500.A15A4 General Committee (Arms)/357: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Bingham) to the Secretary of State

295. From Hugh Wilson. Lord Stanhope requested me to call on him and Stevenson at the Foreign Office. He stated that the British were anxious to make progress on manufacture and traffic in arms, that they thought that the time might become propitious in a relatively short period since Germany, having entered into a naval agreement with them, was in a frame of mind to make agreements of different kinds and try to settle up all possible loose ends. They (the British) had been considering what could be done to enable a second reading of the draft convention to be successful and, while they had [Page 56] reached no decision, Stanhope desired to lay before me certain thoughts to which they were giving consideration.

Stanhope then stated that they could not recede from their position to the effect that they could not admit publicity of numbers and inspection on the spot on war matériel (on which there was no treaty of limitation). But he added, naval war matériel is limited. Air matériel will probably be limited shortly, at least among the Locarno Powers.87 It might be possible for the British Government to agree to give full publicity on numbers and admit inspection on the spot on naval and air matériel, adding a protocol to the treaty to the effect that, if and when land matériel should be limited, quantitatively or qualitatively, full publicity on numbers and inspection on the spot would be automatically applied to such matériel as well.

He pointed out that as I knew the British Government believed their acquiescence in inspection on the spot was one of their best cards to use in persuading associated governments to enter agreements of limitation. They were determined not to give up this card except where limitation had been achieved. Stanhope is inclined to believe that the suggestion above outlined would be a strong inducement to the French Government to enter into agreements of limitation with Germany on land matériel. Also he thought that the structure should appeal to French logic. He then inquired what I thought of it.

I stated that the idea was so new that I could give him no indication of what my Government thought of it; that offhand I was inclined to think it might offer interesting possibilities and that I would consult you regarding it. I told him, however, what I had told him before, that it was my personal belief that any pressure brought on the French to change their attitude should be done by Great Britain and not by us as the French had worked with us through the negotiations and had backed our project strongly. It was not fair therefore for us to cut our project watching them. The utmost that we might do if my Government considered the British idea interesting would be to say to the French after the British had taken it up that if the French were willing to consider this notion we believed that we might also fall in with them.

I suggest that you may desire to delay real consideration of this problem until I return to Geneva and until I have had a chance to study with my staff what the possibilities are of this suggestion.

Aubert has sent word that he wants to talk to me in Paris, and I shall report any French views later.88

Cipher text to Geneva. [Wilson.]

  1. i.e., Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
  2. No further communication in this connection is found in Department files.