The Week in Parliament
0/si Friday of last week Mr. Somerville introduced a Bill designed to expedite and to increase emigration from this country to the Dominions. The Bill itself has little chance of passing, but the debate afforded an opportunity to the. Secretary of State for the Dominions to survey the whole field of Empire politics and economics, of which he did not fail to take advantage. In a speech of considerable length and immense interest, Mr. Amery detailed the efforts which have hitherto been made to redistribute population as between Great Britain and the Dominions ; he recounted the many difficulties in the path of rapid expansion and development, some of which had been overcome ; he ,emphasized the importance of sending overseas not the worst but. the best of our population (an argument which was somewhat surprisingly accepted by the House) ; and finally be spoke with refreshing candour both of his fears and hopes of the future. A small House listened to this speech with, strained attention.
The debate on the Washington Hours Convention was redeemed frOm sheer fatuity by a fighting speech _ of rare Parliamentary skill on the part of Mr. Betterton. There is no doubt that although many cogent reasons . can now be adumbrated against immediate ratification by the British Government, the whole matter has been considerably mishandled in the past. The case against the Government -was flung away with great vigour by Mr. Shaw, whose speech bordered on the farcical.
The -report on the so-called " francs " case was issued on Monday. night and created a momentary stir in the lobby. Members of all parties are in agreement that this unfortunate affair has been handled most skilfully and expeditiOnsly. I have.: only heard one criticism— that the action taken has . been almost unnecessarily harsh. The Labour Party will be most ill-advised if they seek to raise once more the Zinoviev letter issue, which means that they are practically certain to do it. The facts are iioW perfectly Clear: In issuing the letter and the draft reply, Sir Eyre Crowe was perhaps guilty of a politiCal error of judgment. But that he did it with the best intentions and from the most honourable motives, no one can seriously, deny. That Mr. MacDonald handled the matter with vigour and celerity is admitted. What still require explanation are the ipeeches he delivered on the subject of Russia after he had seen the 'Zinoviev letter.'
The' Labotir Party would appear to be in the doldrums these days. It is certainly rare to find the leader of a fighting- Opposition publicly. bemoaning the plight of his f011aweri'Within'tighteen months of a General Election, and if -proqs that ioinithing must be pretty radically wrong. The &nth is -that the disunion inherent in left- wing pare& Ninything, increasing amongst the '&8054. the Liberals-could really get together the poSitiOris- bfibetwo wings of the Opposi- 'tion might 'easily' be reversed. But the speech of Lord Gicy to higreutious " council ' last week rendered such a contingency less likely than ever. In the meantime the Unionist: Party; imbued• with a fundamental sense of dyalty, continues' after three years of power to present a united front, one- of -the most remarkable political achievements' of modern times'.
It may have its die-hards, its " forty thieves,"- its Protectionists, its free-traders, its Y.M.C.A., and .a few cranks "to season the whole." But when the crisis comes and battle has to be engaged, it goes into the, fight as one man. It is this quality a.0l this spirit that will probably secure for Unionism a further period of undisputed