Thursday, 24th June 1926

24th June, 1926


Dear Mr. Bruce,


The Committee is making good progress with the Dairy Produce enquiry. So far as Butter and Cheese are concerned, we have nearly completed our list of witnesses and shall proceed to the drafting of a report in about ten days time. Once again the Committee has insisted upon my serving on the Drafting Sub-Committee.

I have found Mr. Clifford [1] a useful colleague and I am happy to state that we find ourselves in complete agreement in our views on the Export Control policy and upon the type of recommendations that we desire to see in the report.

I found the memorandum you sent to me extremely useful. By its aid I was able to overcome the Chairman’s [2] reluctance to bring into the report consideration of questions of improvement of production.

From the evidence given and from the general attitude of members, it has already become apparent that the Committee will bless Export Control in so far as control means (a) the regulation of shipments (b) improvement of quality (c) supervision of marketing in London-in fact orderly marketing as a whole, but that, on the other hand, it will sound a warning against the speculative holding of butter in cold storage for long periods in this country on behalf of producers. In other words the methods employed by the Australian Board will be blessed but the intentions credited to the New Zealand Board will be criticised.

As soon as this point becomes quite certain I shall suggest to Mr.

Clifford that we should cable this information to you because I have heard rumours that some members of the Australian Dairy Board are looking with favour on the New Zealand methods.


I am enclosing a small selection of the press comments upon this report. I have marked one or two places for your attention.

I would especially ask you to glance through the article from ‘Forward’, Mr. Tom Johnston’s [3] labour weekly. I suppose one can say that the report has had a good press, but I do not think the newspapers have caught the essential points very well. This is largely due to the very inadequate speech which Mackinder made to the press representatives on the day of issue of the report. He emphasised the non-essential and left the Imperial aspects in the background.

I was very pleased to see a cabled report of a speech of yours in which you stated that the Fruit Report fully justified the establishment of the Imperial Economic Committee.


The preliminary work in connection with this Board is requiring a very great deal of thought and of consultation. I am delighted to find in Major Walter Elliot M.P., the Under-Secretary for Scotland, a most satisfactory colleague and in fact ally.

Elliot, Ormsby-Gore [4] and myself envisage the problems of Research, and publicity from the same angles and together I feel sure that we shall be able to shape a policy for the Board which will be effective. The staff so far appointed are good men. I arranged that E. M. H. Lloyd [5] (the Stabilization expert) should be one of the staff, and the Permament Head S.G. Tallents [6] is an able and keen fellow also.


I enclose, for your personal information, a copy of the proposals made to the Board by the small Sub-Committee. These proposals have now been accepted by the whole Board.

At yesterday’s meeting Amery [7] announced that certain of the gentlemen whom he suggested should be asked to serve on the Publicity Committee had accepted but that he had not yet been able to get in touch with Lord Burnham. [8]

It was decided that the Chair of the Publicity Committee should be taken by a Minister and Mr. Ormsby-Gore was selected for the purpose; Sir William Clark, the Head of the Department of Overseas Trade; Sir Thomas Allen, of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, and Mr. Lindsay [9] and Mr. W. S. Crawford [10] were placed on the Committee and then Mr. Amery stated that he felt that it was essential that I should serve. I told the Board that I would prefer not to do so as I was anxious to serve on the Research Committee but Amery, Major Elliot and several other members of the Board, including Crawford, all insisted and I reluctantly consented.

It would, of course, be very useful for the Australian joint Publicity Scheme that I should be on this Publicity Committee of the Empire Marketing Board but I feel that I am getting almost overloaded with work.


The Research Committee have not yet formulated their report. Major Elliot, who is the Chairman, felt that it was necessary to explore the ground very thoroughly and he therefore invited the leading men of the various Research Departments to meet the Committee at dinner in the House of Commons. We sat down at 8.o and finished our discussion at 12.45 a.m. The general effect of the discussion was to show that there are equally serious vested interests in scientific research as there are in commerce and that if the best use is to be made of the annual grant, it will be necessary for the Empire Marketing Board, through its Research Committee, to obtain definite control of the funds to be utilised in research.

