Thursday, 21st February 1929

21st February, 1929


My dear Prime Minister,

I have already written you two letters, one dealing with the question of Trade Treaties in Foreign Countries and the other with the Report of the British Economic Mission. [1] This letter will, therefore, merely deal with a few other points.

I have had prepared a further set of figures dealing with American competition and I enclose a copy as I think you will find them distinctly interesting. The percentage figures have been carefully weighted and the result is to emphasise once again how important the American export trade has become.


I am enclosing an advance copy of a pamphlet which has been prepared by the Empire Marketing Board and which will be very widely circulated in this country. [2] I think it is worth your while to look through it because the case for Empire buying is stated both simply and yet, effectively.

I am also forwarding a copy of a paper which I read to the Agricultural Group of the Royal Institute of international Affairs. I took a good deal of trouble in the preparation of this paper, because I thought it would be useful to the Empire Marketing Board to have a clear statement shewing the extent to which the agriculture of the Empire is being assisted by the Board and also to indicate how considerable is the assistance which the Board is giving to British agriculture. If you find time to read it, you will notice that I have used your speech at the 1923 Conference as the commencement of the movement. This, I feel quite certain, is historically correct. If one could want any further proof to maintain the position that the new movement in Great Britain in favor of closer Empire relations owes its re-birth to Australia and to you, it is to be found in this interesting fact.

In December 1922 a question was asked in the House of Commons as to whether the Government was prepared to consider the granting of more effective preferences to Empire products and particularly to dried fruits. Sir Philip Lloyd-Greame [3] (Cunliffe-Lister) replied, on behalf of the Government, that the Government had no such intention but ten months later, the Imperial Economic Conference occurred with all the subsequent happenings.

There can be no possible doubt that your proposal of the Imperial Economic Committee at that Conference, together with the preferential discussions that there occurred, directly led to the formation of the Empire Marketing Board, of which Body you are, therefore, the spiritual parent.


The International Institute of Agriculture at Rome is proposing to establish an Agricultural Economics Committee. As you are aware, I am more than doubtful as to the future of the International Institute of Agriculture, because it is doubtful as to whether the Italians are going to allow the Institute to become a truly International Body. One’s first reaction to this proposal was, therefore, one of doubt as to whether it was worth while taking very much trouble about a Committee having its basis at Rome. On second thoughts, however, I have come to take the view that the whole subject of agricultural economics so urgently needs a thorough survey that I feel that a really useful purpose would be served by a strong International Committee which might, in the course of a year or eighteen months, succeed in defining the scope of agricultural economics and giving a decided stimulus to its study. Under these circumstances my judgment is somewhat in favor of supporting this proposal. It is the sort of Committee which would, I presume, meet once or twice a year and which we might not desire to keep in existence for more than two or three years.

I shall be discussing this matter with Mr. R. J. Thompson [4], the British representative on the Permanent Committee of the International Institute of Agriculture, next week and will communicate with you again after that conversation. As I am the Chairman of the Agricultural Economics Committee of the Empire Marketing Board and the Australian representative on the Consultative Economic Committee of the League of Nations, it would probably be as well for me to represent Australia on this new Committee should it be appointed and should you finally decide to be represented.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Letters 213 and 212.

2 Why Should We Buy from the Empire?, Empire Marketing Board’s free booklet, 1929.

3 President of the Board of Trade. Lloyd-Greame changed his name to Cunliffe-Lister in 1924. See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 159, col. 1164 4 Assistant Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture.