LABOUR NOTES. PAGE 4
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Political INotes By F. W. Jowett. I CASTLES IN AIR. I It is time for plain speech on the Housing question. The public is being deceived by fre- quent references to schemes ami plans for large numbers of new houses, which, for the most part, are as far removed from realisation as if they were castles in the air. Five years ago the building of new houses ceased, owing to the war. During the five years immediately pre- ceding the war the supply of new houses amounted to only one half the number erected during the five years period before then. The number required every year to keep up the sup- ply. quite apart from necessary clearance of slums, is 70,000. It is, therefore, estimated that t million new houses are urgently required to meet the existing shortage. Towards that num- bor. Dr. V4di,o-n has repeatedly expressed the hope that 100,000 will be built and occupied by the end of Ma.rch. Modest as this hope is, it is certainly doomed to disappointment. Up to the present only 7,000 houses are in the process of being built, although no fewer than 4,000 build- illg: schemes have been approved. There is much paper and many plans relating to new houses, but little else. CREAT EXPECTATIONS. 1ft here were a conspiracy between local authorities and the Government, to keep the public quiet by holding out great expectations, and pretending to be busy with schemes and plans, the public could not he more decei ved than it is at present. Nearly every town in the kingdom has big building schemes and they are descri bed and commented upon as it they were cn the point of being completed. Alluring pic- tures appear in the local [tapers, accompanied by printed reproductions of plans drawn to Scale, and displaying the practical advantages and artistic qualities of the houses about to be provided. Bradford, for example. with its 2,HO.00(1 inhabitants, is to have its supply of houses increased by 10,000—ten garden cities consisting of 1,000 houses each. Expectations sr* '•rnHd-rn+lv .urj in +b<» miblie mind that the people are asking where and to whom they must apply for the houses. Nobody ven- tures to explain that of the ten thousand there is little hope of seeing more than a paltry five hundred built within a couple of years. And Bradford is no exception, for in most other towns the position is similar. THE WRECKERS. Whv are the leading men on our local authori- ties co-opeiating with the Government in this gigantic piece of bluff concerning the housing question: The facts are -well known to them, vet they do not speak. They know full well tha.t two impediments block the way and must be removed before substantial progress can be made in their building schemes. One is finance, and the other is labour. The position with re- gard to finance is that the Government is throw- ing the responsihility for raising money for housing on to the local authorities. The Gov- ernment cannot raise the money itself without adopting means to which its masters, the land- lords and profiteers, take serious objection, so it has conveniently decided to hand the ta.sk over to the municipal authorities, who have power to do anything, except borrow oil such terms as they can from those who are able and willing to lend. And the municipal authorities -are making no objection. The truth is that all who agree to this arrangement do so because they dare not openly refuse to meet the demand for State and Municipal action to provide housing accommo- dation for the people, although they are at the same time determined to frustrate the demand. This they do by means of an impossible plan for financing the ischenies. HARD FACTS. I Referring again to the Bradford proposals by way of illustration, the type of houses for which plans have been prepared will cost at to- day's prices not less than L700 each on the average. Ten thousand of them wou ld require a loan of £ 7.000,000. Imagine the result of all the muniicioal authorities in the country at- tempting to raise loans-to find willing lenders of rnonev—to finance schemes to meet the ex- pectations that have been raised. No responsible person in Parliament or on Local Government bodies seriously believes that the money can be raised in this way. The amount to be raised by Bradford is nearly equal to the whole of its municipal debt— £ 7,000,000 as compared with £ 8,283,000. Already fas a result of the war the rate of interest on municipal loans has gone up 2 per cent. This means that the present amount of debt Ai-ill eosCol-er £ 165,000 more lID account of interest than it did before: that is to say, an addition of ilbout 212 in the t on rates. If it were seriously intended to borrow another t7,000,000 for housing, and all other municipal authorities should do the same, the effect on municipal finance would be disastrous. There is, however, no such intention. The schemes are only intended for show, and to keep the public quiet, and every well-informed person knows it, MUNICIPAL BRADBURIES. The Government alone has the power to finance the extensive buildiop: opctntions re- quired to meet the present shortage in the sup- ply of houses. and it is the duty of municipal authorities to make this faofc known, and refuse to deceive the public any longer. The first step would be to reduce the present liabilities of the State by means of a stiff levy on accumulated wealth in private possession. It will probably bD necessary, even when that essential step has been taken? for the Government to put ?tp altogether the customary method of meeting costs by means of interest-bearing loans. Houses are tangible assets, and