15th October, 1925


(Due to arrive Melbourne-14.11.25)

My dear P.M.,

The Government in this country has been increasingly Criticised these last three months. To the list of its critics (besides the Beaverbrook [1] and Rothermere [2] press) must now be added the 'Observer' and 'Sunday Times'.

The attitude of J.L. Garvin [3] in the 'Observer' rather surprised people, considering that the paper is owned by Lord Astor.

I hear that Astor agreed to Garvin taking the attitude he has, as they are most disappointed at the lack of preparedness of the Government in the face of each emergency that arises-housing, unemployment, coal, railways, communists, land policy, and all the rest. They take things too easily and badly want gingering up.

One gets the impression of its being a 'comfortable' Government and that, generally speaking, individual Cabinet Ministers hate getting up early and sweating and striving early and late to produce results. Events seem to catch them up rather than their being ahead of the game by the well-known but little practised 'intelligent anticipation of events'. They take their weekends if the heavens fall. Men who, as civil servants, were private secretaries to both Labour Ministers and Ministers in the present Government tell me that things were much more strenuous in the days of the Labour Government. This may all be rather over- coloured, but I think it has a certain amount of truth in it.

The Liberals have produced their new 'Land Policy', copy of which I enclose as a matter of interest. [4] Lloyd George [5] is stumping the country.

The Liberal Land Policy is the result of a self-imposed task on the part of Ll.G. when he found himself with leisure. He enlisted the best Liberal brains he could, inside and outside the House.

The 'Policy' that has resulted is definitely socialistic and is irresponsible in that it is not supposed that they imagine it will be put into force. It is an evidence of activity and will produce thought on the subject, and will draw public attention to the Party. Liberals are not unanimous about it and if Ll.G. nails it to the mast and stands or falls by it, there are people who say it is likely to split the Liberal party. Hilton Young [6] has pronounced against it. Asquith [7] has as yet been silent.

Now that the Cabinet has started meeting again and the August- September holiday period is at last over, I am again bringing up the question of Australia being allowed the privilege of having copies of the Embassy despatches direct from Tokyo and Peking. It has not been lost sight of.

The C.I.D. Sub-Committee on research into new methods of defence against air attack, which I have frequently mentioned (LON. 55 and 71 [8]) Still carries on. They have reached as yet no general conclusion worth sending you (and probably will not for some time), but their individual memoranda on the subject are most entertaining.

The C.I.D. are discussing at an early date the Spanish proposals for the exchange of Gibraltar for Ceuta, which is on the African shore opposite Gibraltar. Hankey [9] has prepared an historical memorandum dealing with the various proposals of this sort that have been made in the last two hundred years. It is, of course, most unlikely that anything will come of this business but as it is a serious Spanish proposal, it has to be seriously dealt with.

You will remember that there was a suggestion that Rosyth and Pembroke Dockyards were to be scrapped as part of the price that the Navy were to pay for the continuance of the Cruiser programme.

The Admiralty now propose to the C.I.D. that, in view of the value of these yards in war time, they be placed on a 'care and maintenance' basis and not scrapped.

Lieut.-Col. Rupert Ryan [10] (Deputy High Commissioner of the Rhineland and son of Sir Charles Ryan [11] whichever title and description is the more impressive!), who is an old personal friend of mine, said to me recently that it was very interesting to him to have discovered the fact, by close personal experience over four years, of the astonishing lack of political sense exhibited by the vast majority of the Germans. If they can make a tactical error by saying too much or too little, he says they almost invariably do so. This is backed up by Dufour [12] (Counsellor of the German Embassy in London), who recently said to Nicolson [13] of the Central Department that he hoped there would not be much delay in the calling of the Pact Conference as, if there was, 'his people' (meaning his own Government) would be certain to do or say something to compromise themselves, which they did, of course, in due course, by linking up the unfortunate subject of their war-guilt with the Pact negotiations and their entry into the League. [14]

Eric Phipps (Counsellor [15] of the British Embassy in Paris) lunched with me recently with Hankey and Tom Jones. [16] Phipps says there is really no unemployment at all in France. Even the 100,000 odd who are absorbed into the Army each year have to be more than replaced by immigration of Poles and Italians. The experiment has apparently been tried of working off some of the British unemployed on France, but the French standard (and method) of living doesn't suit Englishmen and they drift back.

With regard to the question of what is usually called the declining birth rate in France, Phipps says that this is not the problem at all. Their crude birth rate is reasonably high, but the percentage of infant mortality is very high indeed and almost wipes out the birth rate.

As a matter of historical interest only, he explains the curious insistence with which Herriot pushed the question of the abolition of the French Embassy to the Vatican, as due to ultra- conscientious feeling about an election pledge that he gave to the Freemasons. It hurt the feelings of the clerical people and was not very strenuously sought after by anybody (even the anti- clericals) except the Freemasons. It was one of the several incidents that finished him. [17]

He expanded a little on the subject (which will not be new to you) of the increasing dependence of France on her black troops from Africa, and how she looks to the British Navy to keep open her lines of communication for this purpose across the Mediterranean.

