270 Fraser to Evatt

Cablegram 93 WELLINGTON, 24 April 1947, 8.10 p.m.


Received 24 April 1947

With regard to your cable of 20th April to Mr. Beasley which you were so good as to let me see, I share your feeling that our position in relation to the peace settlement is unacceptable. I do not feel, however, that our position is worsening since the status given the allies largely as a result of your efforts in relation to the satellite treaties was better than some of the big powers were willing to concede before the Paris conference; and it appears that this gain will in a large measure be maintained in the German settlement. But it is far from good enough and we have to consider what action can be taken to secure recognition of our rights as active belligerents who contributed as much proportionately to victory as the big powers.

2.But without knowing more clearly the end you have in view I do not feel able to authorise our representative to support Mr.

Beasley if he proposes that United Kingdom representation at the Council of Foreign Ministers should give place to Joint British Commonwealth representation. You will, I feel sure, agree that we have to decide how far we can have it both ways; how far we can reconcile our status as independent nations with Joint Commonwealth action. My main concern is that such joint representation would lead other powers to assert that as we are a single unit we should not have independent representation in international meetings. Moreover, it would lead others to assume that we accept the existing unsatisfactory dual arrangement of a relatively ineffective international body, made up of all sizes of states dealing only with small problems and a big power grouping which settles the really large and important problems and weights the views of its four members according to the strength they dispose of. For my part I do not wish to perpetuate this arrangement, and regret that more and more the world is being forced into it. [1]

[3. ... on] vital questions the United Kingdom do not materially alter their policy to meet our views. They might be willing to limit themselves further only if we were willing to limit ourselves by agreeing to machinery for integrating either the whole Commonwealth or part of it. But for the Dominions this carries most serious considerations. If we wish to merge into what you call 'British unity' in which the members of the Commonwealth form a team which counts as one unit in the Council of Foreign Ministers, and present a joint policy, does this mean that we shall have to decide how we are going to reach this joint policy, what weight is to be attached to the views of each Commonwealth member in the event of difference of opinion on policy towards different areas, and what contribution each member is to make to the cost of implementing the policy? If we are going to put greater pressure on the United Kingdom to meet our views, then have we not to work out some such arrangement? If this is the way you are thinking, I consider it a most important and far-reaching proposal which Cabinet here would have to consider.

4. There may be no alternative, but to make direct representations as independent nations to the Council of Foreign Ministers. The United Kingdom would then support us as much as in her independent judgement she thinks fit. This would put us in the same position as Allies like the Netherlands and Belgium; and there is some point in linking our case with theirs, and winning or losing together, rather than coming into the discussions under cover of our special relation with the United Kingdom. It may well be asked that we would have more chance of success this way because Russia continually suspects ulterior motives when the United Kingdom presses our case for participation.

For the reasons outlined above we could not therefore support the proposal for one British Commonwealth delegation as an alternative to individual representation of British Dominions.

1 After this sentence the copy on file reads 'small portion apparently omitted'.
[AA: A1068, E47/15/5/2/7]