Monday, 7 February 2011

A brief historic Hansard trawl

From 1911.

The question of mixed marriages in Ireland rather exercised honourable members in that they managed to spill some 30,922 (count 'em) words on the topic.  This, I might add is mixed marriage vis a vis religious observance rather than ethnicity or even the US sense of different sexual orientation.  The underlying condition was this:

"In April, 1908, the Vatican promulgated a decree, now notorious as the decree Ne Temere from the opening words of the document, by which the Vatican claimed over the Roman Catholic Church the right to declare illegal, with all ecclesiastical consequences, any and every marriage in which one of the contracting parties either was, or ever had been, a Roman Catholic, unless celebrated according to certain conditions to be attached by the Roman Catholic Church and by this decree".   (James Campbell, Unionist MP for Dublin Universities, and grandfather of Patrick Campbell the gameshow panellist, apparently).

The debate is not enormously thrilling, but this bit is quite amusing:

"Mr. McDowell is the unelected pope of the Ulster Unionists. He prepared the case, and during the General Election here is what he wrote in a letter—which was not intended to be published, but which somehow did find publication—to one of the colleagues of the right hon. Gentlemen when on these benches. After denouncing the Ulster Unionists, and saying that they were very difficult people, that they were very stupid and hard to understand" (Joseph Devlin, Irish Nat MP)
As is this, not that it seems even remotely relevant to the debate:

When I see Members on this side vehemently condemning the hereditary principle, I glance at the roll of Junior Ministers on the Treasury Bench, and wonder to what other cause they attribute their high position in this House (1). Therefore, I say there is to my mind a certain sense of unreality in this discussion. I do not consider it necessary to use any strong or abusive language towards either political party, or even towards the other place, at the other end of the corridor. I have always entertained a respect for that lady of whom we have all heard who was in the habit of bowing her head in church whenever the name of his Satanic Majesty was mentioned, and when called upon for an explanation, replied, "Politeness costs nothing, and you never can tell."  (Horatio Bottomley, Lib)
(1) - I cannot lay hands on a list of Asquith's minsiters from 1911, which vexes.  However, Gladstone fils had gone by this date.

The South Wales Coal Strike also exercised Parliament - at some 11,995 words. This, I believe, is the strike that led to the Welsh being less enthusiastic about Churchil - then Home Sec - than we English are.

Anyway, this from Keir Hardie:

"First of all there is the question of the character of the Welsh collier. He has been stigmatised all over the country as a wild, riotous, and disorderly fellow, who requires extra police, backed by the military, to keep him in order during trade disputes...When men are brought a very long distance in the midst of winter; when they are turned adrift amongst the Welsh hills without proper provision being made for housing, for feeding, even for clothing; when they are kept on duty for intolerably long hours, it is not to be wondered at that they get irritable and commit acts which, in their cooler moments, they probably regret".
And the man himself:

"But I was yesterday the subject of attack from no less a person than the Leader of the Opposition, and he has attacked me, not for the excessive amount of force employed, but for not employing sufficient force—for not sending military instead of police—for not sending military soon enough" (Churchill)

And on to Persia, with a Libby Purvis-worthy contrived link from Sir George Lloyd (Yes, really.  Con):
I ask the attention of the House to transfer them from the somewhat turbulent discussion of events in South Wales to the scarcely less turbulent atmosphere of international politics at the present time....

It is in the knowledge of this House that for many years past there has been a scheme of a trans-continental railway which will link Constantinople with the head waters of the Persian Gulf, and which is steadily advancing into a sphere of influence which has been regarded, and which is still regarded, I believe, in all quarters of the House, as a sphere of influence which, if not exclusive in character, is, at any rate, of paramount and peculiar importance to us.

Yes, the Berlin-Baghdad railway, always a popular way to scare the horses.

And this, which is news - so to speak - to me:
"The more do we regret any disposition to discuss our special and recognised interests in the Gulf when we consider the battle that is going on to-day in Arabia, a battle that is for the very life of Turkey, a battle which, if unsuccessful, will separate Turkey from the holy places, and perhaps throw into jeopardy the position of the Caliphate on which the power of Turkish sovereignty so largely depends".

Jeremy Clarkson, Nigel Mansell etc watch out:

Mr. STEWART  asked the President of the Local Government Board if he will say why John Craven Dixon, of the Borough of Wallasey, has been refused an old age pension; and whether he fails to qualify because he resided for a period in the Isle of Man?

Mr. BURNS The Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom, and the claimant, who had had his residence during twelve of the last twenty years in that island, fails to satisfy the condition in Section 2 (2) of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1908, and is consequently not qualified for a pension.

Then again, maybe they are sufficiently financially set.

The thrilling issue of Post Office hours, in Sussex and Kent at least:

Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL the hours at Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, and Eastbourne are as follows:—Brighton: Open always, except between midnight Saturday and 7.0 a.m. Sunday. Tunbridge Wells: Weekdays, 7.0 a.m. to 10.0 p.m.; Sundays, 8.30 a.m. to 10.0 a.m., 5.0 p.m. to 6.0 p.m. Eastbourne: Weekdays (May to Oct.), 7.0 a.m. to 10.0 p.m.; Weekdays (Nov. to April), 8.0 a.m. to 9.0 p.m.; Sundays, 8.30 a.m. to 10.0 a.m., 5.0 p.m. to 6.0 p.m.

Such hours now would be a fine thing, eh?

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