Thursday, 2nd July 1925

2nd July, 1925


Dear Mr. Bruce,

My book was published on June 30th and so far I have had three press notices in the London papers, all very favourable and all highly unintelligent. I enclose the three. The ‘Times’ and the ‘Times Trade Supplement’ will, I hope, deal a little more adequately with the book. I very much hope that the volume will be a success and that it will receive a favourable press in Australia. I think it is highly improbable that any financial success will be achieved but if the book causes real discussion, I shall feel that it has served its purpose.


On Monday I had Mr. Alexander [1], M.P. (Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in the Labour Government) and leader of the Co-operative Group in the House of Commons, to lunch. We had a very useful talk which resulted in Mr. Alexander undertaking to arrange for the Wholesale Co-operative Society to formulate an Empire policy. As you will have realised from my last letter, we have an excellent friend on the Co-operative Board of Directors in Sir Thomas Allen. [2] The Co-operative Wholesale might prove a most useful medium for the marketing of some Australian produce.


The difficulties of the London Agency vis-a-vis the London Dried Fruit Trade Association have been rendered much more acute by the decision that the Commonwealth Government cannot, under the Dried Fruit Act, finance fruit which is not placed unreservedly under the control of the Board.

At the present moment eighteen out of the twenty agents receiving licensed Australian dried fruit shipments market through the London Dried Fruit Trade Association. Two firms, including Messrs.

Armour & Co., while accepting appraisement refuse to sell through the normal channels which they describe, very truly, as being a broker’s ring in restraint of trade. The other agents demand cancellation of these licences to export to these two firms.

The London Dried Fruit Trade Association has been a subject of very considerable criticism. For instance the Co-operative Wholesale gave evidence, before the Imperial Economic Committee, very hostile to this ring and in the recent preference debate it was attacked by Mr. Alexander before the House. It is also a strong probability that as soon as the new Food Council [3], which replaced the Royal Commission on Food Prices, starts to operate, it will make public enquiry into the alleged restrictions practised by this ring. Under these circumstances I feel very strongly indeed that it is almost unthinkable that a Statutory Body deriving its authority from the Commonwealth Government should make it a term and condition of license that all fruit must be marketed through this Brokers’ ring. In the circumstances the London Agency is going to do everything possible to avoid presenting the Melbourne Board with an awkward issue but as the Agents very probably claim that their advances to growers and growers’ organizations are largely involved, the position is not at all easy.


It is now clear that a preliminary report on the identification of Empire products by the compulsory marking by retailers of such goods as ‘Home’, ‘Empire’ or ‘Foreign’ will be completed by the end of this month. It is also probable that a fairly full report on Meat will also be completed.

The Fruit Sub-Committee have met at least twice as frequently as the Meat Sub-Committee but have found their subject one of very much greater complexity. We are anxious to get a report out as soon as possible but it is certain that we cannot cover the whole of the subjects raised under fruit before the August Recess. I have, therefore, arranged with the Members of the Fruit Panel to dine together at my club tonight in order to see whether it is possible to get out a report dealing with certain fruits, leaving others for later consideration. I do not know whether this plan will be adopted or whether it will be felt that the Fruit Section of the report should be issued somewhat later.

This week the Imperial Economic Committee and its Sub-Committees are holding five regular meetings, an enormous amount of time being consumed by the Chairman [4] who goes over every point in the choicest language and at very great length. I am, at the moment, a little anxious whether we shall be able to get sufficient directness into our report in consequence of the Chairman’s passion for compromise and indirect methods.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 A. V. Alexander.

2 United Kingdom representative on the Imperial Economic Committee.

3 See Letter 19.

4 Sir Halford Mackinder.