Thursday, 17 February 2011

Winston Churchill's thoughts on roller skating

No, I am not making this up.

This, from 1911.

Mr. TOUCHE (Con, N.Islington (sigh...) and founder of a certain accoutancy firm) asked the Home Secretary whether he has refused to sanction a by-law prohibiting roller-skating on the footpaths in Stoke Newington; if so, what are the grounds of his refusal; and will he reconsider the question, having regard to the circumstances attending the death of Mary Ann Bay, an elderly woman, who was knocked down by two boys who were roller-skating at Clapham Cross on 5th January, and whose death, according to the medical evidence at the coroner's inquest, was due to exhaustion following shock from the fall?

Mr. CHURCHILL attention has been drawn to the case of the old lady referred to. I made inquiries, and was informed that the correctness of her statement that she was knocked down by boys roller-skating on the pavement is open to great doubt. The police have failed to discover any corroborative evidence. The old lady, who was ninety-one years of age, and suffering from senile decay, is stated to have been in the habit of imagining things which never occurred. (I'm sure her relatives were delighted to have heard her thus described in Parliament).  My reason for refusing to sanction the bylaw made by the borough council of Stoke Newington was that I have received no evidence that the dangers arising from roller-skating by boys and girls are so much greater than the ordinary dangers of traffic in the streets, particularly motor traffic, that the practice ought to be prohibited by by-law.  Such a by-law would create a new offence punishable by the criminal law...would lead to the imposition of fines, and possibly to the detention and imprisonment of children and young persons for indulging in a form of amusement which would be legal on one side of the road and illegal on the other. I am very reluctant to increase the number of occasions when the children of the poorer classes may be brought into the police-court and rendered liable to imprisonment".   
Viscount CASTLEREAGH  Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that elderly people have been killed?

Mr. CHURCHILL  If we had proceeded on the principle that no person may be killed by such a pastime, the Noble Lord would ride more rarely than he does in motor cars.

I am inclined to side with Churchill over Castlereagh and Touche.

While that is the most prize pearl for 14/2/1911, there are some other pieces of decorative calcium carbonate lurking in that day's Hansard.

Like this:

Silk Handkerchiefs for the Royal Navy (Home Supply).

Mr. BURGOYNE asked whether the silk scarves and ties used in the Navy, formerly made and woven in this country, are now purchased from abroad?

Mr. McKENNA The question is understood to relate to the black silk handkerchiefs worn by men of the Fleet. These articles continue to be purchased from firms in this country, and no alteration has been made in the conditions of contract which have prevailed for some years 869 past, requiring such articles to be of British manufacture throughout.

And a relieved nation sleeps easy again.

The decline of stoicism at the Met:

Sir SAMUEL SCOTT asked what was the percentage of sick amongst the members of the Metropolitan police force in November, 1909 and 1910

Mr. CHURCHILL The percentage of sickness amongst the Metropolitan police in November, 1909, was 2,62, and in November, 1910, 2,66.
More recent figures can be found here.  4.2% were tucked up with a hot water bottle in March 2010. 

And so to Margarine and Milk-blended Butter.

Mr. HUGH BARRIE asked how many Fancy names for margarine and how many for milk-blended butter have been approved and registered by the Department of Agriculture under The Butter and Margarine Act, 1907; and will he state what these name are?
Now why can't we have Acts with such comical names these days? 

Anyway, there's more.  Much more:

Mr. BIRRELL The Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland have approved of 411 names for use in connection with margarine, and a provisional approval has been given of one name, "Bondone," under which milk-blended butter may, subject to certain conditions, be dealt with. A list of the names approved of for margarine will be sent to the hon. Member.

Mr. HUGH BARRIE asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture if he will state how many fancy names for margarine and how many for milk-blended butter have been approved and registered by his Department under the Butter and Margarine Act, 1907; and will he state what those names are?

Sir E. STRACHEY The Board have approved 1,831 names for margarine and forty-four for mixtures of butter with milk. In view of these numbers perhaps the hon. Member will excuse me from stating what the names are.
I think I might be in with a chance of naming a dozen, if I was allowed supermarket own brand products.

Someone thinks little of the FAZ:

Viscount WOLMER asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether there is any truth in the statement published by the "Frankfurter Zeitung" that the rebels in the Yemen derive weapons from English sources?

Mr. McKINNON WOOD His Majesty's Government do not know from what sources the rebels in the Yemen derive their weapons, but they have no reason to suppose that there is any truth in the report.
Us, supplying arms to rebels?  Rebels fighting the Ottoman Empire when we controlled Aden?  How very unlikely.....

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