File No. 800.24/67

The Chargé in Great Britain ( Laughlin ) to the Secretary of State


10583. The following cable has been approved by Stevens, Sheldon, and Cravath, and should be delivered to Hurley and Gay as a cable from Stevens, to the War Trade Board as a cable from Sheldon, and to the Secretary of the Treasury as a cable from Cravath; also send copy to Baruch. It will be numbered Ship Mission No. 228 from Stevens, No. 762 from Sheldon, No. 335 from Cravath.

The British, French, and Italian Governments having accepted the principle of the organization of programme-making committees covering the entire field of Allied imports, have approved the organization of the committees of which a list and description are given below. Certain of these committees are already in existence and will continue with their original or modified powers.

So far as we know the American representation upon existing committees is confined to Robert P. Skinner, our Consul General at [Page 588] London, who is member of the Nitrate Executive, and Commander Paul Foley of the Navy and L. I. Thomas, who are members of the Petroleum Conference. Mr. Sheldon, the London representative of the War Trade Board, sits with the Wheat Executive and the Meats and Fats Executive and [has] taken an important part in their deliberations, [though not] formally a member of either body. James H. Skinner, who recently arrived to represent the Food Administration upon the Inter-Allied Council on War Purchases and Finance, has been attending the meetings of the Wheat Executive and the Meats and Fats Executive but does not regard himself as a member of either [body]. Bigelow, the wool expert, who is a member of Sheldon’s staff, has been attending to purchases of wool from the British Government for the United States Navy and Army and also to some extent to other American Government wool purchases.

Programme committees are not executive bodies, though two existing Allied bodies, the Wheat Executive and the Nitrate Executive, which have the duty of purchasing, will for convenience undertake the duties of programme committees for cereals and nitrates respectively. The proceedings of the programme committees will be as follows:

To obtain such information as is necessary to determine the requirements of each Allied country for the commodity or class of commodities with which the programme committee is concerned, including past consumption and stocks.
To secure effective Allied criticism of requirements so that the sacrifice entailed by any necessary shortage may be distributed as equitably as possible between the different countries in such a way as to best aid in the prosecution of the war.
To prepare programmes for such periods and on such bases as the Allied Maritime Transport Council may desire, the programmes of all being as nearly as possible comparable and uniform.
To discuss possible reductions of programmes with the Allied Maritime Transport Council when the forecast of available tonnage shows any deficiency as compared with the aggregate proposed requirements of all the Allies.
To pass upon and certify the statements of the requirements of the Allies for purchases in the United States which are periodically submitted to the Inter-Allied Council on War Purchases and Finance, and to cooperate with that Council in effecting any reductions in purchasing programmes that may be required to meet limitations of finance.

All agree that London should be the headquarters of all the committees excepting the Munitions Council, whose principal headquarters will be Paris, although certain of its subcommittees, such as the nitrate committee and the steel committee, will have their headquarters in London.

The following is a list of the committees now contemplated, with their respective powers:

First programme committee. This is the Inter-Allied Munitions Council organized in Paris last week, of which the British members are Winston Churchill, Minister of Munitions, [Page 589] W. T. Layton, his director of requirements and statistics, Sir Charles Ellis, his Paris representative, General Furse, Master General of the Ordnance, War Office. For France, M. Loucheur, Minister of Munitions, and associates corresponding to Winston Churchill’s associates. For Italy, Nava, Under Secretary of State for War, who is in effect Minister of Munitions, and appropriate subordinates. This council is to hold regular meetings about once a month at its head office in Paris, is to have a permanent secretariat at Paris which it is hoped will include one representative of each Government, and is to have various technical subcommittees including the following:

Munitions technical committee.
Aircraft committee. Already existing in Paris as the Inter-Allied Aviation Committee.
Chemical committee. Already existing in Paris.
Explosives committee, which may embrace the existing Nitrate Executive1 which would otherwise continue as a separate subcommittee of the Munitions Council.
Non-ferrous metals committee, which has three sections, viz.: tin committee, tungsten committee, and committee for copper and other metals. This section would probably meet in London as does the Nitrate Executive.
Tanks committee.
Steel committee,2 and probably
A committee on railway and transport supplies which would act in liaison with the existing Inter-Allied Transport Committee at Versailles.

Doubtless other subcommittees or sections of subcommittees will be added.