there is no valid reason against the cost of them being met by special currency notes to be extinguished year by year as the rents accrue. In this way the difficulty with regard to interest would be met entirely, because there would be no interest to pay. Whether this plan of raising money is feasible, and whether the Government is willing to adopt it or not the responsibility for raising money' by one plan or another lies with the Govern- ment; fo £ local authorities cannot undertake the obligation, and the sole object of those who seek to place the obligation on the local authorities is to provide an excuse for inaction. HOUSES BEFORE CINEMAS. There is also the difficulty in regard to Labour. This cannot he removed by local authorities alone. One of the vicious and anti-social effects of the war is that it has enriched a very large number of people, and has given them enlarged opportunities of spending money for their own personal gratification. The result is that they are able to direct production and employ labour to and on non-essential objects. The newly en- riched want larger houses or mansions for themselves, they want garages for their motors: and in so far as they seek investments, the na- ture of their investments is determined solely by the prospective profits. Hence, it is more profitable to build cinemas and cater for the luxury trades generally than to build houses, and the amount of available labour is conse- quently misdirected. The government did not hesitate to deal with a similar situation when munitions of war were required and could not be obtained. Individuals were not allowed then to employ labour at their own will and pleasure. Such labour as was available had to he em- ployed on necessary work. House building is a vital necessity now, and taking into account the number of men taken into the army and navy and employed on munitions during the war, wh o had previously been employed in one or other of the occupations connected with the building trades, there should be a large number available for this necessary work if unnecessary building operations IVTO snspendi-I "l"n¡].l be seen to at once, for the present shortage in the sup- ply is already having an effect on the health of the people. THE TUBERCULOSIS MENACE. I During six months ended March last there were 186,000 deaths in England and Wales through influenza alone. Tuberculosis, a dis- ease which is practically rooted in over-crowded and insanitary houses, is increasing. In addi- tion to the vast number of eases which even be- fore the war could not be effectively dealt with because they lived in insanitary and over- crowded houses between 50,000 and 60,000 men had been discharged from the Army and Navy suffering from this disease, prior to the Armistice last November. There exist neither sanatoria in which to treat them, nor houses fit for them to live in afterwards, even if it were possible to treat them. The need for houses, therefore, is urgent, and if building operations do not proceed quickly, it will be necessary to force the pace by demanding that existing ac- commodation should be rationed. COMMANDEER BALMORAL! I There is no other way. If the people who live in mansions and keep spare houses in the coun- try think they can keep their privileges when there is neither room for the workers to live nor for the consumptive to receive treatment, they will find before long that they have failed to un- derstand the temper that is gaining force in our time. There is no less reason for rationing living rooms when the supply of houses is short than there is for rationing food and coal when the supply of these are short. Still more is it im- perative that the 50,000 to 60,000 tuberculous victims of war should be provided with more than the 3,300 beds that have been secured for them. A much-needed impetus will be given to the interest taken by the ruling classes in the housing question when the demand is put for- ward for strict rationing of house room, when it is claimed—as it may well be in strict justice— that until every person has the use of one room, no person shall have the use of more than two. Buckingham Palace could be made to serve a good purpose if it were let off in flats, and Bal- moral and Sandringham are types of houses of which there are many available to provide part of the accommodation required by the 50,000 to 60,000 tuberculous victims of war.. DEAUVILLE. I There is a very close relation between the call of private persons with money to spend on Labour and services on the one hand and the short supply and dearness of necessary thingps on the other. A picture of one side of this rela- tion is provided by the description now appear- ing in the press of the pleasures and attractions of Deauville, where the Prime Minister is recu- perating after his labour in the Thieves Kitchen at Paris. There are gathered together there a crowd of wealthy people on whose comfort and entertainment all the efforts of an army of able bodied persons are daily directed. High power motor cars of able-bodied persons are daily directed. High power motor ears are at their service and evei-v possible means of spending money is lavishly provided. Rooms £ 5 10s. a day and very simple meals at £ 1 per person. Sir Auckland Geddes appears to have attracted at- tention by his expensive high power motor-car. The car may have been taken over specially from this country, or it may not, but in any case there is no excuse for the employment of labour on enjoyment on the scale described. There is too much useful work to be done in the world to xcuse the expense entailed at Deauville and elsewhere on passengers.
