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Brown loses the puppet vote

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
And here's the evidence:

Pretty conclusive, eh?

Slightly more focusedly relevant vox pops available here.


The 1909 Hansard Trawl, featuring the C of E's adventures in the licensed trade, touchy Australians and the price of coal

Early signs of Where it all Started to go Wrong:

Sir WILLIAM HOLLAND (for Mr. Beauchamp) asked the Postmaster-General if he could make any statement in regard to his negotiations with the Marconi Company and with Lloyd's in reference to the acquisition by the Post Office of the radio-telegraphic shore stations?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Sydney Buxton) I am glad to say that arrangements have been completed with the Marconi Company for the transfer to the Post Office of all their coast stations for communication with ships, including all plant, machinery, buildings, land and leases, etc., and for the surrender of the rights which they enjoy under their agreement with the Post Office of August, 1904, for licences or facilities in respect of coast stations intended for such communication....The inclusive consideration to be paid to the company is £15,000.

I've been enjoying the occasional reference to the National Telephone Company too.

Further wrongs done Erin (For conspiracy fans, that is) or the operation of the free market:

Mr. WADSWORTH asked the President of the Board of Trade, if he is aware that the approximate price of coal in the United Kingdom is given in the General Report and Statistics for 1907 (Mines and Quarries, Part III.) at 9s. 4.41d.; and can he or his Department testify to the complete accuracy of the price given in the Report?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Gladstone) I beg leave to answer this question on behalf of my right hon. Friend. The approximate average price at the mines of coal in the United Kingdom for the year 1907, as given in the General Report and Statistics, is 9s., not 9s. 4.41d. The latter is the price for Ireland.

An arresting sub-heading:
Ecclesiastical Commissioners (Licensed Houses).

Mr. T. F. RICHARDS asked the hon. Member for the Crewe Division, as representing the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, whether he can state the number of licensed houses owned or leased by them outside the area of the county of London?

Mr. JAMES TOMKINSON The number of public-houses on the estates vested in or managed by the Commissioners (outside the area of the county of London) is 192.
Pretty rum question, frankly.  Still, good money is where you make it, what could be more ethical than making money from making people happy and as I am so very fond of saying, '"It would be better that England should be free than that England should be compulsorily sober", as an Anglican divine once had it.

And, fancy, a cover up:

Mr. O'GRADY   asked the Secretary of State for War whether an investigation is being made by the Army Council into the fatal shooting accident to the Rev. Mr. Hodgson in the Territorial camp at Guisborough; if so, when was the inquiry commenced; and can he state the probable time of its completion, and whether the report will be published in full when ready?

Mr. O'GRADY Is it the intention of the Department never to make any report?

Mr. ACLAND These reports, as I mentioned yesterday, are not for publication. Of course, the War Office are taking steps to prevent any such similar occurrence.
Poor show, frankly.

Our Australian kin taking offence:

Australian Commonwealth ("Colonies" and "Colonial").

Mr. ARTHUR LYNCH  asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that in Australia an objection exists to the terms Colonies and Colonial as applied to the Commonwealth or its component parts; and whether he will take steps to secure that in future in official documents and in oral references in Parliament on behalf of His Majesty's Government the employment of such terms as indicated will be avoided?

The UNDER-SECRETARY for the COLONIES (Colonel Seely) Yes, Sir; there is no doubt that such an objection exists, but certainly in the Colonial Office and, so far as I am aware, in all formal communications with or references to Australia, the practice is well settled of making use of the correct expressions Commonwealth or States as the case may be.

Political correctness gone mad, I tell you.

The things Socialists agitate for:

Wardrobe and Lavatory Accommodation for Workmen.

Mr. WARDLE (Lab, Stockport) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the practice extensively carried on in Germany and America whereby wardrobe and lavatory accommodation is provided for workmen at the place of their employment; and whether, in view of the benefit in public health and cleanliness to be derived from such a practice, he will consider the advisability of securing the extension of the practice in this country?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Herbert Gladstone) My attention has been called to this matter, and, in connection with mines, it has received the consideration of the Royal Commission on Mines. The hon. Member will find their recommendations on the subject in Part XVIII. of their recently issued Report. In the case of a number of trades where the conditions of work make the provision of lavatory and cloak-room accommodation especially important for the health of the workpeople, the employer is now required under the Factory Acts to provide it; and in many other cases such accommodation is supplied voluntarily by employers. The Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories for 1908 notes, I am glad to say, a growing tendency to provide improved facilities for washing in many districts, and the question is receiving the constant attention of my Department.

Must have been a fun Royal Commmission.  I can't help thinking that legislation etc would only have been catching up with practice dictated by basic sense.     

Obscure enquiry o' the day:

Captain MORRISON-BELL asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has received any further information as to the proposed sale of fencing round the military cemetery at Standerton?

Mr. HALDANE I am still awaiting a report from South Africa which is expected shortly. I will let the hon. and gallant Member know the facts as soon as information reaches me.
Standerton is a Boer War cemetery, with casulaties from when we were besieged by the beastly Boers.  The only image I have been able to find is this:

So the answer 100 years on is 'who knows?'.  It is not a  CWGC-preserved site, hence the apparent degree of disarray.

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Today's UN follies

Hot air has been rising:

"No longer satisfied with a power balance that favoured the few but risked imperilling the many in another economic tailspin, world leaders addressing the General Assembly today appealed for a new brand of multilateralism that reflected developing nations’ concerns in global decision-making, as they wrapped up the annual general debate".

And in particular, from Nicaragua's foreign minister, who came up with this possibly drug induced comment:

"...although his country had been impoverished by historical circumstances like so many others within Latin America and the Caribbean, it had remained a land of beauty and natural resources and, indeed, was symbolic of reconciliation and national and international unity".


And a suitably Sandinista like take on everything, the kitchen sink, plug, and draining rack included :

On regional issues, he said Nicaragua embraced the cause of Puerto Rico’s independence, as well as the return of the Malvinas Islands to their rightful owner.  Moving on to the issues of the economy, he mentioned that unfortunately the global financial crisis came upon the heels of decreased official development assistance (ODA), which was still made conditional by international financial institutions.  There was reluctance by developed countries to replace the present model with one that was more just.

He said economic policies should be decided within the most representative institution, not within groups such as the Group of Eight and G-20, which were “promoters of the model of domination by the few over the majority, a model which is characterized by exclusion”.  In addition, it was not possible to put a kind face on perversion, or on arrogance;  that was the essence of the prevailing economic system, which promoted “the exploitation of one human by another, the subjugation of nations, the hoarding of wealth by the few.  This is why we are in the crisis, not due to lack of resources.”

Mark me down as a pervert then - I'm all in favour of economic acts between consenting parties.

Moving swiftly on, what about this for a novel form for expressing disapproval:

Antonio Pedro Monteiro Lima ( Cape Verde) expressed “unequivocal disdain” for the violence in neighbouring Guinea 

Attaboy Antonio.

