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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 183


Photo of Menzies, Robert

Menzies, Robert

Period of Service: 19/12/1949 to 26/01/1966

More information about Menzies, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/05/1960

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 183

EMBARGO: Simultaneous release in London. Not for publication
or broadcast before 1.15 a. m. Tuesday May 17th.
by The Rt. Hon. R. G. Menzies, C. H. Prime Minister
of Australia at the * Jniversity of tambridge Monday 16th May,
Jan Christian Smuts was one of the most remarkable
men in modern history. He wras a scholar in the finest sense;
a soldier of remarkable distinction, a South African statesman
who made an imperishable contribution to the history and institutions
of his own land; a Commonwealth States~ nan whose
towering abilities made him a commanding figure, the trusted
confidant and adviser of the gy: iant of the age, dinston Churchill;
a world leader " the veriy wind of .7hose name" if I may
borrow that great phrase spoken by J. M. Barrie about the
Scots " has swept to the ultimate seas",
feel it a -reat and unmerited honoix that you should
have chosen me to deliver the first " Smuts Memorial Lecliire" l
in this ancient university of which, in the course of his incredibly
versatile career, he became Chancellor.
Oddly enough, though I have had a " walking-on" part
in some of the iorld dramas of the past quarter of a century,
I never met him except through reading and report. But such is
the force of personality that I always felt that for me he was
a living presence. In spite of past events, or perhaps because of them,
he became a great champion and expositor of the lBritisha Commonwealth,
and had at all times clear views about the changes
wrought in it in and since 1926. It is for this reason that I
have chosen to say something to you, in honour of his memory,
W on " The Changing Commonwealth".
ing of " Dr. Y ouJ ekwyillll arnedm emHvbre. r HyLdleo" y; d Oshobwo rnReo'bse rts tLooruyi so f Sttehvee nwsroint
I' wrote it in a few days, had it sharply criticised by his wife,
was enraged by the criticism, and then accepted it, and then
tossed the manuscript into the fire, and then in another few
days re-wrote the whole thing in its present immortal form.
It is a great story. But wh-should I begin by reminding you
of it? Certainly, not that i can write like Robert Louis
Stevenson, nor, indeed, that the story has any parallel with
mine except in one respect. I began to write this lecture on
a quiet weekend in Canberra. I thought tih-at I knew something
about J. C. Smuts in a broad way; that in theory and practice
I was not unfamiliar with modern Commonwealth constitutional
development; and that the political Smuts fitted into that
development in a way uhich was intelligible to me. And so I
wrote on, increasingly more interested in my own ideas than in
those of Smuts until, finding it necessary to consider the basis
of Commonwealth changes, I laid my writin3-pad aside, and began
to re-read Smuts. I even essayed " Holism and Evolution",
whipped on by Peter Drucker's " The Landmarks of Tomorrow", in
which he describes Jan Christian Smuts as " that astounding
South African, the closest to the " whole man" this century has
produced". The more I read, the more I marvelled at the genius
of the man whom this lecture commemorates. 111ho was I to speak
to his name and memory? How superficial were my own views: how
shallow my own intellectual experiences. vdhy not toss my draft
into the fire and, unlike Stevenson, write no more?