I Death of William Harris. MERTHYR'S LABOUR CtANT LAID LOW. I Wiliiam Harris, secretary of the Merthyr Trades Council, the heart and soul of Merthyr Co-operation the greatest Labour organiser in South Wales, and one of the finest in the nation executive member of the National Union of Teachers, and one of the hardest working Social- ists that ever subscribed to the platform of the I.L.P., passed away yesterday (Wednesday) at "his residence, King Edward Villas, Mertliyr. No greater loss has been sustained in the local democratic circles since the death of Hardie. The news reaches us just as we go to press, and so we are unable to express i this issue our sense of loss, our love for the comrade who has passed from us, or our appreciation of the work that will ever live as a monument to his boundless energy and -skill. The la.urel wreath that we in love would like to weave around his iuemery must wait, but it is with an inconsoluble sense of loss, and with real -sadness that we pen this little posy to his memory. He leaves a widow and two children (a son and a daughter) to whom, as also to his mother and blood relations a thousand hearts who have known and therefore loved William Harris will go out. m III =
Football in Merthyr I WEARISOME CAME ACAINST SWINDON. I Since our last issue Merthyr Town have filled two League engagements. On Saturday they were at Hove, where they shared the points with the Albion on a match which the Sussex press and friends present both assure me should have issiire me I ioti l tl have gone to Merthyr by right of superiority. On Monday they again shared a point with Swindon in a return match at I'enjdarren. Park, that was correctly reflected in a goa lless result. I regret last Monday and should like to forget it. As a cinema .serial the play might truly have been ad- vertised as jumpy and full of action; as football it was unfortunate that the crowd should have got so excited over such miserable work. Foot- bail has won its way to the forefront of national sport because it is a gaii, > of skill, of scientific combination and of craft and strategy. It was just in those elements that the game of Monday was doloriously barren, Aid- not all the sweat that ever streamed down the bodies of twenty- two madly rushing men on a ruled out field, can compensate for the absence of those elements. It is small consolation to reflect that Merthyr was stronger than Swindon. What matter that the ball for three-quarters of the time was in enemy quarters, when a line opposed to a de- fence that more often impeded itself than served its true object of defending, could no more mus- ter the science and com bination, a smattering of which ii-oiilil have sufficed, than a cat can bark like a bull-terrier. The only consolation that I draw from a match as arid as it was reckless, was that of watching the development of that lack of opportunism that I last week deplored on the part of both Nock and Turner, and in seeing a general strengthening in the Merthyr defence. At least that was how it looked. Both Chamberlain and Probert, and at times Edwards, gave touches to play that were like cooling draughts to a fever- patient, but so weak was the Swindon line that the home back lines were seldom severely strain- ed. Jefferson was their one solitary exception, and I felt really worry for him when he finished one of his neat runs by shooting like a blind- man. As to Hinton, about whose wondrous custodianship for Swindon I am sick of hearing, I can only sav that I ^ever saw him do any- thing wonderful. Long shots that were straight weres o s'low that they were no test, and the hard shots always belonged to the flying corps to judge from ttheir skywardness. So far our marksmen seem to think they are trying for Rugby scores. I have said enough about a match that was no credit to anyone. A.P.Y. A.P.Y. I
