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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.

Text of an article by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, entitled ‘30 Nations to Meet’ (written for the New York Herald Tribune)

(Carbon copy of a typed original.)



Sept. 1925.

30 Nations to Meet
By F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, M.P.

To the average Englishman who hasn’t travelled America is a unitary abstraction. The country, the people, the government are all one. He groups Americans all together for approval or condemnation. He may say “I like Americans, in business they come straight to the point and in private life they are warmhearted and generous”; or he may take an opposite standpoint.

The same Englishman never regards his own countrymen in the same way. He does not say he likes or dislikes English people; he likes Smith and disapproves of Brown. He defends the British Government if it belongs to his own party and condemns its every act if it is not. Pretty much the same difference in outlook will be found I imagine in the untravelled man or woman in every country.

This crude illusion about foreign peoples is accentuated by the fact that the most widely advertised intercourse between nations is conducted by their Governments. “Britain takes such and such a view” say the American papers; “America thinks this” say the British. If those views are in disaccord there will be friction and possibly even strife, while all the time innumerable links could be forged between individual Americans and English people of every diverse shade of opinion.

A big step forward, however, in dispelling this illusion should result from the great international gathering which is taking place during the early part of October in Washington. By the courteous Hospitality of the United States Government the Inter-Parliamentary Union is holding there in the Capitol its 23rd conference. Over 40 British Members of Parliament are crossing the ocean specially for the occasion, and in addition deputies from some thirty other nations are expected to take part.

The essential feature of this Union is that membership of it is open to any man or woman who is a member of any self-governing Parliament in any part of the world. While therefore at the assemblies of the League of Nations and the Pan American Union the delegates represent Governments only (that is to say the majority party in each country) and their pronouncements are necessarily official, at this gathering will come together men and women of all parties direct—representatives of the peoples, who will speak for themselves and their constituents.

The gain will be enormous. In the public sessions where questions of public importance will be openly discussed there will be the opportunity of appreciating the general accord, and of hearing points of view expressed which are quite unknown outside the country in which they are held. There is no need to stress here the subjects which have been selected for discussion. International law, tariffs, national minorities, dangerous drugs, armaments, the parliamentary system etc. are all to be debated and provide ample ground for divergent views.

Still more important in my opinion will be the social gatherings and the little private parties where in the genial atmosphere of a meal and a bottle—of water—protagonists of definite opinions will find common ground with similar thinkers in other lands. These will be of special service in uniting the different parts of the English-speaking world, for with no barrier of language to divide us we ought to have no difficulty in reaching a clear and sympathetic understanding of one another’s point of view.

We shall I hope discuss informally not only such external questions as debts, immigration, tariffs etc. but also some of the internal problems which are absorbing attention at home—the changes in industrial outlook and in the relationship of the classes to one another, the tragedy of unemployment and the burdens of taxation. Some of us will remember the wise words uttered by our British Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman to the Union when it met in London in 1906:—

“This gathering is unofficial. In addressing you I feel that I am not so much speaking to the representatives of divers States of Europe and America as to the exponents of principles and hopes that are common to us all and without which our life on earth would be a life without horizon or prospect.”

From my knowledge of the British contingent I should say that it may be taken as fairly representative of British thought with perhaps a slight exaggeration of conservative opinion. There are imperialists and pacifists, protectionists and free traders, right and left wing Conservatives, Liberals, Labourmen, and one Communist. Some of the extremists at either end hold views which are abhorrent to another, and in some cases even to the moderate men in the middle. But that is all to the good if America wants to have a true cross section of English thought. How far each of our group will find kindred spirits among his American colleagues or in those of other lands, time alone can show.

The question is sometimes asked whether any definite concrete results are likely to emerge from the conference. This is impossible to answer for one never knows in advance what important use may be made of the Union’s Activities. In past years more than one valuable international convention has been taken over from a draft which a Committee of the Union had originally prepared.

Equally is it impossible to forecast the ultimate form which the Union itself will take. When Simon de Montfort caused the first assembly of barons knights and burgesses of England to take place in Leicester, the city which I represent in the British Parliament, he could not foresee that his institution would survive in England for centuries and be copied all over the world. In the same way we cannot tell to-day how far our Inter-Parliamentary Union may be the germ out of which a real international Parliament may spring.

