862.044/3–849: Telegram

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


857. At request of Mallet, substituting for Kirkpatrick, Holmes called at Foreign Office today to receive following:

British seeking agreement ITS and French to ratify basic law West Germany by action of Land Legislatures rather than by popular referendum. Mallet stated that this suggestion [had] previously been made but that Foreign Office has no indication US or French position. He said that Robertson and Bevin were in agreement this point for these reasons:

Popular referendum would be time-consuming and British feel the sooner basic law adopted, West German Government formed, the better.
Popular referendum would produce acrimonious campaign giving Soviet propaganda favorable opportunity to attack West.
Robertson’s estimate of favorable vote would not be more than 60% which would be bad showing for West.
British feel that Catholic hierarchy would start opposition campaign over question of confessional schools. Holmes expressed some doubt that Vatican would permit such activity and Mallet replied that they had already made soundings which led them to conclusion Vatican would not forbid opposition to basic law.

Foreign Office seeks our agreement.

Repeated to Berlin 140 and Paris 153.