611.4131/154: Telegram

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

184. I met the Foreign Secretary by appointment this morning at 10 a.m. and delivered to him a copy of the memorandum textually quoted in Department’s 103, March 28, 2 p.m.

He said that despite the pressure upon him of European matters, he had given this matter much thought and was glad to have this memorandum because he had understood the copy for the Foreign Office from Sir Ronald Lindsay would not be delivered until April 9th and he is leaving for Geneva today at 2 o’clock.

He said he would examine the memorandum before going away and see that it was delivered to Mr. Runciman. He stated that while he was not an expert on the technical side of this subject, he was fully aware of its importance and its political implications and that it was his intention to make every effort to avoid a conflict of trade policy between Great Britain and the United States. He said that he realized the importance of an expansion of international trade as a force in the direction of maintaining peace. He said he wished to take this matter up with me again as soon as possible after Easter, and that he would communicate with me as soon as he had an opportunity to do so and he regretted that the pressure of events had not permitted him to make the progress he had expected to achieve when this matter was first brought to his attention.

At Embassy lunch yesterday permanent Assistant Secretary to the Board of Trade, now in charge of the Anglo-Argentine trade negotiations, pointed out the rapidly failing health of Lord Runciman and that, in his opinion, with the death of his father, Mr. Runciman would be forced to give up the Board of Trade upon his entry into the House of Lords. He said Mr. Runciman was far more liberal in his views and policies than any successor was likely to be. He described [Page 656] Mr. Runciman as “a good man struggling against an adverse tide of events”. By inference this officer substantiated that a continuance of a policy of economic expediency in view of the European political situation was the general Cabinet attitude. In the course of this conversation he repeated an inquiry in the form of a statement made several times in the current year that it was assumed the United States Government was not prepared to go any further in the matter of a trade negotiation with this country until after the November elections. Incidentally he mentioned that the Board of Trade would never consider in any agreement “preferential treatment on cotton”.

In conversation with high Treasury official today he too stressed the urgency of European political situation as the primary factor dominating British policy in all fields which compelled, reluctant as they were to admit it, a policy of expediency in economic and financial international questions.