No. 150 NAI DFA 2006/39

Confidential report from John W. Dulanty to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 29) (Secret)

London, 10 April 1940

Prior to my last visit to Dublin I mentioned to Mr. Eden on 29th March that the recent conversations on trade matters between the officials of our two Governments having proved inconclusive, I thought it possible that my Government might suggest a conference of Ministers of both countries for the purpose of seeing whether some comprehensive trade arrangement of mutual benefit might be achieved. Mr. Eden approved the suggestion.

On Friday last when I spoke to him again on the lines laid down by An Taoiseach he seemed somewhat less oncoming. He was not opposed to the suggested conference, indeed he would like it to take place, but he felt that he must as a first step consult his colleagues the Ministers for Food, Supply, and Shipping.1 He did not know what trade matters were involved and if they could do anything it would doubtless turn more on political considerations than on trade interests.

I have since spoken to the Minister for Food and Supply, both of whom welcomed the idea of a conference. Lord Woolton said that he had only that day taken office and it would clearly be necessary for him to make some examination of the questions involved, but apart from that he took the same line which his predecessor took with me, namely that our source of supply was far less precarious than others and that he would willingly take all he could from us provided that he could dispose of it with reasonable speed. Mr. Burgin, the Minister for Supply, not only expressed himself as supporting the idea of a conference but made certain suggestions which form the subject of a separate minute.2

Yesterday evening Mr. Eden told me that he had consulted Mr. Chamberlain who shared his view that whilst the idea of a conference was sound they ought to try and make sure that there was a reasonable chance of practical achievement thereat, and emphasising the undesirability for both sides of an inconclusive meeting. I pointed out that in the recent conversations between officials the principal questions had been explored and that in consequence there was practically no need for research or preparation of material since most of it was already in existence.

A meeting of the British Ministers concerned was called for today but I am informed that owing to the Scandinavian developments in the war situation it will not be possible to hold this meeting until next Friday. Thursday or Friday of next week (18th or 19th April) is probably the earliest date on which the conference could be convened.

1 Respectively, Lord Woolton, Leslie Burgin and Robert Hudson.

2 Not printed.

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