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The Vintage Hansard Trawl - featuring a lack of military intelligence, the defence of Bristol and quite a good putdown.

An interesting one:

BRITISH INDIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA.

Anyone who has seen the film 'Gandhi' will recall that a certain Indian lawyer was treated none too kindly while out in Natal. Anyway, the text at issue:

Mr. T. HART-DAVIES presented a Petition, signed by 8,500 people of the Residency of Madras, praying the House to take into consideration the condition of the Indian subjects of His Majesty in the Transvaal, and to adopt such measures as may appear necessary to secure the repeal of the Asiatic Law Amendment Act, 1907, and the fair and considerate treatment to which British Indians in the South African Colonies are entitled as British subjects.

A bit of digging reveals some speeches relating to the ALAA 1907 in the Lords in 1908, elements of which are liable to make one's flesh creep. Indians out Randwards were unhappy about being fingerprinted, inter alia, for ID purposes :

Lord Ampthill. (Con)...To us as an Imperial race it cannot but be gratifying that our Indian fellow subjects should have learnt from us and have adopted that which is best in our political methods, that they should have such a high sense of what is due to their individual and their collective dignity, and that, they should so sincerely value that liberty which we in this country consider the birthright of every man...What was that situation? Briefly it was this—200 British Indians were in gaol, thirty had been ordered to leave the Colony, twenty more had been warned, three were in the Chinese goal, and 13,000 of His Majesty's loyal Indian subjects were prepared to sacrifice everything that men hold valuable in life, their personal prospects and worldly possessions, and to face even exile and actual starvation, rather than sacrifice their individual and communal self-respect and submit to a law which they regarded as humiliating and oppressive.
And an interruption to his flow:

"Some noble Lords opposite (and therefore wicked Liberals) are and have been engaged in loud conversation during my remarks. There is a Standing Order of this House which requires that noble Lords who desire to indulge in private conversation should do so in the Princes Chamber. I am sure that I am voicing the wishes of every speaker in this House when I ask your Lordships to insist on the observance of that Standing Order, which is more honoured in the breach than in the observance. I myself have always carefully refrained from interrupting speakers by any loud or protracted conversation, and I think, therefore, I have some little right, the common right of every Member of this House, to ask that I should be treated in the same way.


Earl Roberts....No one who knows the difficulties which the white men have to contend against in South Africa in earning a livelihood can for a moment doubt that the Transvaal Government is justified in making such laws as may be necessary to prohibit the future immigration of Asiatics into that Colony, and also to arrange for the deportation of those who have obtained admission by fraudulent means....I rejoice that the question of registration has been settled, and that henceforth the finger-print system is not to be enforced in the case of Indians of whose respectability there can be no doubt; and I would earnestly express my hope that, in that class, may be included all natives who have had the honour of wearing the King's uniform, and have served loyally and faithfully in the Indian army. It is true...that finger prints are utilised in India in most branches of public business, but the origin of the finger-print system was the detection of criminals. Its use may since then have come into general practice; but the system has a smack of criminality; and I think we can all readily understand that its application, especially in a foreign land and to only one section of the community, must necessarily be felt as a degradation by any self-respecting Indian.

Lord Curzon - ...Now, let me, if I may, follow the Indian on to the wider field of argument. He claims the full rights of citizenship of the British Empire. I do not think it is for us to blame him for that. We have taught it him. We have inspired him with these ideas. They are the result of our speeches, our writings, our textbooks, which he studies in India, our principles of administration and of education. A feeling has been growing up in India in recent years, and it arises from the value which is attached by the educated Indian to the principles of freedom and equality which he has been taught to regard as the birthright of the British citizen. That is a very valuable, and, in my judgment, a very sacred, feeling. I do not think we ought to say anything or do anything to depreciate or to deride it in the smallest degree; because it is, after all, the only basis upon which you can expect the loyalty of an Asiatic population to an alien rule to be permanently developed or maintained. So much for the Indian point of view, in so far as I know it....I do not believe, from a careful study of the evidence, that the English colonist in South Africa or elsewhere is in the least degree inspired by a feeling of racial superiority or class antagonism. He says to himself: "That which has been won by British money and British blood let the British keep."

Anyway, enough of matters South African, and onto the ever diverting issue of warships:

H.M.S. "Invincible" (Electrical Equipment).

Mr. ASHLEY (Con) asked whether the electrical equipment of the "Invincible" has been in any way defective now or recently; if so, in what manner; and whether any of her guns are now or have been at any time recently out of proper action for that or any other reason?

Mr. McKENNA Certain troubles have arisen in connection with portions of the mechanical gear of the gun mountings, but no defects have recently occurred in the electrical gear of the "Invincible" which have placed her guns out of action. Improvements to overcome these troubles are now being made to her mountings, and while they are being carried out, her guns will temporarily be out of action.

Mr. ASHLEY Can the right hon. Gentleman say why an important ship like this, which has only been in commission five or six months, should be in such a state that her guns are out of action?

Mr. McKENNA No, sir.
I blame dodgy shipbuilders on the Tyne meself. The Invincible was sunk by the Derfflinger at Jutland. Good also that the Colonel was concerned about value for money and so forth.

Anyway, here she is:



For a military man, Ashley (a Lt-Colonel) was being a bit dim here:

Mr. ASHLEY asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would take steps to ensure that in the Home fleet reasonable information as to the future movements of the ships should be published, so that officers and men may be enabled to receive letters from their relatives and friends without undue delay?

Mr. McKENNA It is not considered desirable to publish the movements of His Majesty's ships, as suggested.

Meanwhile, some folk want to legislate about everything:

Mr. BOTTOMLEY (Lib 1) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will favourably consider the introduction into the Shops Bill of a provision dealing with the quality of food supplied to shop assistants and with the system of fines which prevails in most large establishments?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Gladstone) I regret that it would not be possible to deal with questions of fines and of the quality of food in the Shops Bill.
And the issue of defending Bristol:

Mr. ASHLEY asked the Prime Minister, as Chairman of the Committee of Imperial Defence, whether the recommendations of the Committee which sat in 1905 on the question of the defences of Bristol have been carried out?

Mr. HALDANE Yes, Sir.
....
Mr. MacNEILL When does he expect an attack on Bristol? Was not the last attack on Bristol by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, when it was repulsed with slaughter?

Turns out the Member for South Dublin was a Unionist (William Hume Long), but beyond that the joke has gone whoosh, as Haldane sat for a Scottish seat. Turns out that the successor seat is now occupied by a certain plank MSP, until recently not well known south of the border.


(1) Bottomley was a noted fraudster and all round bad egg, but when spotted in prison poised with a needle over a mail sack and asked 'Sewing?' had the wit to reply, 'No, reaping'.

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Blogger James Higham said... 1:34 pm

Some noble Lords opposite (and therefore wicked Liberals) are and have been engaged in loud conversation during my remarks.

Classic.  



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