109

1st March, 1928

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

My dear P.M.,

I had a talk to Sir Hugo Hirst [1] a few days ago about which I sent you a telegram with reference to your Industrial Conference.

He told me that he had decided to accept the invitation to be one of the Big Four [2] in response to pressure from you, Amery [3] and Lovat [4], which I knew before, but at which I registered great surprise and delight. He went on to tell me of his meeting with you at Birmingham in 1926 and how he took you over his works.

It must have been at this meeting, he intimated, that his qualities became so impressed on you that you reverted to him in this, your hour of stress. I thought of the many people who had been asked to make the Big Four before him, and smiled inwardly.

He is a selfmade man and, as such, is rightly proud of his maker, but after one has paid due homage to this aspect of things, I have always found him expansive and easy to get on with. His business (the General Electric and allied companies) comes easily first in his life, but as long as that is going along satisfactorily, he is out to help, and I am always able to go to him and find him sympathetic and approachable.

Since I have been back in London I have, by arrangement, seen the High Commissioner [5] each week at a stated time, and have kept him verbally and briefly informed. I am on good terms with him and with them all at Australia House. My weekly period with him, however, is only about a quarter of an hour. He does not want anything except head lines, and it has rather come down to an understanding that I do not fail to inform him of anything of outstanding importance to Australia.

I am rather pleased at having discovered the existence of secret Admiralty Intelligence Reports, in a self-contained form, about all the important countries of the world, and I have arranged with them to have copies of such as are up to date sent to the External Affairs Department-the remainder will follow in due course. The existence of these Reports is kept very secret and it was only after several visits to the Naval Intelligence Department that I happened on them and, after a series of letters and more visits, that I was given the privilege of getting copies sent to you. They contain a most useful collection of well-indexed secret information about each country, that they keep up to date by issuing loose leaf addenda from time to time. Normally they are issued only to Naval Commanders-in-Chief. They had not sent copies to the Foreign Office!

I enclose cutting from the 'Times' of February 15th. [6]

I am going into the question of how the records and registration are dealt with both in the Foreign Office and in the C.I.D. and Cabinet Offices, and will send you a complete description shortly.

If you have any reorganisation in view, or if your ideas about a Cabinet Secretariat are developing, it may be of use.

If I can make reasonable arrangements with the De Havilland Company, I propose to learn to fly this spring. I have done a good deal of observing and armchair flying, and am keen to fly myself.

I do not think it worth while having a 'Moth' of one's own in this country as the flying conditions are not very good. It would be quite different in Australia.

I enclose copy of a personal letter that I have written to Henderson by this mail, on the question of it being part of my job to keep you informed on Defence matters from the C.I.D. point of view. I very much want to get this nailed to the mast. [7]

You may care to know that the approximate dates on which other Dominion elections are legally due in the ordinary course of events are as follows:-

Canada September 1931.

South Africa June 1929.

New Zealand November 1928.

Irish Free State June 1931.

Newfoundland June 1928.

The 'Francs case' [8] report is now published and has very much depressed the Foreign Office. I enclose the full report from 'The Times', not that I think it necessary for you to read it, but someone in Canberra may be interested. It is, I think, generally regarded (in and about Whitehall at least) as erring on the harsh side. Personally I think the result was inevitable in view of public opinion, but is particularly hard on the individuals (other than Gregory [9], whose case is indefensible). [10]

I enclose 'Times' cutting of rather a nice little speech of Sir James Barrie at a Worcestershire Association dinner.

The story is told that a jarvey in Dublin, whilst taking Mr. de Valera [11] to his destination, engaged him in conversation and eventually asked him, with due politeness, what was the nationality of his father-and was told that his father was partly Spanish, partly Portuguese and partly South American-to which came the reply, 'Sure, your honour, it was a great traveller your mother must have been'.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Chairman and Managing Director of the General Electric Co. Ltd.

2 See note 22 to Letter 85.

3 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

4 Lord Lovat, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office.

5 Sir Granville Ryrie.

6 The Times on 15 February 1928 previewed that year's Oxford- Cambridge eights race (a matter of interest to Bruce as a former Cambridge rowing blue and coach) but it is more likely that Casey's cutting referred to a report that the Canadian Prime Minister, William Mackenzie King, planned a meeting of legal experts to discuss anomalies in British imperial relationships.

7 In his letter of 1 March 1928 to Dr Walter Henderson, Head of the External Affairs Branch (on file AA:A1420), Casey argued that there was an intimate connection between defence and foreign policy, that defence matters should not be left exclusively to the Defence Department in Melbourne and that it was desirable that he should forward C.I.D. papers direct to External Affairs. Casey also suggested that more attention be paid to the views of Air personnel who, he believed, tended to be swamped by higher ranking Army and Navy men.

8 See notes 7 and 8 to Letter 92 and notes 18-20 to Letter 93.

9 J. D. Gregory, dismissed from his post as Assistant Under- Secretary at the Foreign Office.

10 Bruce did not share Casey's sympathy for those civil servants who had been involved in currency speculation. He believed also that, in Australia's case, public opinion was too tolerant of the business connections of Ministers. See letter of 14 April 1928 from Bruce to F. L. McDougall on file AA:M111.

11 Eamon de Valera, Leader of the (Fianna Fail) Opposition in the Irish Free State.