12 MARCH 1864, Page 2

Mr. Gladstone made his great speech on the insurance clause

of his Annuity Bill on Monday night to a singularly attentive House. We have noticed it in another place, but we may mention here that we do not believe the opposition really comes from the mass of the workpeople. Even in a packed meeting like that of Exeter Hall on Friday one-third voted in favour of the Bill, and the only ardent opponents are a few fanatics for the laissez-faire theory, which we may tell them is the theory for those who are comfort- able, not those who want to be, and men interested in getting or

paying the twenty-five per cent. granted by these societies to their agents. Many of the Liberal papers attack it, but it is on the ground that the State should never trade, not on the supposed workman's ground that the societies do the business well enough. Before Parliament adjourns Mr. Gladstone should call on Mr. Tidd Pratt for a clear actuary's opinion as to the position of the Friendly Societies on their insurance side.