56

25th February, 1926

PERSONAL & CONFIDENTIAL

Dear Mr. Bruce,

H.M. GOVERNMENT AND IMPERIAL ECONOMIC COMMITTEE

No further definite news is forthcoming since my last letter but I gather that the forecast I then gave you is still substantially correct. I daresay you have already received cabled advices from H.M. Government. I expect to know more tomorrow as Mr. Amery [1] has written to ask me to see him then at 4 p.m.

I enclose some further Parliamentary answers on the subject.

I rather expect that Mr. Amery will ask me for my views as regards the British farmer and the Annual Grant. If he does I shall, of course, tell him that I can only express my personal point of view and have no information of what you are thinking. I shall say that, in my opinion, the initiative for any expenditure from the Grant should come from Empire produce, but that, when substantial supplies of a British product are on the market at the same time as the Empire product, it would be in harmony with the views expressed at the Imperial Economic Conference 1923 and with the first report of the Imperial Economic Committee if the public were urged to buy Empire produce, both Home and Overseas.

In the case of apples, for instance, during the Canadian apple season, large British supplies are available, so I should visualize advertisement based upon these words:

'Buy Empire apples' 'Home and Canadian supplies are now available' In the Australian and New Zealand apple selling season, British supplies are exhausted, so in our case the general idea would be 'Buy Empire apples' 'Australian and New Zealand supplies are now available' I hope you won't imagine that my idea of advertisement would be as dull as these words suggest but I'm trying to convey the general idea.

The case of meat as usual presents special difficulties from an advertising point of view. A campaign to 'Eat more meat' would arouse the fierce condemnation of the medical profession and the inclusion of 'Home' may present greater difficulties than in the case cited above.

IMPERIAL ECONOMIC COMMITTEE

The work on the Fruit report still continues at high pressure. The date of proposed publication has again been postponed.

The Coal Commission report is expected on March 5th and for some days it will overshadow all other issues. [2]

Had Mackinder [3] really worked on the report during December and early January, it could have been signed some weeks ago. It is a far larger piece of work than either of its predecessors and the ground has never been explored before. The present intention is to get the report completed, approved and signed by about March 12th.

Mackinder has gone to the North for a couple of days and asked me to draft several sections while he was away, so each evening I go down to the Board of Trade and work with the Secretary. [4] I feel sure that the report will be interesting but it will not be easy to bring forward many substantial recommendations owing to the impossibility of the present stage of doing anything except along the lines of the first report.

FUTURE WORK OF THE IMPERIAL ECONOMIC COMMITTEE

I shall take the opportunity of mentioning this question to Mr.

Amery tomorrow, on the lines on which I wrote to you in my last letter.

CONSERVATIVE PARTY

I am addressing their Imperial Affairs Committee tonight and will send you an account of the meeting by the next mail.

TRADE UNIONS

Owing to the extreme pressure of Imperial Economic Committee work, I have not completed the memorandum for Mr. Appleton [5], the General Secretary, but shall be able to forward you a copy by next mail.

MR. AMERY'S SPEECH

I enclose copy of a speech by Mr. Amery which will, I think, interest you, especially the reference to Labour. In this connection I am also enclosing a Parliamentary question and answer with a series of supplementaries about International action on the hours of labour.

AUSTRALIAN CANNED FRUIT

I have read with a good deal of interest some Australian newspaper cuttings about the shipment of badly graded canned fruit. I noticed that it was stated that Australian canners adopt one standard of grading for the Australian market and another for export. I am convinced that if this practice is continued it will prove impossible to achieve really high standards of excellence for export. The Australian canner is already handicapped by the fact that his canning season is far shorter than in the United States of America, where canners process vegetables and keep their plants employed for more months than most of ours can work.

Under these circumstances if canners want to attain a high general level of excellence, all fruit should be graded on one established system whether intended for export or not. This matter is not my business save in so far as a bad record for any Australian product on the British market has an unfavourable influence on other products.

SHIPPING

I enclose copy of an article on Shipping from the 'Economist' for February 2oth. [6] I think it will interest you but I have marked the portions to which I desire to draw your attention. Doubtless shipowners have a pretty solid case against Australia after the strike but the figures of freight rates appeared to me to be interesting.

JOINT PUBLICITY SCHEME

I have been very interested in the definite proposals on this subject and I hope that the scheme will be the prelude to some definite linking together of the activities of the various boards.

Rumour in Australia House has it that your Government is going to introduce Export Control legislation on meat, canned fruit and fresh fruit. Whether this is the case or not, I naturally do not know, but if it should be then I feel very strongly that general policy should be in the hands of a body representative of all interests. Any one of the London Agencies could, by quite a little folly, raise a storm here which would have most unfortunate results. Forsyth [7], of the New Zealand Meat Board, is living in fear and trembling of the New Zealand Dairy Produce Control Board, because he fears a foolishly forward policy from them. It seems to me that if you increase the number of Control Boards, you should arrange that, just as Publicity has been taken over on a joint basis, so general policy should be taken over.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

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

2 See note 3 to Letter 27.

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

4 Presumably H. Broadley, Secretary to the Imperial Economic Committee.

5 W. A. Appleton, Secretary of the General Federation of Trade Unions.

6 Economist, vol. C11, no. 4304, PP. 344-6. The article dealt with the decline in shipping in 1925. Figures quoted showed that while estimated average freight rates on most routes were significantly lower in 1925 than in 1922-24, the rate for the U.K.-Australia route had marginally increased.

7 R. S. Forsyth, New Zealand representative on the Imperial Economic Committee.