32 Cablegram from Heydon to Department of External Affairs
London, 8 March 1950
King's speech referred to United Kingdom co-operation 'with other Commonwealth Governments in matters of common interest in South and South East Asia.1
2. Eden2 in debate on address, in reply after criticising foreign policy sections of King's speech for lacking 'common theme' and saying 'isolated treaties were insufficient to combat communism and said 'the longer we delay in reaching agreement among countries that share our view, greater the danger to the whole continent Asia and higher the price freedom loving countries will have to pay if we are to make our contribution effective. Initiative of new Australian Minister for External Affairs in putting before the Colombo Conference what is now called the Spender Plan for collective Commonwealth effort to improve living standards in South East Asia is welcome. It is the right way. The task is an urgent one. World events have not stood still while we have been indulging in our general election and time is not on our side in South East Asia. I ask the Government whether they are right in thinking the United States is prepared to co-operate in the Spender Plan. If so, is any meeting contemplated for that purpose and how soon will there be such a meeting? Is it to be in Canberra in the Spring or when?'
3. The Prime Minister in reply said 'The Colombo proposals have not yet been fully considered. At the present moment work is proceeding on an official level on the Spender Plan. The Australians have suggested there should be a meeting in Canberra in May to discuss the Plan. The Spender Plan envisages consultation with Commonwealth countries first and doubtless after that they will be consulting with the United States of America. Meanwhile there will be closest exchange of information and co-operation on all those matters of South East Asia.'
[NAA: A1838, 381/3/1/3 part lb]
1 Consonant with tradition, the King opened the new UK Parliament on 6 March with a speech prepared by Cabinet.
2 R.A. Eden, UK Deputy Leader of the Opposition.