7

31st December, 1924

CONFIDENTIAL

(Due to arrive Melbourne 31.1.25)

Dear Mr. Bruce,

YOUR CABLE OF 27TH DECEMBER RE KYLSANT [1]

There is really very little for me to add to my two cables in reply.

On receipt of your cable on Saturday night, 27th December, I spoke to Kylsant in Wales on the telephone and caught a night train to Carmarthen that night, spent Sunday with him and returned to town on Sunday night.

You will realise why I sent two cables. The one addressed to you at the office was compiled by Kylsant and myself at his country place in Wales and represented word for word what he was prepared to do. [2] The personal cable to your house contained my interpretation of his attitude. [3] I pressed him to let me include in the first cable some indication of how far he would go in open competition with the Inchcape lines, but he was definite that I was not to make any mention of competition as having come from him, as he said that such a statement if it became known 'would damage him in several directions'.

I doubt if his offer will be satisfactory to you but it was the utmost I could induce him to do. I think the fact that he was willing to go as far as he did without any time for consideration or consultation with anybody indicates that he is generally favourable to the idea.

I am, Yours very truly, R. G. CASEY

1 Lord Kylsant of Carmarthen, prominent Conservative and Chairman and Managing Director of, inter alia, the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, the White Star Line and the Union Castle Line. On 27 December 1924 Bruce cabled Casey instructing him to inquire of Lord Kylsant if he would be interested in buying the Commonwealth Shipping Line, that Line presently being in financial difficulties and Cabinet scheduled to consider its sale or reorganisation in the New Year. Kylsant was to be informed chat the Australian Government would consider selling only if the purchaser undertook to buy the entire C.S.L. fleet, to maintain competition with the Inchcape Group (the P.& 0. Line and others), to maintain regular services between Australia and the United Kingdom and the Continent, and to use specified classes of ships on specific routes. The cable is on file AA:A1420.

2 In this cable of 29 December 1924 (on file AA:A1420) Casey reported Kylsant as being generally unreceptive but prepared to consider purchase if payment were spread over ten years and if a mail subsidy applied for twenty years.

3 In this cable also of 29 December 1924 (on file AA:A1420) Casey reported his impression that Kylsant would welcome an opportunity secretly to score off Lord Inchcape but doubted that adequate profits could be met within the Australian conditions of sale.