288 Mr S.M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 552 LONDON, 12 October 1939, 8.19 p.m.

CLEAR THE LINE MOST IMMEDIATE FOR PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

As all the Dominion Prime Ministers had cabled views indicating a desire that the reply to Hitler [1] should be more constructive, the War Cabinet this morning considered- (a) further modifications to the draft in order to meet the points raised, and (b) desirability of postponing the statement.

After the meeting the Prime Minister [2] and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs [3] saw the Dominion High Commissioners, and the substance of what the Prime Minister said is included in Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs cable No. 130. [4]

I said that I was still unconvinced that the statement could not have been more constructive, but as the Prime Minister had to make his statement within two hours, there was no time further to consider that possibility. I stressed, however, that with more time there might have been general agreement as to the desirability of modifications of the draft, or complete concurrence with views of United Kingdom Government might have been arrived at.

I said that it was deplorable that on an issue of such magnitude the time for the necessary exchange of views was not available.

I registered this protest because the rush on the present occasion could have been avoided and in the hope of preventing similar situations arising in the future.

BRUCE

1 See Document 267, note 1.

2 Neville Chamberlain.

3 Lord Halifax.

4 Document 290.

[AA: A981, WAR 45B, i]