Thursday, 23rd April 1925

23rd April, 1925


Dear Mr. Bruce,


I am to-day forwarding, at the request of Sir Mark Sheldon [1], the following cable explanatory of the work of the Committee up to the present juncture:-

Economic Committee progress slow. Prior to Easter had one meeting per week of three hours each we protested frequently against delay (stop) This week two meetings held and in future two per week will press for further meetings shortly hope for better progress now (stop) Mackinder [2] Chairman also Chairman Shipping Committee meeting weekly and Vice-Chairman Royal Commission Food Supply sitting frequently this in my opinion chief cause slow progress (stop) Royal Food Commission just issuing Interim Report this week expected will then adjourn for some time. Mackinder goes to Constantinople for important Government Arbitration this week expect will be absent fortnight meantime Economic Committee has been divided into Sub-Committees (1) General Policy which I take with McDougall assisting (2) Fruit McDougall takes (3) Meat and Fish I take (stop) Purpose to prepare matters for General Body (stop) Cramsie [3] has given evidence made good impression (stop) Have arranged Wholesale Australian Meat Dealers London be requested prepare statement and give evidence (stop) Suggest Australian Meat Producers and Shippers send me memorandum to reach here not later first week of June of any news or suggestions for betterment their position (stop) As far as I can ascertain Mutton and Lamb situation fairly satisfactory New Zealand Representatives [4] share this view (stop) Please arrange Mulvany [5] Customs Department promptly sends all particulars as to quantities costs of production packing prospects of supplies Canned Fruits apples and any other fruits Australia seeking Export market (stop) McDougall has all details necessary dried fruits (stop) British Representatives [6] have given no lead or indication of policy as yet (stop) We both are strongly opinion and are working in direction of securing British Legislation requiring compulsory statement of country of origin all meat fruit offered for sale by both Wholesalers and Retailers in United Kingdom believing British public sentiment will respond to supporting Empire production if supported by suitable advertising and propaganda. Dominions to mark as far as possible their products to lead to ready identification. Canada New Zealand South Africa and Colonies generally supporting this policy. McDougall has seen this message and agrees same.

In comment on the above cable, Sir Halford Mackinder tells me that although his other duties have necessitated a slow start with the work of the Committee he was personally anxious that the issue should not be rushed and anticipates a very great acceleration of work as a result of the appointment of the Sub-Committees which have now been adopted.

With regard to the request for information from Mr. Mulvany and also the suggestion of the memorandum from the Australian Meat Producers and Shippers, both Sir Mark and myself are anxious to receive, while the Committee is still in active operation, the very latest views on all these subjects from Australia and although, especially on Fruit subjects, I have a fairly complete mass of information, yet I fully concur with Sir Mark in requesting from Australia the latest possible details.

While I fully concur with Sir Mark’s view and am co-operating with him as regards legislation in the direction of Merchandise Marks Act [7], I am strongly of opinion that the work of the Committee will lead to rather larger immediate results than anything

indicated in the cable.

So far as I have been able to judge the mind of the Chairman and of the Members of the Committee, I have formed the opinion that there is no prospect of any recommendation of direct subsidies to particular industries. I contemplate that some form of Empire Produce Board will be recommended as the actual body to whom the Treasury would hand the Million Grant and that this Produce Board would be empowered to spend the money according to the general directions of the Imperial Economic Committee to whom the Produce Board would be directly responsible.

This Produce Board would have directions in regard to expenditure on publicity, market investigation, research such as cold storage research etc., subsidised freights for breeding stock or any other direction which the Imperial Economic Committee might recommend.

It appears to be necessary to create some such Body, because the Economic Committee is itself a purely consultative authority which could have no executive authority and because it is clearly undesirable that every recommendation of the Imperial Economic Committee should be the subject of debate in Parliament, as would be the case if each particular small expenditure had to be the subject of Parliamentary vote.

