Thursday, 22nd April 1926

22nd April, 1926


Dear Mr. Bruce,

I have already written you a special letter about one point connected with Migration. [1] There have not been any happenings of especial significance this week.


I learnt this morning that the Chairman [2] proposes to hold the first meeting of the Dairy Produce Enquiry on May 11th. I also learnt that it is probable that the personnel of Mr. Amery’s [3] Advisory Spending Committee will not be announced until after this first meeting.

If this is true, I regret the delay because if any first fruits of the policy of Voluntary Preference are to become available before the Imperial Conference, Amery will have to set to work at the earliest possible date. I understand that my name has been suggested to Mr. Amery as one member of his Advisory Body.


The date of publication of the Fruit Report will not be until May 7th. This is largely due to the pressure on the Stationery Office but, with a little energy, we could have published some time ago.

I am going to do all I can to get effective newspaper comment for the Report.


I enclose a reproduction of the ‘Times Trade Supplement’ advertisement. [4] In this form the advertisement is being sent to all Wholesale and Retail Grocers and to many other people. I enclose a copy of letters which I received this morning from Lord Stamfordham [5] and from certain ministers to whom I had sent a copy.


On Tuesday I invited Miss Margaret Bondfield [6] to lunch in order to introduce Major Greene [7] to her.

As you know Miss Bondfield is a member of the Overseas Settlement Committee and takes the keenest interest in migration. We had an interesting talk. Miss Bondfield was much concerned about alleged excessive charges against migrants in Western Australia which I understood from her the Overseas Settlement Committee are investigating.

Major Greene asked her whether she thought a useful purpose would be served if the Commonwealth Government invited the British Labour Movement to send a delegation to Australia to (a) enquire into conditions of migration on the spot (b) confer with the Labor Party in Australia on migration.

Miss Bondfield was strongly of opinion that any such arrangement would be most useful. She expressed the strongest conviction that all assisted migrants for land settlement should receive a preliminary training in Great Britain. She did not mean a training to take the place of training in Australia but she explained that only 6% of the British people lived in agricultural areas and that the second generation of urban dwellers lost all sense of the land.

Under these circumstances she felt that many failures, damaging to the idea of migration, would be obviated if applicants had to undergo from four to six months land training here. They would learn to milk, to handle farm horses and would begin to realise whether they were fitted for land settlement. I believe she convinced Major Greene.

So far as I am concerned, I have long held the view that something of this sort is necessary. In the best interests of the Empire as a whole I do not believe that it is advisable for us to seek to encourage the migration of the British skilled agricultural worker, and I believe the proper stamp of urban dweller will make a good land settler but his aptitude for the land should receive some preliminary test here.


Today Tom Johnston had lunch with me. I have on several occasions told you how high an opinion I am taking of this Labour Member. He has recently spent several months in India and I find that he has broadened very considerably as a result.

I regard Johnston as being the most useful medium for spreading Empire ideals in the Labour Party. My reasons are that he wisely insists on maintaining a predominantly labour point of view on Empire questions, unlike J. H. Thomas [9] and Haden Guest [10] who have both tended to depart rather far from the Labour standpoint.

He is also a definitely Left wing man.

Johnston says that Moscow continually invites Labour members to visit Russia and carries on a ceaseless propaganda. He wants to see plenty of opportunities made for Labour members to investigate Empire problems on the spot. He hopes that a couple of real Left Wingers, such as Kirkwood [11] and Purcell [12], will be included in the Empire Parliamentary Delegation to Australia. He wants to see the next twelve to eighteen months well used on the education of Labour as to what the Empire can be made to mean.

He and I discussed what Empire countries could be visited by Labour members in the near future. We formed vague schemes about Palestine, Iraq, British Guiana and West Africa. I put the idea of a Labour Delegation on Migration to Australia and he very strongly supported the idea.

I will write to you further about Johnston and his views next mail. I now want to draw your attention to this idea of a Labour Delegation to Australia.

Would it not be possible for your Government to invite the British Trade Union Conference to send a delegation of, say, five, three men and two women, (to include I hope Miss Bondfield) to visit Australia. The purpose of the visit to be definitely laid down to be (a) to investigate migration conditions upon the spot.

(b) to confer with organized Labour in Australia on the subject of migration and particularly on the welcome which can be expected by British migrants from Australian labour.

If your Government made such a suggestion offering to pay the expenses of such a visit, I think most useful purposes would be served. To begin with the mere invitation, whether accepted or not, would be of value. It would show that you were prepared to put all the cards upon the table and it would cause discussion in Labour circles. If accepted, it might have a valuable effect upon Australian labour opinion and would certainly contribute substantially to the education of British labour.

You might even state that you had noticed the number of parties of British labour representatives who were visiting Russia and desired to give British labour an opportunity of learning more about conditions in a British Dominion.

I propose discussing the possibilities of arranging for visits of Labour members to the Crown Colonies and Protectorates with Amery and with Ormsby-Gore [13] when the latter returns from West Africa.


I desire to thank you for informing me by cable of your Government’s decision to agree to Economic subjects being dealt with at the Imperial Conference and not at a separate Imperial Economic Conference.

I am delighted to know that, in your message to H.M. Government, you made it clear that in 1926 you attach more importance to economic subjects than even in 1923.


I enclose the sixth article from the ‘Times Trade Supplement’ upon the Economic Problems of the Empire. [14]

I also enclose an interesting report of an address by Sir William Larke, of the National Federation of Iron & Steel Manufacturers.

I further enclose a private letter. [15]

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 See Letter 65.

2 Sir Halford Mackinder.

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

4 Times Imperial and Foreign Trade and Engineering Supplement, 17 April. The advertisement included graphs and figures comparing purchases of British exports by Australia and by Britain’s other suppliers of dried fruits-the U.S.A., Spain, Greece and Turkey- with the message ‘By buying Australian Dried Fruits . . . you increase the purchasing power of your own BEST CUSTOMERS’.

5 Private Secretary to King George V.

6 Labour M.P. and trade unionist; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour, Tom Shaw, 1924.

7 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.

8 Editor of Forward, a Glasgow labour paper.

9 General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen; Colonial Secretary 1924.

10 L. Haden Guest, writer; Secretary of the Labour Party Commonwealth Group.

11 David Kirkwood, General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Housing Association.

12 A. A. Purcell, President of the International Federation of Trade Unions.

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

14 ‘Economic Problems of the Empire. VI.-Britain’s Food Supplies’, Times Imperial and Foreign Trade and Engineering Supplement, 17 April.

15 Not found.