Sounds to me like he's touting for business here :

"Continuing, he said organized crime was becoming a problem in Cape Verde, which was “fertile ground” for the spread of such activity because it was an emerging democracy with a fragile economy.  His country was unable to deal with the problem alone, and he called for a deploying of joint capabilities.  Cape Verde would not allow itself to be poor and unstable and the key would be to diversify partnerships, and use multilateralism to combat challenges".


America's shallow sports fans

Now everyone loathes Man U supporters who live in Surrey and have no connection with Manchester, ditto Chelsea and other Sky big four teams, but it looks as though our American friends are even worse when it comes to glory hunting, baseball-wise:

"When asked to name the Major League Baseball team they consider to be "America's Team," the Yankees were named by 41.6% of respondents with an opinion, in a national poll conducted by the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute. This was followed by the Red Sox at 16.3% and the Braves at 6.9%."  (In the table it gives a figure of 7.3 for the Cubs, trumping the Braves' 6.9.  Hence my chart. C)

"Other teams named with less frequency included: Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays (Yes, really.  Snigger.  C), Oakland As, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay, LA Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinatti Reds, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins and LA Angels.

Granted, deeming a team 'America's Team' is not the same as supporting them, but if someone asked me who I considered to be England's cricket, football, rugby or whatever team I'd name who I follow.

Anyway, a graph:

Note that all of those teams are to the east of the Mississippi except St Louis (which is on the Mississippi)  and only the Braves hail from outside the NE quadrant of the lower 48.  So, what's with Texans and Californians showing so little loyalty?

For what it is worth, here is a map of where MLB think that people's loyalties should lie:

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The 1909 Hansard Trawl - featuring bad behaviour by the French, 75 years of the Poor Law, and what MPs had to put up with, train-wise.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Perfidious Gallia:
Mr. CATHCART WASON  asked if any representations have been made by the Governor of South Nigeria to the authorities of Dahomey, French West Africa, with reference to raising the duty on imported spirits so as to check smuggling from French territory into British; and, if so, what reply has been returned by the French authorities?

Colonel SEELY The Governor of Southern Nigeria has not yet reported the result of the representations made by him to the Governor of Dahomey on the subject of an increase of the duties on spirits.

Hmm.  Wonder what it was that the good people of Nigeria were seeking?  Palm wine?  Vintage claret?

Anyway, there's more, inclusing some epic missing of the point:

Sir GILBERT PARKER  May I ask if a representation was made by the Governor of Southern Nigeria to the French representative in Dahomey concerning the raising of duty from British territory?

And came the reply, through gritted teeth:

Colonel SEELY The representations, to which alone this question refers, are as to the question of smuggling. Raising the duties in one part would be of no use if the spirits come in over the boundary.

What about this for being ahead of one's time?

Corporal Punishment (National Schools, Ashford, Middlesex).

Mr. GEORGE GREENWOOD (Lib, Peterborough) asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to the case of the headmaster of the national schools at Ashford, under the Middlesex County Council, who was convicted by the magistrates at Feltham, on or about 6th September last, of assaulting a little boy of 10 years of age, one of the scholars under his charge, by flogging him with great and unreasonable severity, and fined £5, being the highest penalty which the magistrates were competent to impose....and whether he will prohibit the use of flogging in all schools under the direct supervision and control of the Board of Education? 

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman) I have communicated with the local authority with regard to this case and I am informed that it will come before a sub-committee on 18th October...The answer to the last paragraph is in the negative.

Nothing like a bit of historic background:

Mr. HADDOCK asked the President of the Local Government Board if he could state the total sum expended upon the administration of the Poor Law from 1834 to the latest date ascertainable?

Mr. BURNS The aggregate expenditure of boards of guardians and other local authorities in England and Wales, which is ordinarily classed as relating to the relief of the poor, during the period of 75 years ended at Lady-Day, 1909, was approximately £597,000,000.

Social security spending looks to have been £96 billion last year.   

Right, and if you have tears, prepare to shed them now:

Great Southern and Western Railway (Heating of Third Class Carriages).
Mr. P. J. POWER asked the President of the Board of Trade if he was now in a position to state the reply given by the Great Southern and Western Railway Company (Ireland) to the complaint made by the travelling public that they make no provision for heating third class carriages on most of their trains, and prohibit their servants, without obtaining special leave, from supplying third class passengers with foot-warmers; and could he state the nature of the communication made to the railway company by the Board of Trade?

Mr. CHURCHILL  A copy of the hon. Member's previous question was sent to the Railway Company for their observations, and the Company replied that it was not usual to supply foot-warmers to passengers travelling third-class over their system. On receipt of that reply the Board of Trade wrote to the Company asking for fuller information, and when that information is received I will communicate with the hon. Gentleman again.

Mr. POWER  Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the company does not delay giving a definite answer until Parliament rises? Those of us who have to travel third class on this system suffer intensely.
First things first, in 1909 we were two years off MPs getting paid, so Patrick Power (for that was he) was having to cover his own costs.  He represented Waterford East, and would have journeyed from that doubtless fine place to Dublin before making his way to London.  Alas I can find no indication of Power's age, although he first represented a Waterford seat in 1850, so he must have been in his 80s - minimum - at the time of this question  Anyway, Waterford's lowest average monthly temperature is 46F /8C, which does not strike me as exactly Siberian, and I would think that the Honourable Member might have availed himself of a pair of thicker socks.

(OK, having discovered his approximate age and having edited it in, I feel a little shamefaced for making mock.  I doubt many of our current more senior MPs would undertake such lengthy and uncomfortable journeys at their own expense)

An opportunity for some low humour shunned:

Mr. ARTHUR LYNCH  Does the right hon. Gentleman keep himself in touch with the state of feeling in Clare?

Mr. BIRRELL Oh, yes; I receive very frequent communications from county Clare, and generally from all parts of that neighbourhood.

Shame, I'd have gone for the joke.

Anyway, a quick spat amidst an exchange on force feeding those suffragettes on hunger strike:
Mr. DENIS KILBRIDE (Irish Nat, South Kildare) Would the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of appointing a small commission in lunacy to inquire into the lunacy or sanity of those people?

Mr. KEIR HARDIE That comes badly from an Irishman.


Go tell it to the Marines:

Mr. BELLAIRS asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether blue serge and white duck are the only dress available for the Royal Marines on board ships for shore campaigns; whether he is aware that the former is a prominent target and the use of the latter would lead to chills; and, if so, whether he can state what steps the Admiralty propose to take to enable the Royal Marines to light on shore on equal terms with foreign troops without undue delay in receiving stores of khaki from England?

Dr. MACNAMARA  Khaki is not considered suitable for the general duties of Royal Marines afloat; adequate arrangements are made for its supply in cases where its use may be necessary.

One would hope so.

Strange priorities for the Indian Army - Indian Army Officers (Interpreters).

Sir SEYMOUR KING asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what decision has been arrived at as to the advisability of making officers of the Indian Army eligible for rewards for qualifying as interpreters in European languages other than Russian?

