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Earthquake m Assam.I .












I MASTERS CRITICISED. A correspondent with an intimate knowledge of the South Wales coal trade writes After all the time and trouble expended upon the scheme for the limitation of output the colliery owners on Wednessday met to finally shelve it a? far as they personally were concerned. I A SOLEMN FARCJC. If the consequences were not so serious, the situation is sufficiently ludicrous. Week by week a committee of gentlemen met and solemnly discussed and revised a scheme, which many never sympathised with and some were determined should never be adopted, but which they feared to openly oppose. They might surely have taken steps at the outset to ascertain whether the requisite majority was obtainable, but they apparently preferred to first formulate what they unanimously passed as a workable scheme j before doing so, and thus effectually stultify themselves. Their action is certainly not calculated to inspire the men with con- fidence, nor can it be altogether welcome to shareholders in the various companies that at present pay no dividend except purhaps upon their preference shares. For both aiike the quesblon is serious, and it is this Why should an article for which year by year there is an increased demand be sold at an unnecessarily low price, more especially when such price is unremunerative and not forced upon the market by foreign, but simply and solely by local com- petition ? The present state of things is unjust to those who have their money invested in colliery enterprises, and to the men whose wages depend upon the price realised tor the coal. If a limitation of output means, as it does, increased cost per ton, surely, with French and German coals advancing in price, it should be possible for Cardiff and South Wales to advance its prices also. Why, in the name of commou-sense, should the consumer be supplied without profit to the producer ? There is no reason for this rREPOSTEROUS STATE OF THINGS, I excepb that people here are mistrustful oue of the other each is anxious to steal a march on his neighbour and secure more than his proportion of the trade, when ib would be bebier for all son- cerned that an agreement should be come to by which each oolliery should have its share of the trade, at prices which need not be other than good, seeing that year by year the shipments increase, and the demand is there. The matter is doubly serious when it is borne in mind that we have here many pits that can only pay at an advanced price. It is asked, why should not those that can sell at a cheaper figure and less money? Surely the question is rather why should theso newer and larger collieries mako the extra profib that the markeb would allow, excepb for this infernal and fraternal aud ruinous competition1.? It is in no way a question of Free .Trade. Government is asked for no assistance or inter- vention in the shape of imposing protective duties on the importation of foreign coals at British coaling stations. It is a matter only of regulating the trade so that no ton of coal shall be shipped at a 103S. More than ever, it should be possible to do this now when steamers take their outward cargoes at retes that do not pay expenses on them, A SHAREHOLDER'S QUESTION. I A:¡¡¡.in, h,t it be said tillS is IS not ¡¡. rratter for the men only, but for colliery shareholders also. Can they exercise no pressure on the directors of the different companies, or are they prepared to accept as inevitable the passing of dividends while their property is being exhausted daily and becoming more expensive to work? It is nothing short of a national misfortune that our collieries should have become limited liability companies, for they would otherwise be worked with more regard to the returns. But things being as they are, it is to be hoped that if the shareholders see no way to protect themselves the men may, by plain, outspoken, reasonable demands, see that their interests shall nob be sacrificed to please a few individuals who can imagine no other way of making their particular colliery pay than by flooding the market with coal, after having secured an undue share, to the exclusion of others, of the business to be had at needlessly low prices, without any regard to the consequences and ugmindful of the facb that they cannot render themselves indepeudenb of circumstances, and thab if they knock prices down they must themselves, when again selling, treat on this lower basis, above which, owing to tke large developments at various collierieshit will become increasingly difficult to rise.