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Cripps, Sir Richard Stafford (1889–1952), knight, politician and lawyer Image With digital objects
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Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—(30th.) Is conscious of his need for perseverance and patience. Affairs may reach a climax during the weekend of 8–11 June.—(31st.) Has had a delightful talk with Sudhir Ghosh.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
May 30–31

My dear.

Your spiritual support means a great deal to me in these days when I have to call on all my spiritual reserves in order “neither to fail nor falter nor repent” {1}. I find it is not enough to have patience, I have also to have ungrudging goodwill to those who try my patience & at the back of all to retain tht reliance on the wise purpose of the Designer of all things. And so I pray tht courage, endurance & wisdom may continue to be vouchsafed to me, & tht all my works may be “begun continued & ended in Him” {2}.
I miss the counsel of Stafford Cripps terribly but he is now out of hospital & in a day or two I may be able to trouble him with some of the conundrums which confront me morning noon & night. For though I have faith in the Divine purpose & cling to it I never lose sight of the adage “God helps those who help themselves”.

It looks as if we might reach a climax in our affairs over the week-end June 8–11 but it may well be tht it is postponed. We have to get agreement on lots of things & a failure to get it on any once of them may mean a break down & a break up with consequences which humanly speaking are pretty serious. The hope is tht common sense may assert itself at alst, & I have by no means abandoned it.

The weather is rather trying, {3} with maxima between 100º & 108º & minima between 80º & 85º. Fortunately we have plenty of fruit & vegetables. I continue to sleep nearly the whole night through.

Albert Alexander is due back from his jaunt to Ceylon, tomorrow.

Friday. After writing the above I had a swim & went home. After a talk with Stafford who is much better Sudhir Ghosh came to see [me]—a young man of 29 who acts as “Mercury” to Gandhi. This time he did not bring me any message from G as he has himself been in hospital & Gandhi is away. But we had a delightful talk. I have seen him many times before & am very fond of him. I hope he will be one of India’s leading statesmen in years to come. He gave me great cheer & hope, and this morning I am feeling in very good spirits.

Ever your own loving Boy.

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The abbreviation ‘tht’ for ‘that’ occurs a few times.

{1} A slight misquotation from Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, Act IV. The original line has ‘change’ in place of ‘fail’.

{2} The words ‘begun, continued, and ended in thee’ occur in the prayer beginning ‘Go before us, O Lord, in all our doings’ in the Book of Common Prayer, which is one of the prayers said at the beginning of each day in the House of Commons.

{3} Comma substituted for a full stop.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—The crisis of the mission is expected in about six days. Discusses possible dates for their return, with reference to Lady Pethick-Lawrence’s holiday. Denies the rumour that he intends to retire.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 4 46

My dear.

I wrote you a long letter yesterday mainly about philosophy so here is another less high-fallutin!

Our climacteric (crisis) is expected in about 6 days. We may get full agreement. We may get rejection by both parties. We may get any one of various gradations between the two.

In either of the first two cases the Cabinet Mission propose to start for home almost at once probably on or about Saty June 15—arriving say on Tuesday June 18. In the event of indecisiveness we may be several days later but hope to get off not later than June 19 arriving 22nd. But this hope may be disappointed, & if so we have just go to do what is necessary.

If I can get home 18th or at latest 22nd, tht should fit in with your trip to I o W for I expect I shall have to be in London on 24th & have a great deal to do tht week (even if I am able to take a few days holiday later).

If I arrive on June 24 no doubt you will be postponing going to I o W for a day or two. If I am not due for several days after June 24 you had better go to I o W on 24th. Of course I could come to I o W to join you. But if you decide to meet me (which if you yourself wish it would be a joy to me) you could come up for 2 days from I o W & go back. Finally if my arrival is not until July you could carry on until then in I o W.

I expect to arrive by sea-plane at Poole harbour (beyond Bournemouth).
It is still all speculation about our chances of success.

They have been printing stories here of my intention to retire {1}, but I have said nothing whatever to justify this; I think it originates with “The News of the World” London.

We are still to be able to use the swimming bath. This is a reprieve as it is one of our few recreations, & the temperature yesterday was 109.

I keep very well & send you my dear love. I think you wanted all the enclosures back. I have written to Moira Gibson (McDermott) {2} re birth of daughter.

All my love
Boy.

Stafford Cripps thanks you for your good wishes & reciprocates them.

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The abbreviation ‘tht’ for ‘that’ occurs twice.

{1} Underlined three times.

{2} Spelling uncertain.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Is sorry she has cancelled her visit to the Isle of Wight. The political situation and the date of his return are still uncertain. He spoke to Field Marshall Montgomery while he was at Delhi.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
June 21. 46

My own dear Heart.

