6 JANUARY 1906, Page 11

While Mr. Haldane was laying the bogey that a Free-trade

Government would neglect the duty of national defence, Me. Asquith was with equal success disposing at Sheffield of the equally ridiculous bogey of Home-rule. "He had only to say for himself that he agreed with what Sir Edward Grey had said, that an attempt to utilise a majority which was sought and obtained for Free-trade in order to promote the passing of what was called a Home-rule Bill would be a piece of political dishonesty.. No great constitutional change in this country ever had been, or could be, carried by a side wind and by stealth." In dealing with his own special Exchequer problems Mr. Asquith showed no little grasp and insight. In many ways he has the hardest task in the Cabinet. It would be difficult to exaggerate the disorder into which the national finances have been allowed to drift.