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Enthusiastic Conservative…


Enthusiastic Conservative Meeting at Usk, Ir. Micholls in Fighting Form. Z5 m All Conservatives Cheerful and Confident. A splendidly-attended and most enthusiastic meeting on behalf of the Conservative and Unionist candidate was held in the Town Hall, Usk, on Thursday evening. Air J. Maitland Watkins pre- sided, and on the platform were Mr and Mrs E. E. Micholls, Miss Micholls, Mr A. E. Bowen, Mr and Airs R. St John Beasley, Miss Boulton, Mr J. H. Clark, Miss E. B. Clark, Mr L. R. Lucas, and Mr T. Jones while in the body of the Hall were many strong supporters of the party, and a fair sprinkling of the opposition. THE CHAIRMAN, in opening the meeting, said it gave him very great pleasure to undertake the duties of presiding at such an excellent meeting as that promised to be that night. The attendance showed that they wero all alive to the great issues that were now before the electorate. The organisation of the Unionist party in Usk was complete, and all that now re- mained to be done was for them to make a good fight for the cause, and a good fight they would all have to make. Another advantage the party had was that they had secured a candidate who would make that great fight. (Cheers.) Mr Micholls had been before the constituency nearly two years, and the electors of LTk were very familiar with him, his political principles, and the policy be advocated. (Hear, hear.) They had heard and read several of his speeches, and they were impressed with their straightforwardness and clearness; they called for jjjo interpretation. (Hear, hear.) He said what he ineaat, and said it well, and he (the speaker) thought that I NO BETTER QUALIFICATION could be found in a candidate. (Cheers.) Upon one point all parties seemed to be agreed, and that was that the issues to be submitted t ) the electorate at this election were of exceptional and far- reaching importance on every point. (Hear, hear.) The political faith of Usk was strongly Conservative they intended to show by the poll that that was so. (Cheers.) They had a two- fold duty to perform, viz., to retain the seat won at two successive elections, and to give Mr Micholls a thumping majority. (Cheers.) At the same time they intended to fight fairly. They did not wish-he was sure their candidate did not wish—to indulge in personalities. (Hear, hear. The detestable example that was being set in a leading constituency which was being contested by the ex-Prime Minister would not be followed by the Monmmth Boroughs He referred to the publication of a loathsome attack upon Mr Balfour's grandfather, which was as detestable a device as had ever been resorted to, and made it appear that their opponents had very little to offer by way of attack. He would detain them no longer, but would call upon Mr MichoUs-who had shown tbem that he was anxious for the fray-to address them upon what was probably the last opportunity before the election. (Cheers.) MR E. E. MICHOLLS, I who was loudly cheered on rising to address the meeting, thanked the audience for their very corditl reception, which was very pleasing and gratifying to him. He thought it would not be presumptuous oil his part to say that that day week the men of Usk by their votes would help to put him at the top of the poll, and that he was going to lead them to a great and glorious victory. (Cheers.) He was encouraged in his desires, for ified in his hopes that he should be able to do the best for their interests in the knowledge that all his life he had been a Conservative. And he was proud of being a Conservative, because he recognised that that party had proved itself by its deeds, and not by vain promises, to be the party of true progress and the true friend of the toiling millions. (Cheers.) The record of the late Unionist Government was one to which they might justly point with pride. With regard to their foreign policy they had not left to the Liberals a legacy of blundering and plundering, and of scuttling and surrendering; they had bequeathed to them no legacy of disgrace and defeat, such as was left to the Unionist Party by their political opponents in the eighties. Had they not reason t-) feel grateful to Mr Balfour for his wise conduct of FOREIGN AFFAIRS? I (Hear, hear.) He would allude especially to their friendly relations with France. He would call to their mind the fact that, when their cousins over the sea went to war with Spain, this country was approached by continental nations with a view to making hostile demonstrations against the United States, and Lord Salisbury replied that if hostile demonstrations