Thursday, 27th June 1929

27th June, 1929


My dear Prime Minister,

Yesterday I took Harry Gibson [1], of the Melbourne Trades Hall, out to lunch and we had an interesting talk.

Through Major Fuhrman [2], Gibson had wired to me from Geneva asking for information about Imperial Preference as he desired to discuss the subject with the other British Empire Workers’ Delegates. He told me that a very useful beginning had been made towards the idea of regular meetings of the Empire Workers’ Delegates, and I was delighted to find how clearly he appreciated the possibilities latent in such meetings. Unfortunately, owing to the British General Election, the British Delegation was weak, the only firstclass man among the six or seven advisers to the official Workers’ Delegate being Ernest Bevin [3], of the Transport Union.

Gibson stated strongly his opinion that, in the past, the Australian Workers’ Delegate has been ineffective at Geneva and this for two reasons: firstly the fact that the delegate changes each year and comes alone without technical assistants, and, secondly, because some of the delegates have regarded the whole affair as a holiday. Gibson would like to see some element of continuity and mentioned the dispatch of a technical assistant with the Workers’ Delegate, the technical assistant to be a man who had already had experience as a delegate. Gibson thought that Australia would thus be able to pull her weight and the scheme might lead to effective Inter-Imperial collaboration in this field with generally beneficial effects in other fields of Imperial economic cooperation.

I have arranged for Gibson to lunch with me again in ten days time when I am hoping to get Tom Johnston [4] to meet him.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Delegate to the International Labour Conference, Geneva, 2 O. C W. Fuhrman, Private Secretary to the Australian High Commissioner 1922-26, often served as secretary to Australian delegations to the League of Nations.

3 General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union. 4 Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland; Editor of Forward, a Glasgow labour paper.