250 Bridgland to Department of External Affairs
Memorandum 291 LONDON, 17 May 1946
On 14th May a meeting was held at the Foreign Office between representatives of the Dominions and the United Kingdom Foreign and Dominions Offices to discuss the supply of information by the United Kingdom to the Dominion Governments. It was revealed that owing to shortage of staff, particularly in the Dominions Office, and a desire to improve the Foreign Office Weekly Intelligence Summary, it has been decided to endeavour to reduce gradually the amount of background information at present included in daily Dominions Office telegrams and instead to incorporate such information which is not urgent into an improved Weekly Summary.
Each of the representatives from the Dominion Offices was asked in turn how they thought their Governments would view this proposal.
The Australian representative pointed out that as it would take about a week for the Summaries to reach Australian Departments from the Foreign Office he did not think that much should be deleted from the daily telegrams which, he said, were extremely useful. He reserved a final opinion on the proposed new arrangements until further consideration had been given to them.
The New Zealand representative expressed similar views, also drawing attention to the remoteness of Australia and New Zealand and hence the importance of their receiving urgent news by telegram.
The Canadian and South African representatives were of the opinion that some information at present contained in Dominions Office telegrams, for example, negotiations regarding Siamese rice, might well be sent to their Governments in summaries.
The spokesman for the Foreign Office, Sir Nigel Ronald, then said that it was intended to introduce the new form of Weekly Intelligence Summary, which would be printed on both sides of special airmail paper, in about six weeks' time. The contents would be of a more confidential nature than had been the case hitherto and consequently their circulation should be limited. The new Summaries would not, like the old, be shown to the United States State Department and so information regarding United States economic penetration in foreign countries could be included. It was also intended to provide particulars which had not been given before in connection with Russia's economic plans in countries adjacent to the USSR. It is intended that commencing about the end of June certain subjects, such as the dispute in Yugoslavia over a United Kingdom air staging post, might be dropped from daily telegrams and included in the Summary, and the Dominion representatives have been asked to request their Governments to notify the Foreign and Dominions Offices if they notice that subjects in which they are particularly interested and would require telegraphed information are being omitted from the daily telegrams.
In any case, it is proposed to hold a further meeting, similar to that convened this week, in about seven or eight weeks' time in order to permit the representatives of the Dominions to give their views on the reorganised distribution scheme and the revised form of Weekly Intelligence Summary.
It is probable also that many Saving telegrams at present sent by air will in future be incorporated in the Weekly Summaries.
Any comments on the above which you may care to make would be appreciated.
G. S. BRIDGLAND