Thursday, 5th April 1928

5th April, 1928

My dear Prime Minister,


On Monday Sir James Cooper [1] informed me that representatives of the British Wool Federation, including Harry Dawson [2] and several other past Presidents of the Federation, had discussed with him the composition of the Business Mission to Australia.

They expressed great disappointment that no one competent to express the views of the British wool industry would be accompanying the delegation. The main point that they made was this, that with the growing utilisation of artificial silk it was a matter of fundamental importance to Australia and to Yorkshire that Australia should concentrate on the production of a larger volume of the finest types of wool. In their opinion, there would be an expanding market for fine wools, but a contraction of world demand for cross-breds and for coarser types of Merino.

They further stated that during the last few years there had been a growing spirit of misunderstanding between the Australian pastoralists and Yorkshire. The Australian pastoralists felt that Yorkshire was continually trying to ‘crab’ Australian wool, but in reality the position was that Yorkshire felt that Australia was paying too little attention to increasing the quantity of really first-class wool, and allowing other countries to get ahead of her.

They suggested that there should be a fifth member of the Business Mission who should be someone from the West Riding. They told Cooper that no difficulties in regard to finance need arise.

Cooper was distinctly impressed with what they said, and asked me whether I would let him know what would be the best way of raising the subject. I said that I would see Lord Lovat [3] and discuss the matter with him. Yesterday I saw Lord Lovat and he told me that it had been clearly understood from the commencement that no sectional interest ought to be represented in the Business Mission. He therefore felt that all he could himself arrange would be that the West Riding interest should have the fullest opportunity of discussing their point of view with the Mission before it sailed.

Lovat went on to say that if you regarded the inclusion of a fifth man from Yorkshire as being desirable, the British Government would of course be willing to agree.

I have therefore told Cooper that (a) Lord Lovat will arrange for the Yorkshire people to have a full discussion with the Business Mission, and (b) that if they desire to press for the inclusion of someone representing their point of view in the Business Mission, their best course would be to communicate with you, either directly or through the medium of Sir James Cooper. I have suggested to Cooper that as there are five months to elapse before the Business Mission sails, a letter to you asking for a cabled reply would be quite a satisfactory way of raising the question.

Lovat took the opportunity of my calling on him on this subject to discuss with me at some length the arrangements which he was proposing to make in order to enable the mission to go to Australia fully acquainted with the point of view in this country.

He also explained that he was extremely anxious that they should obtain all the information possible about Australia before they left. Two Secretaries have been appointed, both of whom are intelligent though junior, Civil Servants, one being one of Cunliffe-Lister’ [4] private secretaries, and the other Lovat’s present private secretary. [5]

Lovat has asked me to co-operate with Sir Ernest Clark [6] in what might be described as the preliminary stages of the Mission’s education.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Sir James Cooper, company director; Chairman of the London Agencies of the Commonwealth Dried Fruits, Canned Fruits and Dairy Produce Control Boards. Cooper had been Deputy Chairman of British-Australian Wool Realisation Association Ltd.

2 Woolbroker.

3 Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office.

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

5 J. G. Henderson and N. E. Archer.

6 Company director; Permanent Secretary of the Treasury of Northern Ireland 1922-25; member of the British Economic Mission to Australia.