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PARLIAMENTARY PARS

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PARLIAMENTARY PARS 1; LETTERS AND DREADNOUGHTS. '.7 For weeks past Mr. McKenna, has had to undergo almost daily a fire of interrogatories with regard to the publication of "private and confidential" communications written to 1 c0 the First Sea Lord by Captain Bacon. These letters deal, of course, with service matters, and one of them contained a reference in terms not at all complimentary to Lieut. Bellairs, who, though he represents King's Lynn as a Liberal, is one of, the severest critics of the naval policy of the Government: Mr. Bellairs is apparently under the impres- sion that publication has been gi,ven to the letters in question by the Admiralty from motives of revenge. Mr. McKenna, how- ever, declares that only a few- copies of the letters were printed, and those only for pur- poses of convenient reference; that the por- tion referring., to Mr. Bellairs'ought to have beeli deleted, and that, he regrets this was not done; and, finally, that no copy of the letter or, letters ought to have gone; outside the Admiralty. THREE YEARS AGO. The question is, Who circulated the let- ters? There appears to be no doubt that copies have been seen by persons for whose eyes they were never intended. Captain Craig, the Unionist, member for East Down, who is a most persistant propoimder of 'ques- tions -and a thorn in the side of Mmifetfepsy hag seen one, he says, in which Captain Bacon struck a brother officer 'and i member of the House very hard. Mr. McKenna says, how- ever, that Captain Bacon did not report on his brother officers. But the question of who circulated the letters remains un- answered.. The whole thing, says Mr; McKenna, occurred three years ago, before he was at the Admiralty, and' Sir John F; Fisher's recollection of the matter is so dim .that he cannot be sure whether he sent the letter to anybody or not. Mr. Bellairs; is un- satisfied, and there is an idea that he may perhaps take further action.' A TERRIBLE TALE. .11 There have been plenty of stories of spies and conspiracies floating around lately, but the cake is taken by the statement which his been sent ush niie that there are 66,000 tinned Cerman s ldi rs in England, and that there in a cellar within a quarter of a mile of Charing-eross, 50,000 stands of Mauser rifles, and 7J millions of Mause] cart- ,2 ridges—that is 150 rounds per rifle. With ));;Îview'¡to -dragging this bogey into the ;light of day so that it might be killed by ridicule, a question upon it was put to 'Mr. Haldane, "whose reply is worth giving. He said: "My lion, friend has. done well in bringing before the House, this illustration of the. class of i alarmist statement to, w hichcredence is t6o often given by thoughtless persms..Toany joui- possessing even an elementarly. know- ledge of what mobilisation ( requirements 'mean the suggestion is a ludicrous one. Such ^statements tend to lower our reputation abroad for common-sense. My hon. friend lias done well in exposing this one to the ^ridicule which it merits." How MANY DREADNOUGHTS? Several newspapers have announced that 'the Government have already decided to lay down the fo ur, contingent Dreadnoughts during the current financial year, tnp$ making the" year's programme eight Dread- noughts. N<j< official aTlnouncemeilt to that 1 effect has been made, and in reply to a ques- tioii on, the subject the Prime Minister said f.hat ]iQ had nothing to add to previous state- ments. The position, so far as official infor- mation goes, is that the Government pro- posed in the Naval Estimates1 -to take1 power arrange preliminaries so that -the eoiistl*uc-' 1 tion of the extra ships should be' proceeded with in the event of need. The Press often gets hold of information which is correct though unofficial; but it is sometimes wrong, a recent notable instance beiilg the state- mentbv the "Times" that the Budget would contain no proposals for. the taxation of land; With regard to the extended naval pro- gramme, Mr. Asquith, gives,, ,tlie same answer as he did to a. question upon., the Times" announcement: "Anything, that, 1 may have appeared in the,, Press is nothing but eonjec- ture." THE NORFOLK HOLBEIN. The situation with regard to the sale of the Holbein picture, "The Duchess of Milan," is a little diverting. The Duke of Norfolk has disposed of it, and the purchasers are desirous of selling it to "the nation. for 472,000. Then appears a letter in the papers expressing doubt as to the Duke of Norfolk's power to sell. There are, it appears, some Arundel Acts of the reign of Charles I., under which the Howards had to make an in- ventory of heirlooms which were not, in any circumstances, to be sold aHroad. The Hol- bein, _it is said, ought to be in such ihven- Y, is "not> and if it is then the Duke of Norfolk is unable to dispose of more than his if- *n^rest *n it. This is a little matter ■which the Premier has promised to have in- vestigatedv ■ THE SHOE PINCHES. Members of the House of Commons were amongst the first to feel tile effects of, the Budget. The Kitchen Committee promptly1 ,clapped a penny 011 whisky; and another on cigars. Important affairs ofStatê like, this always compel the attention of meníbers and, accordingly, the Parlicinientjary atmos phere was highly electrical wlien a member rose in his place and wanted to know why nicilibers,had to pay more for their whisky. The answer of .Colonel, Lockwood, who re- plied in the absence ,of Sir „A-. Jacqby through illness, was a model of statesmanlike gravity and discr, tiprij Hie super-tax, ,h,e :said, had been put on with the idea 'of ineehng a dfeficit and a fallulg revenue, by taxing luxuries, and perhaps wl- ith the hope of increasing temperance by limiting the alcoholic expen- diture of hon. members. In order, however, t.. meet the wishes of lion, members,, and: in j c? °f an arduous Session, the Committee ere to, rennt id. leaving only an in- ease(j price of |d. per measure. Members J,, avoid paving the; odd |d.: by purchasj.- Si§, tVo p0rtions instead of one. There was a j.,§"h of relief when the gallant, colonel said was probably' "enough whisky, Irish and "Cot,h, to la$t this Sessi I THE WINE ofr THE COUNTRY." scotch and Trish members made a strong tack upon the whisky duty during fetfort ^age of the Budget resolutions. Str H. rtik, the staid member for Aberdeen and o-lasgow Umversities-, put in a strong objec- tion to the duty, of which he, said Scotland wowld pay half the total amount. Sir John Dewar also considered that Scotland would aave a grievance, while Mr. Balfour, a Scot though member for the Citv of London, de- clared that the Chancellor of the Exchequer "aa'd' been unfair to Scotland and Ireland, %nd jhat this system of raising money woulct not o u water! If only all the Scottish members -■■f ™ use;; and join; in isingingthat fine old Scottish song, "The Massacre of Mac- r ;?herson, wi_th its bagpipe chorus and em- phatic comminatory conclusion, "An' tarn ta whusky duty," it is possible that the heart ?f the Chancellor might be; softened; HOUSING AND TOWN-PLANNING. Fears have been expressed lately bad-, vocates of the Housing and Town-Plamnino- Bill that time would not be available this, on for propeeding with the measure. Those fears, hoivev 7", have been in some geasure allayed by the statement of the Premier that the Government hope to make Provision -for the further progress of the. Bill; the Finance Bill has been read a time soon after Whitsuntide. The government, said Mr. Asqiuth, certainly in- tend to press the measure through all its stages this Session.

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