Sir Halford Mackinder is rather nervous about the possible effect of Dominion Produce Control Boards in this country and in fact his attitude was rather hostile, initially, as a result of the evidence that had been put before the Food Commission by British traders. After several long conversations with me, he has come to see that the proper attitude for the British authorities to take in regard to Dominion Produce Boards is:

1. To realise that they are a part of an inevitable movement.

2. To welcome that movement in Britain’s own interest.

3. By a policy of sympathetic encouragement to attempt to induce the Produce Boards to adopt a general policy that will be regarded favourably by the British Authorities.


During the Easter Recess there has been little work to do in Parliament circles, and I have therefore concentrated on the preparation of matter illustrative of the value of the Empire, Australia and Preference to certain British industries. I have just sent an article to the ‘Times’ on the Cotton Industry, of which I enclose a copy. [8]

I am forwarding a most interesting example of the effectiveness of quiet propaganda. It is as follows: I have frequently urged upon Sir Edward Grigg, the Liberal Member for Oldham, the importance of preference. I recently sent him a copy of my last ‘Times’ Supplement article, a copy of which was despatched to you last mail. On the 21st instant Sir Edward spoke at Oldham and made a most effective appeal for preference. Today he wrote to me thanking me for the help I had been able to give him. I am enclosing the ‘Times’ report of his speech [9] and a copy of his letter. This is just one example of what is continuously happening. Strange as it may appear, I find members of both the Conservative and Labour parties very glad indeed to obtain matter which I prepare.

Perhaps you may care to show Grigg’s speech and a copy of his letter to me to some of your Colleagues.


Further to my letter of April 9th [10], I received, on April 10th, an offer from the Dried Fruit Control Board of the position of Secretary at 750 per annum. I thereupon cabled you as follows:-

Have received offer of post Secretary, London Agency Dried Fruit Board for one year’s term at 750 per annum. In view of proposed salary and of your cable of 6th April presume this means part time employment. Please inform me as to what if any effect acceptance would have upon my present allowance from Government. Should much appreciate advice as to Government’s general intentions in regard to myself.

and received your reply on the 16th which read as follows:-

Commonwealth Government proposes to utilise your services in connection with Organization of Marketing in London on basis of 1250 per annum. In the event of your accepting Dried Fruits position, Government will still have first call on your services and will pay you difference between salary 750 provided by Board and 1250 mentioned.

I then cabled you personally as follows:-

Reference your cable 16th April shall be glad to be used as you propose and am prepared to accept Dried Fruit position but must point out that 1250 represents reduction 650 on present allowance. My work necessitates considerable expense on entertainment. On proposed basis an allowance of 500 minimum will be absolutely necessary if I am to continue to do effective work.

I have received no reply to this latest cable. I am sure you will fully understand the position. My actual out of pocket expenses on lunches, dinners, etc. which are essential amount to a considerable sum. 1250 a year, less income tax, on at least the Dried Fruit Board’s 750, is quite insufficient, especially as I naturally neither have, nor can expect to have, any security of tenure.

I realise all the difficulties that surround this question and if I receive no reply from you to my last cable, shall write you next mail making certain suggestions of which I believe you would approve.

Without egotism I feel I can claim that I am doing valuable work for Australia which no other individual is quite in a position to do. This is particularly in connection with Parliament and the Imperial Economic Committee. I desire most deeply to find a basis which will enable me to continue to do this work, but I cannot, in fairness to my own people remain content with an entirely inadequate remuneration.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Senior Australian representative on the Committee.

2 Sir Halford Mackinder.

3 J. B. Cramsie, Chairman of the Australian Meat Council.

4 Sir James Allen and R. S. Forsyth.

5 E. J. Mulvany, Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Markets and Migration from 16 January 1925.

6 Sir Algernon Firth, Sir Thomas Allen and W. S. Crawford.

7 The Merchandise Marks Act 1926 provided for indication of country of origin to be marked on imported goods, when recommended by a standing committee.

8 Published as a letter signed ‘Dominion’ on 25 April.

9 Times, 22 April.

10 Not found.