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perpetual interference; but every great subject was fully debated, and the Secretary of State was perpetually questioned upon every kind of affair.
The financial policy of the Government in accepting the report of the Currency Committee was scarcely touched upon in the debate, although already published (July 28). According to the recommendation, the British sovereign was to be adopted “ without delay" as the standard coin of India. The local mints, although remaining closed for the coinage of silver, would be open for the unrestricted coinage of gold, the value of the rupee being fixed at 1s. 4d. or one-fifteenth of a pound. Payments might continue to be made to any amount in silver, but the Government was not bound to exchange silver for gold or to issue gold, except for certain purposes of exchange. The Committee, moreover, deprecated, although the Government did not actually forbid, a loan in sterling to procure gold, in the belief that in the course of time the Indian mints would draw the necessary gold by the ordinary process of trade.
Before Parliament rose for the recess two interesting papers, both bearing, directly and indirectly, upon the constitution of the next House of Commons, were published. The first of these was addressed to the First Lord of the Treasury, Mr. A. J. Balfour, signed by 126 members, asking for a definite statement of the views of the Government on the question of a redistribution of seats. The letter was forwarded through Mr. Kimber (Wandsworth) who on behalf of his colleagues stated in their opinion (1) that a readjustment of the graver anomalies should be made before the next dissolution ; (2) that such readjustment need not necessarily involve a general redistribution, nor affect more than one-fifth of the existing constituencies, and (3) that the members specially interested should be acquainted as early as possible in the ensuing session with the principle which the Government proposed to adopt. In reply Mr. Balfour said simply that the matter should be brought before the Cabinet at the next opportunity.
The other paper which was circulated before the close of the session was the report of Mr. Chaplin's committee on Old Age Pensions, a subject upon which many pledges had been given, many hopes held out, and much recrimination arisen. The committee had been appointed by the Government after the unfinished debate (March 22) on Mr. L. Holland's bill and in view of the four other bills dealing with the same subject. It was directed to consider and report on the best means of improving the condition of the aged and deserving poor, and for providing for the helpless and infirm. The terms of reference were held to exclude consideration of the financial aspect of the question apart from which the committee resolved, by a majority of 9 to 4, that a national pension system was feasible and desirable. Having rejected schemes for the universal grant of pensions, without regard to thrift or merit on the part of the recipient, and for the creation of a pension fund based on compulsory contributions from the working classes, they defined as the proper recipient of a pension any person applying who : (1) Is a British subject; (2) is sixty-five years of age ; (3) has not within the last twenty years been convicted of an offence and sentenced to penal servitude or imprisonment without the option of a fine; (4) has not received poor relief, except medical relief, unless under exceptionable circumstances during twenty years prior to the application for a pension ; (5) has been resident for not less than twelve months within the district of the pension authority ; (6) has not an income of more than 10s. per week from all sources ; (7) has endeavoured to the best of his ability by his industry or the exercise of reasonable providence to make provision for himself and those immediately dependent on him. The word “ person " was to mean either man or woman. The committee further recommended : (1) That a pension authority should be established in each union of the country, to receive and to determine applications for pensions; (2) that the authority for this purpose should be a committee of not less than six or more than twelve members appointed by the guardians from their own number in the first instance ; (3) that the committee, when so appointed, should be independent of the board of guardians, with the addition of other members subject to regulations to be made by the Local Government Board, and that it is desirable that other public bodies within the area should be represented upon the committee, but so that a majority of the committee shall be members of the board of guardians ; (4) that the cost of the pensions should be borne by the common fund of the union, and that a contribution from imperial sources should be made to that fund in aid of the general cost of the poor-law administration, such contribution to be allocated not in proportion to the amount of such pensions but on the basis of population and not exceeding one half of the estimated cost of the pensions ; (5) that the amount of the pension in each district should be fixed at not less than 5s, or more than 78. a week, at the discretion of the committee, according to the cost of living in the locality, and that it should be paid through the medium of the Post Office; (6) that the pension should be awarded for a period of not less than three years, to be renewed at the end of that period, but subject to withdrawal at any time by the pension authority, if in their opinion the circumstances should demand it. The dissentient minority on the committee consisted of Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice, Sir Walter Foster, Mr. Lecky, and Mr. Cripps, and it was understood of these Mr. Lecky recommended that any action taken by Parliament should be upon the lines of poor-law reform. There was no question of immediate legislation on the matter, and it was generally understood that the committee had been appointed to postpone rather than to hasten discussion of a thorny question.
Parliament was prorogued a few days earlier (Aug. 9) than usual, and with greater forethought and economy of time might have ended its labours earlier. The record was neither a long nor an important one, the London Government Act being its only measure of importance, and its Budget of 110,000,0001. its chief distinction. The Queen's Speech, however, usually a colourless leave-taking, was this year marked by an ominous departure from the common form. After referring to the petition of the Outlanders in the Transvaal it proceeded : “ The position of my subjects in the South African Republic is inconsistent with the promises of equal treatment on which my grant of internal independence to that republic was founded, and the unrest caused thereby is a constant source of danger to the peace and prosperity of my dominions in South Africa. Negotiations on this subject with the Government of the South African Republic have been entered into and are still proceeding.”
