Theatre Royal The success which attended the opening of The Woman Who Atoned," at the the Theatre Royal on Monday, decided the management to continue its performance until Thursday night, and cancel the per- formance of The Man of Mystery," a very sensible decision. The Woman Who Atoned is a Mormon play of vigorous dra- matic action, and strongly marked comedy, and with versatile Geo. Little in the Mor- mon Elder; Dorothea Vivian as "Nelly," E. C. Kilner as her sailor lovJr, and Freda Mae and Harry Kelso in the comedy parts the show went with a bang. To-night (Fri- day) the company will again play "The Dumb Man of Manchester," and for to- morrow that startling drama Maria Mar- tin is down for presentation. Next week brings always-welcome Eva Elwes back in two of those domestic dramas which she pens so well and stages so com- pletely. This time she is equally dividing the week between "The Girl Mother," and Love's Young Dream," both ranking amongst her best yet." After her visit we are to have a break in the pro- gramme of, dramas by the staging of "The Misleading Lady."
I THE RETURN OF REASON J — t PAGE 3.
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I Political Notes I By F. W. Jowett, M.P. I BANK AMALGAMATIONS The banking firms are having a merry and prosperous time. So prosperous have they become, thanks to the enormous expansion of their clcdms against the nation, based on the paper credits they have created with the connivance of the Government, on the pre- tence that the banks were really lending to the nation—although in point of fact they were lending nothing-they are as busy as bees buying each other out, with two ob- jects in view. One of these objects is to hide all traces of the htilye profits they have been making. The National Bank of Scot- land for instance, is being bought out by Lloyds Bank, the latter paying £ 350 in Lloyds Shares and War Bonds for each £ 100 of National Bank of Scotland Stock. This will enable the new amalgamation to make the percentage of its future dividends appear small bv reason of its being calculated on £ o.")0 instead of £ 100, so far as the propor- tion of shares representing the National Bank of Scotland is concerned. Lloyds Bank, as the purchasing bank, will get in return the advantage which accrues from buying out a competitor, and thus making the world safe for the financier, thanks to a. war which is said to be waged for the pur- pose of making the world safe for democ- racy. This advantage of removing com- petitors is the second object of the present bank amalgamations. # MAKING SURE OF BOTV WO RLDS THerp :4. however, 1 haie no doubt, a third considertion which bankers who are carrying out these amalgamations have in mind. They cannot altogether disregard the possibility of State purchase, and one effect of the transactions will be to add to the share capital of the few remaining banks when all the amalgamations have been com- pleted. the whole sum total of profits made on their sale transactions by the banks which have sold to the amalgamation. This is making sure of both worlds, at least so the financiers calculate, for if the State buys them out, it will buy them, so the financiers think, on their then capital, which will be immensely swollen as a result of the tran- sactions now in progress, whilst on the other hand, if private banking should con- tinue. it will have become practically a monopoly of money power, and can black- mail industry and commerce to the utmost limit they will bear. One thing, however, the financiers have overlooked—conscrip- tion of wealth. This, if applied rigorously, will nullify all the thimble-rigging opera- tions the financiers are now engaged in, and make the way easy for the State acquisition of banks.. HOW IT IS DONE Interesting evidence as to the opportuni- ties of profiteering, that are still available ) notwithstanding the control over prices 1 now partially held up, was given recently during the trial of a wholesale fruit mer- chant at Leeds on a charge that he had sold I gooseberries in quantities of ."> lbs and over in excess of the control price. It was stated in the evidence that the gooseberries were being sold by the retailer at 1/- per lb., or £ 112 per ton, whilst the control price, which only applies to sales in quantities of 5 lbs. and over, is :d. per lb., or £ 2.5 per. ton. This disclosure is but a slight indica- tion of what is going on at the present time. It is not in the fruit trade alone that there are opportunities outside the opera- tion of control prices for enormous profits. In regard to everything needed for con- sumption, with the exception of a few articles, such as bread, meat, milk, butter, and sugar, either prices are altogether un- controlled, or they are only controlled at the source of supply, leaving unlimited openings for exploitation. The result is that the lucky individuals who buy and sell, and who are medically unfit, or are too old for military service, are extracting from the worker a considerable part of his earn- ings by a process of blackmail and their in- vestments in war loan, along with the huge fictitious loans by bankers, which, as I have already said, are, to a very large extent, merely entries in the books, are creating new and fancy charges on account of in- terest to be met out of the daily labour of the