85 Minutes of meeting of Prime Ministers

PMM(48) 12th Meeting (extract) LONDON, 20 October 1948


2. Commonwealth Consultation (Previous Reference P.M.M. (48) 8th Meeting, Minute 1.) MR. ATTLEE said that a note (P.M.M. (48) 13), prepared by the Secretary after consultation with officials of all the Delegations, had been circulated covering a detailed statement of the suggestions made in the discussion on 18th October. A further note by the Secretary (P.M.M. (48) 15), covering a statement on Commonwealth consultation, prepared by Dr. Evatt, had also been circulated. He suggested that Dr. Evatt's draft, which seemed more suitable for publication, might be taken as a basis for discussion with a view to reaching an agreed statement which could be included in the final communique about the Meeting.

MR. LIAQUAT Au KHAN suggested that, before Dr. Evatt's draft was considered, it should be revised to cover consultation on defence.

DR. EVATT said that his draft had been designed to set out in more specific terms the main results of the discussion on Commonwealth consultation. He believed that an announcement on the lines that he proposed would be helpful. He agreed that the statement should cover consultation on defence.

MR. ST. LAURENT said that, to a considerable extent, the arrangements set out in Dr. Evatt's draft were already in operation and that it would therefore be misleading to announce them as though they were new developments agreed on at the Meeting. For example, it would be wrong to imply that the Canadian High Commissioner in London had not in the past had direct access to the Foreign Secretary.

MR. LOUW said that he had no authority to agree, on behalf of the South African Government, to the arrangements proposed in the draft.

MR. NOEL-BAKER said that, in general, he preferred Dr. Evatt's draft to the draft annexed to P.M.M. (48) 13. It would, however, be desirable to amend it so as to indicate to what extent it was a declaration of arrangements already in force, and to make it clear that it was subject to endorsement by the Governments of the Commonwealth countries.

MR. ATTLEE proposed that the draft should be revised by officials in the light of the discussion, and that a revised version should be circulated for consideration at a Meeting at 12 noon on 21st October.

[AA: A1838/283, TS899/6]