162 Note by Bruce of Conversation with Attlee

[LONDON], 22 April 1943

I saw Attlee and had about half an hour with him. My object in going to see him was to suggest that Orr should be included in the United Kingdom Delegation to the Food Conference. [1] With this view Attlee expressed his sympathy but pointed out that the matter was not one for his decision but he undertook to take it up with Woolton. I found subsequently that he had done so.

I then went on to wider questions and outlined to Attlee my view of the necessity of dealing with post-war problems on an imaginative basis. Everything I said is familiar and, as usual, Attlee completely agreed but it is equally certain he will do nothing.

I then pointed out to Attlee that we had had an arrangement by which he was to keep me advised of any Cabinet Meeting at which I was not present. [2] That there had been three in the past week and he had told me nothing.

Attlee, as usual, assumed an attitude of racking his mind for what had happened and reached the usual conclusion that nothing had been dealt with except domestic questions. I repeated my usual offensive observation that it seemed to me an extraordinary thing that the United Kingdom War Cabinet was doing nothing whatever, but this failed to elicit any response from him.

I left him with the observation that the whole thing was a complete farce and if I could only consult my own desires I would give up the job. That, however, was not possible, but I added that I would welcome it if circumstances forced me to do so. As usual the conversation was very reminiscent of punching a pillow.

S. M. B.

1 Sir John Orr was Professor of Agriculture at the University of Aberdeen and an expert on health and nutrition. Bruce and McDougall thought highly of Orr and McDougall (then in Washington) had asked Bruce (see cablegram 55 of 22 April) to try to obtain the latter's inclusion in the U.K. delegation to the Hot Springs Conference. Bruce replied to McDougall on 29 April (cablegram 21):

'I have done what I could with everyone, including Woolton, for Orr's inclusion but without success. My impression is they are afraid of him even as an Adviser.' All documents are on file AA:M100, April 1943.

2 See Document 100, note 3.

[AA:M100, APRIL 1943]