I am distressed to receive a letter from EK today dated June 17 telling me tht you have can-celled your trip to I W, & to realise from yours of 16th tht you are doing so because you are expecting me home in a day or two from now. The fact is tht with these unaccountable people I cant tell in the very least when I shall be leaving for home. It may be at the end of next week, it may be well into July. I nearly sent you a telegram to-day urging you not to cancel but I realised you had taken your decision—no doubt so as not to have the uncertainty hanging over you—& any advice now would only disconcert you. So my darling I accept your decision, I wish I was able to take better advantage of it, but I know you would not wish me to hurry an hour if it involves any danger of making a favourable result less likely.

And indeed I am not very sanguine. But the political barometer here goes so up & down tht I really don’t know from day to day wht the final result will be.

As I have not very much to do while I am waiting for the parties, who are once more like the implements in Alice’s croquet party constantly getting up & going away, I have borrowed a copy of Ludwig’s Life of Bethoven† & have started reading it. It takes one into an entirely different world, & relieves the mind. But the weather is so hot & humid tht I constantly drop off to sleep while reading it.

You have probably seen that Field Marshall Montgomery has been here. I had a long private talk with him the other day. I have of course also met Auchinleck. There was a picture in our paper to day of the 3 Field Marshalls (M, A & Wavell) walking together in the Viceregal grounds.

Cripps took lunch today with us in th sitting room for the first time since his illness.

I am very well. I am delighted to know tht you are. My dear blessed & beloved. In deep longing to see you

Your own
Boy.

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This letter includes the abbreviated forms ‘tht’ for ‘that’, ‘th’ for ‘the’, and ‘wht’ for ‘what’.

Letter from Sir Stafford Cripps to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Office of the Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi.—Expresses, on the eve of his departure from India, his admiration and gratitude for Pethick-Lawrence’s conduct as leader of the Mission.

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Transcript

Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
29. 6. 46

My Dearest Pethick,

I just feel that I could not leave India without expressing to you as the leader of our Mission the intense admiration and gratitude that I feel for all you have done.

It has not always been easy in this intemperate climate to hold together the team but your courtesy, fairness and deep sincerity have overcome any obstacles that there might have been. Our common affection to you has been a binding force for the whole of our team.

In the conduct of our negotiations you have made a wise mixture of caution with enthusiasm for the cause of Indian independence and a determination not to let your patience become exhausted, even though you yourself were feeling physically exhausted.

It has been a tremendous privilege and joy to me to be associated with you in this historic enterprise and I believe that you can be satisfied with the contribution that you have made to World History.

Though it is true that the results are those of the team it is to you that the major share of the credit must justly be given. Your unremitting labours, the high trust in which the Indian leaders held you and your convincing sincerity have created an atmosphere of trust amongst the Indian people different to anything known from the earliest times of British occupation.

The superficial and partisan attempts to discredit your work are not I am convinced reflecting anything but the anger of disappointed politicians.

Our “home life” here in Willingdon Crescent, a most important factor in our work, has been happy and restful because of the knowledge of the “Father of our party”.

We have all learnt to love our leader with unrestrained affection and I regard it as the highest privilege that I should have been allowed to serve under and with you during these last 3½ months.

May God Bless and keep you to see the fulfilment of your labours

Stafford

Telegram from Viscount Wavell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

New Delhi.—It is reported in the Indian press that Pethick-Lawrence is about to retire, to be replaced by Cripps. He trusts this is not true, as the appointment of Cripps would destroy any hope of securing the co-operation of the Muslim League. If Pethick-Lawrence is indeed retiring, he would prefer that Alexander should succeed him.

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to W. Glenvil Hall

Is broadly in support of the Government’s financial policy. Would like to hear his views on (1) further postponing the adjourned CPA meeting till the accounts are ready, and moving the room of the General Council’s secretary; (2) an anomaly in the calculation of estate duty; and (3) his own article in the Contemporary Review.

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Transcript

8th. April, 1949.

My dear Glenvil,

I listened to the Chancellor’s speech on Wednesday with great interest and with the admiration which he always commands for his pellucid exposition. I also attended the party meeting yesterday and now have read your speech of last night with my usual interest, pleasure and substantial agreement.

Broadly I find myself in full support of the Government’s standpoint, though naturally there are one or two small matters which I do not like quite so much. I though Mrs. Mann was particularly happy in what she said yesterday at the party meeting.

You are of course tremendously busy at the moment, but if you have a little leisure I should be interested to hear from you on three matters:—1) Sir Howard D’Egville told me that he had had a talk with you and explained to you that the accounts that were on the table at the C.P.A. meeting, only went up to the end of 1947. You will remember he interrupted me in the middle of my speech at the meeting and, incidentally, mislead† me as to the dates of the accounts. In all the circumstances I hope you agree that it is better to postpone the adjourned meeting of the members until we have got the 1948 accounts also to give to them. I am afraid it will not be until the end of June or the beginning of July. I daresay you and I shall be meeting one day in the House of Commons before then; and I would also like to discuss with you this question of whether the room for the General Council’s Secretary should be in future actually adjoining the rooms of the United Kingdom Branch or nearby.

