3oth April, 1925


(Due to arrive Melbourne-30.5.25)

My dear P.M.,

I write on a few general topics.

You will be sorry to hear that Sir Eyre Crowe, Permanent Under- Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, died on April 28th after a brief final illness. His condition for some time prior to his final illness was, however, far from good.

I hear that it has been decided that Tyrrell [1] is to replace Crowe. He had been anxious to go to Berlin as Ambassador, but as his health is not very good, I expect he decided to keep nearer home. This will mean someone else being chosen for Berlin. I hear Sir Max Muller [2] may get it.

I understand that the arguments against the appointment of Sir Eric Drummond (Secretary-General to the League of Nations) are, firstly, that his withdrawal from Geneva would undoubtedly mean a Frenchman being appointed to this post, and, secondly, it is considered that Drummond's characteristics are tinged with Pacifism and a too altruistic impartiality to make him a good militant permanent head of our Foreign Office.

The reign of Tyrrell as permanent head of the F.O. will be of interest if it eventuates. He is on the one hand a Catholic, and is also an enthusiast for close touch with the United States.

Sir Edward Grigg [3] has been studying Imperial trade matters for some time and is about to attempt to form a small wing (about ten men only) of the Liberal Party in the House, who will follow him on the subject of preference and the development of Empire trade.

He recently made what was, for a Liberal, a daring speech at Oldham (his constituency), advocating Imperial preference, not on the score of protection, but as the only means towards what he called Free-er Trade' within the Empire.

He has told me since that he thinks there is sufficient revenue collected on tobacco, tea, sugar and a few other minor items to justify removing duties on these items and so enable duties to be put on meat and wheat and a substantial preference given to Empire meat and wheat. The lifting of the duties on tobacco, tea and sugar, and the placing of a duty to return an equivalent revenue from foreign meat and wheat, would mean on the balance no increase in the general cost of food to the people. He intends to go in for an educative campaign on these lines.

Grigg is looked on in strict Liberal circles with not a little horror for his deviation from the path of profound free trade.

The Round Table, departing at last from its practice of avoiding economic subjects, will have a general (and probably rather philosophical) article on these lines in an early issue.

I cabled you yesterday the rumour that the press got hold of, about the alleged plot to assassinate Chamberlain. [4] This rumour was actually made known to the Foreign Office on Sunday, the 26th, by the Polish Minister [5], who stated that it was from a source (in the usual formula) 'usually considered as reliable', and was to the effect that the attempt was being engineered from Vienna, which has got the notoriety lately of being a Bolshevist centre of intrigue. The police at once put in hand the necessary precautions. The Press got the story yesterday, no doubt from Scotland Yard. The F.O. have no confirmation or otherwise of the story.

As a matter of general interest, it may be worth your while knowing that the reputation that Amery [6] has in high quarters is that of being a very hard worker, a most enthusiastic Imperialist, but a man of very indifferent judgment. I have this from sources that makes it worth recording.

A man who has good opportunity of knowing, summed up Mr. Baldwin [7] for me recently. He said he had a most attractive nature, a fine character, poor mental equipment, little initiative (Table to fall into a mental armchair'), and a marked antipathy to Lloyd George. [8]

The important questions of the continued slackness of business in the shipbuilding and other major activities, unemployment, the Dole and its suggested alternative, some form of subsidy to employers to encourage the absorbing of more labour, are all giving the Unemployment Committee of the Cabinet cause for worry.

The Government will no doubt take some action in the near future, based probably on some form of wage subsidy. You will have seen from the press cuttings that Sir Alfred Mond [9] put up a scheme on these lines lately.

Berthelot [10] has been made Secretary-General of the French Foreign Office. He has, I am told, a great influence over Briand [11] and it is said that French foreign relations will be coloured very much by what Berthelot thinks. Berthelot is a great friend of Hankey [12], who is said to have had a good deal to do with turning, Berthelot round from being very critical of this country to being at any rate not antagonistic.

The election of Hindenburg [13] will slow down considerably Chamberlain's progress with Security. I can't get anyone to commit themselves to any more definite statement than this at present. He will not technically have any influence on the German Government, but his presence as the figurehead will undoubtedly have a psychological effect on both Germany and France.

Hankey let me see the original of a letter he has had from Colonel Twiss [14], who is on an Army Staff in India, and of which I enclose a copy. Hankey sent the letter to Birkenhead [15] first, who was very interested in it as a disinterested impression by a man who knows India well.

You are being sent officially by the Colonial Office, by this mail, copies of correspondence relating to the question of what is actually included in the term 'Australia and its Territories'. It arose through the Navy League asking the F.O. this question, on their revising an Atlas that they produce periodically. The Colonial Office have made a thorough search into the records and have produced an answer, although they do not claim that it is infallible, and Batterbee [16] asks that you do not fall too heavily on him if Sir Robert Garran [17] discovers an error. They suggested that you might consider the time ripe to incorporate all the facts discovered in these old Letters Patent and Proclamations in one single Act, which would put it on record and beyond doubt, as far as the rest of the world was concerned, as to what Australia has jurisdiction over.

I am afraid I have had no opportunity to talk to anyone about, or even read, the Budget, other than the fact that there is sixpence off, so I regret that I can't comment on it intelligently.

I am going with Hankey to spend the next week-end with Seely [18] in the Isle of Wight.

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

1 Assistant Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office. He succeeded Crowe as Permanent Under-Secretary on 1 May 1925.

2 In fact Sir Ronald Lindsay, Ambassador to Turkey, was appointed Ambassador to Germany in October 1926. Sir William Max Muller remained Minister to Poland until 1928.

3 National Liberal M.P. 1922-25, appointed Governor of Kenya in May 1925.

4 Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

5 Konstanty Skirmunt, Minister (from 1929 Ambassador) 1922-34.

6 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies.

7 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

8 David Lloyd George, Prime Minister 1916-21.

9 Liberal M.P. 1906-28, Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd and other large firms and a director of many others.

10 Philippe Berthelot had been appointed to the new post of Secretary-General at the Quad d'Orsay in 1921. He had been suspended in 1922 for alleged improprieties in trying to save a bank of which his brother was managing director. He was cleared in 1925 and reinstated in his former post which had been left vacant.

11 Aristide Briand, French Foreign Minister.

12 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

13 Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, elected to the German presidency on the death of Friedrich Ebert.

14 Colonel W.L.O. Twiss, Director of Military Operations, Army Headquarters, India, 1924-27.

15 Lord Birkenhead, Secretary for India.

16 Harry Batterbee, then with the Colonial Office but from July 1925 Assistant Secretary at the Dominions Office, 17 Commonwealth Solicitor-General.

18 Maj Gen John Seely, Liberal M.P. 1900-24, Secretary for War 1912-14.