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!--EVENTS' -1st i'J'izb. j…


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THE LABOUR COMMISSION. Last Friday night the first Lord of the Treasury made known the names of the Royal Commission to inquire into the origin o? the disputes between labour and capital, and to sug- gest the best remedies for their adjustment. We are not groat believers in the usefulness of Royal Commissions, but they sometimes do help to form public opinion on certain questions, by bringing together the evidence of experts from all parts of the country. The Conservative L Government have not hitherto been very lucky in their Commissions. The Commission appointed to inqvive into the Tithe Riots of North Wales reported in favour of the" rioters the Com- mission which was to curse the Welsh Sunday Closing Act blessed it instead, and said that a stricter enforcement and an extension of its provisions was all that was needed and the Parnell Commission ended in the exposure of Pigot;sm and forgery.. In the present instance, we give the Government every credit for being sincere in their endeavour to appoint a thoroughly repr "entative Commission. Buj we are doubtful whether they have chosen the best means to secure a Commission which will do something more than sic and inquire discur- sively into the cause, effect, and remedy of labour disputes. There ate two kinds of Com- missions one kind consist of thoroughly fair and impartial judges who will pass judgment on certain case- Lhil fall under its notice the other is composed of men who represent separate interests, and who pre judge, jury, witnesses, and advocates all in one. The Labour Commis- sion is of the latter kind. The Government has done its best to make it a representative one, and it is a far better Commission than we ever expected to get from a Tory Government, Still several objections can be urged against its constitution. In the first place, it is too un- wieldy. It consists of 27 members. Lord Iddesleigh's Commission on the Depression of Trade and Industry, which was appointed in 1885, consisted of 22 members, and it was found to be so cumbrous and unwieldy, that after sit- ting for two years, their report only consisted of an wince not to tamper with the national policy of free trade. Mr. Goschen's objections to it were found to be right, and his objections to the Commission of 18S5 have equal force to- day to the present Commis;'ion. Sensible and well-informed people he said, will keep out of the way, believing the whole thing to be nonsense. But every one with a crotchet, a whim, a fad, will rush to the Commission with a deluge of incoherent rubbish. In order to make the Commission fully repre- sentative, the Government has made it cumbrous and unwieldy. But there are gaps even in the representation. While there are eight representa tives of capital, there are only six representa- tives of labour the Government is represented by three, the front bench of the Opposition by two members, and there are besides four Unionists and no Liberal politicians. There are no representatives, also of female labour or of foreign labour. The question of female labour is becoming very important, and there are many who could be appointed to represent it. Of course there is no precedent, but it is time such a precedent were made. The Commission will also have to inquire into the question of how the immigration of foreign labour effects this country, and a place should have been found for a member whose presence would give confidence to the Jewish and other foreign workers. The Indian cotton trade, and, more than all, the Colonies, have no representatives on a Commission appointed by an "Imperialist" Government. The experience that Australia has just had in labour questions would have been of the utmost value to the Commission. There is also no representative of co-operation, which is, perhaps, the most practical way yet tried to avoid socialistic remedies of industrial disputes. The co-operative system, except in few cases, has proved invariably successful, and we would have thought that one thoroughly conversant with the working of a system which is intended to solve the labour problem would be of most valuable assistance to the Board of Commissioners. Whatever may be said also of the fairness and impartiality of Lord Hartington. he cannot be said to have been at any time in great sympathy with the workmen of this country, or to have any extensive knowledge of their aims and requirements. The Government was also most injudicious, to say the least, not to appoint Michael Davitt as the representative of Irish labour. Though there are these deficiencies, the Com- mission is, however, on the whole a good one. Every Welshman will be glad to know that "Mabon" represents Welsh labour; aud no better selection could be made. Thomas Burt represents English miners, and Tom Mann the new Unionism. We hope that the Commission will be able to get their report ready before the year is out and that they will be able to suggest a remedy for our labour disputes, which will render unnecessary the extreme and disas- trous remedy of a strike. THE PARIS COXFEREXCE. The importance of the International Con- ference of Miners at Paris has been compara- tively unnoticed through the m--L-:ading repor' of the proceedings which have appeared in the newspapers. From these reports the Conference seemed to be nothing bnt a veritable Babel. The representatives of each nation spoke in their own language, and the a::ms and objects of 7:1 each nation differed widely. The chance of an international federation of labour seemed to be very remote, if not quite hopeless. The true significance of the Conference has. however, been made known in the interviews which several press representatives have had with some of the English labour representa- tives, Mabon," and Messrs. Burt and Randell. From these interviews we gather that the Con- ference was not what it has been pictured to be. There was, of course, some confusion, some interruption, and some differences of opinion, but the discussions were as well conducted, on the whole, as an average debate in the House of Commons. It was, however, plain that it was premature a", yet to talk <, f an International Labour Federation. The Labour cause is in a different stage of evolution in different countries. In Germany, Bohemia. France, and Belgium the miners have nothing to fear and everything to hope from a universal strike. Their position is so bad that nothing, probably, could make it much worse. Their organisation is also so loose and inchoate that they do not realise the danger which would arise from such a strike. In Belgium the miners have a politi- cal as wen as an economical end in view. The franchise in that country is so restricted that all the miners are practically unrepresented. They wish, therefore, to force the hand of the Government by showing them the dangers which arise from want of constitutional repre- sentation. They wish to show that, if they cannot make the;v voices heard in the constitu- tional way, they can and will take other steps to obtain a redress of grievances. They are struggling for those privileges, or rather rights, which the English miner has enjoyed for the last quarter of a century. It is manifestly unfair, therefore, that the English miners should join in a strike which they do not require, and from which they would derive no possible aoVantage. It is also clearly unjust tnai English repre- sentatives of vast organisations should be asked to vote on a sham equality with the representa- tives of small and unorganised groups. The cry for "voting by nations is a very old cry in European Conferences, and has done more to wreck such councils than any other thing. It is curious, however, to note how the sup- porters of this demand have veered round. In old times, it was the English who were fore- most in demanding this in the old ecclesiastical councils, while the French and Italians were its greatest opponents. Now the position of