You will have seen the text of the final statement on Commonwealth Consultation coming out of the meeting of Prime Ministers.
The Minister and Mr. Beasley were very active on this indeed and the inclusion of the sub-paragraphs regarding access for High Commissioners to the Foreign Secretary and for officials to the Foreign Office in Item 3, was largely the result of their activity. This right has never been admitted in writing before so far as I know and is a step forward. So far as the Foreign Secretary is concerned, may I suggest that the High Commissioner should be given plenty of chances of using the newly granted right.
In practice, of course, as I have told you before , we had gone direct to the Foreign Office unless the matter is one which is being dealt with formally and thus has to go through the Commonwealth Relations Office. Generally speaking, I personally favour individual meetings with officials of the Foreign Office rather than group meetings unless the subject matter is clearly better dealt with by a group meeting. So far, except when owing to absences, personnel in this office has been very much reduced, we have done as much possible calling on individuals in the Foreign Office in search of information.
As I wrote to you last year, if we have four people on the staff here and assuming that someone is generally away at a conference or for other reasons, we can handle this adequately. I hope, therefore, that you will be able to keep our strength at four though I realise the staffing problem is still acute.
The Ministerial meetings to be held once or twice a year with the first meeting to be held in Ceylon will always have to be kept in mind in your future plans.
I think that the general idea was that the first of these meetings might be held about six months from now in Ceylon but there was nothing very firm on this.
I shall be returning to Paris on Friday and staying there until the end of the Assembly which I assume will be about the first week in December.