Note by Bruce of Conversation with Bevin

LONDON, 3 August 1945

I went to see Bevin this morning to discuss with him Evatt’s recent cables with regard to non-consultation with the Dominions [1] and particularly Evatt’s idea that Australia should be included as a Member of the Foreign Secretaries Committee which was established at Potsdam.

I told Bevin I had merely come to ascertain what his reaction was to Evatt’s views and to see if there was any method of handling the matter without friction.

Bevin was quite outspoken in his views on Evatt’s suggestion for the inclusion of Australia in the Foreign Secretaries Committee and emphasised this by saying that he had had to return a flat refusal to Stalin’s suggestion for the inclusion of Poland in that Committee.

The upshot of the discussion on the particular point I had gone to see him on, namely Evatt’s cable [2], was that he is getting a reply drafted which will be quite sympathetic towards Australia’s desire for consultation, but will be quite frank on the subject of Evatt’s specific proposals as to how it should be brought about.

To make sure that this draft cable would be done on the right lines, after I had left Bevin I went and had a word with Cadogan, and explained the position to him.

Although I had only gone to see Bevin for 5 minutes he entered into a discussion of ways and means for Empire consultation which resulted in our discussing the matter for some time. Bevin showed himself completely sympathetic to greater consultation with the Dominions and has various ideas in mind, such as fairly frequent meetings between the Dominion representatives and himself, and also close contact between the Secretary of State for the Dominions, Secretary of State for the Colonies and India, and himself.

While all Bevin’s ideas are down perfectly sound lines some of them, I fear, will be a little impractical in practice. We left the question on the basis that when he gets his desk a little clearer, we would have a long conversation, when I would give him some of the background of development over the last few years which I touched upon lightly in the course of our conversation.

Bevin also gave me some impressions of the Potsdam meeting, where, incidentally Lawford [3] told me before I went in to see Bevin, that Bevin had done extraordinarily good job of work.

From what Lawford told me the fact that Attlee and Bevin had turned up and picked up the threads exactly where Winston and Anthony had laid them down, had greatly impressed the Russians and to a lesser extent the Americans.

From what Bevin told me I gathered that he brought a much more forthright atmosphere into the Conference than had existed before his appearance. He told me of one episode with Molotov, which left the impression on my mind that Bevin had taken exactly the right line, namely, that of amiable toughness.

I was very considerably impressed by our conversation and I think the Foreign Office is going to get a very much needed shaking up under Bevin’s direction.


1 Documents 141 and 149.

2 Document 142.

3 Valentine Lawford, Bevin’s Private Secretary.


[AA : M100, AUGUST 1945]