The MASTER of ELIBANK Indian Army officers have been made eligible for rewards for qualifying in French, German, Italian, Dutch, modern Greek, and Portuguese.

Yeah, lots of speakers of those tongues in the neighbourhood.

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Opening line o' the day

From the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times:

"A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of Socialism’s slow collapse".

Cheering, no?

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Kim Jong Il failed to impress his father

An exceptionally telling release from the KCNA:

"It was on the evening of July 6, Juche 83 (1994) that President Kim Il Sung made a phone call to an official and stressed that the documents to be presented to General Secretary Kim Jong Il should be worked out as short as possible. The President said that every possible effort should be made to alleviate the work burden of Kim Jong Il....I request you once again that you should faithfully uphold Comrade Kim Jong Il with revolutionary faith and pure obligation to the end and do your best not to impair his health".

Edited a little unfairly in order to make a point, but that suggests to me that KIS reckoned that KJI one or all of the following - dim, lazy, poor with detail, short of attention span - given that whatever KJI was getting was of the same standard of turgidness as that going to KIS. 


The NHS - as viewed from Canada

The Conference Board of Canada, a research organisation based guess where, has just graded Canada's health performance as a 'B'.   It is very keen on benchmarking, and we get a look in too.  We get a D.

Lest the friendly giant to the west (1) be accused of skewing things to make itself look good, here is how the score was arrived at:

"To measure health performance, we evaluate Canada and 16 peer countries on the following 11 report card indicators: life expectancy; self-reported health status; premature mortality; mortality due to cancer; mortality due to circulatory disease; mortality due to respiratory disease; mortality due to diabetes; mortality due to diseases of the musculoskeletal system; mortality due to mental disorders; infant mortality; and mortality due to medical misadventures."

Sounds a reasonable measure, doesn't it?

Where things get really interesting is when scores over time are examined, and we have sunk from  C to D, and from somewhere between 6th and 12th to 14th.  During that time, nine countries have improved, and five have weakened.    

 And where do we go wrong?:

Life expectancy (although God knows the weather, some of the people, the lying knaves who run this place etc etc are enough to rob even the strong of the will to live), cancer, circulatory and respiratory diseases, musculo-skeletal system diseases, mental disorders and infant mortality all see us score C or lower.  Note, however, that we have the best performance for diabetes.

(1) Reference to an old, old joke which I can't be bothered  to explain

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The self-loathing women of the French left.

Monday, September 28, 2009
Le Figaro, or more correctly its female interest section, Madame Figaro has been asking French women the key question of the age:

"Are women of 40 in full possession of their physical resources (let's call that looks, shall we?) or have they already exhausted most of their reserves?"

Well, if 50 year olds are seniors, perhaps this is a legitimate, if a rather Logan's Run-esque question.

Anyway, the answers are, ahem, revealing.  UMP ladies have the healthiest attitude, with 93% going for the positive response.   Quite some way behind are the Greens at 86%, followed by Socialists at 84%, Libs at 82% and the Far Left at 79%.  Fully 21% of Trot/Tanky women voters think that 'they have already exhausted most of their reserves'.

It is important to note that Lutte Ouvrière, the Parti communiste français, the Socialists and the Greens are all led by women, although the Green woman is a mere girl at 34.   However, the Green presidential candidate last time is 51 this year.

Asked whether they would /had made peace with themselves at 40, Socialists led at 89% with Green last at 82%.  As to settling things with their parents, Libs were the most likely to say no at 11%, followed by the mad left at 8%.  Gaullist women were the happiest with their bodies, with only 12% not having made peace etc, while 27% of Green women had not, followed by 22% of Lib women and 19% of Trots/Tankies.

Telling, eh? 

And not worth a post of its own, but Sud Ouest Dimanche wanted to know what folk think of Brigitte Bardot.  Yes, really.  68% have a positive view, 27% a bad one and 5% could not manage an answer.  Frontistes are keenest at 78% (She is not very keen on our Islamic chums), followed by Gaullists at 78%.  Libs and Greens are pipped by Trots at 70% to 66%.  Perhapd not that well known in these parts is that she is a mad cat lady, so to speak.   Meanwhile, back at the plot, fully 19% of Communists do not like BB.    

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Weird French survey o' the day

French mag Notre Temps has polled the Plain People of France as to what older people should be called.  For those of us in our early forties it is frankly terrifying that older is taken as being 50+.   Focusing purely on comely ladies, 50 year olds include Sade, Susanna 'Bangles' Hoffs, Nastassja Kinski and Rosanna Arquette.  Other noted 50 year olds include Morrissey, Sean Bean, Nick Griffin and - in a few months time - Charles Kennedy.

Anyway, when 50 somethings were asked what they wanted to be dubbed as a group, it was 'seniors' (that word is in the original French).  60 somethings opted for that too, while octogenarians preferred 'older people' and 'the retired'.  Overall, 'les seniors' leads, followed by 'the retired', 'the elders' (Les aînés), 'older people' and 'the old'.  I suppose one ought to raise a glass to the 7% who opted for 'les baby-boomers'.

As to the population in general, 'old people' and 'the retired' dominated.

Given the opportunity to have a good old moan, it was not taken, as asked 'how does the media treat the 50+?', 36% said positively, 40% neutrally and only 19% negatively.

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Yet another 1909 Hansard trawl, featuring a 'beastly outrage', how to talk to foreigners and the work of Mandelson's predecessor.

Friday, September 25, 2009
All Ministers reading this, read and learn, because this is how questions should be swatted away.  None of that 'disproportionate cost' flannel.

Mr. RENTON asked the Secretary of State for War how many officials, established and non-established, including non-pensionable employés, were employed by his Department on 31st March, 1906, and on 30th June, 1909, respectively?

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane) To reply fully to the question as it stands would involve enormous labour, and the compilation of statistics from all parts of the world. If the hon. and gallant Member would explain to me privately what is the object of his question I will see what I can do to help him in the matter

Shame Renton did not ask 'how many people work at the War Office', thus giving Haldane the feed for 'about half of them'.  Rimshot.    

And back to the Heart of Darkness:

Mr. BELLOC (yes, him) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Foreign Office had received information as to any act of cruelty committed in the Congo Free State since the establishment of the new régime; and, if so, could he inform the House as to the nature of the atrocity, its date, the place in which it occurred, and the name of the Belgian official responsible for it?

Pretty open ended, that.

The UNDER-SECRETARY for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. McKinnon Wood) I see no object in giving special publicity to any isolated act of cruelty. It would have comparatively little importance unless it were an illustration of a system of oppression. The system which existed under the old régime of the Congo State is described in published Consular Reports. Whether, or to what extent, that system has been changed by the Belgian Government will appear from the next publication of Reports, which will be made in due course.

I am inclined to side with the Under Secretary on this one.

The way our Great Men are treated:

Major-General Wolfe's Vault, Greenwich.

Sir GILBERT PARKER asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the dilapidated condition of the vault at Greenwich containing the remains of Major-General Wolfe; and whether permission will be granted to the representative of the family to put it into a state of repair?

