Thursday, 6th December 1928

6th December, 1928


My dear Prime Minister,

I was appointed to represent the Commonwealth Government, and the Governments of the several States, at the first Session of the Financial Supervisory Body for the proposed new Imperial Bureaux and Correspondence Centres. [1] This Body met on November 20th and its meetings were continued until November 30th.

The first full day’s meeting was devoted to a discussion of the general problems; on the second day, the Directors of the Institutions at which it was proposed to establish the Bureaux attended, and the Financial Supervisory Body had the advantage of, first, a discussion with the whole of the Directors present and, later, went into detailed consideration of each Bureau with the Director of the Institute concerned. [2]

The Financial Supervisory Body arrived unanimously at a decision to recommend to the Governments of the Empire the establishment of the three Bureaux and five Correspondence Centres which had been recommended by the Imperial Agricultural Research Conference. It was, however, decided to recommend that the term ‘Correspondence Centre’ should not be used, but that the term ‘Bureau’ should be applied to each of the Imperial clearing houses of information.

This decision was due to the realisation of the fact that there was no difference, except in scale, between the functions of a Bureau and a Correspondence Centre, and it was felt that the general use of the term ‘Bureau’ would avoid confusion and need involve no additional expense.

The Financial Supervisory Body further decided to recommend to the Governments of the Empire a definite scale of contributions; this scale is clearly set out in the accompanying report and memorandum. During the discussion which occurred before a decision was reached as to this recommendation, Dr. Grisdale [3],the Representative of Canada, had announced that Canada would be prepared to subscribe a similar sum to whatever Great Britain contributed. It was felt, however, that the whole Colonial Empire should subscribe a somewhat larger sum than either Canada or Australia, and it was finally decided to recommend that Great Britain and the Colonies should both make a slightly larger contribution than Canada and Australia.

The Financial Supervisory Body, having reached definite conclusions as to the general form of their recommendations, decided immediately to constitute an Executive Council for the proposed Imperial Bureaux and, in effect, the Financial Supervisory Body constituted itself as the Executive Council.

At my suggestion, full Minutes of the discussions were kept and I attach a set of these Minutes, which clearly show the way in which the decisions were reached. I also attach copies of the Report of the First Session of the Financial Supervisory Body, and of the memorandum drawn up by the Body and accepted as the basis of the recommendations which should be made to the Governments of the Empire. This Report and the attached memorandum fully cover the ground traversed, and therefore my report need hardly be more than a covering letter.

I should, however, like to place on record the deep appreciation which I feel for the way in which Sir Charles Howell Thomas, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the representative of England and Wales on the Financial Supervisory Body, assisted the work of that Body. The Ministry of Agriculture directly, and almost wholly, supports six of the Institutes at which it has been decided to recommend the creation of new Bureaux, and in these circumstances it would have been but natural had the Ministry suggested that it should act as agent for the Financial Supervisory Body in the control of these Bureaux.

Sir Charles Howell Thomas, however, realised the importance of effective Imperial control, and entirely waived any special claims on the part of the Ministry of Agriculture. His hearty co- operation enabled the recommendations to be of such a nature as to bring out, in the clearest possible way, the Imperial side of the recommendations.

If the Governments of the Empire accept the recommendations, which are being forwarded by cable and by despatch through the Dominions Office, there will be created a new Imperial Body responsible to all the Governments of the Empire just in the same way as the Imperial Economic Committee and the Imperial Shipping Committee are responsible. The Imperial nature of the Body was further emphasised by the appointment of Sir David Chadwick-the Secretary of the Imperial Economic Committee-as Secretary of the Executive Council.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 See note 5 to Letter 195.

2 The institutions concerned were Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden, Hertfordshire (soil science), Rowett Research Institute, Bucksburn, Aberdeen (animal nutrition), Veterinary Research Laboratory, Weybridge, Surrey (animal health), Animal Breeding Research Department, Edinburgh University (animal genetics), Institute of Agricultural Parasitology, St Albans, (agricultural parasitology), Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge University (plant genetics for crops other than herbage plants), Welsh Plant Breeding Station, Aberystwyth (plant genetics for herbage plants), and East Malling Research Station, Kent (fruit production).

3 J. H. Grisdale, Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Canada.