Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A 1911 Hansard trawl, featuring verbose MPs, postal orders and a practical joke.

It's those dreadnoughts againAustrian this time:

Mr. BURGOYNE asked whether the right hon. Gentleman could now give the dates upon which the two Austrian "Dreadnoughts" were laid down; and when he anticipates they will be launched and commissioned for service?

Mr. McKENNA The only official information we have respecting the Austro-Hungarian "Dreadnoughts" building is that one will be launched in the middle of this year and another at the end of the year.

A little light excavating reveals that the first Hapsburg Dreadnought was called 'SMS Viribus Unitis', which apparently means 'With United Forces'.  What a profoundly lame name, IMO, although the same source has it being the Emperor's personal motto.  Italian marines sank it in 1918.  Note must be made of the rather surreal disambiguation page for Viribus Unitis which offers the ship or an Italian football team.

'We joined the navy to see the world and what did we see, we saw [a lot of coal]', as this proves:

Mr. BURGOYNE   asked whether any difficulty was experienced in maintaining the requisite numbers in stoker ratings; and whether there is at the moment any deficit in this branch of the service?

Mr. McKENNA The answer to both parts of the hon. Member's question is in the negative.
HMS rather less than Invincible:

Lord CHARLES BERESFORD asked whether the electrical fittings for the gun-mounting of H.M.S. "Invincible" have again broken down; whether these fittings have continually broken down after the guns have been fired; whether H.M.S. "Invincible" has been placed in dock, or in a basin, preparatory to taking out the whole of the electrical gun-mounting fittings and replacing them by hydraulic machinery; whether such an alteration would take at least six months to carry out; and whether he would state to the House the original cost of the electrical gun-mounting fittings for the ship?
Mr. LEE When will this ship be able to take her place among the effective ships of the Fleet?

Mr. McKENNA I think the improvements which are now being effected by the contractors will run concurrently with the long refitting and together they will occupy a period of about three months.
She was sunk at Jutland, with almost total loss of life.

Anyway, to less grim matters:

Mr. CATHCART WASON asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the fact that a column of "The Times" can be spoken in less than fifteen minutes, and the desire of many hon. Members to take part in the Debate, he would give his consideration to the proposal that hon. Members, other than Members of the Government or Front Opposition Bench and leaders of the Irish and Labour parties, desiring to speak should, at the time of handing in their names, state for how many minutes they desire to speak, to which time they would be strictly limited?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith) This is, I think, a novel proposal, and I should like, before further considering it, to have evidence that it meets with something like general support.
I doubt that there are more than a handful of Commons speeches over ten minutes these days.

Meanwhile, Chechnya has long been a less than advisable spot for non-natives:

Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any official information regarding the murder of British subjects at Grosny, in the Caucasian Government of Terek; and whether steps are being taken to bring the murderers to justice?
Mr. McKINNON WOOD  The British Vice-Consul at Rostov-on-Don reported on 23rd February that two British subjects, Messrs. MacGarvey and Bernard, had been murdered by robbers at Grosny on the preceding night. His Majesty's Ambassador at St. Petersburg has been in communication with the Russian Government with a view to the apprehension of the murderers, but I have not yet heard that they have been discovered and arrested.
I get the feeling that Mr Taylor should have declared an interest here, as the question seems a little pointed:

Mr. JOHN TAYLOR asked the Postmaster-General whether, in the case of crossed postal orders, he could issue an instruction that where the person to whom the order is made payable is personally known to the postmaster, the order may be cashed at the post office; and whether he could, in the interest of a number of people, remove the prohibition on the negotiation of postal orders?
Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL   I should not be justified in any circumstances in instructing a postmaster to cash a crossed postal order over the counter, as this would be breaking faith with the remitter who is told that an order, if crossed, is payable only through a bank, nor would it be in the public interest to make postal orders negotiable which would be, in effect, to convert them into a paper currency.
Maybe Taylor, like Billy Bunter, was always counting on a postal order to save the day. 

Suffragette city....

Mr. SNOWDEN asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he had received a memorandum accompanying a request for a public inquiry into the conduct of the Metropolitan Police on 18th, 22nd, and 23rd November last...


I have received the memorandum referred to and considered it. It contains a large number of charges against the police of criminal misconduct, which, if there were any truth in them, should have been made at the time and not after a lapse of three months, and should, if they could be supported by evidence, have been preferred in a police court....
The statement that there were a large number of plain clothes officers in the crowd who were, it is suggested, guilty of indecencies, is equally false. Apart from some detectives, specially summoned when it was found that a large number of pickpockets and thieves were present, not more than a 368 dozen plain clothes officers were employed, and, with the exception of one who assisted in an arrest, none of them handled the women in any way; but the crowd, which had assembled in response to invitations scattered broadcast by the Women's Social and Political Union, contained a large number of undesirable and reckless persons quite capable of indulging in gross conduct. It is perfectly possible that some of these were guilty of the indecencies alleged, and for their presence in Parliament Square the women themselves are responsible.

Not one of Churchill's finer hours, I think.

Meanwhile, rolling English roads:

Mr. COURTHOPE asked the Secretary of State for War whether communications have been received by the War Office on the state and need of repair of the military road running from Rye to Winchelsea;

Come now Mr Courthorpe, roads in the region of Rye *need* to be a bit decrepit, as -

Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.(Rest of the poem here)

A reader magnet of a Hansard heading: Practical Joke (Member Victimised).
Sounds good, doesn't it?  But is it?

Winston Churchill ......The hon. Member for the Ramsey Division [Oliver Locker-Lampson]
was made the victim of a senseless and cruel practical joke at the hands of an acquaintance who had before been concerned in similar acts. The hon. Member was placed in a position of extreme embarrassment by the reckless behaviour of his companion, and by the charge which Mr. Cole preferred against him of stealing his watch. The hon. Member endeavoured to restrain his companion as much as possible, and to minimise the occurrence, but Mr. Cole's behaviour attracted a considerable crowd, and, in the confusion, both he and the hon. Member were arrested by the police, who were 385 naturally placed in a great difficulty by such an unusual incident.
Clear as mud...  This is what happened, apparently: 'Horace de Vere Cole challenged Locker-Lampson to a footrace on a London street, and allowed him to pull ahead. Then he shouted "Stop thief! He's got my watch!" - having previously slipped his gold watch into Locker-Lampson's pocket'.

Elsewhere their Lorships spilled 1,254 words on the topic of 'duties on clay', but I have conluded that as 'Kingdoms are clay; our dungy earth alike Feeds beast as man' I will leave them to it.

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