20 MARCH 1915, Page 4



UNQUESTIONABLY Lord Lansdowne was right when he declared that Lord Kitchener's speech in the House of Lords on Monday was "the gravest appeal which had yet been made to the people of this country in eommxion with the present war." Lord Kitehener told the Peers that the output of ammunition and other equip- ment is not only not equal to our necessities, but that "it does not fulfil our expectations." This means that we reckoned upon doing better than we have done. The Government have been disappointed in the fulfilment of their orders. They confidently counted upon so much material being produced by such-and-such a date, but when the date came the amount of material was not ready and would not be ready for some considerable time. There is no need to dwell upon the seriousness, nay, the danger, of such disappointments in war. That way ruin lies. Owing to our mad refusal to think war possible or to prepare for it, we neglected to keep by us a sufficient store of extra rifles and equipment. A large portion of the nation even wont so far as to regard preparation for war as partaking of the crime of making war without a just cause. Shortage due to the want of preparation in peace time is, however, spilt milk which it is useless to cry over. No regrets, no outcries of " I told you so!" ran add one rifle or one round of ammunition to our store. Therefore they are to be deprecated. Much worse than the shortage duo to this cause is the shortage due to the fact that even since the war began we have not dune as much as we ought to have done or as we could have done. We have shown our patriotism and our sense of the needs of the hour by raising men on a voluntary basis on a scale beyond all precedent. That is good and in every way worthy of the nation. But unfortunately men without arms and equipment are useless, and we have nut done our utmost in the matter of arms and equipment. That is the situation we have got to face. It is necessarily full of peril.

Why have we not done as well as we ought to have done and could have done in the matter of arms and equip.. ment ? That is the question which we must push home till we get an answer, fearless as to whose feelings we hurt or what may be the ultimate consequences of the inquiry. We most find out the obstacles to a larger output and get rid of them at all costa. Lord Kitchener showed quite dearly what in his opinion are the chief obstacles. In the first place, we have not seriously and systematically organized our matchless industrial machinery for the pro- duction of war material. We have not bent our industries to the purposes of war. We have not made then, produce as much as they could produce. The next obstacle has been slackness among certain of the workers owing to the failure of individuals and even classes to appreciate the greatness of the issues and the appalling consequences which must flow from a prolonged war—from a war not waged with the utmost intensity and courage in the factory and workshop as well as in the field. Before we deal with our Latins to reach the maximum of output owing to slackness ea the part of the workers let us, in order to avoid mis- understanding, say very clearly that we make no accusa- tion of any want of patriotism against any one class. There is not the slightest evidence that any class in the community, whether of hand-workers or of braiu- workers, has been guilty of want of patriotic feeling or of deliberate slackness of effort. The slackness of which we complain has been largely due to a want of appreciation of the immediate necessities and not to a want of the true spirit. Unfortunately, however, to say this is not to absolve the nation, nor, again, will it be sufficient, as we notice many newspapers have said, to suggest that one has only to give a hint to the workmen to put the matter right. The causes of slackness and short- ness of output are too deep to be remedied in this easy way. In the last. resort the slackness comes from several causes. The first of these is, we believe, the self-indulgence of a considerable portion of the workers engaged on Government contracts in the matter of drink. Two things have com- bined to cause this self-indulgence—the suddenly increased earnings of the men, combined with the very arduous conditions under which they have been working. The majority have been working continuously and for very long hours, or rather have been overworking, as every one who has had to do with the war has been obliged to overwork of late. But high wages and exhausting toil are just the kind of conditions which make men prone to yield to the temptation of drink. They have little time for any other recreation, and the increased earnings havo put the key of the public-house into their pockets. That is a statement which, of course, will be resented by a great many of the workers, but unfortunately it ie a true state- ment. The great thing is not to argue whether it is insulting to working men to make the statement, but to try to get rid of the conditione which make it true. Russia has set us an example. The abolition of the sale of spirits has beyond doubt immensely increased the efficiency of industrial labour in Russia. All testimony is at one on that point. We do not doubt that if the facilities for getting intoxicants were reduced in this country the efficiency of labour would rise immensely. Indulgence in liquor may be a good thing or a bad thing from the social point of view, but undoubtedly if men have got for any reason to do a spell of very hard work, and want to do it under the best conditions, they must do it without alcohol. Alcohol slows down labour. In view of this fact the Government will be most unwise if they neglect to deal with this obstacle to increased output.

