1st April, 1926


(Due to arrive Melbourne-1.5.26)

My dear P.M.,

I have had several conversations with Dr. Riddell [1] (Canadian permanent representative at Geneva), with regard to the Canadian attitude towards the Empire. He says that the Canadian slogan is 'Equal partnership status within the British Group'. He says that Canada has the tradition of a running fight with Downing Street to extract 'rights' from H.M.G. and that this fight is not yet ended.

He says that the only reason that Australia has not also this traditional attitude towards Downing Street is that Canada, by reason of being 50 years or so older, won the battles with Downing Street first and Australia, reaching manhood after Canada, came in for the resulting benefits without any effort. This minor twisting of the lion's tail, he says, is as much ingrained in the Canadian people as White Australia is in Australia, and that any politician who could be made by his opponents to appear to be giving away a privilege already acquired would be considered a backslider. This attitude, he says, will make Canada fight for an individual position at Geneva and she will not recognise that she is included in the representation of the 'British Empire' on the Council.

Referring to the discussion in this regard at a combined British Delegation meeting at Geneva (see my LON. 293 [2], page 4), Riddell spoke of Chamberlain's [3] words at the Rome session of the League Council in December, 1924, when the Protocol [4] discussion was postponed.

Chamberlain said:-

H.M.G.... has not had time to study a question of this importance and to instruct its delegates fully as to the lines that they should take.

I must add that in the case of the British Empire there is the additional difficulty, which will be present to your minds, that their representative here speaks the mind not of one Government only but of five or six Governments widely divided by oceans and seas, and with whom communication is necessarily slower than if the Government of the British Empire were wholly centralised in our capital city of London.

The form of the above declaration seems to have rankled in the Canadian mind.

2. As you know, Lord Cecil [5] is regarded as a fanatic on the subject of the League and is kept on a very tight rein on League matters. In fact at Geneva this month, Chamberlain gave him hardly anything to do at all, which seemed rather a waste of a good brain. It was quite evident, even to me, that Cecil was being muzzled and it must have been very galling to him.

Cecil has been making rather a fuss about it since this last League Assembly. He has asked for an office in the Foreign Office where papers on League matters can be marked and passed to him.

However, Chamberlain has refused and Cecil is in rather a pet about it. Hints of his resignation have been heard.

3. There are several things of interest in the press cuttings going to you this week.

A good picture of the domestic situation in Italy is given in the leader in the 'Daily Telegraph' of 25.3.26.

The Debate on Allied Debts in the House of Commons on 24th March (see press cuttings of 25th March).

Schacht [6] (President of the German Reichsbank) made a speech before the German Colonial Society on 'a new Colonial policy', as reported in the 'Times' of 26th March.

Mr. Moody's letter to the 'Morning Post' of 26th March on America's moral position with regard to Europe. [7]

4. I spent the night with Sir Hugh Trenchard a few days ago at his house just out of London.

As you know, Trenchard, as Chief of the Air Staff, controls only the military side of flying. Sir Sefton Brancker is Controller of Civil Aviation and answers directly to Sir Samuel Hoare, Minister for Air. Trenchard has but little time for Brancker or for civil aviation. He thinks that civil aviation will never pay its way in our generation, but that if you want it, you can have it if you can afford to pay for it. He thinks people are fooling themselves if they think that the subsidies to civil aviation companies can ever be reduced or eliminated. He would like to see the work now done on civil air routes carried out by military air units and so enable them to earn something towards their maintenance.

As you may know, this system is to a great extent in vogue in Canada. Without wishing for a moment to interfere in our affairs, he infers that the same scheme might well be introduced in Australia.

This, of course, is a matter of high policy and I take it that you would want to be very fully convinced of the merits of the Canadian system before you would make the great reversal in policy entailed.

In this regard, I have looked up a report I made in 1923 to the Chief of the General Staff in Australia after a three months' attachment to the W.O. I stopped at Ottawa on the return journey for a little. I attach hereto a brief extract regarding the Canadian air policy as it was explained to me by the Canadian General Staff.

