Cablegram 316 LONDON, 26 October 1943, 9.15 p.m.
The Prime Minister has shown me your JOHCU 73  and has asked me
to explain in greater detail the position as we see it regarding
the proposed meeting of Prime Ministers.
While we fully understand the strong local reasons which you give
for your continued presence in Australia for the next few months,
I feel bound to press you further to reconsider your decision. In
the interests of Imperial co-operation we attach very great
urgency and importance to an early meeting of Prime Ministers.
In our judgment, early decisions seem inevitable regarding future
arrangements for Europe and the world generally. The sooner we are
able to make firm agreements with the United States and Russia for
future cooperation on these matters the better will be the
prospect for the future of the world. But these problems raise
matters of the first importance to the future of each member of
the British Commonwealth and of the British Commonwealth as a
whole. Although much can, no doubt, be done by telegraphic
exchanges of views it seems vital that there should if possible be
personal consultation between the Prime Ministers of the Empire
before final decisions are taken. You yourself have urged the
necessity for better machinery for consultation within the British
Commonwealth. This is a crucial time for such consultation.
It is in view of the urgency and importance of the matters arising
that I would ask you very earnestly to consider whether it would
not be possible for you to come here in December for a meeting. I
fear that a meeting next April would not have the same value. For
one thing it is likely to be too late in view of the probable
pressure of events. Decisions as to international and post war
settlements which may be of the greatest importance to Australia
may well have been reached before then and we feel that only the
presence here in the immediate future of Australia's Prime
Minister with the other Prime Ministers will ensure that
Australia's voice is fully heard. Moreover a meeting in April
presents equal if not greater difficulties than one in December.
General Smuts is at present in this country. He could remain over
for a December meeting, but he clearly could not leave South
Africa again as soon as April and I understand that Mr. Mackenzie
King too would find April very difficult. It seems therefore to be
a case either of holding a meeting in December or of postponing it
indefinitely which from the point of view of the British
Commonwealth would be deplorable.
I am sorry to press you in this matter but I do it in the sincere
belief that it is in the best interests of this country, of
Australia, and of the whole British Commonwealth that there should
be a meeting of the heads of the British Commonwealth Governments
at the earliest possible date.