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Letter from Rajkumari Amrit Kaur to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

New Delhi.—The Prime Minister (Nehru) is not aware of Meliscent Shephard’s work for India, and there is no fund to assist such persons. Thanks Pethick-Lawrence for coming to the meeting in London organised for her by the Council of Women.

Letter from Louisa Garrett Anderson to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Paul End, Penn, Bucks.—Comments on his letters from the United States. Asks him to help find work for Miss Kerr and to provide introductions for Mrs Duffus, who is going to America to raise money for the London School of Medicine for Women. Recalls his contribution to the suffrage movement.



Paul End, Penn, Bucks.
28 Dec. 25.

Dear Mr Lawrence

How good of you to find time to write to me—also to send me a copy of yr v. interesting “letters” from U.S.A. I read them with {1} great interest as I had travelled over a large part of yr route—& especially the conclusion interested me. How are we to bridge the mental gap between ourselves & the American people?

They think us effete.

We find them extraordinarily youthful—crude—conservative etc. etc. all the things that the young are.

Yet civilization demands that America & England shd understand one another—hold together & lead the advance. How is it to be done? It is difficult to bridge a gap of years in individuals—& in peoples the difficulty is far greater.

I wonder if you & Mrs Lawrence have kept in touch with {1} Miss Kerr or if she has seen you lately. If so please forgive me for butting in. You will remember her in the General Office in the great days of the Union. Afterwards she lived in Cornwall with {1} her friend, Mrs May, who now has died[.]

Together, they managed with Mrs Mays small income—but with her death, it is imperative that Miss Kerr shd. obtain paid work. Before she joined the Union she had a typerwriters office in the city. She is an educated woman[,] an excellent organizer & a good secretary but no longer young.

Her temporary address is Miss Harriet R Kerr at 21 Osnaburga Street London WC.2. If you or Mrs Lawrence shd. be able to help her to find a post it wd be v. nice.

Then there is another point—the London School of Medicine for Women celebrated its jubilee last year & collected enough money to endow one chair, Physiology, I think. It badly needs endowment for two others i.e. another £40.000 or thereabouts as scientific work ever becomes more costly & it is not possible for the students to meet the expense.

The council of the School is going to send Mrs Duffus to America in February or March of this next year. She is a very agreeable person & is genuinely keen about women’s status & education etc. She is in need of introductions to suitable people—i.e. those who might themselves give her donations or might pass her on to others who could.

She is not going to hold meetings or to appeal for small sums, but she wants to try & find people like Miss Doty who could & would give on a big scale if they really cared.

The chair for which she is appealing is to be Named after the first Medical Woman, Elizabeth Blackwell, an American[.]

Again can you or Mrs Pethick Lawrence help us with introductions.


I rejoice that you shd be in the H. of C. & that you shd find it so interesting & well worth while. As you do it, I am sure it is.

In the days of struggle, you & the few other men who sacrificed with both hands to help, helped more than any women were able to, for your comradeship wiped out the sense of bitterness that must have come in if the struggle had been “women against men”. Luckily it never was allowed to be that.

I shall remember to the end of my life, & with deepest gratitude, all that you personally did & were during those very active years.

Please forgive this long letter[.]

With my greeting

Yrs sincerely
L G Anderson

My affectionate remembrances to Mrs Lawrence please


{1} This word is represented in the MS by a shorthand symbol (ć).

Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Clement Attlee

Proposes various measures in connection with the War Savings Bill.



21st. August. 1940.

Dear Clem,

I had a talk with Kingsley yesterday about the War Savings Bill, and as you probably know we are proposing at the Party Meeting to-day to appoint a small committee to go into this.

As you will remember, this question arose out of the talks that we had with the Policy Committee of the T.U.C. regarding the Keynes plan and the T.U.C. rightly maintained that before they could possibly associate themselves with the recommendation to the workers to save during the war, they must be assured that such savings would not be used when the war was over either by the employers or by the State to reduce the position of the workers.

It is therefore essential in my mind, that it should be new savings and not transferred capital that should form the basis of the Government promise, and any proposal to transform the Bill into a general disregard of all savings, including pre-war, would entirely fail to meet the case though possibly some arrangement might be come to with regard to holdings converted up till last week’s debate.

On the other hand, I am quite sure that the real gravamen of the heat developed in the Labour ranks, is due to our old enemy the Household Means Test, which so long as it remains, will be a constant irritant.

I therefore suggested to Kingsley, that he should seriously consider some gesture with regard to this vital matter and I would like you and he and Arthur to put your heads together to see whether something of this kind could not be done. I am turning over the matter in my own mind. I do not believe that it necessarily need cost a very great deal if it were done on reasonable lines.

I know of course, that the Labour Party have maintained that there ought to be no Means Test of any kind at any rate for Unemployment Assistance, but I do not think that this can be defended either for Unemployment Assistance or for Old Age Pensions. On the other hand, it is humiliating that a member of the household of the applicant should have to undergo a detailed examination of all his resources including savings before the grant to the old person or unemployed living with him, is considered. After the holiday is over, this matter must be faced and dealt with.

I hope you will get something of a change while Parliament is not sitting.

Yours sincerely,

Rt. Hon. C. R. Attlee, M.P.,
House of Commons,

P.S. In turning out my papers & clearing my desk I came across the enclosed which came a few days back. I cannot help feeling it is a most valuable suggestion


The postscript is handwritten.

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Clement Attlee

Margesson is disappointed that the compromises negotiated at the Speaker’s Conference have not been incorporated in the new Representation of the People Bill.



17th. February, 1948

Dear Clem,

I have been reading the account of the debate in the House of Commons yesterday.

You will remember that I was the leader of the Labour Party group in the Speaker’s Conference; and that it was I who negotiated with Margesson the compromises to which I obtained the consent of our group.

These compromises included a large number of points, among others the redistribution of seats, the University representation, the business vote, and the City of London.

The understanding was that if and when the subject matter of the Conference came before the House of Commons that both sides would support the findings of the Conference, and this was done.

Nothing was ever said about the length of time that should elapse before a further Representation of the People Bill might be introuduced†, and neither side gave any undertaking that in a fresh Parliament further changes should not be introduced.

A few days ago Margesson took me aside for a little talk on the issue and expressed regret that the Government had found it necessary to depart from the compromises of the Conference. He said that he had not any strong feelings about the City of London but he did think that the University seats would have been allowed to stand. I said in reply that I did not consider that any breach of faith whatever was involved in the present Bill, and to this Margesson readily assented, but said that did not alter his feeling of regret that our compromise was so soon to be modified.

I think you will like to have this background though I do not suppose you will need to mention me at all. In any case my talk with Margesson was of course strictly private and confidential; but if you feel it necessary to say anything about me either by name or inference, you are quite at liberty to say that I have told you there was nothing said in the Conference or implied in the pourparlers between the two sides binding either party not to make further modifications in a later Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

P.S. Since dictating the above in reply to “The Evening Standard” London Diarist gave him the substance of the 2nd half of the last paragraph.

Rt. Hon. Clement Attlee, M.P.,
Prime Minister & Minister for Defence,
House of Commons.


† Sic.

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