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

Cablegram 77 21 October 1939,

SECRET

Reference Dominions Office telegram B.340 of 19th September [1] and my reply of 21st October. [2] League of Nations.

Question of future scope of League especially on political side is now being considered by Commonwealth Government. View is that League as a political organisation has lost its prestige and authority. It is doubtful, therefore, whether League Covenant could be used as basis for new world order at end of present war.

A new political statute to which all nations could adhere on a basis of equality as original members would seem to be a desirable objective to which consideration should be given before termination of war.

We are, therefore, inclined to the course of making it clear at the forthcoming Assembly and Council that the political activities of the League should be largely suspended and, as consequence, that immediate steps be taken towards curtailment of the League budget, leaving provision only for a nucleus of political staff of secretariat. At the same time, it would be indicated that Commonwealth Government is firmly convinced of the value of International Labour Organisation and of social and humanitarian organisations of League, which possess the only machinery in existence for the accomplishment of work in any case necessary, and that Commonwealth Government is prepared to maintain its share of financial contributions required to enable League to maintain these essential functions. If agreement cannot be obtained to a proposal of this nature, we still think there should be further retrenchment in League budget, permitting of substantial reduction in contributions by States Members.

Your early comments on these preliminary views would be appreciated along with any information you have as to present attitude of other members British Commonwealth of Nations and other countries on this question. [3]

MENZIES

1 See Document 248, note 5.

2 Document 303.

3 The draft of this cablegram was approved by Cabinet on 19 October 1939 See AA: A2697, vol. 3A, 19 October 1939, Minute 102.

[AA: A981, L OF N, 20TH ASSEMBLY 3]