situation - Memorandum by K. Officer 4/2/37 Foreign Situation - March 1937 (revision of Officer's memo; Document 17) Foreign Situation - in May 1937-by J. D. L. Hood (supplementing the March paper; Document 23) Foreign Situation - General Staff H.Q. paper Germany - Question of Colonies (Document 3) Nationality of Married Women Antarctic Review of relations with particular countries having special significance vis-a-vis the United Kingdom or particular Dominions: Germany (Document 6) Review of relations with particular countries having special significance vis-a-vis the United Kingdom or particular Dominions: Japan (Document 11) Relations between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia (Document 10) Question of the form of treaties raised by South Africa in connection with the supplementary extradition convention with Ecuador Unoccupied islands in the vicinity of Australia (Document 4) Howland, Baker and Jarvis Islands Boundaries of the Commonwealth of Australia New Hebrides - summary of position The Most-Favoured Nation Clause Reform of the Covenant of the League of Nations (Document 5) Pacific Shipping Irish Free State London Naval Conference 1936. Status of Dominions Disabilities of British Indians

DEFENCE MEMORANDA (See introductory note to Document 20)

PART 1 Questions relating to the basis of Empire and Australian defence policy

No. 1 The Political and Strategical Considerations relating to Imperial and Local Defence (see Documents 13, 20) No. 2 Co-operation in Imperial Defence No. 3 Problems relating to the Basis of Australian Defence Policy- No. 1 - Priority of Provision for Defence and the Time Factor No. 4 Problems relating to the Basis of Australian Defence Policy- No. 2 - Defence against Invasion No. 5 Problems relating to the Basis of Australian Defence Policy- No. .3 - Defence against Raids No. 5A Darwin Defences No. 6 Australia as a source of Supply in War

PART 2 Questions relating to the individual Australian Services


No. 7 The Type of Squadron for the Royal Australian Navy No. 8 Strategical Naval Wireless Stations No. 9 Royal Navy Officers appointed to the Royal Australian Navy


No. 10 Higher Service Direction in War

Air Force

No. 10 Higher Service Direction in War (Army and Air Force aspects covered in one paper) No. 11 The Royal Australian Air Force-Organisation, Priority of Development, and Equipment No. 12 Aircraft Orders placed in the United Kingdom No. 13 The Manufacture of Aircraft in Australia No. 14 The Empire Air Mail Scheme from an Air Defence point of view

PART 3 General

No. 15 The Higher Direction of War-Australian Government Machinery No. 16 Civil Air Communications No. 17 Strategical Importance of Pacific Islands (Document 14) No. 18 Imperial Communications Advisory Committee-Strategic Cables No. 19 Principles which should govern the Tenure of the Appointment of the First Naval Member-Australian Naval Board No. 20 The Present Command of the Royal Australian Naval Squadron


Suggestion for Regional Pact in the Pacific (Document 33)



J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister Sir Archdale Parkhill, Minister for Defence R. G. Casey, Treasurer S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London Advisers G. S. Knowles, Solicitor-General F. L. McDougall, Economic Adviser, Office of the High Commissioner F. Strahan, Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department Lt Col W. R. Hodgson, Secretary of the Department of External Affairs A. C. Joyce, Assistant Secretary, Treasury F. G. Shedden, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Defence E. McCarthy, Assistant Secretary, Department of Commerce Professor K. H. Bailey, Dean of the Faculty of Law in the University of Melbourne Personal staffs R. L Douglas, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister A. Stirling (External Affairs Officer in London), Personal Assistant to the High Commissioner F. A. McLaughlin, Private Secretary to the Minister for Defence W. E. H. Stanner, Private Secretary to the Treasurer J. A. Swanson, Assistant Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Miss E. Lenihan, Stenographer Secretary to the delegation F. Strahan, Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department


United Kingdom

Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister (to 28 May) James Ramsay MacDonald, Lord President of the Council (to 28 May) Neville Chamberlain, Chancellor of the Exchequer (to 28 May); Prime Minister (from 28 May) Sir John Simon, Home Secretary (to 28 May); Chancellor of the Exchequer (from 28 May) Viscount Halifax, Lord Privy Seal (to 28 May); Lord President of the Council (from 28 May) Malcolm MacDonald, Dominions Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare, First Lord of the Admiralty (to 28 May); Home Secretary (from 28 May) W. Ormsby Gore, Colonial Secretary Anthony Eden, Foreign Secretary Sir Thomas Inskip, Minister for Co-ordination of Defence A. Duff Cooper, Secretary of State for War (to 28 May); First Lord of the Admiralty (from 28 May) Viscount Swinton, Secretary of State for Air Walter Runciman, President, Board of Trade (to 28 May) Marquis of Hartington, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Dominion Affairs W. S. Morrison, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries R. S. Hudson, Secretary, Department of Overseas Trade Leslie Burgin, Minister of Transport (from 28 May) Oliver Stanley, President of the Board of Trade (from 28 May) Leslie Hore-Belisha, Secretary of State for War (from 28 May)


W. L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister and External Affairs Secretary E. Lapointe, Minister of Justice C. A. Dunning, Minister of Finance Ian MacKenzie, Minister of National Defence Vincent Massey, High Commissioner in London

Union of South Africa

General J. B. M. Hertzog, Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs N. C. Havenga, Minister of Finance A. P. J. Fourie, Minister of Commerce and Industries Senator C. F. Clarkson, Minister of Posts and Telegraphs and Public Works C. T. te Water, High Commissioner in London

New Zealand

M. J. Savage, Prime Minister Walter Nash, Minister of Finance W. J. Jordan, High Commissioner in London


The Marquis of Zetland, Secretary of State for India The Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda Sir Zafrullah Khan, Member of the Executive Council of the Governor-General

Southern Rhodesia

G. M. Huggins, Prime Minister J. H. Smit, Minister of Finance and Commerce


Dr Ba Maw, Chief Minister

1 He was then External Affairs Officer in London.

2 Sir Ronald Lindsay.

[AA : A981, EA DEPT 152]

Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History