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The vintage Hansard trawl - featuring

First things first, the state of the Serpentine:

SIR JOSEPH PAXTON (Lib, and he of the Crystal Palace) said, he would beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works if it is still his intention to proceed with the Works as proposed by Mr. Hawksley for partially cleansing the water in the Serpentine.

And came the reply:

MR. FITZROY replied, that it was his intention to proceed with the works proposed by Mr. Hawksley, not as stated by his hon. Friend for the purpose of partially cleansing, but of totally and effectually cleansing, the water in the Serpentine. He thought that great misapprehension prevailed upon this subject. Two questions, which were quite independent of one another, had been mixed up in this discussion: the first relating to the mud at the bottom of the river, and the second with respect to the water itself....He believed that if the plan he proposed were successful perfect purity and limpidity would be secured in the water of the Serpentine, and that the mud, having lost its organic power, would no longer evolve any noxious gases, but would cease to be a source of ill-health or annoyance to the inhabitants and frequenters of the neighbourhood. It was therefore with the water of the Serpentine, not with the mud, that he proposed to deal.

Mr Stephenson (Con, and yes, that one):
...He had been in the habit of visiting the place for many years, and had watched closely its want of purification. He had held the office of Commissioner of Sewers, and had devoted his attention a good deal to the means of excluding from the Serpentine the sewage of Bays water, which formerly fell into it to a large extent, and the exclusion of that sewage had undoubtedly, to a proportionate extent, led to the purification of the riverHe had been in the habit of visiting the place for many years, and had watched closely its want of purification. He had held the office of Commissioner of Sewers, and had devoted his attention a good deal to the means of excluding from the Serpentine the sewage of Bays water, which formerly fell into it to a large extent, and the exclusion of that sewage had undoubtedly, to a proportionate extent, led to the purification of the river...He was in the habit of driving past it twice a day, and rode there occasionally for some hours, but he had never found, for the last three or four years, anything so offensive to his olfactory nerves as to lead him to coincide in the outcry that was recently raised. He believed that outcry was entirely unfounded, because, whatever the state of the Serpentine might have been, it was not now, to the best of his judgment, in an offensive condition".

And so on. Two of our greatest engineers in one debate. I doubt that there any engineers in the Commons these days, let alone towering geniuses like those two.

Divorce

MR. VINCENT SCULLY said, that the feelings of the women ought to be consulted in this matter as well as those of the men. He did not believe the Divorce Court was in conformity with the wishes of the women of England, and he thought the House ought to retrace their steps and abolish the system altogether.

Nice of him to speak on their behalf, eh?

The Attorney General said....He regretted to say that the court was a place of resort—according to the accounts that were given to him—of characters of the worst description. Crowds congregated there for the purpose of hearing details which could only give gratification to depraved and diseased minds...One might well imagine a lady of sensitive feelings, and under the distressing necessity of seeking the redress of her grievous wrongs, shrinking from having recourse to a tribunal where she would have to relate the story of her husband's cruelty in the presence of a jeering, laughing, and prurient mob, eager to catch at every indecent particular.

MR. BOWYER said, he was one of those who strongly opposed the Divorce Bill, on the ground that it would be most injurious to the morality of the country. Now, after it had been in operation a short time, the Attorney General was obliged to come forward, in the name of the Government, and propose the introduction of an entirely new principle in the English law, namely, enabling a Judge to shut up his court and proceed secretly. The fact was that the proceedings in the Divorce Court had become so scandalous, and were so injurious to the public morality, that the hon. and learned Gentleman felt bound to introduce this clause
Speeding forward 50 years, dreadnoughts:

Mr. MIDDLEMORE asked how many of the four additional battleships to be laid down on 1st April next were to be built in the Royal Dockyards, and how many by private contractors?

Mr. McKENNA The four ships will be contract built.

Marvellous stuff.

The 1909 equivalent of Rosindell had St Helena in his sights
:

Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY asked whether the present condition of the inhabitants of St. Helena was satisfactory, or whether they were still suffering from the effects of unemployment and stagnation of trade?

Colonel SEELY The situation in St. Helena has not materially altered since I replied to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's inquiry in May last, except that the Governor has now reported that he hopes that it will not be necessary for the Government mill to close down, at any rate until the end of the year, as a large supply of mature leaves has been obtained from a farmer who was not satisfied with the results obtained from his own mill.

Given that a hurricane could have levelled St Helena weeks before without the government knowing, I think Seely was being a bit glib. Wish I knew which were the leaves of which he spoke.

All hail the smokers' friend:

Sir FREDERICK BANBURY asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the fact that the usual monthly permission was given last April to remove tobacco from the Victoria Docks after 4 p.m., he will charge duty at the old rate on tobacco which would have been removed in the ordinary course of business after 4 p.m. on 29th April last?

Mr. HOBHOUSE My right hon. Friend regrets that he cannot see his way to accede to the hon. Baronet's request.

And an one:

Mr. MADDISON (Lab) asked the President of the Board of Trade how many pianofortes and reed and pipe organs were manufactured in the United Kingdom in 1907 and 1908, respectively, giving separately those made in London and the provinces. How many...were exported in 1907 and 1908, respectively, giving the countries to which they were sent and the value declared for Customs purposes; how many were imported...how many were re-exported
Mr. TENNANT There are no official records of the number of pianos and reed and pipe organs manufactured in the United Kingdom. These articles are included in the official accounts of imports and exports under the heads of "Pianos" and "Organs and Harmoniums" respectively, and particulars of numbers and values imported and exported under each of these heads are given in the "Annual Statement of the Trade of the United Kingdom." I am sending to the hon. Member a statement giving the fullest available details.

Not sure what I can add to that, so I will not add anything.

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