The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 1 (May 1, 1930)
A three Power Pact with an “if”-Mr. MacDonald appeals to Europe-Political atmosphere improved by Conference-Economic problems remain.
Treaty with safety valve.
There is, of course, an “if” in the new Three-Power naval limitation agreement. That it would be confined to three Powers, and that it would contain an “if” was evident weeks before the London Naval Conference closed. The three Powers (Britain, United States, and Japan) bind themselves to a certain degree of naval limitation “if” France or Italy (the Powers who do not sign this limitation portion of the Treaty or some other Power does not take such measures of naval construction as will compel Britain to free herself of the limitation. Being, after all, an island off the coast of Europe, and being therefore unable to clear herself of all European entanglements after the manner of the United States or Japan, Britain was compelled to insist on an “if” clause; or, as Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald calls it, a protection clause. Under this provision, Britain may legally and honourably withdraw from the limitation contract with the United States and Japan if she deems her naval position to be sufficiently affected by ships built or contemplated by non-signatory Powers.
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Europe holds the Throttle.
From cabled summaries to hand at time of writing, it seems that the Three-Power Naval Limitation Agreement is a part (Part III.) of a Five-Power Treaty, the London Naval Treaty of 1930, which is, of course, subject to ratification. That France and Italy should have seen their way to sign so much of this Treaty (including Part IV. curbing submarine action) encourages the hope that they may yet join up with the limitation portion. France and Italy now have it in their hands to better the Treaty by a mutual disarmament arrangement equalling (or exceeding) its limitation provisions. They also have it in their power to undermine the Treaty by entering upon a degree of naval construction such as shall compel insular Britain to withdraw (under the protection clause) from three-Power limitation, and to build ships against a European menace. To ward off that disaster, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald openly appeals to the peoples of the Continent. Disdaining camouflage, he says that the Conference “will prove” (not “has proved”) a great landmark “if what has been done is immediately used to prepare the public mind to do more.” Post-conference conversations may “make any use of the protection clause unnecessary,” and “I appeal to the public opinion of Europe to range itself behind those conducting these negotiations.”
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Candid Prime Minister.
Though the limitation part of the Treaty does not yet cover either as many Powers or as many ships as its designers aimed at, it effects a tremendous money saving (with, of course, consequential unemployment in dockyards), and it tends to clear the atmosphere of the Atlantic and the Pacific, while effecting some break in the European clouds. Though the London page 22 Naval Conference proves to be a starting-place rather than a goal, it admittedly raises the prestige of the British Government. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald has clinched his success by refusing to claim too much success. “Compared with Washington and Geneva,” he says, “we have progressed far; compared with our desires, we are still short.” Some ships that might have been sunk by the gunfire of the London Naval Conference have survived, but, comments Mr. MacDonald, “reduction of building programmes is almost as valuable as scrapping.” The Government has achieved enough in this crucial phase of policy to hearten it up in its efforts to deal with the Egypt-Soudan problem, and the trouble in India.
Britain and the Bath.
“Bathing in Hyde Park” (and mixed bathing it would seem) is the heading under which the papers tell of some criticism of the MacDonald Government's baths policy in London. For many years it was considered to be trite, but at the same time truthful, to write about “the Englishman and his Bath.” But recently some iconoclastic observers in the London weeklies have been alleging that the Continental does far more bathing than the Englishman, and that the European public baths, especially in supposedly depressed cities like Vienna and Budapest, are far more accommodating, more artistic, and on the whole cheaper than anything of the kind in London. Something of the Roman tradition of the baths seems to linger over parts of Middle Europe, and Mr. Grundy, who has not been much heard of lately; and the Minister remained unabashed. “I am a person of the broadest views,” he said.
How Barter Breaks Down.
There has been an echo in the papers of Mr. J. H. Thomas's wheat-buying and coal-supplying mission some months ago to Canada. As Minister in special charge of the British coal back to Canada, giving employment problem, Mr. Thomas urged the Canadian wheat holders to sell, so that trans Atlantic wheat ships might carry British coal back to Canada, giving employment in the collieries, on the prairies, and in between. Some allusion by the Minister to the fact that holders who did not sell now would face a lower wheat market led to an admission by the wheat pool leaders that they spurned Mr. Thomas's grain marketing advice. Further than that, they “refused to comment.” There is food in Canada, there is coal in England, but there is the usual difference of opinion about terms of exchange. Likewise, there is wool in New Zealand and Australia, and all over the world there are people needing clothes, yet trade sticks somewhere. The Dominion wool-grower thinks he is contributing too much to deflation in the woollen industry. The Yorkshire employees, faced with a prospect of an 8 per cent. wage cut, think likewise. They and their employers may fight it out, and prayers have been offered in Yorkshire churches to avoid an industrial stop-page that would embitter human relations, and which, while enabling woollen stocks to be cleared, would give rival fibres and the competing woollen manufactures of other countries a fresh start. Even the churches cannot find a plan to divide the benefits of the golden fleece between employer and employee (here and oversea), spinner manufacturer, seller, and consumer, on a scale so satisfying that brotherly love shall continue.
