Thursday, 8th July 1926

8th July, 1926


Dear Mr. Bruce,

By the time this letter reaches you only three weeks will remain before you will be leaving Australia for the Imperial Conference.

I know that you will be extremely busy during the last few weeks before leaving Melbourne and I propose to make my communication to you comparatively brief, but to write to you at considerable length so as to catch your boat at Fremantle and at Colombo.


The Canadian dissolution [1] creates an awkward situation for the Imperial Conference. I gather, however, that the British Government proposes to carry on with their idea of the Imperial Conference, and as it now appears probable that the Canadian election will take place in the middle of September, Canada will be fully represented before the Conference has lasted very long.

On the economic side of Imperial affairs Canada is much the most difficult of the Imperial partners and I rather strongly feel that if the other parts of the Empire can agree on a policy for the stimulation of Imperial development, we should not allow ourselves to be held up owing to any attitude Canada may choose to adopt. On economic affairs I feel that Canada is likely to prove unwilling to state her intentions fully to co-operate with us. If the rest of the Empire decides to go ahead she will come in the picture with some face-saving reservation such as that she can only regard Imperial economic organizations as acting in an ad hoc capacity for certain definite enquiries.

A policy at the Imperial Conference of deferring entirely to Canada’s point of view would, I think, be less effective than a decision to go ahead, leaving it to Canada to co-operate to as large or small extent as may seem good to herself.


At Tuesday’s meeting of the Imperial Economic Committee Sir Sydney Henn [2] asked whether the Committee would like him to go as the official representative of the Committee during his visit to Australia, and during his subsequent visits to India and East Africa. It was agreed that this would be desirable and Sir Sydney has undertaken to speak on behalf of the Committee during his trip.

I attended a meeting yesterday of the delegates who are going to Australia. Sir Howard d’Egville [3] had asked me to talk to them about some of the economic problems of Australia. Practically the whole time of the meeting was taken up by a discussion on whether top hats should be taken and what system should be adopted for the tipping of stewards and railway servants.

Sir Sydney Henn, in view of his position on the Imperial Economic Committee, is to be regarded as the main spokesman on the economic side of the British delegation.


I enclose a copy of a memorandum which I drafted this week on the relationship of the Empire Marketing Board to the Imperial Economic Committee. I am sending a copy of this memorandum to Mr.

Ormsby-Gore [4] and Major Walter Elliot. [5] The memorandum is self-explanatory but I should be particularly glad if you would give the points raised your careful consideration. The inter- relationship of these two bodies is of the greatest importance and I propose to forward to you, either at Fremantle or Colombo, a carefully considered statement of my views as to the possibilities of developing the Imperial Economic Committee.


Sir Halford Mackinder [6] immensely enjoys the Privy Councillorship which has been given him in the Birthday Honours.

He also regards it as considerably increasing the status of the Imperial Committees over which he is Chairman.

In reply to the congratulations of the Committee, he made an admirable short speech outlining their consultative functions.

We have now started work on the drafting of the Dairy Produce Report which will, I hope, be a useful and interesting document.

Mr. Clifford [7] has, unfortunately, been unable to attend this week’s meetings. On Tuesday Mr. A. E. Gough, O.B.E., General Manager of the Overseas Farmers’ Co-operative Federations Ltd.

gave extremely interesting evidence to the Committee, the members agreeing that it was the most important evidence yet placed before them.


The meeting of the full Board occurred yesterday, and the draft report to the Governments of the Empire was considered and approved. A long discussion occurred over the application of the British Ministry of Agriculture for a 40,000 grant. This was finally approved.

Lord Burnham [8] has consented to serve on the Publicity Committee, and so have Mr. Frederick Pick [9], Publicity Director of the Underground Railway System of London, and Mr. Stobart [10], one of the chief officials in the British Broadcasting Co. The first meeting is being held this afternoon.

