119 Cablegram from Gordon Walker to Australian Government
London, 7 November 1950
206. SECRET IMMEDIATE
Publication of the Colombo Plan
Because of the views of the Australian Government set out in their telegram 2262 we have further consulted the United States Administration and have ascertained from them that they would haveno objection to deferring publication for a week or so to enable Mr. Spender to present the report to parliament in person. We would, therefore, like the agreement of other Commonwealth Governments to publication on Tuesday, 21st November. If this is accepted we would propose that the report should be laid before the United Kingdom Parliament at 2.00 p.m. G.M.T. on Tuesday 21st November and very much hope that other Commonwealth Governments will feel able to make arrangements to publish the report at or after that time. We realise that in a case like this an agreed time of publication is bound to cause inconvenience to one or other Commonwealth Government, but the time suggested would seem to us to fall in reasonably well with publicity requirements of all Commonwealth Governments, with the possible exception of Australia and New Zealand and would, in addition, have important advantage of enabling the story to be dealt with comprehensively by the United States press.
2. Our suggestion of Tuesday 21st November has been influenced by the fact that we have found that it will now be possible to publish the popular version of the report by that day. We would like to secure the agreement of other Commonwealth Governments to the appearance of this booklet in the United States of America and in consequence in the United Kingdom concurrently with the publication of authoritative report, because all our advice from our embassy in Washington is that such simultaneous publication will do much to mobilise public opinion in the United States in favour of Colombo Plan, a matter of great importance if we are to secure full co-operation of the Administration. We realise that this proposal isnot wholly consistent with the intention of Commonwealth Consultative Committee that publication of a popular version should not take place until a reliable view could be formed of prospects of American assistance. It is most unlikely that the Americans will have entered into any sort of commitment in regard to the plan by 23rd November. But it will be remembered that this decision was taken in view of the possible repercussions on public opinion in South and South-East Asia, and as the Governments concerned now intend to rely so largely on translations into their national languages to popularise the Plan, we would hope that they would not object to allowing the English language version to appear concurrently with the report itself in Western countries.
3. We have a further amendment to suggest to paragraph 3 of the foreword. With exception of the Associated States of Indo-China, no other non-Commonwealth Government in the area has so far notified its agreement to participation [in]3 the plan. We would suggest, therefore that paragraph 5 should now read as follows:–
'These Governments have all been invited to participate in the future work necessary for the success of the Plan and to prepare development programmes on the same lines as which have been prepared by the Commonwealth Governments in the area. They have also been invited to join the Council for Technical Co-operation which the London meeting agreed to set up. These Governments are now considering their attitude to the Plan in the light of the reports received from their delegates (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam) or observers (Burma, Indonesia) who attended the joint meeting'. We are inclined to prefer this suggestion to that contained in Ceylon Government telegram 206 to me.4
4. Finally, you may wish to know that we propose that the title page of the report as presented to the United Kingdom Parliament should read 'The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and South East Asia report by the Commonwealth Consultative Committee London September and October 1950, presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to Parliament by command of His Majesty'.
5. We would be grateful for your comments on the foregoing at the earliest possible moment. Exigencies of printing demand that final version of the report should be in the hands of the printers by Saturday 11th November.
[NAA: A462, 587/4]
1 The cablegram was addressed from the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to the members of the Consultative Committee.
2 The telegram stated that the Australian Government preferred to defer publication until 21 November 1950 to allow Spender to table the report in Parliament. The telegram continued: 'If, however, delay in publication until that date is deemed undesirable or impracticable, we agree to earlier publication. In this event we hope publication can be made on 14th November, as Parliament does not sit on Monday or Friday'.
3 Editorial insert
4 Not published.