466 Note by Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, of Conversation with Mr J. G. Winant, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom

Winant came to lunch with me at the Flat. We had a quite long, most useful and interesting talk.

I took him very closely down the lines of the attached Memorandum, stressing strongly the dangers of a head-on collision after the war unless we did some careful thinking now.

I told him in some detail of my discussions with Greenwood [1] and Hudson [2], and indicated that I thought it might be possible to get to the point of the British Government undertaking a survey of the possibilities of reorientating agriculture in this country to meet the increased demands that would be made upon it for protective [sic] foods if the policy of a minimum nutritional standard were adopted. I pointed out that while this would be useful it would be very much more useful if the U.S.A. were undertaking a similar survey at the same time. I stressed to him that I was sure that a policy of this sort would make a great appeal to the President [3] because it would mean the realisation of his dreams with regard to the 'forgotten man'.

Winant cordially agreed with this and was generally receptive to everything I had been saying.

I told him that one difficulty in opening the matter up with the U.S.A. was the feeling that it was so essential upon concentrating [sic] upon convincing the President and the U.S.A. of the urgency of providing full help in the war that it would be dangerous to raise any other issue at the present time. I told him that I had found that this was the attitude of both Greenwood and my own Prime Minister. [4] I also told him that I profoundly disagreed with both and that it seemed to me they were unappreciative of the real greatness of the President. I told him I was sure that so far from detracting from the President's determination to aid the Democracies it would strengthen it, if he had the picture of a practical policy in his mind that was going to help to realise all that he stood for once peace was achieved.

Winant also agreed with this estimate of the President's reactions.

We went over every aspect in considerable detail and we can I think take it that our ideas are well sold to Winant.

The matter was left on the basis that I would further pursue my efforts with the United Kingdom Government and in the consideration as to how this could best be done, the name of Attlee [5] cropped up.

The Ambassador has a very considerable regard for Attlee and strongly urged that I should press my views on him. He said that the trouble with Attlee was his lack of force but he thought something might be accomplished if I kept driving at him.

Just at the end of the conversation we touched on the war position and the problem of the defence of the United Kingdom against invasion, but decided we had better postpone discussion until a further meeting.


[AA: M100, MAY 1941]

1 U.K. Minister without Portfolio. See Bruce's note of the conversation, dated 13 May, on file AA: M100, May 1941.

2 U.K. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. See Bruce's note of the conversation, dated 15 May, on file AA: M100, May 1941.

3 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

4 R. G. Menzies.

5 U.K. Lord Privy Seal.

Enclosure Memorandum

1 May 1941

1. The world's future must depend upon continued collaboration between the U.S.A., the United Kingdom and the Dominions. Given this all is possible. On this basis we can attach to ourselves the countries of Western Europe. We can restore world peace and then maintain it. We shall be able to increase world prosperity' 2. To secure such collaboration, we shall need to see that our respective countries look in the same direction. This must be the case in the political, the economic and the social fields.

3. Unfortunately unless we take definite steps to modify tendencies, there are the possibilities of a head-on clash of apparent short term interests between the U.S.A., the United Kingdom and the Dominions.

The tendencies can be summarised as follows:-

In the United Kingdom after the war taxation will be high and most of the United Kingdom's external investments will have been realised. This would mean, on the accepted basis of Whitehall thinking, that the country will have to face short commons over a prolonged period. This would mean reduced imports from all sources.

In the U.S.A. agriculture will have been reoriented on an export basis, industrialists will be longing for expanded external markets, the U.S.A. will hold the great bulk of the world's gold and will desire the maximum possible world trade.

The Dominions will look for the re-establishment of their Ottawa position in British Empire markets but will have become more industrialised and hence will find it more difficult to secure adequate markets for their agricultural products.

If these tendencies are allowed to develop, they point to a series of head-on collisions with political consequences of the most unhappy nature.

4. It should be possible to reorient the economic outlook of all our countries along lines which would lead to real and permanent co-operation. To do so it will be necessary to give practical expression to the third of President Roosevelt's four freedoms, i.e. 'the freedom from want' and to expand slightly what he means by it.

5. This might be done by the President defining 'freedom from want' as meaning that in all the advanced countries Government economic policy should be directed to securing such social conditions as should secure to every child born in these countries equal opportunities for a healthy life of average duration. (To- day in both the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. the expectation of life of a child born in the poverty stricken classes is far lower than in the well-to-do.) To achieve this elementary form of social justice, it would be necessary to secure to all classes adequate food at prices within their purchasing power, reasonable housing and clothing. These objectives would demand an expansive economic system and would allow of full co-operation between the nations.

Everything can be accomplished under an expansive system whereas almost all policies are too difficult if recession in economic activity is dominant.

If, in addition to definite undertakings to secure social justice within our own borders, the U.S.A. and Empire countries would announce their determination to assist other countries to secure similar ends, the effect on the world would be very great.

6. Action by the President down the lines indicated should- (a) Strengthen the Allies' hands in the war of ideas by adding to the concept of freedom that of economic welfare and social justice. This might possibly have profound effects upon the peoples of Europe.

(b) Give to the peoples of the U.S.A., the United Kingdom and the Dominions a further incentive to the successful prosecution of the war.

(c) Provide the essential basis for first Empire-U.S.A.

collaboration in reconstruction and, secondly, a basis on which other countries would desire to join us.

7. In putting these general ideas before the President, it might be emphasised:-

(a) that the achievement of these aims is physically practicable but requires some revolutionary thinking.

(b) that unless we (i.e. Empire-U.S.A.) do some of this thinking jointly, we may find ourselves poles apart, and (c) that should the President decide to elaborate his conception of 'freedom from want' along these lines, he could rely upon enthusiastic support from the Dominions and from the great mass of opinion in the United Kingdom.

8. It would not be necessary for the President to make any commitments as to the methods which would be needed to achieve the objective set out in No. 5 above. What is needed is the examination of the agricultural, commercial policy and health factors involved. This could be jointly undertaken by a small body of well qualified persons drawn from the U.S.A. and the British Empire.

It would therefore be sufficient if the President, at this stage, proposed the joint examination of the national and international action required to translate the general objective into terms of practical policies. [1]

[AA: M100, MAY 1941]

1 This memorandum was probably prepared either by Bruce or by his economic adviser, F. L. McDougall.

[LONDON], 22 May 1941