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TOPICS of the DAY.

iFrom Onr Special correspondent.) LONDON, February 19. THE KING AND HIS COMMONS. Parliament was opened this week with the usual Royal parade in a coach of gold and glass, drawn by eight creamcoloured horses, amidst the admiration of the usual crowds. The Royal coach with its gorgeous trappings and its oldworld associations, always seems a little grotesque in the streets of modern London, especially under a leaden winter sky. But tradition dies very, very hard m this country, and many people would think that Parliament was not properly opened at all if the King and Queen did not drive out in their robes and crowns and their coach of glass and gold Ihe most novel feature of the occasion was the attempt of one of the Suffragettes to fly over the Houses of Parliament in an airship. Truly we live in stirring times! The airship accomplished a journey safely enough, only it was not the particular journey the Suffragette wished it to take. The wind blew it far away from Parliament, and carried it up so high that nobody in the world below could see it until it descended again beyond Croydon. Still, its flight was duly chronicled in all the papers, so the plucky Suffragette achieved her real purpose, which was to advertise her cause. Another feature of the day, not at all amusing, aijd not intended to be, was a procession through the West End of unemployed women and wives and children of unemployed men. One woman in every three or thereabouts was carrying a baby, and pathetic objects some of them looked. It is hoped by such pitiful spectacles as these to touch the blunted consciences of London, and more especially of the legislators In London assembled.

Unemployment was the theme of the first day's debate in the Commons, and the Labour party gave evidence of a lively determination to assert themselves this session. They ha™ been charged by the Grayson section of the Independent Labour party with having been too cjocile, too ready to compromise with tne Government, and although the threatenea split in their ranks has been averted, there is no doubt that they have had a shaking up. In the debate on Tuesday the Labour leaders attacked the Government with some bitterness for the meagre character of their unemployment proposals, as outlined in the King's Speech. Mr. Will Crooks described them as mere "window-dressing," and he denounced Mr. John Burns as "a fallen democrat." Mr. Barnes stated that he would not remain in the House if the question of the workless was not tackl-ed resolutely by the Government, and Mr. Keir Hardie also intimated that the Labour party might find it necessary to stump the country in a campaign against the Government on this great burning question.

Altogether. Parliament opened rather tamely. There was nothing in the King's Speech in the nature of a surprise, unless it was the surprise at the unexciting character of th-e proposals. The only suggestion of an attempt to deal with unemployment was a proposal to establish labour exchanges, which the Labour men declared would only touch the fringe of the problem. Air. Keir Hardie, in fact, declared that the meagre character of this proposal amounted to a breach of faith on the part of the Premier. Interest will now centre, not on the debates, but on the Budget, which is due about Easter. The man of the session will be the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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TOPICS of the DAY. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 80, 3 April 1909

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