3rd June, 1926


(Due to arrive Melbourne-3.7.26)

My dear P.M.,

Desmond Fitzgerald [1] was in London last week and in conversation with Batterbee [2] of the Dominions Office, suggested that it would be a good thing if Chamberlain [3] were to see representatives of the Dominions on his return from the June 28th meeting of the Committee to investigate the composition of the League Council. [4] He would be able to put them in possession of full information on the subject which would enable debates on the subject to be arranged in such Dominion parliaments as wished to do so. He made the good point that such debates would have the effect of strengthening the hand of H.M.G., and would be good world propaganda for the British point of view with regard to the future composition of the Council. It is assumed, from what is known of the standpoint of the various Dominion Governments on the subject last March, that the debates would end in resolutions favourable to the policy of H.M.G.

It is, I think, a useful suggestion, and particularly so as emanating from the Foreign Secretary of the I.F.S.

However, the holding of the meeting to discuss the future of the permanent seats, which is now down for June 28th, may possibly be postponed in view of the fact that the pressure which is being brought to bear on Brazil and Spain may not have had time to mature by that date. Chamberlain will discuss this informally at the regular Council Meeting on June 7th.

I sat next to a man named Carruthers [5] at dinner lately, one of the Duke of York's equerries. He said that he was very pleased to have the chance of going to Australia. Apparently he rather suffers from opening Bazaars and other shows that neither the King or the Prince of Wales want to be bothered with, and the fact of being third string is rather getting on his nerves. His two younger brothers have definite jobs in the Navy and Air Force but he has nothing concrete to do except these occasional and rather trifling public functions. Carruthers told me that he very much hopes that some day he may have a chance of doing the job of Governor-General of a Dominion. He (Carruthers) thinks he could do it satisfactorily -if he had a good staff-not only a good English staff but at least one or two good men from the Dominion concerned who knew the people and the country. His great disability is his stuttering which he tries very hard to conquer and which is said to be getting less noticeable. He frequently rehearses a speech in private and never falters but when he gets up in public he sometimes has great difficulty in getting his words out. Words starting with a hard 'C' give him great trouble. 'Canberra' will be a big hurdle for him!

Keith Murdoch [6] was in to see me a few days ago, having reached here via Japan and New York. He says he is strengthened in his view that Japan represents no menace to Australia for a generation at least, and that their 'westernisation' is rather tinpot. He has 'originated' the idea that it would be a good plan to have Australian attaches at Tokyo and Washington.

I have just this moment spoken on the telephone to Bland [7], Tyrrell's [8] private secretary, a very good fellow but a most diplomatic diplomat. I wanted to know something about a telegram which I had heard had just arrived from Egypt. I finished up by asking hi-in if Tyrrell was worried about the Cairo position and got the reply 'Just as much as you can imagine he might be, but no more'-which as a reply is as useful as it appears -but no more! I have not mentioned the fact that my brother [9] told me some weeks ago that they had heard by cable from you that your American trip was postponed. I have not, therefore, proceeded to finalise two or three other draft speeches that I have had in preparation.

In order to complete the file, however, I will finish these off and send them out to you as I have opportunity.

I spent the last weekend in Paris but did not gather anything very much of importance that was not common knowledge on this side, except the very interesting rumour that a coalition Government of Briand [10] and Poincare [11] was a possibility, as a way out of the rotten political situation that exists. It sounds an oil and water combination-a Facing-both-ways, but I can just see that it might be effective.

Italy is quiet at the moment. Tyrrell came back from a holiday there lately with a very much increased regard for Mussolini. They are immersed in putting into effect their new Trade Union legislation.

The forthcoming number of the 'Round Table', which is now in the Press, will have some interesting things to say about Canadian Nationalist aspirations. It will also bring to light an interesting (if not in present circumstances quite practical) suggestion that the League Council should be differently composed to deal with different questions, i.e. that it should contain as permanent members the representatives of the big powers as a fixed nucleus, together with representatives of groups of states concerned to deal with specific problems in which these individual states are interested. It has the basis of a sound idea, I think.

I find Philip Kerr [12] a most interesting and clear-minded man on a wide range of subjects. He is responsible for the main political article in each 'Round Table'. Like everyone else, he has some prejudices, but he defends them vigorously when attacked. He has the heaven-sent gift of clear exposition of his thoughts, which I envy him.

You may notice that the amount of material that is going to you for Major Jones [13] on Communist subjects is increasing considerably. I think it is proving a useful liaison.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Irish Free State Minister for External Affairs 1922-27.

2 Harry Batterbee, Assistant Secretary at the Dominions Office.

3 Sir Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

4 After the failure of the special League of Nations Assembly session in March 1926 to settle conflict over League Council membership triggered by Germany's imminent membership, the problem was handed to a League committee which settled on a compromise in time for the regular September Assembly session. See also note 6 to Letter 54.

5 It has not been possible to establish the identity of the person to whom Casey refers here. There was no Carruthers on the Duke of York's personal staff.

6 Managing Director of the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, publisher of, inter alia, the Melbourne Herald and Sun News-Pictorial.

7 G. N. M. Bland, First Secretary at the Foreign Office.

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

9 Dermot Casey, private secretary to the Australian Government Commissioner in the United States, Sir James Elder.

10 Aristide Briand had formed three administrations since November 1925.

11 Raymond Poincare in fact formed a government in the following month and it was to survive for several years, with Briand serving as Foreign Minister.

12 Secretary of the Rhodes Trust. As Lord Lothian, Ambassador to Washington 1939-40.

13 Major H. E. Jones, Director of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch and Security Section.