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The Royal Speech closed as usual with the legislative pro- , gramme to be presented to Parliament, which for *: Legislative once errs on the side of moderation, because rogramme. though the list may be lengthy, most of the items are unambitious. The following are the promised Bills: A Bill to restrict the immigration of alien undesirables; A Licensing Bill ; A Valuation Bill ; A Scotch Education Bill ;

An Amendment to the Labourers Acts and Housing of the Working
Classes Act in Ireland.

There are likewise to be proposals to amend the Workmen's Compensation Act and the Public Health Act; for dealing with the hours of employment in shops; for consolidating the enactments relating to Naval Prize of War; for removing the necessity for re-election in the case of acceptance of office by Members in the House of Commons; for supplementing the powers of the Congested Districts Board in Scotland; and for amending the law relating to sea fisheries. Curiously enough the Speech from the Throne contained no reference to the topics uppermost in the minds of the majority of its auditors, viz., the fiscal controversy, which completely overshadows the political arena; the Education Act, which is causing Ministerial seats to fall like so many ninepins; the importation of Chinese labour into South Africa, which was expected to cause the fall of the Government; or to the rumoured intention of Mr. Balfour to introduce a Bill endowing an Irish Roman Catholic University—an omission which afforded great relief to the Unionist Party.

The debate on the Address in the House of Lords followed The Debate in the ordinary course. Lord Fitzwilliam, the mover of the Address, made an excellent speech, laying

the Lords. - special stress on the Imperial paragraphs of the Royal Speech. They would observe with pride that whereas Australia and New Zealand formerly contributed only £126,000 annually to the up-keep of the Navy, they had now decided to double that amount. Then another striking proof of the growth of the Imperial mind in the Colonies was afforded by the Acts passed in Colonial legislatures to encourage trade within the British Empire by imposing substantial duties on all foreign imports, from which British imports were exempt. Lord Fitzwilliam, unlike many Front-Benchers and Cross-Benchers, evidently understands the meaning of the word “Preference,” and does not echo the Little Englanders' gibe against the Colonies because Preferences do not invariably take the form of remitting existing duties upon British imports, but occasionally the alternative and often equally effective form of raising existing duties on foreign imports. The Address was seconded by Lord Hylton, who paid a respectful tribute to the late Lord Salisbury, who was an irreparable loss to the House of Lords, the nation, and the civilised world. Lord Spencer, as titular Leader of the Opposition, followed with a woolly and wandering disquisition occupying nearly three columns of the Times, touching on almost every possible topic without containing one single illuminating remark, while some of his misstatements upon the Fiscal Controversy surpass even the licence which we are accustomed to allow to our Free Importing fanatics, as for instance when he had the hardihood to inform the House of Lords, “We know from many sources of information that Canada objects to give us any Preference, or to abate in any way her duties, because Canada considers that that would injuriously affect her manufactures"— this, mark you, in the face of the Canadian Preference of 25 per cent. on British goods accorded in the year 1897, which was subsequently raised to 333 per cent., and was followed by the offer of the Canadian Finance Minister at the Coronation Conference of 1902 to make further concessions if we would reciprocate. Lord Spencer has been challenged on his astounding assertion, but has very wisely remained silent. Equally misleading was his effort to pooh-pooh the New Zealand Preferential Tariff, and to sneer at Mr. Seddon because “he has not abated in the slightest degree the duties against foreigners.” Lord Spencer does not understand, and does not want to understand, the meaning of “Preference.” Under the revised New Zealand Tariff, the Mother Country will enjoy exemptions from duties imposed on foreign imports. What can Lord Spencer mean f

Lord Lansdowne made a successful first appearance as Leader of the House of Lords. He was necessarily

Lord ... guarded in his references to foreign affairs, Lansdowne's - y Reply but he disposed of Lord Spencer's ingenuous

inquiry as to whether his Majesty's Government had pressed their “good offices” upon Japan, by the elementary observation that it was an axiom of diplomacy “that it is not desirable to offer your good offices unless you have reason to know that they are desired.” In the present case such services had not been invited, and it was an open secret that one at all events of the disputants was not prepared to accept mediation. Our policy in the Near East was to avoid a breach of

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the peace, and to ameliorate the condition of the population. The Government had zealously supported the reform schemes of Austria-Hungary and Russia, while “we have made it perfectly plain to all concerned that if these schemes should fail to produce the desired result, we reserve to ourselves entire liberty to take into consideration and to propose alternative and more far-reaching measures.” Lord Lansdowne admitted that the situation was “extremely grave.” We would venture to suggest that it affords an opportunity of co-operating with the French Republic, in a policy which would be equally approved by the democracies on both sides of the Channel, and we trust that no time may be lost in sounding the French Government on this subject, otherwise the preoccupation of Russia in the Far East may easily lead to some development in the Near East which would neither tend to promote peace or to ameliorate the lot of the afflicted populations. Lord Lansdowne was concise and convincing in discussing the Chinese Labour question, upon which Lord Spencer had talked the usual claptrap. The Transvaal was admittedly not a self-governing Colony, but we desired to treat it so far as we could as though it were autonomous, and we were faced by the fact that not only the Transvaal but South Africa generally approved the introduction of Asiatic labour. At the Bloemfontein Conference last year, at which all the

Colonies were represented, a Resolution was carried in favour

of the introduction of Asiatic unskilled labour under proper

Government control, and on the understanding that the labourers should be repatriated at the end of their service. Then

came the Labour Commission reporting by a majority of ten to

two in the same sense, the action of the Legislative Council

of the Transvaal approving that policy by a majority of no less

than twenty-two to four, and finally a Petition signed by more

than half the male population of the Transvaal. “Dealing

as we were with a Colony without self-governing institutions, we

could not possibly have a greater weight of local authority in

support of the proposed measure.”

