Wednesday, 9th November 1927

9th November, 1927


My dear Prime Minister,


In my last letter I forwarded to you a newspaper report of Sir Alfred Mond’s speech on the Empire economic unit. I have now received from Mond a verbatim report of his speech which I am enclosing as you may find it valuable to have on record the whole of this rather important utterance. [2]


At the conclusion of a meeting of the Empire Marketing Board held on Thursday last, Lord Bledisloe [3] came and told me, in a very confidential way, that the British Government had received a most appreciative cable from the Canadian Government on the success of the Imperial Agricultural Research Conference. He said that he very much hoped that some message would be received from Australia, as it would make considerable difference to him should this be the case.

There can be no doubt that the Conference was a great success and I therefore sent you a cable on Friday informing you of Canada’s action and indicating that the Chairman of the Conference, Lord Bledisloe, would very much appreciate any similar action that you might feel disposed to take.


It occurred to me some weeks ago that before Julius [4] leaves England, an opportunity might be made to try to get Lord Balfour [5] to make a public speech in which he paid a tribute to the action of the Commonwealth Government in establishing the Commonwealth Council for Scientific & Industrial Research.

I discussed this matter with the High Commissioner [6], who keenly approved of the idea and suggested that it might be combined with the first dinner at his new official residence. I therefore asked Major Walter Elliot [7] to try to secure Lord Balfour for such an occasion.

Elliot telephoned me to-day to say that he had obtained Lord Balfour’s consent and I therefore hope that, about the 15th December, the High Commissioner will entertain a party of about 20 important men including Lord Balfour and that Lord Balfour will make it an occasion for a speech which should be really useful in Australia. I enclose a copy of a letter which I have just sent to Lord Balfour on this subject.


Dr. Haden Guest has just paid a visit to Canada and is about to leave this country for a flying visit to Australia. He is doing journalistic work at the moment but intends to return to politics at the earliest opportunity. At the present time he feels that personal contact with leading people in the Dominions will be extremely useful.

I think you will find it worth while to see Guest, although his significance is much less since he left the Labour Party. [9]


Both Julius and myself are extremely anxious to obtain from Australia definite confirmation of Australia’s approval of the proposed visit of these two distinguished scientific men.

Theiler’s reputation is, as I have already told you, quite firstclass and Orr is, I think, the best practical expert on Animal Nutrition in the British Empire.

People on this side have been extremely good in putting themselves out in releasing both Theiler and Orr in order to help Australia and any delay or hesitation on the part of Australia in supporting Julius’ recommendations in this matter will have rather an unfortunate effect. Urgency in the matter arises because both men must leave England in early January if they are to undertake the mission. I am writing this because it is quite likely that I may feel it necessary to cable you again in the course of the next two or three days if Julius does not receive a definite reply from Australia on the matter at once.


I am enclosing a ‘pull’ of what I regard as a very effective advertisement which is at the present moment appearing in the British press. [12] In about three weeks’ time a special statistical poster, worked up by an artist from a design which I produced over one weekend, will be decorating the whole of the E.M.B. special frames throughout Great Britain. I shall see that a special copy is sent to you for your inspection, because I feel sure that you will find it both interesting and effective.

I am enclosing a cutting from the ‘Manchester Guardian’ giving an account of a lecture by Professor Zimmern [13], which I think may not have reached you from other sources and which is of distinct interest.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Conservative M.P.; Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.

2 In a letter to McDougall, dated to January 1928, Bruce commented: ‘Mond…has certainly swung a very long way, and I am glad he has adopted the line you suggested and departed a little from too much stressing his original idea of Empire free trade’.

The letter is on file AA:M111, 1928.

3 Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

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

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

6 Sir Granville Ryrie.

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

8 Writer and former Labour M.P.; founder of the London Weekly.

9 Bruce informed McDougall in a letter dated 24 December that he had seen Haden Guest and found him to be ‘an interesting fellow’ who intended ‘standing in the Conservative interests at the next election’. The letter is on file AA:M111, 1927 10 Theiler retired in 1927 as Director of Veterinary Education and Research, South Africa, and Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of South Africa. He had been nominated as Director of the Imperial Bureau of Correspondence on Animal Health.

11 J. B. Orr, Director of the Rowett Institute for Research in Animal Nutrition, Aberdeen.

12 ‘The Empire Christmas Mails’ used a dialogue technique and read, in part: ‘Empire’s in the air here this autumn, isn’t it? Everybody’s thinking of Empire buying. Lots of people are talking about it. Quite a few are really doing it. Here and there a clever shopkeeper has realised what’s coming and is specializing in Empire goods’. A copy of the ‘pull’ is on file CSIRO: 9, M14/27/9.

13 Alfred Zimmern, Deputy Director, League of Nations Institute of Intellectual Co-operation; Director, Geneva School of International Studies. Zimmern argued that the Dominions were becoming increasingly independent within the British Empire. See the Manchester Guardian, 8 November.