64

22nd April, 1926

CONFIDENTIAL

(Due to arrive Melbourne-22.5.26)

My dear P.M.,

You will notice in the press cuttings the increasing amount of publicity given to Italy's 'expansionist' threats. As I have mentioned repeatedly in these letters, the movement has been gathering force for some time and has, of course, been known to the F.O., but only comparatively recently has it been given press publicity in this country. The calling up of Turkish reservists in Anatolia has drawn attention to it in this last week.

Personally I have never been able to see how Mussolini is going to bring off any coup, particularly as he advertises to the world all he is doing. It seems to me that he is putting heart into his countrymen by bold gestures and flag waving so that he will have them all keyed up ready for some unforeseen opportunity, but I do not think he will unduly or obviously force this opportunity to present itself.

2. I send you a letter by this mail covering copy of a Foreign Office file of recent correspondence with regard to the Institute of Pacific Relations, which holds annual meetings usually at Honolulu. It is an organisation that has been in the past officially regarded as a gathering of amiable enthusiasts who need not be taken seriously. However, the F.O. (on the advice of the British Embassy at Washington) is now inclined to think that it should be taken more seriously and some care exercised to see that suitable representatives of British opinion should be asked to attend, of course in an unofficial capacity.

It is a matter for you to decide as to whether the Australian delegates should not be unofficially coached a little before their departure to the 1927 Conference, so that you know that they are going to express opinions that are in general accord with your Government's views.

3. Poliakoff [1] (Diplomatic Correspondent of the 'Times') in the 'Fortnightly' under the name of 'Augur' ('Secret Diplomacy at Geneva') develops his well-known diatribe against official secrecy-but with his tongue in his cheek. He would be the last to welcome complete openness in negotiations. What he aims at is to be the one to whom all is made known-but he would hate everyone else being told the whole story at the same time. He affects to think that the 'Times' should be told all the F.O. secrets-and so be placed on a plane above the rest of the Press.

He is getting rather suspect in the F.O., owing to his increasingly close liaison with the French Foreign Office.

4. Rumours go about to the effect that Lord Reading [2] is to join the Government in a ministerial capacity. Hankey [3] does not think there will be any reshuffle of the Cabinet, but thinks he might come in if there were to be a resignation, such as Balfour.

[4]

5. In great confidence, there was another bad leak of information lately with regard to the Betting Tax. The 'Daily Telegraph' was the offender. A similar (but not so harsh) procedure was taken as in the case of the Australian Shipping leak in the 'Daily Express'. In the 'Daily Telegraph' case the information came from the 'Lobby of the House of Commons', which means either from a Minister or from an M.P. who got it from a Minister.

6. The latest authoritative and all-embracing book on drink is 'A Book of Wine' by Morton Shand. It has been very well reviewed.

He is rather hard on our Australian productions. He says: 'There is one use for which Australian wines have been found unrivalled:

the christening of British warships at their launches.' He tells another story which is worth repeating. 'Recently an old gentleman was heard to question the young lady in temporary charge of the wine department of a big London shop, whether she could thoroughly recommend some Volnay there exhibited for sale. "Is it good Burgundy?" he asked. The young lady picked up a screw top flagon of one of the well known Australian proprietary wines and urged him to try a bottle: "This is the real genuine Burgundy", she assured him. "The Volnay is quite a nice wine but it's only a French imitation".'

7. The Archbishop of York visited the United States during the war with the object of impressing them with the fact that the Allies were waging war on behalf of Christianity.

When he was in Washington, a notice appeared in the press to the effect that he would visit the State Department the next day.

During the next morning, two minor officials were talking in the lobby of the State Department. One told the other that he had read that the Archbishop of York was to visit the office that morning.

'In fact', he said, 'I think that's him standing over there.' The other man didn't think it was the Archbishop and eventually a small bet was made about it.

To settle the matter, one of them went over to the man in question who, when interrogated, looked rather angry, turned abruptly away and walked out of the office.

The other party to the bet joined his friend and asked what the result was. His friend said: 'Well, I asked him if he was the Archbishop of York and he looked me up and down and said, "What the hell business is it of yours, anyway?", and walked off. So we'll never know now whether it was him or not.'

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Vladimir Poliakoff.

2 Viceroy of India 1921-26. He had previously been Solicitor- General 1910, Attorney-General 1910-13 and Lord Chief Justice 1913 21.

3 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

4 Lord Balfour, Lord President of the Council.