Those wicked Americans:
Mr. KING asked what number of claims arising out of telegraphic cables cut in the West Indies were preferred against the United States Government as a result of the Spanish-American war; how long a period elapsed between the presenting of the claims and their final settlement; and what was the total amount of compensation paid.I imagine the cables were those of what became Cable & Wireless.
§Mr. ACLAND As far as I am aware, only two such claims were preferred against the United States Government, one by the Cuba Submarine Telegraph Company and one by the French Cable Company. That of the Cuba Submarine Telegraph Company was presented in November, 1899, but no compensation has yet been paid. It will shortly be referred to arbitration under the Pecuniary Claims Agreement with the United States.
§Mr. KING Then may we take it that any claims that arise in the Ægean will take at least twelve years to settle?
Plus ça change department:
Sir EDWIN CORNWALL asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he had received any information lately or at all concerning the commercial condition of Portugal; and whether the political condition of Portugal is such as to cause anxiety to His Majesty's Government?Mr. ACLAND In regard to the first part of the question I have received no special information recently as to the commercial situation in Portugal. The answer to the second part is in the negative.
Mr. WATT Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the condition of affairs is better commercially under a Republic than under a Monarchy?
Mr. ACLAND That is rather a matter of opinion.
The possibly less than whole-heartedly monarchist Mr Watt was a Glaswegian Liberal.
Those fiendish Americans, when they are not cutting our cables, they have designs on Our Lady of the Snows?
Mr. SHIRLEY BENN (no relation) asked the Prime Minister whether it was the business of the British Ambassador at Washington to be aware of the fact that the object of the reciprocity agreement between the United States and Canada was to make Canada an adjunct of the United States
Benn was one of a slew of bods asking the same thing. The PM was rather less alarmed than they were.
An MP seeking an extra holiday:
Mr. BOTTOMLEY asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that Wednesday, 5th June, is the anniversary of the birth of Adam Smith, the founder of the science of political economy, upon which the policy of Free Trade is said to be based, he will consider the question of extending the Whitsun Adjournment for two days beyond the date announced, in order that Members of the House may be afforded an opportunity of celebrating the festival in such manner as they may deem most appropriate?
The PRIME MINISTER I am afraid I cannot adopt the hon. Member's suggestion.
§Mr. BOTTOMLEY Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider his answer if I remind him that the 5th of June falls on the Feast of Saint Boniface?
Not such a bad idea, is it? I'd rather have that day off than May Day. Those, like me, not entirely up to speed on the lives of the saints might be interested to know that Boniface is that unicorn rare thing, a genuine English saint. He was martyred by Frisians, that is the people, rather than the livestock.