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Hansard 1909 - featuring Churchill on the hook, how to refuse to answer a question and an outbreak of MP wussiness

A much, much better way of refusing to answer a question than 'disproportionate cost':

Captain CRAIG ....and can he state in how many rural telegraph sub-offices in England and Ireland respectively shorter hours were permitted the staff on the last bank holiday?
...
Captain CRAIG Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of my question?

Mr. BUXTON The information would take some trouble to collect, and I do not see what public advantage would be served by giving it.

There is a fiver, nay hang the expense - a tenner, in it for any research assistant who can persuade his or her minister to use that formula come the next session.

And the Greatest Ever Englishman (1) gets put on the spot:

Captain FABER (Con) I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade a question, of which I have given him private notice, whether in view of the fact that he has stated that if beer went up in price it was not because the working classes were taxed by the Government, but because they were swindled by the brewer; would the right hon. Gentleman give the name of the brewer with a view to his prosecution?

Mr. CHURCHILL (Lib) I take full responsibility for the statement to which the hon. Member refers. I see no reason to amplify it, and still less to modify it, in any respect. I am much obliged to the hon. Member for securing it a wider publicity.

Captain FABER Would the right hon. Gentleman be afraid to state the name of the brewer outside this House?

Mr. CHURCHILL I think that is a very offensive question.

Mr. W. W. ASHLEY (Con, and latterly Earl Mountbatten's father in law) May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he thinks it consistent with his position as a Minister of the Crown to make charges which he does not substantiate?

Mr. CHURCHILL The facts justifying the general statement I made are obvious and apparent to everybody.

That was some fairly impressive wriggling there.


Wireless Telegraphy in India

Mr. REES (Lib) asked whether the Government of India contemplates the installation of a system of wireless telegraphy for official or private or for official and private use?

The MASTER of ELIBANK So far only a few stations for wireless telegraphy have been opened in India, and it is not known what further extensions of the system are contemplated. It is understood that these stations are available for public use as, well as for official purposes.

Mr. REES May I inquire whether any extensions are contemplated in view of the great use an installation might have in conceivable circumstances


The MASTER of ELIBANK Yes, Sir.
Smart chap, that Master of Elbank, and all this without 'a wireless telegraphy' champion dashing hither and yon promoting herself and trying to save the Wretched of the Earth from wireless telegraphy exclusion....

Meanwhile, the return of 'the Monstrous Regiment':

Mr. KEIR HARDIE I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you are aware that women who formed a deputation outside the House of Commons have been debarred from entering St. Stephen's Hall even when accompanied by a Member of this House; by whose authority they have been so prohibited, and whether you can state the reasons which justify that prohibition?
....
Mr. SPEAKER I know that certainly on former occasions this league has disturbed the proceedings of the House, destroyed some of the furniture of the House, and openly violated the Sessional Order of the House. Under these circumstances, there is no other course open for me except to forbid them coming into the House.

Mr. KEIR HARDIE May I ask whether the fact of the ladies being brought into the precincts of the House by a Member does not remove your prohibition? I understand that on the occasions to which Mr. Speaker has referred the ladies came in alone and unattended. Is it to be understood that no member of that organisation is to be admitted to the precincts of the House even when accompanied by a Member?

Mr. SPEAKER Unfortunately, hon. Members are not always able to restrain the ladies.
(Snigger)


(1) No-one is going to argue the toss, are they?
Meanwhile, a big hello to anyone coming here from Chez Dale. If you like this sort of thing, the 'a thousand years ago' tag will bring up other 1909, 1959 and 1859 etc finds.

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Blogger Andrew Allison said... 5:32 pm

Some wonderful stuff. Churchill was a master wriggler. He refused to answer the question with panache. And Mr Speaker was correct. If I try and restrain my better half, I wouldn't come out of the experience in the best of shape.  



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