Wednesday, 2nd November 1927

2nd November, 1927


My dear Prime Minister,

I have received your note of the 26th September, in which you tell me that you are going to make arrangements to see Gervas Huxley.

[1] I hope that this will have occurred and that you will have found he was able to give you useful and interesting information.

I feel sure that you will have liked Huxley for he is a very charming fellow.


The Conference concluded its business on the 28th October, after what I think everybody here regards as a series of extremely useful meetings.

The work of the Conference has been kept on a practical line and the recommendations, while not earth shaking in their effects, seem to me likely to inaugurate an entirely new phase of inter- Imperial co-operation in the problems of agricultural production.

The most substantial recommendations are those concerned with the question of interchange of information. Here the Conference has avoided the error of recommending any single central clearing house of information on all branches of agricultural science and has most soundly, in my opinion, decided to select certain existing Research Stations which have an established reputation for soundness of work and organization and has decided to recommend that special Bureaux or Correspondence Centres should be attached to these stations.

Three new Imperial Bureaux are recommended. The first on Soil Science at Rothamsted where Sir John Russell, the Director of that Station, should prove a most efficient head. The second is to be on the subject of Animal Nutrition and is to be attached to the Rowett Research Institute at Aberdeen, where Dr. J. B. Orr, about whom I have written to you on previous occasions, is the Director and from whom we can anticipate the very best and most efficient service. The third on Animal Health or, in other words, Veterinary Science, is to be located in London and, as far as one can say at the moment, is not likely to be attached to any existing Institute. Sir Arnold Theiler [2], the late head of the South African Onderstepoort Research Station, is the Director designate for this Bureau.

It is estimated that the cost of these three Bureaux will amount to 13,000 a year, a very modest sum having regard to the present cost of the Imperial Bureaux of Entomology and Mycology.

In addition to these three Bureaux, it was unanimously agreed to recommend the creation of five Imperial Correspondence Centres.

The first at Edinburgh on the subject of Animal Genetics, with Dr.

Crew [3], a somewhat eccentric but undoubted genius, in charge.

The second is at Cambridge on Plant Breeding under Sir Rowland Biffen. [4] The third at Aberystwyth on the Breeding of Herbage Plants under Professor Stapledon. [5] This Correspondence Centre ought to prove of special value to Australia. The fourth on Animal Parasitology under Professor Leiper [6], of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the fifth on Fruit Production at East Malling in Kent, where Mr. R. G. Hatton has done most remarkable work, which incidentally greatly impressed Sir George Pearce. [7]

While these recommendations must be regarded as the most substantial result of the Conference, the educational effect of the discussions was very great and I have no doubt at all that the Conference will lead to much closer cooperation between all the parts of the Empire.

Lord Bledisloe [8], as Chairman, was surprisingly good, apart from one or two bad breaks during the first Session.

To most of the Overseas Delegates the outstanding impression was the obvious eagerness of the British Scientific Authorities to cooperate and assist. This fact made the whole atmosphere of the Conference extremely pleasant. The only discordant notes came from Dr. Grisdale [9], the Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Canada, who, as perhaps you will remember, is a somewhat difficult individual. Although I like him very much, he requires extremely gentle handling. It is curious how at all Imperial Conferences Canada proves extremely difficult.

I think I can say, without any hesitation, that the Australian Delegation acquitted itself remarkably well. Every contribution which Julius [10] made to the discussions was listened to with great respect and his personal popularity was a marked feature of the whole proceedings. In the same way Dr. Richardson” was extremely effective. Dr. Cameron [12] had less to do and I confined myself publicly to two subjects Agricultural Economics and Horticulture.


Julius, Richardson and myself have been discussing with the British Scientific Authorities many questions connected with the development of the work of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific & Industrial Research and especially in connection with the great animal industries of Australia. The largest questions that have to be faced are the organization of Veterinary Science in Australia, the improvement of Animal Nutrition and Research assistance to the Dairying industry. There is also the important question of how best to utilise the new Agricultural Research Institute to be established in Northern Queensland.

We are all three most emphatically of opinion that by far the best thing Australia can do is to obtain the advice on all these problems of Sir Arnold Theiler and Dr. J. B. Orr [13] and I sent you a cable on this subject on the 29th of October.

As Dr. Rivett [14] has, of course, had full particulars sent to him and will no doubt have communicated them to you, through his Minister, I will not go into further details than to say that I am perfectly certain that Australia would immensely benefit by a visit from these two men, especially as they are both to be the heads of new Imperial Bureaux. I feel also that the visit of such a team would focus public attention on the extremely sound policy which the Commonwealth Government has adopted in backing Agricultural Research.


I had a letter about three or four weeks ago from Professor Copland [15], of Melbourne, asking me whether I would write a paper to be read before the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science at their Hobart Meeting in January. He asked me to deal with the work of the Empire Marketing Board, particularly in its economic and marketing aspects.

