Thursday, 15th August 1929

15th August, 1929

My dear Prime Minister,

I had a most interesting talk to-day with Dr. Drummond Shiels, the Under-Secretary of State for India. He lunched with me to discuss research problems as he has succeeded Walter Elliot [1] as Chairman of the Research Grants Committee of the Empire Marketing Board. We came down finally to a discussion of Philip Snowden’s [2] narrow free trade dogmatism and Shiels said he would try to get as many members of the Party as possible to notify MacDonald [3] of how much they disapprove of narrow Liberal tenets in Empire matters. Shiels is, of course, muzzled so far as speeches go by his office, but he will, I trust, prove useful in the House lobbies.


I have completed a memo on Bulk Purchase, as you requested in your last letter. [4] You will realise that I have not yet given the matter much thought, but these appear to me to be the most possible lines. I will try them on Graham [5] and Sir Sydney Chapman [6] at Geneva and on a certain number of others and hope in October to be able to let you have some of the reactions of the Labour Party thereon.


The general feeling here appears to be that Henderson [7] over Egypt and more definitely Snowden at Geneva [8] have done a great deal to improve the immediate prospects of the Government. What intolerable fools the last crowd were to have all these loose ends ready and waiting for their opponents to make ‘kudos’ from.

Amery [9], you will have seen, has in a speech in Canada, definitely recanted over food taxes, or at least wheat taxation.

This, I’m sure, is all to the good for the flag of Protection naked and unashamed held aloft in Amery’s hands would have attracted few converts and would have put back the clock. Amery’s recantation has, I think, come too late for his own purposes. I hope and trust that the news Neville Chamberlain [10] gave me of his own transfer from Local Government to Empire matters will prove true.


I enclose a marked copy of ‘Punch’ with some amusing verses by Evoe about the E.M.B. [11]


I have posted to you by this mail a novel which will be published next Monday. It is by a man I know and I feel sure you will find it amusing, although the story itself is not well done and the love motive pretty poor muck. The idea is that a Socialist Government in 1933 decides to hand back the Tanganyika mandate to Germany. The Tanganyika settlers arm, but send envoys to the Dominions. A German expedition arrives secretly at Dar-es-Salaam and simultaneously the Governor receives cabled instructions to hand over. This transfer starts, when suddenly H.M.A.S.’s ‘Canberra’ and ‘Adelaide’ arrive and present an ultimatum to the German admiral demanding the instant re-embarkation of the German force in the name of the Governments of Australia and New Zealand.

You have not commented upon H. Blundell’s ‘Undertones of War’ [12], which I also sent you privately some time ago. It has attracted a great deal of attention here.


I am enclosing the minutes of a recent meeting, as on that occasion I elaborated some views which I believe you will find interesting. I should be glad if you can find time to read the minutes. The report on Pig Products [13] has now been signed and it is, I think, a good workmanlike report, but contains little of general interest. You will be receiving a cabled request from the Committee for authority to present a General report based upon the experience gained by the Committee during the last three years. I have no doubt that you will agree, but I have some doubts as to Canada’s attitude.

Your letter of June 20th: After re-reading this letter I find that in my last letter from Yorkshire [14] and in what I have already written to you to-day I have covered all the principal points.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Conservative M.P.; Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland in the Conservative Government.

2 Chancellor of the Exchequer.

3 Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister.

4 See note 12 to Letter 223.

5 William Graham, President of the Board of Trade.

6 Economic Adviser to the British Government.

7 Arthur Henderson, Foreign Secretary. In 1922 Egypt had been proclaimed a sovereign state by a Declaration in which several matters were reserved by Great Britain. Subsequent negotiations to settle these matters repeatedly broke down. In June 1929, the Egyptian Prime Minister, Muhammad Mahmud Pasha, reached agreement with Henderson on draft proposals, which were published on 6 August. Mahmud Pasha, however, was forced to resign from office shortly after his return to Egypt, without succeeding in having the proposals discussed by the Egyptian Parliament.

8 Presumably a reference to the seven-power conference, held in fact at The Hague, which approved in principle a plan formulated by a committee chaired by U.S. Representative Owen Young to settle finally the payment of German reparations. Snowden, sitting on the Financial Committee, was credited with a firm defence of the interests of British taxpayers.

9 Leopold Amery, Conservative M.P.; Secretary for the Colonies 1924-29 and for Dominion Affairs 1925-29. In the Times, 13 August, Amery was reported as stating that Empire free trade was an impracticable ideal because Britain could not tax wheat to give Canada preference.

10 Conservative M.P.; Minister of Health in the Conservative Government.

11 ‘The Rime of the Empire Marketing Board’, Punch, 7 August, read in part:

‘For these are they that among the nations Have left us not in the lurch But pressed with infinite care and patience Economic investigations And subsidised research.’ 12 Presumably E. C. Blunden, Undertones of War, Cobden-Sanderson, London, 1928; recollections and poems concerning World War 1.

13 Reports of the Imperial Economic Committee. Twelfth Report.

Pigs and Pig Products, 1929.

14 Neither letter has been found.