19th February, 1925


(Due to arrive Melbourne 21.3.25)

My dear P.M.,

A point that I thought it as well not to put in the paragraph in the official letter going to you on the subject of the Protocol [1] by this mail was the following fact, which I think is a little significant.

There were at least two influential members of the C.I.D. who stated at today's meeting that as long as we turned down the Protocol before the March meeting of the Assembly of the League, it did not then matter if the subject of European security was not dealt with for possibly 12 months. This brought Mr. Austen Chamberlain [2] to his knees in horror as he pointed out with much vehemence that the absence of any indication by this country as to what she was going to do to help promote European security was making the daily conduct of his business with foreign Ambassadors extremely and increasingly difficult, and that it would be embarrassingly so if he were not able to give any hint or lead as to what we proposed to do for 12 months.

However, I expect that from a political point of view it would be extremely delicate for the Cabinet in any Dominion to have to bring before its Parliament just before an election the question as to whether or not that Dominion should put its name to some sort of document or pact, whereby it would bind itself to send troops abroad in defence of the security of France and Great Britain when certain circumstances arose in the future threatening that security.

As you will see in my other official letter going to you by this mail, New Zealand and Australia have their General Elections approximately at the end of this year, and the other three Dominions not until 1927 or after.

It would therefore seem to me that there is considerable benefit to New Zealand and Australia (and possibly to Canada if she has an early election this year) in postponing any definite consideration of this sort until 1926. It would not matter very much to the other three Dominions as their elections are far enough ahead to make it immaterial to them when it is considered.

I say this now as you may think it worth while to use your influence to have the subject not definitely discussed until 12 months from now. [3]

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 See note 2 to Letter 2.

2 Foreign Secretary.

3 Elections were held in Australia on 14 November 1925 and the coalition led by Bruce was returned with an increased majority.

Bruce cabled his rejection of the Geneva Protocol on 4 March 1925 (on file AA:A981, Disarmament 34, ii). In mid-1925, negotiations saw quick agreement on what became the Locarno treaties (signed in December 1925) whereby the United Kingdom joined France and Germany in guaranteeing the Franco-German and Belgo-German frontiers. Bruce in fact was happy to have Australia ratify the British guarantee but agreed with the United Kingdom that, if the Dominions were to be associated with Locarno, it would best be a case of all or none. At the Imperial Conference of 1926 it emerged that Canada would not associate herself with the Locarno guarantees, and the Dominions simply placed on record their approval. Australia was less worried than Canada about the danger of being pulled into European conflict on the United Kingdom's coat-tails, hoping rather that stability in Europe would allow the United Kingdom to take a deeper interest in the Pacific.