The Mosul affair is temporarily in abeyance. [18] The International Court expect to give judgment on about November 22nd-just prior to the League Council meeting early in December.

Assuming the Turks signify their intention before then to abide by the Council's decision, the matter should be quickly finalised.

But I very much doubt if it will.

Amery [19] has written a long Cabinet paper on the subject, which goes to you officially by this mail. It has a strong undercurrent of hatred for the Turks on the one hand, and indignation at the rough handling he has had from the London press on the subject.

However, it is an interesting story, particularly as it contains the germs of trouble. You will not have time to read it all, but open it at page 6 and you will see the questions referred to the International Court on the top of page 6, and on the lower half of page 7, Amery's forecast as to the possibilities of the situation.

These two extracts constitute the essence of the whole paper, from your point of view.

Grey's autobiography ('Twenty-five Years') is said to be a very first-class effort. [20] He was assisted in its compilation by J.

A. Spender [21], who was given access to the F.O. in order to check up dates and documents. I am sending it out to you, for the External Affairs Library, by this or the next mail.

A third volume of Page's Letters will appear shortly. [22] Extracts have been appearing in the press from time to time. They comprise, I believe, letters that it was not considered politic to publish during Wilson's [23] life.

A telegram arrived on 8th October at the Dominions Office: 'I have this day assumed the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia', which caused a few smiles to break out even on the cracked countenances of some of the Dominions Office people. [24]

Two stories about the Duchess of Atholl [25] at Geneva are quite worth while, although I don't give any written guarantee of their strict accuracy.

She is supposed to have arranged to be taken out to see the chateau where Madame de Stael used to live but, when the time came, she said that she had too much to do and that 'perhaps it could be arranged that Madame de Stael should come in and see her'!

The other hinges on her supposed habit of opposing everything that she was not very sure about in the course of discussions in the 5th Committee. [26] Albert Thomas [27], who was present, is quoted as saying: 'The Duchess will have to change her name from Atholl to Not-at-all.'

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Lord Beaverbrook and his Daily Express, Sunday Express and Evening Standard.

2 Lord Rothermere and his Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and London Evening News.

3 Editor of the Observer since 1908.

4 The Liberal Party report called for State landlordism: the State would take over land inadequately cultivated by private landlords and transfer it to tenants, who could retain it and bequeath it for as long as it was fully used. The following month another Liberal report called for higher land rates and provision for the acquisition of land by local authorities for housing, roads, town planning and other amenities.

5 Prime Minister 1916-22, and now leader of the Liberal Party. He supported both reports strongly.

6 Liberal M.P. 1915-23, 1924-29; Conservative M.P. 1929-35;

Financial Secretary to the Treasury 1921-22; raised to the peerage as Lord Kennet in 1935.

7 Lord Oxford and Asquith. As Herbert Asquith, he had been Liberal Prime Minister 1908-16.

8 The first of these letters has not been found, the second is printed as Letter 21.

9 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

10 Casey was to marry his sister Maie on 24 June 1926. Educated at Harrow, Rupert Ryan joined the British Army; the previous year he had married Lady Rosemary Hay, daughter of the Earl of Erroll.

11 A Melbourne surgeon, Maj Gen Sir Charles Ryan graduated from Edinburgh, served as a surgeon with the Turkish Army (later acting as Turkish Consul-General in Australia) and, during the 1914-18 war, with the Allies.

12 Albert Dufour-Feronce, Counsellor at the German Embassy 1920- 24, Minister 1924-27.

13 Harold Nicolson, Counsellor at the Foreign Office.

14 Part of the context of the Locarno Pact was subsequent German admission to the League of Nations.

15 In fact, Minister at the Embassy 1922-28.

16 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

17 The Radicals' and Socialists' triumph at French elections in mid-1924 led to the formation of a left-wing administration under the Radical Party's Edouard Herriot. The fall of the Government in April 1925 had rather less to do with the Radicals' traditional anti-clericalism than the Government's inability to cope with France's chronic financial ills short of flirtation with a policy of forced loan conversion.

18 See note 3 to Letter 33. When the League Commission recommended that on balance Mosul should go to Iraq under certain conditions, Turkey disputed League competence and the Permanent Court of International Justice was asked for a ruling. The Court supported the League and in December 1925 the League Council awarded Mosul to Iraq.

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

20 Lord Grey, Twenty-Five Years, 1892-1916, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1925.

21 Editor of the Westminster Gazette 1896-1922 and biographer of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.

22 Walter Hines Page had been United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1913-18. Volumes of his correspondence were published posthumously.

23 Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States 1916-20.

24 Lord Stonehaven had taken up duty as Governor-General of Australia.

25 Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education.

26 The Fifth Committee of the League of Nations Assembly dealt with such social issues as opium traffic and white slavery.

27 Director of the International Labour Organisation.