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177 Note by Bruce of Conversation with McVey

Extracts [LONDON], 31 May 1944 [1]

McVey came to see me prior to his departure for Australia, to let
me know where he had got to in respect to the various activities
he had been pursuing.

[matter omitted]

I told McVey of the advice I had tendered to the Prime Minister
with regard to sending Drakeford to America for the bilateral
Conversations. [2] The Prime Minister had not let McVey know of
his decision and McVey asked me whether Drakeford had yet been
instructed. I said I thought not as McLaughlin [3] had asked me to
confirm what I had said to the Prime Minister when I had seen him
at the aerodrome.

I also told McVey of Evatt's telegram [4] and the advice I had
tendered to the Prime Minister with regard to it. [5] McVey agreed
that the conversations would have to be held and that Evatt's
telegram was merely fractious.

I then asked him how he had got on in the conversation with
Leathers [6] and rather to my disappointment he told me that
Leathers had been so occupied in telling him, McVey, what should
be done in regard to Civil Aviation that no real consideration had
been given to McVey's proposals. [7] He said that Leathers was
quite clear that he did not want to take over Civil Aviation until
6 months after the war was over. This confirmed what Leathers had
said to me on the telephone.

I then asked McVey if he had seen Beaverbrook again and he said
that he had yesterday and gave me an account of the conversation.

Apparently McVey took rather an attacking attitude and said that
he was very disturbed that there was no plan here for post war
civil aviation.

Beaverbrook's reply was that there was such a plan and he had
submitted it at the Prime Ministers' Conference. McVey countered
this by saying that he, Beaverbrook had submitted no plan at the
Prime Ministers' Meeting and he knew perfectly well that he had
not, and that he, Beaverbrook, had done this deliberately as he
did not want a discussion. This, according to McVey, Beaverbrook
admitted. They then went on to discuss the proposals which McVey
has put forward, which are embodied in his four papers, copies of
which he left with Beaverbrook. Beaverbrook was apparently very
taken with the proposals and said he was going to put them
through, and added that he would see that McVey got all the credit
for them. He apparently then went on to one of his bell ringing
stunts, sending for Masefield [8] his Personal Assistant and
dictating instructions to him that immediate action was to be
taken to give effect to McVey's proposals. He also asked McVey to
take the matter up with Howe when he was in Canada, and endeavour
to get Howe's agreement. This apparently McVey undertook to CIO.

I asked McVey if he knew what Hildred's [9] attitude was towards
the proposals. McVey said he was not quite sure and expressed some
doubts as to Hildred's capacity, describing him as a very formal
minded Civil Servant. He said, however, he had discussed his plan
very fully with Street [10] who was enthusiastically in favour of

We left the matter on the basis that I would take an early
opportunity of seeing Beaverbrook and ascertaining exactly how
things were going.

Both these matters that I discussed with McVey will have to be
followed up. There is no doubt that McVey has a very great deal of
capacity, but for some reason he leaves me with just a shadow of a

S. M. B.

1 This note was written on 1 June.

2 See Document 176.

3 F. A. McLaughlin, Curtin's Private Secretary.

4 Document 165.

5 Document 176.

6 U.K. Minister of War Transport.

7 Contained in papers (dated 15 May) prepared by McVey for Curtin
in London, on aspects of post-war civil aviation. On file
AA:A3095, 1/1/28. The first urged development of a British Empire
plan, and the provision, in addition to ordinary commercial
services, of a prestige, high-speed service on selected
strategical routes, owned and operated by a British Commonwealth

8 P. G. Masefield, Secretary of the U.K. War Cabinet Committee on
Post War Civil Air Transport.

9 W. P. Hildred, U.K. Director-General of Civil Aviation, Ministry
of Civil Aviation. 10 Sir Arthur Street, Permanent Under-Secretary
of State for Air.

[AA:M100, MAY 1944]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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