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[313 Beernaert, therefore, did not delay the withdrawal of his proposal.
In the meantime the Government declared that in its own opinion, as well as in that of the Free State Government, for Belgium to exact the payment of the interest on the sums lent would imply the renunciation of annexation, and, in consequence, the rejection of the bill would be equivalent to a renunciation. Finally, the Belgian Government, modifying a little its first proposal, replaced it by the following :—Wishing to retain the power which belongs to the King to annex the Congo Free State, Belgium renounces for the present the reimbursement of the sums lent to the said State, in fulfilment of the Treaty of 1890, and also the interest on the same sums. The financial obligations contracted by the Congo Free State by reason of the aforesaid acts shall not be enforced except from the moment when Belgium renounces her power to annex the State. This important bill, after long and sometimes heated discussion, was finally voted by the Chamber by 71 to 31, five abstaining from voting, and in the Senate by 54 to 6, with one abstaining.
The third subject which attracted attention was rather a question of moral order than of politics properly so called. It concerned new legislation relating to the passion for gambling. The Senate, which had been the first to occupy itself with this serious matter, decided so far back as 1897 for the suppression of all public gambling, making exception, however, in favour of the two towns of Ostend and Spa. The Chamber of Representatives had to consider in 1901 à bill emanating from the Senate and slightly modified by the Government. This bill, which not only punished those who promoted gambling but also gamblers themselves, did not receive the support of the Chamber, and it resulted in a discussion which was both long and complicated. The project of the Government maintained the exceptions in favour of Ostend and Spa which bad been voted by the Senate, on account of the importance of the pecuniary interests involved. It was a question, indeed, for Ostend of a loss of 2,600,000 francs annually, and for Spa of about 1,400,000 francs. But the Chamber considered that the question of public morality was of greater value than the pecuniary interests of those two towns, and rejected the exception by the enormous majority of 97 against 18, with four abstaining. A proposed compromise, by which the Government was offered a sum of 2,000,000
or 3,000,000 francs if it would come to the assistance of the two towns to be injured by the suppression of gambling was also rejected by 76 to 17, with ten abstaining.
On the other hand, there was a general feeling manifested in favour of directing legislation, not against gamblers themselves, but against the exploiters of the vice, and the Government modified their bill in that sense. So modified, and without any exceptions in favour of Ostend and Spa, the measure passed the Chamber by a very large majority, and returned to the Senate.
That body accepted the bill very nearly as they received it, but introduced an amendment according to Ostend and Spa a delay of two years, during which they might continue to promote public gambling, in order to allow them opportunity to discover other resources. The Chamber, however, firmly refused to acquiesce in the concession of this term of grace, and finally, at the very end of December, the Senate gave way, and by the narrow majority of 41 to 39, with one abstaining, adopted the bill as passed by the Chamber.
The birth, on November 3, of Prince Leopold, offspring of the marriage of Prince Albert (son of the Count of Flanders, nephew of the King) with Princess Elizabeth of Bavaria, was welcomed with unanimous joy by the whole country, as securing the continuation of the Belgian dynasty in the male line.
II. THE NETHERLANDS.
The great event of the year was the defeat of the Liberal Ministry, as a result of the general election which took place in June. All the anti-Liberal parties, that is to say, the AntiRevolutionaries of the Kuyper group and of the Lohman group, the “Historical Christians" and the Catholics, combined firmly in opposition to the Liberal party. On its side that party, instead of uniting to resist this coalition, split on the electoral question : the Liberal Democrats advocated the revision of the Constitution, with a view to obtaining as soon as possible universal suffrage; the Moderate Liberals refused all electoral reform, considering the time inopportune. The Socialist party, which up to now had voted in favour of the Liberal candidates, resolved to fight this time on its own account.
The election contests were much more heated this year than is usual with the Dutch people, which has generally shown itself somewhat apathetic in politics, and ended, as it was easy to predict, in disaster for the Liberal party. After the different second ballots and the new elections necessitated by the resignation of the new Ministers who were members of the Chamber
-it is a tradition in Holland that Ministers should not be Members of Parliament,the new Chamber was found to be composed of 27 Liberals, 8 Liberal Democrats, 7 Socialists, 23 Anti-Revolutionaries of Kuyper's group, 8 Anti-Revolutionaries of Lohman's group, 2 Historical Christians and 25 Catholics. In consequence the Liberal party, including in it all the different shades of opinion, with the Socialist party added, only contributed 42 members to the Chamber, while the coalition of the Opposition amounted to 58, thus giving the new Ministry a majority, perhaps somewhat heterogeneous, of 16 votes.
The elections for the Provincial Estates were equally unfavourable to the Liberal party, and as the Provincial Estates nominate the members of the First Chamber, the result was
The Netherlands.-Army Reorganisation. [315 that this Chamber, which had before numbered 32 Liberals and 18 members of the Opposition, was found to be composed of 29 members belonging to the different parties of the coalition, and of 21 Liberals of different shades of opinion. After these elections the Liberal Cabinet gave in its resignation. But in the few months which had preceded its downfall it had had time to bring the question of military reform to a successful issue. General Eland, Minister of War, demanded that the duration of the time of service should be fixed at twelve months for the infantry and eighteen months for the cavalry. Contrary to his advice an amendment reducing the length of service to eight and a half months for the infantry was passed by 47 against 44. General Eland immediately tendered his resignation, and was replaced by Lieut.-General Kool, chief of the Etat-Major. The new Minister accepting, of course, the modifications claimed by the Chamber, ultimately saw the measure for the reorganisation of the Army adopted by 59 to 38.
