Back when the navy did not consist of a couple of minesweepers and a landing craft or two:
Mr. MIDDLEMORE asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether he is aware that a committee of three admirals, including two who subsequently served as First Sea Lords, which reported on the naval manœuvres of 1888, declared that every battleship in a blockading fleet should be accompanied by at least one cruiser; whether he is aware that the number of battleships building, or not launched more than twenty years, is sixty-three, and the number of protected cruisers seventy; and whether he will say what provision will be made for the defence of our trade routes after an adequate number of cruisers has been allotted to the battle fleet?
The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. McKenna)
The report of 1888 was made before wireless telegraphy was invented which has greatly altered the conditions. The number of battleships and protected cruisers, including Canadian and Australian, is correct, but to these must be added forty-three armoured cruisers.
Bit like having wi-fi, perhaps?
This being a naval day, there are fair few more nautical matters to hand:
Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the examination of the six destroyers of the second flotilla which sustained damage during the recent manœuvres has now been completed; if so, whether he can state the result; whether the "Rifleman" and three other destroyers of the Acorn class have since proceeded to sea and been compelled to return to port owing to further starting of rivets; and, if so, whether he is in a position to give any information regarding the matter?Starting of rivets, eh? I can guess what that means, but it does have a certain poetry to it, no? As to the 'Nymphe', I cannot imagine that ratings or officers thereon got by without a fair amount of ribbing from their fellow jack tar when on shore leave.
Mr. McKENNA The examination of the "Rifleman," "Larne," "Lyra," and "Nymphe" has not yet been completed. Arrangements are being made for their docking as soon as convenient. Nothing is known of the circumstances referred to in the second part of the question.
And this is how one should negotiate salaries:
Mr. ASHLEY asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that the salary offered to the Director of Naval Construction, namely, £l,500 per annum, rising to a maximum of £1,800, is considerably lower than that which can be earned in the employment of a private firm by a man with the requisite professional knowledge; and whether, in view of this fact, the Admiralty will take the necessary steps so as to secure as the successor to the present director the most talented member of the profession?I wonder if the candidates were students of Hansard....
Mr. McKENNA The salary named by the hon. Gentleman has not been in operation for many years. I need hardly say that the Admiralty will endeavour to secure the services of the most suitable gentleman to fill the prospective vacancy referred to.
Mr. ASHLEY Is the salary of the Director of Naval Construction included in the Navy Estimates?
Mr. McKENNA The hon. Gentleman will see from the Navy Estimates that the salary of the present Director of Naval Construction is £3,000.
Mr. LEE Will the right hon. Gentleman, at any rate, see that the salary which has been paid for so many years is not reduced in the case of the present director's successor?
Mr. McKENNA I cannot give any undertaking on that point. We shall obtain the best man we can get, and I hope he will be paid a reasonable rate.
Staying on dry land:
Mr. STEWART asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the revenue of the Federated Malay States, and do they make any contribution to Imperial defence?Doubtless the Malay States Guides did their bit in 1942. Odd that there are more of my compatriots who could point and laugh at the Maginot Line (so to speak) than Singapore.
The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt) The estimated revenue of the Federated Malay States for 1911 is roughly $27,000,000. These States, although they are not British territory, make a substantial contribution to Imperial defence by maintaining, in accordance with the Federation Treaty of 1895, a highly efficient regiment (the Malay States Guides), which is intended to reinforce the garrison of Singapore in time of war.
An early sighting of the White Australia policy
Mr. HUNT asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether he is aware that within the last twelve months 4,000 or more coloured workmen have been imported to work in the mines in New Caledonia by a company; and whether, in view of the fact that Australia is only four and a-half days by steam, he can say whether the French Government have taken any steps to prevent these men from getting away and landing in Australia contrary to the Australian Immigration Acts?Ladies and gentlemen, to your seats, please, for the battle of the sexes:
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY asked whether the Factory Department of the Home Office have written to Messrs. Nobel, of Waltham Abbey, instructing the substitution of boy labour for female labour in the operation of ward-cutting; whether, in consequence, a number of women who have been working at this operation for years have been thrown out of employment, and boys engaged in what is for them a blind-alley occupation; and, if so, whether the Home Secretary will state under what authority this instruction has been given?
