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299 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 187[A] LONDON, 13 October 1943, 8.19 p.m.


Your telegram No. 146 8th October, Post-war Civil Aviation. [1] The talks which have been of an entirely informal and exploratory character have been carried on almost continuously over the past three days.

The broad lines of them have been- 1. That they were for the purpose of mind clearing in preparation for discussions with the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R.

2. That our objective was the maximum degree of international cooperation in the development, operation and regulation of air transport in the interests of mankind as a whole.

3. That no policy that might prove feasible should be eliminated from discussions in advance of the international meetings.

4. That although civil aviation is closely related to the problem of Post-war security, it was not within the competence of the meeting to deal with security but that while proceeding to consider ways and means for the most efficient and beneficial conduct of Post-war air transport any conclusions reached must be subject to modification in the light of security considerations.

5. That maximum co-operation should be ensured between British countries in the provision of services between Empire countries within the framework of any system internationally agreed upon.

With regard to (2) the result of the discussions was that the best method would be the establishment of an international authority for the administration of an international convention.

The broad provisions which should be embodied in such a convention were exhaustively discussed and a draft of such a convention was prepared by a sub-committee on which Williams [2] sat. (The text of this draft is contained in my telegram 188A. [3]) With regard to (4) this question was considered by a committee presided over by Law and composed of the High Commissioners, which reached the following conclusions-

'(1) That security aspect of civil aviation was of fundamental importance, and should be examined by competent defence authorities at very earliest opportunity.

(2) That international air transport authority should be intimately associated with and responsible to any United Nations Security Organisation which might be established.

(3) That with view to reducing risk of international friction signatory states should be entitled to suggest to international air transport authority the joint or international operation of certain specific routes or zones, and that international air transport authority should be entitled to recommend to signatory states such joint or international operation.

(4) That from point of view of European security immediate consideration should be given to feasibility of establishing a European operating agency.

Finally it was decided to emphasize paramount importance which meeting attached to conclusion (1) above and to urge that security aspect of problem should receive immediate consideration.' With regard to (5) joint memo was prepared by Beaverbrook and Howe, the Canadian Minister of Munitions and Supply, as follows-

'1. It is believed to be necessary and desirable in planning air routes of Post-war period to provide for establishment and operation of an all British route connecting United Kingdom with British Dominions, India and principal British Colonies.

2. It is proposed that each Dominion and United Kingdom and India shall be invited to operate and assume responsibility for sections of all British route adjacent to territory of each.

3. Extent of route which will become responsibility of each Government will in first instance be proposed by Government concerned with understanding that British Governments will endeavour to see that an unbroken chain of responsibilities is created all along route.

4. Governments operating portions of all British route will constitute coordinating committee which will be concerned with questions such as use of reasonably uniform equipment on route, regularity of services and in general all matters affecting route as a whole.' All discussions were of an entirely exploratory character and draft convention, report on security and memo on British co- operation were accepted by conference as a whole as an agreed basis for consideration and examination of problems involved by various Governments concerned.

It was recognised that provisions of draft convention are very general in character and will need considerable clarification and modification in light of examination by individual Governments. It was felt, however, in view of urgency of this question and desirability [of] holding wider international discussions at earliest possible date, that it was better [to] formulate some proposals and convey them to Governments promptly than to incur prolonged delay that would have been involved in referring specific points to various Governments with view to obtaining agreement upon more elaborate and detailed document. With regard to subsequent procedure please see my telegram No. 186. [4]


1 Document 292.

2 Air Marshal Williams attended the conference to advise Bruce on technical matters.

3 Dispatched 14 October. On file AA:A989, 43/735/832/5.

4 Document 298. On 20 October Bruce dispatched to Curtin a full set of documents issued by the conference (see letter on the file cited in note 3).

[AA:A989, 43/735/832/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History