Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth attending Dinner at Lancaster House, London, during the seventh Imperial Conference, October 1926. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Download PDFs: Imperial Policy and Colonial Practice, 1925-1945, in two parts

Part One: Metropolitan Reorganisation, Defence and International Relations, Political Change and Constitutional Reform [267MB]

Part Two: Economic Policy, Social Policies and Colonial Research [209MB]

Volume Details: Series A, Volume 1. First published by The Stationary Office in 1996. Electronic version reproduced with permission of the editor under an Open Government Licence.

Editor Details: 

SR ASHTON is the General Editor of the British Documents on the End of Empire Project and was a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. With Wm Roger Louis he edited East of Suez and the Commonwealth, 1964-1971 (BDEEP, 2004), and with David Killingray The West Indies (BDEEP, 1999).

SE STOCKWELL is Senior Lecturer in Imperial and Commonwealth History at King’s College London. Her previous publications include The Business of Decolonization: British Business Strategies in the Gold Coast (2000) and The British Empire: Themes and Perspectives (2007).

Selection from Introduction:

This first general volume is…published as a prelude to the End of Empire series as a whole. Its main purpose is to provide a broad illustrative overview of how, and in what form, those issues of colonial and imperial significance which assumed far greater prominence in the years after 1945 appeared from a metropolitan perspective over a twenty-year period beginning in 1925.” (Part I, p.xxiii)

Convincing public opinion, both at home and abroad, that the colonial empire was a ‘good show’, that its problems were being tackled with ‘energy and vision’, that the welfare of the people and not the balancing of the budget was the object of policy, and that the CO and the colonial administrations worked in partnership as a team, became a major preoccupation of officials in London from the late 1930s. The CO could no longer remain aloof from outside opinion and function in this respect as if it were, in Jeffries’s words, ‘a law unto itself’. The Office had to recognise that colonial affairs had become a major issue in both home and international affairs and that political and social aspirations in the colonies themselves were becoming more insistent and more vocal.” (Part I, p.xxviii)