Wednesday, 26th October 1927

26th October, 1927


My dear Prime Minister,


This week the Imperial Agricultural Conference is meeting daily in its last series of meetings. Everything is going quite well.

The Empire Marketing Board is seizing the opportunity of having a series of evening meetings with experts from Overseas to discuss various research questions and, as a result, my available time this week is extraordinarily limited.

I am enclosing a cutting from the ‘Scotsman’ of October 20th giving a very good report of Lord Balfour’s [1] speech on the occasion of the visit of the Conference to Edinburgh. I was not able to find time to go up to Scotland with them but I understand that the dinner was extremely successful. Major Walter Elliot’s [2] speech is also well reported.


On Friday last, the Intelligence Branch at Australia House referred to me your cable in which your reply to the London Chamber of Commerce memorandum on the tariff was set out. I went very carefully through it and made suggestions for the preparation of an announcement in the press. These were adopted and you will have received from the Intelligence Branch a whole series of cuttings because your statement obtained extremely good publicity.

[3] The ‘Financial News’, the ‘Financial Times’, the ‘Times’ and one or two other papers printed the statement in full and most of the other papers published it, the ‘Daily Chronicle’ giving it a small leading article.

In this connection I am enclosing a copy of a memorandum on the Australian Tariff and British Trade which I have just prepared for the Empire Marketing Board. The Board is continually being met with complaints about the effect of the Australian Tariff and I was asked to prepare a brief but effective reply.


I am enclosing two cuttings from the ‘Times’ of October 25th giving some interesting light on the position of the British iron and steel industry. I have particularly marked those portions of Mr. Peech’s [4] speech which are worth your reading. It seems probable that there will be a very strong revival of the demands for the safeguarding of British iron and steel heavy industries in the near future, especially if the rebate system, which was recently brought into effect, does not serve to check the flood of foreign imports.


I am forwarding to you, under separate cover, a copy of Major Elliot’s small book which has just been issued. It is entitled ‘Toryism and the Twentieth Century’. I have not yet had time to read it but I gather from just glancing through its pages that Elliot has attempted to set out a constructive policy for what he terms the parties of the Right and to claim for them the principle of growth or the biological point of view rather than the logical or mathematical tendencies which he associates with the parties of the Left.

I feel fairly sure that you will find the book both stimulating and amusing but I should not be surprised if you consider it a little too much of a ‘tour de force’ for a serious contribution to political science. I propose to write to you more fully about this book, however, when I have read it.

I am enclosing cuttings from today’s ‘Morning Post’ and the ‘Times’ reviewing the book.

There seems a possibility that Elliot will be promoted to take the place of Ronald McNeill [5] as Secretary to the Treasury. This is the one ministerial promotion that he could receive while still remaining associated with the Empire Marketing Board. It is, however, possible that the appointment will go to Arthur Michael Samuel, the present head of the Department of Overseas Trade.

Personally I very much hope that this will not be the case, as I regard Samuel as being a quite useless person at least from our point of view. I have previously told you about A. M. Samuel’s extraordinarily stupid attitude on the subject of the Colonial Trust Act. [6]

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Prime Minister 1902-05; Lord President of the Council.

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

3 Times, 25 October. In commenting on a reply by the Sydney Chamber of Commerce to a memorandum by the Australian and New Zealand Section of the London Chamber, Bruce used statistics to reinforce his argument that ‘in view of the rate of the increases of [British] imports [to Australia], it can hardly be convincingly maintained that the protective duties of the tariff are excessively high’.

4 A. O. Peech, Chairman of United Steel Companies Ltd, claimed that the British iron and steel industry could not meet tile competition of foreign protected manufacturers. See ‘City Notes.

Iron and Steel Problem’ and ‘Company Meeting. The United Steel Companies’, Times, 25 October.

5 Newly appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

6 See Letter 83