On Friday week the progress of the Minimum Wage Bill
through the House of Commons was unexpectedly interrupted. In the course of the debate that evening Mr. Ramsay MacDonald intimated that if the "5 and 2" amendment were accepted by the Government the Miners' Federation were pre- pared to waive their schedule. Sir Edward Grey thereupon suggested that, although the Government could not accept the amendment, an attempt might be made to bring the owners and men to an agreement upon it outside the House. The Bill was therefore held back during Monday while Mr. Asquith made his final efforts to bring the two parties together upon this narrowed point of difference. These efforts proved unsuccessful, and on Tuesday the negotiations were again broken off, and the Bill went through its last stages in the House of Commons, as described elsewhere. A meeting of the coalowners' representatives on Wednesday recom- mended the acceptance of the Bill in spite of its objectionable features. On the same day the national conference of the Miners' Federation decided to take a ballot of miners upon the question of whether work should be resumed pending the settlement of the district minimum rates under the new Act.