800.51W89 Great Britain/480
Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State
The British Ambassador came in this morning to tell me that he had received word from his Government that they were willing to make a $10,000,000 payment on June 15th; that the only change suggested in the draft of the exchange of notes was at the end of our note the British prefer that the words “on approximately July 17 th” should be changed to “as soon as convenient.”32
I called up the President to find out whether that would be agreeable to him and he said it would be wholly acceptable, provided that the meeting would not take place before July 17th. Sir Ronald informed me that the British had in mind the month of September.
I repeated to Sir Ronald the President’s hope that there would be no publicity with regard to this whole matter until tomorrow at the earliest and better still not before Thursday, the 15th, owing to the fact that Congress was still sitting and that there was hope of adjournment this evening. The Ambassador said that unfortunately Neville Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was scheduled to make a speech this afternoon in Parliament on the subject of the debt payment and that he wanted to give publicity to the exchange of notes; he pointed out that it was exceedingly difficult to stop it, that the time was too short, that his scheduled speech had been announced, [Page 839]etc. etc. I begged the Ambassador to get on the telephone at once and to do everything he could to persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to postpone his speech until tomorrow or Thursday, that this was really important and that he should make every effort to carry out the President’s wishes.
The Ambassador left in a hurry, saying that he would do his best, but that he was very doubtful whether there was sufficient time for him to get a call through to London. He telephoned me from the Embassy a half hour later to say that the static was so bad that a telephone connection was impossible and that he had sent his en clair by cable.