What we do know with certainty is that the various nations of the world have crying need of one another. They need to reason together with sympathetic understanding if war is really to be outlawed. For behind the accords of Governments must lie the friendships of the peoples. But above and beyond this they need to pool their ideas and spiritual resources if the common problems which beset humanity are to be solved, and mankind is to be guided along a road which leads to a brighter day.

Text of an article by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, entitled ‘The Arab View on Murder’

(Carbon copy of a typed original. The events mentioned in this article, which was apparently written for a periodical called the Penal Reformer, are mentioned in Fate Has Been Kind, p. 182.)



The Arab View on Murder.

By F. W. Pethick-Lawrence.

During my recent visit to Palestine {1} the Arab attitude to murder came directly under my notice on two occasions. The first was when in the company of the District Governor I was visiting an Arab village near Jerusalem.

The responsible men in the village were met together and discussions took place with regard to taxation and other local matters. At last the question of relations with a neighbouring village was brought up. It was said that some twenty years ago two Arabs one from their village and one from the other had migrated to America and there one had murdered the other. A short time afterwards the murderer had himself met with a fatal street accident.

Ever since that day feud had existed between the two villages and when individuals met in Jerusalem there was quarreling† often leading to violence. Now the village of the aggrieved family were demanding that a settlement should be reached and satisfaction given.

The process I was told would be as follows, a sum of money would be demanded as compensation and if agreement as to the amount could not be reached it would be settled by some Arab body entitled to effect it. The members of the murderer’s family would then proceed to collect this sum primarily among themselves but if necessary with the help of other members of the village. Having obtained it they would go on an appointed day with it and with articles of food to the other village. There the food would be cooked and all parties would share it together, and after that the hostility would cease.

The other instance was when I was in Amman in Transjordania paying a visit to some English residents who were interested in the schools and Christian Churches in Transjordania. A young Arab woman and two Arab men came in and proceeded to tell a story with evident sign of great distress. It concerned the young child of the house a boy of about 7 years old and another somewhat older boy of another family. Both were Christians but while one family belonged to the Greek Church the other belonged to the Latin (i.e. Roman Catholic).

The original dispute was all about a football. The “Latin” boy had taken the ball away, and had behaved in an exasperating manner until at last the little “Greek” boy egged on by his playmates retaliated by picking up a stone and throwing it at the “Latin”. Tragedy occurred. The stone struck him behind the ear and he was killed. The little fellow was arrested but owing to his tender years the British Court decided he could not be punished and left the matter between the families to be thrashed out by the Arabs themselves.

Our visitors explained that they had been obliged to stand in the market place with bowed heads and the “enemy” had beaten them. Now a sum of £100 had been decided upon as the proper penalty-compensation. This they complained was much too high. They had sold everything they had consisting of their furniture and it had fetched only £50 and now they were come for advice to see whether their British friends could secure a reduction in the amount or failing that could put them in the way of raising the balance from kindly disposed people.

I do not know the precise ending of either of these stories. Nor I imagine are readers of The Penal Reformer very much concerned with them. What is of interest and importance is the contrast between Arab and British attitudes towards murder.

The British view is that it is an offence against the king’s peace, and that as the victim is dead the question of compensation does not arise. In other words British law is concerned with the “criminal” and not with the “civil” aspect of the matter.

The Arab on the other hand does not consider that the death of the victim rules out compensation. There is the family to be considered and perhaps even the village. Equally the fact that the murderer has himself died or is a child too young to be responsible for his action does not entitle his family or his village to escape punishment.

As to the preliminary violence which precedes the final settlement, this is no doubt the remanet of the methods of a primitive community in which there were no police no law courts no central power, nothing but individual action to enforce justice and to prevent the wrongdoer from getting off scot free.

It seems to me, without in any way wishing to revert to more primitive methods of dealing with crime, that there is something to be said for restoration and restitution in dealing with offences against the person. Incidentally it satisfied a natural craving in the human heart. Even in the case of murder a settlement which after penitence and suffering restores harmony between the families is surely better than the piling of tragedy on tragedy which is what the British law achieves.


{1} This visit probably took place in 1934 or 1935. See PETH 1/46–7.

† Sic.

Text of an article by J. M. Keynes entitled ‘Is the Rearmament Loan Inflationary?: A Justification of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Programme: A Plea for an Organised Policy’

(Carbon copy of a typed original.)



