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be to a large extent evaded. Many dogs will be killed, some of the inhabitants of boulevards will retire to the country, less of the highlytaxed alcoholic will be drunk-a moral gain which may be compensated by the fraud of those who will import, free of octroi, wine out of which to make brandy.
The population of France, as appears from the returns published in the Journal Officiel for last December, increased in the year 1897 by an excess of births over deaths amounting to more than 108,000. This difference was due, not to the increase of the birth-rate, but the diminution of the deaths—an account of the matter which is ansatisfactory in so far as death-rate is a more variable phenomenon than birth-rate, and there is thus the less assurance that the next year will present the same favourable excess. The number of births actually decreased in 1897, though the number of marriages was fully maintained. Commenting on this contrast in a remarkable article in L'Economiste Français, December 10th, 1898, M. Leroy Beaulieu maintains the doctrine that “the development of democratic civilisation (prolificité) is unfavourable to fecundity."
The relative growth of the component parts of the Empire was the subject of a paper read by Sir Robert Giffen before the Colonial Institute on Feb. 14. He exhibited the progress of the several parts in population, revenue and trade. In all these respects the advance of South Africa was pre-eminent. The least favourable picture in the general progress was formed by the West Indian Islands and British Guiana. In the latter there was a decrease of 32 per cent. in the imports, and of 35 per cent. in the exports. The increase of population in India—by 73,000,000 since 1871-had been enormous; but it was doubtful whether a corresponding increase in resources had taken place. “ Amidst our great success in the development of population and wealth throughout the Empire, the reverse of the shield in the growth of a vast population ought also to be looked at. It appeared to be the one great economic difficulty which the governing races would have to deal with, and which was beginning to embarrass them. . If there had been free choice in the matter at any time, he would have deprecated the conquest of India and other conquests, which had made the Empire what it is." .. But are in for this great Empire” even if we dislike it, and must make the best of our position.
THE Effect of English Commercial Legislation in America was the subject of a lecture given by Professor Ashley at Oxford, on Feb. 4. He maintained that the treatment of the colonies by the mother country had not been “baleful," as stated by Bancroft, and with more moderation by Lecky. The navigation laws had stimulated shipbuilding in New England. The "enumerated” articles which it was forbidden to import into the Continent of Europe were not considerable in quantity, not staples, except indeed tobacco. But tobacco and other commodities might be transhipped in England and re-exported to the Continent; the foreigner presumably bearing part of the cost incurred. England was the natural entrepôt, and the enumeration only secured by a superfluous and harmless anxiety what would of itself have come about. Freedom all round would, perhaps, have injured the colonies. The monopoly of the mother country was not absolute, since foreign produce imported from the Continent to England might be re-exported to the colonies. Nor was the legislation respecting manufactures very hurtful to the colonies. The English policy was not merely restrictive; it included bounties as well as prohibitions. Land-planting, as Adam Smith admitted, was encouraged. Altogether it was impossible to say that the system inflicted an injury on the colonies. The lecturer built no argument in favour of protection upon this conclusion.
Ruskin Hall, in Oxford, intended to afford working men the opportunities of a higher education, was opened last February. The founder, Mr. Vrooman, of St. Louis, Missouri, in an eloquent inaugural address, said that Ruskin Hall seeks to do with scholarship and philosophy what Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison have done with the lightning : “instead of being a far-off object of terror, the subject of poem and conjecture, the lightning has become the motive force of the world, binding the nations of the earth into a single society." The working man comes to Oxford, “not as the Roman soldier approached Archimedes at the fall of Syracuse, cutting down that great man because, lost in his mathematical drawings, he refused instantly to obey, but rather patiently to await some lucid interval of recognition of contemporaneous affairs on the part of the scholar, in order to announce to him the advent of the modern world.”
The Home Secretary has appointed a Committee, consisting of tie Right Hon. Jesse Collings, M.P., Mr. H. H. Cozens-Hardy, M.P., and Mr. E. W. Brabrook (Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies), to inquire into the grievances alleged to exist in connection with compulsory Shop Clubs, Mr. R. F. Reynard, of the Home Office, has been appointed Secretary to the Committee.
INFORMATION received by the Labour Department as to the rates of money wages weekly paid to agricultural labourers in 249 Poor Law Unions in the Midland, Eastern, Home, Southern, and Southwestern counties, shows that there was in December, 1898, as compared with December, 1897, an average rise, which spread over the whole number of labourers included in the returns-almost 380,000—amounted to about 4ļd. per week.
The prospects of a General Federation of Trade Unions are discussed on a former page by Mr. Chapman who acted as reporter on behalf of the ECONOMIC JOURNAL at the late Congress in Liverpool. It is interesting to compare his remarks with those of Mr. E. Aves to whom the next eight notes are due.
The special Trade Union Congress that met at Manchester in January has achieved its object, and the new scheme for the formation of a General Federation of Trade Unions has been adopted. The Congress was attended by nearly 300 delegates, representing 93 separate organisations, with a total membership of nearly one million. The most fundamental objects of the new Federation will be to " uphold the rights of combination of labour,” and, by all amicable means,“ to promote industrial peace.” The Federated Societies will send representatives to a Ceneral Council, but this body, which need meet only once a year, will find its most important task in the appointment of 16 of its members to form the Management Committee of the Federation. It will also have the duty of appointing the district Committees. Federated Societies will pay, up to 90 per cent. of their members, entrance fees at the rate of a penny per member, and subscriptions, according to a different scale, of either 3d. or 6d. per quarter, the smaller amount entitling the benefits of 2s. 6d. per week in case of dispute, and the higher amount to 5s. per week. the higher scale of contributions, if a million members join (the highest number anticipated), 50,000 of them could be paid the 5s. per week for eight weeks, but the power of double levy is vested in the Committee of Management in case of need. These figures indicate roughly what the future fighting strength of the Federation can be, but it is evident, and it is intended, that its effective force shall be measured, not by its war chest, but by its representative strength, by its effective diplomacy, and by its moderating influence.