It also became very clear that it was going to be necessary for some person, who clearly understood the whole situation from a Dominion standpoint, to serve on the Committee and be prepared to tell Ministers quite frankly how certain proposals would be viewed overseas.

I came away from the dinner rather alarmed. The next day I had a very long discussion with Major Elliot which cleared the situation up in a very satisfactory manner. Elliot, not having been connected with any of the work of the Imperial Economic Committee and never having read its Reports until the Empire Marketing Board was appointed, had not got a clear idea of its intentions. He now realises the position and I think that we shall be able to formulate our proposals this week.

We have set up a Committee on tropical fruits under the Chairmanship of Sir Edward Davson [11], on which I am also serving, but I do not anticipate that this Committee will occupy much of my time.

A further Committee has been set up to carry out the recommendations of the Imperial Economic Committee in regard to the risk of deterioration in fruit shipped from the Dominions to Great Britain. We put the Canadian Representative [12] on this Committee and no other member of the Marketing Board.

I enclose copy of the official announcement of the formation of the Empire Marketing Board from the ‘Times’. [13]


You will have realised that, from time to time, I make use of Members of Parliament in order to get questions asked which I think will have a wide publicity value and assist in the education of people in this country as to the importance of Empire trade. I particularly draw your attention to a question and supplementary asked by Mr. Tom Johnston M.P. which, together with Amery’s replies, make extremely good educational propaganda. This question and answer received wide publicity throughout the entire press.

I may incidentally say that I am finding Mr. Tom Johnston extremely helpful. As I have told you before, while he is taking the liveliest interest in Imperial affairs, he is interpreting them in language that left-wing Labour men can understand and sympathise with.


I sent you a cable on the 15th of May [15] in reference to the optional clause in the Merchandise Marks Bill and suggested that you should cable the British Government. I understand that up to the present time the British Government has not received any cable from you and I therefore assume that you did not see your way to act in the direction which I suggested.

The Bill is having a fairly rough time in Committee but the Government is credited with the intention of forcing the Bill through Parliament during this session.


In my last letter I told you that I was trying to form a Conservative Group pledged to do everything in their power to prepare the ground for the economic side of the Imperial Conference.

Since I wrote, this Group has definitely been formed and has a very good personnel consisting of Mr. E. Ramsden, M.P., Captain Eden [16] M.P., R. J. Boothby [17] M.P., Major the Hon. Oliver Stanley M.P., Col. the Hon. Angus McDonnell M.P. and Mr. Luke Thompson M.P. This Group adopted a programme, of which I enclose a copy.

I think you will agree that it is a useful programme and provided the members of the group really work hard to secure public attention to these points, a great deal of useful work will be done.


I enclose four further articles from the ‘Times Trade Supplement’ on the ‘Economic problems of the Empire’. [18]

I enclose Press reports of the speeches by Mr. Snowden [19] and of a speech by Mr. Amery. I have marked in blue pencil the portions in which I think you would be interested.


The London Agency of the Dried Fruit Board gave a very successful luncheon at Australia House to about 130 guests, of whom a large majority consisted of persons interested in the Dried Fruit trade.

I think you may be interested to see a copy of the Menu and I would draw your attention to the two quotations from speeches made by Cobden and by yourself. [20] Mr. Amery made a very good speech but Mr. Clynes [21], who was the only other speaker, was even better. Clynes quoted your statement about Empire Agriculture very effectively.

I also enclose copy of a pamphlet on the Australian dried fruit industry, which was distributed to the guests at the luncheon and which has since been sent to the whole of the wholesale and retail trade in Great Britain. The last three pages of this pamphlet may be of some interest to you.


I have not yet seen a complete list of the British Members of Parliament who are going on the Empire Parliamentary Delegation.