Not too badly, it would seem: 

The UNDER-SECRETARY for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Masterman) The Secretary of State finds on inquiry that the vault which contains General Wolfe's remains is not in a dilapidated condition, but in common with all the vaults under the church it was closed and bricked up many years ago, and is not accessible to visitors. In the church there is a tablet on the floor over the spot where the body lies, and also a mural tablet and a memorial window. The Secretary of State has no jurisdiction in the matter, but he has been informed by the authorities of the Church that they will be perfectly ready to entertain any reasonable proposal from General Wolfe's representatives for the renovation of the vault.

Anyway, time for a visual interlude:

Hunger striking suffragettes exercise honourable members:

Mr. KEIR HARDIE I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department a question of which I have given private notice, whether he has any official information concerning the state of health of Mrs. Leigh and Miss Charlotte Marsh, prisoners in Winson Green, Birmingham, and whether it has been found necessary to administer food to those ladies by force, and, if so, under what authority that has been done?
Mr. KEIR HARDIE Can the hon. Gentleman say if the full operation is the food being pumped through the nostrils of these women or inserted by a tube down the throat? What has been the treatment?

Mr. MASTERMAN I think the ordinary method is the second one.

Mr. KEIR HARDIE The tube is inserted into the stomach and food pumped into it—horrible outrage, beastly outrage.

Mr. SNOWDEN  May I ask if the hon. Gentleman will convey the suggestion to the Home Secretary that he should make application to Spain or Russia in order to adopt the most brutal and up-to-date methods of barbarism?

Micromanagement is nothing new:
Captain MURRAY asked the Postmaster-General whether it is proposed to discontinue the sale of foolscap penny postage envelopes

Mr. BUXTON The 1d. embossed envelopes of "foolscap" size were introduced in 1903, but they met with very little demand, and indeed the initial stock was not exhausted until May last. The sale of these envelopes was clearly not sufficient to justify a further issue, and I decided to withdraw them. Two other sizes of 1d. envelopes and two sizes of ½d. envelopes are issued by the Post Office, and have a very large sale.
These days such a question would have to be addressed to Peter Mandelson, by the way.

And a good one.  A REALLY good one - Foreigners Employed in County of London.

Sir JOHN BETHELL (Lib, Romford)  asked the President of the Local Government Board if he can give the number of males of foreign nationalities who were employed in the county of London at the date of the last Census, or at any later period, in hotels, in restaurants, and in private houses, other than shops or business premises, respectively?

Mr. BURNS The Census Reports do not afford the precise information required by my hon. Friend, but they show that the number of males of foreign nationality who were employed in London at the date of the last Census in domestic indoor service was 5,188, and that the number of such males occupied in connection with the provision of board and lodging and dealing in spirituous liquors was 5,475. See pages 162 and 168 of the volume of the Census relating to London.

I suspect that figure may have gone up a tad since 1909.  One wonders whether Bethell was then moved to moan to his constituents about 'all of 'em foreigners comin' over 'ere and taking our jobs'.

Meanwhile, the Lords are debating oriental languages:

LORD REDESDALE....I am afraid that I shall be accused of taxing your Lordships' credulity when I tell you that whereas in Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Italy, and Holland there are well-organised, well-equipped, and well-endowed schools of Oriental languages, in London, which is the capital of the country which, apart from its paramount interest in India, in the Malay Archipelago, and in Africa, has larger dealings, and has had dealings, extending over a larger period of time, with the Far East, with China, Japan, and Korea, than any other country—in London there is no school of Oriental languages.....The University of London deals chiefly with Hebrew and with the Indian languages, and from the India Office it receives an annual grant of £300. King's College receives an annual grant of £100 from the Colonial Office for the teaching of Hausa; and these miserable pittances, which are really an insult to educated men, are all that is given by Governments in London at the present time for Oriental teaching. Imagine going out to Africa and making yourself an expert in the Hausa language in order to have the supreme hope of coming home to a professorship of £100 a year!

He has a point, doesn't he?

I suspect the following may no longer hold true:

We Europeans, no matter what language we speak, draw almost all our imagery from the ancient classics and from the Bible. We talk about a woman being as beautiful as Venus, of a man being as strong as Samson, of the fall of the Walls of Jericho, and we compare a person to Achilles sulking in his tent, and by all Europeans we are understood; but when you talk with an Oriental gentleman you must understand what takes the place of those familiar images in his language.

We have always been pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for the foreigner in the Far East. The Opium War, the Arrow War, the war of 1860 in which the French joined us, and other movements in which we have taken a leading part and in which hundreds of lives and millions of money have been spent, have all been for the benefit of other countries as much as our own.

The Earl of Cromer ....Lord Palmerston is alleged to have once said— Never pay the least attention to a European who has lived in the country a number of years and speaks the language like a native. Do not believe him: he is always wrong. But even if Lord Palmerston ever said that, I imagine he did not intend to deprecate the study of Oriental languages, but to indicate that he thought the man on the spot was apt to get rather into a groove and that his views had to be tested and corrected by those of wider and more general experience.

Let me give your Lordships one or two instances. I remember talking to an Oriental in a very high position in Egypt on an important political point, and I laid before him my arguments, which were, I thought, of a nature to influence a Western mind. I found, however, that they produced not the least effect. Then it occurred to me in the course of conversation to introduce an apologue from the "Arabian Nights," which I found produced a much more clear effect than all my Western logic.  Then I remember Lord Wolseley sending me a proclamation which he was about to issue in the Soudan, and which he wished translated into Arabic. It seemed to me so very Western that I asked an Oriental friend of mine who was a great scholar if he would look over it and tell me what he thought of it. He told me that the grammar was perfect and that he understood what Lord Wolseley meant, but he thought that to the Soudanese the proclamation would be high Greek. I asked him to put the ideas into his own language, and in a couple of days he produced a document which read much more like a chapter of Isaiah than an ordinary official document.
There is one Indian point I should not excuse myself if I omitted. Lord Cromer said, and I was extremely glad to hear him say it, that he hoped this
School of Oriental Languages, when it was founded and set working, would not merely be a school of language, but would also be a school for the study of the ideals, the customs, the habits, the religions, and all that gives a character, in truth, to the populations concerned

And I suppose one could say that that is indeed what SOAS does.  As usual, I will note that it is known as the School of Anti-Semites in the circles in which I move. 

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Two and a half cheers for the robust common sense of French women

Harris Interactive has been asking French women impertinent questions about diets, and a rather depressing 83% 'fess up to watching what they eat.

In a truly epic piece of denial, the leading cause of weight put on is 'nibbling' (Named by  40%), apparently, followed by stress (32%), an unbalanced diet (29% ) and fourth 'eating too much' (25%).  Right...  

Anyway, here's the bit which merits 2 & 1/2 cheers:

"Bread is regarded as the most essential  food (for about half of the women: 47%). Chocolate (38%), cheese (37%) and pasta (35%) were other foods women could not do without".

