Copy sent to Mr Middleton
MEMORANDUM OF INTERVIEW.
Date 7th April, 1937.
Time 12 noon to
Reference Copied HVT/EK.
Present G. Pyke,
VOLUNTARY INDUSTRIAL AID.
I saw Mr. Pyke at his request on Wednesday, April 7th. The idea of the Voluntary Industrial Aid is his own and it has been accepted as a useful line of work by representatives of the Trade Unions who are associated with the Committee.
Mr. Pyke is associated with no political party and has been concerned with educational work at either Oxford or Cambridge. He appears to have secured the agreement in principle of the Unions concerned to the scheme at least in so far as they have no objection to their officers serving on the Committee and/or no objection to their members performing the work that is necessary.
The idea is that various articles which are required for Spain can be produced by voluntary labour, thus reducing the labour cost considerably and enabling any money available for these purposes to purchase four and five times the quantity of goods. They propose starting out with the reconditioning of lorries, but eventually they hope to be able to produce surgical instruments.
My own view of the matter is the scheme looks all right on paper but they will find difficulty in securing the facilities for the reconditioning of the lorries or the manufacture of the various articles they have in mind. Already they have met their first snag in having difficulty in finding garages where the old lorries can be sent and where there is such machinery as would enable them to do the necessary work.
Mr. Pyke stated that whilst he had the goodwill of the Unions, the individuals that he was approaching usually asked what was the view of the official movement in regard to this effort. He is particularly anxious that the work should not get into the hands of the Communist organisation. He is taking on the secretarial work, but would be glad to be relieved.
He asks two things - (1), the approval of the General Council and the Executive of the Labour Party of the arrangements they are attempting to make, or, failing this, a message of goodwill from Sir Walter and Mr. Middleton; (2) representatives of the two national bodies to be appointed to his Committee.
I informed Mr. Pyke that if he did not desire any suspicion of communist influence to be conveyed, he had been rather unfortunate in the selection of his Committee. He said he realised this now, but the people concerned had been appointed by the Unions.