And yet, the more I thought about it, the more I
realised that the researches of Smuts, leading him away from
the static properties of matter and the disciplines which static
considerations impose, to the dynamic post-evolutionary concepts
of the grouth from " whole" to " whole", provided a key to
the problem o f Commonwealth evolution, in the solving of which,
as a practical man of affairs, he had much to do. The Commonwealth,
as I shall endeavour to show, is the best proof of
Smuts' central thesis, that " the whole is greater than the sum
of its parts". Further, if there is, as events have s'novn, nothing
static about our gre at associ,: tion, we must be prepared for
changes in the living organism. it must contain within itself
not only the past, but the present and the future. There must
be room for the ascertainment of basic principles, but there
must be no room for dogma. ; UJmeu st not be merely the historians
of the Commonwealth, but the creators of its future form.
if, in the course of my remarks, I refer to past events, it
will not be to engage in the vain task of wishing them undone,
for the clock does not turn back, but to try to see where we
have gone, and whore we are going.
When the Balfour formula was evolved in 1926, many
thought that the new Commonwealth had acquired definition and
historic form. " Empire" had been taken by some to connote the
subordination of the Dominions; this notion was now swept
away. The Dominions were declared to be " autonomous communities",
" in no way subordinate one to another". There it was,
plainly stated. : de in Australia, characteristically enough,
had not for maryyears thought ourselves subordinate, but still,
there was no harm in the fact being expressed. The formula
then went on to use what I have myself on an earlier occasion
described as " three expressions of great cohesive significance.
They were-" within the British Empire"
" united by a common alleg7iance to the Crown"
" the British Commonwealth of Nations".
Here, we said, was " unity in diversity", a unity possessing a
slightly theological flavour, it was true, but neverthc~ iss expressed
in a new formula ihich wrould, once and for all, convert
the mystically unexpressed into lucid form, ustablishing
equality but preserving structureo; opening up a new era for
self-government and development.
F'our years later, the Prime Ministers at their 1930
conference, evolved what became the Statute of ' Iestminster 1931,
clearing up a few technical matters of power,, but reciting in
its preamble that " as the Crown is the symbol of the free association
of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations,
and as they are united by a common allegiance to the Crown...,"
So theri it was, complete and tidy; and to a monarchist,
all compact of a superb blending of heartening emotion and
enduring structure. Unlike that peculiar product of the
British inductive genius, the non-existent British Constitution,
the Commonwealth had a iritten charter for all to see. Only
thirty years ag'o; but in those years the great definitive
formula has become largely obsolete, true only in a fragmentary
iay, in many respects altured beyond recognition.
I will take the " three expressions" in heir order.
1. The expression " within the British Empire" has ceased
to have acceptance, partly because the notion of a group of
completely self-gov. ning nations existing within " an Empire"
was not in its nature one which could long endure, and partly
because the word Empire itself has fallen from grace, Wo now

leave the creation of colonial or satellite empires to the
Communist powers, and have been talked into believing that
" imperialism" and " jingoism" vere synonymous.
2. The second expression, " united by a common allegiance
to the Crown", is no lon6er accurate, nor should we pretend
that it is. Great Britain, C-nada, Australia South Africa, New
Zealand, Ceylon and Ghana are at the momen united by a common
allegiance to the Crown. But Ghana and Ceylon are designed
to become Republics, like India and Pakistan. Malaya is no
Republic, but has a monarch of its own, to w. hom it owes
alleoiance, The Government of South Africa has made no secret
of its Republican objective, and evun now the Crown is less
" visible" in South African administration and affairs than it
is in, say, Australia.
All this means that at some future time there may
well be only Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
who could be described as united by the common allegiance, the
femaining Commonwealth countries having a measure of unity
with us and with each other established on a quite different
foundation. This is much more than a change of form. I am
going to say a little more about it, because it seems to me to
be very important that we in the Crown Dominions should not
weaken our own principles by pretending that they are not
matters of substance.
Republican membership of the Commonwealth was accepted
by the Prime Ministers in April 1949 in a Statement which
merits complete quotation.
" The Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan
and Ceylon, whose countries are united as Members of the
British Commonwealth of Nations and owe a common allegiance
to the Crown, which is also the symbol of their
free association, have considered the impending constitutional
changes in India.
The Government of India have informed the other
Governments of the Commonwealth of the intention of the
Indian people that under the new constitution rhich is
about to be adopted India shall become a sovereign independent
republic. The Government of India have however
declared and affirmed India's desire to continue her full
membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and her acceptance
of the King-as the symbol of the free association of
its independent membe. nations and as such the Head of
the Commonwealth. The Governments of the other countries of the Commonwealth,
the basis of whose membership of the Commonwealth
is not hereby changed, accept and recognize India's continuing
membership in accordance with the terms of this
declaration. Accordingly, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia,
New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Ceylon,
hereby declare that they remain united as free and equal
members of the Commonwealth of Nations, freely co-operating
in the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress."
Note that at the time of the declaration India had
not actually become a republic; the opening paragraph was
therefore a correct statement of the then position. The

