Wednesday, 14th April 1926

14th April, 1926


Dear Mr. Bruce,


Major Greene called on me on Friday last and again on Monday.

After a talk with him, I rang up Lord Clarendon’s [2] Private Secretary and arranged an appointment for Greene. I have given him several other introductions and am going to invite several Labour and Conservative Members, who are keen on migration, to lunches to meet Greene.

I will do all I can to see that he has every chance of meeting the people who have a point of view to express.


The Secretary of the Imperial Economic Committee [3] has had further copies of some of the subsidiary reports duplicated and I am therefore able to send you copies of the Apple Report and the Citrus Report. [4] I am enclosing a memorandum on the advantages which the Fruit Report may secure for the Australian producer. I have prepared this for your information as I feel that you may find such a summary useful for a public speech or for a statement to the Press.

I now discover that the Chairman of the Imperial Economic Committee [5] does not propose to publish the report until the first week of May. If it should happen that serious trouble arises over the coal situation this will mean very little publicity. I have tried to arrange for publication at least a week before the opening of the Budget. I saw Lord Burnham [6] on Monday and induced him to give great publicity to the report in the ‘Daily Telegraph’, devoting on separate days space to the Main Report and then to the more important subsidiaries. I shall try to arrange for the same treatment by the ‘Times’.


The Editor tells me that he is sending you a special copy of this important number. [7] In it you will see an advertisement by the Australian Dried Fruit Board which I designed and of which I now enclose a ‘pull’.

So far as I am aware, this is the first purely ‘economic’ advertisement of a commodity. I showed a copy to Amery [8] and he asked me to send copies to every Member of Parliament. I am arranging for the London Agency of the Dried Fruit Board to have 60,000 copies printed of this advertisement, a copy sent to each wholesale and retail grocer in the United Kingdom. I am also arranging for a copy to be sent to the Secretary of every Chamber of Commerce and manufactures Association with a request for an expression of opinion from the members on this novel form of advertising.

I hope you will be interested in the ‘pull’.


I enclose a copy of the fifth article from the ‘Times Trade Supplement’ upon the Economic Problems of the Empire. [9] I would especially recommend this article to your notice. You will recognise the figures quoted in the table as emanating from me.

I also enclose a rather important leading article upon the Australian Tariff in which the paper replies to some statement apparently made by Mr. Pratten in the House of Representatives.


I also enclose, from the same issue, some editorial comments on the Annual Grant of H.M. Government. [11]


Last night I was in Hull speaking to the above Club on ‘Imperial Development’. I am sure you will be interested in the basis upon which this Club is formed.

As a result of the defeat of Baldwin’s Government in 1923 [12], the younger business men of Liverpool and of Hull took a serious view of things and formed a Club to interest themselves in politics and to examine political problems among themselves. The Members consist of the younger business men, almost exclusively those who are either already in a position of some authority in their respective businesses or are likely to succeed to such a position. The Club has an Economic section, Social Conditions section, and an Electioneering section. It is supposed to be non- party but, of course, is predominantly conservative.

It occasionally invites speakers to address the Club, when its proceedings are kept confidential. At its other meetings the various sections make reports on the work they have done. This idea of getting the younger business men to take an active interest in political and economic affairs appears to me to be particularly sound and I propose to try to encourage several of the younger Conservative M.P.’s, who represent industrial seats, to have such Clubs formed; for instance in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, and Bradford.

We must use the younger men to overcome the inertia of the old if we are to make rapid progress on Empire Development.


I enclose a copy of a report which appeared recently in a Greek newspaper. It is decidedly amusing. I presume it is the reflex action of Mr. George Fairbairn’s [13] remarks in Australia upon the better chance for wine in the United Kingdom markets rather than dried fruits.


On the 10th of April I received a cable from the Prime Minister’s Department on this subject. I quite understand the point of view which you have taken up and hope that economic subjects will receive the necessary attention and publicity. [14]

With reference to the draft proposal for a British Committee to explore the ground, which I sent you with my letter of March 31st [15], I discussed this with Lord Burnham on Monday. He said that he agreed with the necessity for some such action but was convinced, from his own experience of public life in this country, that an informal Committee, even if blessed by the Prime Minister, would achieve but little.

We explored the idea further and came to the conclusion that if, at the Imperial Conference, the Imperial Economic Committee was placed on a sounder basis and the British representation was improved, H.M. Government might be urged to appoint a Standing Committee to consider, from a British point of view, the need for speeding up Empire Development. Such a Committee might consist of the British representatives on the Imperial Economic Committee and several other persons, of whom Lord Burnham said he would gladly consider forming one.

Lord Burnham urged me to get an effective Committee of the younger Conservative M.P.’s to consider the economic side of the Imperial Conference and to ginger up the Government.


Up to date I am unaware as to whether your Government has approved the selection of Dairy Produce as the next subject for enquiry by the Imperial Economic Committee. I am, however, anticipating your approval. On April 9th and on April 12th I sent you the following cables- Reference Imperial Economic Committee I understand Canada has now agreed as temporary measure to presence of Canadian representative on Amery’s consultative spending body. Anticipate proposed Dairy Produce Enquiry will raise question of potential dangers to consumer of New Zealand and Australian export Control legislation.

