No. 37 NAI DFA 11/3A

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(S. 9/4/Conf. 21)

Geneva, 21 April 1932

Disarmament Conference

Further to my report of 20th instant, concerning the British proposal in connection with the principle of qualitative disarmament.1 This proposal, circulated in the name of the British Government, came up for discussion yesterday morning at the General Commission of the Conference. I put my name down almost immediately to speak, having decided to give the proposal our support. My turn, however, did not come until this morning. I had not had time to prepare a speech, but in a statement lasting about seven or eight minutes said that the Irish Government did not favour any systems to the exclusion of others. The Delegation would support every possible measure for qualitative disarmament without prejudice to the other proposals. We would like to see some forms of armament abolished and the remainder limited or reduced. At the same time, we were looking forward with interest to the discussion on the French proposal regarding internationalisation. To adopt the British proposal would record a slight advance after several months' work and could, I thought, be acceded to by all parties, irrespective of their desire to see other systems adopted and applied, etc.

The British delegate sent me a note, probably a 'circular' one, thanking me for the support of our delegation and adding that he was glad I spoke while his Prime Minister was present. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald had appeared at the conference a few minutes before I spoke.

You will see from the records of the discussion that, with the exception of France and some of the States very much under her influence, very general support was given to the British proposal. No vote was possible today as, at the last moment, a counter-resolution was put forward by Mr. Titulesco (Rumania). The German Chancellor, by the way, was also present at today's meeting. Mr. Stimson (U.S.A.) had appeared yesterday. Most of the European Foreign Ministers continue to attend, and Mr. Latham (Australian Attorney-General) is expected in a few days.

I mention these facts in order again to draw attention to my suggestion that the Minister might be able to come out, even if he stayed only 48 hours, in order that the Saorstát should obtain the obvious advantages of even a brief visit, and that he himself should make the acquaintance of an unusual gathering of world statesmen.

[signed] Seán Lester

1 See above No.35.

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