Although the scheme of the new organisation is hardly in accordance with the best traditions of Trade Union expansion, which, on the analogy of the great amalgamated societies and the existing Federations, would have pointed rather to the formation of a strong central body through the medium of Sectional Federations previously formed in cognate and affiliated groups, there are sufficient reasons to explain why the Congress adopted the bolder plan of floating at once its General Federation. After the prolonged discussion that has taken place, and after the abortive attempts that have been already made in the past, it was felt, doubtless, that it is possible to VOL. IX.-No. 33
make haste too slowly, and that a less ambitious plan might have chilled more hopes than it would have inspired. The scheme adopted is, moreover, on the whole a good one. It is calculated to secure the advantages of moderation, since no aggressive policy has been adopted; of consistency, since responsibility will be vested in a central Committee; of stability, since its executive will have neither the strain of raising, nor the obligation of spending, a great income; and of elasticity, since sufficient autonomy will be left to the constituent societies to maintain at once their feeling of responsibility, and their power to take independent action if they consider it desirable to do so.
The Management Committee will be the pivot upon which the whole machinery of the new Federation will turn, and upon which its policy will mainly depend, for, not only will the District Committees be subject to the Management Committee, but it will be upon the latter body that the power of interference in disputes will devolve. The whole Federation has been founded on a conciliatory and pacific basis, and it is one of the merits of a plan so conceived that conciliatory and levelheaded men are most likely to be appointed to carry it into effect. There is a fair primâ facie ground, therefore, for anticipating that a strong and responsible executive will be chosen. For the moment the Federation has no corporate existence, and the duty of bringing the decisions of the Manchester Congress before the Trade Unions of the country rests with the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress, it having been resolved that the Council of the new Federation must be convened not later than next July. The immediate future of the Federation will depend, therefore, upon the votes of the rank and file of the societies, who have still to say whether or no they desire their unions to federate. The Amalgamated Engineers are among those who are to be asked to give their decision at once, and there is little real doubt but that at the outset the new Federation will secure a wide-spread adherence. A fair start in the early months of this prosperous year is therefore almost assured, but the real test of the Federation must await the turn of the tide, when the conditions of employment are not so favourable as they are at this moment, and when the changes in industrial relationships are not so uniformly on its side.
PERHAPS before the inevitable reaction comes, further provision will have been made to secure the more systematic resort to the methods of conciliation, and that thus, the “ever-blessed” cause of industrial peace may be found to rest on a surer basis than it does at present. Many influences are working to this end, and there is somewhat striking evidence of this in the chief article of the February number of The Trade Unionist. After pointing out the "certainty of enormous loss" and the uncertainty of victory that are attendant upon every great industrial dispute, the writer adds: “Trade Union leaders see that British industry has arrived at a stage when its present position can only be held by intelligent co-operation of all concerned. In a word, the prevalence of peace is essential to its continued supremacy. The need of the hour is peace in the workshop.”
There is thus perhaps a special opportuneness and hopefulness in the tentative proposals that Mr. Ritchie has recently made to bring the new Parliamentary Committee of the Employers' Associations and the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress together, with a view to the formation of a National Board of Conciliation. It may be hoped that the new General Federation of Trades will be able to do much to give weight and stability to such a Board, and thus to give effect to the best hopes of the President of the Board of Trade, who, it is satisfactory to understand, proposes neither fresh legislation nor anything of the nature of compulsory reference to the proposed National Board. What is needed above all things, is a machinery that can be voluntarily resorted to in the interests of peace, and the creation of a public opinion that will make it more and more difficult to avoid using such machinery.
WHILE the general trend of responsible opinion and the present movement towards completer organisation may not unreasonably be thought to make for the preservation of industrial peace, the impending dispute in the Plasterers' trade is a melancholy reminder of the risks of industrial friction. As to the action that was the immediate cause of this dispute—the strike at three London shops to compel non-union foremen to join the Operative Plasterers' Society-little but condemnation has been heard, Trade Union leaders themselves not having been behind outside public opinion in expressing disapproval. It is lament able, therefore, that the unauthorised cessation of work by a small body of men should, as now appears to be the case (Mar. 3), be leading on to an extended and serious dispute. Although at first unauthorised, there are signs that the coercive and intolerant action of the operatives who originally struck is not really opposed to the dominant feeling of the moment in the Society to which they belong. This feeling is the outcome of the strong position that the Society holds, in consequence of the phenomenal activity that has prevailed for several years in the building trades, and the incident of the strike to compel foremen to join their Society is but an extreme case illustrating a policy that has been resented by the employers for some years past.
THE occasion has therefore been used by the Master Builders' Association to prefer additional counter-complaints against the Plasterers' Society, including the charge of the excessive limitation of the number of apprentices; the black-listing of offending employers ; the refusal to work on buildings when non-unionists are employed; the