273 Commonwealth Government to Attlee

Cablegram 230 [1] CANBERRA, 7 September 1943

Your telegrams D.579 [2], D.614 [3] and 244. [4]

1. We are pleased to learn that the United States Government await with pleasure the arrival at Washington of the British representatives. We have been able now to give more consideration to your telegram D.467 [5] and take this opportunity to elaborate our views on Certain subjects proposed for the Agenda.

2. Regulation of Primary Products-There is a danger that, owing to the probable absence of large surpluses during the relief period, proposals affecting the regulation of primary products may be put to one side until the need arises. For this reason we were pleased to see this specifically mentioned as one of matters which is intended to be discussed with the United States Authorities.

3. Employment-In paragraph 3 of our 199 [6] we urged the inclusion, in an orderly Agenda for discussions under Article 7, of proposals for an agreement on domestic policy as a means of achieving our common objectives including full employment. We feel, particularly since the informal talks in London between the United Kingdom and Dominion experts and other information discussions with United States experts, that the plans for United Nations economic co-operation to raise standards of living (including those relating to monetary policy, commercial policy, commodity controls and food and agriculture) will not be complete without some kind of agreement between the British Commonwealth, United States and associated nations on domestic policy in accordance with the positive aspects of the terms of Article 7. In particular we feel it essential that a resolute attempt should be made to obtain agreement on employment policy. It may be difficult to define employment policy in terms suitable for formal agreement. But the resolution of the Food Conference to seek an agreement amongst Governments in relation to raising levels of nutrition and standards of living is a useful precedent. In relation to employment there could also be additional undertakings by each nation:

(a) To make available to others a record of unemployment on an agreed plan through an appropriate international secretariat.

(b) To report to others periodically through an appropriate secretariat on the state of its domestic employment and to interchange information about economic policies directed towards maintaining employment; and (c) To consult with others if domestic unemployment reaches serious proportions, for the purposes of examining possible national and international measures to restore the level of employment.

As we have pointed out before, such an approach on employment is necessary because:-

(a) A domestic policy to maintain employment represents a most important contribution to the expansion and maintenance of international trade.

(b) A high level of employment and expanding production tend to create conditions in which international trade can be stimulated and facilitated without fear of resources being wasted through being thrown out of employment.

(c) It will be easier for any individual country to pursue a positive policy of expanding employment, production and international trade if a similar policy is being put into effect in other countries.

(d) Countries might more readily accept the obligations of membership of international organisations related to monetary and commercial policies since adequate domestic policies would contribute most to the successful operation of these organisations.

(e) In any case, a formal record of unemployment would be an essential criterion for the formation of policy by the international authorities dealing with monetary and commercial policies.

4. With reference to paragraph 4 of our 199, please take note that consideration is now being given by us to the active resumption of our bilateral trade discussions. We shall, of course, take into account the points made in paragraph 6 of your D.467. [7] We have always emphasised that any agreement concluded under the present powers of the United States administration would be regarded as an interim measure, and in fact, so far as this country is concerned, as a valuable preliminary to a broader agreement. [8]

1 Repeated to the Legation in Washington as no. 1068.

2 Dispatched 21 August. On file AA:A989, 43/735/55/1, i. It conveyed the text of the U.S. Govt's agreement to the U.K.

proposal for the holding of economic discussions.

3 See Document 270, note 2.

4 See Document 252, note 1.

5 See Document 252, note 3.

6 See Document 252.

7 See Document 252, note 2.

8 Bruce advised Curtin on 10 September that in view of the importance of this cablegram and its 'admirable statement of the case with regard to full employment' he had asked that it be circulated to members of the U.K. War Cabinet. See cablegram 160[A] on the file cited in note 2.

On 17 September Attlee urged the Commonwealth Govt not to seek a resumption of bilateral trade discussions with the U.S. Govt until the U.K. delegation in Washington had had time 'to develop ... the broader multilateral conception'. See cablegram 272 on the file cited in note 2.

[AA:A989, 43/735/58/1]