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Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Indira Gandhi

11 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London, W.C.2.—Has returned to England, and Helen is on the way to America to see her children. Thanks her and her father (Nehru) for their hospitality. His interview with Miss Naidu at Calcutta was brief, as she was recovering from influenza. Has sent a letter of thanks for Miss Rao (see 2/112).

Letter from Hugh Gaitskell to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

House of Commons.—Will advise Harold Wilson and Douglas Jay of Pethick-Lawrence’s proposed concession to certain holders of gilt-edged stock. The new declaration of aims, the ‘New Testament’, will, he thinks, be of real value in the long run.

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Hugh Gaitskell

Refers to the abatement of the controversy over public ownership, and commends the ‘New Testament’ (a statement of the Labour Party’s aims). He has urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Heathcoat Amory) to make a concession to indigent old people holding gilt-edged stock who want to take out annuities.

(Carbon copy of a typed original.)

Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Margery Fry

Asks for her help in securing a position for Yella Hertzka as the head of a training colony to equip German refugees for agricultural work overseas.



10th. May. 1939.

Dear Miss Fry,

I am very sorry you are not able to be with us on June 6th, but of course I realize how extremely busy you are.

I feel I must apologise to you for what I am going to do. I want to appeal for your consideration on a very special case and if possible I want you to give your help, although I know that you are already overwhelmed with all kinds of problems.

Mrs. Yella Hertzka of Vienna (an agricultural expert) is a refugee in England. She has been a leading spirit in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom since 1918 and is a very gifted and effective person. Her main qualification is that of a creative garden and farm architect. She has been the head of a horticultural college in Vienna for twenty or thirty years, has travelled largely and understands soil and climate and how to bring virgin soil under cultivation, as well as how to arouse the enthusiasm of ignorant and hopeless people. In addition to this technical knowledge, she has a very brillliant† temperament and is a born leader.

All this information is leading up to this one point. Frau Hertzka is exactly the right person to put in charge of a German Refugee Training Colony which is to equip men for pioneer agricultural work in distant lands, and it seems to those who know her a tragic waste of her of special qualifications not to use her in this capacity. I know that the chief farm colonies are run by the Friends Society and that is one reason why I am writing to you as a friend. I know that they are very short of money; I know that they are under a sort of obligation to employ British gardeners and so forth, but if you could meet Frau Hertzka, I think that you would recognise that she would be a unique asset to any farm training scheme. She does not want any more than just enough to live on; she is passionately content with the country and with the work on the land, but she does want freedom to organize so that she may carry out, so far as funds will allow, her creative ideas. It is very difficult for a refugee to insist with any emphasis upon her special qualifications. A person like Frau Hertzka must have an advocate, and this advocate must be a friend and a person of influence[;] that is why I venture to write to you about this matter because you are the only person I can think of who could get anything done.

Yours sincerely,


† Sic.

Letter from Margery Fry to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

48 Clarendon Road, London, W.11.—Urges him to support the demand for an inquiry into the conditions in remand homes, if the question is raised in Parliament.



48 Clarendon Road, LONDON, W.11.
23rd November, 1944.

Dear Fred,

You will have seen accounts of the attack made by John Watson on the London Remand Homes. I did not feel I could join in this publicly, as I had not visited the temporary Home which is particularly in question, but it was more than a single case which prompted Watson.

So far as I know every single London Children’s Court Magistrate with whom I have worked or talked, has been for some time thoroughly unhappy about the condition of these Homes. The children are not kept clean. One little lad who came to me for a week was dressed in filthy underclothes. Whereas every prison in the country tries to send people to Court looking reasonably tidy, the children are allowed to appear week after week without any attempt being made to wash their clothes or tidy them up in the interval.

There are graver matters of unsatisfactory staff, and of the failure to provide sufficiently classified accommodation for children ranging from little unfortunates, whose only “offence” is their need of care or protection, to the really toughest specimens (and some of them are quite tough) of the London slums.

To my knowledge private attempts to move the L.C.C. have been made again and again by Magistrates who are members of that body, but nothing drastic has been done.

The reason I am now writing to you about this question is that there is a possibility of its being raised in the House next Monday. There seems to be some fear that the issue may be treated on lines of party politics as a Tory attack on a Labour administration. It would be a thousand pities if Labour were not in the forefront in trying to obtain better conditions for these children, almost all of the poorer classes.

An enquiry into the London Homes would not only almost certainly lead to their being improved, but would have useful repercussions on Remand Homes throughout the country.

Actually, the arrangements for remand are one of the weakest links in our defence against Juvenile Delinquency. I do not mind going further and saying that they are probably in some cases actually leading to delinquency. Magistrates are frequently obliged to use the Remand Home, often very much against their will, either because there are no suitable home conditions, or because it is the one way of getting medical and psychological reports made. Moreover, when a child is being sent to an Approved School it is wiser not to send it home while waiting (one does not use a school where another course is possible) and with the present shortage of Approved Schools its stay in the Remand Home may run to many months. Harm may be done during this time, which the Approved School can hardly hope to remedy.

Can you do anything if the question is raised in Parliament to ensure that the demand for an enquiry shall receive Labour support?

Yours sincerely,
[Signed] Margery Fry
Margery Fry

Rt. Hon. F. Pethick Lawrence, M.P.,
House of Commons,

c.c. to Peaslake, Nr. Guildford.

Letter from Margery Fry to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

48 Clarendon Road, London, W.11.—Wishes him to meet some of her friends among the Free French, who are concerned by political developments within that movement.



48 Clarendon Road, London, W.11
9. II. 42

Dear Fred

First I’ve never congratulated you—or much more us on your leadership. It’s been a piece of good news in a period of bad.

Now I go on to ask your help. I have some friends among the Free French, themselves very anti-Fascist—& more than a little perturbed at the turn things are taking in that movement.

I do think that—even with all you have upon you now—it is important that you should know the dangers, &, still more that you should advise as to whether there are any possible safeguarding measures to be taken.

Could you allow me to bring them to see you at the House for half an hour some day? Friday Feb. 13 or Friday Feb. 20 would probably be the best days for them & for me—have you any possible free times then.

I am here for this week though I am a good deal in the country. Perhaps your secretary could ring me up some time.

I really am sorry to bother you, but it’s one of the cases where one daren’t not try to help: so forgive me!

Yours v. sincerely
Margery Fry

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