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LOCAL NEWS. I

IEWENNY. I

[ FRANK HODGES BOMBSHELL.

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[ FRANK HODGES BOMBSHELL. Is the question of the presence, or otherwise, of Mr. Fraitk Hodges (miners' agent) on the Bridgend Food Control Committee a question of national importance at this critical period in the history of the British Empire? One would thiuk so from the prolonged discussion it evoked on Tuesday night at the ordinary meet- ing of the Bridgend District Council, and from the warmth of feeling and the asperity im- ported into such discussion. The Chairman (Mr J. G. Jenkins), who was absent at the last meet- ing, was 40w present, and presided over the heated deliberations. At the -tart a letter W< read from the Aberbaiden Colliery workmen, affiliated to the South Wales Miners' Federa- tion, protesting against the exclusion of Mr. Hodges, and forwarding a strongly-worded reso- lution upon the subject.—Mr. Geo. Bevan: I move that the letter lie on the table, or under the table-l don't care which.—Mr. W. Jones: I second that.—The Chairman I think you ought to acknowledge it.—Mr. -NVm. Jones: What for? -Mr. J. T. Hitt: Why should Aberbaiden in- terfere with Bridgend matters!'—The Clerk: I have already acknowledged it.A communica- tion ,was also read from Mr. E. C. Morgan (sec- retary of Bridgend Trades and Labour Council), protesting against the "insulting attitude" of a section of the Council, re-affirming Mr. Hodges' nomination, and "insisting" upon his election.— The Chairman You will remember we passed a resolution that we should ask the Food Control- ler to consent to two additional members, and he ha& consented to an increase from 12 to 14. The Food Controller has acceded to our request, so that it is now competent to eled two more members.—Mr. J. T. Hitt thought one or two Labour members quite sufficient, and moved that the Council do not accede to the request.— The Chairman Does that imply that you will not elect two members represented by Labour at all, or that you will not elect two members nominated by the Labour party?—Mr. Hitt: I think it is quite sufficient on a committee which is not much good to anybody.—Mr. Geo. Bevan agreed, on the ground of co-option, and not as against any man. This, he reminded them, was a spending body. The sum allocated under the Order was k28, and now they had six or seven times exceeded the mark. Only the elected re- presentatives of the ratepayers should deal with Imattrs of finance. It was all very well to claim this, that, and the other. It would seem that some wanted to pack this body with their own friends, or those whom they imagined would be their friends at the next ejection. ("Oh, oh," and hear, hear.) They were chosen by the ratepayers, and he, for one, would not be dictated to by anybody outside. Apparently, they would have been better off if the committee had never been started. It was responsible for the price of milk, which was higher now than ever before in Bridgend; and he failed to see that any increase in the committee could im- prove matters. What in the world were they afraid of? (Hear, hear.) A few men met in a room, called themselves by a high-sounding name, passed a resolution, and sent it to them, and at once they threw up their arms, and shouted, "Kamerad, Kamerad," as if they were afraid of their own shadows. (Great laughter.) Why not stand to their guns, and do their best for their corLstituentse-Mr. Morgan Stradling: To be consistent, I propose that we adopt these two men! The labourer was worthy of his hire, and Labonr was entitled to fair representation. (Hear, hear.)—Mr. Henry Abbott: If I was by you now, Morgan, I should pat you on the back. (Laughter.)—Mr. Stradling: But I am not in favour of a person like Mr. Hodges.. (More laughter.)—The Chairman Don't touch upon that.—Mr. Stradling: I have come from the I ranks of Labour, and I shall do all I can for Labour "Vutij xt kicks over the traces. (Hear, hear.) I say the British workman is the back- bone and sinew of the country. (Hear, hear.) Mr. Henry Abbott: I second the motion that the two representatives nominated shall be members of the committee—and whv do I do 6o? -3ir. Bevan: To get votes at the next election. (Laughter.)—Mr. Abbott: Who are the chief sufferers?—Why the workers, many of whom cannot now get the necessaries of life, and I say you should select these two representatives. 1 have nothing to do with co-option. What is Mr. Bevan afraid of? Is he afraid of a revolu- tion ? Is ht afraid that theee Labour represen- tatives will overthrow the intelligence of the Council? (Laughter.)—Mr. Bevan: I am not afraid of the next election, if Mr. Abbott is. I can stand to my guns before him. I am not out for votes. I speak plainly. I am not out to oppose any man as a man. We are sent here to manage the affairs of the Council, and should do it. Mr. Akkott thinks he is the only man to uphold certain principles, which he throws to the wind the next minute. I don't want the committee to be a local House of Lords, which is evidently his object, to have his friends around him.—Mr. Wm. Jones: I am sorry to see Mr. Abbott go so far. He is the only man on the Council who wanted to vacate his seat for office. ("Oh.") Mr Stradling's amendment in favour of appointing two members was carried by one vote.