Thursday, 22nd December 1927

22nd December, 1927


My dear Prime Minister,


Just as I was about to start to dictate my usual letter to you, I had a telephone message from Lord Lovat’s [1] Private Secretary asking me if I could go down and meet Lord Lovat in the House of Lords.

I found that he wanted to talk to me about the Business Delegation to Australia. He told me that, after very great efforts, he felt reasonably sure of getting at least three out of the four names- Lord Colwyn [2], Sir George Beharrell [3], Sir Harry McGowan [4] and Sir Arthur Duckham. [5] Colwyn you of course know but Lovat told me that he is Mr. Baldwin’s [6] special nomination and that Mr. Baldwin regards him as one of the soundest and whitest men that he knows.

Sir George Beharrell is regarded by Lovat as the strongest member of what is obviously a very strong selection. He is the President of the Associated Federation of Motor Traders Federations and, according to Lovat, is the directing brain of Dunlops and Imperial Airways.

Sir Harry McGowan you also must know quite well. He is a Vice- Chairman of the Imperial Chemical Industries and the late head of Nobels. He would be a far better representative of the Imperial Chemical Industries than Sir Max Muspratt [7], who was proposed earlier. I should certainly think that McGowan stands as high as anybody in the English business world and has this distinct advantage that he is a keen Imperialist.

Sir Arthur Duckham is one of the foremost authorities on fuel, particularly from the point of view of the utilisation of coals.

He was a member of the famous Sankey Royal Commission on Coal [8] and Director-General of Aeroplane supply to the Ministry of Munitions in succession to Lord Weir. [9] He has recently been Chairman of a private Government Committee to consider co- ordination of scientific research in the three fighting services.

Arthur Duckham is, incidentally, a first cousin of mine and is, I think, undoubtedly one of the ablest of the younger men in the industrial world. He is, I should imagine, about 49.

Lovat told me that he was going to cable you these names today [10] but he would very much appreciate it if I could send you a private cable indicating, firstly, my view of these names and, secondly, telling you that it would be quite impossible for the British Government to get any strong team to leave Great Britain before July. He pointed out that, at the present moment, the air is full of rumours of industrial re-organisation, that the industrial position is far from stable and that it would be impossible to get a team of really firstclass men to leave Great Britain for any length of time at the present juncture.

I told Lovat that I would certainly arrange to pass on to you this information but that I thought you would probably desire him to try to be in a position to publish the names of the Business Delegation at as early a date as possible. He told me that he had asked each of the four men mentioned to let him have a definite answer by the 10th of January. By that time he hoped to have received your reply and, in the event of your approving and of the four men signifying their willingness to go, a definite invitation would be sent by Baldwin to these men by the 15th of January and it was probable that publication could take place whenever you desired after, say, the end of January.

As this seemed to be a pretty delicate business and as there is some considerable difficulty in feeling at all sure that a cable despatched from Australia House remains quite confidential, I went over from the Dominions Office and saw Casey [11] and asked him to send a cable to you this afternoon.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office.

2 Manufacturer and company director; member of many government committees, including the Royal Commission on Income Tax and the Bank Amalgamation Committee.

3 Managing Director of Dunlop Rubber Company; Director of Imperial Airways Ltd; President of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

4 Company director; President and Deputy Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.

5 Chemical engineer prominent in the coal industry.

6 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

7 A director of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.

8 The Coal Industry Commission 1919, headed by Mr justice Sankey, comprised mine owners, industrialists, miners and economists.

Three interim reports (Cmd. 84, 85 and 86) and a Second Stage Report (Cmd. 210), comprising four separate reports, were issued.

Each recommended wage increases and a shorter working day for miners, but agreement was not reached on the issue of nationalisation. Duckham argued for unification of the industry through national purchase of mineral rights and joint ‘control’ with private ownership.

9 Scottish industrialist; Director-General of Aircraft Production and President of the Air Council 1918.

10 A copy of the cable is on file AA:A1606, F40/1.

11 R. G. Casey, Commonwealth Government’s Liaison Officer in London. Casey’s office was located in the United Kingdom Cabinet Secretariat.