people. On the sum total of all the L accumulated proceeds of blackmail by pro- fiteers and thimble-rigging financiers, this present and all succeeding generations are expected to pay interest to a relatively small number of persons, who will contri- bute nothing in return. « THE POWER AND LIGHT If PUSH" I Whilst read;y to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the war, with- out regard to the public welfare, the share- holders in public compAniei3 are most un- willing to bear any reduction in the returns on their investments if the war happens, in exceptiona.l cases, to affect them adversely. For instance, a Bill has been promoted in Parliament to enable gas, electricity and water undertakings to increase their charges to the public in order to keep their dividends from falling too low. There was, as might have been expected, considerable opposition to the proposal, but the Board of Trade is at preeent under the control of a friend of the investors, and he has played up wonderfully well to outside influences that have been working in sympathy with him. The result is that the consumer is going to have to pay more in order to par- tially restore the pre-war dividends of sta- tutory companies, which in the past have made goodiprofits, and would be in a position to pay quite good interest on their share capital even now, if the share capital had not been watered. .w.I'. # POWERS EXTENDED The question was raised by the promotion of Gas Bills in Parliament b 7 a number of Gas Companies all desirous of increasing their statutory charges. A committee was appointed to consider the position of the companies in regard to their charges, and the committee reported in favour of allow- ing the companies to increase the charges for gas to an amount sufficient to enable them to pay up to a maximum dividend equal to one-half of the statutory dividend they'are allowed to pay by law. This pro- posal applied only to Gas Companies, but the President of the Board of Trade ex- panded the proposal he embodied in an In- crease of Charges Bill, and when the Bill came before the House he openly aided and abetted the vested interests who set to work to convert the proposal of the committee into one which allows the charges to the consumer to be increased to an amount suf- ficient to pay the shareholders three-quarters their statutory maximum dividend instead of one-half as recommenbed by the Com- mittee. By means of this disasterous move the President of fhe Board of Trade brought into the Bill, for the same generous consid- eration, £50,000,000 more capital invested in electricity undertakings, and about £ 300.000,(>00 invested in water undertakings LETTING THE CAT OUT The case for the shareholders of the gas companies is that on the present charges to the consumers the ordinary shares can only pay 2 per cent. dividend, and that the shares have been bought by recent purchasers at a price which shows a return of Ii per cent. capital. But Sir William Middlebrook, the Chairman of the Committee that recom- mended the modified proposal to make the dividends up to 50 per cent., dealt with this point effectively. This is what he said: The great illustration put before us is, You are going to cut nown my divid- end to 2 per cent., or it may be 1I per cent." What dividend is that ? Origin- ally it was a dividend of 10 per cent. on the capital of £ 100, but by the consent of Parliament that capital was split up, and it was made a capital of £ 250, bear- a dividend of 4 per cent., instead of a capital of £ 100. bearing a dividend of 10 per cent. LONDON'S TAX Already, the South Metropolitan Gas Co. has increased its charges for gas since the war began from 2/3 per 1800 cubic feet to 4/ Before the war, London paid for and consumed £ 6,000,006 gas per annum from all the companies, aad, according to the statement of Mr. Jqhn Burns, in 1918, £ 10.500,000 was being paid for gas only slightly greater in quantity, and the quali- ty, as is well known, is considerably worse. I ANDERSON'S ANALYSIS The crux of the question at issue, how- ever, was put fairly and squarely by Ander- son in the course of the debate. This is the way he put it If these rich and very powerful corpor- ations can come to this House and make these demands in favour of such modi- fication, why should not relief be granted to every shopkeeker or business which has suffered as the result of the war As a matter of fact, many of the small shopkeepers and one-man businesses have been ruthlessly smashed without any kind of compensation whereas, we have got these various strong companies, well organised, with any number of representa- tives in this House, as we have heard to- night. They can make their power felt so far as tne Government is concerned, and the Government is willing to meet them in a very substantial way. What we are asked to do to-iiigi it really is this; to break agreements which have been in operation in regard to gas undertakings and the like, since 1875. 142 YEAR'S AVERAGE 1 Averaged over 42 yeara prior to the war, the companies have made over 10 per cent. profit on their ordinary shares, and now they want the public to make up their divi- dends because the war has affected them ad- versely, all unmindful of the fact that others have been ruined and are compelled to bear their misfortunes as best they can.
