A brief 1909 Hansard trawl
Mr. GINNELL asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether a thoroughly responsible British contracting firm, at the initiation of the Uganda Railway Company, offered to construct it efficiently in accordance with specifications for £3,800 per mile, or £2,500,000 for the whole; whether its construction under the control of the Crown Agents had cost £9,504 per mile, being £6,250,000 for the whole; and whether the Crown Agents have any explanation of this cost other than a comparison with other railways constructed under their own control on the same departmental system?
Sounds horribly possible, doesn't it?
But apparently not:
Colonel SEELY In 1891–2 a reconnaissance survey for the Uganda Railway was made for the Government by four officers of the Royal Engineers; and the estimated cost of the line, based on this preliminary survey, was given as £2,240,000. In a letter dated the 8th of April, 1895, Messrs. Pauling offered to construct and equip the line against a cash payment of £2,240,000, but this offer was declined, as its acceptance would have involved the complete surrender by Government of all control in regard to either materials or construction... The total cost of the railway has been about £5,500,000.
And cutting to the chase:
Mr. J. D. REES May I ask whether in creases in estimates of this character have not been usual in railway enterprise in Africa?
Colonel SEELY There have been several cases of the kind, no doubt.
Who fancies school dinners during the hols?
Mr. W. THORNE (Lab - and trying to nationalise food...) asked the President of the Board of Education if he has seen the Report of the Gorton education committee under the Provision of Meals Act, which states that, out of 181 children examined before and after the midsummer vacation, 108 lost 275 pounds in weight, or an average of 2.594; and whether he is prepared to recommend to the various school care committees under the Provision of Meals Act that necessitous children be fed during the Christmas vacation?
Mr. TREVELYAN The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. So far as the second part of the question is concerned, it would appear from answers recently given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board to questions asked by my hon. Friend that some doubt exists as to the legality of the expenditure of money by a local education authority under Section 3 of the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, 1906, in feeding school children during the holidays. Apart from the legal aspect of the case, the Board would not consider it desirable to make recommendations as to the action to be taken under the Act by local education authorities or their committees, as it appears to them that the question is essentially one to be determined locally.
Mr. WEIR (Who had been asking about agricultural instruction in the Highlands) An opportunity will arise later of having this matter discussed, and I will avail of it in order to have it brought forward and gone into.
Mr. SPEAKER The hon. Gentleman must not make a speech at Question time. He must limit himself to asking questions.
Mr. WEIR It is not my desire to make a speech. I will take the earliest opportunity of calling attention to the matter.
Mr. SPEAKER That should be stated at the correct time, but not at Question time. Question time is meant for questions.
The lousy 'phone service in Sunderland. Allegedly.
Chinese Opium Merchant's Imprisonment.
Mr. SUMMERBELL asked the Postmaster-General, in regard to the alleged neglect of telephone line repairs in Sunderland, if he is aware that there are from 20 to 30 line faults each morning in the town and district; and, if so, whether he is prepared to take action with a view to preventing reductions in the staff at that town?
Mr. SYDNEY BUXTONI am informed that the statement on which my hon. Friend's question is based is much exaggerated, and I am assured by the National Telephone Company that no reduction of their staff has been made or is contemplated which would impair the efficiency of the telephone plant at Sunderland.
Mr. LAIDLAW asked if a representation was made by his Majesty's Consul-General at Canton to the Chinese authorities for the release of a Chinese opium merchant, imprisoned in connection with the new opium regulations; if so, at whose request; what was the result; and did his action have the approval of the Foreign Office?
Sir E. GREY I have received a Report stating that a representation was made by the Acting British Consul-General at Canton, pointing out that the arrest and imprisonment of a Canton dealer of the wholesale trade by the Opium Bureau contravened the assurances given by the Chinese Government that the regulations would not interfere with the opium trade.
Makes you proud to be British, doesn't it?