Hear hear.  To adapt Socrates, the cheeseless life is not worth living.

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Schadenfreude corner

I am a bad man, because I think this is rather amusing:

"The French Senate is the latest victim of the Madoff affair, with its pension fund losing €300.000".

Loads more detail at Le Monde.

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The 1909 Hansard Trawl, featuring hysterical telegraphers, the army getting its oats and the apparent gross lack of patriotism of the men of Birkenhead

Thursday, September 24, 2009
A development that would have frozen the blood:

Sir WILLIAM COLLINS asked the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, if he can state the number of acres of hops which have been grubbed in Germany and in England, respectively, during the last two years, and what is the proportionate reduction of the total acreage under hops in each country thereby effected?

Sir E. STRACHEY The decrease in the acreage under hops during the last two years is approximately 23,000 acres, or 14.4 per cent., in Germany, and 12,400 acres, or 27.6 per cent., in England.

Not good.  Clearly we were living in dark and terrible times.

That's about it for 24/9/9, so I'm going back to the 23rd, which was a target rich environment:

Ensuring the army gets its oats:

Mr. WILES asked the Secretary of State for War if he can state why it is specially stipulated in the tender forms sent to contractors for the supply of forage for troop horses that oats grown in South Africa and South America may not be supplied?

Mr. HALDANE South American and South African oats are excluded from Army contracts in this country because the feeding properties of such oats at present obtainable are not considered to be of equal value to those of oats grown an the United Kingdom, Russia, or North America, and are not fully up to the quality stipulated for in the contract specification. Should, however, the quality of the oats in question improve in the future, the removal of the restriction will be considered.
One wonders whether gauchos were aware that their nags were living on sub-standard oats?

And so on to Nigeria:

Mr. LEVERTON HARRIS asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is the intention of the Government to place the two provinces of Northern and Southern Nigeria under one governorship?

Colonel SEELY The question has been raised, but is not immediately urgent, and I am therefore not at present in a position to state the views of His Majesty's Government upon it.
It happened in 1914.  Previous names for Nigeria under colonial rule were the Niger Coast Protectorate and my fave, the Oil Rivers Protectorate.

The fitness or otherwise of would be redcoats:

Army Recruits (Physically Fit).
Mr. SUMMERBELL    asked the Secretary of State for War if he can state the number of recruits of His Majesty's forces who-presented themselves for enrolment during the past 12 months, and who were accepted as physically fit to serve, and giving the numbers for each town over 100,000 population?
Mr. HALDANE submitted the following tables, showing the number of men who presented themselves for enlistment into His Majesty's forces during the period from 1st July, 1908, to 30th June, 1909, and who were accepted as physically fit to serve, giving the numbers for each town over 100,000 population:—

    Total number of men inspected, 59,686.

    Total number of men found fit to serve, 43,134.

So, a 72% acceptance rate.  Playing around with the figures, Liverpool came last at 55.2%, and fewer than two-thirds made the grade in Manchester, Norwich, Halifax, Leicester, Derby, Belfast and Burnley.  Plymouth and Portsmouth came top at 87.9% and 86.0%, but why weren't they lining up to enlsit with the Senior Service?

London's figure was 67.6%.  Meanwhile, why did only 41 of Birkenhead's population put themselves forward?  The next lowest figure is triple that - 127 from Middlesborough.

Tying into my post about Babi Yar yesterday - Jews at Kieff.

Mr. B. S. STRAUS asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any official information respecting a massacre of Jews at Kieff last week; and whether he can give any particulars?

Sir E. GREY I have received no information on the subject, and the report referred to has been contradicted in the Press.

It would appear that a full scale pogrom did not take place in 1909, but the disambiguation page for Kiev Pogrom at Wikipedia tells a depressing story.   

The perils of telegraphy

Mr. J. P. FARRELL  asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that muscular paralysis of the arm has become prevalent in the female branch of the telegraph service by reason of the long hours of duty imposed, especially in big offices; whether he is aware that hysteria, nervous breakdown, and other symptoms follow; and whether an alternation of duties will be devised whereby these maladies could be obviated and greatly prevented?

Mr. SYDNEY BUXTON I shall be glad if the hon. Member would furnish me with particulars of any case of paralysis of which he has cognisance, and I will at once inquire into it. I am not aware of any prevalence of the ailments referred to in the question.

Presumably chaps were unaffected, especially by hysteria...

Another warship name that has fallen out of use.  Can't think why:

Mr. BELLAIRS asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what will be the estimated total cost of the refit of the destroyer H.M.S. "Violet"?

Mr. McKENNA The approximate total cost of the recent refit of H.M.S. "Violet" was £7,055.


And here's today's opportunity for a hollow laugh:

Regulations for Costermongers.

Mr. WEDGWOOD BENN  asked the Home Secretary whether any new regulations are contemplated to control costermongers and street sellers in the City of London; if so, what the regulations are; and whether provision will be made to safeguard the interests of those people who gain their livelihood in this way?

Mr. H. GLADSTONE  I understand that such regulations under Section (2) of the City of London (Street Traffic) Act of this Session are contemplated, but have not yet been framed. I have no doubt that in making them the City authorities will consider the interests of all parties concerned. The regulations have to receive the Secretary of State's approval before they come into force.

Yeah, right.

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Interesting map o' the day

Courtesy of Eurostat.

The map needs clicking for any degree of legibility, but I think it is worth it.

The highlights noted by Eurostat are these:

Regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per inhabitant (in purchasing power standards) in 2006 differed widely across the 275 regions of the EU, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In Inner London (United Kingdom) it was 336% of the EU-27 average, while in Nord-Est (Romania) it was only 25% of the EU-27 average.

Elsewhere, the author notes 'We find the largest regional differences in the United Kingdom, where there is a factor of 4.3 between the highest and lowest values

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Coal black, or perhaps, grass green irony of the day

From the Croatian Times.  If this does not succeed in raising at least a smile, a brain scan might be in order.

"Zagreb environmental activists from Green Action, a non-governmental organization (NGO) for environmental protection, are afraid they will be forced to close....Green Action held a protest performance in front of the ministry building in March. Their aim was to get the Ministry to implement the law on waste in better fashion.

They had 50 packages of paint and spray in the shape of a question mark there for several hours.  Now the ministry is charging with disposal of dangerous environmental waste.  Green Action may face a fine ranging from 350,000 kunas (48,000 Euros) to 800,000 kunas (110,000 Euros)".  

I'm still sniggering.

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The 1909 Hansard Trawl, featuring terrifying speeds of 20 mph, the sensitivities of Indian 'natives' and inadvisability of flying Old Glory from one's pub

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Starting with this headscratcher:

Mr. JOHN WARD asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether he can state the manufactured condition of the cotton recently declared to be contraband of war by the Russian court of appeal?

Sir E. GREY It is stated to have been raw cotton.

Doubtless the Nation slept easier of a night knowing that.

