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Labour in Parliamenti

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Labour in Parliament i GOVERNMENT A FREEDOM OF THE PRESS I The Government seem bent on extinguishing the Nationalist Movement and perpetuating the present conditions of extreme disaffection in Ireland. The policy of repression and coercion which is ttie most notaible feature of the Irish Administration has (resulted in a considerable -strengthening of the extremist elements at the expense of the old constitutional Nationalist Party which has struggled for Irish Freedom long recognised and orderly political lines. The Freeman's Journal which had long been re- garded as the principal Press organ of the Na- tionalists, is the latest victim of the blundering stupidity of the Irish Administration, who have -suppressed it because of its criticisms of the policy of Dublin Castle in turning the Civil Service into a recruiting ground for the Special Police. The Nationalist members of Parliament, though they may be few in number, are not lacking in courage and resolution, and in the House of Commons they roundly denounced the latest Government outrage on the freedom of the Press perpetrated by the suppression of the Freeman's Journal." Mr. Adamson identified the Labour Party with the Nationalists' protest, but the bulk of the present House of Commons appears to have little sympathy with the deep feeling fo resentment aroused throughout Ire- land by this provocative act, and in the division Mr. T. P. O'Connor's motion was rejected by 161 votes to 52. I UNEMPLOYMENT DONATION, I In the recent discussion on the Consolidated F-tind Bill the Labour Party again raised the question of the withdrawal of the unemployment -dona.tion. They contended that during the winter months there would be seasonal unem- ployment, and that the present it-as the worst time to discontinue the pay which the Govern- ment had been providing. Mr. Clynes made an -ap|>eal to the Government that the balance of about lllJtÚllion remaining in the National Re- llief Fund should tbe supplemented :by a corres- (ponding amount from the Exchequer and used to relieve distress arising from unemployment 4cliirift the winter months. Emphasis was laid -on the -Aoontention that the policy of merely making State grants without any attempt being made to organise our industries to turn the la- "bour of the unemployed to useful effect was a wasteful policy. The Government, however, vould only hope that a great deal of the existing 'distress would be relieved by grants from the National Relief Fund. •PROFITEERING ACT. Mr. Arthur Mender-son elicited from the Presi- dent of the Board of Trade that the Government hope to introduce a. bill to amend the Profiteer- ing Act early next session. In the meantime the period of operation of the present Act is to be extended from February 19th to May 19th. One Iimprovement of existing procedure is to be effected at once, the Board of Trade having de- eded that the provision that complaints must be lodged with 1 vocal Profiteering Committees within four days shadl be 'withdrawn, and the •question of the time limit left to the discretion of the Local Committees. ELECTRICITY BILL. The House of Lords have played havoc with 'the Government's Electricity Bill, which might have been the greatest legislative achievement of the session. The real substance of the Bill was the scheme of District Boards invested with wompul.sw-y powers to, acquire the generating -station.s and main transmission lines in the various areas into whith the country was to be -divided. The Lords have retained the provision :for five Electricity Commissioners to control the "electricity supply, but they have scrapped the proposals relating to the setting up of District Boards and the powers of compulsory purchase with which they were to be invested. It is diffi- cult to comprehend the 'reason for this astonish- ing change, and the sincerity of the Government in their original scheme will be tested when the Lords' amendments come before the Lower House. 3RISH EDUCATION BILL. I Among the several important Bills which are being carried over to next session is the Irish Education Bill. One of the great scandals of Iri.h administration to-day is the shockingly low 'scale of salaries paid to teachers in Ireland and the Labour Party have taken steps with a view to securing an immediate increase without wait- ing till the Education Bill is passed. The in- crease of the Police wages before legislative sanc- tion had been secured is a precedent which justi- fies the granting of this demand forthwith. iA LABOUR DEPUTATION TO IRELAND. I The Parliamentary Labour Party have been I .-considering the present position of the Irish -que-stion and the existing situation in Ireland, ;and realising the desirability of securing accur- a-te first-hand information, they have decided to send a deputation to Ireland during the coming recess. This deputation will really be in a na- ture lof a committee of enquiry to investigate the conditions in Ireland, and to ascertain the effects -of the present system of government, and to what extent this system is interfering with legiti- -mate individual libertv. The deputation will consist of Mr. Adamson (chairman). Mr. Clynes (vice..ohairman), Mr. Henderson (secretary of the National Labour Party), Mr. Tyson Wilson (chief whip), and Messrs. J. Allen Parkinson, and W. R. Smith. OLD ACE PENSIONS INCREASED. I Before introducing the Financial Resolution to enable the' old age pensions allowance to be in- -oreased to 10s. per week, and to limit of income -from other sources to be raised to a similar figure, the Government consulted the Labour Party as to the possibility of securi ng an agreed measure during the present Session. The Officers of the Labour Party informed the Government that in view of the .short time befor-e the proro- gation, a;nd the present position of old-age pen- sions, the Party was willing to regard isuch a Bill as an agreed measure, and to assist in its speedy passage. At the same time, however, they reserved the Party's right to press in the coming session for a more comprehensive mea- sure of reform. SHALE MINERS OF SCOTLAND. I In the discussion on the Anglo-Persian Oil Company Bill, Mr. Adamson ventilated a very natural grievance which is the cause of ranch dissatisfaction among the Shale miners of Scot- land. For many years past these workers have been entitled to wiages and working 'conditions similar to those operating in the coal mining in- dustry of Scotland. During the period of the war large profits were made by this industry, but the men did not benefit on the ground that their wages were regulated by the wages paid in the coal mining industry. Under the Sankey Award the coal miners received a 2s. per week increase and a reduction of working hours by one hour per day. But when the Shale miners claimed the same benefits they were told that the Sankey Award only applied to the coal industry and not to the Shale industry, and that as the profits of the latter industry had fallen off since the conclusion of the war, the employers were un- able to increase the wages. This was simply a case of the employers calling Heads I win, and tails you lose." It so happens that the Government are the controlling influence in this Anglo Persian Company, which also controls a number of Shale mining companies in Mid and West Lothian and Lanarkshire. The Shale miners are still, waiting for the increase of wages, and presumably they will have to wait until a 'by-election comes along in one of the Shale mining districts of Scotland before the justice of their demand is recognised an a prac- tical manner. COMINC BUSINESS. I Mr. Arthur Henderson will be the Labour Party spokesman in the discussion next week on the Prime Minister's statement on the Irish question, and Mr. Clynes hopes to .secure an op- portunity on the adjournment motion to raase the question of the future of the Food Ministry and espeically the prioe of milk.

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