Friday, 17th August 1928

17th August, 1928


My dear Prime Minister,

During the last two or three days, I have had the opportunity of several conversations in relation to the question of the International Institute at Rome and its relationship to the League of Nations. [1]

I have seen Sir Arthur Salter, the Director of the Financial and Economic Organization of the League of Nations, Sir Daniel Hall [2] of the Ministry of Agriculture, one of the British Delegates to the General Assembly at the International Institute of Agriculture, and Sir Sydney Chapman. [3] I have also seen Sir Atul Chatterjee, the High Commissioner for India, who takes a very live interest in these questions. It is interesting to find that all these authorities take the same point of view, which may be summarised very briefly as follows:-

(1) The International Institute of Agriculture at Rome is at present an ineffective body.

(2) For diplomatic reasons, it is impossible to destroy the International Institute and re-build.

(3) In view of the need for a really firstclass intelligence service on agriculture, it is important that as the International Institute cannot be abolished, it should be amended.

(4) The Italian Government having approached the various contributing Governments with the suggestion that the International Institute should be more closely linked with the League of Nations, the opportunity for amendment has occurred and in fact preliminary Conversations between the Secretary-General of the League [4], the President of the International Institute [5] Chairman of the Economic Consultative Committees have been inaugurated.

(5) These series of facts give a special significance to the General Assembly of the International Institute, which will be held in Rome from October 10th to 16th.

(6) In the past, Australia has been content with representation by the British Delegation at the General Assembly. Canada and India, however, have invariably had separate representation.

(7) Although I should hesitate to recommend, and in fact do not recommend, that as a rule Australia should have separate representation at the General Assembly of the International Institute, the arguments put forward by Salter, Hall and Chapman have convinced me that it is desirable, on this occasion, that Australia should be represented in order that the British Empire may bring to bear an effective voice on the future of the International Institute.

(8) I therefore suggest that, on the receipt of this letter, you should consider whether it is not desirable that I should, on this occasion, attend the General Assembly of the International Institute of. Agriculture as the Australian representative.

I make this recommendation with very considerable reluctance and only do so because I feel that it is really of very great importance to Australia and to the agriculture of the Empire generally that there should be a really effective source from which comparable information of an International character may be drawn. The reforms which the British Empire Delegates, probably in unison with the United States of America, will press for are:-

(a) the appointment of a man of outstanding ability as Secretary- General of the Institute.

(b) the abandonment of control by a permanent Committee whose members must be permanently resident in Rome and the substitution of an Executive to meet not more frequently than once a quarter, whose members shall be persons actively interested in agricultural questions.

It is felt by the Authorities with whom I have consulted that, if these two reforms can be achieved, the Institute can be made to function in a way which will definitely be useful to those parts of the Empire and of the World which are predominantly interested in agriculture.

With reference to the work of the Assembly of the League of Nations in connection with economic matters, I have advised Senator McLachlan [7] that it is not necessary for me to go to Geneva and that I will prepare a brief for the representative of the Commonwealth Government on the Second and on the Fourth Committees of the Assembly in regard to the work of the Economic Organisation.

After a conversation with Senator McLachlan on this subject, I have come to the conclusion that it is not necessary for me to worry you with a cable in reference to the work.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 See Letter 164.

2 Chief Scientific Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries;

Director of the John Innes Horticultural Institution.

3 Economic Adviser to the British Government.

4 Sir Eric Drummond.

5 Professor Guiseppe de Michelis.

6 Georges Theunis, Belgian Minister of State.

7 Senator A. J. McLachlan of South Australia; Honorary Minister;

leader of the Australian delegation to the League of Nations General Assembly 1928.