165 Attlee to Commonwealth Government

Circular cablegram D234 LONDON, 22 April 1943, 10.30 p.m.

SECRET

As you know, it is expected that the Food Conference in the United States of America [1] will form part of a general programme of separate but inter-related discussions covering, in pursuance of Article 7 of the Mutual Aid Agreement, the whole field of post-war monetary and economic policy. We feel, therefore, that we must be prepared for very early conversations with the United States of America in regard to other subjects in the programme and in particular in regard to the post-war commercial policy.

2. Lord Halifax has recommended that so far as commercial policy is concerned our best course would be to make a very early approach to the State Department on the official level, with a view to testing their reactions. He would propose, in conjunction with such an approach, to speak himself to Mr. Hull with a view to paving the way for an exchange of ideas, and he feels that the appropriate moment for such an initiative would be immediately after Congress has passed the Bill to renew the Trade Agreements Act, i.e. probably at the end of May at the latest.

3. We concur generally in Lord Halifax's view that we should take the initiative in this matter and after careful consideration of the lines on which a preliminary and exploratory approach might best be made we are sending him a draft aide memoire, which, subject to what follows, we suggest he should hand to Mr. Hull when the time comes. Texts of draft aide memoire and of supplementary instructions indicating line on which he might speak to Mr. Hull are contained in two immediately following telegrams.

[2]

4. At the same time it has been explained to Lord Halifax that we are most anxious unless our hands are unavoidably forced that the subject should not be broached in any way with the United States until there has been an opportunity for an exchange of views with Dominion Governments. He has been told that we are approaching you immediately with a view to arranging for such an exchange of views and that in the meantime he is to take no action on the draft aide memoire or to open the subject in any way without further instructions from us.

5. We feel that the best and most expeditious procedure for such an exchange of views, which must necessarily at this stage be of an entirely preliminary and non-committal character, would be through the holding as early as possible of an informal conference on the official and expert level similar to that which took place last autumn on the Clearing Union and buffer stock plans. [3] Such a conference would, we feel, have great value in enabling our experts (a) To explain more fully than can be done by telegram the general background as seen here, the main issues likely to, arise and the way in which our thoughts are turning on these issues.

(b) To exchange ideas with Dominion representatives in regard to those aspects of broad policy to which individual Dominion Governments are likely to attach special importance without, at this stage, going into matters of detail.

(c) To obtain the benefit of such constructive suggestions as Dominion representatives may, on their part, be able to put forward, either in regard to the preliminary approach to the United States or to subsequent procedure.

6. We hope that Dominion Governments will share our view that such a joint meeting of experts on a purely informal, exploratory and noncommittal basis would be very valuable at this stage. In view of the possibility that matters may now develop rapidly in the United States, we are most anxious that such a meeting should be held at the earliest possible date. We should be most grateful, therefore, for very early intimation whether Dominion Governments would be prepared to send experts to London to take part in discussions here, which we suggest should open in say the third week of May.

7. A telegram on similar lines is being sent to the Government of India.

1 See Document 215.

2 See Document 166 and cablegram D236 of 22 April on file AA:A989, 43/735/57/1.

3 See Document 98, notes 2 and 4, and Document 104.

[AA:A989, 43/735/57/1]