242 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered LONDON, 14 May 1940, 11.03 p.m.

Addressed to the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies.

Notwithstanding political crisis and early stages of events in Holland, Belgium, discussions with British Ministers which I have been endeavouring to arrange for some time took place last Friday.

[1] Simon, Eden, Duncan, Woolton, Cross and Hudson [2] were all present.

SHIPPING. I pressed strongly using all the arguments contained in your telegrams for allocation at local discretion on monthly basis percentage of liners tonnage but while strength of our case was admitted, it was contended that such allocation could not be agreed upon without creating an embarrassing precedent. Minister of Shipping however expressed appreciation of the necessity of meeting so far as practicable requirements for shipping space of products of industries definitely carried in liner tonnage and expressed preparedness to co-operate in trying to arrange this. He stressed that during the past month it had been found possible to meet some of these requirements, instancing canned fruit and rabbits, and urged that if we worked together in practice, it would probably be possible to accomplish a good deal and meet your more urgent requirements.

While this is not satisfactory, I feel that we are likely to attain better results by working with the Ministry of Shipping whose goodwill we now have, rather than by continuing to fight for definite allocation.

It has been suggested to me by Westralian Farmers that Australia should seek representation on the Committee of Allocation of Inter-Allied Tonnage. Think proposal has merits but understand that similar suggestion has been made your Wheat Board and probably has been referred for your consideration. If you desire me to press for representation, will do so on receipt of advice from you. [3]

DRIED FRUITS. While I pressed the purchase of full additional 24,000 tons, was unable to get agreement to more than additional 15,000 tons and this was subject to agreement as to price which would allow cheaper retail sale in intensive campaign for disposal. Discussions regarding price and shipping programme will take place immediately and I win further advise you as soon as possible.

CANNED FRUIT. Owing to the low food value, United Kingdom Government were not prepared to purchase or allocate definite shipping space. Insofar however as space could be found under the general arrangement for shipping liner cargoes, United Kingdom would offer no objection to canned fruits coming forward.

Hudson indicated preparedness to co-operate.

Attitude of Ministry of Food towards any canned fruit arriving being further discussed and I shall advise you later.

BRUCE

1 10 May 1940.

2 Respectively U.K. chancellor of the Exchequer, Dominions Secretary, President of the Board of Trade, Minister of Food, Minister of Economic Warfare and Minister of Shipping.

3 On 21 June 1940 Bruce was requested to submit a formal request for Australian representation on the Committee of Allocation of Inter-Allied Tonnage (see unnumbered cablegram on file AA: A571, W40/903, i).

[FA: A3195, 1.3250]