Thursday, 22nd December 1927

22nd December, 1927


My dear Prime Minister,

I have written to you on the subject of the Business Delegation under separate cover. [1]


In my letter of the 8th December [2] I referred to the importance of a solid basis of understanding in Great Britain as to the importance of Australian development and I tentatively suggested the possibility of my getting out a short book on this subject. I now enclose the rough outline of what I have in mind, which perhaps you would be good enough to read in conjunction with my letter of the 8th December and let me hear from you as soon as possible as to your views on the matter. [3]


The move towards a better understanding between the employer and the employee appears to be gaining very considerable force. Sir Alfred Mond [4] has figured very largely in this and the Trade Union Congress has just decided to accept the invitation of the industrialists to a Conference. In this connection I am enclosing a very interesting article from last week’s ‘New Statesman’ in which the position of British industry is looked at pretty closely. The concluding sentence of this article seems to me to be profoundly true, namely that the Party that first has the courage really to tackle re-organization of industry will be the Party of the future. [5]

There are a good number of people here, including of course Mond, who, in considering this question of re-organization of British industry to meet the competition of Europe and of America, have in mind the possibility of organization on an Empire basis. I am enclosing a rather interesting question on this subject in the House of Commons. [6]


Lord Sandon [7] asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer [8] a question about duties on currants and as the reply contains some information, I am enclosing a copy. [9]


On Monday afternoon Cunliffe-Lister [10] presided over a meeting at the Board of Trade which was attended by Mr. Hacking [11], the new political head of the Department of Overseas Trade, by Walter Elliot [12], as representing the Empire Marketing Board, and by a good number of industrial people such as Sir Arthur Balfour [13] and representatives of the British Engineering Standards Association.

Julius [14] made a very effective little speech after which there was a good deal of discussion which did not seem to be leading anywhere very definite until Elliot suggested the agricultural parallel and the possibility of a fruitful conference on an Empire basis to discuss the question of standardisation and simplified practice. Three things were finally decided upon:

1. That Julius should prepare a memorandum setting out his views.

2. that the Association of British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of British Industries, and the Engineering Standards Association, should cooperate with the Board of Trade in the formation of a Committee further to interest British industry on the subject and to explore the possibility of closer inter-Empire action.

3. that the Board of Trade should undertake to obtain the views of the various Governments of the Empire as to the desirability and feasibility of holding an Empire Conference on this subject in about October 1928 and that the Board of Trade should take into consideration the question of a draft Agenda for such a Conference.


Since I last wrote to you, two interesting dinners have occurred to celebrate Julius’s impending departure. The first he gave himself and it was attended by the various Ministers who have been associated with the Imperial Agricultural Research Conference and by a number of those engaged either in the actual practice or administration of scientific research.

The second was a more formal affair, the High Commissioner [15] giving the first dinner at his new official residence [16] to bid farewell to Julius.

I think I told you that I thought I had been able to arrange for Lord Balfour [17] to attend. I had provided Balfour with a lot of information about the Commonwealth Council for Scientific &

Industrial Research and as late as 10.30 on the morning of the day of the dinner Lord Balfour’s Secretary said that he would be turning up. Unfortunately, Balfour had had several teeth extracted very recently and as the temperature all day was freezing with a keen easterly wind, his Doctor absolutely forbade him to leave the house and we had to do the best we could without the presence of the Empire’s elder statesman.

Under these circumstances, Bledisloe [18] proposed Julius’s health and was supported first by Tizard [19] and then by a number of other people.

Of course on occasions such as these people speak perhaps in a rather eulogistic vein. There can, however, be no possible doubt of the excellent impression that Julius has created in this country. The more people have seen of him, the more convinced they have been of his ability and judgment and I am sure that his visit here has done a tremendous amount of good and has made certain the close cooperation between the C.C.S.I.R. and British science.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 See Letter 139.

2 Letter 137.

3 On 8 March 1928, Bruce resumed a letter begun on 16 January and repeated his earlier comment that McDougall risked over-extending himself in attempting another book (see note 8 to Letter 137). He added, however, that the book would be both informative and useful and ‘no doubt…the Government would take some action to enable it to be sold at a popular price’. The letter is on file AA:M111, 1928.

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

5 In the letter cited in note 3 Bruce commented that he also had been ‘plunging about in the ring and trying to get representatives of employers and employees to attend a Conference’, but that politics had unfortunately intruded and it was unlikely to be held in the immediate future.

6 House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol 211, cols 1841-2. P. J. H. Hannon, Conservative M.P., Secretary of the Empire Industries Association, suggested that Dominions and Colonies should specialise in particular industries according to inter-Imperial agreements.

7 Conservative M.P.

8 Winston Churchill.

9 House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol 210, Cols 2056-7. Churchill gave the earliest possible expiry date of the Commercial Treaty with Greece as 10 December 1929.

10 Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, President of the Board of Trade.

11 D. H. Hacking, Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade.

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

13 Industrialist; Chairman of the Committee on Industry and Trade.

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

15 Sir Granville Ryrie.

16 18 Ennismore Gardens, purchased by the Commonwealth Government in September.

17 Prime Minister 1902-05; Lord President of the Council. See Letter 133.

18 Lord Bledisloe, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

19 H. T. Tizard, Permanent Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.