40 Mr J.S. Duncan, Acting High Commissioner in London, to Mr S.M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London (in Australia)

Cablegram 59 LONDON, 16 March 1939

SECRET FOR HIS SIGHT ONLY

In view developments in Europe it is in my personal view possible that Colonial question may become issue between Germany and British Empire earlier than might otherwise have been expected. There seem to me to be three decisions which ought to be taken. First is the Empire prepared to renounce its territorial position to extent which may be demanded of it or to any extent whatever? Second if it is what is the limit to which it will go and where is it prepared to make concessions? Third if it is not when is the best time to state firmly this considered decision? These matters seem to me to demand decision by the United Kingdom and Empire Ministers or representatives. It is not too early in my view to be thinking of the examination of the problem and the making of decision of policy. A situation may otherwise arise when within comparatively limited time Empire attitude may have to be stated under circumstances which would not allow for deliberate and careful consideration of all that is involved. I mention these matters so that you may have them in mind before leaving Australia. There has been no move here of which I am aware to invite Dominion collaboration. It may be that some pressure should be exerted from the Dominions. You will best judge this. If subject is likely to arise later this year you would no doubt like to be reinforced with firm statement Australian policy and if it be possible with unanimity of view all leaders of political parties. Desire that you should not read this message as being alarmist but rather as suggesting need for preparation for decisions which will have to be made in due course.

Nothing at moment need involve any disturbance your plans.

DUNCAN

[FA: A2937, FOREIGN SITUATION]