65 Beasley to Chifley

Cablegram Austdel 246 PARIS, 18 November 1948, 7.20 p.m.


The Indian Talks continued late last evening 17th November. [1] Noel-Baker, Fraser, Pearson, Bert [2] and myself and Bajpai (Secretary, Department of External Affairs in India) were present.

Bert, Fraser and Pearson put to Bajpai their anxiety about India severing the existing links with the British Commonwealth. We had before us a document that had been prepared by Cripps and Nehru at Mountbatten's home in England. The contents contained ten points which amazed Bert who had only seen them for the first time a few days ago.

These points watered down the link to a stage that it was hardly discernible and jowitt and Noel-Baker were obviously concerned.

Bert's criticism was based, first, [on] lack of consultation before this document was drawn, and amazement that such proposals should be put on paper because it is our opinion that Nehru left London with an impression that he had got at least some British Ministers to the point of thinking around this formula as against the more tangible texts that Bert put forward at his first talks with Nehru, at which I attended, and later supported by Fraser and Mackenzie King. [3]

We are having great difficulty to understand how the British Government has allowed this matter to get to this unsatisfactory stage and care has to be exercised that Australia, New Zealand and Canada are not drawn into very much watered down proposal. The meeting last evening secured Bajpai's acceptance of forwarding a telegram to Nehru expressing the views of the Dominion representatives present and suggesting that Nehru be asked to agree that the President of the Indian Republic exercise all powers and functions on External Relations under warrant from the King.

Nehru was to be told that this could be done without any constitutional changes in the proposed draft. Legislation would not be necessary but that in the name of the Indian Government this request would be made to the King who in turn would delegate these powers. This message has been sent to Nehru with such comment as Bajpai wishes to add. I can't feel other than that Cripps (and to what extent Attlee I can't actually ascertain) has allowed this matter to drift. Great mistake was made in non- projecting this problem at the Prime Minister's Conference but for some reason Attlee did not do so.

Nehru made contact with Dominion representatives whilst in London and his observations differed as the various conversations that took place were reported. You may call it a kind of Eastern bargaining.

He ended up with Cripps at Mountbatten's home and the result is unsatisfactory. My feeling is that you should not in any way be involved in this formula because Bert at this end stoutly maintained the attitude of a proper link with the King and was not consulted in any way with the presentation of this document. It was only at the 'salvage stage' as I repeat he and others were called in and now they are doing their best to get some more tangible text.

We hope for the best and beyond that I can't make any further comment as to the final result. We will advise as soon as any further information comes to hand.

If the Indians will not accept link with King direct the only link will be through exchange of Nationality and Citizenship Rights.

This would be accepted by India and, if the United Kingdom accepted it, it would probably result in Eire coming back into the Commonwealth which would be excellent. So we have two strings to the bow.

Once again we are performing an important salvage operation which reminds me a little of 1942 and 1943.

1 Talks between representatives of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were held in Paris because representatives were gathered there for the United Nations General Assembly. For other report on the talks relevant to India see Document 78.

2 That is, Dr Evatt.

3 W. L. Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister until 15 November 1948.

[AA: A1838, 899/1/5]