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Historical documents

273 Commonwealth Government to Attlee

Cablegram 230 [1] CANBERRA, 7 September 1943

Your telegrams D.579 [2], D.614 [3] and 244. [4]

1. We are pleased to learn that the United States Government await
with pleasure the arrival at Washington of the British
representatives. We have been able now to give more consideration
to your telegram D.467 [5] and take this opportunity to elaborate
our views on Certain subjects proposed for the Agenda.

2. Regulation of Primary Products-There is a danger that, owing to
the probable absence of large surpluses during the relief period,
proposals affecting the regulation of primary products may be put
to one side until the need arises. For this reason we were pleased
to see this specifically mentioned as one of matters which is
intended to be discussed with the United States Authorities.

3. Employment-In paragraph 3 of our 199 [6] we urged the
inclusion, in an orderly Agenda for discussions under Article 7,
of proposals for an agreement on domestic policy as a means of
achieving our common objectives including full employment. We
feel, particularly since the informal talks in London between the
United Kingdom and Dominion experts and other information
discussions with United States experts, that the plans for United
Nations economic co-operation to raise standards of living
(including those relating to monetary policy, commercial policy,
commodity controls and food and agriculture) will not be complete
without some kind of agreement between the British Commonwealth,
United States and associated nations on domestic policy in
accordance with the positive aspects of the terms of Article 7. In
particular we feel it essential that a resolute attempt should be
made to obtain agreement on employment policy. It may be difficult
to define employment policy in terms suitable for formal
agreement. But the resolution of the Food Conference to seek an
agreement amongst Governments in relation to raising levels of
nutrition and standards of living is a useful precedent. In
relation to employment there could also be additional undertakings
by each nation:

(a) To make available to others a record of unemployment on an
agreed plan through an appropriate international secretariat.

(b) To report to others periodically through an appropriate
secretariat on the state of its domestic employment and to
interchange information about economic policies directed towards
maintaining employment; and
(c) To consult with others if domestic unemployment reaches
serious proportions, for the purposes of examining possible
national and international measures to restore the level of

As we have pointed out before, such an approach on employment is
necessary because:-

(a) A domestic policy to maintain employment represents a most
important contribution to the expansion and maintenance of
international trade.

(b) A high level of employment and expanding production tend to
create conditions in which international trade can be stimulated
and facilitated without fear of resources being wasted through
being thrown out of employment.

(c) It will be easier for any individual country to pursue a
positive policy of expanding employment, production and
international trade if a similar policy is being put into effect
in other countries.

(d) Countries might more readily accept the obligations of
membership of international organisations related to monetary and
commercial policies since adequate domestic policies would
contribute most to the successful operation of these

(e) In any case, a formal record of unemployment would be an
essential criterion for the formation of policy by the
international authorities dealing with monetary and commercial

4. With reference to paragraph 4 of our 199, please take note that
consideration is now being given by us to the active resumption of
our bilateral trade discussions. We shall, of course, take into
account the points made in paragraph 6 of your D.467. [7] We have
always emphasised that any agreement concluded under the present
powers of the United States administration would be regarded as an
interim measure, and in fact, so far as this country is concerned,
as a valuable preliminary to a broader agreement. [8]

1 Repeated to the Legation in Washington as no. 1068.

2 Dispatched 21 August. On file AA:A989, 43/735/55/1, i. It
conveyed the text of the U.S. Govt's agreement to the U.K.

proposal for the holding of economic discussions.

3 See Document 270, note 2.

4 See Document 252, note 1.

5 See Document 252, note 3.

6 See Document 252.

7 See Document 252, note 2.

8 Bruce advised Curtin on 10 September that in view of the
importance of this cablegram and its 'admirable statement of the
case with regard to full employment' he had asked that it be
circulated to members of the U.K. War Cabinet. See cablegram
160[A] on the file cited in note 2.

On 17 September Attlee urged the Commonwealth Govt not to seek a
resumption of bilateral trade discussions with the U.S. Govt until
the U.K. delegation in Washington had had time 'to develop ... the
broader multilateral conception'. See cablegram 272 on the file
cited in note 2.

[AA:A989, 43/735/58/1]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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