Thursday, 5th January 1928

5th January, 1928


My dear Prime Minister,


I am enclosing a copy of a memorandum which Julius [1] and I prepared for the President of the Board of Trade [2] on the subject of Imperial action towards simplified practice. I hope that you will be able to read this as I think it will interest you very considerably. There is obviously immense scope for Inter- Imperial activity along these lines. [3]

I also enclose a copy of the covering letter to Cunliffe-Lister which I drafted for Julius.

Cunliffe-Lister is interesting himself rather keenly in the question of Standardisation and Simplification. Rumour has it indeed that he desires to act the part of Hoover [4] in Great Britain, though I find it impossible to imagine his doing very effective work in that direction. His personality is too much of a handicap.

I would suggest that if an occasion occurs when you have to speak to the British manufacturing interests in Australia, as may perhaps be the case when the British Industries Exhibition at Melbourne is opened, you might find it well worth while to stress the importance of simplified practice as one of the methods whereby Inter-Imperial trade may be substantially encouraged.


Julius sailed from England on the ‘Majestic’ on Wednesday morning.

Now that he has gone, it is possible to estimate the effect of his visit. His very pleasing personality and his markedly sound judgment have created the most favorable impression and as an ambassador for Australian scientific development to this country, he could not have done better. It has been a great pleasure to me to feel that I have been able to give him very substantial assistance in a number of directions and particularly in connection with agricultural science and the Imperial Agricultural Research Conference.

Julius has, I think, rather a nervous temperament and is a man who I believe would be stimulated to even better work by the encouragement which your personal interest in what he is doing would give him.


Very high hopes are being expressed on the idea of the re- approachment between Capital and Labour, which is hoped may eventuate from the Conference between Employers and the Trade Union Congress. The first meeting is to be held to-day week. [5]

As you know, every January and February this country experiences a wave of optimism. For the last four or five years, there has been little or no justification and the optimism has been of comparatively short duration. This year, however, the new atmosphere which appears to be coming into existence between Capital and Labour does perhaps justify a more hopeful outlook for British trade.

I am at the present time considering how one can bring the subject of Empire development most effectively to the attention of the series of Conferences between Capital and Labour which are about to occur. It seems to me clear that there is no possible chance of the re-establishment of really good relations unless it is possible for the Employers really to make Labour feel that there is a good chance of improving the standard of living in this country. If this is to be accomplished, one of the most important ways is obviously through Empire development and I think it is true to say that Empire development really means increasing the population of those parts of the Empire which already have a high standard of living and taking the necessary steps to assist those countries in safeguarding that standard. So far as the parts of the Empire are concerned which are inhabited by native races, Empire development really means taking steps to increase the standard of living of the natives which will increase their purchasing powers.

I am proposing to try to express these ideas effectively, which I think ought to be useful. [6]


The list was not a very interesting one. There have once again been rumours that Cunliffe-Lister was going to receive a Peerage, as a condition to his resigning the Presidency of the Board of Trade; that Baldwin [7] has obviously no intention of remodelling his Cabinet. Bledisloe [8] did not achieve the step in the peerage for which he is so anxious.

I was very glad to see the K. C. M.G. conferred on E. J. Harding.

[9] I should imagine that there was no one who worked quite so hard at the 1926 Imperial Conference as Harding. He is very good and efficient but I am afraid rather a snag on the economic side as he seems thoroughly embued with the Treasury-Bank of England point of view on economic matters.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 George Julius, Chairman of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; Chairman of the Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association.

2 Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister.

3 See note 25 to Letter 138, and Letter 140. In a letter begun on 16 January 1928 and completed on 8 March, Bruce wrote that, on first reading, ‘I was inclined to think you were pushing a little too much into the foreground the idea of Empire trade but on more mature reflection I think you are probably right’. The letter is on file AA:M111, 1928.

4 Herbert C. Hoover, United States Secretary of Commerce. A successful mining engineer, Hoover had reorganised his Department and expanded its activities, particularly in relation to foreign trade. Hoover was elected President of the United States in 1928.

5 See Letter 140.

6 Bruce wrote in reply: “ if you can manage to swing their minds towards Empire trade, and bring about a realisation that Empire development is the solution of the problems with which they are faced, you will indeed have accomplished something of inestimable value’. See the letter cited in note 3.

7 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

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

9 Assistant Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office.