British Empire
The end of the British empire - the Dominions
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Canadian report about the Statute of Westminster, 1931
(Catalogue ref: DO 127/10)
  • This extract contains a summary of the main points of the Statute of Westminster, which was passed in 1931.
  • The Statute of Westminster officially gave all of the Dominions the full power to rule themselves, although they already did this.
  • By this stage the Irish Free State had also become a Dominion, although Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom.
  • The Statute of Westminster was mainly designed to sort out red tape. There were sometimes legal complications because the constitutions of the Dominions said that on some issues the Dominions had to get permission from the British Parliament to pass certain laws. The Statute of Westminster allowed the Dominions to pass any laws they wished to pass without having to consult the British Parliament.
  • One key issue was the fact that the British monarch was also the head of state of the Dominions. This is why the question of the succession is tackled. Succession meant the process of deciding who should become King or Queen after a monarch died. This was usually the eldest son and was hardly ever a controversial issue. However, in 1936 King Edward VIII gave up the throne to marry a woman called Wallis Simpson. His brother became King George VI, but the Dominions were all consulted about this matter.
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