78 Bruce to Curtin
Letter [LONDON], 22 November 1942
You will recollect that in July last you cabled to me suggesting that Mr. F. L. McDougall should go to Washington to attend the first meeting of the International Wheat Council.  I greatly welcomed this suggestion as apart from the fact that McDougall has been associated with the International Wheat discussions since they were initiated in 1931, it afforded an opportunity of ascertaining, relatively at first hand, the trend of thought in the United States with regard to post-war reconstruction through contacts made when I took McDougall with me to Washington in 1939, which were renewed, in his case, when he went there last year.
During our visit in 1939 most cordial relations were established with Mr. Wallace, Mr. Sumner Welles and many others and these relations have continued ever since.
From the report which McDougall has made to me, a copy of which I enclose , you will see that the visit was extremely fruitful and owing to the fact that he was not in Washington for official Governmental discussions he had an opportunity of hearing views and obtaining opinions which otherwise would not have been available to him.
As a result of these opportunities he has convinced me that in the Administration there is a wide realisation of the need for the United States to play their part in world reconstruction and to accept positive responsibilities in both the political and economic spheres. This view, if correct, is very heartening particularly if he is right in thinking that on such subjects the Administration has behind it a large measure of public support. I am sure that you feel as strongly as I do that American cooperation is essential if our post-war hopes are to be realised.
I also enclose herewith a draft Memorandum on a United Nations programme for Freedom from Want of Food. This paper has an interesting origin. After McDougall had obtained a general impression of the work on post-war problems in the manner and from the sources set out in his report to me, he pointed out to Mr.
Sumner Welles that in the admirable preparatory work that was being done in Washington there appeared to him to be one gap, namely in respect to the joint problems of food and agriculture.
State Department officials, after looking into the matter, agreed with this view and asked McDougall whether he would collaborate with the Department of Agriculture in preparing a preliminary paper on these subjects. McDougall consulted me by telegram and having regard to the importance of the questions both as to post- war reconstruction and specifically to Australia I agreed to his accepting this suggestion.
An informal group was then formed, constituted in the manner and with the personnel set out in McDougall's report. Although in the time available the group could only make a preliminary survey of the world food problems and the need for the reorganisation of world agriculture, a large volume of work was done and a series of papers were submitted for the consideration of the group.
The outcome was the preparation of the Memorandum on 'Freedom from Want of Food'. This paper should be regarded as unofficial and as expressing the personal views of the members of the group. It will, however, be closely considered in the State Department in the hope that it may be found to provide a suitable basis for the formulation of the Administration's policy on this subject.
McDougall tells me that he is satisfied that the Vice President, Mr. Sumner Welles, Mr. Acheson and Mr. Berle are now convinced that the Food and Agriculture approach should be given a high priority in the United Nations programme for reconstruction. He cannot indicate what Mr. Cordell Hull's attitude is likely to be but Mr. Hawkins, the head of the Commercial Treaties Division of the State Department, was a keen member of the group and Mr.
Hawkins is a trusted adviser to Mr. Cordell Hull. McDougall found the officials of the United States Department of Agriculture keenly interested and desirous of playing a considerable part in the development of policy along these lines. He has, however, emphasised that he cannot form any opinion as to whether the method suggested in the Memorandum of the setting up of technical expert commissions appointed by a projected United Nations Economic Council will commend itself to the Administration. 
I would particularly commend the enclosed Memorandum to your personal attention because Australia is in a strong position to exercise considerable influence along the lines of this approach to world reconstruction. In 1935 it was the Australian Delegation to the Assembly of the League of Nations that took the initiative in urging that the economics of consumption and in the first instance nutrition provided the best approach to the achievement of a better world economic system. After 1927 the deterioration of political relations in Europe frustrated our hopes but in post-war reconstruction the policies we advocated in the prewar years are likely to become of major significance. If any real meaning is to be given to the phrase-Freedom from Want-a start must be made with food policies. The Memorandum indicates how widespread would be the effects of the United Nations pledging themselves to a sustained campaign to achieve this objective. It is perhaps a slight handicap to our presentation of this case that such policies are so greatly to the interest of Australia. However, since the proposals would be beneficial to all countries, there is a great opportunity for the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to take a leading part in advocating freedom from want of food as one of the principal means of world reconstruction.
While we are in a particularly strong position with regard to the question of future food policies, Australia, owing to the part we played in pre-war days, has also a special position in regard to other social and economic questions. It was the Australian Delegation which took the initiative with regard to standards of living, the control of trade cycles, etc. at the League of Nations Assembly in 1937. I was Chairman of the Co-ordinating Committee of the Economic and Financial Committees of the League of Nations and I was also the Chairman of the special Committee set up in 1939 to report to the Assembly on how the work of the Economic, Financial and Social Organisations of the League should be organised for the future. This report was accepted with considerable warm[th] by the last Assembly of the League in December 1939.
I draw your attention to this background because I believe that the international policies advocated prior to the war are closely in harmony with the views of your own Government and also with those of the present United States Administration.
[S. M. BRUCE]