Wednesday, 26th January 1927

26th January, 1927


My dear Prime Minister,


My Canadian friends have been sending me copies of letters received from Canada, newspaper cuttings, etc., all indicative of the very great impression that your speeches made while you were over there.

The ‘Times’ today published a very interesting article from a Canadian Correspondent on ‘Dominion Status’ in which the effect of your speeches on that subject was also clearly indicated. [1] You will, of course, be receiving a copy of this cutting through the ordinary channels.


A very amusing occurrence was reported to the Poster Sub-Committee of the Empire Marketing Board this week. A letter was received from Iceland asking the Board for a copy of the large Highways of Empire Map Poster. The writer, who was an Icelandic citizen, explained that he desired to post the map in Reykjavik, because there were so many people in Iceland who felt that they did not receive a square deal from Denmark and thought that Iceland would be happier and freer if it was a part of the British Empire!!


A week ago the Editor of the ‘Times Trade Supplement’ [2] asked me whether I would write an unsigned article on the Dominion attitude towards the forthcoming International Economic Conference, to be held in Geneva. [3] After considering the matter, I came to the conclusion that, as the British Chambers of Commerce seemed to be tending towards rather warmly supporting this somewhat dangerous Conference, it was desirable that a clear statement of the Dominion point of view should be made available. I therefore consented to write the article on condition of it being strictly anonymous. After writing it, I submitted a copy to Casey [4] for his comments. I am enclosing a typewritten copy of the article which I believe will appear in tomorrow’s issue. [5]

I hope that you will agree with the way in which I stated the case and will also agree that it was desirable that the case should be stated.


The news that Mr. Theodore [6] is likely to enter the Federal Parliament in the near future and may become the Leader of the Federal Labor Party is very interesting. This news has led me to consider in what way it would be most easily possible to keep the Federal Labor Party informed as to the development of the Empire spirit and Empire ideas in the British Labour Party. It seems to me that, Gepp [7], through his Commission and especially through Gunn [8], would be in a good position to see that this occurs and I therefore propose to forward to Gepp from time to time cuttings giving articles or speeches by Members of the Labour Party in this country in which they associate themselves with some form of Empire policy. I anticipate that you will agree that it is desirable that something of this sort should be done but if you do not agree, perhaps you will inform Gepp that he can, in these circumstances, keep the information to himself


You will remember that I handed you a memorandum on the subject of British cooperation on Australian developments. You stated that you would look at this memorandum on the ‘Majestic’ and perhaps decide as to whether it was desirable for you to send a memorandum on those lines to Baldwin [9] and Amery. [10] As I have had no word as to your decision in the matter, I shall be glad to know something about it. I think the memorandum has a good number of useful points in it and if you have decided against using it yourself, I should like to be able to use it here. I should, therefore, be glad to know, either by letter or by cable, what your decision has been. [11]


I enclose a copy of the fourth issue of the ‘London Weekly’. In it you will find a very interesting appreciation of Australia by W.

Mackinder [12] M.P., one of the Labour M.P.’s who was on the Empire Parliamentary Delegation. This is well worth reading.


I am enclosing a decidedly interesting article in to-day’s ‘Manchester Guardian Commercial’ on the economic side of the work of the Imperial Conference. [13]

27th January, 1927


A rather curious situation has arisen in connection with this matter. Gepp wrote to the Oversea Settlement Committee [14] making definite proposals for cooperation between the Oversea Settlement Committee and the D. & M. Commission for the prosecution of geophysical prospecting in Australia with special reference to the West Australian Goldfields. His proposal was that each Body should find 25,000 in order that this work might be thoroughly tried out.

The Oversea Settlement Committee met on Tuesday and I understand that while the whole Committee, including Amery, were very sympathetic to the proposal and were anxious to see the British Government cooperating in the matter, yet they came to the conclusion that it would be stretching the Oversea Settlement Act too far to meet this expenditure from that fund. At Amery’s direction the papers were therefore handed to Tallents [15] of the Empire Marketing Board and my present understanding of the situation is that Amery is going to ask the Research Committee of the Empire Marketing Board to consider the matter with a view to the Empire Marketing Board meeting 50% of the expense in place of the Oversea Settlement Committee.

Of course this involves a new departure for the Empire Marketing Board. Up to the present moment we have made no grants except in connection with foodstuffs. We feel, however, that the decisions of the Imperial Conference to extend the terms of reference to the Imperial Economic Committee have made it possible for the Empire Marketing Board to consider using its vote to assist Empire production and marketing of any form of primary product. [16]

Last night I had a long talk with Tallents about the situation and he is quite favourable to the idea of the Empire Marketing Board using a small percentage of its funds for purposes such as geophysical prospecting. The matter will come before the Research Committee on the 1st February and possibly before the Board on the 2nd February.


I regret to have again to inform you that, during the week, no progress has been made. I do not think that Chadwick [17] has yet made up his mind whether he is going to accept the Secretaryship and Mackinder [18] is still out of England.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

_1 The article suggested that Bruce’s ‘whole-hearted defence of the Conference and complete agreement with its conclusions’ in his speeches in Canada had helped allay fears that decisions of the Imperial Conference threatened Imperial unity. In support it quoted from both the Toronto Globe and the Montreal Gazette.

2 T. S. Sheldrake.

3 From 4 to 23 May 1927, in accordance with a decision of the Sixth Assembly of the League of Nations.

4 R. G. Casey, Commonwealth Government’s Liaison Officer in London.

5 ‘World Economic Conference-A Dominion Point of View (From a Correspondent)’, Times Imperial and Foreign Trade and Engineering Supplement, 29 January. The article argued that Dominion antagonism would be aroused if the Conference recommended measures to ‘stabilize the status quo in world trade, or challenge the rights of nations to safeguard their own living standards’. It pointed in particular to the reliance of ‘young and virile nations on the brink of great economic developments’ on protective tariffs and orderly marketing of agricultural produce. In a letter written on 7 March, Bruce commented, ‘This is quite good, and probably states the case against the Conference as strongly as it would be wise to in such an article, but our opposition to the Conference, of course, is very much stronger and goes very much deeper’. The letter is on file AA:M111, 1927.

6 E. G. Theodore, Queensland Premier and Chief Secretary 1919-25, won the Federal seat of Dalley (N.S.W.) at a by-election on 26 February.

7 H. W. Gepp, Chairman of the Commonwealth Development and Migration Commission.

8 John Gunn, Labor Premier of South Australia 1924-26; member of the Development an Migration Commission.

9 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

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

11 In a letter dated 7 March, Bruce instructed McDougall not to hand the memorandum to Amery, as ‘the time is hardly ripe for us to let the British Government have copies of it’. The letter is on file AA:M111, 1927.

12 William Mackinder.

13 ‘The Imperial Conference. Teamwork in Economic Development’, Manchester Guardian Commercial, 27 January.

14 Established in London under the Empire Settlement Act 1922 to administer schemes promoting migration within the British Empire.

15 S. G. Tallents, Secretary to the Empire Marketing Board.

16 The 1926 Imperial Conference had resolved that the Imperial Economic Committee should continue investigating the marketing of Empire foodstuffs on an ad hoc basis, but should also submit, for the consideration of the governments concerned, suggestions of other raw materials and branches of Empire trade and marketing into which further inquiries could be made. See ‘Imperial Conference, 1926. Summary of Proceedings’, Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers 1926-27-28, vol V, p. 1949 17 Sir David Chadwick, Secretary to the Government of India, Commerce Department.

18 Sir Halford Mackinder, Chairman of the Imperial Economic Committee.