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Draft of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Hugh Dalton

Congratulates him on his appointment to the Privy Council, and comments on his radio broadcast. Wishes to discuss the purchase tax with him.



June 9
My dear Hugh

First let me send u my hearty congrats on your richly deserved P C {1}, th one honour which seems to m worth having & which does give one useful standing in the H/C {2} for more effective work.

Next let me tell you how much interested I was in your b-c {3} last night. I have been thinking all along tht it was H’s {4} petrol tank that probably wd give him his greatest trouble & it hasn’t escaped me how the B {5} bombers have gone above everything else for his petrol dumps. Your b.c strengthened my opinion & I imagine wd have th same effect on the B P {6}. In short I think your b.c was intended to say to the B P. “Hold on in good heart—if we can keep H at bay till Oct we are well on the way to victory.” I think you got this a x {7}

Now for a spot of criticism which I think a true friend shd always give. You struck me as being a little too dramatic & emphasised certain words too much, with the minor result tht those words did not come too well over the air & the major result tht you did not give as much the sense of strong confidence as you wd have done. You have probably noticed the difference between Churchill & D C & will understand when I say you were [there follows a mathematical formula representing ‘D.C.’ squared, divided by ‘Churchill’]. Finally I am not sure it pays to sound quite so venomous about the Germans as you did. It smacks a little of the Mikado & his boiling oil.

All this with your big heart you will take in the spirit in which it is written.

Ever yours

If you have any free time say Tuesday evening or Wedday I should much enjoy a talk w you about the purchase tax.

[I have myself copied this letter out & sent it to H D from Twys.] {8}


{1} Privy Councillorship.

{2} House of Commons.

{3} broadcast.

{4} Hitler’s.

{5} British.

{6} British Public.

{7} across.

{8} The square brackets are in the MS. This sentence was presumably addressed to a secretary.

Letter from Eamon De Valera to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Roinn an Taosigh, Baile Átha Cliath (Department of the Taoiseach, Dublin).—He has not forgotten her assistance at Washington. Those English people who deplored their Government’s treatment of Ireland in the past must feel relieved at the prospect of improved relations between the two countries. Hopes that the partition of the country will soon be removed.

Letter from the Earl of Dundee to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Treasury Chambers.—The National Assistance Board advise that it would be difficult to ascertain whether the Pensions (Increase) Bill applies to any civil servants in receipt of national assistance, but Dundee supposes the number must be very small.

Letter from Sir Frank Brown to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

East India Association, Westminster Chambers, 3 Victoria Street, London, S.W.1.—Invites him and Lady Pethick-Lawrence to a party to express best wishes to Sir Frederick and Lady Burrows and Sir Archibald and Lady Nye on their departure for India.

Letter from Sir Francis Low to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

‘The Times of India’, 4 Albemarle Street, London, W.1.—Responsibility for the partition of India does not lie with the British Government, as implied by Sir Henry Craik at yesterday’s meeting of the East India Association, but with Jinnah.



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

9th Oct. 1953

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

Dear Lord Pethick-Lawrence,

Had Sir Henry Craik not been moving the vote of thanks at yesterday’s meeting I would have liked to comment on one of his remarks. He said that the Partition of India ruined the life-work of people like himself who had been connected with the Punjab, of which he was at one time Governor. He inferred that the British Government were in some way responsible for this, either by agreeing to the Partition of India or by leaving India too soon. But, as I know well, the Partition of the Punjab was due not to the British Government but to Mr. Jinnah. Nobody believed more in the unity of the Punjab than its former Prime Minister, Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, who I daresay you know. When Sikandar used to come to Bombay to attend meetings of the Council of the Muslim League he used to tell me—with the object of enlisting my willing help—that he would make a determined stand against Jinnah’s “nonsense” of splitting the Punjab. But he never did. Nobody could stand up to Jinnah, and I gather that at each meeting he completely dominated Sikandar and others of like mind and made mincemeat of their arguments. The breaking up of the unity of the Punjab, which made it so great a province, was a great tragedy, but the real author of that tragedy was, as I have said, not the British Government, but Jinnah. And Jinnah was embittered beyond all hope of conciliation by the Congress refusal to form coalition governments in the provinces in 1937 by taking in the provincial cabinets a representative or representatives of the Muslim League. I shall never forget the bitterness with which he said to me after that decision: “This is the finish. Since we cannot obtain justice in India we must form our own state”.

