Scene: The House of Lords.
Dramatis Personae: Viscount Brentford (carrying a cake of soap), the Bishop of Durham, Lords Ponsonby, Hailsham, Newton, etc., etc.
Time: last week.
Viscount Brentford, famed as Sir William ("Jix'') Joynson-Hicks during his Mrs. Grundyish term as Home Secretary (1924-29). with emotion:
"This cake of soap is morally unclean!" (displaying it). ''Such cakes are selling in London today 1½ each—a price which British producers find utterly impossible to meet. They are made in Russia," (pause) "under conditions which violate the standards of the world! . . . The appalling conditions of slave labor there, . . . the horrors perpetrated there, are greater than any known in modern times!"
The Bishop of Durham, rising from the bench of the Lords Spiritual: "I demand that the Government take action to disassociate the Empire from the abominable proceedings now unquestionably going on in Russia!
''Why is it that the British trade unions have been so slow to manifest any kind of sympathy with their fellow-workmen in Russia? Their indifference is a shocking example of the blinding effect of class bias on the great mass of the people. . . ."
Baron Newton, retired diplomat and Major in the Imperial Yeomanry:
''We have papers proving that every citizen of the Soviet Republic who is not a military conscript is an industrial conscript. . . .
"The Russian Government is always preaching war and preparedness, pretending that some unnamed enemy is meditating an attack. Their Government lawyers at the recent interventionist trial in Moscow had the brazen impudence to contend that the British General Staff was planning to attack Russia!
''I do not believe that the Russians are fools. There must be some deliberate purpose behind the armaments they are preparing. Some day these enormous forces will be utilized. Then those believing in the pacific aims of the Soviet Government will have a rude awakening."
Baron Ponsonby, rising to defend the MacDonald Government, demanded of the Bishop of Durham, 67, and of Lord Newton, 74, whether in 1908 they "denounced the British Government then in power for remaining silent when the report to the Russian Duma gave authentic details of cruelty under the Tsarist Regime? . . . Evidence in the present situation is much more vague and unreliable than in 1908. . . . We have grave suspicions concerning labor conditions in Russia. . . ."
Several Conservative Peers, leaping to their feet in consternation, interrupting Lord Ponsonby with questions:
"Did I hear aright?"
"Did he employ the term 'grave suspicions'?"