Invention has not removed the romance of adventure, but has considerably altered it. Four exploration parties (American, British, Australian, and Norwegian) have been busy in the Antarctic, using all methods, old and new. Sir Hubert Wilkins now says that Stefansson, as ling ago as 1913, foresaw that the Polar use of the aeroplane would be limited to reconnaissance work. Wilkins insists on the practicability of the submarine in the icefields of both Poles. Sir Douglas Mawson has returned to Australia from his first year's work in the Antarctic, and it seems that the Commonwealth Government, notwithstanding Australia's depression, is prepared to continue its financial contribution to a second voyage. In view of the slaughter of whales, importance may belong to this explorer's statement that” we made a complete investigation into whaling.” In U.S.A., Carl Ben Eielson, flying associate of Wilkins, was buried beside his mother in a North Dakota cemetery. Crossing from Siberia to Alaska with a cargo of furs, Eielson crashed (probably owing to a lying altimeter) on the Alaskan side of the Strait. The bodies of Eielson and his companion, Borland, were found, after a Canadian-American search costing £20,000, with Soviet help. Otherwise their end would have been an unsolved mystery, like that of Mon rieff and Hood, or the lost training ship Kobenhavn, whose ghostly appearance off Tristan da Cunha is still affirmed by the lonely islanders.
Fashion's New Victim.
That the British worker must be fed and clothed cheaply, if the employee and employer in the Dominions are to prosper, is of course an axiom. His Majesty's Trade Commissioner in New Zealand, Mr. L. A. Paish, in emphasising Britain's recovery, compares her unemployment figures favourably with those of Germany and the United States, and says there are only two depressed British industries—coalmining and textiles. Textiles include cotton (suffering from capital inflation as well as new Indian and Japanese competition) and wool. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Philip Snowden, emphasised the greater expansibility of British trade with India (of low purchasing power) than with Australia, whose slow-growing population has a high purchasing power, also a high tariff. But while there could be a great expansion in Indian buying, India's tariff is high enough, her manufacturers are keen enough, and her labour is cheap enough to leave the importer no simple task. But if no immediate fortune is to be made by textile manufactures in supplying cottons to India, better luck may attend the effort to induce men to wear rich, dainty lingerie. Fashion has long exploited women. Why not men? Those ladders of fortune created by the short skirt might equally accompany short trousers.
Soil v. Synthetics.
Besides exporting human brains, New Zealand exports a great deal of primary produce (food and raw material), and so little manufactured goods that the latter hardly count. Exported wool and butter meet with the competition of synthetic rivals, and some little time ago London cabled “nothing but the shipwreck of a couple of steamers each with 10,000 cases of butter aboard can prevent the butter market from further collapsing.” The principal factor in the decline “is the increasing consumption of margarine, which is now marketed of excellent quality at prices ranging from 8d. to 1/- as compared with 1/9 for butter.” Couple this with the statement made in New Zealand by Mr. W. Goodfellow (organiser of a New Zealand-Australian butter-marketing scheme) that the Margarine Union holds a controlling interest in 6,000 shops; also that, Auckland province's production of dairy produce, at present rate of expansion, will double in ten years. So it is very important to New Zealand to sell more butter in the United Kingdom, in Canada, etc. But while New Zealand wishes to sell butter in Canada, and Canada wishes to sell timber in New Zealand, local producers in either case may have other views.
A Charming Landscape Scene in the Mid-North Island Country
(Rly Publicity Photo)
The Makohine Viaduct, which spans a beautiful gorge on the run between Ohingaiti and Mangaonoho, on the North Island Main Trunk Line. This viaduct is a notable engineering work of steel-lattice towers set on concrete piers. It is 750ft. in length, and rises to a height of 240ft. above the stream in the gorge.