Another obstacle which they must remove is that caused by the restrictions on output imposed by the rules, and still more the policy, of the great Trade Unions. We are not going to argue here whether those restrictions are good or bad for the workers as individuals or for the nation as a whole. That they reduce the emoluments of labour we are absolutely convinced. Economic science properly understood shows that decrease of output must always in the end mean decrease of real wages. We admit, however, that it is quite possible to argue that higher wages are not everything, and that it may be better for men to take less wages if they can get better conditions in other directions. In any case they are free men, and no one must prevent them under normal conditions from selling their labour in the way they like and not in the way which is indicated by Professors of Political Economy. During war, however, it is our right, indeed our duty, to ask them to suspend that part of their rules and their policy which tends towards the diminu- tion of output. They can always return to the old position when the war is over, for then the Govern- ment and public will neither have the power nor the wish to interfere with their management of their own affairs. It is only right, however, that an alteration in rules and policy should be acknowledged by an increase in pay du ring the war. On the question of pay, indeed, we agree with Mr. Lloyd George that the Government ought to see to it that the men have their share of the profits which are made by the manufacturera of military material. It is difficult to lay down any strict rules for apportioning the profits, but we do not doubt that the Government can do a good deal to prevent any grievance in this respect, though here again legislation in the temperance direction would do more to increase the remuneration of the worker in the true sense than any other device. Inability to spend money on liquor would be equivalent in many cases to a rise of ten shillings a week in wages and a still greater rise in health. If atthe same time, owing to restrictions on racing, the workman's betting bill were also reduced, the spending power of hie wage would be enormously augmented. Racing is supposed to be the special privilege of the rich, but if We special privilege were withdrawn from the upper classes we venture to say that the benefits would largely accrue to the poorer portions of the community. Before we leave the subject we must not forget to express our satisfaction at Lord Eitchener's announcement that in certain cases the Government mean at once to take over the management of several great firms which are producing war material. That is, we are convinced, sound policy under existing conditions. We have always strongly objected to the Government trying to make profit out of an industry, for it is quite certain that they will never succeed in Such an enterprise. At the present moment, however, the object is not profit but quick supply, and when patriotic feeling can be relied upon in the management, as it' ton now, we do not doubt that

excellent results may be obtained, as has been the case with the railways, from the Government taking command of businesses that have been built up by private enter- prise. The measure, of course, will only be temporary, for in peace time private factories always do better in the way of the manufacture of war material than the arsenals and dockyards. Once more, what we have got to do, and what we must do if we are not to risk the most appalling penile, is to remove all obstacles to increased production of war material. In getting rid of these obstacles we must show neither fear nor favour. We must keep our eyes solely upon the object. Will this or that proposal really increase output? If it will, it must be adopted no matter what it costs the nation, or what private interests are injured, or what discomforts are caused to this or that class. This, of course, does not mean that there is to be any enslavement, even temporary. of the workers, for that would meta not in increased but in decreased output. Forced labour is always bad labour, quite apart from moral considerations. But though we must have nothing in the way of forced labour, we must not, if it can be proved necessary, refrain from removing the obstacle caused by indulgence in alcohol merely because it will bring a certain amount of annoyance to individual workmen and will be looked at askance by a great and power- ful interest. Again, if amusements like racing and betting are found to be obstacles, they too must be swept away for the time, just as also must be the picture palaces and the music-halls and the theatres. Here, however, it may be well topoint out that there ia a great difference between the effect on industry of evening recreations and events like race meetings which draw men away from their work in the day- time. Sports which take place in working hours are very different from sports, pastimes, and amusements which belong to those leisure hours which every worker, whether of brain or hand, must have if he is not to lose his efficiency. Concentration, Concentration, Concentration on the job in hand—that is the lesson for us all. We must end the war or the war will end us. That is the first and last word of the whole business. It is useless to point to this or that local success, or to the failures of our enemies or the dreariness of the prospect before them. None of these omens will be of the slightest avail to us if we are not true to ourselves, and we shall not be true to ourselves it, we try to make war without making the necessary

sacrifices. Some of the men who have gone to the front—have made those sacrifices in the noblest spirit. It is not conceivable that those who for one reason or another cannot make their sacrifices on the field of honour should refuse to make them in the factory or work- shop. Could there be a blacker or more shameful tragedy than to tell the man who has trained himself to arms and faced death in the field that his sacrifice has been useless, and that he cannot strike down the foe because his comrades at home are too busy in the public-house, on the racecourse, or at the music-hall to supply him with rifles, cartridges, and shells ?