A Justification of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Programme

A Plea for an Organised Policy
By J. M. Keynes

The Chancellor of the Exchequer having published his prospective borrowing plans for re-armament, the question properly arises whether this programme can be super-imposed on the present business situation without risking a state of inflation. The question is hotly debated. The Chancellor declares that a loan of £80,000,000 a year is not excessive in the circumstances. His critics dispute this conclusion. Clearly it is a matter of figures. The Chancellor would agree that £200,000,000 a year would be dangerous; his critics are disposed to accept £40,000,000 a year as safe. What calculations are relevant to the answer? I believe that we can carry the argument a stage further than mere assertions based on vague individual judgments.

What is Inflation?

To begin with, what do we mean by “Inflation”? If we mean by the term a state of affairs which is dangerous and ought to be avoided—and, since the term carries to most people an opprobrious implication, this is the convenient usage—than we must not mean by it merely that prices and wages are rising. For a rising tendency of prices and wages inevitably, and for obvious reasons, accompanies any revival of activity. An improvement in demand tends to carry with it an increase in output and employment and, at the same time, a rise in prices and wages. It is when increased demand is no longer capable of materially raising output and employment and mainly spends itself in raising prices that it is properly called Inflation. When this point is reached, the new demand merely competes with the existing demand for the use of resources which are already employed to the utmost.

The question is, therefore, whether we have enough surplus capacity to meet the increase in demand likely to arise out of an expenditure of £80,000,000 raised by loans and not by diverting incomes through taxation. Now the resulting increase in demand will be greater than £80,000,000; since we have to provide for increased expenditure by the recipients of the £80,000,000, and for further similar reactions. There are reasons, too detailed to repeat here, for supposing that the total effect on demand will, in existing conditions in this country, probably lie between two and three times the primary increase. To be on the safe side, let us take three times as our preliminary estimate, which means that the total increase in the national income resulting from the Chancellor’s borrowing will have to be in the neighbourhood of £240,000,000 at present prices,—an increase, that is to say, of about 5½ per cent. Have we sufficient surplus capacity to provide such an increase? Or will the Government demand merely serve to raise prices until resources, already in use, are diverted from their present employment? This is certainly not a question to be answered lightly.

The number of insured persons who are still unemployed is, indeed, as high as 12½ per cent. But although the new demand will be widely spread (since it will not be limited to the primary employment for armaments but will also spread to the secondary employments to meet the increased demand of consumers), we cannot safely regard even half of these unemployed insured persons as being available to satisfy home demand. For we have to subtract the unemployables, those seasonally unemployed etc., and those who cannot readily be employed except in producing for export. Unless we make a liberal allowance for overtime and more output from those already in employment, it would need more planning and transfer of labour than is practicable in the time to increase the national output in 1937 by 5½ per cent over what it was in 1936; although over (say) a period of three years it might be possible.

Thus it is not plain sailing. If we suppose the full rate of Government spending to begin immediately, without any improvement in the export industries or any reduction in other activities, unsupported by organised overtime, by careful planning and an interval for the planning to take effect, there is a risk of what might fairly be called inflation. Is the Chancellor’s claim that he can avoid inflation nevertheless justified? For the following reasons I believe that it is.

How to Avoid Inflation

In the first place, my ‘multiplier’ of three times may, in present circumstances, exaggerate the scale of the repercussions. As prosperity increases, saving probably increases more than in proportion; particularly when profits are rising. It may well be that the total increase in expenditure, resulting from loans of £80,000,000, will be no more than (say) £170,000,000 or 4 per cent of the national income—an improvement which it would be much easier to accomplish than 5½ per cent.

In the second place, some part of the new demand will be met, not by increasing home output, but by imports (which I have not allowed for in the above calculation). This means either that the imports will be offset by increased exports or, failing this, that there will be a diminution of net foreign investment. Probably there will be a bit of both. We can look forward to an increase of ‘invisible’ exports through the increased earnings of our shipping and our foreign investments and, perhaps, from visitors to the Coronation. But it remains particularly advisable to do anything possible to stimulate our staple exports. For it is there that our reserves of surplus labour are chiefly to be found. It is no paradox to say that the best way of avoiding inflationary results from the Chancellor’s loan is to increase both imports and exports. In any case, we can make a deduction of (say) 15 to 20 per cent on account of increased imports, which brings down the increase in the national output (apart from exports) necessary to avoid inflation to a figure between 3½ and 4½ per cent.

