317 Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 393 SECRET LONDON, 13 December 1946

Your telegram No. 399 of 23rd November. [1] Rocket range.

We were very glad to hear that our proposals are acceptable to the Commonwealth Government subject to the conclusion of a satisfactory agreement covering the financial and other aspects of the undertaking. General Evetts leaves by sea on 14th December and is due in Australia about 18th January.

2. We appreciate your wish to have firm proposals regarding use to be made of Salisbury, and this will be one of first matters to be discussed between General Evetts and Commonwealth authorities.

3. With regard to paragraph 3 of your telegram, what we had in mind was a small committee consisting of two or three representatives of each Government which would meet periodically to consider the programme of work for the range and financial questions arising from it. We should hope that this joint body would enable discussion to take place between experts and that agreement between them would be reached, but we agree that all major projects and questions involving provision of largescale facilities should be submitted to Governments for approval.

4. With reference to paragraphs 4 and 5 of your telegram, we note that the Australian Government wish to defer a decision on the question of apportionment of expenditure until further information is available as to total cost of project and the proportions in which expenditure will be incurred in the United Kingdom and Australia. As an early settlement of the financial basis will conduce to smooth progress of the undertaking, we trust that the Australian Government will cooperate with us in drawing up as quickly as possible estimates of cost which, although they will not be final in all details, will be sufficiently comprehensive and accurate for the purpose of negotiating financial heads of agreement. In the meantime there will probably be work which can and should be put in hand immediately such as construction of the railway extension from Kingoonya and preparations for establishing the range head. We should be glad if the Australian Government would be prepared to enter into commitments for such purposes without necessarily waiting for conclusion of a financial agreement and on the understanding that the expenditure will eventually be apportioned between the two Governments on whatever basis may be ultimately agreed. We are prepared to authorise Evetts to agree on our behalf, since we should have a contingent liability, to commitments for expenditure in Australia up to a total of (A)500,000, to be shared on ultimately agreed basis. On our side we should be ready to incur essential commitments in respect of equipment to be manufactured for the project in this country on the same understanding as regards eventual apportionment of cost. In view of your contingent liability in regard to such commitments we should of course consult you, or your High Commissioner in London as you may prefer, as to their scale as soon as requirements are clearer.

5. As regards other than financial terms of the agreement, we should be grateful if Commonwealth authorities would let Evetts have in due course a note of the matters which they would like to see covered and their views upon them. We should welcome participation of Australian personnel in work done in this country and can readily agree to give Australian Government full information about this work.

6. If you agree in principle with proposals in this telegram, I suggest that subsequent correspondence should take place through usual Governmental channels. [2] Ends.

1 Document 242.

2 On 28 March 1947 the Australian Govt replied that it agreed in principle to the proposal for a joint representative body in London, and that agreement had been reached with Evetts, to the setting up of an interim Long Range Weapons Board.

[AA4:A3317/1, 333/46]