statement as a whole makes it quite clear, if it needed to be
made so, that India as a Republic, would no longer owe allegiance
to the Crown. But she accepted " the King as the symbol
of her free association... and as such the head of the Commonwealth".
Ever since this historic decision, the Crown ceases
to have any internal significance in a Republican member. The
Queen disappears from Parliament, the Courts of Law, the armed
forces. In Australia, by way of comparison, the Governor-
General is the Queen's representative, I am the Queen's Prime
Minister; my ministers and I are the Queen's servants; our
S are enacted by " the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty,
te eo, and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth
of Australia". All members of Parliament take oath or
ffirmat on of allegiance. Legal process issues in the name
f the ueen. The judges are the Queen's judges. In short,
our who e structure, legislative, executive, and judicial, is
built ound the presence of the Crown.
J Nobody remained unmoved when the Queen in opening
Perliament at Canberra on February 15, 1954, staoed the matter
quite simply ' The first Section of the Constitution of the Commonwealth
of Australia provides that the legislative power
of the Commonwealth shall be vested in " a Federal Parliament,
which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a
House of Representatives".
It is therefore a joy for me, today, to address you
not as a Queen from far away, but as YOUR Queen and as
part of YOUR Parliament. In a real sense, you are here
as my colleagues, friends, and advisors.
When I add to this consideration the fact that I am
the first ruling Sovereign to visit Australia, it is clear
that the events of today make a piece of history which
fills me with deep pride and the most heartfelt pleasure,
and which I am confident will serve to strengthen in your
own hearts and minds a feeling of comradeship with the
Crown and that sense of duty shared which we must all have
as we confront our common tasks.'
The Prime Ministers in 1949 were clearly not unconscious
of the fact that they were creating two relationships
instead of one; preferring this duality to the contraction of
Commonwealth membership. Note the words
" The Government of the other countries of the
Commonwealth, the basis of whose membership of the Commonwealth
is not hereby changed, accept and recognise India's
continuing membership in accordance with the terms of this
declaration". Was this duality affected by the phrase " Head of the
Commonwualth"? That it was a valuable and significant expression
nobody would deny. It had far-reaching effects. But what
does it mean? It does not mean that the Sovereign is " Queen of
the. Commonwealth", for she cannot be the Queen of a Republic,
* hat it does mean is that the member Republic says, in effect,
to the Crown members " We recognise that the Queen, though she
is not our Queen, occupies a position at the centre of the
Commonwealth which permits us to regard her as a symbol of our
association with other Commonwealth countries, whether republic
or monarchies". This means that the relationship is external,
and not internal.
One interesting thing about this historic decision
is that Smuts was dismayed. As his son says in his biography

" My father declared that this ' violated every concept of the
Commonwealth...' You are either in the Commonwealth or out of
it. If the Commonwealth concept is tampered with or destroyed,
and it is still proposed to continue the Commonwealth system,
there would have to be a new basis of agreement between the
member States, with a written constitution on the lines of the
League of Nations or the organisation of the United Nations...
'. hat India appears to wish is therefore not compatible with
the Commonwealth, and cannot be achieved in terms of it".
He wont on to warn
" Groat care should be taken not to empty the concept
of the Commonwealth of all substance ahd meaning, and not to
whittle it away until nothing but the word remained with no
real meaning or significance. Far better would it be to drop
it altogether," At the time when the declaration was announced by Mr.
Chifloy at Canberra, my own views as Leader of the Opposition
were not dissimilar. Iprepared what I thought to be a powerful
and pungent speech. Chifloy, who, to use the homely phrase
" didn't come down in the last shower", guessed my intentions,
and, with studied calm, left the item at the bottom of the
Notice Paper. When months had gone by, I naturally felt that
the incident was closed, and tore up my undelivered speech. I
had, not for the first or the last time, learned the discipline
of past and unalterable events.
The great purpose of my present address is not to
sit in vain judgment upon the past, but to ascertain the
present nature of the structural and dynamic elements in
Commonwealth development, What I have to say to you is designed
to be not censorious but explanatory, not gloomily
retrospective but optimistically forward-looking.
3. The third expressions " the British Commonwealth of
Nations" has also fallen into partial disuse. It is still the
natural expression for the Crown Dominions, or at least for
those who by derivation are British. But it clearly is not
acceptable to the newer Commonwealth nations. This fact
clearly emerged in the Declaration of the Prime Ministers in
1949. As we have already soon, that declaration, in its
opening paragraph, in which the Governments concerned were
speaking before the Indian Republic, described the declaring
governments as " members of the British Commonwealth of Nations''
The later operative clauses dealing with the republican status
of India referred to " the Commonwealth of Nations". This was
no accident. It was fully discussed at the Conference. It
recognised, so to speak, the facts of life and of popular
sentiment in the new nations. Faced with those facts, even I
can call my lecture " The Changing Commonwealth" without it
being thought that I am speaking of the Commonwealth of Australia,
rhile the Empire Parliamentary Association has become
the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association almost by default
of opposition. So far, I have boon concerned to point out the nature
and to try to estimate the significance of the structural changes
which have occurred during my own political life-time. I
have done this principally because I want now to direct myself
to two major questions.
1. ' hat is the significance of the Crown in the new
2. Apart from the Crown, what are the elements which
mark out the Commonwealth from other alliances or
organisations of Nations?

