159 Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram B188 LONDON, 5 October 1940, 10.56 p.m.


Discussion here of desirability of reviving the Imperial War Cabinet might not have arisen but for unsatisfactory results of circuitous methods of communication at present employed between United Kingdom and Commonwealth Government wherever (sic) it is recognized that the Commonwealth must accept a large measure of responsibility. Outward communications go from the Prime Minister's Department Canberra to Dominions Office and thence to other Departments as requested. Inward communications from Foreign Office pass by way of External Affairs Department's officials in London and of High Commissioner directly to appropriate Department. External Affairs Department's outwards messages including its replies to Foreign Office are transmitted by Prime Minister's Department through Dominions Office. It is not surprising that this cumbersome procedure leads to repeated delay in getting important messages through to their destinations. It is complained that owing to the tardiness of the Dominions Office in transmitting Australian dispatches to Foreign Office there have been occasions on which United Kingdom Government reached decisions affecting Australia without being informed of Australia's point of view. On the other hand External Affairs Department has been referred by United Kingdom Government to communications from Australia of which it was not aware. The reform which is being urged at this end is to make External Affairs Department the official channel of communications between the Foreign Office and the other Departments in the Dominion with the Prime Minister presiding over it. This is the method that is practised in Canada and South Africa.