I have completed this and am enclosing a copy of the paper for your consideration. I hope that you will regard it as being a useful contribution.

I am arranging for 50 copies of the report of the First Year’s work of the Board to be sent to Professor Copland, so that if any discussion occurs on my paper, the Delegates to the Conference may have available this report before them. I shall also suggest to him that if Professor Richardson, who has now been pretty intimately associated with the Board, happens to be in Hobart for the meetings that he should be asked to attend the section that discusses this subject.

In a paper limited to 3,000 words, it is very difficult adequately to deal with the origin and work of the Empire Marketing Board but I am writing to Copland pointing out to him the part that Australia played, through you, in the formation of the Imperial Economic Committee and how that led to the Empire Marketing Board.

If any general discussion does occur at Hobart, you might feel inclined to see that some person, who is prepared to take part in the discussion, appreciates the point of view of the Commonwealth Government in regard to these two Bodies.


At the last meeting of the Publicity Committee of the Empire Marketing Board, Sir Thomas Allen, a member of the Board and of the Imperial Economic Committee and also a Director of the Cooperative Wholesale Society, made an extremely interesting statement. He told us that, at the last meeting of the Directors, instructions had been given to the Managers that they should make a monthly return to the Board of the C.W.S. shewing what quantities of Empire produce had been purchased and where foreign goods had been bought when Imperial were available, giving reasons for this action.

It would perhaps be easy to exaggerate the importance of this statement but at the same time when one recollects the composition of the C.W.S. and the hostility which they displayed about two years ago to Empire trade, I think we can congratulate ourselves on having made a definite impression upon a citadel Which accounts for a very great deal in the total purchases of the British working classes.

You will remember that the last time you were over here you sacrificed an evening to attend the Christmas Festival of the C.W.S. This action on your part was very much appreciated and has no doubt played a considerable part in the highly satisfactory attitude which is now developing.

Although I do not think you can actually make public this decision of the Cooperative Wholesale Society, I have no doubt that you can usefully communicate the news to interested people in Australia.


The subject of the C.W.S. reminds me of one form of my activities about which I do not think I have given you any information.

I am continually receiving from important people requests for information or for notes for speeches or for the material for articles on the subject of Empire Trade.

The events of the last three weeks afford four interesting indications of this type of work.

Sir Thomas Allen, of the C.W.S., sent me an article attacking Empire Trade published in the Cooperative Journal, informing me that he would like to reply to it but had not the material to make an effective answer. I therefore wrote a fairly full answer which Sir Thomas tells me is appearing in the next issue just as I wrote it but under Sir Thomas Allen’s signature.

A few days later I had a request from Sir Auckland Geddes’ [16] Secretary for the basis of a speech on Empire Trade to be made at the Cutlers’ Feast at Sheffield.

This week Ormsby-Gore [17] has asked me for material for a speech at Leicester where he desires to refute the Leicester people’s contention that the extreme Australian tariff on hosiery and boots and shoes makes the action of the British Government in supporting the Empire Marketing Board undesirable.

Finally, yesterday, Sir Algernon Firth, a past President of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce and a member of the Imperial Economic Committee, wrote asking for information about Empire Trade for a speech to be delivered in Yorkshire next week.

I am sure you will agree that, for people of the calibre of those mentioned above, it is well worth my while to take considerable pains to put them in possession of really effective material and the very fact that this work is so completely anonymous is all to the good.


The Municipal Elections occurred yesterday and in England and Wales resulted in substantial Socialist gains at the expense of the Conservatives and Liberals. In Scotland, however, the Socialist onslaught made no impression and in fact I think the present returns show a net loss of seats by Labour in Scotland.

I do not think the Municipal results are any guide to the state of political feeling in this country and this for two reasons:

firstly, the known apathy of the middle class elector on municipal questions and, secondly, the fact that Labour is, in relation to its parliamentary political strength, extremely badly represented in most of the Municipal areas of the country. A certain levelling up from a Labour direction is, therefore, only to be anticipated in this field.


Today’s papers announce the appointment of Arthur Michael Samuel.

[18] It is difficult to understand this appointment except on the ground that Winston Churchill [19] considers that he is fully able to supply all the brilliance that the Treasury can stand and wants a dull understudy to put the House to sleep when he has finished the discharge of fireworks.

Unfortunately Samuel’s reputation as a Parliamentarian is one of blundering inadequacy.

The two recent Governmental changes have not in any way helped to improve the team and Baldwin [20] has neglected the opportunity of infusion of new blood although there is certainly quite a wealth of ability among the younger Tories.


In my last letter I mentioned that I was sending you a copy of Walter Elliot’s book and said that I should write to you more fully about it when I had read it. I have now read the book not once but twice and have certainly found it extremely stimulating.