The Theatre Royal I Mr. Val Stevens is to be congratulated on the splendid entertainment he is giving his patrons at the Theatre Royal. Next week he brings that well-known and talented actor to Merthyr, Mr. C. W Somerset, in the great play The House of Peril." which achieved one of the biggest successes of the London season. The actual Londom production and costumes, as used at the Queen's Theatre, London, will be used, and Mr. Somerset is supported by a strong company of actual West-End artists. Mr. Souerset plays "Wachner," and no one should diss the oppor- tunity of seeing this famous actor in his por- trayal of this trying part. The play is un- doubtedly one of the best London has sent into the provinces. Mr. Stevens may rest assured that his once- nightly season has caught on with Merthyr play- goers. and if the booking for his first two weeks is any criterion then the Theatre Royal will be crowded during the autumn and winter. The bookings between now and .Christmas include some of the best London shows on the road, and it will be of interest to lovers of opera to kn6w that Mr. Stevens has secured the famous Royal Cn rl Rosa Opera Company (due in a few weeks' time) in a splendid repertoire of popular operas. Since Mr. Stevens took over the management, many innovations for the comfort of patrons have been introduced, and his geniality and obliging nature to all with whom he comes in Contact is fast making him fa. host of friends. The resurrection of The Belle or New York —which for 20 years has enjoyed an unbroken popularity with playgoers, has proved a great attraction this week. Tho liveliness of "Blinkey Bill" (well done by Johnnie Scliofield), the charming simplicity of Violet Gray (Miss Joan Lyn's interpretation is alluring) and that never stale millionaire song Lucky Jim (George F. Story) brings bade the whole performances that one has seen of Belle of New York "—and by comparison the present sliow stands well.
Our London Letter By Our Special London Correspondent- A FENNER BROCKWAY. PRESIDENT WILSON'S SHAME. telegraphed reports have already appeared in the Press of the extraordinary cross-examina- tion of President "Wilson by the Foreign Rela- tions Committee of the American Senate. I have now seen a copy of the "New York World" containing a verbatim report, and from it Presi- dent Wilson's ignorance of the aims of the Allies as expressed in the Secret Treaties appears more amazing than ever. I must really find space to reproduce his answers to a series of questions upon this point:— Senator Johnson: Was the United States Government officially informed at any time between the rupture of diplomatic relations with Germany and the signing of the armis- tice of agreements made by the Allied Gov- ernments in regard to the settlement of the war- The President No, not so far as I know. Senator Johnson: So far as you are aware, was it unofficially informed during that period ? The President: I would be more clear in my answer, Senator, if I knew what you were re- ferring to. Senator Johnson: I am referring to the so- called secret treaties which disposed of terri- tory among belligerents. The President: You mean like the Treaty of London P Senator Johnson: Yes; like the London pact. The President: No; iio, sir. Senator Johnson Could you state whether or not any official investigation was made bv our Government to ascertain whether or not there were any such treaties of territorial dis- position ? The President: There was no such investi- gation. Senator Johnson: Those specific treaties, tlieti-tli,- Treaty of London, on the b'a.sis of which Italy entered the war; the agreement with Roumania, in August. 1916; the various agreements in respect to Asia Minor, and the agreements consummated in the winter of 1917 between France and Russia relative to the frontiers of Germany, and particularly in relation to the Saar Valley and the left bank of the Rhine—none of those did we have( and when I say we," I iiiein you, Mr. President) any knowledge of prior to the conference at Paris ? The President: Xo, Sir; I can confidently answer that "no" in regard to myself. After President Wilson had declared that the Allies had not entered into any arrangements since America entered the war without informing the American Government, this exchange of question and answer took place:— Senator Johnson: When our Government, through you, Mr. President, in January? 