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344 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 157A LONDON, 10 November 1944, 9.08 a.m.


Addressed to the Prime Minister.

For your own information the portion of the Statement issued after the recent Australian - New Zealand talks [1] reading, 'we feel that there should be set up, as part of the general International Organisation, an International Body analogous to the permanent Mandates Commission, to which Colonial Powers should undertake to make reports on the Administration of their Colonial Territories.

This Body should be empowered to visit dependent Territories and to publish reports of its deliberations' has fairly put the cat among the pigeons. In some quarters, particularly those directly concerned with the Colonial problem, the reactions are very strong.

The reason for this very pronounced feeling is that the United Kingdom consider that this public statement in favour of the Mandate system by two of the Dominions has thrown out of gear the plans which were being formulated here.

The reason for this feeling is, I understand, as follows. After the meeting of Prime Ministers, and in the light of discussions then held, the United Kingdom Government started working on a policy based on the idea of Regional co-operation for the social and economic progress of Colonial Areas.

This work has now reached the point which it was contemplated would enable the United Kingdom to submit their views in the near future to the Dominions for their consideration and comment. It was confidently expected that these views would be entirely acceptable to all the Dominions and would be endorsed by them.

Armed with this endorsement the United Kingdom then proposed to open conversations with the Americans and were optimistic that they would be able to obtain the co-operation of the Americans in getting general acceptance of the lines of policy they have in mind.

The United Kingdom now feel that this programme has been imperilled by the Australian - New Zealand public declaration in favour of the Mandate system. There is also a certain feeling of bewilderment owing to the fact that as a result of the discussions at the Prime Ministers' meeting it was understood here that Australia at all events agreed with the United Kingdom view as to the defects of a Mandate system and were in line in desiring to substitute for it methods of Regional co-operation. [2]

The electricity in the atmosphere has also been increased by the fact, which the United Kingdom do not hesitate to rub in to me, that the declaration was made without prior consultation, although, as they put it, the matter was not urgent and Australia and New Zealand were aware that the United Kingdom were not in agreement with the views expressed.

This point of no prior consultation is not without its embarrassment for me owing to my unremitting pressure in our own case for prior consultation, the last dust up on this question being as recent as the United Kingdom Government reply to the Polish Government questions, (my cable 154A of the 9th November).


In the actual policy enunciated in the declaration both you and I are in a somewhat difficult position, you, because if you have revised your views since you discussed the question at the Prime Ministers' meeting, the United Kingdom has not been so advised, and I because I have in discussions with the United Kingdom Authorities based myself on your attitude when here.

If you have changed your views there is nothing that can be done.

If, however, you still hold the views you expressed when in England, would it be possible quietly to drop the part of the published statement dealing with the Mandate system which I have quoted above when the results of the meeting in New Zealand are, as I presume they will have to be, considered with a view to endorsement by the Government.


1 The full text of Fraser's statement is given in D'Alton's cablegram 159, dispatched 6 November. On file AA:A989, 44/630/5/1/11/17. A published version exists in Robin Kay (ed.), Documents on New Zealand External Relations, vol. 1, The Australian - New Zealand Agreement 1944, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1972, pp. 235-9.

2 See Documents 125 and 149. In the minutes of the Prime Ministers' Meeting for 9 May the following passage occurs: 'Mr.

Fraser thought that it was essential to make provision for reports on colonial administration to be submitted to and discussed by some central international body. Neither Colonel Stanley nor Mr.

Curtin favoured this suggestion., In AA:A6712, 1944, Top Secret, PMM(44) 10th Meeting.

3 Document 343.

[AA:A989, 44/630/5/l/11/22]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History