20th August, 1925


(Due to arrive Melbourne-19.9.25)

My dear P.M.,

Another onslaught is to be made on the Air Force as a separate arm in October or November. The plans are not yet finalised, but Hankey [1] tells me that it is probable that Cavan [2] and Beatty [3] will act in concert in the matter. The theory is that the R.A.F. should be dismembered on the grounds of efficiency and economy, the Army and the Navy being responsible for their respective spheres of air defence.

It is mainly an Admiralty attempt (through political channels);

Cavan is said to be rather half-hearted as his term as C.I.G.S. is nearly up. Trenchard [4] has survived such controversies before and Hankey thinks he will survive this. I think he put it rather well in his comment on the situation to an M.P. who is in the forefront of the proposed attack-referring to the R.A.F. power of retaliation he reminded him of the notice on an animal's cage in a French Zoo: 'Cet animal est mechant; il se defend vigoreusement quand on l'ennuie'. He meant by this that Trenchard would offer to take over and be completely responsible for the defence and policing of certain big areas (such as Egypt, Palestine, the African colonies, Singapore, and possibly parts of India) on the same lines as Iraq ('defence without occupation'), and would be able to show considerable economies as compared with the present military and naval control.

I cannot conceive that the Labor Party in the Federal H. of R.

have any personal animus in these querulous attacks on me or my appointment. [5] I am, I take it, merely a convenient peg on which to hang questions out of which they hope to make some political capital. However, if they are consistent, it means, I suppose, that if they happen to get into power at the next election, they will put my appointment under Sir Joseph Cook [6] and the liaison officer will be merely another Australia House official. They will find, if they do, that the greater part of the value of the scheme will disappear, as it has frequently been pointed out to me, both when I first arrived and lately, that I would not get the information that I do if it were to go through the sieve of Australia House, or, for that matter, anywhere except straight to you.

Personally I am not sure that I would continue in the appointment under the conditions that I anticipate would result from a Labor victory.

Amery [7] allowed himself to talk to me recently about Dominions representatives in London and their connection with foreign affairs. He said that he had written you saying that he thought that the liaison experiment was a success and that he hoped nothing would occur to upset the present scheme. However, he is not quite happy in his own mind at the clear-cut segregation of duties as between myself and the High Commissioner. He said that he had had an expression of opinion from several High Commissioners that they viewed the experiment with concern. No doubt they did not, wish the precedent to become established whereby foreign affairs are completely divorced from the subjects which High Commissioners deal with. Apparently both the Canadian and the South African High Commissioners are taking steps to attempt to get authority from their Prime Ministers to allow them to deal with foreign affairs.

I don't think Amery has yet made up his mind as to what the eventual solution of the difficulty will be. Although willing to discuss the possibilities, he is very loath to commit himself in any way.

You will see in the 'Times' of 18.8.25 (in press cuttings) that Sir Robert Borden [8] suggests that Dominion High Commissioners should be members of the Dominion Cabinets and Privy Councillors, with authority to attend Cabinet meetings when required. This seems to me only a form of words.

The next most useful move that I can see would be the appointment by H.M.G. of British Liaison Officers with Dominion Cabinets, working in just the same way as I am doing here and having just the same relation to the Governor-General as I have to the High Commissioner.

You have made a very decidedly good mark with the Admiralty over the cruiser business, and I have come in for some reflected credit as having been mixed up in it to a small extent. [9] Captain Egerton (Director of Plans) gave me a full hour's talk in front of a map a few days ago on the naval plans in the Pacific (which I will retail later) and opened the talk by laying stress on what an important factor in the negotiations your telegram was.

In any such delicate business as this recent cruiser controversy, one of the things that I have to look out for is not to allow myself to be made the 'creature' of any one department here, from the point of view of being propaganded at in the hope that it will be passed on to you.

I expect you remember Sir Charles Davis, the new Permanent U.S. of S. of the Dominions Office. [10] He is deaf and rather prosy and I am afraid is not a tower of strength. He is rather a typical old C.O. official [11], but always very pleasant and loves people coming in to see him, but it is rather hard to get away from him.

