Conferencing the International
Photograph of delegates at the First Session of the Round Table Conference at St James's Palace, London (November 1930-January 1931)

Round Table Conference: the First Session
(12th November 1930 – 19th January 1931)

Timeline of events at the First Session and after

November 1930

  • 2nd: Princely States delegates agreed upon supporting federation.
  • 10th: Princely States delegates finalised their speeches agreeing to support federation. Benn called together an agenda committee, Reading and Sapru agreed that federation would be the first item for discussion.
  • 11th: Reading interviewed by Mirza Ismail, confirmed that while he still opposed Dominion Status he would support federation.
  • 13th: the conference was opened in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords by King George V.
  • 14th: the Imperial Conference terminated.
  • 16th: British Indian delegates almost reached a compromise deal and a united front, but Muslim delegates ultimately rejected it.
  • 17th: the RTC began its work, at the first plenary session, where agreement was quickly reached that the conference would work to create an All-India Federation, with safeguards.
  • 28th: the Federal Structure Sub-Committee was formed, with Sankey as Chairman.

December 1930 

  • 11th: Winston Churchill gave one of several speeches warning against the RTC granting any concessions to Gandhi’s agenda.
  • 12th: Sankey presented the Federal Structure Sub-Committee interim report to the conference, proposing a bicameral Federal Legislation.
  • 15th: Queen Mary hosted the wives of the Indian Princes at the RTC, and the two female delegates, at Buckingham Palace.
  • 16th: Arthur Henderson presented the Provincial Sub-Committee report to the conference.

January 1931

  • 5th: at the Federal Structure Sub-Committee Reading committed the Liberal delegates to supporting federation and central responsibility of the government to the people, with safeguards.
  • 12th: the British Cabinet debated a statement on communal representation in any future Indian system.
  • 15th: Sankey submitted the Federal Structure Sub-Committee’s second report to the conference.
  • 16th: the reports of the Burma, North West Frontier Province, Franchise, Defence, Services, Sind, Minorities Sub-Committee were submitted to the conference.
  • 19th: the RTC concluded, undecided on the size of the legislative houses, the nature of elections and communal representation, but committed to federation with safeguards.
  • 22nd: Irwin declared the Congress Working Committee no longer illegal and its members were released from jail.

February 1931 

  • 14th: Gandhi requested talks with Irwin and met him in Delhi three days later
  • 17th February - March 5th: Gandhi and Congress debated the terms of the suspension of civil disobedience and participation in the RTC with Irwin.

March 1931

  • 5th: the Gandhi-Irwin pact was announced, freeing Gandhi to attend the RTC.
  • 21st: a meeting was held in New Delhi between Irwin, RTC delegates currently in Delhi, Gandhi and Malaviya.

June 1931

    • 13th: Patiala voiced opposition to the emerging plans for federation and circulated memorandum leading to revolt over the federation consensus and the extended range of subjects proposed for discussion at the RTC’s second session.

August 1931

    • 24th: the Labour government collapsed due to disagreements regarding management of the mounting economic depression. A National Government, with MacDonald as Prime Minister within a Cabinet of mostly Conservative MPs, was formed.

Conferencing the International

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