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72 Stirling to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 386 LONDON, 7 November 1942, 2.45 p.m.


Your telegram No. 359 Nov. 4th. [1] Message passed to Wilson [2] and the following is his reply.

From Wilson for the Treasury. Begins.

Your telegram Nov. 4th. Please inform Dr. Evatt that the Dominions including self have been hunting niggers assiduously. [3] The United Kingdom approach on the papers discussed is very satisfactory and, if anything, too careful in the attempt to meet the American views where these may diverge from our interests.

Canada has helped strengthen this feeling of the United Kingdom.

Feel sure the same criticism could not be made on commerce policy questions where I fear there is greater likelihood that the United Kingdom may fall short of American expectations than in the matters chiefly occupying this conference. Trouble here is the United Kingdom has not given much thought to the problems involved and does not see clearly how a multilateral attack on purely tariff and preference questions can be commenced especially as she has little other than reduction of preferences to offer to the world. Sentiment in favour of preference still very strong but think today's expression of Dominion views will help the United Kingdom to get them in better perspective against the background of increased world trade and prosperity.

Their attitude towards preference influenced by the realisation that the limitation on tariff reductions that the United States can make under current legislation contributes little to the solution of their problems regarding the balance of payments.

Appears to be natural disposition to postpone consideration of the preference question until clearer what real steps the United States can take in directions that will relieve the United Kingdom post-war position.

Think our position in relation to Clearing Union now fully safeguarded. [4] The position in relation to the primary products scheme should be fairly safe if the plan as ultimately developed proves workable. [5] It assumes much greater measure of international good sense than experienced in the past or perhaps possibly in future but alternative so hopeless that I think we should be prepared to take some risks and play our part in the attempt to make ordered world economy work. There will be time for personal discussions before any question of commitments likely to arise. Say I remembered his admonitions regarding obstinacy when occasionally fuzzy heads protruded. Ends.

1 On file AA:A989, 43/735/56/1.

2 For details of Wilson's mission see Document 104.

3 This refers to Evatt's suggestion that Wilson report on possible 'niggers in the woodpile'. See the cablegram cited in note 1.

4 See cablegram 10078/79 to Wilson of 4 November 1942 (on the file

cited in note 1) which set out the comments of the Treasury and the Commonwealth Bank and a preliminary report by the interdepartmental Financial and Economic Committee.

5 See Document 104, Curtin's cablegram 10266 of 10 November, and Bruce's cablegrams 107[A], 9753, 10261, 10468, 10525 of 16 and 23 October, and 7, 12 and 13 November respectively. All cablegrams are on the file cited in note 1.

[AA:A989, 43/735/56/1]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History