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SIR CHARLES DILKE ON PUBLIC AFFAIRS. The views of a clever man on the future are always interesting, and the views of Sir Charles Dilke on the future of Welsh politics are especially interesiing. Sir Charles is known as one of the most clear sighted and far-seeeing men of our time, and his recent election as the representative of the Forest of Dean will give him a power and an influence which no one outside the House of Commons can wield. The following is an account of an interview with a representative of the SOUTH WALES DAILY NEWS :— Whbt do you think, Sir Charles, will be the course of events when Parliament meets ? We may reckon now upon a 40 to 50 majority for Mr. Gladstone, and I dare say you have seen the rumours as to Mr. Gladstone bringing forward a Registration Bill, and, perhaps, a new redistribu- tion scheme before he takes Home Rule, so that if the Lords should reject Home Rule he may go to the country with a better register and a fairer chance than we have had this time. It is said that he will try to bring one man one vote' into operation, and then may have to fight on one vote one value." If he deals with one man one vote he will, no doubt, have to take up redistribution in some form or other." And that will take away representatives from Ireland ?" Yes If you made strictly equal electoral dis- tricts. But that would give rise to a tremendous disturbance. We might, however, go a little further on the lines of 1885. I was not then allowed to go so far as I wished and there is a great deal of disproportion in the value of votes still remaining. By the redistribution of 18S5, we improved matters considerably. The disproportion then was as much as 100 to 1 now it does not ex- ceed 8 to 1. There are boroughs in which a little over 2,000 electors return a. member, while in other boroughs it takes 16,000—such as at Cardiff and Wandsworth." Cardiff has 17,000 That disproportion might be modified and we might reduce it to extreme cases of not more than 3 or 4 to 1 without interfering with the distinction between borough and county," by giving additional representatives to places like Cardiff and Wands- worth, taking members from over-represented small boroughs—taking away the second member from two-membered boroughs by a higher limit than we made before. On these old lines of redis- tribution you can go further than we went then. You can continue the process of 1835. We didn't go then as far as I wished." "What do you say to the argument of the Ministerialists that redistribution ought to be made ? They count very much upon it to re- duce the relative strength of Ireland at West- minster." To go the whole distance, giving equal weight everywhere, means chopping up the country into numerical blocks, extinguishing the distinction between borough and county chopping through all boundaries and that is a thing which I do not think they would like. There would be very great resistance to that scheme. If they want oo reduce the relative strength of Ireland, they can only do so by going in for really equal electoral districts, and this the Tories will never agree to if they can help it. But you can take away th-eo seats in Ireland without interfering with the principle of the 1835 settlement. Two of these would be University seats, and one would be a Tory seat in the North of Ireland but the moment you go beyond that you raise the whole of question of distinction between borough and county in Great Britain. Wales is more over- represented ithan Ireland. You cannot possibly touch Ireland in that way without touching Wales. When the Tories talk about "one vote, one value," and "redistribution," the question should be put to them-" Do you mean it: would you do it ? And then it would be found that they are not willing- to go the whole distance. The fusion of borough and county would te unpopular with both." THE LABOUR PARTY. W hat do yon think of the prospects (,f the Labour party in the new Parliament ? There is general expectation that you will act with them." I am a strong Radical, but not a paity man. I believe in acting together for temporary purposed but not in having a hard and fast party oganisa- tion. You can do more by temporary alliances for specific purposes. You can make greater progress that way. Then, as to what is called the Labour party, you cannot have that until you get payment oi members. There will be no strong Labour party until payment of members has been carried. The representatives of Labour who are now in Parliament are not a united party. True, they are all Labour representatives, but they do not for a party in the ordinary acceptance of the term. They an composed of men of different shades of opinion, some- times of different aims, and. as a rule, they are moderate politicians You cannot call them a distinct party. I do not expect to see their numbers very greatly increased until we have pay- ment of members, because unless the Unions agree to provide their representatives with salaries you cannot have the number very much multiplied. Some of the Labour leaders are very able men, and would undoubtedly do good work in Parlia- ment if we had payment of members. Soiae of the