It seems to me that it is the sort of book that ought to be put into the hands of intellectual young men and women in order that they may realise that they can be intellectual without tending towards the Left in politics.

I should be extremely interested, for instance, to get the reactions of Casey [22] and of Alan Ritchie [23] on this book. Not that I think either show signs of a leftward tendency but because they are both men to whom I imagine the book will strongly appeal.

I am sending a copy to Mr. Latham [24], who I am sure will find it interesting.

The title of the book is, I think, almost its worst point. I think, apart from its general stimulating effect, its real political value is to be found in providing suggestions towards a scientific and philosophical attack upon the doctrines associated with the name of Marx or, in other words, upon the intellectual citadel of the Left Wing.

I should be extremely interested to receive your comments. Should you by any chance find the book definitely interesting, perhaps you would feel inclined to send Elliot a personal note, realising, as you probably will, that no member of the British Government has put in so much hard work for the Empire cause as has Elliot since the creation of the Empire Marketing Board.

I am enclosing the ‘Observer’s’ review on this book.

3rd November


Yesterday Sir Alfred Mond [25] made a very important speech on the British Empire as one economic unit. I am enclosing the best report of this speech which is from the ‘Financial Times’.

I am writing to Mond asking him whether he has a verbatim copy of his speech in order that I may be able to forward it to you by the next mail.

I particularly draw your attention to the sentence marked in blue pencil.

I wrote you some time ago telling you of Mond’s speeches in favor of Empire free trade and I think I also told you that I had an opportunity of a long talk with Mond about his ideas. [26] I impressed upon him the impossibility of a policy of free trade within the Empire but told him that I thought that if he took the line of urging Imperial attention to the location of secondary industries coupled with the general policy of trying to make the Empire an economic unit, he would be on much sounder lines.

Apparently he has definitely taken this hint and in the form, as expressed in this speech, his proposals seem to me to be of very substantial interest to Australia.


In writing yesterday I mentioned an article written for Sir Thomas Allen, of the C.W.S. This morning’s mail has brought me in a copy of this article which I am now enclosing. It is exactly in the form that I sent it to Sir Thomas Allen.


With further reference to this subject on which I have written lately, I am enclosing a copy of Sir Josiah Stamp’s [27] article which was published in this week’s ‘Observer’. You may be interested to read this or to pass it over to Wickens [28] for his information.


I am enclosing an article by R. G. Boothby [29] M.P. also from this week’s ‘Observer’ on the subject of ‘Agricultural Policy’. As soon as I get the time, I am proposing to give a good deal of attention to this subject and see whether I can forward to you any suggestions that might be of interest as the basis of an Imperial policy in this regard.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Secretary to the Publicity Committee of the Empire Marketing Board. Huxley accompanied Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs, on his tour of the Dominions.

2 Director of Veterinary Education and Research, South Africa;

Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of South Africa.

3 F. A. E. Crew, Director of the Animal Breeding Research Department, University of Edinburgh.

4 Professor of Agricultural Botany, Cambridge University.

5 R. G. Stapledon, Professor of Agricultural Botany, University College of Wales; Director of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station.

6 R. T. Leiper, Professor of Helminthology, University of London;

Director of the Division of Medical Zoology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

7 Senator and Vice-President of the Executive Council; leader of the Australian delegation to the League of Nations Assembly 1927.

8 Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

9 J. H. Grisdale.

10 George Julius, Chairman of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

11 A. E. V. Richardson, Professor of Agriculture and Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute, University of Adelaide;

member of the Executive of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

12 S. S. Cameron, Director of Agriculture, Victoria.

13 Director of the Rowett Institute for Research in Animal Nutrition, Aberdeen.

14 David Rivett, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

15 D. B. Copland, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, University of Melbourne; President, Section G (Social and Statistical Science), Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, 1924.

16 Chairman of Rio Tinto Co.; Ambassador to the United States 1920-24.

17 William Ormsby-Gore, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies; Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the Empire Marketing Board.

18 Previously Parliamentary Secretary, Overseas Trade Department, Board of Trade.

19 Chancellor of the Exchequer.

20 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

21 Toryism and the Twentieth Century, by W. E. Elliot, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland; Chairman of the Research Grants Committee of the Empire Marketing Board. See Letter 131 22 R. G. Casey, Commonwealth Government’s Liaison Officer in London.

23 Victorian grazier.

24 J. G. Latham, Attorncy-Gcneral in the Bruce-Page Government.

25 Conservative M.P.; Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.

26 See Letters 106 and 107 27 Distinguished economist and statistician; a director of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd; member of the Committee on Taxation and the National Debt; British representative on the Reparation Commission’s (Dawes) Committee on German Currency and Finance 1924.

28 C. H. Wickens, Commonwealth Statistician and Actuary; member of a committee appointed by Bruce to investigate tariff issues. See note 13 to Letter 130.

29 Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill.