811.24 Raw Materials/113: Telegram

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

607. The following is the statement the Prime Minister29 will make this afternoon in reply to a question, unless something happens between now and 3 o’clock, with three changes I have suggested, as explained below:30

“Question: to ask the Prime Minister if he can make a statement regarding the proposed barter of materials between His Majesty’s Government and the Government of the United States of America.

Proposed answer: the Government of the United States of America have recently inquired whether His Majesty’s Government would be prepared to consider the exchange of certain raw materials, required as strategic reserves by the United States Government, for other commodities of which the United States Government have surpluses and which would be a useful addition to our own stores against the contingency of war. His Majesty’s Government are fully alive to the importance of the suggestion.

His Majesty’s Government have replied that while they fully share the United States Government’s objections to attempts to substitute barter for the ordinary processes of international trade, they agree that in the special circumstances of the present time the bartering of materials which would not enter into normal commerce is not open to the same objections, provided that world prices are not thereby increased. His Majesty’s Government have expressed their readiness to enter into discussions as to the means by which the obvious practical difficulties which arise in such a transaction should be surmounted. Discussions have accordingly already been opened with the United States Government.”

I have suggested three changes: (1) in the question itself the word “exchange” to be substituted for “barter”; (2) in the second paragraph of the proposed answer, first sentence, the expression “the bartering of materials” to be changed to “the exchanging of materials”; (3) in the final sentence, the opening word to be “negotiations” instead of “discussions”.

The first two changes were made considering your feeling about the word “barter” and as regards the word “discussions” I asked Sir John Simon31 this morning what in heaven’s name we had been doing for the last 10 days and said that it was not “discussions” we wanted but “negotiations” from now on. Simon has agreed to these changes and they are now up for approval by the Prime Minister.

  1. Neville Chamberlain.
  2. The Prime Minister made the statement with the suggested changes as reported.
  3. British Chancellor of the Exchequer.