4th December, 1924


Dear Mr. Bruce,

I am installed as you know with a room in the Cabinet Secretariat Offices at 2, Whitehall Gardens, and so have the advantage of being in close touch with Sir Maurice Hankey [1], who is doing everything he can to forward the liaison scheme and to ensure that I have access to information as to everything that is going on.

Naturally, the subject that is exercising everybody's minds at the moment is that of the Protocol [2] and I am naturally anxious to send you all possible information on this subject to reach you as soon after Sir Littleton Groom's [3] arrival as possible. The Protocol has been the subject of detailed enquiry by almost all Government Departments and reports on the subject from their particular points of view have, in this last week, been received in this Office. Sir Maurice Hankey has produced a Synopsis on the subject in which he refers to the views of the various Departments of State and includes his own opinions.

After reading these I asked him this morning if I might send you advance copies and at the time he gave me permission to do so.

However, just a few moments ago he asked me not to include these papers as, after consultation with the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office, he understands that they view the whole business as such a high matter of State that the complete story should go to you under their official heading. Unfortunately this is not possible by today's mail but I expect you will receive it the week after this.

However, Sir Maurice Hankey has given me permission to tell you in confidence that the Departmental reports on the Protocol are universally unfavourable to its ratification by Great Britain.

There is hardly a clause of the Protocol that is not adversely criticised by some one or other of the Departments. I am to say, however, that these are individual Departmental opinions and any general condemnation of the Protocol deduced from these opinions would be premature.

A Meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence was held this morning at this Office on the subject of the Protocol and the above reports were discussed. It was decided, however, to defer any decision until very much fuller consideration had been given to it. The Committee of Imperial Defence meets again in a fortnight's time on this subject.

I understand that every effort will be made to avoid turning down the Protocol without at the same time putting forward some modification or alternative scheme that would be acceptable to this country. The form that such alternative is to take is not yet worked out but the whole thing is having the urgent attention of the most prominent people focussed on it.

I am spending the weekend with Sir Maurice Hankey; and also I have the advantage of seeing him here daily-in some cases several times a day-although in most cases, owing to the extreme pressure of his work I do not see him for very long. However, this ensures that I do not miss anything of importance.

I will keep you informed by cable if necessary to supplement the official information that goes to you.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

[Handwritten postscript]

The Cabinet wish that no unfavourable-or other official mention be made with regard to the Protocol until the official attitude of both the British and the Dominion Governments is clarified and in line.

This letter is dictated in great haste to catch today's mail.

1 Secretary to the Cabinet.

2 Draft Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, usually referred to as the Geneva Protocol. Largely the work in 1924 of British Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald and French Socialist Prime Minister Edouard Herriot, the draft Protocol was intended to strengthen the League of Nations Covenant by introducing a stronger element of compulsory arbitration, but it was so framed as to be conditional on the creation and implementation of a plan for general international disarmament.

Baldwin's Conservative Government and all the Dominions rejected the draft Protocol during 1925 3 Commonwealth Attorney-General and leader of the Australian delegation to the 1924 League of Nations Assembly session at which the Geneva Protocol was discussed. As Chairman of the Assembly's First Committee (Legal and Constitutional) and Australian spokesman on the Third Committee (Reduction of Armaments), he was involved in the negotiations and emerged as a qualified supporter of the draft Protocol.