Thirdly, measures to ensure that all possible orders are placed in the Special Areas where surplus resources are available, will greatly help. It is a mistake to suppose that this is merely a form of charity to a distressed part of the country. On the contrary, it is in the general interest. Whether demand is or is not inflationary, depends on whether it is directed towards trades and localities which have no surplus capacity. To organise output in the Special Areas is a means of obtaining re-armament without inflation. I am not sure that this is properly understood. One feels that the War Departments are inclined to regard a Special Areas measure as a form of charity, doubtless praiseworthy, which interferes, however, with their getting on with the job in the most efficient way. On the contrary, it is only by using resources which are now unemployed that the job can be got on with, except at the cost of great waste and disturbance. The Special Areas represent our main reserve of resources available for re-armament without undue interference with the normal course of trade. They are not a charity, but an opportunity.

We are still assuming that new capital investment, apart from re-armament, will continue on the same scale as before. It seems possible, however, that there will be some reduction in new building. By an extraordinary and most blameworthy short-sightedness, our authorities do not think it worth while to collect complete statistics of new building, the figures for the County of London being omitted from the published aggregate. But new building may easily fall short of last year by £20,000,000, which would provide a quarter of the Chancellor’s requirements. There remains capital development carried out by the railways, public boards and local authorities, which should be to some extent controllable by deliberate policy. On the other hand, increased investment may be necessary in some directions, to provide new plant where marked deficiencies exist. Nevertheless a net increase in output of 3 per cent might see us through, after allowing for the other offsets we have mentioned; and that is an improvement we might reasonably hope to accomplish in the near future.

The Need for Careful Planning

I conclude that the Chancellor’s loan expenditure need not be inflationary. But, unless care is taken, it may be rather near the limit. This is particularly so in the near future. It is in the next year or eighteen months that congestion is most likely to occur. For ordinary investment is still proceeding under the impetus of the recent years of recovery. In two years[’] time, or less, re-armament loans may be positively helpful in warding off a depression. On the other hand, the War Departments may not succeed—they seldom do—in spending up to their time-table.

This conclusion is subject, however, to an important qualification. The Government programme will not be carried out with due rapidity, and inflation will not be avoided, by happy-go-lucky methods. The national resources will be strained by what is now proposed. It is most important that we should avoid war-time controls, rationing and the like. But we may get into a frightful muddle if the War Departments merely plunge ahead with their orders, taking no thought for general considerations affecting foreign trade, the Special Areas, and competing forms of investment.

I reiterate, therefore, and with increased emphasis the recommendation with which I concluded my former articles in the Times. It is essential to set up at the centre an organisation which has the duty to think about these things, to collect information and to advise as to policy. Such a suggestion is, I know, unpopular. There is nothing a Government hates more than to be well-informed; for it makes the process of arriving at decisions much more complicated and difficult. But, at this juncture, it is a sacrifice which in the public interest they ought to make. It is easy to employ 80 to 90 per cent of the national resources without taking much thought as to how to fit things in. For there is a margin to play with, almost all round. But to employ 95 to 100 per cent of the national resources is a different task altogether. It cannot be done without care and management; and the attempt to do so might lead to an inflation, only avoidable if a recession happens to be impending in other directions. The importance of collecting more facts deserves particular attention. For my estimates, given above, are of course no better than bold guesses based on such figures as are accessible. They are obviously subject to a wide margin of error.


† Sic.

Text of an article by Lord Pethick-Lawrence, entitled ‘The Changing East’

Reviews the changes that have taken place since he attended the Indian National Congress at Gauhati in 1926, and reflects on the current problems facing India.

(Carbon copy of a typed original. The article was written for a Souvenir published in connection with the 63rd Indian National Congress. See 2/102–3.)



By Rt Hon Lord Pethick-Lawrence

In 1926 I attended the meeting of the Indian National Congress in Gauhati. I am most interested therefore to learn that it is being held there again this year.

What changes have taken place in the 31 intervening years! Then, Congress was still fighting an uphill battle for independence. Now, India ranks among the great nations of the world. Then the self-governing members of the Commonwealth consisted solely of peoples of European extraction. Now it includes peoples of Asia and Africa.

