Skip to main content

Historical documents

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

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

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

[AA: A1838, 899/1/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top