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120 Cablegram from Department of External Affairs to High Commission in London

Canberra, 10 November 1950

5615. SECRET IMMEDIATE

Publication of Colombo Plan

Please see our telegram No. 235 despatched today to Commonwealth Relations Office1 in reply to their 206,2 especially last paragraph of our telegram under reference dealing with popular version.

2. In your telegram 4867 of 5th October,3 it was stated that Commonwealth Consultative Committee at ministerial level decided that production of popular version should be undertaken immediately, subject, however, to proviso that sufficient United States support was likely to be forthcoming to ensure that at least major part of Colombo Plan would be carried out. In your telegram 5158 of 19th October,4 it was stated that United Kingdom wished to publish popular version a fortnight later than authoritative report. It was added that United Kingdom wished to know immediately whether, in the event of unfavourable United States reaction and in the event of publication of popular version being abandoned, other members of the Consultative Committee would agree to share the loss in some equitable manner. In paragraph 2 of our telegram 5317 of 27th October,5 we agreed to bear such share of possible loss.

3. An entirely different proposal is now being put forward by United Kingdom Government. While we appreciate the importance of advice from United Kingdom Embassy in Washington as to the value of earlier publication of popular version than originally agreed in London, we have doubts as to whether the advantages of such earlier publication are greater than the disadvantages which might result if the popular version is published and widely circulated before the precise extent of British Commonwealth contributions is known and before we have some more definite indication of the probable extent of United States assistance. In this connection we draw attention to the fact that telegram 206 of 7th November from Commonwealth Relations Office was presumably drafted before the results of the United States elections were known.

4. In any event, your telegram 4867 of 5th October makes it clear that the earlier decision was taken at ministerial level. It seems to us that any change in this decision must also be at a ministerial level and, in our case, it is unlikely that ministerial consideration can be given to this point before Monday 13th November.

5. Please discuss with United Kingdom authorities and advise. In view of Canada's attitude towards approval of the authentic Colombo Plan report, indicated in paragraph one of C.R.O. telegram 203 of 6th November,6 we would have doubted whether Canada would agree to concurrent publication of popular version. Glad if you could check this.

1 The cablegram stated that if the publication was tabled on Tuesday 21 November it would be essential to release a statement for publication in the Australian press on 22 November. The cablegram also agreed to minor changes to the foreword of the report and to consider the publication of a 'popular version'.

2 Document 119.

3 Document 115.

4 19 October 1950. The cablegram stated that the United States had informed the United Kingdom Government that welcomed the publication of the Colombo report soon after the US elections. The United Kingdom Government aimed to publish the official report on 13 November and the popular version two week later. The United Kingdom wished to know by 23 October how many copies of the popular version Australia required and whether members of the Consultative Committee would bear the cost of publication if the popular version had to be cancelled, in the event 'unfavourable United States reaction'. Due to time constraints, the United Kingdom 'strongly opposed holding back printing until United States reaction is known.'

5 See footnote 1, Document 117.

6 The Canadian Government was unable to approve the publication of the report because it had not completed its deliberations at this time.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History