Thursday, 29th October 1925

29th October, 1925


Dear Mr. Bruce,


I have been confidentially informed that the Inter-Departmental Committee referred to in my letter of October 22nd has now reported to the President of the Board of Trade. [1] They have put forward three alternative schemes again on the lines which I mentioned in my last letter.

I saw Mr. Amery [2] on Monday and had about an hour with him. He questioned me very closely about the views of the Oversea Members of the Imperial Economic Committee. I put to him once again the two points brought out in my letter to Cunliffe-Lister [3], namely that the Imperial Economic Committee would be glad of an opportunity (1) to state in greater detail for the private information of His Majesty’s Government just what type of publicity they had in mind when recommending that 65% of the 1,000,000 should be devoted to publicity.

(2) to consider and express their confidential views upon the type of machinery which may tend to recommend itself to His Majesty’s Government after Cabinet consideration of the Inter-Departmental Committee’s report.

Mr. Amery appeared both to be sympathetic and impressed.

I discussed planning ahead on Inter-Empire Economic relations with Mr. Amery and he definitely stated that he approved of my ideas. I suggested to him that he should discuss the matter with his two Under-Secretaries Lord Clarendon [4] and Mr. Ormsby-Gore [5] and get them to co-operate with a little group for the purpose of getting some constructive thinking done. I also introduced Mr.

Amery to the Labour Committee’s report on sweated goods which I found he had not even seen.

In general as regards the Imperial Economic Committee, I find that in private negotiations I rather get forced into the position of representing the oversea representatives’ opinion to (a) the Chairman [6] (b) the Members of the Government. I can assure you that I have not sought anything of the sort, but I presume it may be ascribed to the fact that I am like Elijah ‘very zealous’.

It involves a great deal of additional work. I am, however, working on the general assumption that you are extremely keen on the Imperial Economic Committee being a success and that you would desire me to do everything in my power towards this end.

As an instance of what I mean-the question of the Banana trade with the West Indies occupies a good deal of time in connection with the Committee. I might say that Bananas do not interest Australia but I think that a very wrong point of view because great good can be done if we can show the British Government that Dominion representatives are keen on helping Crown Colonies.


I am enclosing copy of a letter which I received from this newly launched Association. It is the body which Mr. Amery and Mr.

Neville Chamberlain [7] were hoping to launch in May 1924, and about which I gave you some information when I was in Melbourne.

The original idea was to make the body strictly non-party but if you will glance through the names of the people associated with it, I am sure you will come to the conclusion, as I have already done, that it is perfectly impossible for such a body to be regarded as anything but an adjunct to the Conservative Party. I am quite sure that it will be regarded as being a body organized by the Conservative Industrial Group of the House of Commons, who incidentally are known to all Members of Parliament as the ‘Forty Thieves’. P. J. Hannon, Sir A. Shirley Benn and H. G. Williams are all members of this Group. I think by far the strongest personality associated with the body is Sir Hugo Hirst [8], whom I think you know.

Yesterday Dr. Haden Guest [9] came and told me that he had been

approached by Mr. Ben Morgan [10] to join the Association and appear at a big public meeting which they are proposing to hold in the near future. He told me it was quite impossible as his association with the Forty Thieves might even lead to expulsion from the Labour Party.

As I felt very strongly on this matter, I saw Sir Hugo Hirst last night and told him that the Empire Industries Association would be making a very great mistake if they attempted to force the issue of labour association at the present juncture and that they might make an even worse mistake if they got hold of one or two ex- Labour Leaders, such as Barnes and Roberts [11], and tried to pretend that, on the strength of these names, they were a non- party Organization.

We had a long talk about this and Sir Hugo came completely round to my view and promised me that he was either going to succeed in making the body non-party or else would sever his connection with it but we agreed that it would take from one to two years to convince people who matter that a body with such names associated with it could not possibly be strictly non-party. Sir Hugo is more optimistic than I am on this subject and hopes to be able to show definite bona fides of a non-party nature. I told him that I thought there was ample scope of work in steering the Conservatives to more intelligent and active interest in Empire affairs. This he agreed.

The association of Professor Hewins’ [12] name with the Association is also unfortunate because people will regard the body as simply a revival of the old Tariff Reform League.

I think it is also probably true that, so far as a certain number of the members of the Executive Committee are concerned, their real aim is the safeguarding of home industries and that they have placed the extension of Empire Preference in the forefront of the battle because they know that it is a very much more popular issue with the general public.

I will keep you informed from time to time as regards the activities of this Organization and the way in which it develops.


As you are probably aware, arrangements are being made for three Australian Broadcast talks during the month of November. I have been asked to do the second talk on the subject of Australian fruit and wine. A suggestion was afterwards made that Mr. Holman [13] should undertake this particular talk and to this I very readily agreed, provided Mr. Holman would consult with me as to the subject matter. Mr. Holman was quite agreeable to do this but the British Broadcasting Co. objected on the ground that arrangements had already been made. I understand that Mr. Holman is to be provided with several other opportunities of giving broadcast talks about Australia.


The Advertising Campaign is going well but is being somewhat hampered by the fact that the Greek market has shown further weakness and the price of Greek currants, superior in quality to our own very unsatisfactory supplies, has fallen as low as 29/- per cwt. We are getting a very considerable amount of editorial propaganda in addition to the advertisements for which we are paying. I do not think that you will be specially interested in seeing this type of publicity. I am therefore only forwarding cuttings on this subject to the Chairman of the Dried Fruit Board.


I am just completing for the Board a report on the economic position of the Dried Fruit Industry and also a brief statement on the present position of the preference issue. I shall forward copies of these memoranda by the next mail.

I enclose an interesting cutting from to-day’s ‘Daily Mail’ signed by Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister and Mr. Neville Chamberlain, which is likely to cause a good deal of stir at the present moment because I understand it is going to be heavily supported by the Press.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister.

2 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

3 See note 2 to Letter 35.

4 Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Dominion Affairs.

5 William Ormsby-Gore, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies.

6 Sir Halford Mackinder.

7 Minister of Health.

8 Chairman and Managing Director of General Electric Co. Ltd.

9 L. Haden Guest, Labour M.P.; Secretary of the Labour Party Commonwealth Group.

10 B. H. Morgan, consulting engineer; Chairman, British Empire Producers’ Organisation.

11 G. N. Barnes, Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party 1910- 11, and G. H. Roberts, Chief Party Whip in the Commons in 1907 and 1916, held ministerial posts in Lloyd George’s coalition government. In November 1918 a Party Conference resolved that all Labour ministers should immediately resign; those who did not comply, including Barnes and Roberts, automatically forfeited membership of the Party.

12 W. A. S. Hewins, economist and pioneering advocate of protective tariffs; Secretary to the Tariff Commission 1903-17, and Chairman of its successor, the Empire Development Union.

13 W. A. Holman, barrister and King’s Counsel; Premier of New South Wales 1913-20. He was in London to conduct the celebrated T. E.

Rofe case before the Privy Council.

14 W. C. F. Thomas.