Thursday, 12th July 1928

12th July, 1928


My dear Prime Minister,

This week I have little of immediate importance to report.

Ministers and Members of the House of Commons are, at this stage of the session, concentrating on business before the House.


The Tobacco Report was signed on Tuesday last and yesterday I managed to get the Timber Report approved by my Sub-Committee and this report will go before the Main Committee for what might be described as the report stage on Tuesday next. In order that the Timber Report may become available in time for the British Empire Forestry Conference at Canberra in September, Members have been warned to be prepared for a late sitting and it is my intention to try and get the report through this stage in the one day. If this is successful, we ought to be able to make the necessary drafting alterations and present it for final approval and signature on the 24th July.

The preliminary survey on Agricultural Machinery will, I hope, be approved by the 31st July, so that the Imperial Economic Committee will have a very good record of work so far as this session is concerned.

The Tobacco Report is not of much importance to Australia but the Timber Report contains a number of useful recommendations and I think sets out the general position clearly and effectively. We are going to recommend that the Forest Products Research Laboratory at Princes Risborough should be given an Imperial significance through a grant from the Empire Marketing Board and this recommendation will probably have some effect on the policy of C.S.I.R. so far as expenditure in Australia in connection with forest products research is concerned. I have already written to Rivett [1] to give me an indication of the sort of recommendation we are likely to make.


At the last meeting of the Research Grants Committee the large application from C.S.I.R. for a grant towards the establishment of Tillyard’ [2] entomological schemes was approved. This application has given me a good deal of worry because, firstly, it was very inclusive, the proposal practically amounting to the E.M.B.

sharing, on a 50-5o basis, the whole of C.S.I.R. expenditure on entomology and, secondly, Tillyard himself had framed the original application in such a way as to ignore the Imperial Bureau of Entomology and the new Parasite Laboratory established by the Empire Marketing Board grant at Farnham Royal. Fortunately Dr.

Marshall [3], the Director of the Imperial Bureau of Entomology, has behaved in a most charitable way and Tillyard has amended his scheme so as to bring the Imperial Bureau into the picture, so far as the collection of parasites on this side of the world is concerned, with the result that certain economies are effected and a much more efficient scheme will probably result.

The Research Grants Committee has approved of the scheme on the following basis:-

The Empire Marketing Board to find 50% of the capital cost, 50% of the annual cost for the first 2 years and then a slightly smaller proportion for the next 2 years and about 25% in the 5th year.

I had, some months ago, sounded Rivett about this idea of a diminishing annual grant and found that he quite concurred.

The Research Grants Committee’s recommendation will come formally before the next full Board Meeting on the 25th July, when I have no doubt that it will be approved. This grant will mean that the E.M.B. will become responsible for a contribution of between 50,000 and 60,000.

The main difficulty in actually putting the scheme into operation will be the acute world shortage of first class entomologists and I am afraid that we shall have great difficulty in attracting the men of the necessary calibre for the senior positions unless we are prepared to pay more money than the Council has at present envisaged. [4]


I am looking forward with interest to the return of Dr. Orr. [5] I shall hope to see him when he arrives in London but shall also try and arrange to go up to Aberdeen in August to have a really long conference with him and obtain, in the fullest detail, his whole impressions. Orr has written to me once or twice and Major Elliot [6] has passed on to me the letters which he has received. From these sources I gather that Orr is convinced that great and almost spectacular improvements in the condition of stocksheep, dairy cattle and pigs-can be achieved in Australia without further fresh research but by means of the application of existing knowledge to Australian conditions. It seems to me that here is an opportunity which you and the C.S.I.R. might seize with the very greatest advantage to Australia and with considerable benefit to the Government and to the Council.

I have no doubt that Orr has expressed himself quite clearly while in Australia but as his visit was so very hurried, I shall try, after a discussion with him, to forward a number of practical suggestions. I rather gather that Orr, while impressed with the scientific quality of Brailsford Robertson’ [7] work at Adelaide, considers that this long range of purely scientific work will have little effect on Australian pastoral problems for a number of years and that immediate improvements can be made from the scientific results already obtained at Aberdeen, in Kenya and in other parts of the World.


Up to the present I have not had any reaction from you as to my various letters and reports on the work of the Consultative Economic Committee at Geneva. There has, indeed, hardly been time.

I am awaiting your comments with very great interest.

One rather immediate and urgent question is the one of the relationship between the International Institute of Agriculture at Rome and the League of Nations. This question is likely to be discussed at the Assembly in Geneva in the latter part of September and at the General Assembly of the International Institute of Agriculture at Rome in October.

Should you come to the conclusion that it is desirable that the British Empire should lay a controlling, directing and perhaps at the same time restraining hand on the Economic Organization of the League, you may think it essential that I should go over to Geneva for a few days during the Assembly to discuss with the Australian Delegation and with the British people the question of the line of country that we should really adopt. It is also possible that, if you generally approve of the line of country which I have been indicating in my letters on this subject [8], in the event of the discussions on the relationship between Rome and Geneva coming to a head, I might suggest that we should for once be effectively represented at the General Assembly of the International Institute at Rome. Normally we are represented by a Senior Statistical Officer of the British Ministry of Agriculture [9]-quite a good fellow on statistics but hardly the man to tackle de Michelis [10] and the vested interest of Italy in the Rome Institute. However, until I learn from you how you are regarding these subjects, it is not much use my considering the matter much further.


I have just returned from lunching with Sir Ernest Clark [11], one of the Business Mission. He will prove the member of the Mission who will give the most attention to detail and particularly to statistics and printed matter. He was delighted to receive some of the memoranda which I have prepared and we had a most interesting talk.

I should imagine that he will be prepared to do an almost unlimited amount of work, both on board ship and while in Australia and will, in a large measure, prepare a basis on which the other members of the Mission will form their opinions.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 David Rivett, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

2 R. J. Tillyard, Chief of the Division of Economic Entomology, Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. See note 9 to Letter 135 and, for an outline of his proposal, Journal of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, vol. 1, no.

4, pp. 193-201.

3 G. A. K. Marshall.

4 Although the Empire Marketing Board did support the scheme, McDougall correctly predicted that a lack of entomologists would make its full implementation impracticable. See Third Annual Report of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, 1929, p. 24.

5 J. B. Orr, Director of the Rowett Institute for Research in Animal Nutrition, Aberdeen, then visiting Australia at the invitation of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The visit was subsidised by the Empire Marketing Board.

6 Walter Elliot, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland;

Chairman of the Research Grants Committee of the Empire Marketing Board.

7 T. Brailsford Robertson, Professor of Physiology, University of Adelaide; Chief of the Division of Animal Nutrition, Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. He had initiated a fundamental study of animal nutrition involving investigation of amino acid deficiency in the leaf protein of Australian fodder plants and the effects of excess minerals upon laboratory animals.

The study was outlined in Journal of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 34-9.

8 See Letters 164 and 165.

9 R. J. Thompson.

10 Professor Guiseppe de Michelis, President of the Institute.

11 Company director; Permanent Secretary of the Treasury of Northern Ireland 1922-25; Member of the British Economic Mission to Australia 1928.