Trenchard is pessimistic about any 'air throughout' service to Australia materialising in the next ten years. He thinks the Ismailia-Karachi route may be started by March, 1927. As all his remarks about the extension of this section hinged on its extension to Singapore, I thought it right to suggest to him that an extension from Karachi to Colombo was probably a more useful measure, in order to give us some immediate advantage in shortening the voyage for official mail and Government servants to and from England and Australia.

He agreed with this, which, to my surprise, was a new idea to him, and is to take it up with Hoare.

Trenchard has not got any great faith in Airships and apart from his stating that the two now under construction would not be finished inside 18 months, he had not much to say about them.

He is in process of crystallising his views with regard to how Australia can best co-operate with the Imperial Air Force in connection with Singapore. I will advise you well before the Imperial Conference of his views and suggestions.

5. I told Amery [8] in confidence that you had it in mind to come home via America. He thought it a good plan and said that if Meighen [9] chanced to become P.M. of Canada through a successful General Election between now and September, he hoped that you would try and see something of him in Canada, even if you could not travel over on the same ship. He realised that it wasn't much good your wasting your time on Mackenzie King.

6. I enclose, for your confidential information, copy of the Imperial Conference Agenda Committee's Report. As you will realise, this paper is not being sent to the Dominions.

The 'Inter-Imperial Relations Committee' is so called because it would have created a panic in Canada and South Africa if it had been called its real name-'Committee on Imperial Constitutional Questions'. It really consists of the legal advisers of F.O. and D.O. plus Harding. [10]

They are trying to thrash out a statement of the constitutional position that all members of the Empire can subscribe to.

Personally, I am rather sceptical about a useful form of words being evolved but both Harding (Dominions Office) and Malkin [11] (Assistant Legal Adviser, F.O.) are reasonably optimistic. They think that there is a lot of loose talk on the subject that doesn't mean much in Canada, South Africa and the I.F.S., and that, when it comes down to bedrock, they will not be found to want to break the Imperial chain.

The starting point of their labours is the 1923 Imperial Conference resolution with regard to signature and ratification of treaties.

They do not now, I understand, propose to circulate their conclusions to Dominions before the Conference. However, you can rely on my getting you a copy or at least a digest of it.

The 'Foreign Policy and Defence' Committee has barely got going yet.

7. Toynbee's [12] 'Survey of International Affairs, 1924' is recently out. It is a very useful publication. You will not read it all, but I should read the section on 'Movements of Population', especially with regard to the Italians. It would be a good book for you to take on the ship with you in August.

8. I will not attempt to give you a picture of the Coal position as I have not got it in proper focus myself. Tom Jones [13] (who is in the very thick of it, at the P.M.'s [14] elbow) has given me several 'close-ups' but I haven't sufficient background to pass it on to you intelligibly. By next week, so T.J. says, the matter will have been practically decided.

9. The story goes about that Joynson-Hicks [15] was lately inspecting one of H.M.'s Prisons, when he came across Bottomley [16], sewing up sacks. 'Well, Mr. Bottomley, sewing?' 'No, reaping.'

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

1 Dr Walter Riddell, Canadian Minister of Labour in 1919 and a section chief in the International Labour Office secretariat 1920- 25.

2 Letter 55.

3 Sir Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

4 The Geneva Protocol (see note 2 to Letter 2).

5 Lord Cecil, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

6 Hjalmar Schacht, President of the Reichsbank until 1939 and German Economics Minister 1934-37.

7 No letter on this subject has been found in the Morning Post at about the time indicated by Casey.

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

9 Arthur Meighen, successor to Sir Robert Borden as Canadian Conservative leader, had been Prime Minister 1920-21. William Mackenzie King's minority Liberal Government resigned in June 1926. Meighen then formed a Conservative Government, but Mackenzie King was successful at elections held in September.

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

11 H. W. (later Sir William) Malkin, Second Legal Adviser to the Foreign Office.

12 Arnold Toynbee was Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs and Research Professor of International History in the University of London. The Surveys were published under the Institute's auspices.

13 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

14 Stanley Baldwin.

15 Sir William Joynson-Hicks, Home Secretary.

16 Horatio Bottomley, Radical M.P. and financier, convicted for fraudulent conversion in May 1922, and sentenced to seven years' jail. He died in poverty in May 1933.