862.6362/7–2547: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Douglas) to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett)


4070. For Lovett. Went over with Bevin again the agenda of the forthcoming Ruhr coal conference in Washington and asked him precisely what sort of amplification he wanted.62 Pointed out that food was a clear statement; housing, mining equipment, the same, that the management problem items on the agenda, it seemed to me, needed no clarification.

Explained to him that in regard to item 11, we wanted to discuss the adverse effects which uncertainty as to the status of the mines had upon the production of coal, and the ways in which these adverse effects might be removed and that this might lead to a discussion of nationalization.

Also pointed out that, in accordance your cable 3134, July 22,63 while financial matters will arise in the course of the discussions, we could make no commitments at this time because we were operating under an appropriation of Congress, in respect of which the fusion agreement formed the basis.

[Page 946]

He asked whether it would be appropriate to discuss the possibility of expending the amount of money set aside for the support of the bi-zonal area in a shorter period than the 18 months for which the estimate was made. I could not answer this question for I do not know the terms of the appropriation made by Congress.

Would appreciate as promptly as you can give them to me, any amplifications of the agenda you can send and an answer to the last question.

Bevin was very disturbed, and he said the members of the Cabinet were equally disturbed lest at the forthcoming conference the British be put on the mat for maladministration. He did not, he said, want to be on the defensive. He had no apologies to make for British administration and did not want his delegation to be placed in the position of defending what he thought, in view of the difficulties with France and with food, had not been too bad. In this connection Bevin referred to the publicity given to Moses report.64

I tried to explain to him that it was our purpose to review the facts without criticizing anyone, and to try to devise methods by which production of coal be increased.

If you have any elaboration on Bevin’s apprehension, I would appreciate it also.

  1. Telegram 4057, July 24, from London, not printed, reported that the British Cabinet had agreed in principle to send a small party of officials to Washington to discuss technical problems connected with the increase of coal production in the Ruhr provided that Foreign Secretary Bevin received an amplification of the American agenda for the conference (862.6362/7–2447).
  2. Not printed.
  3. In July 1947, following a survey of conditions in Germany, Robert Moses presented a report to General Clay. At the request of the Department of State, publication of the report, which was in part critical of British management in the Ruhr, was delayed until after the beginning of the American-British coal discussions in Washington. The Moses report was eventually released to the press by the War Department in mid-September 1947.