were made the British Fleets would be found at Cousin Jonathan's ports to defend them. (Cheers.) Again, there was the treaty with Japan-a treaty of defence not defiance—one important effect of which would be to keep the "opeu door" in China, which would I give them equal opportlmities-alllõ hey wanted by fiscal reform-and enable them to retain 70 per cent. of the total trade of that country, to the benefit of the working classes of England. (Cheers.) Mr Micholls then passed in review the social legislation of the Unionists. After referring to the Agricultural Rites Act, he spoke at some length on the subject of the Workmen's Com- pensation -\ct, which, he said, recognised for the first time that capital had its duties towards the wounded soldiers of industry. (Cheers.) The Act of 1897 applied to six millions of work- people in 1900 it was extended to those engaged in agriculture, making it apply altogether to^Kune eight millions. Seeing that anomalies were bound to arise in an Act framed on new principles, the Conservatives appointed a Departmental Com- mittee to inquire into the matter, and they had made certain recommendations which, if he had the honour of receiving the suffrages of the con- stituency, he would support in the House of Oommons He would support the extension of the Act to all engaged In building oijerat £ „UO| railways—whether on sidings or not—on tramway lines, on docks and quays, and to seamen. (Cheers.) After careful consideration he had thought it wise to ° iM SUPPORT AN AMENDMENT to the Act which would provide for compensation being payable from the date of an accident instead of from 14 days after. Employers had in evidence stated that such an amendment would add 50 per cent. to the rate of insurance, and that if compensa- tion commenced seven days after an aacident it I would mean a 25 per cent. increase, but from his commercial experience he thousrht the employers had over-estimated the cost. When he remembered that more than half of eight millions of workpeople he had referred to as coming under the Act were not receiving 18s. a week wages he felt they were in a different position to those receiving over 30s. a week, whose duty it was to belong to Friendly Societies and sick and benefit clubs to insure them- selves. A poor man receiving 14s. a week, for instance, could not afford to pay into those societies. It had been said that there was a danger of malingering, but when they considered that the bulk of the wages amounted to not more than 18s. per week, and compensation was only granted to half the amount of a man's wages it could hardly be worth his while to feign illness (Hear, hear.) The Education Act of 1902 was a good one he thought, and one of his chief reasons for thinking so was that it gave the poor man's child an equal chance with the rich man's child to ascend from the lowest to the highest rung of the education ladder. (Cheers). It co-ordained education, prevented over-lapping and consequent waste, and conduced to harmony in that which was before chaotic and confused. Above all, it allowed religions education in our non-provided schools. (Cheers.) He udded to the popular three R's of education a fourth- religion. His opponents' three R's were Rates, Repairs, Religious rancour, and Resistance. (Cheers.) Religious Education went to the formation of character, and was more important than secular education. They must have a formula, a dogma, or a creed, or they could not have religion, and HE FELT IT TO BE RIGHT and better for a child to have religious education it would make him a better citizen and a nobler patriot if his character were thus formed. He would have religion taught in accordance with the wishes of the parents. What he objected to was that the little ones should be made the pawns in this political game: that just to suit the exigencies of political warfare they should be made the shuttle- cock of party. He would have religious freedom and the welfare of our little ones. (Cheers.) He noticed that in his address his opponent advocated that the non-provided schools should be bought up —either leased or rented. He (Mr Micholls) thought that one of the great cries of the Radical party was retrenchment. What would the adop- tion of his opponent's policy mean ? The raising of between twenty and thirty millions of pounds if anything like the fair value were paid for these schools, or over a million a year. That could not mean a reduction of taxation. (Hear, hear.) Here a reference to sugar caused some opposition and laughter, and Mr Micholls at once asked if a politi- cal cry had been made there of the raising of the price of sugar by the wicked machinations of the Conservative party. Last year. he said, he heard a great deal about the Sugar Convention causing the price to rise to 16s. per cwt. To-day it is 8s. 5d. per cwt.