New Zealand Dairy Produce Board’s policy more open to criticism than Australian. Present personnel on Committee sympathetic to your Government’s policy with possible exception Chairman and Sir Thomas Allen. [16] I propose asking London Agency Commonwealth Dairy Produce Board to prepare preliminary memorandum on all points of interest to Australian producers.

Your cable April 10th my reference meat and other products in my cable March 31st misunderstood. [17] I intended to say that I presumed British Government would include meat etc. in publicity expenditure from Annual Grant. Reference proposed Dairy Produce enquiry by Imperial Economic Committee hope you are arranging to forward full information for Australian Representatives.

Information should inter alia include following points (r) importance Australian Government attach to dairying from migration standpoint (2) Estimated number of Dairy farmers (3) Density of settlement in established Dairying areas (4) Possibilities of expansion of industry (5) Steps being taken to improve efficiency in production (6) Cost of production (7) Dairying and irrigation (8) By-products of dairying, condensed milk, casein etc. (9) Possibility development of pig products as complementary to butter production (10) Extent to which product handled co-operatively.

Suggest large organizations might be asked to prepare memoranda to be forwarded to Australian representatives. Information should be posted at earliest possible date.

I am wondering who you will appoint as the other representatives of Australia upon the Imperial Economic Committee for this enquiry. From an Australian political point of view I regard the Dairying Produce enquiry as being of the greatest importance and I want to leave no stone unturned to see that we have all the data for a complete and comprehensive report.

You may have considered some of the points on which I asked for information in my cable as being wide of the mark. For instance, the query as to the estimated number of Dairy producers.

My point is that I want to follow up the inferences in the Fruit Report by demonstrating the importance to Australia and New Zealand, to migration, and thus to Great Britain, of assistance to such industries as give close settlement conditions.

I thought the pig industry dealt with most inadequately in the Meat Report and I should like to bring it in again as an adjunct to Dairying. I happen to remember that when the poll of Dairy Producers was taken, Mulvany [18] told me that your Government sent out 100,000 ballot papers, so I assume it is possible to give these figures. I am very anxious that you should send me particulars as to the steps being taken to improve the efficiency of production. When Sir Robert Gibson’s [19] Committee considered Dairy Produce in Melbourne in 1924, we were all impressed with the low standards of efficiency in the industry and I want information to show that the production side is being resolutely tackled.

As regards criticisms of Export Control legislation, I think the Committee will take a sound line on this point.

I am enclosing a further personal letter to you on this subject.


Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 J. B. Greene, Sydney businessman; younger brother of Senator Sir Walter Massy Greene, several times a Minister in the Bruce and Lyons inter-war governments.

2 Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Dominion Affairs.

3 H. Broadley.

4 Subsidiary reports were not printed.

5 Sir Halford Mackinder.

6 Proprietor of the Daily Telegraph; President of the Empire Press Union.

7 Published 17 April.

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

9 ‘Economic Problems of the Empire. V.-Tariff Policy and Preference’, Times Imperial and Foreign Trade and Engineering Supplement, 10 April, largely reiterated McDougall’s arguments in Sheltered Markets. The table showed a large percentage increase in export figures of several European countries for 1923-25, while British exports remained almost static.

10 On 3 March, H. E. Pratten, Australian Minister for Trade and Customs, referred to a resolution hostile to the new tariff passed by the N. S.W. Country Traders’ Association and reported in the Times Imperial and Foreign Trade and Engineering Supplement on 7 November 1925. The leading article demonstrated that views favourable to the new tariff had been quoted in the same article.

11 The paper deplored the reduction of the grant to 500 000 for 1926-27.

12 Stanley Baldwin’s Conservative government lost its outright majority in the General Election of 6 December 1923, but Baldwin continued as Prime Minister of a minority government until he lost a vote of confidence on 22 January 1924.

13 Grazier; Member of the House of Representatives 1906-13;

Senator 1917-22; Agent-General for Victoria in London.

14 The cable read in part: ‘We are acquiescing in economic questions being dealt with at Imperial Conference and stating that we are doing so because we consider economic questions even more important now than in 1923 and that recommendations will have greater authority if made by Imperial Conference’. The cable is on file AA:CP317/8, bundle 2.

15 Letter 61.

16 Director of the Co-operative Wholesale Society; United Kingdom representative on the Imperial Economic Committee.

17 The text of the cable is given in Letter 61. In the cable cited in note 14 it was explained that advertising expenditure under a publicity scheme financed jointly by the Dairy Produce and Dried Fruits Control Boards and the Australian Fruit Canners Association would be confined to their products.

18 E. J. Mulvany, Secretary of the Department of Markets and Migration.

19 Manufacturer and company director; Chairman of the Federal Economy Commission 1917-21; appointed Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank, 14 September 1926.

20 Letter 63.