NEWS OF THE WEEK.
T"papers of last Saturday published a full report of the proceedings when the Prime Minister received a deputation from the Trade Union Parliamentary Committee and the Executive of the Miners' Federation. Mr. Lloyd George emphatically repeated his previous statement that the Government had decided against nationalization. He also gave a sketch of the scheme which the Government propose to bring forward. This scheme, as originally stated, involved the purchase of the mining royalty rights, State ownership of the coal, and unification of the industry by districts. Pit Committees were to be appointed to advise on matters of health and safety, and the miners were to be represented on the District Boards of Directors. Certain sums were to be deducted from the compensation paid to royalty-owners, in order to improve tho conditions of the miner's life. It is rumoured on Thursday, when we go to press, that at least the unification part of the scheme will be dropped.
The Government have most wisely stopped short of that kind of nationalization which requires the State to be responsible for the business management of the mines. The State is utterly unequipped for such an undertaking. An attempt would probably end in disaster in which the miners themselves would be the chief sufferers. Mr. Smile, who was in one of his more reasonable moods, definitely declared that he was not working fcr syndicalism. That is a point to the good ; but the illogicality of the miners' contention that " the Sankey Report " ought to be acted upon, and that the Government indeed were pledged to act upon it, seems to have escaped Mr. Smillie's notice. One of the chief points made by Mr. Justice Sankey was. that nationalization—in the miners' sense of the word— might remove industrial friction. With a view to this end Mr. Justice Sankey proposed that the miners should promise to have recourse to conciliation before striking against the State. The miners absolutely refused to accept this condition, and thus themselves turned down what they call the Sankey Report.
Nor is that all. Since the Coal Commission we have had an opportunity of seeing just how much friction can be removed by direct dealing between the State and the workmen ! We refer, of course, to the railway strike. Sir Eric Geddes, standing for State control of the railways, had not been in office for twentyfour hours before the railwaymen presented a pistol at his head. On yet another point Mr. Smile would do well to consider his logic. He now perceives that the attempt to promote the miners into a privileged class is extremely unpopular. He therefore argued before Mr. Lloyd George that nationalization was demanded not for the sake of the miners but for the good of the whole country. But in that case it is obviously necessary for the whole country to decide—on Mr. Smillie's own showing.
Direct action is dead, for the time being. Nationalization is also dead, for the time being. But it must not be forgotten that the Trade Union Congress decided to summon a special Congress to consider means of " compelling the Government." The next word, therefore, must come from this special Congress, We wonder what it will be, especially as the Government. have just shown that they cannot be compelled.
It is much to be regretted that there should have been a hitch in the working of the Industrial Council. The Industrial Conference, representing employers and employees with the unanimous consent of both sides, produced something like a Charter for Labour, with its recommendations of a forty-eight-hours working week and similar things. It has amazed us that Labour. instead of developing machinery which has had such wonderful results, should persist in the butterfly action of trying to find honey where no honey exists. They talk a thousand times as much of the sterile policy of " direct action " as of the possibilities of the Industrial Council. The present hitch in the Council is chiefly due to the question of agricultural wages.
This is a matter which we have not space to go into now, but on general principles it may be said that the forty-eight-hours working week cannot possibly be strictly applied to agriculture, which is transparently a trade apart. The seasons unhappily do not conform themselves to rigid rules, and harvests may be lost or saved by a mere matter of hours. Of course there might be a forty-eight-hours week in agriculture with regular overtime ; but to label excess hours of labour, which will always be required and will always be in a sense normal, as " overtime "—that is, an irregular, exceptional, or abnormal thing— is surely a contradiction in terms. Such a principle is a bad basis for any trade. We sympathize with Lord Lee in being confronted by this great difficulty, and we hope that he may successfully overcome it.
