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THE Editor of the ANNUAL REGISTER thinks it necessary to state that in no case does he claim to offer original reports of speeches in Parliament or elsewhere. For the former he cordially acknowledges his great indebtedness to the summary and full reports, used by special permission of The Times, which have appeared in that journal, and he has also pleasure in expressing his sense of obligation to the Editors of “Ross's Parliamentary Record,” The Spectator, and The Guardian, for the valuable assistance which, by their consent, he has derived from their summaries and reports, towards presenting a compact view of the course of Parliamentary proceedings. To the Editors of the two last-named papers he further desires to tender his best thanks for their permission to make use of the summaries of speeches delivered outside Parliament appearing in their columns.
FOR THE YEAR
Echoes of the Education Controversy ; Action of the Primate; Appeals for Funds;
Episcopal Views-Attitude of the Tariff Reformers—Unionist DivisionsLiberal Divisions--Speech by Mr. Keir Hardie-Reorganisation of the ArmyWork of the coming Session: Irish Problems; Devolution; Irish University Reform ; Report of the Commission and Scheme of the Government-Meetings of Protest—The New Irish Chief Secretary-Ministerial Changes--The House of Lords—The Referendum—The Lord Advocate's Plan-Various Proposals—Intimations by Ministers-Attitude of the Opposition-Complaints of Mr. Balfour's lukewarmness; his Reply at Hull–Comments by Earl of Crewe- Ministerial Attacks on the House of Lords ; Strong Speech of the Attorney-General—The London County Council Election Campaign-The Standard and Mr. John Burns-Mr. Winston Churchill on the Colonial Conference-Mr. Lloyd-George at Belfast-Women's Suffrage; Demonstration in London, Outlook for the Session.
The acute political activity of the autumn session of 1906 was followed by a marked lull in the strife of politics, broken at first only by the failing echoes of the controversy on the defunct Education Bill. The Primate, in a New Year's letter to the clergy and laity of his diocese, pleaded once more for the consideration of the subject without narrowness of mind, and reasserted, in the name of the majority of Church people, their demand for elementary Christian teaching in all schools, coupled with recognition of the toil and lavish expenditure undertaken to ensure for the children of those who desired it an education “on the lines of corporate Christian life." Church people, he said, claimed no special privilege for their own religious body, nor anything incompatible with popular control. The Bishop of London, in a similar letter, formulated the aim of Churchmen as religious teaching everywhere, denominational schools where special circumstances justified them, and the safeguarding of
parents' rights in every school. Both laid stress on the financial obligations imposed on the Church by the prolongation of the controversy; and the Bishops of London and Southwark presently issued a joint appeal asking for 50,0001. to repair and extend the Church schools in their dioceses. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster followed with an appeal for 100,0001. for the schools of his Church in his diocese (Jan. 13).
Other Anglican bishops generally took the line of the Primate, some of them, however, rejoicing that the Bill had failed. On the other hand, the Bishop of Hereford regretted it, anticipating, as he told his diocese, that equally favourable terms would never again be offered to the Church, and he outlined in The Times of January 24 a scheme of compromise providing undenominational schools within the reach of all children, denominational schools being taken over by voluntary arrangement, where possible, or new schools built where negotiations failed. This system, he thought, might be supplemented by the continuance of denominational schools, where there were enough children to justify a second school; one-third of the managers of such schools should be nominated by their owners, and payment should be given from public funds only for secular instruction and reasonable wear and tear. The Bishop of Carlisle also continued to defend Cowper-Temple teaching as securing elementary Biblical knowledge.
The Archbishop of Canterbury had amplified his view of the position in addressing the Canterbury Diocesan Education Society on January 21. The Church, he said, only asked, first, that if the Voluntary Schools were to be still used they should have, whatever their denomination, precisely the same treatment; second, that there should be no repudiation of the conditions on which the Voluntary Schools were built in days gone by. Still, he admitted that the Voluntary Schools could not go on for the future exactly as they were, and that definite changes must take place on the lines of accepting popular control and the freedom of teachers from denominational tests. Though recent efforts at a settlement had failed, he did not despair of success if the Government approached the whole question afresh with a less complicated scheme and took counsel with moderate, reasonable, thoughtful men on both sides of the controversy. There was a big body of central opinion in England which did want this question settled, a desire which he himself shared. The Archbishop's speech was commended by the Spectator as moderate and conciliatory, but he laid himself open to the reply of Lord Crewe on the following day that it was useless to reopen communications with a view to compromise except on the lines discussed and rediscussed before the House of Lords.
Though the destruction of the Education Bill was claimed by Lord Hugh Cecil and other High Churchmen as a victory for the Church, the Primate's desire for a settlement was
evidently shared by many Unionists on purely political grounds. Thus Mr. Leverton Harris, a well-known Tariff Reformer and ex-member for Tynemouth, declared (Times, Jan. 2) that the Conservative party had “made a profound tactical blunder, which was both recognised and regretted by the majority of its followers." These views were emphasised in the National Review for February, and by its editor, Mr. L. Maxse, in a speech at Stevenage on January 15. Mr. Austen Chamberlain also sent a “New Year's Message " to the Outlook, the purport of which was that the Unionists had been defeated because of their lack of a constructive policy, and that such a policy, besides aiming at strengthening the union of the Empire should comprise social reform: tariff reform would both promote union with the Colonies and provide “ without robbery or jobbery” the funds needed for social reform.
The Tariff Reformers were also encouraged by a message addressed by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain through the Montreal Star to the people of Canada (Jan. 10). It declared that “of all the bonds which can unite nations the bond of commerce is the strongest,” and that the Unionist defeat had been due to causes altogether outside the question of mutual preference, and predicted the ultimate success of that policy in England as in other parts of the Empire. The enthusiasts for the cause, indeed, were disposed to insist that it should stand first on the Unionist programme---a point on which they got little satisfaction from the party managers. On the other hand, the Daily Graphic, an independent Unionist but not a party organ, suggested a fiscal truce, and invited replies from prominent Unionists; but they were not on the whole encouraging.
The Liberals, however, were not allowed to forget that they also were divided. Impressive Rectorial Addresses, delivered by Mr. Haldane at Edinburgh (Jan. 10), and by Mr. Asquith next day at Glasgow, drew from Mr. Keir Hardie a very remarkable speech. Speaking at Darvel, Ayrshire, on January 12, he declared that both Ministers belonged to that section which
me near wrecking Liberalism and making its return to power for ever impossible in the country. Of the three prominent Liberal Imperialists in Scotland, two were of the Birmingham type, and had supported the war. “Two of that company were members of the inner tabernacle: the third, Lord Rosebery, the best man of the three, was the scapegoat, because he was wandering in the wilderness solitary and alone, bearing the sins of his party upon him." Mr. Haldane's national ideals, he considered, were drawn from Japan and Germany, and his highest type was a form of military organisation which crushed out all individualism in the rank and file. A reference made by Mr. Asquith to ancient Rome furnished Mr. Keir Hardie with a pessimistic parallel. Great Britain, he thought, was following step by step the very pathway that led Rome to her ruin, holding down India by the sword, oppressing native races, and exalt