550.S1/12: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Mellon) to the Secretary of State

188. I discussed your 154, May 26, 4 p.m., with Foreign Secretary who stated the inference in your 155, May 26, 5 p.m.,5 was correct in that the instructions to Ambassador Lindsay had been sent at a moment when the details of your telephone conversation with the Prime Minister were unknown to the Foreign Office. The Foreign Secretary then outlined briefly steps leading to representations by British Ambassador on May 13 in that press cables to London have quoted a high Washington authoritative source as stating that United States would view favorably international consideration of world economic conditions. This was followed by the Foreign Secretary’s reply to Winston Churchill’s question in the House of Commons, as reported in my despatch No. 81, May 11th5 and the subsequent instructions to Ambassador Lindsay forwarded to Washington during Prime Minister’s convalescence in Lossiemouth.

Foreign Secretary then read me terms of reference for the Lausanne Conference,6 and pointed out that the sentence in the latter half suggesting agreement “on the measures necessary to solve other economic and financial difficulties which are responsible for and may prolong the present world crisis”,7 having been insisted upon by the British Government, would be an embarrassment to him if it were disregarded and an entirely unrelated conference called to meet in London to consider this very question. He added that the first part of the Lausanne Conference would deal with reparations, and he could understand the United States might be unwilling to join the second part; nevertheless Sir John felt that any monetary conference, or Lausanne dealing with world commodity prices, must presuppose expert’s preparation. (See last sentence, paragraph 7 your telegram 154.)

Sir John then pointed out that with the Disarmament Conference already meeting,8 the Lausanne Conference called for June 16th and Ottawa Conference called for the middle of July the responsible British Ministers capable of taking decisions in an International [Page 812] Conference on commodity prices were not free before August at the earliest. Consequently, in thinking aloud Sir John wondered whether the experts assembled at Lausanne might not be instructed to prepare data under the terms of reference which could be used at a later conference to be invited to meet at London with the United States taking part when the responsible British Ministers concerned might attend. This Sir John felt might permit immediate study and in coordination with the Lausanne terms of reference open the way for a conference to be called in London at a convenient date on international commodity prices et cetera in which the United States would be included. Sir John then continued that he would welcome any suggestions including in particular: (1) any proposed date of this London Conference; (2) proposed agenda and, (3) in view of paragraph 9 of your telegram 154 and likewise of press publicity that has been given to the Lossiemouth–Washington telephone conversation and recent newspaper correspondent’s reports from Lossiemouth that Prime Minister intends “turning Lausanne into conference on world trade”, whether it might not be well to consider an early statement to French and Italian Governments that the advisability of international discussions on commodity prices had been broached between the British and American Governments.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. For correspondence concerning the Conference, see pp. 636 ff.
  5. See telegram No. 97, February 13, 10 a.m., from the Chargé in France, p. 670; for text of communiqué as issued by the British Foreign Office, see London Times, February 15, 1932, p. 12.
  6. For correspondence concerning the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments, see pp. 1 ff.