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I Political Notes. I

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I Political Notes. I I [BY F. W. JOWETT, M.P.] I The Representation of the People Bill was in- troduced yesterday (Tuesday). The first reading of the Bill was moved by Mr. Walter Long, un- der the ten minutes rule, which allows the mover ten minutes for the purpose of explaining a Bill and ten minutes for one speech in opposition. There are six leading points in the Bill. These are as follows: — (1) All men over 21 are to have a vote on the basis of six months residence. Men who rent business premises of the annual value of £ 10 or over in a constituency other than that in which they reside will be entitled to a second vote. (2) Women over 30 years of age who are on the Local Government register (i.e., women who rent premises-houses, shops, etc.,—in their own names), or, who are wives of men who are on the Local Government Register, to have a vote at Parliamentary elections. (3) Soldiers and Sailors over 21 years of age to have a vote in which they ordinarily reside. ,(4) Half-yearly revision of the Parliamentary register, Returning Officers' fees to become a State charge; and all Parliamentary elections to be one and the same day. (5) Proportional representation in large towns, and redistribution of seats on a basis of population. (6) University Representation to be con- tinued but shared by all Universities. t Although the Speaker's Committee recom- mended the partial adoption of Proportional re- presentation as an integral part of the general scheme of franchise reform Mr. Long stated that the Government did not so regard it, but would leave it to the House of Commons to say whether it should be kept in the scheme. Woman fran- chise, as will be remembered, was not agreed upon unanimously by the Speaker's Committee but a majority of the members of the committee being in favour of it the' minority agreed to submit the proposal to the House of Commons for approval or otherwise. The proposal is, therefore, embodied in the Bill along with the rest of the proposals on which the Committee agreed unanimously. It will be nothing less than a disaster if Parliament does not keep it there, and thus take the first great step towards sex equality in the system of Parliamentary Government. I have just listened to Philip Snowden's speech on peace without annexations or indemnities, amPit was good to hear. The motion on which he addressed the House of Commons is the re- sponse of a number of members of Parliament to the call of the Russian people. How many members will go into the Lobby in support of the motion I cannot as yet estimate, but the five I.L.P. members who have consistently worked together for peace since the war began will be of the number, and however few others there may be in the Lobby I understand that a vote will be taken. Mr. Lees Smith who seconded Snowden's mo- tion was very successful in replying to an inter- jection Lord Robert Cecil made while Snowden was speaking. Snowden had said that the Al- lies Note in reply to President Wilson involved taking territory from Austria, and that the note had been generally accepted to mean the dis- memberment of Austria. In order to make it appeal1 that the Allied Note did not mean this Lord Robert interjected and said that only enemies had read the note in that way. But Mr. Lees Smith pointed out that Muliukofr, the Russian Foreign Minister, explained the objects of the Allied note, and that one of the objects was to divide up Austria. Muliukoff even went so far as to give particulars of the scheme of the intended division. im a,,i bv the Major Newman is very much upset by the escape of five deportees from Ireland who had been interned in this country. He wanted to know whether they had been given the ordinary leave and railway passes to which, until recent- ly, conscientious objectors were entitled. The Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Duke) in his reply to Major Newman did not mention the fact, but I understand that the deportees he re- ferred to escaped, and that they have not yet been recaptured, and that in the meantime they took part in the election of the Sinn-Fein candi- date at South Longford. The increase in the price of timber during the period of the war has been a source of immense profit to landowners who are now able to dispose of timber that previously was practically unsale- able at double the price good material used to sell for. The Government has been pressed over and over again to fix maximum prices but with- out effect. The question was asked again this week, but the reply was as usual, that it was not proposed to fix maximum prices for home- grown timber, at present. In other words the price has not soared high enough to satisfy the Government's friends, the landlords, yet. Fol- lowing its usual practice the Government will wait, I suppose, until the price of home-grown timber reaches the utmost possible limit and then take control of the supply at the then ruling price. Sir Edward Goulding, the Tory member for Gloucester, says there is dissatisfaction in the country over the appointment of the women re- presentatives on the Reconstruction Committee because one is a Socialist and another a Paci- fist. The dissatisfaction, I apprehend, which Sir Edward Goulding alleges to exist is confined to a small group of persons. With regard to the Pacifist member, the wonder is that she was ap- pointed in present circumstances, because Paci- fists, quite regardless of their ability and experi- ence are generally excluded from all special com- mittees nowadays. It is a settled policy of the Government and the leaders of the Liberal, Unionist and Labour parties to exclude Pacifists from every form of public work so far as possible. The five members of the I.L.P. in the Labour Party group are practically ignored when their appointmenas are being made on these commit- tees. Macdonald, for instance, whose services were more freely requisitioned before the war on account of his conspicuous ability than anybody else's within the party, is now ignored, whilst other members of the party who cannot be com- pared with him on their merits are given far more work than they can possibly find time to do. The e l4e4i- of The United States have, so far, kept clear of the evils of press censorship. The Congress wiU not have it. The Government, however, when asked the other day to follow the example of the United States, at least to the extent of relaxing the regulations, flatly refused to do so. In the matter of suppression of pamphlets the Govern- ment has, in point of fact, quite recently ex- tended its operations. Mr. E. D. Morel's pamph- let entitled" Why? has been seized and con- fiscated at the instigation, I am informed, of the Home Office. The suppression of a pamphlet of this character is a new departure, because the pamphlet does not deal with military policy nor does it criticise the Government. It deals only with the policy of the Labour party and com- pares the declarations of Labour leaders in this country with the declarations of men holding similar jpositions in other countries. Speaking of the press censorship reminds me to mention the very effective and useful speech delivered in the House the other day by W. C. Anderson. He attributed much of the present unrest in industry to the suppression, by the press censorship, of the facts relating to the grievances that have led to recent strikes. The assistant secretary of. the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, he said, wrote an exceedingly moderate and restrained article giving his ver- sion of the Engineers' case for the Woolwich Pioneer," but the article was officially suppressed by the Press Censor. And yet other communica- tions, officially sanctioned, appeared, which caused an acute sense of unfairness among the men. To this I will add, that the result of. this policy is not only to spread dissatisfaction and discontent among the men but the general public also has a grievance, for it is deprived of the normal and regular means of exercising its in- fluence on the authors of the grievances that exist. Lord Hugh Cecil has not made many public speeches on the war, and judging by the one re- ported in the press last Tuesday, he is far from being in agreement with the authors and sup- porters of this war. In proof of this let me quote a passage from the speech in question which, in effect, repeats what has been said by any number of I.L.P. speakers during the war — The real source of war was the feeling that we owed boundless devotion to our own coun- try and nothing whatever to any other coun- try but our own. We must combat the senti- ment of nationalism, which implied the sus- pense of the moral law, and must get people to feel that there was something higher than loyalty to their country—namely, an obligation to the interests of all mankind." It is not unlikely that after the war, Lord Hlgh Ceei1 will bring an indictment against the late Liberal Government on the ground that they misled the people as to their obligations. He has a right to do so for he is one of the number who put the definite question to the Government as to the existence of those obligations and re- ceived a negative reply. J

Industrial Compulsion. I

The Theatre Royal.I

A Sure Peace.J

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