267 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 146A LONDON, 1 September 1943

My telegram No. 144A. [1] In view of the importance of food both during the war and post-war period the organisation dealing with it is of first moment.

In considering the two proposals now under consideration, namely (a) an all-powerful body in Washington, or (b) two parallel bodies of equal status in Washington and London working in the closest co-operation it is necessary to visualise the task that confronts such an organisation.

This it is difficult to do as up to the present there has been little clarification of thought either here or in Washington as to the relations of the Food organisation with UNRRA [2] and the interim commission consequent on Hot Springs. [3]

When this clarification comes it seems to me it will show that the Food organisation must continue until the end of the war both in Europe and the Far East. It must of course work in the closest co- operation with UNRRA but until the war is over the task of ensuring and allotting the food supplies necessary to provide for the armed forces and civilian populations of the United Nations will in my view remain in the hands of the organisation that has been progressively built up to deal with the food problem. I even go further and feel that when the Pacific war is over the food situation will be such that method of allocation will have to be maintained for some time and the Food organisation having functioned to the end of the war will be continued as the most convenient instrument until a permanent organisation is in a position to implement the decisions of the Hot Springs Conference.

This however is perhaps more long-range speculation than is necessary.

From the above it is clear that in my view the Food organisation is likely to endure and play a considerable role. The greatest importance therefore attaches to the decisions now to be taken.

While the idea put forward by the Americans i.e. supreme authority in Washington appears logical, I have grave doubts of its wisdom.

My grounds for this view are (1) It would tend to become unwieldy. If representation was accorded to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and India would demand similar treatment.

South America or other producer countries would be added as contemplated by the American proposal and consuming countries would also demand representation.

(2) A large body of this character sitting in Washington would almost inevitably be subjected to political pressure and the influence of the American press upon it is a factor that cannot be ignored.

(3) The performance of American administration in handling national and international economic questions has not been such as to encourage the idea of centring all authority with regard to food in Washington.

The major point however that will have to be dealt with by the Food organisation is the certainty of an increasing world shortage of food which will necessitate the stimulation of production and the continuance of rationing in some countries e.g. the United Kingdom and greater sacrifices by others e.g. the United States.

With regard to stimulation of production I believe this will best be achieved by the continuance of existing methods, that is by contracts between individual countries e.g. the United Kingdom and Australia.

With regard to continued rationing and increased sacrifices I think the system of parallel Boards in Washington and London would give the best results. A practical point is that Woolton is strongly opposed to the United States suggestion and in view of the weight and confidence he carries as a result of his successful administration the United Kingdom Government will not agree to the United States proposals. Woolton's attitude I am convinced is actuated by a sincere conviction that the system of the two parallel authorities is not only best in the interests of the United Kingdom but of the British Empire as a whole.

The United Kingdom is our primary market and our major trade channels and connections have been established with her. Balancing all the arguments I feel we should support the strengthening of the London Food Board and indicate our preference for that arrangement over the proposal now put forward by the United States.

It is very desirable that you should send your views immediately as if the American proposal is not to be accepted it is essential this should be made clear at the earliest possible moment.


1 Dispatched 28 August. On file AA:M100, August 1943.

2 United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

3 See Document 215.

[AA:M100, SEPTEMBER 1943]