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millers are, of course, recouped for their loss out of the State subsidy, which is now estimated to amount to an aggregate of £40,000,000 a year. But the costs of baking, instead of being, according to the official assumption, 23s. per sack, vary, in fact, from 10s. to 25s. Four-fifths of the bread consumed in this country is manufactured by one-tenth of the bakers. For these efficient and well equipped bakers the assumed cost of baking is ridiculously high, and in many cases excessive profits are being made at the expense of the taxpayer. For the inefficient bakers the subsidized flour is too dear, and they are clamouring for permission to sell bread at a price above 9d.; and, as a fact, in some cases more than 9d. is being charged and paid.
The problem is not an easy one, but a suggestion put forward by the Select Committee is well worth consideration:
'If trade fluctuation in the price of bread were permissible, the price of flour to the baker might be raised by several shillings a sack, without raising the price of bread in the vast majority of cases above 9d. It is estimated that is. more in the price of flour represents a saving of £2,000,000 of the State subsidy, so that if the price of flour could be raised by 5s., which in our opinion is quite practicable without generally increasing the cost of the loaf to the consumer, the subsidy would be reduced by £10,000,000.
'It is true that in certain of the smaller and more remote centres of population the price of bread might have to be raised d., Id., or even ind. above the standard, but this local variation would not be greater than in normal times, and might to some extent be neutralized by a system of carriage-paid delivery of flour or by some other means.'
A more drastic solution would be to withdraw the subsidy altogether and allow bread to be sold at its economic price. In the vast majority of cases that price ought not to exceed 9d. per 4-lb. loaf. As things now are about 20 per cent. of the aggregate amount of bread could not be sold at 9d. If the less efficient bakeries could, without a diminution of the total supply, be eliminated, or brought up to the standard of the more efficient, the problem would be automatically solved. And it is on those lines that the true solution should ultimately be found. But it will take time. Until the change can be effected either a small minority of people must pay more than 9d. for the loaf, or the Treasury must subsidize the inefficient bakers. It is, however, nothing short of a public scandal that,
without any benefit whatsoever to the vast majority of consumers, the whole body of taxpayers should be compelled to put enormous sums into the pockets of a particular trade.
It remains to attempt in a few sentences a summary of the advantages, in some cases direct, in others incidental, which have already accrued from the appointment of the Committee.
The heads of the great administrative departments-or most of them-would be the first to admit that they owe to the Committee many valuable suggestions for the improvement of their business methods, particularly in finance, and that there has already resulted an appreciable saving in public expenditure. Quite apart, however, from specific and quotable instances of economies effected, there can be no question that the mere existence of such a Committee, composed for the most part of keen and experienced business men, and charged by the House of Commons with the specific duty of watching the expenditure of public money, is calculated to infuse into the departments a spirit of economy. Officials cannot but be conscious, in some cases painfully conscious, that they will be required, as no mere audit can compel them, to account for the money they spend. For this Committee is not an Audit Committee; nor is it an Estimates Committee. Its functions are midway between a post-mortem examination of past and a prospective approval of future expenditure. The former function is already fulfilled, and admirably though necessarily somewhat tardily fulfilled, by the Public Accounts Committee, assisted by the Controller and Auditor General. The latter function ought to be performed by the Treasury. The Select Committee is charged with an investigation of current expenditure. It is easy to understand that the function is, in relation to established departments and to experienced permanent officials, a delicate one. A prying or over-critical temper might well arouse just resentment and make things worse rather than better in the departments. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer has himself borne testimony to the spirit of constructive helpfulness which has from the first inspired the activities of the Committee, and to the great service they have rendered not only to the country but to the Govern'ment by the recommendations which they have made.'
