21 NOVEMBER 1931, Page 1

• Despite momentary flickers of hope, prospects of saving the

Conference at the eleventh hour are small. The Prime Minister's offer to arbitrate on the communal question was the touchstone. If that had been accepted —Mr. MacDonald was only willing to act if the acceptance was unanimous—the fatal corner might have been turned. As it is, the communal dispute has not been settled, and the Moslems refuSe as resolutely as ever to accept any plan for a federal central government till it is. One second flicker of hope wes the agreement of the Moslem delegates to allow the discussions in the Federal Structure Committee to continue, but they listened instead of taking part, and the Hindus who did most of the talking were hopelessly divided on such questions as defence and external relations, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru standing for reasonable and practical solutions for the transition period, and Mr. Gandhi refusing to consider anything less than complete and immediate transfer of the army to Indian control. Lord Sankey will present some sort of report on this discussion, and it will no doubt come before the plenary conference. But the outlook is not hopeful, and it has to be recognized that if any plan could be framed which all sections of Indian opinion would .accept, it would be a great deal harder to get it through this Parliament than the last.