31 MAY 1930, Page 6

The Week in Parliament S COTTISH business occupied the attention of

the House of Commons during the latter part of last week, and on Thursday English members fled the building while the ever-genial Mr. Adamson discoursed to a few recumbent figures upon the respective merits of imported " bulbs of water" and the flowery hoine-bred " tatty." He came down firmly on the side of the latter, but had no suggestions to make as to how the farmer is to sell it at a profit. The whole debate was singularly fruitless; and after trying in vain to produce a single constructive idea from the Treasury bench; the combined oppositions gave up the job in despair, and went home to bed at ten o'clock. The losses on cereals and potatoes sustained by Scottish farmers during the past two years have been prodigious, and every day their position becomes more serious. The causes are not difficult to discern, and for each and all of them the manifesto of the Labour Party contained proposals at the last election which accounted for the increased Socialist vote in the rural districts. Never- theless, after twelve months of office, and although the depression in agriculture has steadily deepened, the Government has failed to produce the vestige of a sign of an agricultural policy, and in the circumstances there was every justification for Mr. Boothby's complaint that the Secretary of State for Scotland had been trying to hatch out a china egg.

On Friday Major Elliot obtained a Third Reading for his Bill to enable Local Authorities to distribute milk amongst schoolchildren, and subsequently a Liberal Landholders Bill dealing with smallholdings in Scotland was killed by clever Unionist obstruction.

Monday's debate on India showed the House of Commons at its best. Mr. Fenner Brockway is the only serious and informed critic of the Government's policy, and he did surprisingly little mischief. Lord Winterton and Sir Samuel Hoare were both out to help. And Mr. Benn's survey of the general situation was lucid, dignified, and restrained. Members returned to the ordinary clash of party strife with jubilation last Tuesday; when the Committee stage of the Finance Bill was begun. At the end of an all-night sitting the 'Government had only secured the first five clauses, and it looks as if the re- maining stages of this measure will be lengthy and exhausting. But throughout the small hours the utmost good temper prevailed, and a word of praise is due to Mr. Churchill for the energy, dash, and humour with which he led the Opposition. There is no doubt nowadays that his " impromptu" efforts are more effective than the set speeches in which he invariably becomes overwhelmed by his notes, and is in consequence unable to adapt him- self to the changing moods of his audience. Mr. Snowden stuck it out to the end, as did Sir Austen Chamberlain, but none of the Liberals except the indefatigable Mr. Ernest Brown played any part in the proceedings.

As I write the result of the Nottingham bye- election comes through. The sweeping victory gained by Mr. Terence O'Connor will come as something of a surprise to all parties, and is a portent. Perhaps the most significant feature is the startling drop in the Labour poll, which indicates that the movement in the country is completely exasperated by the failure of the Government to grapple with the problem of unemployment. Sir Oswald Mosley will be blamed, but this event is but another justification for the step he was in honour bound to take. If he speaks this afternoon (Wednesday) with the sincerity and courage he displayed at the Labour Party meeting, he will put himself in a commanding position from which to direct the Opposition to the Con- servative administration that seems now to be inevitable.