169 Mr N. Chamberlain, U.K. Prime Minister, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Circular cablegram D145 LONDON, 22 April 1940, 5.15 p.m.


Following from Prime Minister for Prime Minister- We have been considering further the system of collaboration between the Governments of the British Commonwealth with the object of examining whether any suggestion could be put forward for securing the closest possible contact and co-operation.

2. We have been much impressed by the value of the meetings with Dominion Ministers in London last Autumn which took place following upon the suggestion conveyed in Circular D.19 of 21st September. [1]

3. The problems confronting us are of such importance and the need for our being completely satisfied that we fully understand and can meet each other with any point of view is so important that I feel that the time has now come when the best course is to arrange for a meeting of Prime Ministers. In the present circumstances, such a conference, to obtain the greatest advantages, should be near the seat of war, and I would therefore suggest that it be held in London. I appreciate the difficulties which the Dominions Prime Ministers might well feel in leaving their own countries in the present circumstances, but, notwithstanding these difficulties, the advantages of such a meeting are so great that I trust that you will find it practicable to arrange to attend. I should be glad to arrange a time most convenient to you and the other Prime Ministers; subject to your views, I should be inclined to suggest that July or early August of this year might be most suitable.

4. I should be glad to learn from you at your early convenience whether you agree in general with the proposal for the holding of such a conference, and, if so, whether you would be able to come to London at the time suggested. I should not contemplate that anything in the nature of a detailed agenda need be prepared. The subjects for discussion would clearly be the joint war effort in all its aspects and an opportunity might be afforded for, at any rate, preliminary consideration of the problems of post war reconstruction. But if there are any particular problems which you would wish to see raised, you would no doubt let me know.

5. If it is decided to hold such a conference, it would, I think, be desirable that every precaution should be taken on security grounds to keep the intention secret as long as possible.

1 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. II, Document 240.

[FA: A3195, 1.2661]