In closing may I congratulate you on the clear way in which you put the British Government’s case.

Yours sincerely,
Francis Low
(Sir Francis Low)

Letter from Barbara Drake to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Labour Research Department, 9 Old Court Mansions, Kensington, W.—Is glad he can come to the meeting of the women’s committee. Asks him to look at the rough draft of a report on women in trade unions.



Labour Research Department {1} 9 Old Court Mansions, Kensington W.
May 4

Dear Mr Pethick Lawrence,

I am hoping so much that you will be able to attend the meeting of our women’s committee on Tuesday June 1st. It would be a great help to have you.

The rough draft of our report on women in trade unions {2} is now practically complete & lying for inspection at 34 Eccleston Square.

I should be grateful if you could find time to look at it. & let me have any criticisms before the meeting.

Unfortunately, for financial reasons, we have only one typed copy.

Yrs sincerely
Barbara Drake


{1} These three words were added above the printed address by hand and underlined.

{2} Barbara Drake, Women in Trade Unions (Labour Research Department, 1920).

Letter from E. M. Forster to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

West Hackhurst, Abinger Hammer, Dorking.—His views on the notion of ‘art for art’s sake’ have changed since the war began. Mrs Barger has been ill.



West Hackhurst | Abinger Hammer | Dorking

Dear Pethick-Lawrence,

It was very good of you to write and a great encouragement to me. Art for Art’s sake always seemed an empty phrase until this war but I have come to feel that, properly applied, it is valu-able and a valuable corrective. I worked the idea out a little further and more provocatively in an article in Horizon which I could show you some time.

My mother joins me in good wishes to Mrs Pethick-Lawrence and yourself for 1944. Mrs Barger has alas been ill with influenza and a threat of pneumonia. I am afraid she developed them down here. I went to see her in her home on Monday and she is convalescent but wont be fit again for a month. I do hope that your household keeps all right. Please excuse this untidy scrawl but the cat would sit on my knee, and returned however firmly I repulsed him.

Thanking you very warmly for your kindness.

Yours v. sincerely
E M Forster

Letter from E. M. Forster to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

West Hackhurst, Abinger Hammer, Dorking.—Has just returned from India. Proposes calling on the Pethick-Lawrences with Mrs Barger at the weekend.



West Hackhurst, Abinger Hammer, Dorking

Dear Pethick Lawrence,

Just back from India, and perhaps I may have a chance soon of coming over to thank you for all the help you gave me in getting there; also to tell you any scraps of news which might interest.

Mrs Barger comes here to morrow and stays over the week end. Perhaps we might ring up your house on Sunday, and find out whether a call from us is likely to be convenient to you both.

With all kind wishes:

E M Forster

[Added by Pethick-Lawrence in pencil:] EMF is having to vacate his home fairly soon.

Letter-card from E. M. Forster to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

King’s College, Cambridge.—Is sorry he was not in when Pethick-Lawrence called. Hopes to revisit America in May.



King’s Coll., Camb.

Dear Pethick-Lawrence

I thought it so very kind of you to let me know that you were coming to Cambridge, and to call on me. Alas I was away, as you will have found. I hope to have better luck next time.

I hope that you are both well, and that your news is good. Mine is; I have been away doing some interesting work, and in May I am hoping to revisit America.

With all good wishes
Yours sincerely
E M Forster

[*Added by Pethick-Lawrence in pencil:]
It looks as if I should miss him again on June 21.
24/6/49 Read me again.

Postcard from E. M. Forster to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

King’s College, Cambridge.—Is going away on Saturday morning.

(The date is that of the postmark.)



King’s College, Cambridge

I do hope this will catch you. It is an attempt to save you the trouble of climbing these stairs. unfortunately I go off Saturday morning


[Direction:] Lord Pethick Lawrence | 11 Old Square | Lincolns Inn | W.C.2


Postmarked at Cambridge at 7.30(?) p.m. on 13 June 1958.

Letter from E. M. Forster to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

King’s College, Cambridge.—He may be going to London when Pethick-Lawrence visits Cambridge, but will let him know if he does not.

(Acknowledged 4 Mar. 1960.)




Dear Pethick Lawrence

How kind of you to let me know of your visit to Cambridge.

I may, I fear, be going to London early on Friday afternoon. If I do not go I will send you word at Trinity.

Yours ever
E M Forster


Marked ‘P-L ack: 4/3/60.’

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

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.

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