15

4th March, 1925

(Due to arrive Melbourne 4.4.25)

My dear P.M.,

This sets out to be rather a random letter and will probably contain a good deal of gossip.

The only thing of any real importance that has been going on in my field of view in the last month has been the C.I.D. and Cabinet meetings to work out some alternative to the Protocol. [1] Almost all the Cabinet Ministers have prepared and circulated at least one document giving their views, and the Heads of the Fighting Services and numerous 'elder statesmen' have done the same. There has been a good deal of difference of opinion and it has been interesting to see the discussions coming through the maze of suggestions to something approaching a fine point. None of the suggestions have been perfect and it has been quite easy to pick all sorts of holes and political arguments against any one scheme.

I do not envy the Prime Minister, who is sitting with the Cabinet as I write, and I take it will be endeavouring to make up the Cabinet's mind for it on this very momentous question.

As I cabled you yesterday, the result of the March 2? [2] Cabinet pointed to a four-power pact including Germany, which was a good deal of a surprise to me. [3] I hope before I shall close this letter to be able to put in a few words as to the result of today's Cabinet.

A talking point against a four-power pact including Germany is sure to be the obvious fact that it is conceivable that, under it, we might possibly have to combine with Germany against France, in the event of France becoming obstreperous and attempting a coup against Germany with the help of (say) Poland and Czechoslovakia.

You can imagine an average man in this country, from the sentimental point of view, drawing back from the suggestion that his son might in the next 20 years have to fight France. But this bogey is considerably more remote than similar rather obvious bogeys that could be put up with regard to almost any security proposal.

The press, of course, have been very active and have written themselves black in the face. No very strong current of opinion seems to have made itself felt, mainly from the fact that the Government have been absolutely silent, and I expect no paper has thought it worth while definitely committing themselves in the dark. The French press has evidently been told to be quiet and not, by injudicious comment, to prejudice France's chance of some really useful suggestion coming from us.

A feature of the whole business has been the lack of really decided opinion as to which way British policy ought to swing.

There have been quite decided expressions of opinion by individual departments, such as the Foreign Office and the Fighting Services, but these have been based quite frankly on rather narrow grounds and do not pretend to take all the facts into consideration.

The almost complete lack of any decided policy in dealing with this question of British-French security has meant that they have not been able to set about warning and educating public opinion as to what would emerge from the Protocol discussions. The press have got hold of a good many rumours and there has even, I think, been some leakage of information, but this has not really been sufficient to give the public any real hints as to what was going to emerge because, of course, the Cabinet themselves did not know even within fairly wide limits the way the mind of H.M.G. would crystallise.

It has all been rather illuminating.

I have met the Hon. Newton Wesley Rowell [4] several times lately;

(he was in Sir Robert Borden's [5] Government). He tells me that there is quite a fair possibility of a Canadian election this year, based to a great extent on tariff questions between the east and the west. [6]

If this does happen, it seems to me that the elections in the three major Dominions (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) all happening within a few months of each other and just at the time when whatever comes out of the Protocol will have to be accepted or not, will provide a very interesting test to see what the real attitude of the various Dominions is towards backing up whatever arrangement this country considers is best for the security of Great Britain.

I drove Hankey [7] up to Oxford last week-end. We were to have stayed the week-end with Lionel Curtis [8] at All Souls, but All Souls were found at the last moment to be having a 'gaudy' and, at the same time, Lionel Curtis got 'flu. Hankey stayed at New College and I stayed with Wrong [9], the Vice-President of Magdalen, and Hankey addressed the Ralegh Club on 'The Work of the Cabinet Secretariat'. It was quite interesting and one met quite a lot of very interesting but quiet, secluded people that Oxford breeds. We drove out to have tea with John Buchan [10] on Sunday afternoon. I found that his wife's sister married a cousin of mine. He sent a number of kind messages to you. I am lunching with him tomorrow to meet his chief, the Chairman of Reuters, Sir Roderick Jones. Buchan does not seem to write much now, his time being absorbed to an increasing extent with Reuters and Nelson &

Sons. [11] He is a very remarkable and very interesting man to talk to.

Wrong, the man I stayed with, is a Canadian and I got a good deal of quite interesting stuff, from my point of view, about Canada out of him.

I had lunch next to Haden Guest [12] recently and ragged him about how little his party really knew about Dominion thought, whilst at the same time priding themselves on their Imperialism. He countered by saying that it was very difficult for any one in this country to really gauge Dominion thought or to get at the real feeling of a country such as Australia, even on the mainsprings of their policy, such as White Australia and, in greater particular, about Singapore. After a good deal of talk we discussed how the position would be affected by the creation of a small committee of prominent Australians in London, with a paid Secretary, to control and direct Australian publicity in England, get articles written, cut the Australian press for republication here, and get articles into the daily and periodical press of all sections of the community. Any one periodical published in England with the express purpose of solely voicing Dominion ideas would, I think, be suspect, as a propaganda medium. The conversation was of a good deal of interest and more so from the fact that Haden Guest came back the next day to McDougall [13] (who had given the lunch) and said that he was willing and ready to associate himself with any such scheme for voicing Australian sentiment in this country. I told McDougall, however, that this was going very much too far and too fast. It might be that some such scheme as this would be a workable and useful one but it would have to be considered very carefully, and it would not, I think, be a good thing to have a British Labour member, however moderate, in a leading part of any such scheme.

