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292 Note of Meeting of U.K. and Dominions Representatives

LONDON, 29 September 1938, 6.50 p.m.



Malcolm MacDonald, acting for Secretary of State for Dominion
S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner for Australia
C. T. te Water, High Commissioner for South Africa
Vincent Massey, High Commissioner for Canada
W. J. Jordan, High Commissioner for New Zealand
J. W. Dulanty, High Commissioner for Eire
The Duke of Devonshire, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for
Dominion Affairs
Sir Edward Harding, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for
Dominion Affairs
Sir Harry Batterbee, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Dominions
E. G. Machtig, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Dominions
N. E. Archer, Dominions Office

MR MACDONALD said that, pending the results of the Munich
Conference, the Government in London were helping to prepare the
British Legion to go out to look after the plebiscite areas in
case this was agreed to by the Conference. The Netherlands and
Belgian Governments had also offered to contribute troops. The
information from Munich which had been communicated to Dominion
Governments was that there had been a two hour meeting at Munich
which had been adjourned till 4.30 p.m., and that the atmosphere
had been very good. He then read the telegram received from His
Majesty's Minister in Prague (No. 788) [1] setting out the Czech
Government's objections to the United Kingdom Plan, together with
the warning which had been sent to President Benes [2] as to the
undesirability of attempting to tie Mr Chamberlain's [3] hands.

MR BRUCE said that he thought that the latter telegram was too
encouraging to the Czechs and that the time had now come to take a
firm line with Dr Benes. He felt that any reluctance to bring
pressure to bear on the Czech Government would be a mistake,
particularly in view of the attitude of the Dominion Governments.

MR MASSEY and MR TE WATER strongly supported Mr Bruce's view, the
latter observing that it was clear that the Munich Conference
would probably have to whittle down the British plan somewhat, and
that the Czechoslovak Government was nevertheless talking of
expanding the British plan in their favour.

MR MASSEY said that the latest expression of the Czech
Government's objections confirmed the suspicion that the Czech
Government had, in fact, been adopting a deliberately dilatory

MR BRUCE expressed the view that a very stiff personal telegram
should be sent to His Majesty's Minister at Prague [4] instructing
him to make it abundantly clear in his day-to-day talks with the
Czech Ministers and officials that the obstructive tactics of the
Czech Government were unwelcome to the United Kingdom and Dominion

MR MASSEY and MR TE WATER supported this proposal and said that
the request contained in the instructions to His Majesty's
Minister at Prague that Dr Benes should not tie Mr Chamberlain's
hands appeared to suggest that Dr Benes had the right to do so.

This was, in their view, quite incorrect.

MR MACDONALD said that whilst he agreed in principle with the
Dominion representatives as to the desirability of bringing
pressure to bear upon the Czech Government to accept a reasonable
compromise, he felt that it would be premature to send the
instructions suggested by Mr Bruce until it was known what the
Prime Minister had been able to accomplish to-day.

MR BRUCE said that the meeting might be interested to know that he
had received a cable containing a speech made by Mr Lyons [5]
indicating that the Commonwealth Government were completely aware
of all the facts of the situation. He thought it most satisfactory
that Mr Lyons had been kept so fully informed.

MR JORDAN said that his Prime Minister [6] had sent a telegram
expressing his thanks for the full information which he had

1 Not printed.

2 Dr Eduard Benes, President of Czechoslovakia.

3 Neville Chamberlain, U.K. Prime Minister.

4 Sir Basil Newton.

5 J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister. The cable is not printed.

6 M. J. Savage, N.Z. Prime Minister.

[PRO : DO 114/94]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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