The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Bingham) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 21—1:45 p.m.]
234. In the course of a conversation an official of the Foreign Office took occasion to reiterate the request reported in the last paragraph of my 218, April 14, 6 p.m.,42 that an answer might be received on the British reply to the American list transmitted with the Department’s 1662, April 1st,42 before the convening of the Imperial Conference. The Conference is scheduled formally to begin on May 14th; it will immediately adjourn for the Whitsun week end and its serious work will commence on May 19th. In this connection my informant stressed the importance in attempting to obtain concessions from the Dominions to be able to approach them orally for in any case when the British Government asked them to make concessions they would immediately reply “what will we get in return” and the answer could only be “the possibility of a better world”. My informant went out of his way to inquire why no request was made for the elimination of the wheat preference and I could not but feel that the British would not like raising the question with the Canadians. In this connection he also mentioned that an [Page 27] elimination of this preference would among other things successfully dispose of the Buffalo difficulties.43
Incidentally it is anticipated that the Imperial Conference will last for about 4 weeks.
I gathered that the status of the Ottawa Agreements is briefly as follows: India like Canada will require new agreement. Australia which has given notice of termination does not wish to undertake conclusive negotiations until after its forthcoming election and if necessary the present agreement will by an arrangement be continued in force during the interim period. The negotiations for a revision of the New Zealand Agreement are almost completed. Little seems to be known about the desires or intentions of South Africa.