Lord Lansdowne expounded the fiscal policy of the Govern

, , , ment in clear language and confident tones as The Official though he really o it, but we confess to being no wiser than we were before reading his speech. The Ministerial policy could be described in two words, viz., Negotiation and Retaliation. Moreover, “We do not conceal our sympathy with the object that Mr. Chamberlain has

proclaimed. I am here to say that I for one certainly do not WOL. XLIII

Policy.

conceal my sympathy with Mr. Chamberlain's aspirations. Mr. Chamberlain's object, the aim of his policy, is to draw the different parts of the Empire more closely together, to put the affairs of the Empire, if I may say so, upon a more business footing than has hitherto been the case.” How could any patriotic Englishman regard such an object with disapproval or indifference 2 For years past we had been endeavouring to draw the Colonies nearer to us, and surely when we found them ready to assume a larger proportion of the burden of Imperial Defence, and giving us commercial facilities denied to other countries, that was not the moment to refuse to discuss proposals of this kind. At the same time the subject was difficult and required careful examination, and the political difficulties might be greater than the economic difficulties. There was, therefore, nothing ignominious in the view that for the time being they were not prepared to extend their policy so as to embrace the proposals of Mr. Chamberlain. Lord Lansdowne retorted upon the critics, “You are always complaining of us because you suppose that we have sprung this question upon you, and endeavoured to rush you into a decision. Then why is it that you wish to rush us into a negative of all these proposals 2 " This is all very well but no explanation was offered in the House of Lords of the so-called policy of Retaliation.

The proceedings in the House of Commons were preceded by , the unpleasant announcement that Mr. Balfour The Debate in had b - ttacked by his Old al een again attacke y nis old enemy, the Commons. influenza, and would be unable to take any part in the debate, which was opened by Mr. Hardy, who in proposing the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne, paid a tribute to “the calmness and good sense” with which the Canadian people had accepted the Alaska award, which was “undoubtedly unpalatable” to them, while he expressed great satisfaction at the action of New Zealand in following the example of Canada and South Africa in according a Preference to the products of the Mother Country. Mr. Plummer seconded the Motion, welcoming the announcement of legislation in restriction of alien immigration, which had been delayed too long. None of them favoured the continued dumping of pauper and criminal aliens at the expense of the country, and to the detriment of the British workman. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the Leader of the Opposition, followed in a speech of unconscionable length, which, however, was far less trying than his ordinary efforts, as he made no attempt to be serious, but contented himself with pawky badinage at the expense of the Cabinet, which certainly occupies an absurd position owing to its impossible effort to divide the indivisible. The attempt to split Fiscal Reform like a bottle of soda water, the half supposed to be unpopular being transferred to unofficial shoulders, while the popular part is officially appropriated, simply covers the Cabinet with ridicule, and renders the position of every Ministerial candidate humiliating. The Leader of the Opposition complained that so far the Government had failed to give any intelligible explanation as to the meaning of Retaliation, and the House of Commons was ignorant as to whether it meant Parliamentary or merely Executive action. The absence of Mr. Balfour threw the Treasury Bench into confusion, and the duties of Leadership appear to have been placed in commission, as at one moment Mr. Akers Douglas, the Home Secretary, acted as the Premier's understudy, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer was charged with the thankless task of replying to Sir Henry CampbellBannerman. Considering the circumstances, Mr. Austen Chamberlain acquitted himself of this invidious duty with no little tact and dexterity, and made several points at the expense of the Opposition Leader, as also of Sir William Harcourt, who rashly intervened. It was not his fault that he could not answer the question, to which the supporters of Tariff Reform are no less entitled to have a serious answer than its opponents. What do the Government mean by Retaliation ?

As the outbreak of the War in the Far East has thrown the roceedings of Parliament completely into the

Home Rule. . "... content ..". a passing reference to debates which have attracted little or no attention beyond the precincts of Westminster. The general result has been a bitter disappointment to the Opposition and the Ishmaelites of the Free Food League, who for many months past have dreamt dreams and seen visions of a magnificent Coalition rising on the ruins of the Balfour Cabinet. The failure of the attack has been particularly ignominious owing to the absence of the Prime Minister, who up to the time of writing has been unable to appear in the House of Commons, while Mr. Chamberlain went abroad on a much needed holiday in the opening days of the Session. That the Opposition should have been consistently beaten in the absence of the Unionist Leaders is a remarkable tribute to Radical incapacity, as also to the steady loyalty of the Unionist legions. Mr. Redmond wo early in the field with a blood and thunder speech directed

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