Thursday, 30th June 1927

30th June, 1927


My dear Prime Minister,


Last night in the House of Commons occurred the first debate on the work of the Imperial Conference. [1] Although you will be receiving the Hansard in the ordinary way, I am enclosing a copy in which I have marked certain portions as being of special interest from the economic point of view.

I would particularly direct your attention to the speech of my friend Tom Johnston [2], not only because of its intrinsic interest but also because it is an extremely interesting indication of the way in which a Front bench Labour man is today able to speak about Empire Trade.

I would also draw your attention to the speech of Mr. Ramsden. [3] Ramsden is a whole-hearted and keen Imperialist and is prepared to preach the importance of Empire Trade both in and out of season.

His remarks, therefore, about the effect of the extremely high tariffs in West Yorkshire are, I suggest, worthy of special attention.

While this debate was going on in the House, in a Committee Room downstairs the Compatriots Club was dining and also discussing the work of the Imperial Conference and Ormsby-Gore [4] wound up the discussion with one of the best speeches that I have heard on the whole general modern conception of what the Empire means. I wish it had been possible to have had a note taken of his speech, it was so very good.

MR. G. A. JULIUS [5]

Naturally I am seeing a great deal of Mr. Julius; in fact I am squeezing every possible half hour in order to assist him to get into rapid touch with all the interests in London that he ought to meet.

I am very hopeful that, as a result of his visit, he and I will be able to frame a series of problems for cooperation between the Commonwealth Council for Scientific & Industrial Research and the Empire Marketing Board, which will mean that, from the Annual Grant, Australia will receive substantial help.

To my very great surprise, I found that Mr. Julius on his arrival was not aware that it would be competent for the C.C.S.I.R. to make the proposed Tropical Research Station in Queensland a Station particularly devoted to animal problems. He made it clear to me that the hesitation of the C.C.S.I.R. had been due to the fact that they thought that a Tropical Agricultural Research Station must be devoted to agricultural crops in the limited sense; in other words to field crops and not to animal problems.

When he found that the whole conception held by the Research Grants Committee of the Empire Marketing Board was that Queensland should specialize on animal problems, he stated that had this been clearly realised in Australia, the scheme would have been even more warmly welcomed than had actually been the case. My surprise at the C.C.S.I.R. having failed to realise this is due to the fact that in the discussions that occurred here between yourself, Gepp [6], Walter Elliot [7] and myself, the idea of throwing the emphasis of the Queensland Station on to animal problems was very definitely and clearly envisaged.


About a month ago I wrote to you on the subject of the Australian Tariff Policy and drew your attention to Mr. Julius’s Hobart address. [8] Since his arrival, he has given me a copy of another address made since he became Chairman of the C.C.S.I.R. entitled ‘Production Efficiency’. This address is extremely valuable and as it is possible that you have not seen it, I am enclosing a copy.

It appears to me that this address strongly supports the general line of country that it is to Australia’s direct interest to substitute a policy of selected protection for the existing policy of inclusive protection.


I enclose a copy of a verbatim report of the speeches made at the Dried Fruit luncheon and suggest that they are sufficiently amusing and also perhaps sufficiently important to be worth your while to read them.

It was, I think you will agree, something of an achievement to obtain from such prominent members of the Government and opposition as Birkenhead [9] and Thomas [10] definite declarations that the Government, and any alternative Government, would continue to support the Australian dried fruit industry.


In my last letter I referred to the attack which the Treasury had launched before the Cabinet Economy Committee. So far as I am able to glean, this attack has made no progress at all and is likely to be heavily defeated.


I have not been worrying you with any reference to this particular subject but I have received several cables from Australia urging the importance of an early decision as to the form of assistance which the Empire Marketing Board would be prepared to give to the export of pedigree cattle.

On the 25th of June I received a cable from the Prime Minister’s Department phrased in such a way as to make me think it came from you. I, therefore, replied to you setting out in considerable detail the present position. I am now enclosing a confidential note prepared by the Secretariat of the Empire Marketing Board on the subject, which may be of use to you in dealing with the matter.

I would also specially refer to my letter addressed to the Secretary, Prime Minister’s Department, dated 2nd June. This letter, together with my cable and the note herewith enclosed, should enable you to see the position quite clearly. A Special Sub-Committee is being set up by the Research Grants Committee to formulate definite plans along the lines suggested in the note.

Its first meeting will be held on Monday next and I have agreed to serve. [11]


I have today sent you a cable informing you that the British Government is likely to accept the amendment to the Finance Bill to which I referred in my letter of the 23rd of June. [12]

Before despatching this cable, I thought it wise to show the draft to Mr. Pratten [13], who told me that he entirely approved.


Tomorrow I am going to Manchester to speak to the Manchester Branch of the Federation of British Industries on ‘Australia as a market’. I am enclosing the outline of my address as. it may be of interest to you.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 208, cols 497-540.

2 Scottish Labour M.P.; Editor of Forward, a Glasgow labour paper.

He praised the work of the Empire Marketing Board and advocated organised marketing.

3 Eugene Ramsden, Conservative M.P.

4 William Ormsby-Gore, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies.

5 Chairman of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

6 H. W. Gepp, Chairman of the Commonwealth Development and Migration Commission.

7 Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland; Chairman of the Research Grants Committee of the Empire Marketing Board.

8 See Letter 108.

9 Lord Birkenhead, Secretary for India; Lord Chancellor 1919-22.

10 J. H. Thomas, Labour M.P.; Colonial Secretary 1924.

11 The First and Second Reports of the Imperial Economic Committee had recommended assistance ‘to defray the cost of transporting pedigree breeding cattle, sheep and swine from the United Kingdom to other parts of the Empire’. The Empire Marketing Board devoted considerable time to discussion of the means of overcoming difficulties presented by the prevalence of foot and mouth disease in Britain and in devising appropriate means, of providing financial assistance. In September 1927, Dominions were invited to suggest schemes specifically suited to their own requirements. The first assisted shipment to Australia was not made until late in 1929. Copies of the correspondence mentioned here, with the exception of the confidential note by the Board’s Secretariat, are On file AA:A458, AB364/2, i.

12 Letter 114.

13 H. E. Pratten, Minister for Trade and Customs in the Bruce-Page Government.