300 Department of External Affairs to Bridgland

Cablegram 378 CANBERRA, 10 June 1946

Your memorandum 291 [1] raises important issues. These telegrams are essential to our work as they provide us by the quickest means with a range of background information from British posts all over the world which we cannot yet hope to do more than supplement in particular contexts from our own sources.

We doubt whether a workable distinction can really be drawn between the relative importance of different kinds of subject matter. It would be extremely difficult to establish to everybody's satisfaction even a broad test of what is urgent or important enough to be transmitted by telegram and what should be left for inclusion in a summary.

If there is to be any reduction, either because of staff or expense, we would prefer to see a reduction in the length of telegrams rather than the elimination of particular subjects.

Provided that we have the substance of proposals and facts that are current, we can always ask for further information.

The proposal has deeper implications. The London talks appear to us to have confirmed the present policy of informing and consulting the Dominions in preference to any tighter system of centralised responsibility under some imperial arrangement. [2] The corollary of this is a full and rapid flow of information.

At the next meeting you should express our appreciation of the range of information which is at present sent to us in these telegrams and say that if weekly summaries incorporating additional information could be sent we would be glad to receive them. As far as Australia is concerned, however, there is very little in the present telegrams which we feel can be excluded. If some reduction is essential, perhaps this could be made in the length of telegrams, on the assumption of course that the substance of these is still telegraphed. You could add that if other Dominions do not feel any special interest in particular subjects they could indicate these to the Dominions Office which need not then repeat them to the Dominions concerned.

If the question of sharing costs is raised this aspect should be referred to us before any commitment is undertaken.'

1 Document 250.

2 See also Document 270, and note 4 thereto.

3 On 12. March 1947 Bridgland reported that a further meeting was unlikely. The Dominion governments had made clear the importance of Dominions Office telegrams so that while the Foreign Office had adopted procedures proposed in Document 250, the Dominions Office had not. Bridgland believed the enquiry or 'test' had been instigated by the Foreign Office.

[AA:A1067, P146/10/3]