Nothing new under the Sun dept:

English Channel Fisheries (International Convention).
Mr. MILDMAY asked whether there is now any nearer possibility of the conclusion of an International Convention in connection with the fisheries of the English Channel upon the lines of that in force since 1884 in connection with the North Sea fisheries?

Sir E. GREY There is at present no question of an International Convention on the lines indicated in the question; but His Majesty's Government are in communication with the French Government with a view to the conclusion of a Convention with France for the regulation of the Channel Fisheries.

Bet those wicked Gauls were filching our fish...

Further proof of nothing new etc etc:

Torture of Political Prisoners (Morocco).
Mr. MacNEILL  asked whether the representations made by the British and foreign consuls to the authorities of Morocco have had any effect in stopping the tortures inflicted on political prisoners in that country; and, if not, what action does His Majesty's Government propose to take in this matter?

 Sir E. GREY No case of the torture of prisoners has been brought to the knowledge of His Majesty's Government since the date of the representations referred to.

Mr. MacNEILL Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that a man has been killed in prison since? Has he not used the ordinary means of communication?

Sir E. GREY I have no information to that effect.

I do not suppose King Hassan's penal establishments are fun places today, either.

And today's episode of the Hibernian follies:  Display of Flags at Public Houses (Ireland).

Mr. PATRICK O'BRIEN (for Mr. Hay-den) asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that Sergeant Carrigan, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, on last Saturday evening ordered Mr. Mark M'Cormack, a licensed publican in the town of Castlerea, to remove a flag bearing the stars and stripes which he had hung out upon his house to honour two American citizens who were visiting the town...

Mr. REDMOND BARRY I am informed that Sergeant Carrigan did call the attention of the publican in question to the fact that it was a breach of the Licensing Acts to display any flag from his licensed premises except the accustomed sign of the house. In doing so, I understand that the sergeant acted on his own initiative, the law being quite clear that any such display is an offence under the licensing code....

Mr. MOONEY Is not the Act of Parliament dealing with the display of flags an Act dealing with illegal and secret societies, and is it not a fact that in Dublin every day of the week the large hotels and public-houses display flags, and the police take no action, and is it not the fact that in this case the action of the sergeant is based on the allegation that the United States flag was a party emblem?

Mr. REDMOND BARRY I do not know that there is any foundation for the suggestion.

Mr. JOYCE May I ask whether it would be illegal for a publican in Ireland to fly the Union Jack?

Mr. SPEAKER  That is a hypothetical question. The hon. Member should give notice of it.

I am beginning to winder whether it was a deliberate policy of the Irish Nats to ask questions so infuriatingly parochial that GB MPs would end up begging the Crown to grant home rule.

I am a tad confused by this one, so offers of illumination would be gratefully received:

Press Law in India.
Mr. KEIR HARDIE asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he has received any official Reports from the Government of India to the effect that a bomb had been thrown at a train in Eastern Bengal with the object of securing £90,000, which was known to be aboard the train, to be used in furtherance of the Anarchist cause; that the three natives in charge of the treasure showed great courage, pulled the communication cord, and refused to leave the treasure van, which was shattered; and that the bomb used was one of an extremely high explosive power; and, if not, whether the Government of India are taking any, and, if any, what steps, under the Press Law or otherwise, to put an end to the transmission of such unfounded statements?
The UNDER-SECRETARY Of STATE for INDIA (The Master of Elibank)...The Secretary of State has no official knowledge of the report referred to; and with regard to the last part of the question of the hon. Member for Merthyr, I would remind him that Reuter's message was apparently a bonâ fide report based on the statements made by the Indians in charge of the van. The Government can scarcely undertake to deal with every unfounded statement in the Press that forms the basis of questions on India in this House.
Mr. KEIR HARDIE May I ask whether, in view of the strict interpretation of the law applied to the native Press in regard to reports concerning Europeans, the India Office will consider the advisability of applying this law to unfounded reports that cause bitter irritation when referring to natives?

Mr. SPEAKER The hon. Gentleman should give notice of that question.

And Mr Last Word himself:
Mr. MacNEILL   Will the hon. Gentleman ask the Secretary of State to take steps to deport some of the members of this brigade of liars?

Mr. SPEAKER That question also requires notice.

So, the report would appear to be untrue, but why would it 'cause bitter irritation when referring to natives?'

A quip perhaps not made with an eye on eternity in a discussion of Transvaal mining fatalities:  

Mr. LUPTON Is there any reason to believe that the gritty substance in the mines has a more injurious effect on the natives than on the Chinese; and, if so, whether he will take steps to have the gritty substance removed by water or otherwise from the atmosphere of the mines?

Mr. REES Is it not the case that the Kaffirs have not enough grit for the job?

Colonel SEELY I am afraid I am not able to state in what different degrees the gritty substance affects different races.
And back to less grave matter: Motor Cars (Horse-power).

Mr. ARTHUR LEE Will the Treasury see that whatever standard is adopted the owners of cars, bonâ fide believing that there is a certain horse-power in their cars, will not have their rating increased for the purposes of taxation?

Mr. HOBHOUSE It is quite impossible to give that assurance off-hand. I will endeavour to see what can be done.

Oh aye.

'People are our greatest resource' dept:

Mr. WARDLE asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the action of the North British Railway Company in refusing to supply artificial limbs to employés who have been injured in the execution of their duty; and whether he is prepared to consider an alteration of the law to compel employers to make this provision?

The UNDER-SECRETARY for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. C. F. G. Masterman) The Secretary of State is informed by the company that they do not now as a matter of general practice supply artificial limbs to injured employés in addition to paying compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act. The workmen's claims under the Statute, which are met in full by the company, are very onerous, and the company do not feel justified at present in undertaking further expenditure by way of compensation. The Secretary of State does not think the time has come for the revision of the Workmen's Compensation Act.

Nice people.  Note that the hotel in Edinburgh used to be called the North Briton, and it was the railway company's enterprise.

Motor Vehicles (Speed Limit).

Mr. G. L. COURTHOPE (for Mr. Joynson-Hicks) asked whether, having regard to the fact that the police have recently made regulations compelling motor omnibuses and motor cabs to place thereon a device for making a continuous noise when the speed exceeds certain limits, the Home Secretary will take the necessary steps in conjunction, if necessary, with the Board of Trade to have the same device placed upon tramcars?

Mr. MASTERMAN This matter is still under consideration, but the application of this device to tramcars presents special difficulties, because of the varying limits of speed authorised for those vehicles.
Mr. HORATIO MYER Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some of the tramcars pass along the Embankment at the rate of more than 20 miles an hour?

20 mph.  Crikey.

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A new frontier in stupidity from, where else, a trade union

The CFE-CGC is a French trade union confederation which ''only organizes unions for professional employees, with higher education and/or in management or executive positions". Source.

So, unlikely to be crimson in its politics, yes?  Further digging indicates that its head, Bernard Van Craeynest is linked to what was the Parti Republicain, which has since morphed into Démocratie libérale and thence into Sarko's Union pour la Majorité Présidentielle.  Let's say that places him somewhere between sensible Lib Dem and wet Tory.