191?, made the fourteen points as the basis for peace, were those points made with the know- ledge of the existence of the secret agree- ments ? The President: Xo. Oh, no. Senator Johnson It was not intended, then, by the expression of those fourteen points to supplant the aims contained in the secret treaties? The President: Since I knew nothing of them, necessarily not. I simply do not know what to make of these replies. I have never indulged in Wilson wor- ship, but his utterances have always seemed to me to bear the hall-mark of honesty, as, indeed, from their very innocence, do the statements above recorded. But from the standpoint of statesmanship what can be said of a man who led his country into a war without troubling to inquire of his allies as to the objects for which they were fighting? And what can be said of the American diplomatic President unfamiliar with the contents of treaties which had become knowledge by the revelations of the Russian Re- volutionary Government r An American press- man sends the information that the members of the U.S.A. Senate had been eagerly reading the pamphlet on the Secret Treaties published by the I.L.P. during the war. And just about time, too! WAR AND LUNACY. I It is a common belief that the war has hirgeiv increased the numlver of mentally deranged per- sons (I am now referring only to those medically certified as such !), and I have no doubt that this popular view is correct. But the statistics of the Lunacy Commissioners give a directly con- trary impression. For the ten years preceding December 31st, 1914, the average annual in- crease of lunatics in public asylums was 2,2.51. Since then the annual decreases have been:- 1915, 8,188 1917, 3,278 I 1916, 3159 1918, 9,138 I I What is the explanation of these extraordinary figures? It is, apparently, that every male lu- natic with sanity enough to fire a rifle in the viglit direction has been thrust into the army, and that for those who have remained in the asdums the food attendance has been so poor that the death-rate has greatly increased. In 1918 the death-rate among male lunatics was actually 25.2 per cent, among females 16.4 per cent. Even the Times goes so far as to ask have we been sending some of our lunatics into the army and starving the others?" The answer is quite clearly in the affirmative. LABOUR AND RELICION. For some years now it has been the custom of Mr. Herbert Stead (son of W. T. Stead) to run a "Labour and Religion" week at Browning Hall, a settlement in one of the poorest districts of South London.. It was here that Keir Hardie made his moving confession of Christian faith seven or eight years ago. Last week an inter- national conference was held at Browning Hall OR similar lines, but, to judge from the reported utterances of some of the Labour leaders who spoke, the new thought and spirit animating our movement seems to have found little expression. George Barnes (surely the most pathetic figure in British Politics) was concerned about the materialism of Organised Labour and of our readiness to follow the lead of "superior per- WllS" from the Universities; Arthur Hender- son was concerned in expressing his pleasure that the proposal to use direct action to end the war in Russia-, and Conscription has been post- poned. George Lansbury spoke, and I have no doubt that he delivered the full Gospel, but of the speeches reported in the press, that of Tom Cape. -II.P., alone reached the heart of the matter." We shall never get a higher spiritual life among the workers." he said, so long as they have to live under a system based on sel- fishness and greed and in which their Labour Is not a service to the community, but a com- modity to be exploited by their capitalist em- ployers." At the conclusion of the oonferenee, a Continuation Committee w as set up to serve as the nucleus of a religious counterpart to the Labour Department of the League of Nations." What that means I confess I don't know, but the British members are to be Bishop Gore, C. N. Ba rues, W. Adam son. George Lansbury, and Frank Hodges. In a few days' time an Inter- national Brotherhood Conference is to meet in London. Its principal speaker will be—Mr. Lloyd Georg" AN OUTRAGEOUS CAPITALIST CLAIM. My leaders will probably be aware of the fact that the British South Africa Company is claim- ing .seven and a lw 1f million pouuds from the British Government as compensation for ser- vices rendered to the Umpire. What are these services? Nearly three millions are accounted for by native wars, which Mr. John H. Harris (the Secretary of the Anti-Slaverv and Abor- igines' Protection Society) asserted in his evi- dence before the Rhodesian Claim Commission the other day. were not only unnecessary, but were made possible only by the deliberate mis- leading of the Government. Mr. Harris caused something like a sensation by producing a copy of the isecret agreement signed by Dr. Jameson in 1893, by which it was agreed to give the land of the Matabele to the 600 invaders and to divide t Iw "loot" betw een them and the chartered Company. This document clearly showed that while the British Government was cabling to South Africa that on no account would hostilities against the Matabele be tolerated, Dr. Jameson was arranging for the invasion of Matabeleland by promising each of the filibusterers who volun- teered "loot" to the value of about £ 10,000. And now the Chartered Company has the impu- dence to ask the British Government to pay for the cost of this invasion I.L.P. LEAD TO TRADES CONCRESS. To my disappointment. I have not been able to get to Glasgow for the Trade Union Congress, but an I.L.P. friend who is there has sent me a bright description of the earlier proceedings. He writes euthusia-stically abodt the I.L.P. demon- stration in the St. Andrew's Hall on Sunday evening. The vast building was crowded and an overflow gathering had to be held. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, in one of his most impressive speeches, urged the workers to realise their re- sponsibility to the nation and to declare that they will heartily co-operate in meeting the pre- sent grave crisis if industry is nationalised and their labour becomes service to the community rather than to profiteers. That must be our big con st ru ctive demand. I STUART BUNNINC'S SPEECH. Stuart Bunning's address as president of the conference was studiously moderate, but effec- tive from his point of view. His arguriJent against Direct Action on the ground that* it would lead to a violent revolution rests, of course, on the assumption that the Government would not stop its Russian adventure and end conscription when faced by a general strike. Quite apart from the merits of the question as to whether industrial action for political ends is justifiable, the fact that the Government has wobbled so much on these issues when confronted by threats of Direct Action suggests that Mr. Bunning's view is not sound. The statesman- ship of Mr. Bunning's speech was in great con- trast to the extreme attitude which was his ten years ago. We must not forget, however, how persistently he has stood against conscription and other violations of liberty during the war. BOB SMILLIE'S TRIUMPH. the posters of the CpIta II Sit Y ress on .Tues- day announced Knock-Out Blow to Labour Hot-Heads." They were referring to Stuart Bunning's speech. On Wednesday the same pos- ters said "Bolsheviks' Victory at Trades Con- gress." They were referring to Smillie's tri- umph over the Parliamentary Committee. Smillie's speech, according to my friend, was a much greater utterance even than the Press re- ports suggest. I now hear that this (Wednes- day) morning Smillie carried his triumph still further by securing the adoption of a resolution demanding mines nationalisation and instruct- ing the Parliamentary Committee to call a special Congress to consider what action should be taken should the Government refuse. The vote was 4,478,000, against 77.ftOO! What will the posters say to-morrow ?
I Workers and T. C. Morris. RHONDDA BRANCHES CONGRATULATIONS A meeting of the Ystrad Branch of the Na- tional Union of Railwaymen passed a unani- mous resolution expressing admiration at the stand which had been made by Bro. T. C. Morria on behalf of Civic Rights." They further re- corded their ippi-eciatioji of the victory achieved by the acceptance of the principle by the Com- pany At a well attended meeting at the Workmen's Hall, Ton Pentre, on Saturday evening, when Mr. W. H. Mais-waring and Mr. T. 0. Morris were the speakers, a resolution was unanimous- ly passed congratulating Mr. T. C. Morris on his stand against the T.V.R. in attempting to place an embargo upon Civic Rights" and welcomes the voctory achieved, thus safeguard- ing the rights of the working-class.