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Historical documents

93 Report to Meeting of Prime Ministers

PMM(48) 14 LONDON, 19 October 1948


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

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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Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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