Harding [12] is really the useful man in the Dominions Office.

You will be struck by the cordial and frank relations between Chamberlain [13] and Briand [14] as evidenced by the Pact [15] negotiations. This is borne out by de Fleuriau's [16] attitude ever since he has been here these last six months. The F.O. have nothing but praise for the 'let's get on with the job hand in hand' attitude, both on the part of Fleuriau and his staff, which they say is like a breath of fresh air after Saint Aulaire's [17] pettifogging dotting of i's. They say that Fleuriau is a pleasant reminder of the days of Cambon [18] (on whose staff he was) and the heyday of the Entente Cordiale.

A.J. Cook [19] (Secretary of the Miners' Federation) and Inkpin (Secretary, British Communist Party) are making a great deal of noise and bombast at present as to what is going to happen next May when the coal mining subsidy comes to an end. They threaten a general strike. I should think their published remarks in the last week on the subject of the undermining of the loyalty of the fighting services must be very close to treason. The detail is given in this week's Report on Communist activities.

I have seen Drake-Brockman [20] and will, of course, do what I can to help him, although I have warned him that I have not specifically dealt with L. of N. business. He was keen to get up to date on the Pact negotiations and as he said that he was sure you would have shown him the papers if he had been in Australia, I saw the C.O. about it and cabled for your authority today.

I spoke to Amery ten days ago about the question of British or domestic State Governors in Australia. He was waiting to get some official (as apart from press) communication on the subject from Australia.

He said the position was rather different to what was supposed. It had been assumed that Milner's [21] statement was to the effect that the change from British to local Governors would be met when a majority of the States expressed such a desire. Really what had been said was that the change would be made when the States were unanimous and when it was clear that the feeling amongst the majority of the people was in this direction. Also he was not clear on the press report as to whether they wished to get away from the principle of having their State Governors appointed by the Crown (even if the Crown were advised by the State Cabinet of a suitable local man), or if they wished to surrender a certain rather vague sovereign right and have their State Governors appointed by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth, as was the case in Canada. Until he had more light on the situation, the question of a new Governor for Queensland was in abeyance.

Sir Charles Davis (Permanent U.S. of S. for the Dominions) is sending me copies of the correspondence that was exchanged pre-war on the subject, which shows clearly the policy that was then favoured. I hope to be able to send you something on the subject next week.

There is a well reasoned article by H. A. L. Fisher [22] in 'Contemporary Review' on the Security Pact, which goes to you in this week's Press cuttings. He approves of the Pact but thinks a number of high hurdles have yet to be crossed before the Pact becomes a fact.

Elder [23] and my brother [24] go back to New York in a few days.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

2 General Lord Cavan, Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

3 Admiral of the Fleet Lord Beatty, First Sea Lord.

4 Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff 5 See the introduction to this book.

6 Australian High Commissioner.

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

8 Prime Minister of Canada 1911-20.

9 See note 14 to Letter 27.

10 See note 6 to Letter 23.

11 Sir Charles Davis had been Assistant Under-Secretary at the Colonial Office.

12 E. J. Harding, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office.

13 Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

14 Aristide Briand, French Foreign Minister.

15 What became known as the Locarno Pact.

16 Aime Joseph de Fleuriau, French Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1924-33.

17 Comte de Sainte-Aulaire, French Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1920-24.

18 Paul Cambon, French Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1898-1920.

19 A Communist renowned as an orator.

20 Senator Edmund Drake-Brockman, an Australian delegate at the 1925 session of the League of National Assembly.

21 Lord Milner, who concluded his brilliant career by serving as Colonial Secretary in 1919-21, had died on 13 May 1925 22 Warden of New College, Oxford, historian and Liberal M.P. since 1916.

23 Sir James Elder, Australian Commissioner in the United States 1924-26.

24 Dermot Casey, private secretary to Sir James Elder.