Documents and Speeches on Commonwealth Affairs, 1952-1962

Documents and Speeches on Commonwealth Affairs, 1952-1962

Documents and Speeches on Commonwealth Affairs, 1952-1962

Documents and Speeches on Commonwealth Affairs, 1952-1962

Excerpt

This book is a successor volume to the two volumes of Documents and Speeches on British Commonwealth Affairs, 1931-52 published in 1953 and its purpose is the same, namely to bring together the more important documents and speeches on Commonwealth affairs for the years with which it deals.

The term 'British Commonwealth' dropped out of official as well of popular usage after 1949 and was replaced, despite Australian misgivings, by the more concise though occasionally ambiguous designation of 'Commonwealth'. The title of this volume by comparison with that of its predecessors is accordingly the briefer by the omission of the adjective 'British'. Its contents may well suggest that the shortening of title was a matter of substance even more than of convenience. In 1962 the Commonwealth was demonstrably less British than it had been in 1952, the year of Queen Elizabeth's accession. At the earlier date its self-governing membership consisted of eight states: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and Ceylon, four of which were at least preponderantly British in respect of their population and five of which were European in respect of their government. With the exception of India all were monarchies, Queen Elizabeth being at that time Queen of Pakistan and Queen of Ceylon as much as she was Queen of Canada or Queen of Australia. Ten years later, however, the total European element, diminished by the enforced withdrawal of South Africa but increased in the same year and at the same time by the accession of Cyprus, remained in number constant; the Asian element was enlarged with the addition of the Federation of Malaya, later to form the heartland of an enlarged Federation of Malaysia; by the end of 1962 five African States, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanganyika, and Uganda were carried to independence and at their own wish to Commonwealth membership by the 'wind of change' which the British Prime Minister sensed on his African travels and about which he told the South African Parliament at his journey's end in March 1960, and there was the possibility of further African additions in Kenya, Nyasaland, and the Rhodesias; while in the West Indies, following the breakdown of the federal experiment, there was the separate island membership of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. In sum there was, therefore, already in existence by the end of 1962 a substantial non-British majority among member-states which was likely to be further increased. The number of monarchies and republics neared equality and this reflected in constitutional terms the dilution that had taken place in the British character of the

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