Wednesday, 15th May 1929

15th May, 1929


My dear Prime Minister,

I got back from Geneva last night after a pretty rough crossing.

This morning I found that, while the mail had brought no letters from you, Simpson [1] had been good enough to send me a copy of your speech at the Sydney Agricultural Show. I was naturally very interested to read it and particularly in the statement that the Government intends to launch a national campaign with the object of a more intensive development of the dairying industry. I was interested to see that you anticipate getting British concurrence in applying the 34 million agreement [2] to a campaign of this sort.


I have already written to you at considerable length as regards the work of this Committee in addition to forwarding an official report. I am also writing separately on the subject of the International Business Institute, about which you asked me by cable to obtain information.

I was glad to receive the cable that you sent informing me that the Commonwealth Government did not, under present circumstances, intend to ratify the convention of import and export prohibitions or the International agreement in regard to hides, skins and bones. I did not, however, think that any useful purpose would be served in making public, at the Economic Consultative Committee, the Commonwealth Government’s intentions.


You will be interested to know that on all sides at Geneva the views of the Commonwealth Government to institute this Bureau were warmly welcomed. It was indeed felt that Australia was setting an example which other countries, and especially countries in a similar stage of industrial development to Australia, might follow with very great profit to themselves and, incidentally, to world trade.

I had a long conversation with Sir Arthur Salter, the Director of the Financial and Economic Organisation of the League, after the conclusion of the work of the Committee. I pressed on Salter the importance of the Economic Organisation placing itself in a position to assist such national organisations as the Australian Bureau of Economic Research. Salter emphatically agreed that this was most desirable and said that he very much hoped that the Director, when appointed, would inform him of the sort of information which the Economic Organisation could most usefully supply. He also said that he would welcome any steps that the new Director might care to take to establish personal contact between himself (Salter) and the Director. Perhaps you would be good enough to pass this information on to whoever is appointed.



Yesterday afternoon Enfield [4], who is on the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, called and told me that the Board of Trade, on the initiative of Sir Sydney Chapman, had just circularised the various interested Departments to inform them that Chapman felt that meetings of the Interdepartmental Committee to consider the Economic Agenda for the next imperial Conference ought to commence in the very near future. The circular letter went on to say that Departments should make any suggestions which occurred to them in regard to the economic side of the Conference.

Enfield wanted to get some suggestions from me in regard to agriculture. We only had time for a short discussion but it was agreed that we should meet again before the circular letter had to be answered.

I think it is quite satisfactory to know that the Board of Trade is taking action to constitute an Interdepartmental Committee on this subject sufficiently in advance of the Imperial Conference to allow of effective preparatory work being done.

I am afraid that the number of letters that I have written to you by this mail is excessive but there were a number of things arising out of the Geneva meeting to which it seemed necessary to draw your attention.

Here in London all activities are overshadowed by the Election campaign. It seems quite impossible to make any forecast as to how things will go. My own impression-for what it is worth-is that at the moment Conservatives are putting their case fairly well but who can prophesy as to what effect the raging tearing Liberal propaganda, supported by very large funds, will have on the less educated part of the electorate.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Julian Simpson, Bruce’s Private Secretary.

2 See note 2 to Letter 212.

3 See note 8 to Letter 220.

4 R. R. Enfield, Principal, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

5 Economic Adviser to the British Government; Permanent Secretary at the Board of Trade 1920-27.