Up to the present I only know some of their names. As soon as I get a complete list, I will write fully to you about it giving some indication of the men whom I should regard as being particularly worth while to have looked after in Australia.

Sir Sydney Henn, M.P., one of the Members of the Imperial Economic Committee, is going. He is a Conservative Free trader, immensely keen upon the Empire and a very good friend of mine. Col. the Hon.

Angus McDonnell, another close personal friend, is also going.

McDonnell will prove the life of the party and will be immensely popular in Australia as he is here. From the Labour side, the selection is not strikingly interesting, although if it proved possible to impress on the Rt. Hon. Arthur Henderson [22] the importance of Empire trade, a very useful purpose will have been served. Another important visitor is Mr. A. V. Alexander, M.P., who was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in the Labour Administration and is the leader of the Co-operative interests in Parliament.

As I said before, I will write to you fully a separate letter dealing with this Delegation as soon as I know the complete list of names.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 W. H. Clifford, General Manager of the North Coast Co-operative Company Ltd, N.S.W.; representative of the Co-operative Butter and Cheese Factories on the Dairy Produce Control Board; member of the Imperial Economic Committee.

2 Sir Halford Mackinder.

3 Scottish Labour M.P.; Editor of Foward, a Glasgow labour paper.

In ‘A Socialist Commentary’, in the 19 June edition, it was argued that voluntary preference and an Empire Marketing Board, as recommended in the Fruit Report, would not prevent profiteering, and the Imperial Economic Committee was criticised for not advocating the ‘Socialist remedy’ of government purchase.

4 William Ormsby-Gore, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies; Vice-Chairman of the Empire Marketing Board.

5 Formerly Principal, Secretaries’ Office, Board of Inland Revenue; Assistant Secretary to the Empire Marketing Board.

6 Imperial Secretary, Northern Ireland 1922-26. Tallents had been appointed Secretary to the Empire Marketing Board.

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

8 President of the Empire Press Union; proprietor of the Daily Telegraph.

9 H. A. F. Lindsay, Government of India Trade Commissioner in London; representative of the Government of India on the Empire Marketing Board.

10 Chairman and Governing Director of W. S. Crawford Ltd, advertising agents; United Kingdom representative on the Imperial Economic Committee.

11 Chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire 1925-28; member of the Imperial Economic Committee;

representative of the Colonies and Protectorates on the Empire Marketing Board.

12 W. A. Wilson.

13 The formation of the Board and the names of its members were announced in the Times, 22 June. The grant-in-aid Of 500 000 for the current financial year, and the decision to include products of home agriculture within the Board’s ambit, were also noted.

14 See Letter 52.

15 See Letter 72.

16 Anthony Eden, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, Sir Austen Chamberlain.

17 Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill.

18 ‘The Economic Problems of the Empire. X.-Exchange, Currency and Finances’, ‘XI.Development of Tropical Colonies’, ‘XII.-Intra- Imperial Trade Relationships’, ‘XIII.-Trade with Foreign Countries’, Times Imperial and Foreign Trade and Engineering Supplement, 29 May and 5, 12 and 19 June.

19 Philip Snowden, Labour M.P.; free trader; Chancellor of the Exchequer 1924.

20 Richard Cobden, 1804-65, politician best known for his successful fight to repeal the Corn Laws protecting English grain producers and his defence of free trade, was quoted is saying in 1862, ‘I doubt the wisdom, I sincerely doubt the prudence, of a great body of industrial people to allow themselves to live in dependence on foreign Powers for the supply of food and raw material’. See the discussion of the interpretation of this quotation in note 9 to Letter 6. Bruce’s quotation was taken from a speech in 1923: ‘Unless Empire Agriculture can be encouraged, Britain must expect to see the control of its food supplies pass more and more into foreign hands’. A short report of the luncheon was given in the Times, 17 June.

21 J. R. Clynes, Labour M.P.; Lord Privy Seal 1924.

22 Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party 1908-10 and 1914-17;

Home Secretary 1924; Chief Labour Whip.