Cablegram 23 LONDON, 16 May 1944, 9.51 p.m.
Addressed to the Acting Prime Minister, Mr. Forde.
Improvements in machinery for Empire co-operation.
1. I submitted to Conference yesterday my suggestions for
improvements in machinery for Empire co-operation as outlined in
the next following cablegram. 
2. Unfortunately, Churchill and Smuts were not present but I was
not enamoured of prospect of getting far with the matter after Mr.
MacKenzie King's address to Parliament in which he said-
'From time to time it is suggested that we should seek new methods
of communication and consultation. I believe very strongly in
close consultation, close co-operation and effective co-ordination
of policies. What more effective means of co-operation could have
been found than those which, in spite of all the handicaps of war,
have worked with such complete success!
It is true that we have no sitting in London continuously of a
visible Imperial War Cabinet or Council. But we have what is much
more important, though invisible, a continuing conference of the
cabinets of the Commonwealth. It is a conference of cabinets which
deal from day to day, and not infrequently from hour to hour, with
policies of common concern. When decisions are taken they are not
the decisions of the Prime Ministers or other individual ministers
meeting apart from their own colleagues and away from their own
countries. They are decisions reached after mature consideration
by all members of the cabinets of each country with a full
consciousness of their immediate responsibilities to their
Let us by all means seek to improve where we can. But in
considering new methods of organisation we cannot be too careful
to see that to our own people the new method will not appear as an
attempt to limit their freedom of decisions, or to peoples outside
the Commonwealth as an attempt to establish separate bloc.' It
will be evident from foregoing and from views expressed by United
Kingdom ministers that an Imperial War Cabinet is not an
3. As you will see from my statement I do not agree with Mr.
MacKenzie King's view that means of co-operation have worked with
complete success during war. I point out in part three of my
statement that Australia, which was not consulted on major
decision of global strategy affecting its security, had a narrow
escape. My statement proceeds to indicate that by our own efforts
in local defence by cooperation with other parts of the Empire
concerned and by co-operation with other nations with interest in
South West Pacific we are resolved to do everything possible to
prevent recurrence of similar danger.
4. In the discussion the Dominions Secretary threw in some
miscellaneous suggestions for consideration of Governments. Canada
said that the question would have to be considered by their
Government. New Zealand agreed with my statement. The following
conclusions were recorded-
(a) There was general agreement with the proposal put forward by
the Prime Minister of Australia that there should be monthly
meetings at which the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom would
meet the High Commissioners of the Dominions and the Secretary of
State for Dominion Affairs to give an opportunity for the Prime
Minister to give review of current situation and problems and for
Dominion High Commissioners to raise any questions which they
consider should be subject consultation with Dominions.
(b) The Dominion Prime Ministers undertook to consult their
Governments and to subsequently communicate with United Kingdom
Government on various proposals put forward in discussion for
improvement defence co-operation within the Commonwealth and as to
whether a small technical committee representative of the United
Kingdom and of the Dominions should be set up to examine further
any of these proposals.
5. If we cannot ultimately obtain general agreement I propose that
we should develop our ideas with the United Kingdom Government and
also with the New Zealand Government in matters where it may be
concerned along lines indicated in my statement. The question can
await my return, but I would like to let you know that my
observations in part one relative to Australian representation in
the United Kingdom War Cabinet need to be supplemented by a report
which I shall convey verbally to the Government.