550.S1/89: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

217. Have learned informally from the Secretariat the present status of the plan for an economic conference, this plan being subject to modification.

1. Project for the Conference is based on previous direct conversations between certain governments and on annex V of the Final Act of the Lausanne Conference9 (text of which it is assumed is available to the Department).

2. The British Government, on behalf of the Lausanne Conference, will invite six other governments, including the United States, to send two representatives each to serve respectively on the two subcommittees envisaged in annex V. The “organizing” committee of the Council (see paragraph 4) will designate three members in their individual capacities for each subcommittee and the Bank for International Settlements, two members to serve on the financial subcommittee only. The financial subcommittee will thus have 12 members i.e. 6 from states mentioned in annex V, 1 from the United States, 2 from the Bank for International Settlements, and 3 appointed by the Council Committee, presumably nationals of states not mentioned in annex V. The economic subcommittee will consist of 10 members i.e. 6 from states mentioned in annex V, 1 from the United States, and 3 appointed by the Council Committee, presumably nationals of states not mentioned in annex V.

3. It is contemplated that the subcommittees will meet in Geneva about the beginning of September. The expenses of the government representatives will be borne by their respective governments while the League will assume the expenses of its appointees. Experts representing governments may or may not be government officials. The subcommittees will be assisted by the directors of the economic and financial sections of the Secretariat.

4. The Council will appoint a committee of the Council as an “organizing” committee, composed of representatives of those governments members of the Council which issued invitations to the Lausanne Conference and Council members who are rapporteurs for economic and financial questions i.e. Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Norway. This committee will be empowered to obtain the participation of other states and will invite only the [Page 815] United States and Belgium to send representatives. The invitation to the United States will thus be issued by the chairman of the committee and not by the Council. The functions of the Organizing Committee will be to supervise the work of two subcommittees and formulate plans for the Conference including its composition, place and time of meeting and agenda. It will probably be composed of Cabinet ministers with MacDonald as chairman and will obviously have a more political slant in contrast to the more technical character of the subcommittees. Either the Council will delegate authority enabling the Organizing Committee to make final decisions regarding the Conference or the Committee will render a report with recommendations for action. In practice the Committee’s decisions will be adopted and subsequent Council action pro forma.

The expenses of members as government representatives on the Organizing Committee will be paid by their respective governments. It is planned that the Committee meet as soon as possible after establishment by the Council.

5. It will be observed from the foregoing that the subcommittees, although set up by the Lausanne Conference, do not report to the Lausanne Conference but to a Council committee thus tying the Conference to the League. Furthermore, it is contemplated that many standing League projects will be incorporated in the Conference.

6. The Council will probably meet Friday, July 15.

7. Opinion is divided as to whether the Conference will meet in Geneva or London. Geneva is favorable position as more economical. London is favored as a better atmosphere for economic and financial discussion, for the psychological reason that representatives are in general “weary” of Geneva, and also for certain political reasons particularly as it might serve to commit the British Government to the success of the meeting.

It is thought at the Secretariat that the Conference will not meet before the middle of November or the beginning of December.

8. The Secretariat appears to have been advised by an undiscoverable British source that Washington “insists” that the Conference be held in London.

9. The Conference will not be termed World or General Economic Conference due I believe to preoccupations respecting Russia. It will presumably be termed simply Economic and Financial Conference.

  1. Great Britain, Cmd. 4126, Miscellaneous No. 7 (1932): Final Act of the Lausanne Conference, Lausanne, July 9, 1932, p. 15.