The three Ironfounders' Unions, led by Mr. Henderson, which declared a strike last month, came to an agreement with the engineering employers last Saturday. If the members of the Unions, in a ballot, approve of the agreement, they will resume work next Monday. The strike was declared by these three Unions because a Court of Arbitration had rejected the demand of all the fifty-one Engineering Unions for a further increase of wages. Forty-eight Unions accepted the award, made in July, intending to renew their application this month. Mr. Henderson's Union and two others declined to wait and went out on strike, knowing very well that they would cause great inconvenience and loss to the whole industry. Their leaders have now abandoned their claim to preferential treatment and agreed to apply to the Court of Arbitration, as the other Unions are doing. The discreditable episode is thus, we hope, at an end.
The King sent a message to the League of Nations Union, which held a meeting at the Mansion House on Monday to arouse public interest in the League. " We have won the war," said the King. " That is a great achievement., but it is not enough. We fought to gain a lasting peace, and it is our supreme duty to take every measure to secure it. For that, nothing is more essential than a strong and enduring League of Nations." The Covenant had laid the foundation. " The nature and the strength of the structure to be built upon it must depend on the earnestness and sincerity of popular support."
Mr. Asquith, who was the principal spcaircr 4t the Mansion House, recalled the fact that twenty-five Statcv had signed the Covenant, and that thirteen others had been invited to accede to it. He expressed the hope that Russia and the enemy States would be admitted " without any avoidable delay." The success of the experiment now rested with the peoples. The outlook was gloomy, owing in part to the delay in ratifying the German Peace Treaty. The future of civilization was at stake. Mr. Asquith denied that the League would derogate from the independence of any State, or that it would commit its members to unlimited responsibilities in foreign affairs. But it bound all participating States to reduce their armaments as quickly as possible, and to improve the conditions of the labouring classes and of uncivilized races. These were moral obligations which the peoples should insist on fulfilling. The only alternative was a relapse into the old sterile and suicidal antagonisms. We must add that the task of making the League really popular in Europe would be greatly simplified if President Wilson's eountrymen showed a warmer interest in the Covenant.
President Wilson is still seriously ill, and America remains without a Chief Executive at a moment when grave decisions in regard to domestic affairs and foreign policy need to be taken. The Senate, it is said, may debate the Peace Treaty for weeks to come. Bills dealing with the railways and the cost of living are making slow progress. The political situation is obscure, and is not rendered easier by the widespread industrial unrest, fostered by very high prices and by Communist agitators. The serious strike in the steel industry appears to be nearing a settlement. But the New York dockers have struck against the advice of their leaders, and a strike in the printing trade has compelled many New York journals to suspend publication. New York with its large alien population is no doubt peculiarly susceptible to the subversive influences directed from Moscow.
The Allies last Saturday sent a drastic Note to Berlin insisting on the immediate evacuation of the Baltic Provinces, and charging the German Government with having deliberately delayed the recall of General von der Goltz so as to give him time to establish himself in Courland. The Allies pointed out that the German troops had been paid, clothed, and transported by the German Government. They refused to accept the German plea that the troops would no longer obey orders from Berlin. Until the evacuation was proceeding normally, under the eyes of an Allied Commission, the Allies would stop the import of foodstuffs and raw material into Germany. According to German reports, as yet unconfirmed, German shipping in the Baltic has been stopped. The Allied squadrons are patrolling the coast.
The attitude of General von der Goltz's army in Courland, as every Prussian knows, is precisely the same as that of Yorck's corps before Riga in the winter of 1812. Yorck was officially serving under Napoleon, whose faithful ally Prussia professed to be ; he was protecting the retreat of the Grand Army from Russia. On December 30th, 1812, he changed sides and made the Convention of Tauroggen with the Russians against the French. His King openly disavowed him, but secretly encouraged him until in the following March it seemed safe for Prussia to throw off the mask and declare war on France. General von der Goltz is playing the part of Yorck, in concert with the Bolsheviks and with the Berlin Government. But the Allies, unlike Napoleon, have the power to put an end to this treachery.
