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359 Cranborne to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 336 [1] LONDON, 24 November 1944, 9 p.m.


Your telegrams-Canberra No. 310 [3], Wellington No. 303. [4]

Statement on Colonial Policy.

1. We feel that there has been some misunderstanding as to the main purpose of our telegram No. 325. [5] It was never in our mind to question the right of the Australian and New Zealand Governments to make any declaration which they think proper on Colonial as on other aspects of Public Policy. But we were seriously perturbed as to the practical results which were likely to flow from the procedure that has been adopted.

2. We are glad to have this full statement of the position of the Australian and New Zealand Governments in regard to the question of Colonial Policy. In particular we are glad to note that you had not contemplated an international Body which would interfere with the Sovereignty and control by the Parent States in relation to Colonial Territories. This was not clear from the published statement [6] issued after the Wellington Conference.

3. Our proposals for the general scheme of international co- operation in Colonial Policy applicable to all dependent Territories are not yet complete. We will, however, telegraph particulars as soon as they have been fully considered here and approved and think you will find that they have much in common with the views of the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments.

Difficulty which we saw over the announcement made after the recent Wellington Conference was that it might be interpreted generally, as indeed we ourselves had interpreted it, as requiring a form of International control which in our view would conflict with the authority of the Parent States. We are glad to learn that this is not, in fact, in contemplation.

4. In paragraph 4 of Australia's telegram No. 310 reference is made to the discussions at the end of 1942 and the beginning of 1943 regarding the possibility of a joint declaration on Colonial Policy. We regret that there should have been any misunderstanding about this. We thought that this had been made clear in the statement by the Colonial Secretary at the Prime Ministers' Meetings last May. [7] The position was that after explaining our attitude to the United States Authorities, as indicated in our telegram D.No. 69 of the 9th February 1943 [8], the matter was not pursued further in any definite form by the United States Authorities, as preliminary and informal talk did not disclose any basis for agreement on any form of declaration. In the circumstances, although the position was explained orally to the Dominion representatives in London, we did not think that the point had been reached when a further communication to the Dominion Governments on the subject could usefully be made.

5. Declaration of the 13th July 1943 [9] to which reference is made was confined to the question of Regional Councils as to which we had understood that there was general agreement on the part of the Dominion Governments.

6. We agree with the description of the purpose of the principle of Trusteeship as set out at the beginning of paragraph 8 of Australia's telegram, but we are not clear that these ends are necessarily served by the interposition of an International Body with special powers of investigation and supervision. As indicated above, however, we hope to develop our views on this aspect more fully in the further communication promised, and shall welcome your comments.

7. We are telegraphing separately regarding the proposal for the setting up of a South Seas Regional Commission.

8. As regards reference in paragraph 1 of Australia's telegram to consultation with the United Kingdom High Commissioner, Wellington, we understand that he urged the exclusion from the published statement of details of the recommendation on this point, but that the Australian and New Zealand representatives did not feel able to do more than make an amendment of the wording.

1 Addressed to the N.Z. Govt as no. 274.

2 Corrected from AA:A3642, vol. 20, 1.41943/938/941.

3 Document 352.

4 See Fraser's cablegram 206 of 16 November to Curtin. On file AA:A989, 44/630/5/1/11/22.

5 Document 347.

6 See Document 337 and Document 344, note 1.

7 Document 149.

8 On file AA:A989, 43/735/1021.

9 In cablegram D425 of 13 July 1943 (on the file cited in note 8), the U.K. Govt advised of the text of a statement on international co-operation in colonial policy to be given that day by Stanley in the House of Commons.

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

Category: International relations

Topic: History