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I NOTES ON NEWS.I

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I NOTES ON NEWS. I It is a familiar cry with out-and-out tompulsionista that compulsory service COMPULSORY SERVICB. 1. i ought to A have been adopted at the beginning of the war, or at any rate a very few months later, if We had only taken the plunge at once, say these people, the war would have been over by this time. Without taking "any sides on the matter, there will be no harm in pointing out that there is j something to be said on the other side. Perhaps nobody is better qualified to say j that something than Lord Derby, who was j an advocate of national service long before j the war. In a speech in the House of | » Lords the other day he remarked: "It is said that we ought to have had this Bill a year ago, but I do not know whether it would then have passed with as little fric- tion as it is doing now. The recruiting campaign of last autumn did much to bringing people to realise the requirements of the State." There can be little doubt that Lord Derby is right here. If a Com- pulsory Service Bill had been introduced in the early days of the war it would have encountered much more serious opposition than that offered to the present Bill, which has foun d a public opinion ready for it and convinced that it is necessary. There is a good deal of difference of opinion with regard to the number of men How MANY MEN? 1 .« expected to be obtained for the Armv by the com- pulsion of married men. According to some esti- mates the largest num- cer that can be secured, after allowing for exemptions due to -?arious causes, is two hundred thousand. Other estimates go to a much larger figure, and we shall not know which is the more correct until the Act has been for some weeks in operation. Meanwhile it would be well not to encour- age hopes that the number will be as large as some people consider probable. We may quote again from Lord Derby, who does not believe that enormous numbers will be forthcoming: "Xabour in this country was not the inexhaustible well that some People thought, and when people talked gaily of huge numbers he could only say that they could know very little of the facts. The great bulk of men that we Were going to get for the Colours was not from the unattested married men, but from the gradual combing out of the single men who were already under the Act." Men are still wanted for munition- making, and there are other industries whose claims must be considered. The highly important debate in the House of Commons on the Air Service has A REASSURING DEBATE. set at rest the uneasiness øl which had been created in the public mind by I alarmist all e g a- tions which are now shown on excellent testimony to have had very little truth in them. Many people had believed that things were in an ex- tremely bad way, that our machines were far behind those of the French in efficiency, and that they were hopelessly outclassed by the Germans. As to the administra- tion of the Service, well, if report was to be believed, there could not have been anything more incompetent. It is satis- factory to have the emphatic assurance of Mr. Bonar Law that "all this idea of our bning behind the Germans, and of the air service being muddled throughout, is en- tirely wrong." Mr. Tennant, too, told the House that we have two types of aero- planes faster than the fastest of the Ger- mans, and two other types which are at least as good as their best. Even the Fofcker scare seems to have been grossly exaggerated. In seven months, during which 478 combats took place in the air, only sixty-three occurred on the British side of the line; and in these sixty-three fights thirteen German machines were brought down, while not a single British airman was worsted. Altogether the de- bate was decidedly reassuring, and should have disposed of the scare. Few people have a kind word to say for the threepenny-bit. It is the most absurd THE THKSEPKNNY- BIT AGE." of all our coins. It has, however, attained to a respectable age, and one must suppose that it fills a want, or it would no longer be minted. Probably most of the threepenay-bits in circulation have at some tini3 or other been deposited in the plate or the bag in church collections; and few people on paying or receiving one can resist the impulse to work off the long- since threadbare joke about going to church on Sunday. One may almost say of the threepenny-bit that it is anathema to church officials and a very present help to ordinary members of the congregation. Certainly the church officials have no kindly feelings for the hurrifble little coin. At the London Diocesan Conference a speaker expressed the hope that among the changes brought about by the war would be the passing away of the "three- penny-bit age." There were people, he said, who thought that their whole duty to the Church was fulfilled by an occa- sional threepenny-bit placed in the collec- tion plate. A great many church officials have said jsimilar things before, and no doubt there I ?-I .? i Is IT MEANNESS ? are some people JiKe tha ti. It is possible, however, that the number is not so large as appears to be I thought. One feels pretty certain tnat not; all the threepenny-bits in church collec- tions were put there by mean people who could easily afford sixpence or a shilling; but that many of them, and, let us hope, the larger number, are given by people who give all they can afford, and find a rather pathetic satisfaction in dropping in a silver coin. It may be, too, that some threepenny-bits are contributed by people who can really afford no more than two- pence but add a penny because they do not like to give coppers. It is by no means certain that church collections would increase in amount if the "three- penny-bit age came to an end.

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