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1930 Imperial Conference

1930 Imperial Conference
Host countryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Date1 October 1930
14 November 1930
Heads of State or Government8
ChairRamsay MacDonald (Prime Minister)
Key points

The 1930 Imperial Conference was the sixth Imperial Conference bringing together the prime ministers of the dominions of the British Empire. It was held in London.[1] The conference was notable for producing the Statute of Westminster, which established legislative equality for the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire with Great Britain, thereby marking the effective legislative independence of these countries.[1] Economic relations within the British Empire was also a key topic with proposals for a system of Imperial preference - empire-wide trade barriers against foreign (i.e. non-empire) goods. These proposals were further discussed at the British Empire Economic Conference in 1932.


The 1926 Imperial Conference produced the Balfour Declaration that Dominions were autonomous and not subordinate to Great Britain. The 1929 Conference on Dominion Legislation and Merchant Shipping Laws was intended to move from the Balfour Declaration's broad statement of principle to a substantive legal framework, but the Irish Free State and the Union of South Africa demanded greater practical autonomy than the other attendees would allow.[2] The 1930 Conference would instead address the issue.[3]

Historian George Woodcock argues it marks the beginning of the end of the British Empire.[4]

The Conference

The conference was hosted by King-Emperor George V, with his Prime Ministers and members of their respective cabinets:

Nation Name Portfolio
United Kingdom United Kingdom Ramsay MacDonald Prime Minister (Chairman)
 Australia James Scullin Prime Minister
 Canada R. B. Bennett Prime Minister
British Raj India William Wedgwood Benn Secretary of State
 Irish Free State W. T. Cosgrave President
Dominion of Newfoundland Newfoundland Richard Squires Prime Minister
 New Zealand George Forbes Prime Minister
South Africa South Africa J. B. M. Hertzog Prime Minister



  1. ^ a b Marshall, Sir Peter (September 2001). "The Balfour Formula and the Evolution of the Commonwealth". The Round Table. 90 (361): 541–53. doi:10.1080/00358530120082823. S2CID 143421201.
  2. ^ Keith, A. Berriedale (1930). "Notes on Imperial Constitutional Law". Journal of Comparative Legislation and International Law. 12 (4). Cambridge University Press on behalf of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law: 278–298 : 278. JSTOR 753800.
  3. ^ Keith, A. Berriedale (1931). "The Imperial Conference of 1930". Journal of Comparative Legislation and International Law. 13 (1). Cambridge University Press on behalf of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law: 26–42. JSTOR 754081.
  4. ^ Woodcock, 1974.

Sources and further reading

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1930 Imperial Conference
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