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IEPITOME OF NEWS.

! Grit LONDON LETTER.

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Grit LONDON LETTER. J From Our Special Correspondent.) I It is the beginning of the end. If Parlia- ment was to rise before Christmas it was long ago evident that the Government would have to jettison a good part of their cargo of legis- lation, und the Prime Minister came down to the House the other day and gave members information as to the Bills which are to be thrown overboard—soiue of them, no doubt, to be picked up on the next voyage, if inere be a next voyage. This "massacre of the innocents "—to change the simile—is an ar j'-ial event, whatever the Government in power, and it means, of course, that Parlia- ment, under present conditions, can do only a very limited amount of work in a year. In the present case so much time has been spent upon the big measure of the Session, the Finance Bill, that there will be no time to proceed further with many of the measures which have been proposed. There are still the Finance Bill, the Irish Land Bill, and the London Elections Bill to be passed, be- sides about a dozen others which are re- garded by the Government as likely to raise small controversy; and still others which will not be pressed if opposed. The case of the remaining Bills is hopeless, for this Ses- sion, at any rate, and if these poor little legislative babies could speak, one might imagine them plaintively inquiring: Since we were so quickly done for, We wonder what we were begun for. Until we have a perfect Parliament, whose only object is to pass legislation, there will always be this throwing- overboard of cargo towards the end of the Session. It ought not to be beyond the power of Parliament to set itself a programme of legislation and to carry it out during the Session—at least, the ordinary person would think so. But the ordinary person is not a member of Parlia- ( ment, and he does not altogether understand the working of the antiquated machine. Truth to tell, even in these days the mills grind very slowly. The difficulty is that the party in power has certain ideas of the kind of legislation which the country wants, while the Opposition has ideas which are of a directly opposite character. The business of an Opposition is to oppose, and it does its business. If it cannot prevent Government business from being done at all, it staves off the evil day by every means in its power as long as possible, the result being, perhaps, the passing of one or two important measures, and the sacrifice of others. And "the ordinary person," knowing that Parlia- ment has been sitting continuously from February to September, and seeing the actual result of its labours, wonders how on earth it has managed to do so little in such a very long time. There is a very general impression' that a i General Election will not he much longer delayed. General impressions, of course, I are frequently mistaken, but there is, un- doubtedly, a feeling in the air that the appeal to the country will be made before the opening of another Session. What would happen if the Lords rejected the Budget has long been the subject of speculation. In that event an election would inevitably follow, but it is considered probable now that the opening months of the year will see a General Election, whatever action the Lords may take with regard to the Finance Bill. The Government believe that measure is so popular in the country that it will carry them back to power for another period. Mr. Hall Caine concludes a letter to the "Telegraph" on the subject of his new book with the words: "To have touched thousands of hearts is reward enough for me." Mr. Hall Caine is always in a position to retort in this way upon the critics who review his books unfavourably. The public believes in him and buys his books, no matter what the critics may say. He is popular, and his sales run to hundreds of thousands. He can point to the returns and say, "Well, you may not care for the book, but the public are of a different opinion, and they have bought the I book." The public, therefore, must be the better judges. Mr. Hall Caine hits out at adverse critics of "The White Prophet," who "betray the fact that they have not read one-fifth of my book by describing the title /1 of it to the wrong character." It certainly looks as though Mr. Hall Caine scores there. Foi: two and a half years the work of widening Blackfriars Bridge has been in pro- gress, but it is now nearly completed, and the removal of much of the ugly hoarding enabler. one to form some idea of the great improvement which has been effected. Thirty feet have been added to its width, making it 105 feet, the widest bridge in London, and one of the widest in the kingdom. Before this Westminster Bridge, with 85 feet, was the widest. The additional width admits of the tramcars being run over the bridge, and also, of course, provides much greater accommodation for vehicular traffic. Painted a brilliant green, the bridge makes a very handsome appearance from the river. An amusing story tells how green came to be the colour chosen. When the bridge was build- ing the painting contractor went to the offico of the authority, and seeing an official asked what colour he was to put on the bridge. But the official could not be bothered with a trivial matter of that sort. "Oh," he said, "see Green." And sea-green it has been ever since. It was a surprising statement which was made the other day by Mr. John Burns with regard to the number of empty houses and tenements in the London boroughs. The number ranged from 3,911 in Camberwell to, 426 in Bermondsey, and several boroughs, have over 2,000 empty houses. There can be no doubt that the principal cause of this state ot things is the extension of the Council tramway system, which, during- the last few I. hili M" it e»sy and convenient to travel between London and the outskirts. In the outlying suburbs there have been many thousands of houses built to accommodate the people who have left the centre and found pleasanter conditions of living. There would not, however, be such a large number of empty houses in central London if house- owners would recognise the changing condi- tions of things, and would reduce their rents to a more reasonable figure. They are still asking, in many cases, the same rentals they found no difficulty in getting before the tramways opened new residential districts to the clerk and the artisan. A. E. M.

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