The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Dawes ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 22—9:35 a.m.]
158. Department’s 137, May 20, 4 p.m. In a conversation with Mr. MacDonald this afternoon, he spoke unfavorably of an official conference on silver now. His reasons for this attitude, I shall give you upon my arrival in Washington. Nevertheless, if the lead were taken by another Government, Great Britain would probably participate upon his recommendation.
As an example of how a conference on a special problem was superior to a purely official one, I pointed to the Wheat Conference now being held here.52 Unofficial conferences command respect if the private sponsors in the respective countries are sufficiently eminent in their field. It is unlikely that political embarrassments will be created by open debate in a conference of this character. In fact, the condition should encourage more liberal discussion. This is being demonstrated in the private sessions of the Wheat Conference. With public opinion the world over clamoring for the examination of national issues in an international atmosphere, certainly the ironing out of differences over principles and their execution by delegates unencumbered with official instructions would be beneficial. I am of the opinion that such a conference can be productive of more positive action than the International Chamber of Commerce or even the League of Nations. The efforts of the latter organizations are continually concerned with a variety of problems. The unofficial conference, composed of experts, terminates its labors upon resolving the problem for which it was convened. The several interested Governments could send unofficial representatives to such a meeting. We worked this to advantage with the Reparations Commission. From the reports to its observer a Government could determine the expediency of calling an official conference. This approach is favored by Mr. MacDonald. His other suggestions I shall convey to you in Washington.
The Japanese have not yet approached the Government here on the idea of a silver conference. I was asked yesterday by the Chinese Minister what was the attitude of the British Government on this subject.