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Powers, who until Colonel Vassos landed on the island had done nothing. Mr. Curzon, in reply, reminded the House that there had been already six debates on the Cretan question, and affirmed that active discussions were going on with regard to the appointment of a governor, the institution of a militia, and the basis of the promised autonomous constitution. Her Majesty's Government desired the withdrawal of both the Turkish and Greek troops from the island. The admirals had done much to preserve peace and protect the inhabitants, although they had been forced to shell the insurgents and disarm the Bashi-Bazouks. The Greek Government had disavowed the raid into Thessaly, in which no regular troops took part, and the Turkish Government was not anxious to make a casus belli of the provocation given. Sir Wm. Harcourt, who followed, insisted very much upon the point that British foreign policy was "placed in commission," since it was dictated by the majority of the six Powers. He wished to know which of the Powers were opposed to the withdrawal of the Turkish troops, and why a Christian governor had not been appointed. The Cabinet of the nations, he contended, had done nothing for Armenia; in Crete they had bombarded the wrong people. The Cretans had a right to be troublesome, and but for Greece would never have had the offer of autonomy. Sir Wm. Harcourt further asked for more explanation of the position the Powers held in Crete. Were they delegates of the Sultan, or did they shoot people on their own authority? The only difference between their right and that of Greece in Crete was that Greece was invited by the Cretans and the Powers were not. When were the Turkish troops to be removed? The British Government sent mountain-batteries to Crete. Was it perhaps going to fire autonomy into the Cretans? He ended by a strong denunciation of the idea that this country should protect the integrity of Turkey, and that it should always be submissive to the concert, which might demand of us help in terminating the independence of Greece. Mr. Balfour explained the difficulties in the way of the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops. The central question, he observed, to be decided was whether this country had done more for the interests of freedom and peace by associating itself with the rest of the Powers than it would have done if it had remained in strict isolation. Her Majesty's Government had never ignored the difficulties and dangers of common action, but they would be false not merely to the traditions of this country, but to every tradition of honour, of sound policy, and of humanity if they were to refuse to bear their fair share of this difficult, but not inglorious, task. The majority of the House was evidently unwilling to give a vote which might hamper the action of the Government, and by 210 to 49 votes declined to regard the state of affairs in the East as so critical as to justify their giving up their Easter holidays.
Sir William Harcourt apparently thought it advisable to appeal to the Eighty Club for a reversal of this decision by the House of Commons. At a dinner, presided over by Sir George Trevelyan, he explained more fully if not more clearly the views of the Opposition on the Eastern policy of the Government. He contended that the resolution he had placed on the paper was not indefinite; it stated the very clear issue that the forces of the Crown should not be employed against the Cretans or Greece. The Government wanted the most indefinite of all propositions-a vote of confidence, which dispensed altogether with considering the merits of any question whatever. The great majority possessed by the Government in the House of Commons was no guide to the feelings of the country on this question. He ridiculed the idea of a federation of the Powers to legislate for the universe at large. If the concert of
Europe had possessed any common sense the Cretan question would have been settled long ago on the only practical basis that was possible-the annexation of Crete to Greece. On this occasion Sir William Harcourt's views were endorsed without a dissentient.
On the eve of the adjournment for the Easter holidays, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Mr. G. Balfour (Leeds, Central), introduced his bill for the establishment of a new Agricultural Board in Ireland, wholly independent of the Castle and the Irish Office; an annual fixed grant of about 150,000l.--the amount of Ireland's quota to the local taxation account on account of Estate Duty-being set apart for its support. new board would take over the duties connected with the encouragement of agriculture, now exercised by several other departments, and receive and spend the sums now voted for those departments. The genesis of the new board was, explained the Chief Secretary, the report of Mr. Horace Plunkett's Recess Committee, and he inferred that the policy of developing agriculture there recommended would be followed. Its duties, however, would not be confined to agriculture, but would cover the fisheries and cottage industries, as well as the improvement of land by drainage. Grand juries and boards of guardians, moreover, would be empowered to raise money by special rates for carrying out the schemes of the board, which would consist of twelve members, nine of whom would be appointed by the Lord-Lieutenant. On the whole the pro
posal was well received, but the Irish members of all parties declared that enough money was not granted. Their most telling point was, of course, that whereas English farmers had got half their agricultural rates paid for them, Ireland only got a fixed sum calculated on a perfectly different basis. It may be added here that the bill never reached a second reading, being withdrawn in view of a more far-reaching proposal.
The Position of Parties-The European Concert--Sir William Harcourt's Speech -Necessitous Board Schools Bill-The Budget -The Compensation for Accidents Bill-Lord Salisbury at the Albert Hall-Affairs in Eastern Europe— Sunday Closing in Ireland-The Employers' Liability Bill in CommitteeIrish Legislation-Mr. Balfour's Announcement-The South African Committee.
THE Easter recess not only gave a welcome rest to ministers and members who for nearly four months had been busily engaged in eager and often bewildering debate, but it afforded an opportunity to the watchers as well as to the talkers to take stock of actual gains and losses. The Church party had won a great reward; but their satisfaction was a little marred by the knowledge that the board schools—or at least the necessitous ones-were to be allowed to dip into the apparently inexhaustible pockets of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Taxes were to be used to supplement rates, and many persons persuaded themselves that the struggle between the voluntary schools and their rivals would be renewed with no hope of ultimate success for the former. The only fact clearly evident was that school rates and school taxes would go on increasing indefinitely. On the eve of the recess Sir John Gorst asked permission to introduce a bill for increasing the grant to board schools by 110,000l. Instantly the whole Opposition was in arms, loudly denouncing the Government for its parsimony, and asserting that the grant ought to be five times as great. In other words, the party which at one time inscribed retrenchment on its banner was foremost in demanding that more money should be raised by taxation, and thus drawn from the industrial uses for which with an increasing population it was, according to Liberal economists of the old school, urgently required.
