611.4131/162: Telegram

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

234. Runciman lunched with me today and I took occasion to go over the ground I had covered with Eden yesterday and to hand him a copy of your memorandum based on 125, April 11.

Runciman immediately said that through his son he had received your message to him24 which he appreciated and that he wished me to convey to you his acknowledgment.

In the course of our discussion Runciman maintained that the eventual aims of our two countries were not in their more important aspects dissimilar but that in this country and, he presumed, in ours, the Cabinet officials concerned had to take into consideration in forming their immediate plans responsible groups which were an important element in political and public opinion. He elaborated on the pressure which had been brought to bear on him and the whole Cabinet by Amery25 and his followers to abandon the most-favoured-nation [Page 661] clause, and he also emphasized the pressure which particular industries, such as textiles and steel, including financial interests, exerted. Nevertheless, he said his Cabinet colleagues, including Chamberlain26 had with him stood by the most-favored-nation clause, and that in his speech before the association of British Chamber of Commerce tomorrow night he would make occasion to set forth anew the Government’s viewpoint.

When I pointed out to him that often the British bilateral agreements, while permitting the maintenance of the most-favored-nation clause as such in this country, were nevertheless restrictive on the other party, he immediately analyzed this statement in somewhat the following way: that the Scandinavian countries had very large freedom of action, dependent on their own internal decisions; that the Spanish treaty had been a failure, which he did not want to repeat; that the German treaty gave that country a wide margin of action; and that the Argentine treaty, which I took occasion to point out to him, was very much to the forefront in United States eyes, particularly vis-à-vis the United States-Brazil treaty, he quite frankly said was of such a beneficial character that he would be very glad to renew it again in its present form. He then went on to point out that the majority of these treaties had one factor that the British negotiators had to have in mind; namely, the payment of the foreign debts due to England, such was the importance of that factor in British internal economy.

Runciman’s attitude did not remind me in any way of his remarks reported in Embassy’s 81, February 28, 1 p.m., and I felt that he was at pains to give me the palatable interpretation of British commercial policy within the limits of what they conceived to be their greatest self interest.

Incidentally he touched on the question of trade negotiations and said that in any such matter as tariffs Great Britain would be concerned over what the future fiscal policy of the United States was to be, with particular reference to the content of the dollar.

  1. Not found in Department files.
  2. Leopold Stennett Amery, British Member of Parliament.
  3. Neville Chamberlain, British Chancellor of the Exchequer.