BRITISH AND FOREIGN NEWS. SPECTATOR SUMMARY.
(For week ending Saturday, 18th July.) MOROCCO. The Morning Post of Tuesday publishes a most interesting message from its special correspondent in Morocco, Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett, who has succeeded in reaching Fez. He says that the news of the French occupation of Asemmur was received with consternation.' Mulai Hafid is "determined to know the attitude of France towards him." If she attempts ip restore Abd-ul-Aziz to the throne, he will call all the tribes to his support, and they will "die to the last man rather than render the independence of, the country." Mulai Hafid is prepared to abide by the Algeciras \Act till the country is settled, but afterwards he would call a fresh conference. Fez is one large armed camp, and the former troops of Abd-ul-Azir. are drilled daily in the interests of the new Sultan. In another message, published on Friday, Mr. AshmeadBartlett seems much more doubtful of the willingness of the tribes to die to the last man. He takes back a statement he had made as to Mulai Hafid having secured the allegiance of the people by his moderation, and declares that, on the contrary^ the old taxes of Abd-ul-Aziz have been re-imposed. The consternation caused by the occupation 'of Asemmur was naturally eased by the withdrawal of .the French. When an observer on the spot finds it so difficult to ascertain the facts and judge the temper of the people, we at a distance may well despair. SMALL ' HOLDINGS. On Monday in the House of Lords Lord Onslow asked the President of the Board of Agriculture about the action taken by County Councils under the Small Holdings Acts. He remarked that considerable expectations had been aroused in many persons that they would be in possession of land by this time, and he could not help holding Lord Carrington responsible for having made them; toe sanguine. Lord Usirrington answered that the councils had appointed Small Holdings and Allotments Committees, and steps had been taken to ascertain the extent of the demand for land. In twenty-eight counties valuers had been appointed to aid the committees, and they had been vory helpful. There was w groat demand for small holdings, but in some cases the demand was from unsuitable persons. There was very little backwardness on the part of landlords in providing land, but if necessary the compulsory powers wpuld be employed. Lorn Lansdowne said that the success which had been achieved would have been impossible without the co-opera-tion, of the County Councils, which were clearly the proper authorities to deal with the small holder. Lord Carrington's own statement proves that landlords are not really, as was said, reluctant to provide land for small holdings. A SPECULATOR IN WARSHIPS. In the Commons on Monday Mr. Arthur Lee opened the debate on the Navy Estimates. In the course of his speech he turned to what we cannot help feeling is a very serious question. There were, _he declared, at present building in private yards in this counlry three ] vessels of the Dreadnought class for Brazil. Past experience showed that whereas Brazil had many ships built in this country, very few of them remained in her navy to-day. Brazil was rather a speculator in warships, and if she had found this profitable in the past, why not in the- future? A sudden and unexpected addition of three Dreadnoughts to the fighting strength of any first-class naval Power would completely upset the balance upon which our shipbuilding programme was framed. AN INTERESTING REPORT. The report by Mr. Ernest Ayes on colonial labour legislation has been published this week. Mr. Ayes, who writes of Wages Boards and Conciliation and Arbitration Boards, utters a wholesome warning against arguing from the particular conditions of\ the colonies to the much wider conditions at home. It is as though one should arguo that municipal machinery which had worked well in a small town is necessarily suitable to the whole of Britain. Apart from, that, the effect of the Boards is still very uncertain. Even if it were safe, therefore, to apply the lesson, wo still do not know in many cases what the lesson is. Mr. Ayes concludes that ' there are not sufficient grounds for thinking that it would be "advantageous to invest with legal effect the recommendations of special boards in this country." He remarks, by the way, that it is widely held that v "the boards as a system can only succeed in a Protectionist community." These are cautious but wide deductions. The recent experience of New Zealand, where the Arbitration Act seems to be despaired of by the leaders of both political parties, heavily underlines the reservations 'of Mr. Ayes. A FALSE STEP. On Tuesday Mr. Asquith received a large and influential deputation of members of Parliament in regard to the Sugar Convention — a deputation which, represented two hundred of his supporters. Mr. Villiers, who introduced the deputation, spoke somewhat bitterly of the Government's action. Members had denounced the Brussels Sugar Convention in their constituencies in uncompromising terms, and yet the Sugar Convention had not been put an end to. Mr. Asquith's reply, which was very able and dexterous, nevertheless afforded an example of the difficulties and embarrassments in which Free-traders are bound to find themselves if they once break away from the principle of the free market^the principle that it is to the interests of this country to allow all who have commodities £o sell to come and sell them here without let or hindrance, or inquisition into why they are cheap. If once you begin to look the gift-horses of commerce in the mouth, to ask why things are cheap, and to demur to their sale if the reasons do not seem satisfactory to this or that person or interest, true Free-trade is at an end. It was on the ground of interference with the principle of the free market — the principle upon which, in our opinion, the prosperity of British, commerce rests — that, though Unionists, we so strongly opposed the action of 'the Unionist Government in bringing about the Sugar Convention. Though wo admit that the new convention is in many respects better than the old, it still remains a dangerous infringement of the principle of the free market. But though we detest the convention, and should like to see it denounced, we arebound to admit that in dealing withtheir friends and neighbours the British Government are obliged to preserve a certain continuity of action, and that ifonce they enter upon arrangements with foreign Powers, it may not always be possible, or at any rate expedient, to withdraw from them, even though, the arrangements are wrong per se.
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