The situation abroad was far less satisfactory than at the opening of the year. India, then threatened with famine, was feeling its horrors far more keenly than its rulers would admit. The Indian Government, speaking through the Secretary of State, Lord George Hamilton, had at the beginning of the year discouraged the idea of a national relief fund, and it was in a great measure due to the persistency of the Lord Mayor of London that an appeal was finally made which brought 500,000. sterling to the starving natives of India. The Indian Government had taken elaborate precautions, which it thought adequate, but after a while its agents were forced to admit that but for the timely help of the Lord Mayor's fund the sufferings of the half-starved inhabitants would have been immensely increased. Added to this, the plague had broken out in Bombay, and had spread with more or less virulence to other important places in the presidency, paralysing business; whilst the
already hostile feelings of large numbers were excited by the measures taken by the Administration to ensure proper sanitation and treatment.
In Eastern Europe the policy of the Government had produced a feeling of uneasy dissatisfaction. Our position as the "friends of freedom" had been rudely disturbed, and the supposed aim of the Government to free Greece and to prevent war had been singularly unheroic and unsuccessful. The concert of Europe had been too strong for Lord Salisbury, and our "splendid isolation" had resulted in showing that unless we wished to undertake a war single-handed against Europe in arms our only alternative was to act in agreement with the other great Powers. The first object of these friendly colleagues was to reduce Great Britain to impotency, and to keep before the world the fact that she no longer exercised that influence in their counsels she formerly wielded. At the same time the concert may have postponed a general war, which at more than one moment seemed on the point of breaking out. But for its existence the Powers would have been left to act singly, and in view of their divergent or conflicting interests serious misunderstandings would have speedily arisen. potentate probably understood the position better than the Sultan, and he was the first to take advantage of such an artificial arrangement to push forward his own plans, and the futility of the concert to restrain him or his partisans in Crete or Thessaly was apparent to the world. Finally the concert failed to prevent war when the Sultan had made up his mind to declare it, and it failed altogether to protect Greece from the consequences of her blind folly. Mr. Gladstone, writing to a Macedonian leader, Captain Dampzes, summed up the situation from his point of view in precise rather than in diplomatic.
"I have often seen it debated to what State Macedonia, when the day of her liberation comes, should be annexed, and how it should be divided; but I have never heard of any sufficient reason why, as Bulgaria has gone to Bulgarians and Servia to Servians, so Macedonia should not become a free State for the Macedonians. But we seem to be far indeed from being able to raise effectually a question of this kind, at a time when we appear to be ignominiously incompetent to deal even with the questions opened for us and forced upon our notice. You might, and all the Hellenes might, count on the sympathies of the people of this country. And in most matters, when you have the sympathies of this people, you can count on the action of our Government. But it is not the people or the Government of Britain that is directing the course of the Cretan and Greek questions. Under the present deplorable scheme all our Government has to do is to plead its opinions, as it were, before the tribunal of two youthful despots, the Emperors. of Germany and Russia, and to abide, and help to execute,
their final determinations. They tow Austria behind them, and through one of the two have a resistless hold upon France. Our disgraceful office seems to be to place our ships and guns, our soldiers and sailors, at their disposal for the purpose of keeping down the movement for liberty in Crete, and securing to these young despots, who have in no way earned the confidence of Europe, the power of deciding questions which in point of right it belongs to the Cretans to decide."
But Mr. Gladstone no longer led the Liberal party, and those responsible for its direction were not prepared to advocate such a heroic or, as they said, quixotic policy on behalf of a country which had wantonly provoked a war amongst the most dangerous populations of Europe.
At home one of the few interesting events during the recess was the annual conference of the representatives of the Independent Labour party, which, under the guidance of a few turbulent leaders, had on several occasions intervened with unexpected results in parliamentary and municipal elections. Mr. Keir Hardie and Mr. T. Mann were for the time its acknowledged chiefs, and at the last meeting of the conference, held in London, the latter moved that in future the party should be known as "the Socialist party." After a long discussion, it was decided to be inexpedient in every way to adopt a title which might offend some and restrict others. Before separating, in accordance with an instruction from the delegates, the following "shortest possible expression" of the objects of the party was submitted:
"The true object of industry being the production of the requirements of life, the responsibility should rest with the community collectively, therefore: The land, being the storehouse of all the necessaries of life, should be declared and treated as public property. The capital necessary for industrial operations should be owned and used collectively. Work and the wealth resulting therefrom should be equitably distributed over the population. As a means to this end, we demand the enactment of the following measures: (1) A maximum eight hours' working day, with the retention of all the existing holidays, and Labour Day, May 1, secured by law. (2) The provision of work to all capable adult applicants at recognised trade-union rates, with a statutory minimum of 6d. per hour. In order to remuneratively employ the applicants, Parish, District, Borough and County Councils to be invested with powers to: (a) Organise and undertake such industries as they may consider desirable. (b) Compulsorily acquire land; purchase, erect, or manufacture buildings, machinery, stock, or other articles for carrying on such industries. (c) Levy rates on the rental values of the district, and borrow money on the security of such rates for any of the above purposes. (3) State pensions for every person over fifty years of age, and adequate provision for all widows, orphans, sick and disabled workers. (4) Free