Wednesday, 16th December 1925

16th December, 1925


Dear Mr. Bruce,


A few days ago Mr. Wardlaw-Milne [1], M.P., the Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Imperial Affairs Committee (Mr. Amery [2] is the Chairman) asked me to dine quietly with him in order to discuss a suggestion that he had in mind in reference to Migration. He felt that there were two great obstacles to a policy of rapid Empire Development (1) the anti-food tax pledges of Mr. Baldwin [3], and (2) the anti-migrant spirit in the Dominions.

So far as the first was concerned, I told him that if the Government would accept the recommendations of the Imperial Economic Committee and would put them into operation with zeal and enthusiasm, the first obstacle would be at least temporarily removed. To this he agreed but said that he regarded the second as also being very weighty.

I pointed out the dependence of migration upon markets. He agreed but cited the reluctance of Australian State Labor Governments to help migration. He felt that it was necessary to take up fresh ground on the migration question and suggested that a very strong organization should be formed which should, if possible, include all the existing societies, Big Brother, Child, etc. etc., to undertake large administrative and financial obligations in regard to migration. He felt that if such a body could be formed, it could well be backed by British Government financial guarantees.

His idea was that the suggested body should share with the Dominion Governments the financial responsibility of land settlement, on this basis -that if the Dominions would ease their drastic selective policy, the body should be responsible for the migrant for a period of say 3 years and undertake to ship failures back to Great Britain for that period. He felt, however, that the body could not assume full financial responsibility.

We had an interesting and purely tentative discussion. I suggested that if his idea was taken up, a possible basis for division of financial obligation would be that the Dominion Government should be responsible for such expenses of land settlement as led to permanent improvements, i.e. the land, clearing, fencing, dwelling, etc., while the proposed body should undertake subsistence, transportation, etc.

Wardlaw-Milne wants to work up this idea into a form in which it could be seriously discussed but in the meantime I should be very glad if you would let me know if you see any elements of brightness in his ideas.

21st December


Since the return of the Empire Press Delegation, I have had a long talk with Capt. Shaw, of the ‘Times’, who accompanied Astor, and have had lunch with Astor. I gather that the impressions they have

brought back can be summarised as follows:

1. Australia gave them a wonderful time.

2. That the Australian is more alive to Empire necessities than is the Englishman.

3. That Australians are woefully ignorant of the first principles of economics.

4. That primary production is being heavily penalised by what they describe as extreme protection.

5. That if any serious calamity befell the wool-growing industry, Australian finance and secondary production would be in a very bad way.

I told Astor that I did not entirely agree with his diagnosis but that, on the assumption that he was right, the remedy was more largely in the hands of the Government here than most people imagined. I pointed out that for the last twelve months His Majesty’s Government has done nothing to help Empire trade except to carry the preferences. If the Government would make it abundantly clear that it meant to assist the marketing of Empire products, this would have the happiest psychological results in the Dominions.

Astor appeared to agree and gave me to understand that he proposes to incite the ‘Times’ to urge the Government to activity, starting in the middle of January.

Astor normally leaves the editor a completely free hand but in this case I think he will find G. D. [5] quite willing to co- operate I very much regret that the election campaign made it impossible for you to have any serious talk with Astor.

While on the subject of the ‘Times’, I may mention that Peterson, the Dominions Editor, spoke to me the other day about an ambition he has to become the next Editor of the ‘Argus’. He put it that he had done amazingly well in getting his present job, but saw little prospect of rapid advancement and would like to handle the ‘Argus’ in support of your general policy.


The Parliamentary Session came to an end yesterday without the Government having made any declaration of their intentions in regard to the First Report of the Imperial Economic Committee. It was, however, very significant to notice that, in the King’s Speech at the conclusion of the Session, reference was made to the fact that, in addition to the preferences which had been carried into effect, His Majesty’s Government was earnestly considering other schemes for assisting the marketing of Empire products.

I am told that this reference was added to the King’s speech by the Government as a result of the very large number of questions that had been asked recently in Parliament. I enclose a series of these questions which may be of interest to you, and also a marked copy of the King’s speech.

I have no doubt myself that your cable had as much or more influence in causing the Government to put this sentence in the King’s speech as had the parliamentary questions. [6]

The last meeting of the full Committee was held on the 16th December and no further meeting of the full Committee will be held until the 12th of January. Sir Halford Mackinder [7] has gone away for a holiday but, in the meantime, several meetings of the Banana Sub-Committee and of the Price Structures Sub-Committee will be held. Sir Halford intends to return about the 7th of January and has asked Mr. Gubbay [8] and myself to hold ourselves available for work on the Drafting Committee during the weekend following.

The Secretary [9] also has a great deal of preliminary drafting work to do and I think that the Committee will complete all its evidence during the second week of January and I expect the Fruit Report will be signed before the end of the month.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 J. S. Wardlaw-Milne.

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

3 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

4 J. J. Astor, Unionist M.P.; Chairman of The Times Publishing Company.

5 Geoffrey Dawson, Editor of the Times.

6 See note 7 to Letter 44.

7 Chairman of the Imperial Economic Committee.

8 M. M. S. Gubbay, representative of the Government of India on the Imperial Economic Committee.

9 H. Broadley.