Anyway, enough of the background, and onto the mind-boggling stupidity:

"The CFE-CGC wants a “very heavy tax” on those companies where suicides of employees are recorded , with these treated like industrial accidents.

At the moment France is agog at an apparent wave of suicides at France Télécom, although even the most half hearted data mining has shown that the rate of suicide among employees is entirely in line with the sad statistical norms for age cohorts and the like.

Having stared into the abyss on a  few occasions myself, I am not going to be making light of suicide.  However, I would think that were this tax to come to pass, the first consequence would be a great deal of intrusive questioning of the family and colleagues of the deceased, and secondly widows / widowers playing up the stresses of work and so on in pursuit of a pay out.  

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An early contender for woman of the year

Or Person of the year, but that sounds so artificial.

From that source of many fine things, the Romanian Times:

A Romanian MP read a nonsense speech in the Chamber of Deputies yesterday (Tues) but no one else appeared to notice as her colleagues applauded her at its end.  Liberal Adriana Săftoiu read quotes from American journalists and politicians on themes ranging from terrorism to cancer treatment without anyone noticing.  Săftoiu said afterwards she had wanted to test her colleagues’ attention to speeches and show that an MP could say anything.  Săftoiu told the daily Gandul that she had done it in protest against the way MPs behaved in Parliament.  She said: "I wanted to show my colleagues it did not matter what one said." 

I'm going to let someone else take a shot at the open goal that this presents.

Săftoiu looks to be a good egg, and her party a selection of good ova.  I suspect I would vote for them were I granted a vote in Romanian elections. 


Body modification for pleasure and profit

I can't say I have ever been tempted to have a tattoo or a piercing, but then again I grew up in a period when such things were for sailors.  Anyway, note this from Danish daily Jyllands-Posten:

"Film company Zentropa is promising its student workers better pay and faster career advancement if they get the company’s logo tattooed on their rear...Every year about seven students enter the three-year training programme at the company. They work for free for the first six months, before their salary increases to 12,500 per month by their final year.  So far, six of the current 25 students working at the production company have opted to get the free tattoo of the company logo.  Producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen has compromised on the tattoos’ location and while the plan was to tattoo the backside, a couple of students have been allowed to get it on their wrist or arm. About a third of students eventually go on to work for Zentropa after their internship and Jensen said those with tattoos had an advantage. ‘It’s no secret that the students who choose to get tattoos have a far greater chance of getting a job at Zentropa in the future and during their internship they will also advance quicker up the hierarchy and get more pay than others,’ he explained.

The logo is quite slick:

Given that people will pay to have the corporate identities of sportswear companies and the like tattooed here and there, at least the interns are standing to gain something.  Zentropa's website is here, but it is NSFW, involving as it does some minor nudity in an autoplaying video for a forthcoming film called 'Videocracy'.  

Anyway, it could be a lot worse, the interns could be working for Wayne Kerr Electronics.


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Classy politician o' the day - the Mayor of Kiev

From Ha'aretz:

"No monument stands over Babi Yar" - may once again be an accurate reflection of reality if Kiev's municipality carries out its plan to build a hotel on the memorial site of one of the most notorious massacres of Jews during the Holocaust. On September 29 and 30, 1941, German SS troops, supported by other German units and local collaborators, gathered 33,771 Jewish civilians at the ravine outside Kiev and murdered them with machine guns....Last week, however, the Kiev municipality approved a plan to build 28 hotels to accommodate the tens of thousands of visitors expected for soccer's 2012 European Championships. One of these hotels is planned to be set up on the Babi Yar site, now in a residential area of Kiev. Kiev Mayor Leonid Chernovetskyi has reportedly been interested in turning his city's remaining green space into real estate and is taking advantage of Euro 2012 to implement his plan, city sources said". 

Babi Yar is probably best known from its reference in D.M.Thomas's 'The White Hotel', a well-received novel from 1981, which - shall we say - was quite free in its use of material from Kuznetzov's memoir 'Babi Yar'. Both merit reading.

I would hope that people would not wish to work above an ossuary or to stay in a hotel built on a foundation of human bones.

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The 1909 Hansard Trawl - featuring the need for Tommies to have sound teeth, penalties for poaching and Keir Hardie getting slapped down

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Naval intelligence.

Insert the old joke here.

Captain Faber has his best rat-smelling skills on display:

Captain FABER asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state the reasons for dispensing with the services of the two naval officers of the Naval Intelligence Department who were called before the Sub-Committee of Imperial Defence by Lord Charles Beresford, seeing that no specific reorganisation of the Department has yet been carried out?

Mr. McKENNA A reorganisation of the Department is being carried out, and in consequence of the changes involved the services of the two officers in question will not be required after they have been carried into effect.

Captain FABERI is it a mere coincidence that one of these officers was ordered away the very day that the inquiry ceased?

Mr. McKENNA Coincidence has nothing to do with it.

(Edwardian conspiracy loons are beside themselves by this point)

Captain FABER Then why was he ordered away?

Mr. McKENNA No, Sir; the hon. Gentleman is in error. The officer in question was invited to take his holiday from the date. [Laughter.] I do not in the least desire to answer the hon. Gentleman.

Doubtless Faber had a piece of paper marked 'kick me' stuck to his back later. The last line is an odd one - was there something said that the clerks did not add, or is McKenna adding insult to injury?

Trade with foreign countries

Mr. FELL asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if any Reports have been received from the Consuls and Business Agents in France or Germany as to the feeling with regard to the Budget in those countries, and the effect it will have upon trade between those countries and Great Britain; and if there are any Reports or Papers on the subject which can be presented to this House?

The UNDER-SECRETARY for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. McKinnon Wood) I have not received any such Reports or other communications from France or Germany.

Well fancy that.  There was I thinking that Europe from Pointe Du Raz all the way to the Memel would still be  obsessing over the budget.

Somewhat stung, Fell returns to the fray;

Mr. FELL I am unwilling to put these questions down if there is no object in doing so. May I ask if the Reports will come to the Board of Trade from the Consuls or business agents?

Mr. McKINNON WOOD I cannot at all understand how the Budget is likely to have any effect upon the trade between Great Britain and these countries.
At which point Fell retired hurt I imagine. 

And because I feel like it, 'Dr Fell':

I do not love thee, Dr Fell,
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not love thee, Dr Fell.
The good Captain is not so easily put off:

Captain FABER asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that at the brick-making centre at Fletton the price of bricks has fallen from 23s. 10½d. in 1898 to 10s. 6d. in 1909, or 1s. 6d. below cost price; and whether he will, therefore, take steps to exempt common brick-clay from the Mineral Duty?

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hobhouse) Of course I am not aware of Fletton brick prices, you blithering idiot.  My right hon. Friend is not able to say whether the figures quoted by the hon. and gallant Member are correct. He is not prepared to introduce a special exemption for brick-clay.

