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.
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?
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.