254 Evatt to Beasley

Cablegram 56 CANBERRA, 27 February 1947, 11.05 p.m.


Your PT.20 and 21. Procedure for German settlement.

1. You should make it quite clear that Australia is maintaining its position, with substantial support of Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.

2. Important thing to emphasise to United Kingdom is, in my opinion, the absolute necessity not to yield on fundamental points of principle. It was most wounding to the pride and the prestige of British Commonwealth as a whole for British nations, without whom war could not have been won, to be relegated to a role not in accordance with their proportionate war effort and their dignity and self-respect.

3. Frankly, if all else fails, I think new methods will have to be introduced so that the Dominions can have a voice at the actual settlement. I do not see why, as a last resort, the unit to be represented on the Council of Foreign Ministers itself should not be the British Commonwealth of Nations. In such a case, the actual team can be selected not on a United Kingdom, but on a British Commonwealth basis, and on various subject matters the spokesman for the unit could be selected by consent. This is open to some danger, but one form of application of this principle is already discernible in Japan where the Australian representative, in close liaison with representatives of other Government, speaks for four British countries.

4. Anything seems to me to be better than the extraordinary position at Paris, where the Dominions knew that United Kingdom was itself opposed to a principle or clause and where all the British Dominions were equally opposed, but United Kingdom was forced to adhere to its original C.F.M. arrangements unless the three other members of the Council acquiesced in change. Result was very much in the nature of a pretended conference, and subsequent history of the draft treaties with the satellites of Germany confirms this criticism of the Paris procedure and the C.F.M. arrangements which preceded that conference.

5. For most purposes of international action and co-operation each Dominion acts separately, but, if the knot which the deputies are attempting to tie cannot be unravelled, it should be cut so far as the British nations are concerned. Otherwise, the representation of the great British self-governing Dominions cannot be effectively considered-still less weighed.

6. I quite agree this is a new method of procedure, but events should control machinery and existing machinery should not prejudice the most effective form of action in the particular circumstances which have arisen.

7. The withdrawal from India and other changes show the necessity for the maximum possible co-operative effort at the highest level instead of at any intermediate level represented by consultation outside the actual forum where the negotiations are being conducted.

8. In short, if Bevin goes to Moscow, why can he not, on this occasion, be the leader of a delegation called the British Commonwealth of Nations and representing Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, and perhaps India too? Why cannot he have as alternates, not as mere advisers, chosen representatives of such of the British Dominions as choose for this particular purpose to come under his leadership? 9. In relation to the Japanese settlement, where Australia and New Zealand have so vital an interest, a similar procedure might be applied, except that leadership in such a case need not be in the hands of the United Kingdom but could be on the model suggested by the Allied Council in Tokyo.

10. I put this view forward only as a last resort to avoid an impasse. I quite realise that one or two of the Dominions might not acquiesce, but the only result of that will be futility, frustration and ineffectiveness.

11. Please put this for-ward as a personal suggestion if it seems impossible to gain success in the main fight for primary representation at all levels for Australia.

1 Copies of this cable were sent by Evatt to Australian representatives in Ottawa, Pretoria, Washington and Paris (and directly to Fraser in Wellington) with instructions to draw its content to the attention of their host governments.

[AA : A1068, E47/15/5/2/6]