2) I am rather sorry that when the Chancellor was tidying up the death duties (and incidentally making a considerable increase in the estate duty which will involve substantial alterations in wills of large testators who leave specified sums to various persons, and particularly to widows) that he did not rectify an anomaly which causes testators a good deal of inconvenience. I refer to the different method of dealing with slices of the gross amount for estate duty and surtax respectively. In the latter, the taxpayer has no particular interest in getting his gross figure below certain limits, whereas in the former the higher rate is charged not only on the slice but on the gross total so that a very small change makes a great deal of difference. I am aware of course that adjustments are made, but in view of the present high rates of taxation, this method is surely both inconvenient and unsatisfactory. Consider for instance the case of a man whose gross estate is in the neighbourhood of a hundred thousand pounds. If it is just below a hundred thousand pounds, he pays tax under the new scheme at 45% leaving him for distribution fifty-five thousand pounds. As I understand it, it is not until he reaches over a hundred and ten thousand pounds gross (which will pay 50%) that he obtains any larger sum for distribution. Similar anomalies occur on other marginal figures. The net result is surely not very healthy because a testator with assets close to one of the marginal figures is deprived of all incentive to save as the tax amounts to 100% on part of the capital.

Would it not be better to adopt the surtax method on slices for death duties? In any case will you consider this, and will you consider whether some explanation might be given of how the prospective tax works out on successive slices. It is quite true that the big fry might be alarmed at the very large proportion which the higher slices will have to pay, but some of our labour supporters may be equally satisfied that the rich are contributing so much. I hope however that if this is done next year the Chancellor will not take the opportunity of putting up still further the rates. Will you also consider, unless it has already been made fully clear, precisely when all the changes in death duties come into operation so that testators will know just what they have to face and when. For instance what about the case of A deceased in 1948 leaving a life interest to B who dies in 1950. What does C the remainderman have to pay?

3) When I last saw you, you were good enough to say that you would look at my article in the January issue of the “Contemporary Review”. If you have managed in your busy life to do so I should be interested to know how it struck you.

Yours sincerely,
[blank]

The Rt. Hon. W. Glenvil Hall, M.P.,
Financial Secretary to the Treasury,
Treasury Chambers,
S.W.1.

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† Sic.

Letter from W. Glenvil Hall to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Treasury Chambers.—Responds to Pethick-Lawrence’s remarks on estate duty (see 2/26), which he has discussed with the Chancellor (Cripps) and the Inland Revenue.

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Transcript

Treasury Chambers, | Great George Street, | S.W.1.
29 April, 1949.

My dear Pethick,

I promised to write you again on the Estate Duty points you raised in your letter to me, after I had consulted the Inland Revenue and the Chancellor on them.

As you point out, the Estate Duty scale has always been such that at a point where the rate increases there is a margin within which, whatever the value of the estate, the amount left after payment of duty is the same. At the new rates there will be a margin of £10,000 between £100,000 and £110,000. We have from time to time considered the possibility of changing, as you suggest, to a slice scale on the Sur-tax principle to avoid this particular difficulty, but the Inland Revenue tell me such a change would bring very considerable new difficulties of its own. It would for example add to the complexities of the administration of estates where property passed on a death under more than one title. Every time any adjustment were made in the value of the property passing under one of the titles the amount of duty payable on the property passing under each title would be affected.

The Chancellor proposes to increase the yield from death duties because, as he stated in his Budget statement, there is still a degree of inequality in the ownership of property which could be the subject of adjustment. The various changes in the death duties will not, of course, come into effect until the passing of the Finance Act. This will give testators some opportunity of altering their wills if they so wish. They will be able to see the detailed proposals in the Finance Bill—we have in mind, for example, the point you mention about the remainder-man—and they will be able to make their plans accordingly.

In the light of what I say above about the difficulties, you will gather that there seems little possibility of the suggestion you make about the slice system being adopted. Nevertheless you will like to know that the Chancellor is having the point looked at again, though, as I say, it appears that whatever system were adopted some anomalies are bound to occur.

With kind regards and all good wishes.

Yours sincerely,
W Glenvil Hall

The Rt. Hon. Lord Pethick-Lawrence of Peaslake,
11, Old Square,
Lincoln’s Inn,
W.C.2.

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Times of India’, 4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1.—Defends his view of Jinnah’s rôle in the partition of India. Is convinced that Congress was largely responsible for alienating him.