leaders of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain I have a very high opinion of Mr. Cowey, for instance, and others I might name." -1 How far do you favour legislative iaterference with industry ? Take the Eight Hours' Bill for example." Generally speaking, I am in favour of State intervention, and of acting upon it in cases where public opinion points in that direction where there is not much interference involved, and where there is a distinct advantage to be gained. I am in favour of considering each case on its merits as it comes up for discussion. Certainly I am in favour of the Eight Hours' Bill for miners. It is an exceptional industry." Then you would not extend the eight hours' limit to other trades ? Certainly not, unless it were called for. As I said, I am in favour of dealing with each case on its own merits." THE SLIDING SCALE. "You have a high opinion of the Miners' Federa- tion of Great Britain. The leaders of that organisa- tion seem determined to mission South "Wales in their interests; but they are fighting against the principle of the Sliding Scale, which has worked very well with us." I am not against the principle of the Sliding Scale, but the Sliding Scale should have a power- ful Union at its back. You must recognise this— that the Federation has been most ably led. They have been told over and over again by economists, and by all the newspapers of the kingdom that they cannot keep up wages in the face of a falling market; but they have done it." ° "Are you sufficiently acquainted with the condition of employment in South Wales to judge of the effect of the Sliding Scale there ? S" I have inquired into it, but it is very difficult to get an exact apprehension of all local circum- stances. That is one of the difficulties you will always find in industrial questions-to make the men of one district understand the peculiar con- ditions of another. If you notice, there are amend- ments to the Mines Regulation Act constantly being brought forward, or they try to bring them forward; but they cannot agree amongst themselves as to the exact form which these should take. Every man judges from the circumstances of the collieries with which he is best acquainted with and these cir- cumstances do not exist elsewhere. The one thing essential is strong union. A Sliding-scale without strong union is a danger." COMPLETE HOME RULE FOR WALES. You are in favour of Home Rule all round. Sir Charles. Would you give Wales full powers 7" On all Welsh questions I hold very strong views. I shall act completely with the Welsh members and am a Welsh Home Ruler. I go beyond many of your leaders on this question; am more extreme than the extremists. It is a point upon which I have very strong opinions and I am perfectly certain they (the Welsh Home Rulers) are right. I should not be frightened by any extremity of demands. I do not believe in paraphernalia, but as regards powers. I should not be frightened at all. I do not care about Speakers and maces and Ministers, and all that sort of thing. but would give the Welsh representatives very larce powers, unchecked and unhindered." To deal with the land as well Certainly why not ?'' Then you would, at any rate, carry out that clause of the Local Government Act:, which em- powers County Councils to unite for certain pur- poses and also extends its scope so that Wales might have Home Rule? •' I would give the Welsh, through their repre- sentatives, full power to deal with their own local affairs, and that without any limit. I have full trust in the people. The community is always perfectly fair. When it comes to local government, you will find in administration that the extreme men have an extraordinary sense of fairness, even as against their own predispositions. They will not take away the means of livelihood of any man. Therefore, I would have ncrhesitation in giving a Home Rule Authoritj* absolute power over lii? land, or anything else thatis Wqlsh. OLD AGE PENSIONS AND THE 1;X. EMPLOYED. What is your attitude towards the social demands that are being brought up by some of the labour leaders, r.5, icr instance, the provision of work for the unemployed ?" I would only touch that under exceptional cir- cumstances." As to old age pensions ?" I explained my position in regard to that before the Foresters at their annual High Court. What I said there was that I had not seen any scheme which seemed to me to meet the case. The way would be opened for fraud-considerable fraud. As chairman of a Metropolitan Board of Guardians, I have had some experience of the difficulties of identifying persons. We have not in this country any system of personal identification, and it would be very difficult to prevent abuse of any system of old-age pensions unless it were made universal. But then there is the expense of it." Unless the cost is take i from the unearned increment ?" Well, if you are going to deal with the un- earned increment, that is another qus stlon. I was with John Stuart Mill when he advanced the argument of the unearned increment. We held meetings-it was about the year 1870-but it was so novel that, when we came out before the public the land nationalisers came to our meetings and out-voted us."