29th April, 1926


(Due to arrive Melbourne-29.5.26)

My dear P.M.,

I talked recently to Egerton [1] (Director of Plans, Admiralty).

He is working on a draft programme for the Singapore Base that he hopes to get passed by Beatty [2] and through the C.I.D. and Cabinet before long, so that the Imperial Conference will have something to bite on in the shape of a definite hard and fast building programme. It has been rather hand-to-mouth up to now and he wants to crystallise the plans into a scheme under which we will know just how much will be completed at the end of each year.

In private conversation, he raised the question of a possible Australian contribution-in cash or in kind. He threw out the proposal that possibly Australia might care to take on the responsibility for either constructing or paying for a definite unit of the work, such as the graving-dock (which is estimated to cost something not much less than a million) or some lesser item.

Australia would then have something with which her name would be permanently associated.

I asked him if it had been contemplated that officers of the R.A.N. might be associated with the control of the Singapore Base.

He said that, as far as he knew, it had not been specifically considered, but that he was sure that it was a measure of co- operation that would be welcomed.

2. Philip Kerr [3] told me a few days ago that Dufour [4] (Counsellor, German Embassy) had had a long talk to him about the question of Germany regaining some colonies. After hearing all that Dufour had to say about the extent to which this question was agitating the minds of people in Germany, Kerr asked him why Germany wanted colonies-the colonies that Germany possessed before the war were not such as to absorb even a minute proportion of the German net yearly population increase; and they were of but small value from the point of view of raw materials. Anyhow, Kerr told him, he could imagine few subjects that would so estrange the minds of the late Allies from Germany as this very controversial and comparatively unimportant subject.

Kerr went on to say that it seemed to him much more important that Germany should be allowed the right of investment in raw material producing activities in other countries, on the same terms and conditions as the nationals of those countries-in other words, the 'open door' that Mr. Hoover [5] had spoken about so pungently in America lately.

3. Hankey [6] has had a very long letter from Grigg [7], which he has shown me. It concerns itself with description of the Conference of East African Governors and the measures of co- ordination that came out of it. It would not interest you greatly.

He speaks particularly well of Lord Delamere, who has hitherto always been spoken of as the villain in the piece. He owns vast tracts of land in Kenya and has been spoken of as grossly profiteering at the expense of the small colonists. However, Grigg says he is entirely the reverse and altogether an admirable character.

The Aga Khan [8] had just visited Kenya in the interests of the large Indian labour colony in Kenya. Grigg speaks of him as a wise and moderate man who calmed down the Indians who were inclined to be restless under East African conditions.

4. People speak well of Sir Ronald Lindsay, H.M. Ambassador to Turkey. He is said to be going to succeed Lord D'Abernon at Berlin in the near future. One hears him spoken of as being one of the few people in the Service who could stand up to the job of permanent head of the Foreign Office if and when Tyrrell [9] comes to an end.

5. I enclose to you by this mail a copy of Sisley Huddlestone's 'France and the French', which is a useful and readable book. He was Paris Correspondent of the 'Times' for a long time. [10]

He makes the following points:

He considers the French basically non-militaristic, and that her large land armaments and some other tendencies that might make one think the reverse are due to fear and not to any instinct of aggression.

He thinks them almost entirely free from snobbery.

He lays stress on the fact that has been overlooked outside of France, that France has undergone an immense increase in industrialism since the war, to the detriment of the area of her land under production.

She was practically self-supporting in wheat pre-war, but is now an importer of grain of all sorts. She also imports more wine than she exports.

The multiplicity of her small landed proprietors militates against any active Socialism.

Trades Unionism is feeble in France.

In 1846 her population was 35,400,000.

1911 39,600,000.

1921 39,200,000 (including 1,700,000 in Alsace-Lorraine).

He includes a useful survey of the French press, as well as treating the following subjects in an enlightening way:

Constitution and the mechanism of her Parliamentary institutions;

Foreign policy since the war; Economic relations between France and Germany; French colonies, and National finance.

6. The Coal position is critical and changes from hour to hour.

All arrangements to cope with a general strike are ready. If the worst happens, the coal owners will declare a lock-out on Saturday, May 1st, and presumably shortly afterwards the railwaymen will refuse to handle coal and the Railway Companies will, as common carriers, be compelled to dismiss their men. A coal and a railway strike is the nearest thing possible to a general strike.

7. There is to be an interesting debate in the Lords on 12th May, on the subject of a Ministry of Defence. Apparently nearly all the people of importance in the Lords are against it-the only agitation for it coming from the Commons.

8. I asked Hankey recently if Chamberlain [11]had suffered in prestige over the failure to get Germany into the League in March.

[12] He thinks he is rather depreciated in Parliament, but not noticeably in the Cabinet. The only way to sum it up, as he said, is to consider the position if Baldwin [13] died. Before March it would have been Chamberlain to succeed him. Now he is inclined to think it would be Churchill. [14]

9. The American Embassy in London moves into their new and gorgeous 'Morgan House' in October, that has been given to the American nation by Morgan. [15] It is in process of being furnished at the moment. I am to see it with Atherton (1st Secretary, U.S. Embassy) next week.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Captain W. A. Egerton.

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

3 Secretary of the Rhodes Trust. As Lord Lothian, Ambassador in Washington 1939-40.

4 Albert Dufour-Feronce.

5 Herbert Hoover, then United States Secretary of Commerce.

6 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

7 Sir Edward Grigg, Governor of Kenya.

8 Hereditary leader of the Moslem Ismaili sect.

9 Sir William Tyrrell, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

10 Sisley Huddlestone, France and the French, Jonathan Cape, London, 1925. Subsequently to represent the Christian Science Monitor, Huddlestone was a prolific writer on contemporary politics.

11 Sir Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

12 See note 6 to Letter 54.

13 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

14 Winston Churchill, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

15 John Pierpont Morgan, American industrialist and financier.