The Allies' Note to Germany was sharply worded because they had just heard of the German attack on Riga. General von der Goltz's troops, acting with the so-called " Russian " troops under Colonel Bermondt, began on Wednesday week a regular bombardment of the Letts in Riga with gas-shells and airbombs The German infantry carried the outer Lettish defences, and advanced to the left bank of the Dvina opposite the city. The Lettish Government, who have been recognized by the Allies, were compelled to leave Riga, but the Lettish forces contd. sd to hold the river line and to prevent the Germans from crossing. The Letts, in appealing to the Allies for help, rightly described this unprovoked attack as a breach of the Peace Treaty. But it is not by any means the Germans' first offence. Throughout the year General von der Goltz has been harrying the Letts from behind while the Bolsheviks attacked them in front. The Allies seem at last to have awakened to the gra _city of the situation.
General Denikin's patriot armies are still pressing on towards Moscow. This week he has occupied Orel, which is less than two hundred miles south of the capital. On his western flank he is north of Chernigoff, in the Dnieper Valley. On his eastern flank he has crossed the Don, and he is also working northward up the Volga towards Saratoff, after crushing a fierce Bolshevik offensive. His lieutenant on the Baltic front, General Yudenitch, has at last begun a new advance towards Petrograd. On Wednesday General Yudenitch was close to Gatchina, within twenty-five miles of his goal. He had captured Pskoff on his right or southern flank and was nearing Luga, on the Pskoff-Gatchina railway. If the patriots could free Moscow and Petrograd simultaneously from the Terrorists, the Bolshevik nightmare would probably vanish. Meanwhile Admiral Koltchak in Siberia is steadily moving westward towards the Urals, and has secured his rear by a must important success in Turkestan, where the whole Bolshevik army, 33,000 strong, surrendered to General Annenkoff.
General Gouraud, who broke the great German offensive east of Reims on July 16th, 1918, and thus made Marshal Foch's counterstroke possible three days later, has been appointed French High Commissioner in Syria and Commander of the Army in the Levant. His nomination is the outcome of the friendly agreement recently made between Great Britain and France, with the approval of the Allies. It appears to have given great satisfaction in France. We are profoundly thankful that French suspicions of our good faith in regard to Syria have been • dissipated. There was no real cause for those suspicions, but they existed, and were a source of grave danger to the Allies. As it is, France, by assuming the responsibility for Syria, has relieved us of part of our very heavy burden in the Near East.
The failure of General Nivelle's offensive in Champagne in April, 1917, was discussed in the French Chamber on Saturday last by M. Painleve, who was Premier at the time of the battle. The friends of General Nivelle have always contended that the reverse was due to M. Painleve, who ordered the attack to be suspended prematurely because the casualties were heavy. M. Painleve, for his part, declares that the attack had failed because the enemy had captured a copy of General Nivelle's orders some days before, and that it would have been a useless waste of life to continue the offensive. General Nivelle was dismissed in May, 1917, the French armies stood on the defensive, and Sir Douglas Haig had to go on with his preparations for the attack in Flanders, in order to maintain the pressure on the enemy. General Ludendorff, as he aemits in his book, stood in great fear of a renewed French offensive, as his reserves in the West were running low, and he could not weaken the threatened front in Galicia. Sir Douglas Haig's name has been dragged into this French political controversy. We are confident that, when all the facts are made known, his reputation for loyalty to his Allies will stand higher than ever.
Sir David Beatty has been appointed First Sea Lord, on the resignation of Sir Rosalyn Wemyss. The official announcement made on Tuesday confirmed a rumour of long standing and satisfied a widespread demand. Under Sir Rosalyn Wemyss, who succeeded Lord Jelliooe at Christmas, 1917, the Navy has shown the greatest vigour. The completion of the barrage across the Straits of Dover, the Zeebrugge and Ostend enterprises, the laying of the vast minefields in the North Sea, and the intensified campaign against the U'-boats were the events by which Sir Rosslyn Wemyss's term of office will always be remembered, since they led up to the mutiny and surrender of the German Navy. His work is now done, and the brilliant commander of the Grand Fleet during the second half of the war succeeds to the professional headship of the Navy.