I Equal Pay for Equal Work INDIGNATION OVER FINDING OF COMMITTFE ON PRODUCTION. Dear Sir,—Kindly allow me the space in your valuable paper for two resolutions which were passed by the members of the Tramway (Swansea Branch) of the Dockers Union at one of the most representative meetings ever held since the formation of the branch. The resolutions were passed unanimously after a heated criticism of the award of the Committee of Production re the Tramway and Bus Workers' applica- tion for an increase of 12-?r per cent. on total earnings. The award states that only able bodied men, aged 21 and over, shall receive an increase of 25s. above the pre-war rate, making under this new award an increase of 5s. per week of six days, or six shifts; w omen and boys not to receive anv increase. It was resolved that this Tramway (Swan- sea Branch) do not accept "'the award given by the Committee on Production, and cails upon ,the National Transport Workers' Federation to again submit our claim of 12J per cent. for able or disable," under 21 years of age, men and women, to the Com- mittee of Production, and, that a case cah he made out for the women who are prac- tically the only people the employers can upon to run a regular service." Resolution II. That this branch calls upon the National Transport Workers' Fed- eration to at once organise a National Con- ference of Tramway Workers to consider our present position." Let it be remembered that if women pas-, sengers have to pay the same fare as men passengers, then women workers doing men's work should have the same pay as men workers.—Fraternally yours, THOS. J. ANTHONY, Branch Secretary.
The Merthyr Gas Strike. MEN DEMAND COMPLETE SUR- RENDER OF COMPANY. The Merthyr Gas Workers are still on strike, and on Monday, though counselled by the Workers' Union headquarters to go back pending negotiations, a text very warmly espoused by the Divisional Organ- iser. Mr. Hall, in his address before the men on Monday morning, the fighting spirit and determination of the men was such that by an unanimous vote they refused to heed their Unions' advice, and decided to stay out until they had been conceded the national scale which obtains under the national award, ond which is paid at- amongst other places—Dowlais and Aber- dare. Their demands were set forth in last week's Pioneer."
I Wakefield C.O. Riots. I I IUICTMENT OF POLICE AD I PRESS. ￼ A\ ALTER:TIVE SERVICE. ANOMALY. At Wakefield some three hundred men, conscientious objectors, are employed by the Home Office on work of national import- ance. The- work and are housed within the buildings of H.M. Prison, Wakefield, now termed the Wakefield Work Centre. Fol- lowing on a local press campaign riots tipok place in the vicinity of the Work Centre on Whit-Sunday and Whit-Monday evenings, 19th and 20th May. An account of thes-.t di sturbances was promptly sent by represcn-j fatives of the men to the Home Secretary. This account scrupulously refrained from ut- tering ex parte statements, it was confined to a recital of fact. It is unnecessary to go over the ground therein covered, but the following main points may be mentioned- It was clearly shown (a) That the conscienti- ous objectors were not responsible for the disturbances; (b) that the immediate cause was to be found in a local press campaign; (c) that the police, except in a few cases, played the part of bystanders; (d) that the mob violence extended to destruction of pro- perty, a house belonging to a local quaker family being wrecked. Following on the disturbances the gates of the \Vork Centre were closed. It was under- stood that this was an emergency precaution taken in view of the ineffectiveness of the local police. But the emergency precaution has now lasted for seven weeks.' From Whitsuntide until now the conscientious objectors have been virtually interned, singl individuals only being allowed out on officia1 passes and during the daytime. I HOSTILITY '(ITY COUN.CIL,o I At one time it appeared as though this in- terment would be raised, but after a deputa- tion from the Wakefield City Council, of a nature notoriously hostile to the conscienti- ous objectors, had been received by the Home Secretary, the confinement was made more stringent. Since then repeated repre- sentatiions have been forwarded to the Home Office on behalf of the men, but to these, including the initial statement, of facts, no reply has been received and no aq .nowledgment. The outcome has been that a body of men, who were not the re- sponsible parties and who were, indeed, the victims of these disturbances, are the only- persons to suffer. « I A SINISTER ASPECT. One aspect of this deserves special atten- tion. These men are employed on what is mown as the Home Office Scheme. This Scheme originated two years ago. Owing to the faulty administration of the Military Service Act a large number of conscientious objectors were then being sent into the army and thence into prison. In order to meet the difficulty, an arrangement was come to between the Army Council and the Home Office by which those men who were ad judged by the Central