When I was a boy, India used to be spoken of as part of the “Unchanging East”. No one says that today. Everyone can see that India is changing very fast.

One of the reasons why I have come to India now in my 86th year is to try to find out how India is responding to the claims of the new age. During the few weeks that I have been here I have kept my eyes and ears open and I have learnt a great deal about your problems. I realise how great they are in number and intensity. Here are just a few of them:— Education, language, caste and custom, races, power, employment, population, finance, riches and poverty, social welfare, democratic institutions, international relationships.

I have stayed long enough to realise what a colossal task you have to tackle. But it has been much too short for me to come to any well-balanced conclusion as to the degree of your success. Indeed I doubt whether anyone even with far better knowledge than I is yet in a position to measure your all-round progress. In my view another ten or fifteen years will have to elapse before this can be done.

What I can tell you is that your efforts are being watched with the deepest and most friendly interest by the people of my country and by other members of the Commonwealth.

We want so much that you should succeed magnificently. We want so much that your people should increase their standard of life and their stature. We want to see India playing a noble part in the world.

May this Congress at Gauhati bring nearer these high ends!

The Women’s Bulletin, including a memoir of Evelyn Sharp by Lord Pethick-Lawrence

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)


by The Rt. Hon. Lord Pethick-Lawrence of Peaslake

Evelyn Sharp was a valiant suffragette, and a most lovable friend. She had great talents and devoted all of them to the woman’s movement willingly and without stint.

She was one of a distinguished family. Her brother, Cecil, will live in history as the compiler of old English songs and folk dances which he collected from remote parts of England and America. Another brother was head of the London Fire Brigade and originated the particular bell which the fire engines ring to clear the streets. She herself before the outbreak of the militant movement was a journalist and an author of children’s stories. She had an instinctive insight into a child’s mind and her books attained great popularity among the young.

Much of this work she had to abandon as she threw herself more and more into the activities of the votes-for-women cause. She spoke at meetings, she wrote articles for the press, she took part in illegal militancy, suffered imprisonment, and underwent the hunger strike. She never lost her sense of humour, she never became bitter, she never forsook her innate humility.

I well remember the occasion when in 1912 I called on her to make what I suppose was the greatest sacrifice of all for the cause—the abandonment of all her outside work in order to devote her whole time to editing the weekly organ—Votes for Women. I had long foreseen that one day I myself as editor of the paper might be arrested and I had turned over in my mind to whom I could entrust the position during my imprisonment. I could think of no one who could fill it half so well as Evelyn. But I realised that if I approached her before my arrest she was likely to offer all sorts of objections and I decided to wait until the event occurred when I felt sure her loyalty and devotion would sweep all hesitation aside.

But I had not counted upon my arrest being made late in the evening with the instruction my wife and me to prepare ourselves for immediate departure to the police station. The paper was only 24 hours away from going to the press. How was I going to communicate with Evelyn in time? At that moment our front door bell rang. A visitor was announced—Miss Evelyn Sharp! For no particular reason she had selected that evening for coming to see my wife and myself! We were allowed a few minutes’ conversation with her. I put my request. She accepted the onerous responsibility without demur.

Through the troublous months and years that followed until the vote was won she remained at her post either alone or in association with myself and my wife; and in her expert and courageous hands the continuity of the paper and its policy was maintained with dignity and determination.

The friendship between us was sealed by this sacrifice and we were fortunate in finding ourselves in agreement regarding many of the world issues which arose after the women’s victory was won. I was particularly pleased that she was able to make a second literary reputation. Her articles in the press had a pungency all her own without a trace of malice. Among her noteworthy books were a biography of Hertha Ayrton, “The London Child”, “The Child Grown Up” and an autobiography—“Unfinished Adventure”. She also wrote the libretto for Vaughan Williams’ musical comedy “The Poisoned Kiss”. It was an added happiness to my wife and myself when in 1933 she married our old friend Henry Nevinson.

As she passed into the eighties she came to need the care and attention which only a nursing home can provide and I frequently gave myself the pleasure of visiting her there. On these occasions, up till a little while before she died her face would light up with interest as we shared some reminiscence of the suffrage days.

Pethick Lawrence.

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