Tuesday, 30th July 1929

30th July, 1929


My dear Prime Minister,

With reference to the cable from your Department dated 26th July stating that you were being pressed by the International Institute of Agriculture at Rome for the nomination of a Commonwealth representative, I got in touch with Sir Charles Thomas, the head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and found that the British Government had decided to be represented and had nominated Mr. Enfield. [1]

Sir Charles Thomas said that he very much hoped that Australia would be represented on this first occasion, because he felt that Empire collaboration, at least during the early stages of the Committee, might be very useful.

I cabled this information but you also asked what stage the negotiations between Rome and Geneva had reached.

I was fortunately able to see Sir Arthur Salter, the head of the Economic Organization of the League, who happened to be in London.

He explained that, at the meeting of the League Council at Madrid, the Italian representative objected to the formation of a permanent Agricultural Committee at Geneva but that other members of the Council were in favor of it. He said that the Council recognised that the Economic Committee of the League, under its standing powers, could form an Agricultural Panel to advise them whenever advice on agricultural matters was necessary and he thought one might take it for granted that this method of procedure would be adopted, as it would avoid the strenuous objections of Italy to the formation of a Permanent Agricultural Committee at Geneva.

Salter’s view was that there was no point in holding aloof from the Agricultural Economics Committee at Rome. He also said that he thought it was impossible to tell, at this stage, whether the work of the new Committee at Rome was likely to be of any great practical importance. He strongly urged, however, that Australia should be represented at the first meeting, although he said that he thought it was quite possible we might not feel it was necessary to be always represented at later meetings.

I do not know, of course, whether you would have in mind to appoint me as your representative and to ask me to go to Rome in time for October 3rd. Should this prove to be the case, it would merely mean that I would have to go on from Geneva to Rome without returning to London, for it is probable that the Assembly will not complete its work until about the 26th of September. This would, in many ways, be a nuisance but I have all these things so much at my fingers’ end at the present time that it would probably be better for me to go than for you to send anybody else. Of course the governmental activity here will not become intense until the middle of October.


I enclose a copy of an article from today’s ‘Times’ entitled ‘Empire Trade’, the typescript of which I forwarded to you with my letter of the 18th July last. [2]

With reference to Beaverbrook’s [3] campaign for Empire Free Trade, I am now enclosing a copy of an article by Amery [4] from this week’s ‘Sunday Express’.

My mail this week is necessarily very brief I am going to Aberystwyth tomorrow morning for a discussion on pasture research with Dr. Stapledon and Dr. Orr [5] at the Research Station there.

I am then going on to two other Research Stations, after which I intend to take a few days holiday over the August Bank Holiday and shall probably not be back in London until August 12th.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 R. R. Enfield, Principal, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

2 Letter 247 3 Lord Beaverbrook, Chief Proprietor of the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Evening Standard.

4 Leopold Amery, Conservative M.P.; Secretary for the Colonies 1924-29 and for Dominion Affairs 1925-29 5 R. G. Stapledon, Professor of Agricultural Botany, University College of Wales, and Director of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station; J. B. Orr, Director of the Rowett Institute for Research in Animal Nutrition, Aberdeen.