Tribunal to be genu- ine conscientious objectors were offered a scheme of alternative service under civilian control. This scheme was at first in charge of men who were anxious to provide genu- ine work of national importance. But gra dually those officials were superseded by men trained in the prison service, and by the end of 1917 the Managers of the three chief Work Centres were all ex-prison Gov- ernors. The departmental committee of the Home Office which administered the scheme also underwent a change. Its original mem- bers, such as Sir Alexander McHardy and Sir Matthew Nathan, while not in any way holding the standpoint of the conscientious objectors, were desirous of carrying out the intentions of the authors of the Scheme. But now its personnel, besides its official Secre- tary and the Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs, consists of one Prison Com- misioner, one ex-Prison Governor, and a Member of Parliament notoriously hostile to conscientious objectors; while the actual ad- ministration is in the hands of two perma- nent officials of the Home Office. The re- sult has been a system of steadily increasing severities until by the end of 1917 the Scheme had ceased to be one of alternative service and had become one of alternative punishment. It is now definitely penal- A DANGEROUS INOVATION. I Now the Home 0 ce Committee have no legal power to enforce their orders on the men thus employed by them. But if a man refuses to obey them, the Committee asks the Army Council to recall him to the army where he is court-martialled and returned to prison. Thus if a man incurs the displeasure tof %he Committee, he is liable to indefinite imprisonment, and that without any sem- blance of a trial for his alleged offence. It is solely by this threat of a return to prison that these men are controlled. Obviously, this extra-legiil sanction, besides being a dangerous innovation in itself, is liable to grave abuses. It introduces an unexplained status, neither military nor civilian, nor yet that of convicted prisoners. And it is solely by virtue of this exsr-legal sanction and not by any power, either known to the Common Law or derived from the Defence of the Realm Act, that the Home Office Commit- tee have now interned these men. POLICE CHIEF'S DILEMMA. So much for the theory under which these men are being restrained, and, if necessary, forcibly restrained within their quarters. \Let us see- how it works in practice. The h'.)me Office have instructed their manager of the Wakefield Work Centre to act on ad- vice received from the Chief Constable of Wakefield, and to allow men to pass out of their quarters only in so far as the Chief Constable considers it safe. Clearly this places huge powers over these men in the hands of this official. Now the Chief Con. stable is a servant of the Wakefield City Council, whb, by the sending of a deputa- tion asking. for the withdrawal of these men, have made themselves a party to the case. Moreover, from utterances reported in the newspapers, it is apparent that the City Council view with strong disfavour the pre- sence of conscientious objectors in the streets. The police authority is thus placed in an awkward position. It is his business to declare if the outbreak-of lawlessness of Whitsuntide is so far subsided by now as to make it safe for conscientious objectors to walk abroad. On the other hand he knows that his ofn employers do not want these men to get out. And consequently, so long as the Chief Constable has the say, it will never be safe for conscientious objectors to be released- I VIRTUALLY INTERNED. Thus there appears no prospect of the speedy release of these men. They are vir- tually interned. This internment, unlike that of German civilians, is aggravated by the imposition of a daily task of nine hours' labour. It is neither known to the Common Law, nor is it ordered under the Defence of the Realm Act. It is simply an arbitrary order which each man can resist only at peril of being returned to prison. It aj> pears that the only way out of this position is to make an end of this anomaly. That is to say, the Home Office Scheme, which its originators certainly never expected would be put to such strange uses as this, should be broken up. Already conscientious ob., jectors of twelve months' service and good conduct on the scheme, are being released itjo find their own work of national import- ance. To carry this further and release the minority who have still some months to serve is not very difficult. Besides getting rid of the present anomalous situation it would have the further advantage that it would restore, if only in a partial manner, the privilege originally granted by the Mili- tary Service Acts to men who could not con- scientiously engage in warfare. For it must not be forgotten that these men, who have all prove) the genuineness of their objection, ought never to have been in this position. And the anomaly of the Home Office Scheme with its arbitrary powers and extra-legal sanctions, would never have existed had the Military Service Acts been properly admin istered.