I enclose, for your information, the draft notes of a poster scheme which will be considered at this afternoon’s meeting of the Committee. This draft is largely based on the idea I worked out a few months ago and on which I sent you some notes.


The Committee of Unionist Members of Parliament asked me to let them have some notes on the economic side of the Imperial Conference. I therefore drafted a memorandum for their personal consideration. I enclose a copy herewith.

The Committee is quite keen to make progress on educational publicity in the House and in the Press but find that as long as the coal stoppage lasts it is extremely difficult to rouse any interest in any other subject.


I had hoped to have given you a brief account of how this scheme is developing but feel it is too early to say anything which will be of any interest or value to you. Mr. Hyland [12] has spent two long evenings at my club for the purpose of discussing the problems, but very naturally he is finding it necessary to feel his way very cautiously. I hope to let you have some further information about this in a few weeks time.


The hostility shown by the trade to the operations of the New Zealand Co-operative Federation in its policy of storing butter in London for a number of months for the purpose of holding it in

expectation of a rise in the market has led to a very considerable degree of criticism of Export Control legislation as a whole. I understand that Mr. Coates [13] extremely nervous of the way in which the New Zealand Export Control Board intends to act when it comes into operation on the 1st of September. I expect Mr. Coates will exercise a restraining influence on the extremists on the Board.

If this happens, it will be all to the good. I am quite convinced that in general Export Control policy is sound. That it can be exercised without causing any antagonism from the trade is shown by the New Zealand Meat Control Board, by the Australian Dried Fruits Export Control Board and the Australian Dairy Produce Export Control Board.

It is only when it is proposed to use the statutory powers vested in Control Boards to attempt mass speculation on behalf of the producers that really serious difficulties are likely to arise.


I would like to draw your attention to a rather interesting first reading speech by Dr. Haden Guest [14] on introducing a Bill into the House of Commons designed to enable labour to share in the benefits obtained in certain industries from the operation of safeguarding duties. I also draw your attention to a report of a speech by the same member on the report stage of the Finance Bill (Stabilization of Preference Clause). [15]


I enclose certain Parliamentary questions which are of interest on the subject of the Imperial Economic Committee and the Empire Marketing Board.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 W. L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of a Liberal minority government, resigned on 28 June when the Governor-General, Viscount Byng, refused to grant his request for a dissolution Shortly afterwards the government formed by Conservative Arthur Meighen lost the support of Parliament and a dissolution was granted. The election on 25 September was fought on this constitutional issue. Mackenzie King gained a decisive majority and subsequently played a significant role at the Imperial Conference.

2 Conservative M.P.; representative for the Colonies and Protectorates on the Imperial Economic Committee.

3 Secretary of the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association.

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

5 Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland; member of the Empire Marketing Board.

6 Chairman of the Imperial Economic Committee and the Imperial Shipping Committee.

7 W. H. Clifford, representative of the Co-operative Butter and Cheese Factories on the Dairy Produce Control Board; Australian representative on the Imperial Economic Committee.

8 Viscount Burnham, President of the Empire Press Union;

proprietor of the Daily Telegraph.

9 i.e. Frank Pick.

10 J. C. Stobart, Director of Education, British Broadcasting Co.

11 Established on behalf of the Australian Dairy Produce Control Board, the Dried Fruits Control Board and the Canned Fruits Association. McDougall represented the Dried Fruits Board on the London Committee.

12 A. E. Hyland, Director of Trade Publicity in England on behalf of the Joint Publicity Committee; formerly in charge of publicity for the Victorian Railways.

13 J. G. Coates, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

14 Labour M.P. and writer. His Safeguarding of Wages and Hours of Labour Bill, designed to provide for minimum wage rates and maximum hours of labour in industries protected from foreign competition, was introduced into the House of Commons on 6 July.

See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol.

197, cols 1884-6.

15 ibid., cols 2035-6. Guest questioned the value of tariff preferences and suggested that the work of the Empire Marketing Board would be of greater benefit to producers.