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Transcript

The Times of India, London Branch:
4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1

Dear Lord Pethick Lawrence,

I was very interested to have your letter of October 13th. When I wrote to you I was thinking more of the narrower question of the splitting of the Punjab, referred to by Sir Henry Craik, than to the larger issue of the partition of India. Both form part of the same picture and it may be that in some respects Jinnah was only one factor in the circumstances which brought about partition. But he was a very important factor and his attitude, following the introduction of the new Constitution in 1937, was decisive. Every time the British Government faced the question of Indian political advancement, Jinnah demanded Pakistan and thus blocked agreement. You know more about what happened during the visit of the Cabinet Mission, but in Volume IV of the account of the Second World War entitled “The Hinge of Fate”, Churchill records that at the time of the Cripps Mission his Cabinet considered a plan to declare India a Dominion after the war. He was then faced with a note from Mr. Jinnah declaring that if any constitutional move was intended the Pakistan scheme must be accepted, a statement which was backed up by Sir Firoz Khan Noon, then a member of the Government of India. There is no doubt that Churchill was deeply impressed by these notes and sent them to President Roosevelt in justification of his attitude.

There may be something in what your Indian financier friend said to you after August 15, 1947, but my strong conviction—based on experience—is that the Congress was largely responsible for alienating Jinnah. They refused to take Jinnah and the Pakistan idea seriously. At the time of the famous Calcutta Unity Conference in the twenties, when Jinnah was still a Congressman at heart, they could have achieved an agreement with him on terms which would have preserved the unity of the country. From a logical point of view the Congress leaders, as I know, had justification for their attitude, but logic sometimes makes bad politics. I have no doubt British Governments in the past sometimes found Hindu-Moslem animosity very convenient, but on the need to preserve Indian unity there was always insistence, and I know that Viceroys like Halifax and Linlithgow were very strong on that point both in public and in private. I also know that many of my Indian friends took that same view as the Indian financier whom you quote, and one cannot say that it is entirely baseless. But I still feel that the main fault rested with the Congress mishandling of Jinnah, especially in the days when he was still a Congress supporter.

One or two people whom I met in the Club after your address, including Lord Hailey, agreed with me that you put up a very good case.

Yours sincerely,
Francis Low
(Sir Francis Low)

Letter from Humayun Kabir to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

2 York Place, New Delhi.—Asks him to contribute an article to a volume to be presented to Maulana Azad on the occasion of his seventieth birthday.

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Transcript

2, York Place,
New Delhi,
22 NOV 1957

Dear Lord Pethick Lawrence

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a great national leader of India, will be completing his 70th year in November 1958. It is proposed that on this occasion, an Abhinandan Granth (Birthday Volume) be presented to him as a mark of our appreciation of his services to the nation for nearly fifty years.

Maulana Azad attained eminence as a brilliant writer and theologian in his early youth. The spirit of free enquiry and search for truth which characterised him from those days soon led him into the political movement as he realised that man cannot attain a true and full development except in an atmosphere of freedom. From his early twenties, he has been a fighter for Indian freedom and his contribution to the cause of Indian nationalism has been widely acknowledged. The Indian nation did him the honour of electing him the President of the Indian National Congress when he was 35. Later during the most critical period of the struggle for freedom, he guided the destinies of the Congress for six momentous years and conducted the negotiations with Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord Wavell and the British Cabinet Mission which resulted in the attainment of Indian independence in 1947.

Apart from his contribution to the Indian national struggle, Maulana Azad has also been an outspoken champion of rationalism and progressiveness in all spheres of Indian life. He has sought to approach religious, moral, social, economic and political questions from a detailed and dispassionate point of view and worked for securing justice and fairplay for all sections of the Indian people.

It is proposed that the Abhinandan Granth should include assessments of his contribution to different aspects of Indian life or studies in various fields in which he has taken a keen interest. On behalf of the Committee, I have great pleasure in requesting you to be so kind as to make a contribution either on some aspect of Maulana Azad’s life and personality or in a subject of your special study. The articles should ordinarily be from 2000 to 3000 words and should reach the undersigned by the 31st March 1958 at the latest.

I shall be grateful for a line in reply indicating your consent and the title of the subject on which you would like to write.

Yours sincerely {1}
Humayun Kabir
(HUMAYUN KABIR)

Lord Pethick-Lawrence,
C/o Rashtrapati Bhavan,
NEW DELHI.

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Letter-head of the Maulana Azad 70th Birthday Committee. The letter is typed, except the opening and closing greetings, which are handwritten, and the date, which is stamped. Presumably the same message was sent to other potential contributors to the projected volume. At the foot has been added ‘Ld P will send a short message of tribute.’ (‘Ld P’ is a conjectural reading; what is written is indistinct.)

{1} These two words are indistinct.

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