356 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister

Cablegram 194 LONDON, 15 March 1941, 2.51 p.m.

Your telegram No. 1118, flour shipments to North China. [1] Matter has again been discussed with Ministry of Shipping.

Two considerations have influenced their decision. The first and most important arises out of the extreme difficulty of the shipping position and the necessity of directing all possible ships to work which is expressly concerned with war effort. To this end they are taking ships from India and the Far East and exercising rigid control of Foreign vessels at their disposal to ensure that they are employed in the war effort either on the voyages to Middle East or elsewhere. The second consideration is one of risk to ships in the present circumstances. They realise and regret the interference with trade but they point out that in their own case trade considerations have had to give way to paramount needs arising from an extremely serious shipping situation. Westralian Farmers have in addition informed me that neither Norwegians nor Yugoslavs would now be prepared irrespective of Ministry of Shipping control to send their ships further north than Singapore. While therefore considerations of economic warfare would not stand in the way Ministry of Shipping feel themselves compelled to adhere to their decision.

BRUCE

1 Document 346.

[AA:A3195, 1941, 1.4061]