11 DECEMBER 1909, Page 13


[To THE EDITOR OF TEE " SPECTATOR."' Sin,—Your interesting " Topic " of Saturday last remarks that the Lords might have played their cards better. An important foundation-stone of this mischievous Budget was laid last year with the sanction of the Second Chamber when it passed the Old-Age Pensions Bill. Action taken then would have been free of Budget complications, and would have relieved the present financial predicament to the extent of nine millions. It was not a question of the system of pensions in'the abstract, but simply of the circumstances in which a reckless Government proposed embarking on it. Talk of unprecedented action, where is the precedent for launching a new expenditure amounting to nine millions a year—in spite of obviously untenable restriction—totally unprovided for, and closely allied to an existing system, to be known in future as Public Assistance, on which a Royal Commission was about to report ? There were, moreover, circumstances rendering a large naval expenditure necessary for the safety of the Empire. This would appear to have been a state of affairs for a non-party, quasi-judicial consideration by the Second Chamber before giving its concurrence to such a proposal. The incident is past, but its lessons remain for the future. For the immediate present an aged non-party looker-on would suggest that all who believe in property being an essential element of civilisation and progress, whether Tariff Reformers, Free Importers, Liberals supporting liberty, or of any other subdivision, or non-party men of none at all, should combine to rid the country of its Socialist "Limehouse" Chancellor of the Exchequer with his Budget and his aiders and abettors.—