Probably a greater service has been rendered to the cause of economy by the mere fact of publicity. The half-dozen
reports already published unquestionably contain information which if widely disseminated and properly digested may prove of incalculable advantage to the taxpayers of this country. The reports are based upon an immense mass of evidence, much of it supremely interesting, but the evidence has not yet been and probably never will be published. Could it be, it would be at least as informative as the reports themselves. This publicity has produced a most important reflex action upon the House of Commons. If we may believe Mr. Austen Chamberlain, nothing will ever avail to infuse that assembly with a genuine spirit of economy. But the popular indignation which has been expressed as a result of the publication of the reports of the Committee has compelled the House to think more seriously of public expenditure than it is constitutionally inclined to do. That alone is a result sufficient to justify the appointment of this Committee and its protracted patient and detailed investigations.
J. A. R. MARRIOTT.
BOOKS AND TRAVEL
1. Les Phéniciens et l'Odyssée. By VICTOR BÉRARD. Paris: Armand Colin. 1902-3.
2. The Early Historians of Norway. By PROFESSOR W. P. KER, LL.D. Reprinted from the Saga Book of the Viking Club. 1910.
3. The Dawn of Modern Geography. By C. RAYMOND BEAZLEY, M.A., F.R.G.S. Vols. I. and II. Murray. 1897-1901. Vol. III. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1906.
4. The Heimskringla; or, The Sea Kings of Norway. Translated from the Icelandic of Snorro Sturleson by SAMUEL LAING. Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans. 1844.
5. The Book of Ser Marco Polo.
Translated and edited by COLONEL SIR HENRY YULE. Third Edition, edited by HENRI CORDIER. Murray. 1903.
6. The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation. By RICHARD HAKLUYT. Glasgow: James Maclehose & Sons. 1903.
ROM Lord Morley's recent Recollections' it is pleasant to find that even at the height of the Land League troubles in Ireland the anxious politicians at Dublin Castle found time to unbend over literature. 'On the old question what ' author one would take to a desert island,' writes Lord Morley, Asquith was for Balzac; of course, Shakespeare and the 'Bible are given in, though perhaps not most read.' If this old question ever became a practical one for myself, I should be inclined to choose an atlas. It is wonderful what entertainment is to be got out of an atlas with some experience of travel and a little imagination. You can plan tours, which in fancy are sometimes as vivid and often more entirely satisfactory than the real thing. With a large scale map and a smattering of geology you may actually picture the scenery. In that fine war-book, 'Marching on Tanga,' Captain Brett Young writes:
'All through the Pangani trek I carried in my haversack one book a thin paper copy of the Oxford Book of Verse, but what I
read more often was a small scale Bartholomew map of England finely coloured with mountains, meadow lands, and seas, and there I would travel magical roads, crossing the Pennines, or lazing through the blossomy Vale of Evesham, or facing the salt breeze on the flat top of Mendip, at will. In these rapt moments the whole campaign would seem to me nothing but a sort of penance by means of which I might attain to those blue remembered hills.'
If you are lucky enough to have a mind stored with literature and history, each page of your atlas would bring with it a wealth of imaginative recreation to cheat time on your desert island. You might open your atlas and dream you were delivered and sailing home
'Sweeping by shores where the names
are the names of the victories of England.'
Or say you opened at the map of the Ægean-what a crowd of memories from the Trojan War to the heroisms and disappointments of Gallipoli. To look at Troy and Argos on the map is to dream again all the drama of Hector and Achilles, to conjure up the form of Helen, and see
'the face that launched a thousand ships Against the topless towers of Ilium.'
In your mind's eye you catch again the flash of the beacon fires from island to island that heralded the return of Agamemnon, with the crime of Clytemnestra and all the trilogy of woes to follow. Or, perhaps, the first thought would be of the great struggle between Greece and Persia. Marathon, Thermopyla, Salamis-the names on the map are trumpet calls; and the story is as epical in Herodotus as the Trojan War in Homer.
To the poet, John Keats, born in a London livery stable, the discovery of Homer was the discovery of a new world. His sensations, as he described them in the sonnet that every one ought to know by heart, were the sensations of the traveller and explorer. He felt, he said, 'like stout Cortez when, 'with eagle eyes, He star'd at the Pacific.' When Keats wrote Cortez, he meant Balboa. It was Balboa who first sighted the Pacific from the peak in Darien. But this slip cannot ruin the poetry. For the comparison is just the right