14th January, 1926


(Due to arrive Melbourne-13.2.26)

My dear P.M.,

With regard to the question of adherence on the part of the Dominions to the Pact, Tyrrell [1], with whom I discussed it this week, would like to see Australia and N.Z. support Great Britain by adherence even if Canada and South Africa do not. He would not be at all appalled at the apparent lack of unity that this would demonstrate to the world. He says Europe is fully seized of the Imperial position and that such semi-support would not surprise or dismay them. He takes the commonsense view of 'the more the merrier' and is all against the 'loyal' Dominions (Australia and N.Z.) being asked to draw in the horns of their loyalty by reason of a lack of sense of responsibility on the part of Canada and South Africa. [2]

After all, Australia and N.Z. are the 'all-British' Dominions- Canada and South Africa being what Tyrrell once picturesquely called 'mixed grills'.

Tyrrell recognises that from a tactical point of view you will want to have your 'Pact' Debate prior to the Imperial Conference, as the political opponents of the Pact in Australia would otherwise be in a position to say that you had had the wool pulled over your eyes by H.M.G. at the Imperial Conference. [3]

Hankey [4], while not disagreeing with Tyrrell, suggests that from a tactical point of view it might perhaps be advantageous for you to obtain Parliamentary authority before the Imperial Conference to adhere to the Pact at such time as you may think opportune. In other words, to have a general and non-committal debate on the Pact before the Imperial Conference, ending on the note that it appeared, from the Dominions' present knowledge and understanding of the Pact obligations and the general European position, that the Pact was an instrument to which Australia might with advantage adhere, but that final consideration would be deferred until after the ground had been more thoroughly explored at the Imperial Conference. From an Imperial point of view, it would give you room to manoeuvre.

2. With regard to the Limitation of Armaments Conference. Tyrrell is still frankly sceptical of any real result coming out of it.

Houghton [5] (U.S. Ambassador in London) is a good Republican and firm friend and supporter of Coolidge [6], and is 'grieved' that 'the Wilson crowd' have had sufficient influence to have the President 'come round' to the extent he has with regard to both the World Court and the League of Nations Disarmament Preliminary Commission. I have this from Tyrrell and from Ray Atherton, First Secretary of the American Embassy, with whom I dined recently.

Houghton's fear is that America will co-operate in this preliminary Disarmament Conference and will there see that no useful result in which America can share is to be forthcoming and will then withdraw, with almost fatal results for any subsequent Disarmament Conference, and that America will then be saddled with the responsibility for its failure. [7]

3. A reasonably full account of the stage that had been reached in the arrangements for the holding of the Imperial Conference was given in the 'Daily Express' of 8th January. On my asking a certain highly placed gentleman how he thought the 'leak' had occurred, he said: 'Oh, through the usual channels, I expect!'

4. You will have seen that N.Z. has taken over from the Colonial Office the administration of the Tokelau group in the Pacific (see cutting 'Times' 7.1.26 by this mail). This is, of course, quite an unimportant island group, but the principle involved is of interest. (See My LON. 162 of 29th October, 1925. [8])

5. Departments are becoming busy on the Budget. I hear that the Treasury people, when they see a member of a spending department approaching, affect an air of intense melancholy. They are said to be perennial pessimists from January to March.

6. Ormsby-Gore [9] goes off to West Africa. Amongst other things he will attempt to push along any railway building projects in an effort to help the iron and steel trade in Great Britain.

7. The Prime Minister will announce tomorrow the Government's decision to proceed with a big electrification scheme throughout the country, whereby a dozen big power stations will be erected, with a controlling organisation something on the lines of the Port of London Authority, in that it will be composed of citizen and state-nominated representatives, as a buffer between the public and the Government.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

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

2 Bruce did not agree. In a letter to Casey of 16 January 1926 (on file AA: A1420) he assumed the need for imperial unity, accepted that Canada for one would not ratify the Locarno Pact even though Australia and New Zealand probably would, and preferred, therefore, that at the coming Imperial Conference there should be found some form of words short of adherence to the Pact and acceptable to all the Dominions.

3 In fact, Locarno roused very little interest in the Australian Parliament. The Labor Opposition might have been expected to have warned against unnecessary Australian entanglement in European affairs but while its leader, Matthew Charlton, made this point he balanced it with customary expressions of loyalty to Britain.

4 Sir Maurice Harkey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

5 Alanson Houghton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1925-29.

6 U.S. President Calvin Coolidge.

7 With varying degrees of enthusiasm, successive presidents recommended to their Senates United States adherence to the protocol of the Permanent Court of International Justice, but without success. The United States did participate in the League's Preparatory Commission designed to clear the way for a general disarmament conference, but the preparatory work dragged on until 1932, when the grand Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments finally met.

8 Letter 36.

9 William Ormsby-Gore, heir of Lord Harlech; Parliamentary Under- Secretary for the Colonies.