Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/50

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poor, so these aristocrats of the labour world are playing with the lives of their fellows and the destinies of our Empire. They are helping the enemy just as surely as the German who is fighting in his country's ranks. They are, in short, taking advantage of a national danger to demand rates of pay which, in times of safety and peace, they could not possibly secure.

For years past we have been striving to arrive at some means of settling these unhappy labour disputes which have probably done more harm to British trade than all the German competition of which we have heard so much. In every district machinery has been set up for conciliation and settlement where a settlement is sincerely desired by both parties to a dispute. And if this machinery is not set in motion at the present moment, it is because one party or the other is so blind and self-willed that it would rather jeopardise the Empire than abate a jot of its demands. Could anything be more heart-breaking to the men who are fighting and dying in the trenches?

Whatever may be the merits of any dispute, there must be no stoppage of War Office or Admiralty work at the present moment, and if any body of men refuse at this juncture to submit their dispute to the properly organised conciliation boards, and to abide by the result, they are traitors in the fullest sense of the world. How serious the crisis is, and how grave a peril it constitutes to our country, may be judged from the fact that the Government found it necessary to appoint a special Committee to inquire into the production in engineering and shipbuilding establishments engaged in Government work. The Committee's view of the case, which I venture to think will be endorsed by