Meanwhile, the good people of Ludlow had a doughty MP in Rowland Hunt:

Mr. HUNT (Con) asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will say how much out of £100 worth of beer of a specific gravity of 1.055 at 33s. for 36 gallons will be paid to the State as duty by a retailer of beer after the passing of the Finance Bill; how much out of £100 worth of whisky of 25 per cent. below proof at 18s. a gallon will be paid to the State as duty by a retailer of whisky after the passing of the Finance Bill; and how much out of £100 worth of champagne at 120s. a dozen will be paid by a wine merchant as duty to the State?

Mr. HOBHOUSE  The duty on 60 20–33rd barrels of beer of 36 gallons each brewed in the United Kingdom, and of a specific gravity of 1.055 deg., would be £23 9s. 8 4–11d. The duty on 111 1–9th gallons of whisky, strength 25 per cent. 396 under proof, would be £61 9s. 2d. The duty on 16 8–12th dozen reputed quart bottles of champagne would be £6 5s.

Mr. HUNT  May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the increase in the taxation on the working man's whisky up to 300 per cent. and on his beer up to 31 per cent. is the latest great effort of the Liberal party to lessen the burden of taxation on the poor?
Is there an equivalent of Drake's Drum that we might beat in the hope of bringing back Mr Hunt?

Someone was too cheap to fork out for the Financial Times:

Mr. LANE-FOX (for Mr. Leverton Harris) asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he would say by how many points respectively the following Government securities have risen or fallen between 1st September, 1908, and 1st September, 1909; British Two and a-half Per Cent. annuities, French Three Per Cent. Rentes, German Three Per Cents., Italian Five Per Cents., and Spanish Four Per Cents.?


Sir F. BANBURY Am I to gather that every foreign security has risen except ours?
Mr. HOBHOUSE Yes; I believe that is so, owing to the uncertainty as to whether the Budget will be passed.

Oh the shame of it.

The price you pay for getting caught poaching:

Sir JOHN JARDINE (Lib) asked the Lord Advocate whether his attention has been drawn to the case of William Norris, a boy of 14 years of age, who was, on the 2nd instant, sentenced by Sheriff-Substitute Baillie at Jedburgh to be birched for taking trout from Bowmont Water; ...

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL for SCOTLAND (Mr. A. Dewar)  Inquiry has been made, and it appears that the prosecution was not a private one or under the Tweed Acts, but was at the instance of the Procurator Fiscal for contravention of the Trout and Freshwater Fish Acts by taking 42 trout by means of wire snares. Two boys were prosecuted, both of whom pled guilty. Norris, being under 14 years of age, was sentenced to four strokes of the birch. The Probation Act is applicable, but I am informed that the boy had been previously twice convicted of malicious mischief, and had been repeatedly cautioned by the police.

A sort of 1909 ASBO, I supppose

Mr. JOHN WARD (Lab Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman think that it is an atrocious punishment for a boy?

Mr. SPEAKER That is a matter of opinion.


This is good, really good:

Offensive Matter (Transmission through Post).

Mr. KEIR HARDIE  asked the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been drawn to an envelope which is being used by an anti-Socialist organisation, presided over by a Member of this House, and on which is printed in red ink the words socialism and murder; whether it is a breach of the Post Office regulations to make His Majesty's mails the vehicle for propagating an offensive innuendo against a political movement; and, if so, what action he proposes to take in the matter?

Mr. BUXTON    The Postmaster-General has authority to stop in the post any packet on which there appears words of an "indecent, obscene, or grossly offensive character." The inscription in question, however, whatever may be thought of its taste, appears to me too inept and devoid of meaning to be regarded as coming within these terms.

They don't like it up 'em, these Socialists, Captain Faber Mainwaring.

Horses for courses.  Or cavalry charges:

Thoroughbred Horses (Military Purposes).

Mr. RENWICK asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the shortage of horses for military purposes, he has considered the advisability of retaining in this country for the British Government some of the numbers of thoroughbred horses which, having been found unsuitable for racing, are sold in the autumn months, such horses being principally bought for military purposes in France, Germany, and Belgium, and for breeding and other purposes in South America?

Mr. ACLAND  As there is no present shortage of horses for military purposes it does not appear necessary to consider the possibility of carrying out the hon. Member's suggestion.

One imagines Renwick felt a bit of a plank at that juncture.

Mr. STANIER Do not foreign Governments pay more for their horses than we?

Mr. ACLAND Yes. They buy very largely a type of horse which is no use to us at all.

Mr. RENWICK - (not waving the white flag quite yet) Would not these horses which are suitable for foreign Governments be equally suitable for the British Government?

And - swat...

Mr. ACLAND We obtain a perfectly adequate supply of those that we want at a reasonable price.
And a return to the vexed issue of military dentition

Mr. W. THORNE asked whether the 11 soldiers who were discharged during the week ending 19th September, 1909, at Colchester, on account of bad teeth, were discharged from the Army entirely, or only discharged from the colours to the first-class Army Reserve?

Mr. ACLAND Thirteen men of the 8th Hussars, who are under orders for service in India, were rejected as medically unfit on account of defective teeth. The sum of £1 per head is granted for dental treatment of men with defective teeth, but as the cost of such treatment was assessed at a larger sum for these men, they were given the option of paying the extra amount required to make their teeth sound or of being discharged as medically unfit for further service. Three men elected the former course and 10 the latter.
Mr. W. THORNE Were these men discharged entirely or relegated to the Army Reserve?

Mr. ACLAND They were discharged as medically unfit.

Mr. ACLAND The military authorities attach great importance to soundness of teeth, particularly when men are going on foreign service. If a man cannot get his teeth made sound it is very much better, especially considering the large number of suitable recruits coming forward at present, not to retain him.
And finally, the golden rivet:

Mr. J. D. REES Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Indian Government already have complained of the cost of the capitation charge, and that a soldier without good teeth is no use for India, as he cannot chew the tough mutton?

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'We love the NHS' - Erm, no. Less than a fifth of us do

Courtesy of a Zogby poll intended for a US audience rather than a UK one, it would seem. As I have not been able to find this referenced in the British media, I was a bit tempted to slap 'exclusive' in the headline, but I do have some residual sense of shame.

Anyway, onward:

"The survey asked how satisfied people were with the NHS on a four-point scale: very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied and very dissatisfied":

The poll was done by e-mail (yougov?) and only polled 506 adults, so it is a bit suspect, but it's a start.    A majority are at least somewhat satisfied, but referencing that buttock-clenchingly awful twitter campaign of a few weeks back, 18.6% being very satisfied is some way short of 'love'.  That one in fifty of my compatriots cannot muster an opinion on this topic is profoundly depressing.

The question on waiting times sees somewhat  more robust responses:

The positive / negative split is 60/40 ish

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A chance for outraged monarchists / Diana obsessives to laugh at Giscard

(And 'm innocent of both charges)

Courtesy of Liberation, which has been having some fun at the expense of the outrage in the British press over 'Princess of CardiffGate, a brace of videos:

Giscard showing the common touch:

And Giscard playing the accordion:

Starts at around the 40 second mark.

(And a big hello to CPMG)