Wednesday, 13th January 1926

13th January, 1926


Dear Mr. Bruce,

Ministers here continue to take their Christmas vacation. I think a Conservative administration fully understands the art of relaxation. Mr. Amery [1] is in Switzerland, and Cunliffe-Lister [2] in Yorkshire. There has been little news of moment except the reports of a possible Imperial Conference in October. Although I understand you favour this, I am very doubtful whether, from an economic standpoint, it would be very useful. The British Government, apart from passing the abridged version of the preferences, has done very little and I feel that they should be urged to do something tangible before their policy, or lack of policy, comes before the bar of an Imperial Economic Conference.

Perhaps you feel that you would like to take a personal hand in the urging! Although that would be extremely effective, I feel that the Government ought to act before being forced in an obvious way.

Perhaps the idea will be for an Imperial Conference purely on Foreign policy. That is a subject entirely beyond my ken but I hope that every Imperial Conference will mean an Economic Conference also.


We are at last at grips with the drafting of the Fruit Report and I hope it may be complete about the end of this month. It will certainly be a larger document than either of the previous reports. I expect it will, inter alia, deal with finance of growers, control by producers’ organization, abuses by Commission salesmen, and will also, I very much hope, set out most clearly the great advantage to (a) migration (b) the British export trade if stable markets can be found for the products of the small producer.


At my suggestion, we have formed an Imperial Dining Circle. The members consist of the Imperial Economic and the Imperial Shipping Committees. The idea is to dine monthly and to invite useful Members of Parliament as guests. We had the first dinner last night. Ormsby-Gore [3] was the principal guest, his subject ‘Colonies and Dependencies’ and he spoke very well indeed. The discussion was most useful.

In case there is a Conference this year, may I now book you as principal guest for a dinner in October? I’m sure it would be a useful occasion.


Today I had a very long discussion with Mr. Ormsby-Gore. He leaves for a five months trip to West Africa in a few days time. I urged him to try before he left to inspire Mr. Amery with a determination to see some real use made of the Imperial Economic Committee and some effect given to the First Report of that body.

He confirmed my feeling that Churchill [4] carries too many guns for Mr. Amery or for Cunliffe-Lister and gave me to understand that, while he would do everything he could, he was very worried about the inertia of the Government on Imperial Economic subjects.

We further discussed other means of getting the Government to action. He feels that the most hopeful way is by educating members. He also thought a full dress debate might be staged in the House of Lords early in next session.

I have formed a very high opinion of Ormsby-Gore’s ability. He has, as you know, rather a bad manner but I think he is becoming more generally liked in the House.


I heard today that the Grand Council of the F.B.I. had adopted the letter (a copy of which I sent you last week) [5] and that it will be issued to the press on Friday. [6] I hope this will help to galvanize the Government towards action.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

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

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

4 Winston Churchill, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

5 Not found.

6 On 15 January the Times reported that the Federation of British Industries had appealed to the Prime Minister to take action on the recommendations of the Imperial Economic Committee to stimulate British exports.