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267 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 146A LONDON, 1 September 1943

My telegram No. 144A. [1] In view of the importance of food both
during the war and post-war period the organisation dealing with
it is of first moment.

In considering the two proposals now under consideration, namely
(a) an all-powerful body in Washington, or
(b) two parallel bodies of equal status in Washington and London
working in the closest co-operation it is necessary to visualise
the task that confronts such an organisation.

This it is difficult to do as up to the present there has been
clarification of thought either here or in Washington as to the
relations of the Food organisation with UNRRA [2] and the interim
commission consequent on Hot Springs. [3]

When this clarification comes it seems to me it will show that the
Food organisation must continue until the end of the war both in
Europe and the Far East. It must of course work in the closest co-
operation with UNRRA but until the war is over the task of
ensuring and allotting the food supplies necessary to provide for
the armed forces and civilian populations of the United Nations
will in my view remain in the hands of the organisation that has
been progressively built up to deal with the food problem. I even
go further and feel that when the Pacific war is over the food
situation will be such that method of allocation will have to be
maintained for some time and the Food organisation having
functioned to the end of the war will be continued as the most
convenient instrument until a permanent organisation is in a
position to implement the decisions of the Hot Springs Conference.

This however is perhaps more long-range speculation than is

From the above it is clear that in my view the Food organisation
is likely to endure and play a considerable role. The greatest
importance therefore attaches to the decisions now to be taken.

While the idea put forward by the Americans i.e. supreme authority
in Washington appears logical, I have grave doubts of its wisdom.

My grounds for this view are
(1) It would tend to become unwieldy. If representation was
accorded to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and
India would demand similar treatment.

South America or other producer countries would be added as
contemplated by the American proposal and consuming countries
would also demand representation.

(2) A large body of this character sitting in Washington would
almost inevitably be subjected to political pressure and the
influence of the American press upon it is a factor that cannot be

(3) The performance of American administration in handling
national and international economic questions has not been such as
to encourage the idea of centring all authority with regard to
food in Washington.

The major point however that will have to be dealt with by the
Food organisation is the certainty of an increasing world shortage
of food which will necessitate the stimulation of production and
the continuance of rationing in some countries e.g. the United
Kingdom and greater sacrifices by others e.g. the United States.

With regard to stimulation of production I believe this will best
be achieved by the continuance of existing methods, that is by
contracts between individual countries e.g. the United Kingdom and

With regard to continued rationing and increased sacrifices I
think the system of parallel Boards in Washington and London would
give the best results. A practical point is that Woolton is
strongly opposed to the United States suggestion and in view of
the weight and confidence he carries as a result of his successful
administration the United Kingdom Government will not agree to the
United States proposals. Woolton's attitude I am convinced is
actuated by a sincere conviction that the system of the two
parallel authorities is not only best in the interests of the
United Kingdom but of the British Empire as a whole.

The United Kingdom is our primary market and our major trade
channels and connections have been established with her. Balancing
all the arguments I feel we should support the strengthening of
the London Food Board and indicate our preference for that
arrangement over the proposal now put forward by the United

It is very desirable that you should send your views immediately
as if the American proposal is not to be accepted it is essential
this should be made clear at the earliest possible moment.


1 Dispatched 28 August. On file AA:M100, August 1943.

2 United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

3 See Document 215.

[AA:M100, SEPTEMBER 1943]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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