I don't think, from what little I have seen of it, that 'The Times' has a good service of news from Australia. Their chief representative in Australia is, as you know, Delamore McCay, of the 'Sydney Sun'. I don't know, of course, but I should not think that the Editor of the 'Sun' would be in your confidence or in the confidence of such people as he must move about amongst in order to get a true reflex of Australian opinion. The result is that I think his articles are rather poverty-stricken.

There is, of course, the press meeting in Australia towards the end of this year. Major Astor [14] and someone else from 'The Times' will be out there, as well as representatives of, I think, all the leading papers. This should be quite a good opportunity of their all taking steps to improve their position with regard to their Australian correspondents.

I have met Astor several times and went to a very interesting dinner at his house the other night. His wife, Lady Violet Astor, talks of going to Australia via Canada with him in July.

At Oxford last week-end, Murray Wrong, Vice-President of Magdalen, had a number of Australians to a meal so that I could meet them.

Two of them, Hall [15] and Watt [16], have ideas of going into the Australian Public Service on the Foreign Affairs side. They crossquestioned me about the possibilities and I told them what there is to be told and asked them to keep in touch with me. I am getting together particulars of the various Scholarships and Fellowships which include Travel and a Study of Foreign Countries, which would fit Australian undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge for Foreign Affairs work, and will send you the final schedule of what is offering. I find there are quite a number, so that any Australian with any brains at Oxford or Cambridge should be able to get one or other of them, if he is keen on this sort of occupation. There is also a Chair of International Relations at the London School of Economics which I am getting particulars of.

Your office will then have on file particulars of all the British educational facilities to broadcast to people sending their sons over here to be educated, so that they can at least take into consideration Foreign Affairs in the interests of Australia as an occupation.

I have been trying lately to get the G.P.O. to let me have a cheaper rate for deferred Government cables in cypher or code, but they won't do it. There are many messages which could without detriment go deferred, to be delivered in (say) 48 hours. When the new Pacific Cable is laid and in operation in about 18 months' time, if you think it worth while making a concerted attack on them with the aid of the Colonial Office, and with your help, I'll try again. They should give us 8d. or 9d. a word deferred instead of IS. 4d. full rate Government message. At the moment all they have to offer is 9d. a word in clear deferred.

5th March

There is very little more to tell you after last night's Cabinet meeting on Security and the Protocol. The Prime Minister was away, as his mother is said to be dying, and the whole matter was rather hurried. There was a certain amount of adverse comment from certain Ministers on the proposed quadruple pact to include Germany, but it all ended up by Chamberlain [17] being authorised to talk to Herriot [18] on the general lines that the tendency of H.M.G. was towards some sort of quadruple pact to include Germany.

At the same time they would suggest a pact to be as loose and vague as possible, preferably on some such lines as the Washington Quadruple Agreement or Clause 3 of the Franco-Polish Treaty.

I am cabling you this evening in the above regard.

I regret that it has not been possible to send you any more clear- cut cables about this Security-Protocol position but I have found it extremely difficult, even with Hankey's assistance, to frame cables that would indicate to you how the opinion was crystallising out of the very many divergent lines of thought. I will not enlarge on this now as everything that I have said in this letter in this regard is almost certain to be dead before it reaches you.

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

1 See note 2 to Letter 2.

2 The words 'second Advisory' were crossed out, and 'March 2?' inserted by hand.

3 See note 4 to Letter 9.

4 Canadian Acting Secretary for External Affairs 1919-20.

5 Canadian Prime Minister 1911-20.

6 Elections were held in Canada on 29 October 1925.

7 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

8 Fellow of All Souls and Secretary of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

9 Edward Murray Wrong, Canadian-born historian.

10 Conservative politician, barrister, novelist (The Thirty-Nine Steps) and historian.

11 Buchan was a director of Thomas Nelson & Sons, publishers.

12 Leslie Haden Guest, Labour M.P. and writer.

13 F. L. McDougall, Economic Adviser to the Australian High Commissioner.

14 The Hon. John Astor, Unionist M.P. and Chairman of The Times Publishing Co.

15 H. Duncan Hall, a historian in fact worked in the League of Nations secretariat in Geneva 1927-39.

16 A. S. (later Sir Alan) Watt later (1937) joined the Department of External Affairs, and was Secretary 1950-54.

17 Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

18 Edouard Herriot, French Prime Minister.