Mr. CHURCHILL It is not the case that the Factory Department of the Home Office have instructed Messrs. Nobel to substitute boy labour for female labour in the operation of ward-cutting. There is no power to give such instructions. An inspector of the Department who recently investigated an accident at the factory expressed the opinion that the sharpening of the knives used in the process of ward-cutting while they were in motion was dangerous work for girls to perform, and suggested that either men should do the sharpening, or that the knives should be stopped while being sharpened. The firm tried the former alternative, and, finding It involved some loss of time, decided on their own initiative to do the whole work of ward-cutting with male labour.
Hmm, so Harvey is standing up for the rights of women to engage in a 'blind-alley occupation'? I might use that term instead of McJob the next time a suitable opportunity avails itself.
It started like this, and ended up with the Common Agricultural Policy (maybe):
Mr. C. BATHURST asked (1) whether before settling the details of the national scheme for the establishment of farm institutes, the President of the Board of Education will consider the advisability of sending a small committee to visit and study the equipment and curriculum of the exceptionally efficient institutions of a similar character in Belgium; and whether it will be the aim of his Department or the Board of Agriculture to cultivate and manage the farms attached to these institutes, as in the case of the practical farm schools of France and BelgiumA pox upon Bury, Birmingham, Wallesey, and furthermore - Stalybridge:
If this were today, doubtless the question would be followed up by a moan about what the government was doing to the toiling masses of those four settlements. I have no ideas as to why Smith (no 'P', silent or otherwise) cared not for the be-poxed burghers of say, Stepney.
Mr. ALBERT SMITH asked what is the number of cases of small-pox reported in Bury, Stalybridge, Wallasey and Birmingham this year, with the vaccinal condition of the patients, also the number of deaths, and the vaccinal condition of the victims?
Mr. BURNS In Bury, thirty cases of small-pox have occurred, of which none were fatal. The age incidence of these patients cannot be given at present. Eleven of the patients are known to have been unvaccinated, and sixteen had been vaccinated in infancy. The Board have no information on the vaccinal condition of the three remaining cases. The Wallasey and Birmingham outbreaks are so recent that no precise information is as yet available. There were fourteen cases of smallpox at Stalybridge, of which none were fatal. Of these cases, six were unvaccinated, seven were vaccinated, and one was said to have had a previous attack of small-pox. All the cases under twenty-years of age were unvaccinated.
London weighting I've heard of, but Bishops Stortford weighting?
Mr. BECK asked the Postmaster-General what are the grounds for the refusal of the application of the rural postmen attached to Stanstead office to be placed upon the same rate of pay as those postmen of the same class who are attached to Bishop's Stortford?So, go - erm - south west, young man.
The ASSISTANT POSTMASTER -GENERAL (Captain Norton) Stanstead is a sub-office under Bishop's Stortford, and the scale of pay at a sub-office is usually lower than that for the relative head office. Careful consideration was given to all the circumstances before the classification of Stanstead was decided upon, and I regret that it is not possible to place that office upon the same scale as Bishop's Stortford.
Moving swiftly on....
Mr. BOOTH asked the Prime Minister whether, in any prospective creation of Peers, he will consider the suggestion of recommending for that honour some representative working men and trade unionist officials?
The PRIME MINISTER This appears to be a purely hypothetical question.
Mr. CLYNES Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that even trade union officials have some regard for the company they desire to keep out of?
Booth was a Pontefract Liberal, and the waggish Mr Clynes, a Mancunian socialist. If only someone had had the wit to read that response to 'Lord' Prescott.
Back when falls in the crime rate led somewhere:
Mr. PETO asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is proposed to close His Majesty's prison at Devizes at an early date; and, if so, whether he can indicate the date?
Mr. CHURCHILL In view of the satisfactory reduction in the number of commitments to prison in the South and West of England, I hope that it may become possible to close, for a time at any rate, one or more of the smaller prisons in order to economise the cost of staff and maintenance, and if this is done, the case of Devizes is likely to be considered, but no steps have yet been taken towards closing it.Great for the L-A-ing citizens of Devizes, apart from the screws.