22 JANUARY 1921, Page 13


(To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR."] Sta,—You have so generously opened your columns in the past to both sides of the Plumage Bill controversy that I feel sure you will permit me to criticize the letter which appeared in your issue of January 8th. Many readers will certainly object to a Bill which cannot achieve at any time any other object than that of unemployment. The anxiety of the promoters that their Plumage Bill should not be delayed at "a time so anxious as the present one" needs some better excuse than the one offered, viz., " further delay must mean the ultimate extinction of one of the most beautiful and most useful forms of animal life." In truth, there is no better excuse than the one offered. It has been a stock phrase for nearly half a century, and became bankrupt of all argument and fact long before the Plumage Bill Group was born in 1919.

The anxiety, however, of a small group of humanitarians that there shall be no further delay is easily explained. They are conscious that the ever-increasing evidence forthcoming from the "haunts of the wild" so utterly disproves their case that the longer a Plumage Bill remains a subject for discussion in Parliament the less chance it has of surviving detailed examination and criticism. I question the state of mind of those who, at "a time so anxious as the present one," clamour for a Bill that is so indifferent to the welfare of the workers of this country. They continue to picture in their imagination the fate of some tropical bird which, despite their perennial prognostications of extinction, continues to exist in vast numbers. To risk the reality of distress that further unem- ployment means to many a father, mother, and child needs not excuse, but serious condemnation.—I am, Sir, &c.,


[The argument about unemployment is characteristic of the cynicism which has always been the mainstay of the plumage trade.—En. Spectator.]