234

29th May, 1929

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

My dear Prime Minister,

Tomorrow this country goes to the polls and I am still utterly vague as to what to anticipate as a result of the elections. All three Parties express extreme confidence and I believe that each of them sincerely believes that they are going to have remarkable successes. The only thing I feel inclined to tip at this stage is that the Conservatives will come back as the strongest party. This is doubted in some quarters who believe that Labour is going to secure an extraordinary advance. It is, however, quite possible that the influence of Baldwin's [1] speeches during the last three weeks will be to cause a very considerable number of the voters to decide to give him their support.

Last Friday the 'Nation' published a list of 100 seats which they stated could be regarded as certain to return Liberals.

I shall watch the results coming in tomorrow night with the very greatest interest not untinged with some personal excitement. This for two reasons-I have so many friends and acquaintances in the last House that it will be very interesting to watch their fate, but the second and much more important reason is because any marked political change will necessitate an intensification of educational work immediately after the election.

IMPERIAL CONFERENCE

In my last letter [2] I told you that I hoped to be able to forward to you a memorandum on which I had been working for some considerable time. This is now finished in its first form and I am enclosing a copy herewith. It is entitled: 'The growing dependence of British Industry upon Empire markets'. In it I have made an attempt, within a reasonably short space, to assess competitive factors which British exports have to face in world trade, then to show the way in which British trade is meeting competition in foreign markets, and also to show how British trade has fared in the sheltered markets of the Empire.

As I told you last week, I am suggesting that the Empire Marketing Board should publish this memorandum as a grey paper but before it is published, it will probably receive a good deal of revision, in the course of which I may be able to make the presentment of the case a little more interesting. I feel that this memorandum should serve as a useful first instalment towards the documentation for the economic side of the Imperial Conference, because it does set out the position that British industry has to face in the world with some clearness and I hope with accuracy.

I very much hope that you will find time to read the memorandum and to let me have some notes on it.

THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS ASSEMBLY

You will remember that in my letter of the 18th April [3] I very tentatively suggested that you should consider the desirability of appointing me as one of the Substitute Delegates for Australia at the forthcoming Assembly and that, after my return from Geneva, I wrote-and the High Commissioner [4] also wrote making an alternative suggestion to the effect that you might consider the desirability of appointing me as an additional Substitute Delegate merely to deal with the one question of the economic activities of the League. As you will probably just have received my letter of the 18th April, I thought it desirable today to arrange to send you a cable suggesting that the latter plan was preferable to the former. Whether you decide to adopt the suggestion or not will depend, I suppose, upon the importance you attach to getting the economic work of the League on a sound basis. [5]

There is, however, one further point that I should like to mention in this connection. In the event of Labour forming a Government in this country, the new Government would be likely to try and be as effectively represented at Geneva as possible and under those circumstances a very useful purpose might be served if I were in Geneva during a part of the Assembly with the status of a Substitute Delegate in order that I might attend the meetings of the British Empire Delegations and make really effective contacts with the British representatives.

Yours sincerely, F. L. MCDOUGALL

1 Stanley Baldwin, Conservative Prime Minister.

2 Letter 232.

3 Letter 222.

4 Sir Granville Ryrie.

5 See note 5 to Letter 228.