The Chargé in Great Britain (Atherton) to the Secretary of State
No. 862

Sir: Referring to the last paragraph of the Embassy’s confidential telegram No. 97, May 3, 8 p.m.,65 I have the honor to enclose herewith a clipping from the Times of May 6 giving the text of the broadcast speech made by the Prime Minister on Friday evening, May 5, in which he discussed his conversations in Washington with the President. I understand that Mr. MacDonald’s remarks were cabled textually to the United States for press publication.

The Prime Minister summed up his Washington conversations as follows:

The final decision, which has been so long delayed, to open the International Conference on June 12.
A preliminary mutual examination of the causes of the world crisis and the means of overcoming them, so that we may cooperate together, and with other nations, in procuring good results from the Economic Conference.
The personal exchange of information regarding War debts66 and an agreement that on their settlement depends the success of the work of the Economic Conference. As we both pledged ourselves to leave no stone unturned to make that Conference a success, this agreement means that we are to use every means in our power to find a way to settle those debts.
An understanding of how to cooperate in trying to bring the Disarmament Conference67 to a successful issue.
An improvement generally of the friendly relations and the mutual esteem of our two countries, so that the influences making for peace, confidence, and appeasement in the world have undoubtedly been strengthened.

Paragraph 3 is generally interpreted here to mean that in the Washington conversations some sort of agreement had been reached [Page 494] that an endeavor would be made to obtain some easement of the debts question from Congress to run over the period of the World Economic Conference, but that if such action were found to be impossible, Great Britain would not be condemned should she announce the intention to withhold the next payment on the Anglo-American war debt while the Conference was in session.

A debate is to take place in the House of Commons on May 9 on the subject of the World Economic Conference in which the Prime Minister will participate. A discussion of the proposed tariff truce68 is expected. As the Embassy’s recent telegrams to the Department have reported, the British Government’s present attitude toward the proposed tariff truce is one of approval as long as it does not interfere with the trade agreements already concluded with the Argentine, Denmark and Germany, and with the trade negotiations already in progress with the Scandinavian countries, even though the latter group of agreements may be delayed for the time being.

Respectfully yours,

Ray Atherton
  1. Post, p. 586.
  2. For correspondence relating to the debt question, see pp. 826 ff.
  3. For correspondence relating to the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments, see pp. 1 ff.
  4. Post, p. 605.