24 DECEMBER 1904, Page 23

The Unemployed Problem. By J. Keir Hardie, M.P. (10 Red

Lion Court, E.C. ld.)—Mr. Keir Hardie's figures baffie us. He takes the Board of Trade Returns, and deduces from them, on "a very moderate estimate," a total of '750,000 unemployed. Now the October Return gave a total of Trade-Union unemployed at 6.8 per cent. out of 577,268, and the November Return is slightly worse,—i.e., '7 per cent. This latter figure gives a total of 40,400 (about). Where does he find the balance of more than 700,000 ? The agricultural labourers are as well employed as usual ; there are other industries which are not affected. Yet Mr. Keir Hardie wants us to believe that among what may be called non-Unionist artisans and mechanics there are more than 700,000 unemployed. The remedies proposed are going back to the land and producing at home the articles imported from abroad, the reclaiming of land, and afforestation. These, then, are suggestions for a temporary treatment of distress. But these, and very rightly, do not satisfy Mr. Hardie. He has much larger schemes in view. And here again are some startling figures. There are " thirteen, millions not earning enough to keep them in the same standard of fitness and efficiency as would be allowed them were they paupers or criminals." It is not easy seriously to discuss a question when we are asked to admit a statement so preposterous. The miners, to take one class, are part of this huge aggregate because "their wages are miserably low." Is this true ? What do the colliery owners say ? Whenever we get figures, as in the Denaby Main strike, the wages appear to be anything but low.