Memorandum of a Conference at the Office of Prime Minister Laval in the Ministry of the Interior, Paris, July 17, 1931, at 11 a.m.
Present: Secretary Stimson; Ambassador Edge; Messrs. Marriner,85 Pell86 and Klots; Mr. Arthur Henderson; Lord Tyrrell, British Ambassador, and secretary, and another representative of the British Embassy; Mr. Laval; Mr. Flandin; Mr. Poncet.87
Pell interpreted French into English and Poncet interpreted English into French. The conference lasted for one hour and forty-five minutes. The only subject discussed was the character of the conference to be held here in Paris. Laval opened the meeting by stating that the program was for the French to meet the Germans on Saturday88 at four o’clock and that there should be a general conference of all ministers and representatives in Paris on Sunday at ten o’clock. It was proposed to invite at this meeting not only the Secretary and Mr. Henderson, but the Italians and Belgians who would pass through Paris on their way to London. Henderson immediately objected indignantly to a conference on Sunday of all nations. His position was that the conference had been called by the British Government and was to be held in London and it was entirely improper to anticipate it by a conference here. There was much argument back and forth and it was finally agreed by Henderson and by the Secretary and the French that the conference on Sunday should merely take the form of “conversations” continuing the conversations had today and which would be had with the Germans on Saturday, and both Henderson and the Secretary made it clear that they would not agree to any decision on Sunday. The reason why [Page 271] the French wanted a conference in Paris was stated to be that the public in France would never purchase bonds to be used to help Germany which was the result of a decision taken in London, and the decision had to be taken here in France or at least the decision to help Germany in some way or other had to be taken here in Paris. Laval made it clear that if the French did not reach an agreement with the Germans that the French would not go to London.
Pell took very full notes of the conference and will write a complete memorandum.
After the conference the Secretary called Flandin aside and asked him about the French proposal as to pledging the customs and whether it would be necessary to secure the consent of the Powers to the new loan being a prior lien on the customs. Flandin repeated what he said over the telephone last night that this would be necessary and he did not understand that the customs were definitely pledged under the Young Plan as they were under the Dawes Plan. He felt, however, that the whole agreement as to a new loan would have to be consented to by the parties to the Young Plan and the whole proposal presupposes this.
The Secretary also had a brief private talk with Lord Tyrrell after the conference. They discussed Norman’s view which seems to be that the whole reparations and the financial situation of Europe should be re-examined. According to Lord Tyrrell, Norman wanted to reform all the finances of Europe. The British Government had, however, flatly stopped this and although they realized that Norman was the greatest expert in finance in England and they had to call on him for advice in financial matters, they could not always follow his recommendations.