4th February, 1926


(Due to arrive Melbourne-5.3.26)

My dear P.M.,

I discussed yesterday with Sir Cecil Hurst [1] and Malkin [2] the particular way in which a Dominion would be involved by reason of accession to the Locarno Pact. In the first place, Hurst was rather inclined to admit that a Dominion had two alternatives as to how it would accede-either it could do so as an independent and responsible guarantor co-equal with either Great Britain or Italy, or, as a sub-guarantor backing up and augmenting the British guarantee.

After some thought he came to the conclusion that the second alternative was the sounder of the two. On an emergency occurring, it would be necessary for Great Britain to inform and consult with the adhering Dominions (and, for that matter, the others too) as far as the emergency would permit, and come to a conclusion with them as to whether a casus foederis had arisen. When this had been decided, Great Britain would so inform the League.

All that accession to the Pact would mean from the point of view of Australia would be that the present Parliament and Government of Australia would bind any succeeding Government to do its best to persuade the Parliament of the day to make good its guarantee if and when H.M.G. and the Australian Government of the day had decided that a casus foederis had arisen. This, of course, in fact, is all that any Government can do when it signs a treaty of any sort involving possible obligations in the future.

The more Dominions adhere to the Pact, the stronger in the eyes of the world is the British position as a guarantor. As a practical matter, Dominion adherence to the Pact does not really mean anything more than a gesture to the world. The Pact is an instrument between heads of States. The King by his signature commits all units of the Empire (whether they have adhered to the Pact or not) to technical belligerency if and when Great Britain feels it incumbent on herself to declare war to implement her guarantee. Neither the King nor the Pact can commit a Dominion in advance to more than technical belligerency. The next stage-active participation in war-can only come about by decision of the Dominion Parliament of the day on the merits of the situation.

This is the theory of the position. In practice, one would imagine that a Dominion Parliament would be much more hesitant to leave Great Britain in the lurch if the Dominion had put her signature to an instrument of adherence to the Pact, than if she had not done so.

I am trying to get the D.O. and the F.O. to get together and produce a considered memorandum on what is actually implied by adherence to the Pact, for transmission to you. If you are considering having a Debate on the Pact in the near future, I would cable to you any useful observations that they may have to make in this regard, if you would let me know by telegraph.

2. The Australian Cable Service (Sun-Herald London Agency) moved into their new quarters in the 'Times' Office this week. It was good diplomacy on someone's part to get the 'Times' rights for this service but, to my mind, it is a great pity that the Australian Press Association (which represents practically all the other papers in Australia except the Sun-Herald) did not get the rights for the 'Times' news. I understand that the contract was made by Campbell-Jones [3], the Editor or Managing Director of the 'Sun' in Sydney, who previously represented the Sydney 'Sun' in London.

I should think that the recent Imperial Press Conference tour in Australia will have opened the-eyes of the 'Times' people to the relative importance of the various newspaper groups in Australia, and one can only hope for the good of the whole show that, when the present contract comes to an end, the A.P.A. will be given a chance to obtain the facilities of the 'Times'.

3. At lunch at Mr. Amery's [4] house a few days ago, I met the present Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, His Honour Robert Randolph Bruce. He has a vague idea that he may be a connection of yours. He asks that he might have the privilege of knowing in advance if and when you come through Victoria, B.C., on the way to England, so that he can offer you some hospitality. He is a pleasant mannered elderly man, with very bad sight-almost blind.

4. There was very little discussion at the 3rd February Cabinet as to the advisability of having the Imperial Conference in October 1926. Your two telegrams were very useful to Amery. [5]

5. Had the Imperial Conference not been likely to eventuate this year, Mr. Baldwin [6] had proposed to make a trip to Canada. This, with Mr. Amery's trip to Australia via South Africa and New Zealand, would have covered the Dominions fairly well.

There seems to be a good chance of another Canadian election in June or July. They have a system of payment of members in Canada under which they have to attend either 50 or 60 days before they can claim any parliamentary salary at all. This fact is apparently not unconnected with the present Parliament hanging on for three months or so. A July election, I am told, fits in satisfactorily after the sowing of the crops. It is hard to believe that the present Government can last many months. [7]

6. 'A Grammar of Politics' by Laski [8], a young Radical Jew lecturer in economics in, I think, London University, has attracted considerable notice lately. Tom Jones [9] thinks it is likely to be the Bible of the Labour Party in this country for many years. It is very long and detailed.

7. When I told a man in the F.O. recently that Amery was getting an Artificial Sunlight apparatus, he said: 'At least an artificial sun need never set on the guardian of the British Empire now!'

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Legal Adviser to the Foreign Office 1918-29.

2 H. W. (later Sir William) Malkin, Second Legal Adviser to the Foreign Office.

3 Herbert Campbell-Jones, Managing Director of Associated Newspapers Ltd, publisher of the Sun.

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

5 In telegrams of 24 December 1925 and 19 January l926 the Australian Government had pressed for the early announcement of an Imperial Conference to be held in October 1926, on the grounds principally that the imperial ramifications of the Locator, Pact needed to be settled quickly. See NLA or PRO: Great Britain, Cabinet Office Records, Memoranda, reports, letters, notes circulated to Cabinet, Cab. 24/178 6 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

7 The minority Canadian Government led by William Mackenzie King felt in June 1926.

8 Harold Laski, A Grammar of Politics, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1925. Laski, formerly of Magdalene College, Cambridge, had recently been appointed to the chair of Political Science in the London School of Economics and Political Science.

9 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.