Lord Fisher has been continuing his reminiscences in the Times in his most characteristic vein. One of his statements deserves a word of comment. He tells us that he proposed to King Edward that the British Navy should " Copenhagen" the German Fleet while it was lying in the Kiel CanaL The train of reasoning in Lord Fisher's mind was apparently : " The German Fleet is undoubtedly being built against us and one day will be used. That fact is in itself a sufficient ca8ua
We had much better nip the trouble in the bud. We have got enough submarines to do the job, and whereas we have now seven Dreadnoughts Germany has not got any. Therefore sink the German Fleet." One cannot deny the logic of the argument, but everything else about it must be repudiated. Lest foreign readers should take Lord Fisher's random reminiscences a little too seriously, we may as well say that the idea of attacking Germany without warning was never contemplated by any Government or any statesman in Great Britain. The idea never once lodged itself in any responsible brain. What King Edward's reply was to Lord Fisher's suggestion we are not told. No doubt he laughed, as he always seems to have laughed at Lord Fisher's sallies.
Both the Westminster Gazette and Land and Water have been publishing reminiscences by Lord Haldane of his visit to Berlin before the war. Though Lord Haldane's narrative and comments are interesting and entertaining, we do not find in them any particularly new information. They are very well worth reading, but they do not lend themselves to such a summary as can be given here. We may say in general, however, that the impressions we had already formed about Lord Haldane's visit hold good. Lord Haldane believed that he had discovered in the so-called peace party in Germany a group of men whose power would develop and who might turn the scale in favour of peace. He therefore thought that this group was well worth encouraging by all reasonable arts of pacification and conciliation. In this conclusion Lord Haldane, as events have amply proved, was quite wrong.
If there was any peace party in Germany worthy of the name, it was a miserable minority which had no power at all. But to recognize a mistake in judgment on Lord Haldane's part is a very different thing from holding him up to obloquy as a kind of betrayer of his country. We cannot condemn too strongly the cruel and disgraceful language which has been used about Lord Haldane in many quarters. It was already clear, and we think Lord Haldane's reminiscences make it doubly clear, that, in spite of his belief in a growing peace party in Germany, he never left. the Germans in doubt for a single moment as to what action Great Britain would take if Germany really intended war. He emphasized the fact over and over again that if Germany attacked France, Great Britain could not possibly look on idly. She would rally to the side of France. She could not conceivably do otherwise.
Lord Haldane's very explicit warnings in this respect unfortunately did nothing to abate the militaristic obsession of Germany. She held on her way and plunged the world in war, somehow persuading herself that Great Britain would not really do what Lord Haldane had said. We cannot go again now into the subject of Lord Haldane's administration of the War Office, but we may say in brief that but for his admirable work the old " Contemptibles " could not have been sent abroad so promptly as they were, nor would the Territorials have been ready to do even more in the war than the wildest optimists had expected of them. In course of time the moat unjust attacks upon Lord Haldane will recoil upon their authors and leave the object of the attacks comparatively unharmed.
The nation has been reminded this week that the expenditure Is still far in excess of the revenue. From April 1st to October 11th the Government spent £794,682,000 and received only £482,481,000. Last week's expenditure was £26,967,000 against a revenue of only £15,196,000. Now that Income Tax is paid in two instalments, it would be unwise to expect a great improvement in the revenue returns for the second half of the financial year, inasmuch as half the Income Tax has been already collected. The inevitable deficit on the year can only be lessened by rigorous economy, which it is easier to preach than to practise. Expenditure depends upon policy. As long as the Government are prepared to embark on new enterprises and to subsidize one industry after another, the expenditure will outpace the revenue. That spells bankruptcy and ruin.
