Thursday, 14th February 1924

14th February, 1924

Dear Mr. Bruce,

Since I wrote to you at Port Said, there has been no very definite development. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald [1], in his statement on February 12th, stated that the Economic Conference resolutions would be placed before the House and that the Government would indicate their views on each point. [2]

I am enclosing a memorandum (most of the points of which you have already seen) which I have sent to Messrs. Clynes [3], Snowden [4], Webb [5] and Thomas. [6]

There is no definite news as to the Government’s intentions on agriculture but I gather that Lord Parmoor [7] has so far proved a serious stumbling block on the Cabinet Agricultural Committee especially as regards stabilization. On this subject I am obtaining a precis of a new U.S.A. Bill, of which I hope to be able to send you a copy next mail. [8] On February 12th I had an interview with Sir Arthur Balfour [9] and Mr. Stanley Machin [10], of the Associated British Chamber of Commerce. I handed them a copy of the enclosed memorandum and I must say that your phrase ‘abysmal ignorance’ is justified even with these leaders of Commerce. They were amazed at what I told them about Australian trade and want me to visit local Chambers to explain the effect of our preference. I feel quite sure that you can truthfully claim to have done more to educate the business community of Britain in Preference than anyone else and I feel perfectly certain that if the seeds you have so effectively sown are cultivated, the knowledge will spread until the business community will really demand reciprocal measures to preserve their valuable Dominion preferences.

On February 12th I saw Mr. Robert Donald [11], who is Chairman of the New Imperial Wireless Committee. Mr. Donald is persona grata with MacDonald and probably the best avenue through which to influence him. I discussed preference and the Economic Committee with Mr. Donald, who is keenly sympathetic. [12]

On February 13th I had lunch with the Rt. Hon. J. C. Davidson.

[13] We had a most interesting yarn and he became very interested in the case that I assured him could be made of Empire trade. He will put it before Baldwin [14] and I hope it will lead to my getting directly to Baldwin. I told Davidson that I did not want to deal through Hewins [15] and the Empire Development Union because my experience of Hewins was that he felt he knew everything and was not accessible to new data or new ideas.

Davidson expects an election before the Autumn. We discussed the formation of a private committee to formulate a real Empire Development policy for the Unionists.

On February 13th a private members resolution caused a debate on Protection with references to preference. Sir P. Lloyd-Greame [16] made especial reference to the Economic Committee and urged that the marketing problems of both British and Dominion agriculture should be referred to it. This is amusing because Lloyd-Greame never suggested anything so intelligent at the Conference. I understand that Australia House is sending you the Hansards and I am, therefore, not sending this particular Hansard but you will find Lloyd-Greame’s speech in the Debate of February 13th interesting. [17] I suggest, with all deference, that it might be a good move for you to connect British with Dominion Agricultural problems when speaking on the Imperial Economic Committee.

I am enclosing another memorandum which shows in a very striking way the value of Australia as a market. I think that this may be of some interest to you.

Everywhere one goes one finds that your speeches have sunk in and done more for Empire trade than has ever been done before.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Prime Minister.

2 See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol.

169, col 753. The resolutions of the Imperial Economic Conference, held in London from 20 October to 9 November 1923, are printed in Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers 1923 and 1923-24, vol. II, pp.

641-8 3 J. R. Clynes, Lord Privy Seal.

4 Philip Snowden, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

5 Sidney Webb, President of the Board of Trade.

6 J. H. Thomas, Colonial Secretary.

7 Lawyer, churchman and former Conservative M.P.; Lord President of the Council.

8 See note 13 to Letter 2.

9 Industrialist; member of many government advisory committees;

former President of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce.

10 Company director and financier; President of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce.

11 journalist; Chairman of the Empire Press Union; Chairman of the Publicity Committee, British Empire Exhibition, 1924.

12 At Bruce’s request, the 1923 Imperial Economic Conference had called for the creation of an Imperial Economic Committee comprising representatives of Britain and Dominions.

13 Former Conservative M.P.; Parliamentary Private Secretary to President of the Board of Trade, Stanley Baldwin, 1921-22;

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, May 1923-1924. Davidson was Chairman of the Conservative Party Organisation from 1926 to 1930 14 Stanley Baldwin, Leader of the Opposition.

15 W. A. S. Hewins, economist and pioneering advocate of protective tariffs; Secretary to the Tariff Commission 1903-17 and Chairman of its successor, the Empire Development Union.

16 Sir Philip Lloyd-Greame, Conservative M.P.; President of the Board of Trade 1922-24.

17 See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol.

169, cols 961-6.