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NOTES ON NEWS. 4.

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NOTES ON NEWS. 4. Although the people of the United Kingdom fcte becoming more temperate, nowhere do taxes on wine, beer, and spirits contribute so large a part of the total national revenue as in the United Kingdom and the United States, for the proportion in both countries for the years 1904-5 amounted to no less than 28 per cent. of their respective revenues. The actual amount raised from these taxes in the United States from 1901 to 1905 averaged over £ '40.000,000 per annum; and in the United Kingdom £36,000,000 per annum, while Russia, despite its poverty, does not come far behind, wine, beer, and spirit duties accounting for a revenue of £ 34,000,000 in that country. From figures set forth in a Board of Trade report we learn that in wiae consumption there has in the United Kingdom been a continuous falling off since 1899, and that it was only about -a quarter of a gallon per head in 1905, whilst in South Australia, where it is highest, it was nearly five and a half gallons per head. In beer- drinking, Belgium heads the list with 48.8 gallons per head, the United Kingdom being second with 27.7 gallons, and Germany, which is supposed to be a great beer-drinking country, third with 26.3 gallons. But if comparison is made with States of Germany instead of Ger- many as a whole, Bavaria, with 51.7 gallons, has for its size the greatest consumption in the world. There has been a declining consumption of both beer and spirits in this country of recent years. Spirits stood at 1.11 gallons in 1900, and the amount has since decreased each year to 0.91 gallons in 1905, which figures are lower than those for any of the northern and central countries of Europe, except Norway. It seems that, if it be at all possible, we shall have some legislation concerning small holdings before the House of Commons during the pre- sent Session. Mr. H. de R. Walker, whose re- solution on rural depopulation was ruled out by the Speaker because of a private bill, wrote to the Premier expressing the hope that the Government would be able to give an early place to the measures dealing with small holdings and housing, as mentioned in the King's Speech, and Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman in his reply told Mr. Walker he would have been very glad to have supported the resolution had it come on. The motion would have been a case of forcing. an open door, for legislation affecting .small holdings and rural housing has been pro- mised for this Session, and a Scottish Land Bill is now before the House. Sir Henry says the Government will do their best to press those measures forward, but he points out that it is almost too much to expect the land system of England, Scotland, and Wales to be reformed in a single Session and that Session a sufficiently crowded one. It is stated that good progress is being made with the preparation of the English Small Hold- ings Bill, and there is every prospect of its being introduced between Easter and Whitsun- tide. The measure will probably be found to deal with the English agrarian question in a thorough and complete manner. It will attempt to keep the country population on the soil by enabling the agricultural labourers to acquire small holdings. This is, of course, the ostensible object of the Acts already on the Statute-book, but the new Bill attacks the problem from an entirely different standpoint. The present Acts leave all to the local authorities, and if these take no action nothing can be done. The measure will set up a body of Small Holdings Commissioners, under the Board of Agriculture, and it will be the duty of this body to receive appeals from the labourers direct, either singly or in groups. The Commissioners would inquire into the local circumstances, and if the local authorities would not, or could not, take action, then the Commissioners would step in and act themselves. An endeavour will probably be made to avoid the costly machinery of previous Acts, the operations of acquiring land and of fixing its value being made as simple and as cheap as possible. But as there must inevitably be expense in acquiring land, the question will have to be considered as to how this expense can best be met. It would obviously be useless to saddle the. small holder with heavy law charges, and it is, therefore, probable that the Commissioners will be able to draw upon the Treasury for a contribution towards these law costs. On the whole, the measure may have within it the possibilities of a revolution in rural England, and it will be an attempt to make the land, as the Premier said a year ago, the trea- sure-house of the nation." It is now the turn of the ladies to mourn, for white pins are to be placed in the growing list of dearer commodities, and they will receive fewer for their money. Black pins are also more ex- pensive than they were, because steel has risen in price of late, but it is the advance in the cost of white pins that will affect both the small and large purchaser of such commodities most disagreeably. White pins that used to cost Is. lid. a pound are now 2s. 3d., a very con- siderable advance in price, which small buyers will discover, inasmuch as the usual penny box or paper parcel of pins will contain not so many pins as formerly. Some safety-pins, certain kinds of hair-pins, fancy brooch pins, and hat- pins, are also cn the list for an advance in price. We live -m an age of imitations. We have long had paste diamonds, and we have also doublets" in precious stones, which means that thin strips of the stone are placed upon glass of the same colour; but now comes the news that a Parisian manufacturer is making rubies and sapphires of large size by an in- genious process, and this is likely to cause trouble among English, as it has done already among French, jewellers and dealers. These stones, which are called "constructed" ones, are made by taking the remnants of cut stones, and also small and badly-shaped stones, which by themselves are of little value, and making them up by means of the electrical furnace and high-pressure moulds to any size required. They possess all the quality of the original stone, and the only way to detect the difference between the constructed and original stone is to look at the grain or "silk," as the jewellers call it, through a powerful microscope. A firm of pawnbrokers not long ago advanced E100 on a "constructed' ruby, which was worth nothing near that amount. The Salvation Army is to be congratulated on the result of self-denial week, which this year has resulted in the large sum of C72,053 being raised, which is a slight increase on last year's total. The self-denial week was in- angurated in 1888, when £ 12,633 was raised, while the figures for the past five years were 1902, £ 49,2tsl; 1903, £ 55,012; 1904, £ 56,088 1905, £ 63,310; 1906, £ 72,562; and though this e, year's total does not show so large an increase as compared with former years, the result is highly satisfactory. General Booth, on receipt of the news, cabled from Winnipeg where he was on his way to Japan: "I consider self- denial result magnificent, I congratulate you. Your offering must be as acceptable to God as it is delightful and encouraging to your general. —Everlasting gratitude, William Booth.

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