Its essential provisions were the following :--The annual contingent is to be increased from 11,000 to 17,000 men, which, at the end of eight years, will raise the Army, when on a war footing, from 60,000 to 118,000 men. The term of active service for the infantry is to be eight years, in the course of which the men who have finished their eight and a half months of instruction (a period increased to twelve months for those who have not acquired the necessary military efficiency) will have to undergo ten weeks of exercise divided into three periods, two years apart. At the end of these eight years, the soldier will pass into the Landwehr, the organisation of which in the place of the Civic Guard was voted by 85 to 9. A man will belong to the Landwehr for seven years, joining during that period in two courses of military exercises, not exceeding six days each. Besides this, the exemption of only sons was abolished, the State paying indemnity to the families which by the military service of their sons will be deprived of their means of subsistence.
The result of the figures furnished by the Government was that this reorganisation would only increase the Annual War Budget by 1,000,000 florins.
After the resignation of the Liberal Ministry, Dr. Kuyper, chief of the Anti-Revolutionaries of the Right, under whose direction the electoral contests had been conducted, was entrusted with the formation of the new Cabinet. There was some delay in its formation : it was necessary to give satisfaction to different groups of the coalition in the redistribution of portfolios, and to ensure agreement between the different elements of this somewhat heterogenous majority, the members of which were not in absolute agreement on certain important points in the programme of the new Ministry, notably on those which concerned the adoption of certain protectionist measures and certain social reforms.
Finally the new Cabinet was thus constructed: Presidency of the Council and Ministry of the Interior, Dr. Kuyper; Foreign Affairs, Baron Melvil von Lynden ; Justice, M. Loeff; Finance, M. Harte van Tecklenburg; Navy, Vice-Admiral Kruijs ; War, Lieut.-General Bergansius; “Waterstaat,” Commerce and Industry, M. de Marez Oijens; Colonies, M. van Asch van Wijck. The Labour Department, till then attached to the “Waterstaat," was transferred to the Minister of the Interior, and that of Agriculture, which had belonged hitherto to the Interior, was incorporated in the “Waterstaat,” Dr. Kuyper considering it important that he should have personal control of all industrial matters. The new Ministry was, generally speaking, very well received by all parties; the Opposition, even, promised its loyal support as far as possible. With the exception of MM. Loeff, Harte van Tecklenburg and Bergansius, who were of the Catholic party, all the other Ministers belonged to the group of the Anti-Revolutionary Right or Kuyper group, no member of the Lohman group having a seat in the Cabinet. On the other hand, one of the most influential members of that group, Baron Mackay, was elected President of the Second Chamber.
At the opening of the session of the States General in September, Queen Wilhelmina, accompanied by the Prince Consort, her spouse, delivered a speech from the T'hrone, which was specially remarkable in that it gave the first place to questions of public morals and of social interest, which had been the leading features on the electoral platform of the coalition. Thus, before alluding to material or purely political questions, the speech from the Throne announced measures directed against gambling and public excess in drink, a law to restrain the adulteration of alimentary commodities, another extending obligatory insurance for accidents among agricultural labourers and fishermen; and finally it announced that a law dealing with compulsory insurance against illness, chronic infirmity and old age was in preparation.
It was further announced that, in order to obtain the material resources necessary to realise the reforms spoken of above, it would be necessary to increase the revenues of the kingdom ; and for that purpose, in the first place, a revision of the tariff of the duties on imports must be considered. In this revision care would be taken to favour national industry. If, as a result, the charges should weigh on the less wealthy, there would be opportunity to take this into account at the time when their contribution to the compulsory insurance was fixed.
In conclusion, the Royal Speech stated that the introduction of quick-firing guns, whose adoption was quite inevitable, would demand considerable pecuniary sacrifices. No law of importance was passed before the close of the year.
The marriage of Queen Wilhelmina, February 7, to Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was the occasion for the
The Netherlands. The Queen's Marriage. [317 manifestation by the Dutch people of their profound attachment to the dynasty of Orange-Nassau and to the young Queen, its last representative. In accordance with the law, the Duke received naturalisation of Holland from the Chamber, and some days before his marriage Royal decrees gave him the titles of rear-admiral, of major-general of the Dutch Army and major-general of the Army of the Netherlands in India, of Prince of the Low Countries and of Royal Highness. In the Second Chamber a lively debate took place on the subject of a bill proposing a pension of 150,000 forins annually in case of his being left a widower. The Socialists and a certain number of Liberal-Radicals opposed the measure vehemently ; but it was finally passed by 81 to 7.
The situation in Atchin was not yet satisfactory, and the Dutch troops were obliged many times during the current year to repress revolts more or less important. The most considerable result attained was the capture, in February, of the stronghold of Batoe-Ilik, in a district which until then had been in continual revolt.
III. GRAND DUCHY OF LUXEMBURG.
The chief event of the year was the extension of the franchise to payers of ten francs in taxes—the extreme limit fixed by the Constitution. This measure was carried by 34 votes to 1. In the course of the discussion many members loudly proclaimed their preference for universal suffrage, but the introduction of such a measure is impossible without a revision of the Constitution, which does not appear probable in the near future. Some years ago the Chamber had decided to employ a sum of 300,000 francs, shortly after increased to 500,000, which was derived from the surpluses regularly realised by the Grand Duchy's annual Budget, in favour of the Communes whose finances were involved. The Clerical party, which is also the Agricultural party, carried this year the increase of this allocation to 750,000 francs, in spite of the opposition of the Liberal party, who wished to divert the proposed increase to some large building operations generally recognised as necessary. There was much disappointment that the infant born during the year to the wife of Duke William, the heir to the throne of the Grand Duchy, was, like their other children, a daughter—the continuance of the Nassau dynasty in the male line being much desired by the people.
Few interesting events occurred in the course of the year. On April 5 a meeting was held at Geneva to protest against the extradition of the anarchist Jaffei, who had been handed over to the Italian authorities by the Swiss authorities