22nd October, 1925


(Due to arrive Melbourne-21.11.25)

My dear P.M.,

The question of economy has taken up a good deal of the Cabinet's time in the last week or so. The Economy Committee of the Cabinet and the Cabinet itself have been considering it. I am told in confidence by Hankey [1] that there is to be an attempt to reduce the amount spent on the Fighting Services by about ten millions, which, of course, will make the said Fighting Services stick their toes in, as I gather that it is proposed that, to a great extent, the economy will take the form of a reduction in pay all round.

They have also woken up to the fact (which has appealed to an outsider like myself for some time) that the roads in this country are unnecessarily good. They intend, I understand, to take several millions at least from the Roads Fund, which is fed by taxation of motor-cars. It is proposed that less money be spent on the roads in future. The Ministry of Transport will naturally throw their hands up at this.

It depends on the firmness of the Government as to how far they allow themselves to be talked out of these proposed economies by the departments concerned.

Domestic questions, such as the state of the iron and steel trade in Great Britain, have been exercising the minds of the Cabinet.

There is one suggestion that the Government should grant a subsidy on the freight of iron and steel on the railways, and this, in conjunction with other suggestions, is being considered. However, I thought I read a more hopeful note into the last periodical report of the Advisory Council of the Board of Trade on the iron and steel industry. A particularly interesting remark was made by one of the big bankers when he said that a proportion of the credits that they were being asked to provide for the iron and steel industry was for an extension of activities. The truth seems at the bottom of a very deep well!

The Cabinet has also been considering the Chiefs of Staffs Sub- Committee and the C.I.D. reports on the Mosul situation. There is quite a faction in the Cabinet that takes the attitude that Mr.

Amery [2] went too far in pledging H.M.G. to shoulder responsibilities in Iraq for another 25 years. [3] It is not yet clear how opinions is going to crystallise as the matter is not yet finalised. Anyhow, it will be a difficult matter to back down from the position Mr. Amery has taken up.

Sir Douglas Hogg (Attorney-General) is going to The Hague to conduct the case for H.M.G. vis-a-vis the Turks.

The Chiefs of Staff's Sub-Committee of the C.I.D. has considered the military situation in Mosul under three headings:-

1. The League Council should let the question remain in status quo for an indefinite period.

2. The League Council should give a decision adverse to Great Britain, resulting in the area under dispute being partitioned.

3. An attempt by Turkey to take Mosul by force.

Mr. Amery has received from the Governor of N.S.W. [4] an official despatch on the visit of the American Fleet to Sydney. It is on formal lines and contains no comment on the efficiency of the fleet or the personalities of the Commanders, such as was contained in the despatch from the Governor-General of N.Z. [5]

A sidelight on how things happen. A fortnight ago the 'Observer' (Garvin [6]) attacked the Government on its lack of policy and preparedness. Two days afterwards Tom Jones [7] was closeted with Lord Astor (owner of the 'Observer'). Last Sunday, the 'Observer' came out with a leader disclaiming association with those organs of the press which attacked the Government without undue cause, and, going further, threw a considerable bouquet at Mr.

Chamberlain [8] and H.M.G. on the successful culmination of the Locarno Conference. This is followed by the 'Evening Standard' commenting on the change of attitude on the part of the 'Observer' and asking how the change in tone came about so rapidly, and saying that Garvin rather reminds them of Satan rebuking Sin.

You may remember that in the early days of Wembley [9], there was some rather heated discussion about certain posters (depicting scenes in the life and industry of some of the Dominions and Colonies) which had been submitted by a well-known artist called Spencer Pryse. [10] The majority of the Directorate of Wembley decided that certain of these posters, on account of their rather broad treatment of their subjects, were unsuitable. They depicted native women, possibly a little crudely but, I personally think, very strikingly. One of the main objections was that these posters would offend the Queen. Spencer Pryse, when this objection was raised, immediately withdrew the designs, and the lithograph stones and the right of publishing them was bought by a Mrs.

Bernard Smith, who has a small Art Gallery in London. The comic part of the story is that when they were exhibited, the first person to buy a complete set was the Queen, followed closely by Viscount Lascelles [11], who bought no less than six complete sets to present to the schools in his district. All of which must have rather confounded the Wembley Directorate.