—a lower price than the average during the last 15 or 20 years. (Cheers.) Having dealt with the Licensing question on the lines of his Monmouth speech, reported in another column, Mr Micholls proceeded te speak on Home Rule. Was there anyone there who advocated Home Rule for Ireland ? The Unionist party could point to having done an immense amount of good for Ire- land during the laet 20 years. In 1686-7, by the Ashbourne Acts XIO,ooo,ooo were given to the tenants to enable them to purchase their holdings. In 1897 a more generous Local Government Act Was given to them than was given to auyotheripart of the United Kingdom. In 1903 England's credit was pledged to the amount of £ 112.000,000 to en- able Irish tenants to purchase their holdings. That showed I TKE SYMPATHY AND GOODWILL that the Unionist party had ever felt for the sister isle. (Cheers.) Let them look at the progress of Ireland let them compare 1893-4 (when the Liberals were in power) with 1903-4. In Joint Stock Banks then there were £ 35,000,000- now £ 44,000,009. In the P.O. Savings Bank' then* XI,500,000 now £ 9,500,000. (Cheers.) Receiving pauper relief then, 5,600 000; now, 4,800,000. Those facts spoke volumes. He would have noth- ing to do with Home Rule. (Cheers.) Going on to deal with the question of unemployment and fiscal reform, Mr Micholls said, notwithstanding that trade returns showed the record amount of £ 895,000,000 for our exports and imports, millions of our working people could not find work to do. His greatest desire was to find employment for those people, and he felt there could be no improve- ment in this respect so long as their present fiscal system existed. (Cheers.) He wanted to protect the labour of his own countrymen. He wanted British work for British hands. Once the workshop of the world, we were now the dumping ground of the products of the workshops of the world. Before the eighties other nations, engaged in war, had no time to manufacture for themselves. Now it was very different, and we must have a change (Cheers.) After dealing with the subject of the Colonial conference, Mr Micholls concluded an excellent speech by an eloquent appeal to his hearers to support the Unionist party and to bequeath to those who came after them, unimp-iired, the great and glorious Empire, the foundations of which had been laid by their ancestors, who had fought and bled for them. (Cheers.) VOTE OF CONFIDENCE. Mr A. E. Bowen proposed a resolution express- ing contidence in the candidate and pledging the meeting to use every endeavour to secure his return. In the course of an able, pleasing, and humorous speech, he exhorted the electors to take a middle course when they went to the poll and vote for Mr Micholls whose named would come on the ballot paper sandwiched between the names of Mr Haslam and Mr Winstone. (Cheers.) Mr J. H Clark briefly seconded. In support, the following spoke:—Mr R. St. John Beasley (who guaranteed that all Mr Micholls had said he would do he would carry out), Mr Henry Dunning (who lucidly explained the Chinese labour question), Mr L. R. L icas (whose remarks were general), Mr T. Jones (who called upon Churchmen to vote for the candidate on his straightforward statement that he woul i oppose Disestablishment), and Mr J. H. Salter (who commended Mr Micholls' licensing views to the serious consideration of the electors, especially with regard to Sunday Closing, which would mean Sunday opening to the undesirable stranger, more strain upon the publican, and more work for the police). The resolution was carried without opposition and with acclamation, and The Candidate, in reply, went at some length into the Chinese Labour question, and refuted the statement that huge dividends were being paid to millionaires in consequence of the emoloyment of the Orientals in the place of Britishers, to whom it would be derogatory to work wi h the natives or Chinese even if they could stand the conditions, which he denied. A vote of thanks to the Chairman, propose I by Mr Micholls, and seconded bv Vfr S. T. Griffin, C.C. (who alluded to the employment of English- men to carry sandwich boards about illustrative of Chinese "slavery" at lOd a day while the Chinaman himself had Is 6d a day and his board and lodging in South Africa) was carried with applause. The Chairman replied, and the meeting con- cluded with the singing of the National Authem and cheers for Mr and Mrs Micholls.

Lieut.-Col. Courieiiaj ilorgaa's…