I cannot deal however briefly, w ith the significance
of the Crown in relation to the Commonwealth without
first saying something about its significance to those who are
within the allegiance. Are we the Queen's men and women because,
as the fact is, we love and respect her? Or because,
out of long experience, we find in the Monarchy as such a
focal point, unmarred by political controversy, for our national
tradition, consciousness, and ambitions? Or because we are
snobs, and love an hierarchical society? Or perhaps, though
citizens of a monarchy, we are not the Queen's men and women,
and therefore think that the best way to get rid of monarchy
is to vulgarise the Crown, to treat the Royal Family as if
they were stars in a public show, to deny them any private
life and probe into their real or imaginary emotional experiences,
to remove the mystery of monarchy, to destroy the swift
impulse in the loyal heart when the Queen passes by, to make
all commonplace when the national symbol of the Crown should
and must have a moving splendour of its own.
4e British people, not discouraged by Republican
examples, have a deep instinct for the monarchy. This instinct
oddly enough, does not depend upon the personal
character and popularity of the Monarch alone. The Georgian
era provided some evidence that the people of Britain thought
it a better thing to have an indifferent or incompetent King
( or even Regent) than no King at all. Queen Victoria and King
Edward VII had varying popular fortunes, not necessarily for
the same reasons. The great King George V came to the throne amid
murmured and sometimes loudly spoken criticism. He survived
both, and a great war, and grew into the hearts of his people.
When the war was over, a great stirring began, which transformed
the conception of Empire and produced the new Dominion
Status and the Statute of dJstminstor. The King shrewdly saw
the implications. He accommodated himself to the new Democracy
and the new Commonwealth. He saw vividly the technical
limitations on his own official power, but with great penetration
saw that his own personal influence and experience were
not irrelevant. He secured the friendship of Tory and
Socialist alike. He on occasion affected their conduct without
assertion of prerogative. He lived to be a much loved man,
with a much loved wife. He asserted few or no rights, but he
was nevertheless the centre of constitutional government. He
was, in my opinion, the first great Constitutional Monarch.
His relationship to his subjects will now be recalled
by fewer and fewer people, for he died in 1936. But I will
recount two stories, at first hand, which may serve to illustrate
my text. 1935 was the year of his Jubilee. His Prime Ministers
had gathered from around the world. The South African
Prime Minister was the celebrated and co-itroversial Hertzog,
by history and conviction a Republican, not by nature or experience
disposed to love the British. I had various discussions
with Hertzog ( I was present as Attorney-General of
Australia) about the conflict between my own conception of the
Crown as a single indivisible unifying element and his own
quite different ideas. I respected and admired Hertzog very
much; he was a man of great courtesy and of great integrity.
But I wondered what he would do on the great day rhen the
Prime Ministers were to attend at St. James's Palance to present
their loyal addresses to the King and the Queen.
Hortzog was immediately preceded by my o-wn Prime
Minister, J. A. Lyons, a clear King's man, who spoke movingly,
and, as always, with simplicity and charm.
Hertzog came next. He had seen something of the

