24th May, 1928


My dear P.M.,

I must thank you for your long and interesting letter of 14th April [1], together with handwritten letter about America. [2] I appreciate the position in this latter regard.

I enclose a personal letter from Sir Hugo Hirst [3] that he asks me to forward to you.

You will be appalled to hear that Sir Harry McGowan [4] has dropped out of the Big Four. [5] I was told some days ago on the strict understanding that I did not tell you until they had had opportunity to approach some others, so that they would be able to tell you and suggest alternatives at the same time, as they knew how disappointed you would be. [6]

Whilst Hirst is a very good man, I do not think that it would do for him to lead the delegation if only because of his rather thick German accent. [7] My dinner for Hirst next week has grown. Sir Ernest Clark [8] is coming too, and six other men connected with Australia to meet them.

The season has apparently started as we have been to two balls.

The Astor's performance must have cost between 500 and 1,000, and I don't believe more than a dozen people really enjoyed it.

The law of diminishing returns, with a vengeance.

I met Palmstierna (Swedish Minister) at lunch this week. I know him well enough, and I said that some of us hoped that the visit of his Royal Princess might be of great interest. [9] He looked up quickly and smiled, and said that he very much hoped so too, but that it was very 'chancy'.

I enclose a further reference to the use of Broadcasting for educational purposes.

I am going to try and put something down on paper with regard to the general subject of liaison, which I hope to send you, for what it is worth, by next mail.

From time to time when I look back from indiscretion to indiscretion through my file of personal letters to you, I am rather appalled by the consequences of unauthorised people having access to them. If and when I leave this office, I propose to take them with me amongst my personal records, merely letting my successor look through them (if I like the cut of his jib) to see the sort of information I have been in the habit of sending. This also applies to all telegrams to and from you that I think should not form part of the regular office records.

We have taken a rod on a good bit of fishing on the Kenner, about 70 miles west of London, and are enjoying, the short week-ends there immensely. We can get there in two hours, door to door, leave London at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and get back at 10 p.m. on Sundays; we stay at the local inn in Ramsbury, right on the river.

I take the reviews and a book and a light, collapsible chair and read while my wife fishes, and vice versa. And I am on the telephone to the office should you become unwarrantably active in the week-end. We usually manage to get half-a-dozen or so trout of about a pound each, and drop some on the Amerys [10] and others on the way home. We get a day and a half in the open air in the most pleasant surroundings, I get a lot of reading done, and we have a good, practical, defensive alibi against week-end parties that we want to avoid.

I enclose rather an amusing German election cartoon, which I expect you will destroy as soon as seen.

Regarding the point you raise in your letter of 14th April about an Imperial Conference in 1929 and preferably in June. [11] I brought this matter up in conversation with Harding [12] in this last week. His point of view is that June and July are so taken up with social activities, to say nothing of the tremendous rush of Parliamentary (and consequently departmental) work at the end of the session, that it would be very difficult to get the undivided attention of Ministers if an Imperial Conference were to be added to their other labours. This being also the state of affairs in a number of other countries, Harding tells me that it had a bearing on the selection of the month of September for the League Assembly meetings.

As you know, August is a slack month, with the result that the preparation for the work of the Imperial Conference can be taken in hand seriously ready for the start of the Conference early in October. Departmental officers have a reasonably free time in August to grapple with the problems of the Conference to come.

Hankey's [13] point of view, in general, is that as the Conference used to be in June, there is no reason that it should not be held again in June. He agrees with Harding generally but thinks it could be arranged all right. However, as regards 1929, the British General Election will be held, he thinks, some time between May and October. The registers for the 'flapper vote' [14] Will not be ready until May and, on the other hand, he sees reasons why it might be as late as October. It apparently used to be a tradition to hold an election if possible 'between hay and harvest', which really means about July, and he has heard this slogan revived lately.

I will talk to Amery and others at an early opportunity.

For your convenience, I repeat below the due dates of Dominion elections:-

Canada September 1931.

South Africa June 1929.

New Zealand November 1928.

I.F.S. June 1931.

Newfoundland June 1928.

The I.F.S., of course, may have an election at any moment. If de Valera [15] got a majority, he would have, I suppose, to be asked to come to the Imperial Conference, but it is doubtful if he would accept, although you never know what change in outlook the responsibility of office may effect.

Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Written during 'a quiet weekend at Frankston', this letter (on file AA:A1420) acknowledged Casey's letters of 1 and 8 March (Letters 107-14).

2 This handwritten letter, dated 14 April 1928 (on file AA:A1420), informed Casey that Australia would probably appoint a Counsellor to the British Embassy at Washington and that, if so, Casey would be offered the position.

3 Chairman and Managing Director of the General Electric Co. Ltd.

Hirst simply declared his happiness to be a member of the delegation going to Australia. The letter to Bruce, dated 18 May 1928, is on file AA:A1970/555.

4 President and Deputy Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.

5 See note 22 to Letter 85.

6 The place vacated by Sir Harry McGowan went finally to Sir Arthur Duckham, an engineer.

7 Hirst was naturalised, of German birth.

8 A member of the 'Big Four'. See note 18 to Letter 126.

9 The reference is to Princess Ingrid of Sweden, regarded as a possible wife for the Prince of Wales. See Letter 100.

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

11 Without giving his reasons, Bruce bad argued very strongly for an Imperial Conference in June rather than, as in 1923 and 1926, in October-a 'horrible system'. It was then supposed that there would be a conference in 1929; it was in fact held in 1930.

Bruce's letter of 14 April 1928 is on file AA:A1420.

12 Sir Edward Harding, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office.

13 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

14 Women aged between 21 and 30 voted in the 1929 General Election for the first time.

15 Eamon de Valera, Leader of the Opposition in the Irish Free State Dail (Parliament).