'The Time?,' whoso .".plendid (Wrvieos and high conception ol* patThe Defence Of riotie duty have done no the Realm, much to educate and to entourage the people of tho Empire since the hour when the- Imperial Covcrnmer.t decided to pit Right against Might has again fob compelled to criticise the poJicy of .silence that has been adopted by the- Administration. Coming from such a source the charge cannot be ignored. - That a silence, which is made deeper, not lighter, by the few scatter wl scraps of almost meaningless information that are occasionally allowed to break through, rules supr-me over the preparatory elf oris of the Allies on behalf of the common cause is undeniable. For a week or more t here has been worse than no information at all to enlighten the millions of anxious ones iu the. Mother Land and abroad as to the nataue, strength* and intentions of these forces which they ar<, justified iu assuming are being calk'd upon to meet tie .situation. If such anxiety were born of a, deaire fnv tin* sensational., or took the form of a, demand for that which it'"i« not wise we should know, we may rest assured that it would not bo urged and represented by the, Loudon 'Times.' The Press are welt aware of and patriotically acquiescent in the imperative need for .silence in respect to certain aspects of military and naval i policy. But this is not the silence which 'The Times' asta .shall l.v broken. It is that dangerous silence which defeat?, not helps, tho common purpose of the Allies--namely, the ppe+'dy and absolute flushing of Prussian militarism and all that this.: term has come to connote, against which 'The, Times' and the Press everywhere' protest. It is the, duty of tbe. authorities. by timely statements, to create and sustain a quietly confident and cheerful moral tone, as well as to adopt all legitimate means for obtaining a constant and sufficient supply of new recruit?. The difficulty, apparently, rests in ths fact that tbe Imperial Government have either abrogated their powers or made them subordinate to ihe advic-3 and conclusions of the Admiralty and Army Council, which are the ruling authorities in the United Kingdom to-d-ay, and what their members decide, is final. It could not well he otherwise. There must at this time of peril mid manaco be an authority that can (rive, effect to its decisions promptly and without th-& of " yea" or " nay " from any other authority whatsoever. And such is the position of tho Mother Laud—the creator, the defender, and tho evangelist of individual rights and liberties—in this present year of grace. All that for which , jnrr forefathers fought and bled and djed.
has temporarily gone by the board— Magna Charta, Habeas Corpus, Bill of Bights, Freedom of Speech. Freedom of the Press, Freedom of the Individualand no longer operate. within tho realm of Great Britain and Ireland. Mor-e astounding still : no thoughtful man or woman questions either the necessity or the wisdom of a policy which lin normal times would, if attempted, provoke a. revolution. Why? Because the Empire is at war. How many people, whether in England or in the self-governing Dominions, realise the fact, that the position is as we, have stated, and that it could not well be otherwise? During the. last week of November there was put through both Houses of Parliament, practically without comment, and then only from a few great lawyers in the House, of Lords, a measure now known as the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act. To all intents it was placed on the Statute Book unread. Nothing, perhaps, save a German cruiser or Zeppelin raid on their undefended towns will better compel the people of the United Kingdom to consider their individual bearings and responsibilities than this Act: nothing, possibly, would come with greater surprise than that the •authorities - naval and military—resolve that it was necessary to exercise the powers it confers on them; and nothing can more strikingly illustrate, the conditions of life, now ruling at Home. Under this Ac!, there is no such thing as tho right of private property. The authorities may take possession of any building and prepare it for defence, or destroy it. " They can commandeer the output of any '' factory or workshop, or clear any dis- " trict- of inhabitants, vehicles, live stock, "'and foodstuffs. They have -unlimited " powers of search ami arrest, and control "over tho possession of arms and ex- " plosives." Freedom of "speech is given short shrift: "No person shall by word "of mouth, or in writing, or in any news- " papers, etc., spread false reports or "make false, statements likely to cause "disaffection to His Majesty, or to inter- " fere with the success of His Majesty's " forces by land or sea, or to prejudice " His .Majesty's relations with foreign " Powers, or spread reports or ma.ko state " ments likely to prejudice, recruiting." Nor are persons charged with any of these offences able to appeal to tl\e> ordinary courts. All they have is a. choice between court, martial and a court of summary jurisdiction, the former of which may fix the penalty ;it. death or penal servitude. Well may the venerable- Lord Halsimry say that the Hill was the most unconstitutional thing thai ever happened in any country. Yet the, Bill passed unamended and without opposition! Tho reasons are obvious. The Empire is engaged in a struggle, on land ami sea that means for her the preservation or the destruction of all that- has made it what it is, and while the crisis lasts constitutional rights and cherished privileges must give way. Those who have spoken and written of the Act lodge no complaint. What they seek to ilo is to make, its terms known. As a matter of fait the Act will press harshly on no loyal subject, but it should cause rogues and fools to hesitate. Tim traditional common sense of the average Briton not to exercise great powers unjustly may be. safely relied on. The. outstanding thing is that thesa far-reaching and drastic powers aro actually in existence and tho Jaw of the. land to-day; also that they have been accepted by men of all political parties, whether Tory or Labor, -without, remonstrance. Therefore it is the more noteworthy that
'Tho Times' should protest as strongly as it has done against the dangerous silence of the Administration. Th.Q explanation, it seems to us, is simple. The present official silence on the progress of preparations is harmful, not beneficial, to ihe Realm.
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Evening Star, Evening Star, Issue 15708, 23 January 1915