Volume #12 - 789.|
Memorandum by Minister of Justice|
January 22nd, 1946|
This 22nd January at 5 p.m. at Mr. Attlee's request Messrs Gardiner, Gibson, Martin and St. Laurent attended at 10 Downing Street. There were also present with Mr. Attlee, Lord Addison, General Ismay and one other officer. Mr. Attlee said he and his colleagues had been much disturbed at the Canadian decision to withdraw our Canadian forces at a relatively early date and wished us to know the extent of the obligations falling upon the U.K. as a result of the victories. He enumerated the forces used in the various occupation theatres, on the sea and in the air amounting in all to:
Army 1,130,000 men
He stated that could hardly be reduced below 1,900,000 within a year and required in addition a six months intake in training and the retention of between 500,000 and 600,000 in munitions industries; a very heavy burden on the manpower so urgently required to restore U.K.'s exporting capacity.
I pointed out our difficulties resulting a/ from the fact that we had to keep CMHQ in England going as long as we had any men here and that it was a machine built up to take care of a comparatively large army and could not be substantially cut down to fit the force now operating, which meant a disproportionate overhead. I added we could not substitute a new system for the short time occupation forces might be required b/ from the fact that our men were under the impression they were not doing any very useful job since V.E. day and those who returned gave the public the impression there had not been anything useful to do c/ they had been away a long time and were en-titled to be demobilized d/ we would have to recruit and train new men and thus have to keep our training camps operating e/ might have trouble in get-ting transport ships later on etc.
I suggested the only thing which might be useful would be to send the P.M. through the usual channels a full account of what were the obligations incumbent on the U.K. not for the continuation of the imperial commitments but as obligations to the United Nations.
I suggested it might also be useful to point out to us what were the corresponding obligations the U.S. were required to discharge and what forces would thus be required from them.
Mr. Attlee said that when the Commonwealth acted together we had in divisions numbers comparable to the other two great powers, but U.K. alone was quite out of proportion.
I told him the policy of one voice and one army for the Empire had a few supporters in Canada but they were the minority. It was a matter of party politics with us and the party led by Mr. King was opposed to it. That when we did act in line with U.K. and other Dominions it was because it was in the interest of Canada to take that line.
I also pointed out Mr. King's views were those expressed in London before both Houses of Parliament; that during war decisions were made by Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt and afterwards by them and Mr. Stalin, to be carried out by us all. But that such pattern could not continue in peace time.
That we could not have responsibilities arising out of commitments or decisions in which we had no part as a separate state. That was the reason for our amendment to Security Council provisions at San Francisco.
I pointed out that the San Francisco charter seemed to be founded on the understanding of the four great powers at Moscow in 1943 to continue their co operation for the prosecution of the war to the end and for the organization and maintenance of peace and security and left with them the responsibility for joint action on behalf of the organization until the Security Council was prepared to take over. We realized there were duties to be performed but we had not been consulted as to the portion accepted by the U.K. which no doubt had become more onerous than it appeared to be when so accepted.
We gave no encouragement to the suggestion for a Commonwealth meeting, but stated that in these international jobs we felt we should be acting on our own even though our action was parallel with that of the U.K. and other Commonwealth units. We pointed out it would take a long time to have the Security Council in a position to do the work of maintaining order in liberated or conquered lands.
The big 5 would have to determine what was necessary, how much each of them was going to contribute, make arrangements with each member and have him get ratification of the arrangement and then train the forces he was to supply. That it should be pressed on as vigorously as possible so they might realize that UNO did not mean only peaches and cream but stern duties and contributions as well.