Outside Parliament the most important events were those more or less directly connected with ecclesiastical matters. The Convocations of Canterbury and York which, without special leave of the Crown, were not authorised to meet together as a convocation, avoided the difficulty by meeting as individual members of different bodies. The subject discussed by this assembly was the Ecclesiastical Procedure Bill, by means of which it was proposed to modify the existing relations of Church and State, and to constitute a Final Court of Appeal in ecclesiastical suits, which should commend itself to the allegiance of the whole body of the clergy. A complaint against a clergyman for an offence against ecclesiastical law in any matter of doctrine or ritual was to be heard in the first instance by the bishop of the diocese, from whom the case might be remitted to the Diocesan Court. From its decision an appeal would lie to the Provincial Court presided over by the archbishop, and the final appeal to the Crown, whilst being nominally, as before, to the Privy Council, was in reality to be to a selected body of archbishops and bishops of the two provinces, who should through the existing machinery of the Privy Council convey to the Church the decisions of the episcopate. The question whether the existing judicial committee of the Privy Council was to be left free to adopt or reject the episcopal opinion was the subject of much controversy, but as no steps were taken to bring the bill before Parliament the need for its final solution did not arise.
As soon, however, as the two Houses of Convocation came to discuss the details of the bill before them, a very important divergence of view became manifest. The Upper House proposed that when the appeal against the decision of the Provincial Court was successful that decision was to be remitted to the Provincial Court, “ to the end that right and justice may be done in accordance with the order of the Crown." On the other hand, the Lower House proposed that where the appeal was successful “the case shall be reheard in the
firm itse urged movincia, done."
ps on the law, however, waht be one.
Provincial Court in order that right and justice may be done." In other words the Upper House invited the Provincial Court to undo its work, whilst the Lower House urged the Provincial Court, if it had the courage, to reaffirm its decision and take the consequences, of which Disestablishment might be one.
Of more immediate interest, however, was the decision of the two archbishops on the lawfulness of the liturgical use of incense and of processional lights, matters which had greatly exercised the consciences of several of the High Church clergy. These doubts the archbishops, after hearing at great length the arguments on both sides, and after much deliberation, endeavoured to set at rest. They decided (July 28) that incense might not be used liturgically or as a part of public worship, though its fumigatory use was allowable. Processional lights were without conditions pronounced illegal. The archbishops based their decisions on the obligation of every clergyman to use " the form in the Book of Common Prayer and none other.” In conclusion the archbishops stated that they had given their decision as the Prayer-book required them to do; and they entreated the clergy for the sake of the peace of the Church to accept their decision.
The Peace Conference, which had met at the Hague early in the summer, brought its sittings to a close (July 29) having effected less than its promoters desired, but more than its critics expected. The proceedings, detailed elsewhere, were conducted in a spirit which showed an earnest desire on the part of the delegates to give practical effect to the dreams of the promoters. No unseemly squabbles marked the proceedings, and there was little suggestion of intriguing to obtain support for any specific proposals. Those which aimed at the reduction of armaments failed because of the difficulties inherent to conditions essentially different in different countries, but the proposals which tended to lessen the needless cruelties of war were accepted, including one to proscribe the use of Dum Dum bullets, especially levelled against Great Britain. On the other hand the principle of arbitration was universally accepted by all countries, and on the proposition of the British delegate, Sir J. Pauncefote, a machinery was created by which when nations were willing, arbitration might be obtained.
CHAPTER V. Public Interest in the Dreyfus Case-Church Troubles-Transvaal Blue-book
Colonial Sympathy with Government-Mr. Chamberlain's Highbury Speech ---Boer Conditional Offer- British “Qualified Acceptance"-Boer Withdrawal - British Despatch of September 8.-- Negative Boer Reply-Some Criticism, but General Support, of Government Policy-" Interim Despatch" of September 23—Mr. Balfour and the Duke of Devonshire on the Crisis— Last Hopes of Peace --Military Preparations--Boer Ultimatum-Autumn Session-Great Ministerial Majorities--Public Confidence about the War-Disappointments
-Lord Rosebery's Stimulating Speeches—Ministers at the Mansion HouseSpeeches by Mr. Bryce, Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, and Mr. Asquith--Lord Methuen's Successes-German Emperor's Visit-French Press Insults—Mr. Chamberlain's Leicester Speeches-Khalifa's defeat and Death-The “ Black Week” of Reverses-Patriotic Enthusiasm at Home and in the ColoniesFresh Military Measures-Venezuelan Arbitration-Political Party Resolu
tions—Church Difficulties-- Trade Prosperity. The inability of the English people to think of more than one thing at a time, and their aptitude, little as they may be credited with it, for detachment from self-regarding preoccupations, have seldom been more remarkably illustrated than during the first few weeks of the recess of 1899. Parliament, as has been seen, had separated under circumstances pointing to a very grave danger of the outbreak of war in South Africa. The proportions that such a war would be likely to assume were, indeed, foreseen by only too few persons, but there was a pretty general recognition that the interracial animosities which it could not fail to bring to a head might involve this country in very anxious responsibilities, both military and political, for a long time to come. And yet the contemporary annalist is bound to record that, through the remainder of August and well into September, the subject on which the British public at home fixed their attention was not the diminishing likelihood of a pacific settlement of our controversy with President Kruger, but the varying probabilities of a verdict for or against Captain Dreyfus from the court-martial at Rennes.
The course and issue of the extraordinary proceedings before that tribunal were most interesting, but need not be reviewed here. Yet it is part of English history that all our chief newspapers for several consecutive weeks treated the Rennes trial as the predominant topic of interest. Daily they filled many columns, not only with reports of what the witnesses said, but with descriptions of how they looked at one another and at the prisoner and he at them, and being free from all danger of attachment for contempt, they allowed both their special correspondents and their leader writers to comment on the proceedings with the utmost freedom. From the outset there was a practically universal opinion in this country that Captain Dreyfus was the victim, in the first instance, if not of an actual conspiracy among highly placed members of the French headquarter staff, at any rate of a series of stupendous blunders, the parties to which afterwards stuck at nothing in order to protect themselves and one another from exposure. This view received much confirmation from the course of the trial at