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The Economist

Reform of the Senate – Unification of the Right of Issue -External Trade – Railway Traffic

«The Economist», 22 maggio 1926, pp. 993-994

 

 

 

Turin, May 5

 

 

In the last session of the Great Council of the Fascist Party the essential characteristics of the reform of our Upper Chamber were announced. By the 1848 Constitutional Charter the Senate is a body wholly composed – except for the Princes of the Royal Blood, who become Senators at the age of 21 – of members nominated for life by the King by selection from among certain categories: bishops, ambassadors, prefects, generals, admirals, judges, members of the academies of sciences, members of the Lower House after a certain number of re-elections, and so on. There is also a category of men who have signally served their country, and another of great landed proprietors or industrialists. The composition of the Senate was thus, from the origin, a professional one; but the King could select Senators at his pleasure and without limit of total number, more from one category than from another. Various categories, as, for instance, that of bishops and archbishops, after the elimination of the Papal Temporal State, had fallen into desuetude. The present reform does not radically change the present composition of the Senate. To the old categories of life Senators, which will be somewhat changed to be kept in touch with the new social classes, there will be added a category of nine-years Senators, who will be recommended to the King by the “Corporations”. Corporations of employers – agricultural, commercial, and industrial – will recommend one half of the non-permanent Senators, and corporations of employed the other half. The number of nine-years Senators will not be fixed by law, and no limit will be put to the number of life Senators.

 

 

With the reform of the Upper Chamber the constitutional reorganisation of the State will be completed. There is a school of opinion in the Fascist Party which says that, in such a new State, the Lower Chamber, elected by universal and secret suffrage in individual constituencies, has no logical place, and must therefore be abolished. But no official declaration has been made upon the point. It should be remarked that the recommendations to the King for non-permanent Senators are not to be made by suffrage of the members of the corporations, but by the Central Council of the Federations of Corporations.

 

 

On the same occasion there was announced the unification of the right of note issue. At present we have in Italy three banks of issue – the Bank of Italy, governed by Signor Stringher, and by far the most important; the Bank of Naples, whose governor, Signor Miraglia, 92 years old, is about to retire, in the full freshness of mind; and the Bank of Sicily, governed by Signor Mormino. The last two banks are old institutions, a legacy of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily. They will be transformed into ordinary regional banks for the aid of agriculture and industry in their respective re­gions. They are not joint-stock banks, but public bodies, whose income was already devoted to public purpose. The right of issue will be concentrated in the Bank of Italy, but the details of the plan are as yet not published.

 

 

External trade results for March, 1926, were as follows: – Total imports, 2,417 million lire, a decrease of 106 million lire compared with March, 1925; total exports, 1,457 million lire, a decrease of 33 million lire compared with March, 1925. For the first three months of 1926 imports totaled 6,620 million lire, against 6,500 million lire in the corresponding period of 1925; total exports decreased to 3,932 million lire, compared with 4,018 million lire in the same period of 1925. The deficit of the com­mercial balance was thus of 2,686 million lire, against 2,482 million lire for the same period of 1925. The total number of passengers carried on the State railways amounted in 1925 to 110.5 millions, an increase of 10.4 mil­lions compared with 1924. The gross revenue for passenger transport was 1,677.2 million lire (1924, 1,406 million lire). The greater part of the revenue (nearly 60 per cent.) was due to third-class passengers. For 1926 figures are not as yet available. But the increase seems to continue, perhaps on a smaller scale. Goods transport in the second half of 1925 amounted to 32.8 million tons, as can be seen from the following table:

 

 

 

Number of Cars Loaded

Difference

Tons of Goods

Difference

 

1924

1925

%

1924

1925

%

July

546,898

558,684

+2.16

5,209,496

5,481,608

+5.22

August

555,899

554,990

-0.16

5,370,966

5,416,661

+0.85

September

575,752

577,051

+0.23

5,539,596

5,677,523

+2.49

October

611,230

607,942

– 0.54

5,835,720

5,944,602

+1.87

November

523,980

525,821

+0.35

4,937,590

5,147,351

+4.25

December

545,237

530,628

-2.68

5,145,827

5,128,928

-0.33

Total

3,358,996

3,355,116

-0.11

32,039,195

32,796,673

+2.36

 

 

The impression given by these figures is of a check in the increase of goods transport. This impression is re-inforced by the January, 1926, statistics, which show a still greater decrease. The cause of the crisis must be sought in the general increase of freight rates passed with the new tariff of May, 1925, and in the bad weather of the last months of 1925. But the crisis seems to be temporary. The general condition of industry and agriculture continues to be very good, and an early revival of railway transport can be easily foreseen.

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