Thursday, 30th August 1928

30th August, 1928

My dear Prime Minister,


The Business Mission is leaving London this afternoon, to join the ‘Mooltan’ at Marseilles, Sir Ernest Clark [1] having already left from Tilbury. I spent Monday and Tuesday evening with Arthur Duckham [2], in order to give him an opportunity of raising any points that occurred to his mind. This proved quite useful, for I was able to rub in quite a number of points which it will be useful for him to have in mind.

Yesterday I had Malcolm [3] to lunch, and we had a long talk about the general work of the Mission. I think the position as regards the education of the Business Mission before its departure is roughly as followsThe Mission collectively has seen a very considerable number of people, and in spite of the fact that many British trade associations have come forward to express their grievances against the Australian Tariff, the members of the Mission already seem impressed with the benefits which British industry secures under Preference, and have therefore not been unduly influenced by the complaints of the West Riding of Yorkshire, or of Leicester.

They were very much impressed by the evidence given by Dr. Orr 4, and are looking forward to appreciating for themselves the immense possibilities of pastoral and agricultural development which Australia can achieve in the near future.

So far as individual members of the Mission are concerned, I gather that Sir Ernest Clark and Malcolm have probably read all the papers that have been put before the Mission, but that neither Duckham nor Hugo Hirst [5] have had time to do so. Duckham in particular, as the head of a highly successful business which up to the present has been rather a one man show, has found that he has had to work at terrific pressure on his own affairs in order to be free to be away for six months. Each member of the Mission has, however, strongly impressed on me the Mission’s determination to use the voyage to Australia to study thoroughly the masses of information which they have received, and to discuss them collectively.


Casey [6] arranged that I should be shown a copy of the cable received here on Monday from yourself to Senator McLachlan [7] dealing with this subject. I was very glad to see it, because it gives me your reaction to all the letters which I have sent you on the subject since the meeting of the Economic Consultative Committee. After reading this cable I had prepared a very carefully considered speech which I shall give to Officer [8] to take to Geneva as my suggestion as to the line which the Australian Delegation should take, should the matter come prominently before the Assembly or the second Committee. This suggested speech may not be ready to despatch by this mail, and if this is the case I will send it forward next week.

I have seen Sir Sydney Chapman [9], who will of course be at Geneva throughout the Assembly to advise the British Delegation on all economic subjects, and I find that he is quite prepared to agree with the general point of view which I have been taking on League economic matters. I have arranged with Chapman that Keith Officer can call to see him as often as he likes, to get from Chapman any information that he may need for the Australian Delegation.

I am hoping that Senator McLachlan will not feel that he wants me to go to Geneva, because I am anxiously looking forward to getting a couple of weeks’ holiday during September, and a summons to Geneva would upset that idea.


Casey showed me a copy of the cable which you sent through him to Walter Elliot. [10] Elliot is at present away on holiday on the French Riviera, and will not be back for two weeks. I understand that Casey has forwarded the cable to Elliot, and I shall write to him on the subject.

I am going to Aberdeen on Friday to have two or three days with Orr, and to go very thoroughly into the whole question of pastoral research in Australia. Orr is preparing a report on his Australian visit for the Empire Marketing Board and C.S.I.R., and my visit will therefore be particularly appropriate.

I have received a personal cable from Rivett ]11], telling me that the C.S.I.R. feel they could secure Theiler’s services for a five- year period, provided the Colonial Office has no serious objection. Personally, I think the Colonial Office will strongly object to completely losing Theiler for five years. [12] If this should prove to be the case, the solution-which I believe could be arranged-would be for C.S.I.R. to appoint both Theiler and Orr as consultants, with a definite arrangement whereby each man would spend, say, nine months of every two years in Australia.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Company director; Permanent Secretary of the Treasury of Northern Ireland 1922-25.

2 Sir Arthur Duckham; chemical engineer prominent in the coal industry; leader of the British Economic Mission to Australia.

3 D. O. Malcolm, a director of British South Africa Co., Rhodesian Railway Trust and other companies, Chairman of the Committee on Education and Industry 1926-28; member of the British Economic Mission.

4 J. B. Orr, Director of the Rowett Institute for Research in Animal Nutrition, Aberdeen. Orr visited Australia early in 1928.

5 Sir Hugo Hirst, Chairman and Managing Director of General Electric Co. Ltd.

6 R. G. Casey, Commonwealth Government’s Liaison Officer in London.

7 A. J. McLachlan, South Australian senator; Honorary Minister;

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

8 Keith Officer, of the External Affairs Branch, Prime Minister’s Department, Canberra; adviser to the Australian delegation to the League of Nations Assembly 1928.

9 Economic Adviser to the British Government.

10 Walter Elliot, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland;

Chairman of the Research Grants Committee of the Empire Marketing Board. The cable (file AA:A1420, 6) sought Elliot’s views on the possibility of Orr and Sir Arnold Theiler, Director of Veterinary Education and Research in South Africa until his retirement in 1927, being seconded to work in Australia for two years, in view of the ‘incalculable good’ achieved during their visit.

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

12 Theiler was thought likely to head the new Imperial Bureau of Animal Health.