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107 Department of Trade and Customs to Australian Supply Council in the United States

Cablegram Cosau 29 CANBERRA, 12 November 1941

Would appreciate early report from Australian Supply Council on
proposal of United States Lease Lend Administration office that
defence articles should be leased lent direct to Dominions on
basis of direct submission by Dominions of requisitions
countersigned by British Supply Council. Views of United Kingdom
Government on this proposal fully outlined in Secretary of State
[1] cable 697 of 15th October [2], substance of which no doubt
obtainable by you from Embassy. See also Campbell's [3] telegrams
to Eden [4] Nos. 4498 and 44995 forwarded to us under cover of
Clapp's [7] letter of 14th October. [7]

Would appreciate your observations on following:-

(1) Whether direct requisitioning would enable Australia to obtain
a larger share of lease lend defence goods under congressional
appropriations. It is felt here that in relation to materials
equipment, etc. for production our procurements are small compared
with those of United Kingdom.

(2) Whether in your opinion direct representation would result in
more expeditious procurement of defence goods for Australia.

(3) Is there any possibility of Australia being submitted to
direct economic or political pressure by United States Government
if directly represented? This may be particularly relevant to the
matters on which McCarthy and Fletcher at present are engaged. [8]

(4) Under the proposed procedure of United Kingdom endorsement,
would United Kingdom refusal to endorse automatically preclude our
approach to United States Administration if we considered
requisition should be pressed?
The Interdepartmental Committee was inclined to agree with United
Kingdom viewpoint that United States reasons for change lack
substance and felt that as plea of United Kingdom that proposal
would interfere with higher strategy of war was dismissed there
must be other reasons for proposed change.

Control of means to wage war cannot be separated from higher
direction of war and strategical background. This aspect of
question is receiving attention of Defence Committee but
Interdepartmental Committee was inclined to advise that
centralized control over acquisition and disposition of war
equipment should continue as at present.

Acquisition of components of munitions and allied production is in
a somewhat different category from final war equipment and
Departments concerned consider some improvement in procurement of
these supplies is urgently needed. Does United States Lease Lend
Administration's proposal offer any real prospect for improvement
on present position?
If you agree in substance with United Kingdom opposition to
proposal we would appreciate any suggestions you can offer for
procurement expedition. For instance do you consider Australia
should be represented at the point of joint decision in
determining whether goods should be sponsored for lease lend which
we understand is Anglo-American Financial Committee? Would United
States Government recognise our right to be represented on this
Committee if we did not have direct representation for lease lend
purposes with United States Government?
Again would it be to our advantage to be represented on British
Supply Council?
We appreciate that some of the conflicting decisions which have
been given by United States Administration and accepted by British
and Australian organization may be due to weaknesses in both
organizations. We feel, however, that all our efforts should now
be directed towards removing that weakness so far as organization
is concerned. The United States proposal appears unlikely to
assist in this direction.

If you think it likely that the United States Administration will
insist upon separate requisition and representation, we would like
you advise us of your views on formula set out by Campbell to Eden
(telegram No. 4499) on blanket consent for retransfers.

It is imperative that we receive reply as early as possible.

1 Lord Cranborne.

2 AA : A3195, 1941, 1.20858.

3 Minister at the U.K. Embassy in Washington.

4 U.K Foreign Secretary.

5 Copies of both cablegrams (dispatched 1 October) are on file AA
: A3300, 106.

6 Australian representative on the British Purchasing Commission
in the United States.

7 Not found, but see Clapp's letter of 13 October to R. G. Casey,
Minister to the United States, on the file cited in note 5.

8 E.J. McCarthy(Assistant Sec., Commerce Dept) and Jacob Fletcher
(Assistant Treaties Officer, Trade and Customs Dept) arrived in
the United States in August 1941 as members of a delegation to
explore the feasibility of undertaking formal negotiations for a
trade agreement between Australia and. the United States. See file
AA : A3300, 186.

[AA : A3196, 1941, 0.18626]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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