—The Chairman then proposed the resolution, of which he had given notice, to rescind the motion passed at the last meeting for the exclusion of Mr. Hodges. He set out by saying he did not want personalities, and then submitted that to be logical they ought to carry the resolution. The previous meeting agreed to the nomination of a successor to Mr. Preece from the Labour party, and they consented to elect the u-oniinee of the Labour party instead of Mr. Preece. Presonally, he went further, and declared that the Council was morally and honourably bound to carry out the terms of the resolution. He understood from the report in the "Gazette" that Mr. Bevan objected to Mr. Hodges on three grounds-that he objected to representatives of Labour.—Mr. Bevan (inter- posing) I didn't say anything about it. Keep to the motion for rescinding. You are dealing with men, Not with the resolution.—Mr. Wm. Jones (impatiently) We don't want to hear about the man.—Mr. Stradling: By rescinding the resolution you would seem to suggest that the committee can't do without Mr. Hodges.— Mr. W. Jones: We'll deal with Hodges in good time.—The Chairman: You have mistaken the definition of Labour altogether. It is not only hands—but hands or brains! Labour is to exert the hiind or the hands. I take it you refuse Mr Hodges simply because you think he doesn't labour with his hands. (Laughter.) See where that conclusion lands you It will mean that all the members of the Labour party—Mr. Brace, Mr. Barnes (a member of the War Com- mittee) and Mr. Henderson, and other import- ant members—would not be fit to sit on your Food Control Committee.—Mr. Bevan: Non- sense.—The Chairman (proceeding) said Mr. Bevan's strongest argument seemed to be against co-option. Now as he (the Chairman) had before pointed out, there was no shadow of co-option in the scheme of the Food Control Committee.—Mr. Bevan: Why did you do it then?—The Chairman: The constitution is by direct appemtment of the Council. If the com- mittee consist of 12, they must be members of the Council. We cannot elect more than nine members.—Mr. W. Jones: I am surprised at you.—Mr. Abbott seconded the Chairman, and Mr. Hitt supported.—Mr. G. Bevan I am against it. I have never heard a weaker case put forward. He submitted that the compari- son betweei Mr. Brace and other Labour mem- bers, and Mr. Hodges was not a parallel case, because the former were elected and sent to Par- liament by their constituents, whilst Mr Hodges had not been elected by anybody. Respecting his arguments against co-option, Mr. Bevan went on: You were asked by the Food Commit- tee to call a public meeting, and you burked the question. You were afraid of it. I don't know why. Why not have called a public meeting? You shuffled out of it in a shabby manner! ("Oh.")—The Chairman It was carried by the vote of the Council.—Mr. Geo. Bevan You were asked to call a public meeting, and you burked it.—The Chairman It was carried by the vote of the Council.—Mr. Bevan The Food Control Committee asked you to do it, and you appeared to be afraid. You wanted some definition how far you could go. You quibbled, and wouldn't a dope the recommendation. Had you adopted lhe suggestion there wouJd have been no di,pijze *I —The Clerk: There was a recommendation that the meeting should be called, but it was turned ,.cwii.Nli- Bevan: That was because the Chair- man, or Mr. Hitt, wobbled—(laughter)—and I wouldn't carry out the resolution.—The Chair- man: We are right now. (More laughtel-.)- \lr. Bevan: The Chairman showed the white ieather. ("Oh.") If he had come forward .?'Idiy the thing would have been pai. The Chairman is responsible for all the bother that j ,i?s arisen since. 1 am s?tished there has been I interviews between some of the members. I I' .dil still in the same position. I have not al- tered one iota.—Mr. Morgan Stradling said he thought the man selected would have been one .i-om the ranks—a direct Labour representative. tIe said nothing against Mr. Hodges, who al- ready must have sufficient to do in the interests of the colliers he represented. If he came on the Food Control Committee he must neglect t those interests, and a lot of his time would be —waited or utilised. (Laughter.) They wanted a man who could "eel, and speak, and act for Labour, and not an agitator, who lived on agi- tation, and therefore had not the same feeling as the workers themselves—an agitator for Lab- I our, and not on Labour.-—Mr. W. Jones, speak- ing strongly, expressed the view that the Chair- man, as a choolma6ier, ':liying on the ras," I had no right to be on the Council. ("Oh.") The speaker ridiculed the idea of Mr. Hodges' I indispensabHity, and said "the man should be fighting in the Army. The colliers would go I on the earne without this young man, who should be ashamed to stay at home, while other I young men of the same class had joined up; "and" (now addressing the Chairman) "you ought to bfe ashamed to allow it to arise a second time-a. man in your position. (Laughter.)— The Chairman: All right; we will put it to the vote. I don't say anything in reply to you. You have taunted me with living on the rate- payers' money, and I don't live on the rate- pavers' money.—Mr. Jones: I don't; I work- yoli live on it.