Wednesday, 11th September 1929

11th September, 1929


[Written from Geneva]

My dear Prime Minister,

To-day’s news brings the information of your Government’s defeat in Committee upon the Referendum amendment, and theJjournal de Geneve announces an immediate dissolution, and the Daily Mail reports a General Election at the end of October. [1] I fear this must all mean that the load of work which you have to tackle will once again be intensified. I therefore shall not inflict any long letter upon you.

Since my last letter, things have been very busy on the economic side of the Assembly. On Friday last I arranged a meeting of the British Empire members of the Second Committee with Graham. [2] I enclose two statements which I prepared for this meeting-one dealing with the difficulties facing the Dominions and India over the British attitude on the League and Tariffs, and the other with our desires in regard to the League and economic information. We had a most useful meeting. Graham proved sympathetic and South Africa, New Zealand, India, and Irish Free State backed our point of view.

On Monday Graham made an excellent speech. He strongly backed our economic information proposals, and in his references to the lowering of tariffs kept Europe so completely in the foreground as to make it clear that the British proposals were for Europe rather than for the world. I shall send you a verbatim copy of Graham’s speech by next mail together with some comments on the economic unity of Europe idea.

To-day Major Marr [3] spoke in the Assembly to a rather thin House. His speech went well and I was delighted to find that while the British delegates found his remarks on things economic quite satisfactory, India, South Africa, and Ireland were all really delighted with the way in which he expressed their point of view.

I will forward a copy of this portion of his speech by next mail.

About the Imperial Conference and Canada-I only received your reply to my cable just three hours before MacDonald [4] left Geneva, so could not arrange to see him. Sir Sydney Chapman [5] however, had an interview so I arranged for him to let MacDonald have your point of view. With Graham I had a long talk. He obviously personally prefers the idea of London for the Imperial Economic Conference but stated that he had not been consulted before the British reply was sent to the Canadian invitation or rather I suppose, the Canadian approach to an invitation. [6] I am keeping in touch with Casey [7] about this matter.

May I conclude this brief letter with the expression of a very sincere hope that the burden of another election campaign may not prove too crushing and that you will be enabled to continue your work for Australia and for the Empire.


With the most sincere personal good wish,

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 In August, faced with a deteriorating economy and strikes and lockouts continuing in an atmosphere of increasing bitterness, the Government brought down an Arbitration Bill whereby Commonwealth arbitration machinery would largely have been dismantled and industrial relations left to the States. An amendment, moved by W.

M. Hughes, that the electorate should first be consulted was passed by the votes of several coalition and independent Members, the Speaker (Sir Littleton Groom) declining to give a casting vote in the Government’s favour. A dissolution was granted and a General Election set for 12 October.

2 William Graham, President of the Board of Trade.

3 Charles Marr, Minister for Home and Territories 1927-28;

Honorary Minister and leader of the Australian delegation to the League of Nations Assembly 1929.

4 Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister. See Letter 254.

5 Economic Adviser to the British Government.

6 See note 9 to Letter 255.

7 R. G. Casey, Commonwealth Government’s Liaison Officer in London.