Self-governing Dominions

Posted by Helen Wednesday, December 12, 2012 , , ,

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Statute of Westminster 1931, which "established legislative equality for the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom, thereby marking the effective legislative independence of these countries, either immediately or upon ratification".

This vital piece of legislation that brought the concept of the Empire forward toward the eventual creation of a Commonwealth is not as widely recognized as it ought to be. Nor is it taught at schools but then how much  history is taught at schools?

What a good thing would it have been if the Act had  included India, admittedly a more complicated problem. Instead, there was the Government of India Act of 1935, the longest piece of legislation enacted by that time. Opposed by many Conservatives,  including Winston Churchill, it did attempt to create a new political entity in India and was partially put into effect before the outbreak of the Second World War. Would it have prevented the creation of the Indian National Army that turned to the Japanese for help to secure Indian independence? Would it have ensured a more peaceful development than the terrible story of the Partition and the subsequent bloodbath?

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