—The motion was carried by the Chairman's casting-vote—a decision that made subsequent discussion still more heated, and be- cause of frequent interpolations, even more frag- mentary in character. The Chairman, who kept remarkably cool and suave, formally moved the appointment of Mr. Hodges to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Mi. E. Preece. Mr. Hodges, he pointed out, had done magnificent service for the country. South Wales had been threatened with two rike-s-en- gineered by the Pacifists—and Mr. Hodges, Mr. Vernon Hartshorn, and other miners' agents, had been in the fore-front of the battle oppos- ing the Pacifists in their malignant intention to "down tools," and put the country in peril. Mr. Hodges was a resident in the town, and a Labour leader. Scores of colliers came here every week to consult Mr. Hodges. Men could not be in town without food and drink, and this must bring a substantial revenue to Bridgend. They had been told not to irritate the working classes, and especially the colliers. They had had three letters from colliery 'lodges, so that already they had irritated them to some extent. They were faced with this great problem of the shortage, and unequAl distribution, of food, and in Mr. Hodges they had a man of intimate knowledge and practical experience of the mean- ing of these things—one who had made political ecenomy his life's study—the very subject the misunderstanding of which had cause d so much confusion and so much chaos in the country. Mr. Hodges was a man of the highest skill and intelligence, and, should be on the Committee.— Mr. W. Jones: If he is so intelligent, why don't he take a command in the Army? (Hear, hear.) —The Chairman claimed to be a democrat, and was giving an exposition of his views on democ- racy, when Mr. G. Bevan (interposing) asked, What has that to do with the motion?—Mr. H. Abbott: I think it a shameful act when the Chairman was called away to meet and welcome his son from the front, that advantage should be taken to upset the general feeling, and to— Mr. W. Jones: I don't make a fuss when my sons come h-ome.-The Chairman I won't have that.—Mr. Jones: Shut up your mouth. (Up- roar.)—The Chairman My son is dear to me.— Mr. Jones And so is mine; I have seven. My sons are as good as yours. Why did you leave the chair ?—The Chairman Because my eon has been, wounded.—Mr. Jones: So has my son; two of them have been wounded.—Mr. Hitt (depre- catingly) One would think we were deciding the fate of nations. (Hear, hear.)—Mr Abbott: Time was when Mr. Bevan was a Radical—a Radical of a robust type—but I can't say it now. He has changed entirely.-At this juncture there was quite a turbulent scene.—Mr. Hitt exclaimed, "Go on," and Mr. W. Jones, taking up the cue, said, "Yes, go on; I am prepared.— Mr. Bevan, as an amendment, then proposed the previous question. Mr. Hodges, he observed, in an interview, had referred to his (the speaker's) occupation in life. In answer, he said that those he served had never, under any eircumstancet. dared to influence, direct or con- trol his public life-which gave him a certain advantage over Mr. Hodges. The latter's ap- pointment was partly political, and he could only express himself so far as the chain of his employers would permit. Recapitulating his views on co-option, he said he had always been a democrat, and was still a democrat-at any time prepared to face his constituents. Why seek to do away with the franchise? He wanted the ballot-box only, and outbursts of Pecksniff- ian oratory, or of self-satisfied Mugwumpian knowledge, had not the least influence upon him. To contend that extension meant co- option was wrong. Yet they saw the idol of the Garw-the County Magistrate—creeping in by the back door of co-option, showing a great re- gard for the Bench of which he was such a dis- tinguished ornament.—At this stage there was more verbal wrangling, during which the Chair- man protested that he was not a "wobbler," and Mr. Hitt (looking weary and worn) said, with a bored air, "We are not deciding how long the war is going to last."—Mr. Bevan, repeating his assertion re "exploitation of the public," said that the charge of t2 a ton for coal was an ex- ploitation of the public. The colliers paid only a quarter of the price. Suppose every class in- sisted upon having what it produced at a quar- ter the price, where would they be to-day? Sup- pose John Ploughman demanded it, what a row there would be! Talk about down tools—it would be a case of "up tools," as well as "down tools." When thtrewa-, a rise in the price of coal, the men's leaders demanded their share of the spoil, and got it, and who but the public paid the advance? If Mr. Hodges wanted to benefit the community, as suggested, why didn't he approach the Coal Controller, and take off the 216 a ton put upon the price of coal? The Government would listen—the Government was beautifully pliant to the miners. Then he had said Mr. Hodges ought to be in the Army, and he still said it. He was surprised that a man of his age had been left out of the Army. In what sense was he better than others? He did not produce an ounce of coal. Who now was the democrat? Mr. Hodges was fond of a gun- fond of sport. He believed (Mr. Hodges would correct him if he was wrong) that with his man, his dog, and his gun, he had before now shot over the much-despised land belonging to the Earl of Dunraven in this neighbourhood. He (Mr. Bevan) wanted to give him something bet- ter than playing the country gentleman. He wanted him to don khaki—a benevolent Gov- ernment would provide him with a rifle and ammunition, and if he went to France, he would see the game. (Hear, hear.) To say that nobody could take Mr. Hodges' place was sheer nonsense; and in regard to work of national im- portance, the most important thing Mr. Hodges could 'do was to fill the ranks, and help to man the trenches. When the Great Reaper came with his sickle, who then was indispensable? He was astounded the Chairman-who so loved his country—could defend such attitude.—By the casting-vote of the Chairman, the choice fell on Mr. Hodges.

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