Thursday, 8 September 2011

The 1911 Hansard trawl, featuring cheese, unsanitary locations and the post office.

Given that MPs took lengthy breaks then as now, this is not exactly 100 years back, but I trust I will be forgiven.  First up, the prisoners' dilemma, so to speak:

Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON  asked whether the Mahdist prisoners incarcerated at Wady Haifa after the Soudan War are still at that place, and how many remain; whether there is yet any prospect of their ever being released; whether Osman Digna is still among them; and, if so, whether the British authorities in Egypt will now allow an independent medical examination with a view to ascertaining his mental condition?

 Mr. McKINNON WOOD The only information which I have received in regard to the Mahdist prisoners at Wady Haifa subsequent to that which I gave to the hon. Member in reply to the question which he addressed to me on the 27th of April, 1909, is to the effect that these Dervish prisoners appear to be satisfied with their lot, and that they are well cared for, in excellent health, and give no trouble.

Well, always supposing they had room to whirl.  Now as every school boy knows, the mahdists were fought by Winston Churchill in one of the last cavalry charges by the British army, and that they didn't like it up em either.  As a young QG (circa 7), I saw 'Young Winston' at the Colwyn Bay Odeon with my mother and great grandmother  and was good enough to aver, amidst some on-screen drama that they should not worry as 'Winston doesn't die'.  And I was right, he didn't.  I don't think I've given away key plot points while in a cinema since.  Back at the plot, those Mahdists would have been in the Big House since 1898 at the latest.

Sticking with North Africa, a shocking revelation:
Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON asked whether the right hon Gentleman's attention has been called to the fact that the sanitary system of Cairo is still extremely imperfect.

Well fancy that.

Showing his customary obsession with stamps, Mr Touche:

Mr. TOUCHE asked the Postmaster General whether the General Post Office has received claims for refundment of charges in respect of unstamped envelopes or postal packets, on the ground that stamps were duly affixed but came off in transit owing to the inferior adhesive quality of the gum used by the new contractors; and whether such claims have been recognised and satisfied?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel) Such claims are complied with where they are well-founded.
Doubtless the Touchelets had been on diet of gruel and water because daddy had taken such a hit on postal charges. 

Ever been tempted to send milk by post?  Me neither, however....

Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY asked the Postmaster-General if he received a memorial from the priests and people of Clouncagh, in the county of Limerick, setting out the need for a post office there, and pointing out that there is a large creamery in the locality which is greatly handicapped for want of it; that a much larger trade would be done with its customers in England if there were a post office near.
I might risk some mature cheese, I suppose.

And yet more postal shenanigans:

Mr. BARNES   asked whether the post office in the Glasgow Exhibition of 1901 was staffed by established male officers under the control of an overseer; and, if so, what special circumstances warrant the staffing of the post office in the present Glasgow Exhibition with unestablished labour under the control of a female supervisor?
Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL  The staff of the temporary branch office in the Glasgow Exhibition of 1901 was as. stated. For the reasons given on the. 1st instant to the hon. Member, in answer to a question on this subject, the arrangements made for the present exhibition are to be preferred.
A woman running a post office?  Whatever next.

A sadly missed decoration, the Imperial Service medal:

Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE asked whether hired men leaving the Royal dockyards after twenty-five years' service with good characters are eligible for the Imperial service medal; if not, what constitutes eligibility in the case of hired men; is there any period of service and any conditions entitling a hired man to receive the medal on vacating employment when reaching the age limit?

Mr. McKENNA Only members of the established Civil Service of the State are eligible for the medal. A man who is on the hired list at the time of his retirement cannot, therefore, be granted the medal, whatever his length of service.

Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE  Would it not be possible to consider the matter with regard to the hired men?

Mr. McKENNA  The regulations are not made by the Admiralty.
I am indebted to Wikipedia for informing me thus:  "Normally a person must have served for 25 years to become eligible, but this might be shortened to 16 years for those serving in unsanitary locations".  I wonder if an FOI request might be in order....


Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD   My question is whether the right hon. Gentleman has any information as to the state of Liverpool to-day, and whether he can in any way supplement the statement published this morning as to how and why rioting commenced yesterday, and whether, in view of the practically unanimous condemnation of the action of the police for having provoked the riot, he will have a special inquiry made, and accept evidence from others than members of the police force?

Mr. CHURCHILL  I think it would be convenient for me to give an answer to the question of which I have received private notice. Reports received this morning from Liverpool are to the effect that there is no improvement in the situation. The dockers have not returned to work, and the shipowners have declared a general lock-out from this afternoon. There is a good deal of rioting and disturbance, and though it proceeds mostly from the hooligan class, who began the riot last night, it is serious in character, and throughout the town attacks are being made on warehouses and factories, and even private houses. The police are being assailed in the performance of their ordinary duties.
Nothing new under the sun, is there?

The French disease:

 Sir H. KIMBER asked whether, under Section 13, Sub-section 4, of the National Insurance Bill an approved society will be allowed to refuse sickness benefit to insured persons suffering from tertiary syphilis which appears twenty or even forty years after infection, e.g., a gumma of cheek appearing after a lapse of forty years, and tabes or locomotor ataxy appearing after a lapse of twenty years?

Mr. LLOYD GEORGE Matters of this kind will be dealt with in the rules of the society, which will, of course, be framed by the society with the consent of its members and will have to be approved by the Insurance Commissioners.

And why were you so concerned, Sir Henry?  Anyway a relevant exchange and a graffito :

John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich: "Egad sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox." 
John Wilkes: "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress".

'Here did I lay my Celia down:  I got the pox and she got half a crown'.  From memory.  Not sure where it was inscribed.

Normal standards of decorum will now be restored.

It would seem that they knew their oats at the War Office:

Mr. STANIER asked the Undersecretary for War whether a large consignment of Russian oats is being loaded at St. Petersburg for the use of British Cavalry regiments in Great Britain; and, if so, has he taken into consideration the fact that foot-and-mouth disease is prevalent in Russia and the importation of oats is therefore a danger to the live stock of this country?

Colonel SEELY  Nothing is known in the War Office of any such consignment of oats.

See how I skipped a sitting duck of an innuendo possibility there?

Ministers everywhere wait for an opportunity like this one:

Colonel YATE asked whether steps have been taken to renovate the English inscription on the monument erected by the nation in the cemetery at Scutari in 1857 to the memory of the British officers and men who fell in the Crimea, which is reported to have become illegible?

And thwack:

Mr. DUDLEY WARD  The inscription on this monument was re-gilded in August last year
It looks to be in a good state of repair now too:


  1. Excellent trawl QG

    Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON asked whether the right hon Gentleman's attention has been called to the fact that the sanitary system of Cairo is still extremely imperfect.

    Obviously just back from a Cook's tour to the pyramids and been introduced to the 'hole in the ground'

    And he would be just as disappointed today.

    "Normally a person must have served for 25 years to become eligible, but this might be shortened to 16 years for those serving in unsanitary locations".

    Egypt perhaps?

  2. PC - Kind of you to say so, thank you. I think you could be on to something with Egypt...