Thursday, 7th January 1926

7th January, 1926


Dear Mr. Bruce,

Owing to the holidays, there has been little doing during the last fortnight.

So far as I can judge, the Government ended the session in a very much stronger position than when the Autumn meetings started.

Convinced as one is that Mr. Baldwin [1] is not very able nor very quick in the uptake, yet one must admire the way on which he rises to the occasion and from all accounts he handled the House of Commons extremely well over the Mosul Debate. [2] The good atmosphere for the Government was due to Locarno [3], the Irish adjustment [4] and finally to Mosul and they escaped from severe criticism on economic matters and on their failure to do much for Empire trade.

You may remember from my earlier letters that when I reached London last January (1925), one of my earliest experiences was a lecture from Cunliffe-Lister [5] on the great advantage of a 1,000,000 annual grant for the stimulation of Empire trade over the preferences which His Majesty’s Government had felt bound to drop. He clearly desired to impress on me that the main use of the 1,000,000 would be ADVERTISING. I ventured to express considerable scepticism, but he eagerly gave me chapter and verse for the triumphs of advertisement. I think I also told you that a number of journalists informed me that Mr. Amery [6] had assured a private meeting of newspaper men that at least 500,000 out of the annual grant would be spent on newspaper advertising. In personal discussion I did not find Amery nearly as rapturous as Cunliffe- Lister over advertisement but he obviously thought this the best possible method of spending the bulk of the million.

When the work of the Imperial Economic Committee started, I had a number of bright ideas about insurance and finance in connection with the 1,000,000 but I found that the personnel of the Committee at that stage would not have been in the least sympathetic and I therefore came to feel that we had better do what we could along the lines of Identification, Publicity and Research. I have sent you full particulars of the ideas which I have formed as to the value of publicity aimed at educating the British people as to the importance of the Empire to themselves.

The awkward thing now is the changed attitude of the Government here. They appear to regard the proposal to spend 650,000 on publicity as being a most revolutionary proposal and they are fighting shy of the proposed Executive Commission.

So far as I can gather, their idea appears to be that, instead of an Executive Commission charged with carrying into effect the whole of such recommendation of the Imperial Economic Committee as may be approved in principle by the Government, a council of Ministers should consider any concrete and practical suggestions made by the Imperial Economic Commiteee, and should distribute the appropriate executive action among the various existing departments, the whole to be under the constant check and supervision of the Treasury.

The whole Committee will regard such action as being profoundly unsatisfactory. I very much hope that the Government will modify their supposed present attitude and will accept in principle our recommendations. If they had vision they would certainly give the proposals an enthusiastic welcome both on national and also upon political grounds.


I learnt from Forsyth [8] of the New Zealand Meat Board that the New Zealand Government were approaching Sir James Cooper in connection with the London Agency of the New Zealand Butter Board.

I therefore asked Sir James for information. He told me that the New Zealand High Commissioner [9] was urging him to accept a watching brief for the New Zealand Government on the Butter Agency at a salary of 1,500 a year for a small proportion of his time.

He told me that he had refused but that Sir James Allen had also refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.


I enclose some figures of Australian Meat shipments given me by Forsyth, of the New Zealand Meat Board. He says that Australia by shipping huge quantities of lamb on the market in October and November has driven prices far lower than they need have fallen.

If the Australian export trade in lamb and mutton is going to revive, it would seem very necessary to have some arrangement analogous with that of the New Zealand Meat Board for the regulation of shipments.


I enclose a question asked on the last day of the session, which will interest you. I would particularly draw attention to the Prime Minister’s reply to the supplementary question. [10]

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

2 See note 8 to Letter 34.

3 The Treaty of Mutual Guarantee was concluded at Locarno on 16 October 1925. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy guaranteed the existing Belgian-German and Franco-German borders and the demilitarisation of the Rhineland. Germany, France and Belgium undertook not to employ physical force against each other.

4 The London Agreement, made between representatives of Dublin, Belfast and London, was embodied in legislation passed by the House of Commons on 8 December 1925. It resolved several issues outstanding since the Irish Treaty of 1922, including the boundary between Ulster and the Irish Free State.

5 Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, President of the Board of Trade.

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

7 Company director; Chairman of the London Agencies of the Commonwealth Dried Fruits and Dairy Produce Control Boards.

8 R. S. Forsyth, New Zealand representative on the Imperial Economic Committee.

9 Sir James Allen.

10 Both questions were put by R. J. Boothby, Conservative M.P., on 17 December 1925 and concerned government policy regarding the recommendations of the Imperial Economic Committee. The supplementary question asked whether the Dominions’ views were known, to which Baldwin replied that he should like notice before answering. See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 189, col. 1614.