King and the Queen. He had fallen under their influence, and
had learned to regard them with affection. To my groat joy he
began by saying:-" It is my pleasure and honour to present to Your
Majesty and" ( with an old-world bow) " to Her Majesty
the Queen, the loyal homage of the whole of the people
of South Africa."
It vas an unforgettable moment. For the time, at
luast, history was being written.
My second story is of a much more homely kind. I
went to have a haircut at a little barber's shop up an alley
off the Strand. The barber was a museum piece, with a friendly
manner and a fine quiff of hair fiLling over one side of his
forehead. Naturally, he did not know me from Adam, and spoke
as he thought. Brandishing the cutting implements of his
trade, he said:-" Did you see the procession to St. Paul's yesterday,
Sir?" I had. " Did you notice what a lovely day it was?"
I did. " You can't tell me God didn't have a hand in that
Sir!"' I agreed. And then I said, may I be forgiveh, " Do
you believe in all this royalty bu inoss?" It was a deliberately
discouraging question, but the answer was
superb. " Jell, you see, it's like this. Jfhen I knock off
work, I go up to a pub in Holborn, and have a couple of
pints with some of my friends. Je argue about a lot of
things, but we're all for the King!"
By the force of his own personality George V did much
to preserve the true significance of the Crown and to make his
many millions of subjects think of the Crown, not as an obstacle
to democracy but as a living element in it. This example was
superbly followed by King Goerve VI and his great Queen, and,
of course, by our Sovereign Lady of today.
Does our great good fortune, to which most of us have
become accustomed during our adult lives, mean that we are for
the Crown because of the personal quality of its wearer, and
that one misfortune could destroy it? I hope not, and I believe
not. Allegiance to the Crown will remain, intangible,
not susceptible of legal definition, the most profound of all
the unifying influences for the Crown dominions.
But, even for those Commonwealth countries which are
not within the allegiance, the Crown has, I believe, more than
a mere symbolism of friendly association. Last week, the
Prime Ministers met in London, Monarchists and Republicans. In
the past, they have always met in London. This is not just because
London is a convenient meeting place. It is, indeed, not
the most convenient place for those who come, as I do, from the
far corners of the earth. But London is at the heart of world
affairs. The tides of thought and of international relations
beat strongly, even if sometimes unsuccessfully, on the shores
of ' Whitehall and Westminster. But, more significantly, London
is where the Queen is. Some place or places other than London
may in future be chosen; but only, I hope, if the Queen is
there. For when a Republican Prime Minister clasps hands with
the Quuen, I warrant that he sees her as no theoretical emblem,
but as something special for him and his country.
I have spoken at some length about the Crown, end have
suggested that while its place among the Crown Dominions remains
unaltered and vital, its broad significance for the Commonwealth
at large has been changed and qualified. WJe have seen what has
happened to the other elements of 1926 and 1930.
Under all these circumstances, what are the operative

factors which have continued to make the Commonwealth, in spite
of all its structural changes, a spucial association of nations
with a mutual relationship which distinguishes it from other
world groups? MY answer is that the sense of community between the
Crown members and the Republican members if preserved and'fostered,
not only by the great things we have in common, such as
our desire for peace and freedom and resistance to aggression,
( for these ideas we share with many others), but also by our
frequent meetings and personal exchanges at Prime Ministers'
Conferences, at meetings of Trade or Finance Ministers, in
committees of officials, and in the Commonwealth Parliamentary
Association. On all such occasions we may meet as debaters or
contestants, but we meet in a special atmosphere which induces
both frankness and friendliness; with a feeling that we have a
special relationship of mutual respect and common interest. I
have I think a longer experience of Prime Ministers' Conferences
than most men. I will therefore speak about them in particular,
though I could with great advantage expand upon the
growing significance of the Parliamentary Association. But I
speak of those meetings of Prime Ministers which I know so well,
because I believe them to be almost the greatest element in the
" workability" and special character of the modern Commonwealth.
When we meet, we have no set agenda. ' Jo move no
resolutions, and we have never cast votes. But we learn a great
deal about the world's problems and : our relations to them. The
intolerance engendered by long-range and imperfect knowledge is
tempered. From time to time, as I iell know from experionco,
we influence each other's thinking, without the discords of public
controversy. ' Io h. ve, after all, some community of history
and ideas. Jo no longer aim at producing a common foreign
policy, nor do we any longer find ourselves able to envisage
the Commonwealth as a " world power". But if we can achieve a
common philosophical approach to world problems, there is life
and virtue in our deliberations,
We do not meet as a tribunal, to sit in judgment upon
each other, or to ventilate and pass upon intra-Commonwealth
issues. Je are not a super-state.
During the recent tragic episodes in South Africa,
there were not wanting suggestions that South Airica.. culd be
expelled presumably by majority vote from the Commonwealth.
Any such suggestion, in my opinion, misconceived the nature of
our association. iJe do not deal with the domestic political
policies of any one of us, for we know that political policies
come or go with governments, and that we are not concerned with
governments and their policies so much as we are with nations
and their peoples. If we ever thought of expelling a member
nation of the Commonwealth it would, I hope, be because we
believed that in the general interests of the Commonwealth that
nation as a nation was not fit to be our associate.
The Prime Ministers' Conference would break up in
disorder and the new Commonwealth would disintegrate if we
affected to discuss and decide what we thought to be the proper
measure of democracy in our various countries; whether particular
groups should or should not have the vote; whether oppositions
should be respected; whether a P-rliament should control
the Executive. On all such matters, " autonomous" or independunt"
nations must have the right to manage their own affairs in
their own way. . Jo are not a court. e are brothers in a special
international family. [ e have done well so far because we have
nurtured our loments of unity with loving care and have sought
to resolve our differences in a friendly and mutually helpful
way. There is, in brief, a quality of intimacy about our

