Yet another 1909 Hansard trawl, featuring a 'beastly outrage', how to talk to foreigners and the work of Mandelson's predecessor.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (VISCOUNT MORLEY OF BLACKBURN)
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.