Thursday, 7th April 1927

7th April, 1927


My dear Prime Minister,

I have to acknowledge your letters of the 17th and 23rd February.

[1] It has been extremely pleasant to receive your comments upon points raised in my letters to you.


Under separate cover I have written to you at considerable length upon the subject of preference on Australian wines. [2] Long before this can reach you, the subject will have been settled for 1927 in the Budget speech due on April 11th.


In my last letter [3] I mentioned this subject and I should just like to suggest that if by the time this letter reaches you, no communication has been forwarded to the Empire Marketing Board on this matter, that a cable indicating the Commonwealth Government’s general attitude be sent even if it is impossible to give any final decision. Probably the whole question of Staff and the fitting of a large scale Tropical Research Station into the schemes of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific & Industrial Research, with the limited field of trained research workers to draw upon, is causing the delay. In this connection may I remind you that India may form a most useful field from which Australia might draw a few highly qualified senior research workers, while her own younger men are obtaining experience. The Indian climate, indeed the rules of the Service, require early retirement and many a man of say 50 years of age could give Australia a most useful ten years of service.


On Monday I saw Harding [4] who showed me the cable sent to you in which eight possible names were submitted for your consideration.

Harding suggested that I might desire to send a supplementary cable giving an expression of my views on the names. I found, however, that the order of precedence in each group of names corresponded with my own ideas in so far as I can be said to have any for I do not know very much about the men whose names have been put forward. Business, finance, transport and mining are represented. Fuel is not but if Weir [5] can be persuaded to go, he will have useful views upon that subject. Sir Arthur Lawley [6] I should have regarded as too old for this job. Harding feels that if the first named in each of the four groups went to Australia, you would have a combination of men who would carry great weight and be definitely useful. The first four would be Lord Weir, Rupert Beckett [7], General Mance [8] and Lord Ebury. [9]

The record of Lord Ebury in Who’s Who is of such a nature as to suggest that he would be a most useful person. I have only met him quite casually and know nothing about him myself. General Mance is stated to be a first class transport expert with a strong imaginative power. He also appears to have an excellent record.

Beckett I do not know at all but understand that he has first class financial reputation and Lord Weir you know well yourself and it is quite unnecessary to make any further comment than to say that if he could be the leader of this delegation, he would certainly be very useful indeed.

Harding was of opinion that it would be much easier to get a strong delegation to leave for Australia in July returning in January than to get prominent people to leave England in May. This view is, I think, correct.


I understand that the Intelligence Department at Australia House is forwarding by this mail a copy of the Trade Union Bill. It is much too early to give you any clear indication of the way in which parties are going to react on this subject. It is, however, already clear that in launching this Bill the Government has raised first class political issues and that the future reputation and final fate of the Conservative Government will probably depend upon the way in which the public reacts to the measure.

The Bill has been condemned by every Labour Leader. This is but natural and it should undoubtedly have the effect of solidifying the Labour Party, although it may cause the influence of the extremists to increase.

The Liberals have not yet defined their attitude. I understand that Lloyd George [11] is all for opposition to the Bill root and branch but that Sir John Simon [12] and Lord Reading [13] and other Liberals see a good deal that is good in the Bill and their influence would probably prevent the Liberals having a clearly defined policy on the subject. If this happens, it may stultify a tendency towards a Liberal revival which the by-elections at Leith and North Southwark had encouraged the Liberals to think was about to take place.

So far as the Conservatives are concerned, the young left wing Tories are not at all pleased that the Bill has been introduced, their contention being that, although the Bill itself may be reasonable, its introduction at the present time means that the Prime Minister’s [14] slogan of ‘Peace in industry’ becomes quite ineffective and that this will be regarded as ‘war in industry’.

I had a talk with Walter E11iot [15] about it yesterday and he stated that, in his opinion, everything depended upon the way in which Mr. Baldwin handled the matter. If Mr. Baldwin was prepared personally to fight the Bill through the House, there was every prospect of the Bill becoming acceptable in the country and it having a good result on the future prospects of the Conservative Party. If, on the other hand, Mr. Baldwin left the handling of the Bill to others and took little active part in the campaign, Elliot was afraid that the reputation of the Prime Minister would be irretrievably damaged and the effect on the Conservative Party would be bad.

Generally speaking I think it safe to say that the attitude of the Labour Party as regards China [16] has placed the Party in a very false position so far as the country is concerned but that unless the Conservatives handle the Trade Union Bill firmly, ably and with resolution, the blunders which Labour has made in reference to China will be lost sight of in the large political issues that will arise in connection with the Trade Union Bill.


Mr. A. F. Bell [17] is due to arrive in London on April 21st and I understand that you have arranged to meet the Dairy Produce Board in Australia on April 19th. I should very much appreciate receiving a note from you as to the prospects for a re- organization of the London representation on the Control Boards and of the Publicity work here. Up to the present time nothing has occurred to change my opinion that the schemes which we discussed while you were in this country would not be the most suitable way of dealing with the questions but it would certainly be very useful to know something about how the matter is developing in Australia.


I enclose copy of the ‘London Weekly’ dated 2nd April, 1927.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 These letters are on file AA:M111, 1927.

2 See Letter 101.

3 Letter 99.

4 E. J. Harding, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office. The cable, dated 1 April, is on file AA:A1606, F40/1.

5 Lord Weir, Scottish industrialist; Director-General of Aircraft Production and President of the Air Council 1918.

6 Company director whose interests included Dalgety and Co. Ltd;

Governor of Western Australia 1901-02. He was 67 years old.

7 Company director; Chairman of the Yorkshire Post and Deputy Chairman of the Westminster Bank.

8 H. O. Mance, British Director on the Board of German Railway Co.; former Director of Railways at the War Office.

9 Mining engineer, metallurgist and company director with extensive experience in Canada, including the organisation of an Imperial immigration scheme in 1912.

10 The Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill was introduced on 4 April 1927. It was proposed to outlaw general strikes and compulsory unionism, to give individuals the right to refuse to participate in strikes or to subscribe to union levies for political party funds, and to prevent civil servants from joining unions affiliated with outside organisations. See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 204, col. 1707.

11 David Lloyd George, Prime Minister 1916-22.

12 Liberal M.P.; Attorney-General 1913-15; Home Secretary 1915-16.

13 Lord Chief Justice of England 1913-21; Viceroy and Governor- General of India 1921-26.

14 Stanley Baldwin.

15 Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland.

16 See Letter 91.

17 Member of the Commonwealth Dried Fruits Control Board.