meetings which relegates the protocol of diplomacy to its proper
place; induc. s personal friendships; and enables us, between
conferences, to communicate with each other without hesitation
or reserve. I know of no other association ihich possesses these
attributes to anything like the same degree. When we meet, we
are much more than a group of individuals; we are conscious of
the fact that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Contrast all this with the United Nations, where large
numbers of delegates to the Assembly meet, of necessity. almost
as strangers; ihere, of necessity, resolutions are tabled,
amendments drafted, votes canvassed, and majority decisions
taken; where the inevitable bargaining tends to weaken mutual
trust. These things must be so in great multi-national meetings,
where there are no old ties of friendship to preserve, and no
great or comprehensive tradition of well-remembered and wellloved
association in peace and in war.
Do you feel that this approach is sentimental? I
admit it. Indeed, what I have just been saying amounts to this;
that it is a cynical error to suppose that when the first Republic
entered the Commonwealth door the old sentiment flew out
of the window. ' 4 still have an attachment to each other which
none of us would deny. That is why we see in our newly independent
nations such eagerness to remain in the Commonwealth.
That is why I can sit in a Prime Ministers' Conference and feel
instantly as :. uch at home as if I were sitting in my own Cabinet.
Last week some of the principles I have recalled were
under great strain.
We were not discussing the tragic incident of Sharpeville,
for post-war history has seen many bitter events arising
from religious or political or racial hostilities in many lands.
But E1Speville had brought up into the public mind the whole
p robiums of apartheid, or separate development of separate races
within the one country. In the result, apartheid, which has
been the accepted policy of South African Governments for many
years and has never previously been brought up at a Prime
Ministers' Conference, flared into the news and into debate.
When the Conference began, there was a sharp challenge.
But, quite quickly, we re-affirmed our practice that the domestic
policies of member nations are not matters for debate or
decision by the Conference. Though private and informal talks
occurred, as they were bound to, the practice was confirmed.
In this way, we have passed again through a constitutional
crisis. The highly emotional atmosphore engendered by
the South African controversy, though it is intelligible, is not
conducive either to clear thought or to objective judgment. But
the point to be made is that the Prime Ministers' Conforence is
not a quasi-judicial body. Nor is it a Committee of the United
Nations. Nor is it under some duty to discipline its own members
into obedience to the Charter of the United Nations,
These ideas are not novel; they are sanctioned by
past practice. I take leave to mention an issue which arose nine
years ago over the India-Pakistan difference regarding Kashmir;
a difference as yet unresolved. The then Prime Minister of
Pakistan, Liquat Ali Khan, wanted Kashmir to be listed for the
then approaching Prime Ministers' Conference. The Prime Minister
of the United Kingdom, Mr. Attlee ( as he then was) acted
upon the unwritten rule that the Conference was not a tribunal
and refused. Mr. Nehru concurred. Mr. Liquat Ali Khan ultimately
came to London when it had been agreed that private and
voluntary conversations could occur, not as part of the Conference
procedures but as incidental to the fact that Prime

