362 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 185 LONDON, 25 March 1941, 4.30 a.m.


Commonwealth Government's telegram No. 93 of 14th February [1], and New Zealand Government's telegram No. 32 of 30th January. [2] His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are glad to note that His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth and His Majesty's Government in New Zealand are generally in agreement with their broad proposals regarding the arrangements arising from the Eastern Group Conference, and that they consider those proposals a suitable starting point for the establishment of the Eastern Group Supply Council. As the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments are doubtless aware, the other Governments concerned have also expressed general agreement.

2. We consider (and this would seem to be in general accord with your views) that the best course is for the Council itself, after it has assembled, to consider and make recommendations on any modifications of scope or procedure which may be suggested as necessary to increase the utility of the organization which is being created. We have noted and considered the comments of the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments, and have conveyed them to the Chairman [3], and the Commonwealth and New Zealand representatives will doubtless put their Government's points of view before the Council. We agree that, in any case, some of the points must be considered in the light of experience. In the circumstances, we assume that the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments would not wish us at this stage to comment in detail on their observations.

3. With regard to paragraph 2 of the Commonwealth Government's telegram, there would appear to have been a telegraphic error, since paragraph 3 (f) of my telegram of the 18th January [4] referred to the Union of South Africa Internal Provision Office.

4. With regard to Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments' comments on paragraph 7 of my telegram of 18th January, we now propose that instead of a list of stores being drawn up with which the Council should not deal, there should be consultation with United Kingdom authorities before new production schemes for new purchasing programmes for certain stores should be undertaken. A list of these stores is contained in my immediately following telegram [5] and has been given to Carter. This does not, of course, affect the carrying out of existing programmes in the Eastern Group countries, or the extension of such programmes as part of a general scheme notified to the Council.

5. Paragraph 6 of Commonwealth Government's telegram; (a) as regards the inclusion of medical supplies, see my telegram of 18th February to the Commonwealth Government No. 104 [6], New Zealand Government No. 49 and Union Government No. 15, and (b) as regards Royal Air Force supplies, the Royal Air Force will be represented on Central Provision Office by a Group Captain, who will be in a position to bring Air Ministry requirements before the Council.

6. As regards the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments' comments on paragraphs 12 and 13 of my telegram of 18th January, we are ready to examine promptly and sympathetically specific proposals for development of production as and when they are elaborated. It would hardly be possible for us to give any detailed information as to the possible assistance which we might be able to furnish except in relation to such proposals.

1 Document 295.

2 In PRO:DO 114/112.

3 Sir Archibald Carter.

4 Document 251.

5 AA:A3195, 1941, 1.4495.

6 AA:A3195, 1941, 1.2484.

[PRO:DO 114/112]