Sir Auckland Geddes, addressing a commercial audience on Friday week, assured them that British traders had never had greater opportunities than they had now. They had no need to fear the immediate revival of German competition. The total import of German toys, for instance, since a deputation of British toymakers asked him for protection, had been worth only seven pounds. Men were " trembling before a shadow of what Germany used to be." Her industries were completely disorganized. Japan was hampered by a great rise in the cost of labour. America was hindered from competing by the high price of the dollar relatively to European currencies. Great Britain was better placed than any other country to profit by the revival of trade, if only manufacturers, merchants, and workmen would work together and work harder. Sir Auckland Geddes may be decried as an optimist, but a dose of optimism is
very much needed just now by the British industrial community.
We are glad to see that Mr. Brownlie, the Chairman of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, continues his efforts to show his fellow-workers that higher real wages can only be obtained through greater production. In the October number of the Society's journal he points out that the average Americep mechanic earns 3s. Id. an hour, whereas the average British mechanic earns Is. 8d. an hour for similar work. The American workman earns more, despite the comparative weakness of Trade Unions in America, because he produces more. In 1914 the average annual income per head was estimated at £72 in America against £50 here. The American workman has never adopted the fatal doctrine that a man should do as little work as possible in return for his wages so that there may be plenty of work for others to do. This ruinous fallacy is at the root of all our industrial troubles.
The Churoh Congress met at Leicester this week, after an interval of six years. The Bishop of Peterborough's presidential address, and the opening sermons by the Primate and Dr. Gore, testified to the gravity of the outlook at home and in Europe, and to the need for spiritual as well as material reconstruction. The Bishop of Peterborough looked for a " re-evangelization " of England, and insisted on the need for more Christian teaching in the schools. He spoke sympathetically of the desire for closer relations between the Churches, but, like the Primate, he deprecated undue haste in modifying the traditional principles of the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury • remarked that, besides the denominational differences, we had to reckon, even inside the Church, with deep-down differences of temperament. Reunion, that is to say, can never be accomplished by merely mechanical changes.
We would direct the attention of our London readers to the Borough Council elections which are to be held on November 1st. Ratepayers-are notoriously apathetic in regard to theeo elections. but they will, we trust, awaken to the extreme importance of recording their votes a fortnight hence. For the London Labour Party has set itself to profit by the traditional indifference of the vast majority of citizens, and hopes to capture the Borough Councils by surprise. The London Labour Party is mainly controlled by the most advanced Socialiste--one section of them is openly affiliated to the Bolsheviks at Moscow—and their aim is to use the Borough Councils in the interests of revolutionary Communism. We do not need to discuss these possibilities now. We only desire, for the moment, to point out that the one inevitable result of Socialist predominance in the Borough Councils would be an immense increase in the rates. Poplar and West Ham ratepayers have still cause to lament the wild extravagance of their Labour Councils.
The truth is that London, like the nation as a whole, needs to practise strict economy. Some of the so-called " social reforms " of the Labour Party may sound attractive, but we cannot afford luxuries at present. The London ratepayer, already overburdened with high prices and heavy, taxes, must desire above all a continuance of the theifty and efficient local administration which he has enjoyed for the past dozen yeara His present elected representatives belong for the most part to the Municipal Reform Party. They are concerned, not with national polities or international Utopias, but with the affairs of their respective boroughs, and they have done remarkably Nell. Throughout the war the average London berough rates, apart from the general rates, were lower than they were before the war, and even this year the increase in the rates is relatively small. The municipal electors, both men and women, will consult their own interests as well as the Interests of London as a whole by recording their votes on November 1st for the Municipal Reformers who have served them so honestly.
We regret that owing to pressure on our space we are obliged to postpone, probably for a fortnight, the publication of the plan and elevation of the Pig de Terre cottage which is being built at Newlanda Corner by Mr. Clough Williams-Ellis. The cottage, as we have already explained, contains six rooms on one floor. Many correspondents have asked us for details, and we hope that in the specification, outline of elevation, &c., which we mean to publish they will find all the information they require.
Bank rate,5 per cent., changed from t'4 per cent6ApiiI5,1917.