Ministers would be meeting in London and wrould be privately
available to each other. Private talks occurred. They related
to a matter of considerable international importance, but they
formed no part of the official record,
As our numbers incruase, and the close personal contact
which we now enjoy becomes less close and less personal, we
will encounter dangers which we must be careful to avert.
I state my oin faith in this way.
Jo of the Commonwealth are no longer a single integrated
structure, wlith a common foundation and a powerful organic
association. Our strength is that re meet as equals, without
vote or lobby; we speak to each other with freedom and friendli
-ness; we seek to understand each other, but we do not sit in
judgment on each other; we take an interest in each other but
respect the fact that each member has achieved self-government;
hence we seek to co-operate with each other but not to invade
the sovereignty of each other. / Je seok agreement on purpose
and principle, but leave to each the decision on how to achieve
or apply them. For, though so much has changed, the nations of the
Commonwealth remain " autonomous" and " freely associated". We
derive strength from the knowledge that we are not like other
associations, that our rules may be unwritten but our true relations
written into our hearts and consciousness,.
I conclude with two mercifully brief homilies.
The first is this. In the old Commonwealth, and under
the Crown, the great traditional expression of constitutional
monarchy wasParliamentary self-government. So much ras this
" bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh" that we have been
tempted to regard it as an essential part of the Commonwealth
inheritance. Most of us have, in post-prandial speeches, succumbed
to the temptation. But, Is vu look back and around us,
is this true? Our British institutions of democracy hove
grown from the soil, over long centuris. But they cannot be
easily transplanted. Modern history proves this. They oere tried, and
failed, in Russia , nd in Germany. They have had a chequered
history in France. They suffered a long occlusion in Italy.
They have been swept aside, by force majoureo in the hi. storic
countries of Middle Europe. They do not exist in Continental
China. They are now struggling to life in Japan. hat of tbe
new Commonwealth countries? If we survey Commonwealth mankind
from Ghana to Malaya, e will begin to understand that one of
the great implications of independent nationhood is that when
people win to self-government they choose or permit their orwn
forms of government. It is one of the many errors of modern
emotional thinking, or of emotion at any rate, to believe that
when a former colony becomes free of foreign rule, all that
needs to be said is " Now, elect your own Pa. rliamont, have a
Government and an Opposition, make your la rs democratically,
and all will be well"
The truth, as I see it, is that each new Comiionwealth
country, as it achieves complete independence, tends to begin
its adventure by developing a higher degree of executive authority
at the centre, and correspondingly a lower degree of parliamentary
power, than we are accustomed to. Parliaeintary
government is not an artificial creation . ihich can be established
in a new country by a mere act of law. If it tends, . rith us, to
give expression and protection to individual rights, that is
because we have a passion for individual freedom, of which Parliament
has become the expression and the guarantee. The historic
movement has been, in the famous phrase, " from status to

contract". Our parliamentary system is based upon the free
individual. If we occasionally respect our governments, and
always, or almost always, obey the laws passed by Parliament,
it is because the body of citizens, with equal political rights,
have chosen our ministers and legislators, and can dismiss
them; though this, to one who has survived five successive
elections, is a sobering reflection.
I turn to my second homily.
I have spoken about " unity in diversity', and have
dwelt at some length and with some emphasis upon the increased
diversity which has arisen since 1930. It is not to be thought
from this emphasis that I think diversity a bad thing. It is,
on the contrary, as good constitutionally as it is agriculturally.
The old British Empire had groat diversities of institutions,
creed, tradition, culture, and race, The new Commonwealth
has, as we have seen, added some of its own. Such diversities,
so long as they give rise to different points of view
and promote the frankest exchanges of opinion, and do not give
rise to hatreds, are good. Properly dealt with, they promote
true friendship and co-operation by widening the boundaries of
understanding and tolerance and serving to create a sense of
the interdependence of independent minds and nations! A sound
individualism is not anarchical, but democratic.
As a wise observer said to me recently " If organic
unity in the old sense is gole, a new unity must be sought for.
It cannot be achieved in a hurry, any more than its predecessor
was". In truth, and in the world in which we live, absolute
independence, as some speak of it, is impossible. Je all
value its form, and do our best to achieve its substance, But
without economic aid, technical assistance, foreign capital, and
in most cases military or material alliancues there can be few,
if any nations in the world that could hope to maintain their
indopendonce. If we are to enjoy the co-operation and respect of
each other, we must got to know each other bettor, be more
tolerant of what to us are strange ideas, bury old prejudices,
and seek to achieve that understanding intimacy which recognises
differences but learns how to live with them,
The most remarkable expression of this vital human
truth is our Commonwealth of Nations, changed and changing, but,
so long as we see clearly, destined to endure,

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