Tom Jones and F.L. McDougall [12] have lately been discussing the advisability of using posters as a means of appeal to the people in an effort to promote the increased use of Empire products. They are thinking of this same artist, Spencer Pryse, as having the peculiar sort of talent that is required to bring an idea artistically and forcibly before the people. You will, no doubt, get the scheme put before you in all its aspects by McDougall, and I merely mention it apropos of Spencer Pryse. I understand the scheme would be for Spencer Pryse to visit Australia and the other Dominions in order to get the inspiration for his designs, and that, after they have been submitted to a committee of experts in this country, they would be printed in colour, with appropriate letter press, and exhibited at (say) all the post offices in Great Britain, two new posters being released (say) fortnightly. The scheme appealed to me a good deal as I have a great faith in the value of a well executed poster as regards its appeal to the mass of the people.

There is a most amusing article in this week's 'Spectator', which I enclose, about the Prince of Wales' future. It is quite entertaining light reading.

On this same subject I am told the following story. J. H. Thomas [13], at the close of a deputation to the Prime Minister in the last few days, stayed behind to tell Mr. Baldwin that he had recently been to see the Queen and that the conversation soon got round to the Prince of Wales. Thomas quotes the Queen as saying that she hoped now that David would settle down and get married, and take life a little more seriously; to which J.H.T. quotes himself as replying that he thought she was quite right and it was time that this - - - - - nonsense should cease!

I stayed last night with Sir Hugh Trenchard [14] at his place a few miles out of London. He is most entertaining and talks continuously. He said of himself: 'They say I can't talk or write English -but anyhow, I talk more sense than all of them.' He is very interested in this new invention -the Auto-Gyro [15], which is certainly most revolutionary. He says it is the greatest advance since the days of the Wrights-in fact, the only completely novel addition to aerodynamics since the introduction of the aeroplane. It remains to be seen if it develops well. Just as everyone had settled down to thinking that any advance in heavier than air flight could only result from the refining of existing practice, then out of the blue comes this quite novel application of winged flight which may possibly be a landmark in the art. Not that it will cheapen or simplify military flying-on the contrary it can only substitute itself for existing design or probably be additional to the present type.

Trenchard says of Seely [16] that he was most disappointed that he couldn't have been the first Cabinet Minister killed in war, although he would have been equally disappointed not to have been able to talk about it!

I had a letter drafted to go to you by this mail, asking for your views on a scheme under which the Dominions Office would send a Liaison Officer to Australia as an experiment for a year. I have been talking at them on the subject for some time trying, not to get the arrangement finalised, but merely to get a scheme formulated to which they would agree and which I could put up to you to get your views on it. However, on sending my draft to Harding [17], he asks me to hold it up for a week in order to discuss it further.

There has been a little 'difference' in the F.O. Collier [18] of the Far Eastern Department disagreed so continuously with the line of policy taken by Waterlow [19], the Head of the Department, that they had to shift Collier to the Northern Department, bringing Strang [20] from Northern to fill his place.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

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

3 See note 3 to Letter 33.

4 Admiral Sir Dudley de Chair.

5 Sir Charles Fergusson. The dispatch was enclosed in Casey's letter to Bruce of 15 October (on file AA:A1420) but has not been found.

6 J. L. Garvin, Editor of the Observer.

7 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

8 Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

9 The reference is to the British Empire Exhibition held at Wembley.

10 Captain Gerald Spencer Pryse.

11 Heir of the Earl of Harewood. In 1922 he had married Princess Mary, daughter of King George V.

12 Economic Adviser to the Australian High Commissioner.

13 Labour M.P., General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen; Colonial Secretary in the Labour Government of 1924.

14 Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff.

15 A prototype of the helicopter.

16 Maj Gen John Seely, Secretary for War 1912-14. See Letter 21.

17 F. J. Harding, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office.

18 Laurence Collier, First Secretary at the Foreign Office.

19 Sydney Waterlow, Counsellor at the Foreign Office.

20 William Strang, First Secretary at the Foreign Office and the future Lord Strang, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office 1949-53.