It is desired that the United States should be represented upon this Council by at least one principal member, who should have a rank approaching as nearly as practicable that of the Munitions Ministers of Great Britain, France and Italy. He should be supported by an American [secretariat] including a technical staff qualified to represent him upon the various subcommittees to the end that there would be in France an American technical organization qualified to deal with the similar organizations of the Allies in relation to questions arising from time to time affecting the design and production of munitions and other military supplies coming within the scope of the Council’s jurisdiction.

Second programme committee. This will be the wheat committee and will practically be a continuation of the existing Wheat Executive3 and will deal with wheat and other cereals and with dried pulses.

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Third programme committee. This will be the meats and fats committee and be therefore a continuation of the present Meats and Fats Executive1 and will deal with meats, edible animal fats, dairy produce and canned fruits and vegetables.

Fourth programme committee. This will be the oil and seeds committee2 and will deal with edible vegetable oils, with the nuts, seeds, etc., from which they are prepared and with castor seeds and castor oil for purposes of lubrication.

Fifth programme committee. This will be the sugar committee3 dealing with sugar, molasses and syrups.

Sixth programme committee. 4 This will be the wool committee and will deal with wool and woolen textiles.

Seventh programme committee. This will be the hemp, flax and jute committee and will deal with these and similar fibers and their products.

Eighth programme committee. This will be the hides and leather committee and will deal with hides, leather, and their products, tanning materials and leather manufactures, such as boots, shoes and saddlery.

Ninth programme committee. This will be the horses and mules committee.

Tenth programme committee. This will be the cotton committee and will deal with cotton textiles and other cotton products other than for explosives.

Eleventh programme committee. This will be the timber committee.

Twelfth programme committee. This will be the paper committee and will deal with pulp wood, wood pulp and other paper making materials and with paper and paper products.

Thirteenth programme committee. This will be the tobacco and matches committee.

Fourteenth programme committee. This will be the coal and coke committee and will deal with coal, coke and manufactured fuels other than petroleum products.

Fifteenth programme committee. This will be the petroleum committee and will be practically a continuation of the Petroleum Conference and will deal with fuel oil, aviation and motor [Page 591] spirit and lubricating oils and various petroleum products to be used for mechanical purposes.1

It is proposed that any commodity not obviously comprised in the above lists will be dealt with by extending the scope of some one of the above program committees or possibly in special cases such as rubber by the creation of an additional committee. The committees dealing with food may be grouped under a central food committee;2 there may be a similar group of other committees.

It is desired that the United States shall as promptly as possible appoint a representative upon each of the committees. It will be possible for the same person to act as our representative upon two or more committees dealing with allied subjects but if not himself an expert he should be supported by technical advisers. There should also be several capable secretaries who could act with the British, French and Italian representatives upon the secretariats of the various committees, Stevens.

[No signature indicated]
  1. See Foreign Relations, 1917, Supplement 2, vol. I, pp. 666 et seq.
  2. According to minutes in the files of the War Industries Board, this committee held its first meeting on Aug. 7, 1918, with no American member, but at its meeting on Aug. 9 it was joined by Summers and Mackall of the War Industries-Board Mission; see telegram No. 5175, Aug. 1, to the Ambassador in France, post, p. 600.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1917, Supplement 2, vol. I, p. 653, footnote.
  4. See letter of Sept. 7, 1917, from the Food Administration Representative at London to the Food Administrator, Foreign Relations, 1917, Supplement 2, vol. I, p. 656.
  5. According to minutes in the files of the War Industries Board the Oil Seeds Executive held its first meeting on July 26, with Dr. A. B. Taylor of the War Trade Board representing the United States.
  6. See public statement issued by the Food Administration, Sept. 21, 1917, Foreign Relations, 1917, Supplement 2, vol. I, p. 657.
  7. Incomplete minutes and other records in the files of the War Industries Board show that of the committees which follow some held their first meetings in July, as the cotton committee, July 10, the timber committee, July 12, and the leather and hides committee, July 19. As no regular American representatives had been appointed, the three named were attended by James A. Field of the Shipping Mission, to maintain a semi-official connection until full representation could be arranged. Various members of the War Industries Board Mission (see post, p. 600) were later assigned to these committees according to their competence.
  8. See also the section headed “Cooperation of the United States with the Allied Powers in the Distribution of Oil and Oil-Well Equipment,” post, p. 617.
  9. For the organization of the Food Council, see ante, p. 557.