OCCASIONAL NOTE

The farcical nature of the alleged “arrangement” between the Home and Dominion Governments on the subject of Imperial Preference could not be better illustrated than by the evasive replies of the Under-Secretary for the Colonies to all attempts made in the House of Commons to obtain details of the “arrangement” from him. It will be recalled that soon after the announcements made by Mr. Walter Long and Mr. Lloyd George, the Canadian Prime Minister declared that he knew absolutely nothing of the “arrangement,” the subject never having come up for discussion during this year’s meetings of Imperial representatives. It now transpires from Mr. Hewins’s replies that, so far as the Dominion Governments are concerned, nothing has happened. The only development, so far as can be gathered, is that Mr. Lloyd George was persuaded by the old Protectionist Guard in his Cabinet to place himself in line with the Dominion Governments, whose representatives in the pre-war Imperial Conferences several times demanded a system of Imperial Preference. In the interests, and in accordance with the expressed wishes, of the masses which compose the Home electorate, the Asquith Government “banged, bolted and barred” the door against any increase of taxation on foodstuffs and raw materials. This door Mr. Lloyd George, egged on by Mr. Walter Long and his henchmen, attempted to open. The result may be seem already in the Prime Minister’s recent asseverations, in view of the General Election, that he will consent to no new taxation on food and raw materials. Without it Imperial Preference falls to the ground and there the matter will probably end.

CHINA S LOST RELICS

At a meeting of the Central Asian Society Colonel Pemberton endorsed the suggestion of Colonel C.C. Yate that the peace terms should include the restoration to China of the famous astronomical instruments taken from Peking to Berlin in 1900. General Sir Edmund Barrow, presiding, who was Chief of Staff during the Boxer expedition, said that the Anglo-American commanders very strongly protested against the distribution of these instruments. There were heated discussions and two or three Powers, notably Germany, disagreed with the Anglo-American proposal to leave the instruments in Peking. He entirely agreed that the Germans should be compelled to restore those beautiful evidences of the antiquity and range of Chinese civilisation to their proper place on the walls of Peking.

THE ADVENTUROUS RAT

The story of an adventurous rat told by the occupants of the military aeroplane is interesting as indicating a difficulty, if not a danger, in connection with long-distance flying which will have to be guarded against. The rat, attracted by the food supplies, boarded the aeroplane, it is believed, at Chabar or earlier. At all events it was heard gnawing after leaving Chabar, and at Karachi, which was the next stopping place, the guard who protected the machine during the night heard the rat continuing its nibbling. The rat could not, however, be located or caught. After leaving Karachi its activities went on, and as it was thought that it might be gnawing some important part of the machine it was decided to see if cold would have any effect on its energies. The machine was accordingly taken up to over 10,000 feet, and this was too much for a rat nurtured in the balmy warmth of the Persian Gulf, and, frozen or numbed with cold, it could apparently hold on no longer and dropped off into space.

CASE AGAINST MARWARIS

The Chief Presidency Magistrate had before him yesterday the case in which two Marwaris, named Kanji Lal and Mohan Lal, were charged with receiving a bale of peace-goods suspected to be stolen. It may be mentioned that the special Police diary, in this case, forms the basis of the prosecution of Anupam Chatterji, a young practicing pleader of the court, the hearing of which is still pending. When the case of the Marwaris was called, the defence was ready to proceed with the cross-examination of the witnesses, but neither Rai Bahadur T.N. Sadhu nor the witnesses were present. Mr. Swinhoe, thereupon, decided to discharge the accused. Chief Court Inspector B.N. Banerji intervened and asked for a little time to communicate with the Crown Prosecutor but Mr. Swinhoe said that he (the Court Inspector) had nothing to do with the case. The accused being discharged the court.