197

16th May, 1929

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

(Due to arrive Canberra 15.6.29)

My dear P.M.,

There is an aspect of the business of the General Election which it may interest you and your political advisers to know about.

It is the habit in this country for individuals and societies of all sorts to put written questions to party candidates in their constituencies. The same questionnaires are frequently put by branches of the same societies to many candidates in constituencies in all parts of the country, and, in the past, these societies have, rather naturally, got a wide variety of replies from candidates of the same party-a circumstance which subsequently placed the party which formed the Government in a position of some embarrassment.

In order to overcome this, a procedure has been instituted, which, while somewhat cumbrous, has proved effective.

Government candidates are instructed to forward at once to the Conservative Party Central Office copies of all questionnaires on subjects with regard to which they have any hesitation in framing replies. The Central Office is the first 'sieve' for these questions-they reply at once to the ones to which they know the answers, and they send the balance to the Secretary of an 'Emergency Business Committee' of the Cabinet, which sits in this office. From here the questions are 'farmed out' to the appropriate Government Departments, who submit short reasoned statements of the Government's policy in regard to them. These replies are vetted by the Cabinet Committee (which sits every second day in this period), possibly 'toned up' politically, and sent back to the Central Office which broadcasts them to the particular candidate from whom they were received, and, if of sufficient general interest, to all candidates.

I enclose a complete set of papers illustrating this procedure.

There is no reason why these papers should not be seen by your political advisers, although they should eventually be destroyed.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

[Handwritten postscript]

This procedure, of course, applies only to the Government candidates.