Thursday 28 July 2011

A 1961 Hansard trawl, featuring tortoises, 123 traffic wardens and the miracle of price fixing.

First up, plus ca change dept - self-interested quangos:

Captain Kerby  asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether he is aware that the Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board is using its journal to influence voting in connection with the forthcoming revocation poll; and whether he will take action to prevent this practice;

    (2) whether he is aware that the Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board is using moneys compulsorily levied from registered producers to influence voting in favour of the scheme remaining in force; and what action he is taking to stop this practice.

Cries out to heaven for vengeance, or at least legislation, does it not?  But apparently not:

Mr. Soames I am not aware that actions of this kind would be contrary to the Act or the Scheme. Nor is it for me to initiate any action.

That's Arthur 'let's not speak truth unto power, it might upset it' Soames, the chap who decided that he should not make a fuss about Mugabe's thuggery during the 1980 Zim election.  Perhaps a graver crime than the one evidenced above.

And so to an earlier outbreak of doing nothing:

Mr. Longden asked the Lord Privy Seal how the United Kingdom voted on the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1953 urging all members to ratify the Convention on Genocide.

Mr. P. Thomas  The United Kingdom delegate to the United Nations General 97W Assembly abstained on the vote on resolution 795 (VIII) which called on States to accelerate their ratifications of, or accessions to, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The resolution was adopted by fifty votes to none with eight abstentions.
There were doubtless good reasons for this,  but it looks awful. We acceded to it in 1970.

Habeas corpus, so to speak:

Captain Kerby asked the Minister of Health what is the cost to the National Health Service of cadavers imported into the United Kingdom for use in teaching hospitals; how many were imported during 1959 and 1960; and what were their countries of origin.

Mr. Powell Cadavers are not used in teaching hospitals. They are not imported for use in medical schools.

The good captain had a lively and enquiring mind, did he not?  Tomatoes one minute and corpses the next. Meanwhile, what were our trainee sawbones practicing on?

The often vexed issue of public sector pensions:

Mr. G. M. Thomson asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the average pension at present being received by women and men teachers, respectively, who retired before 1951; and what are the average pensions being received by men and women teachers who retire in 1961.

Mr. Maclay The average pensions at present of women and men teachers who retired before 1951 are £238 and £347 per annum respectively. These include increases under the Pensions (Increase) Acts of 61.3 per cent. and 47.4 per cent. respectively. The figures for teachers who retired in the year ending 31st March, 1961, are £437 per annum and £608 per annum respectively. These include small increases under the Pensions (Increase) Acts.

So that's where it all went wrong.

Not hearing the call to the colours:

Mr. John Hall asked the Secretary of State for War what measures he is taking to encourage recruiting into those corps which are getting too small a share of recruits in proportion to their needs.
Mr. Profumo In order to improve recruiting in certain corps which are not getting a sufficiently large share of recruits in proportion to their needs, I propose to allow certain men who enlist on a 22-year engagement the option of leaving after four years instead of six. This will apply to the two main trades in the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Royal Army Dental Corps, and to all men in the Royal Military Police and the Army Catering Corps.
Fancy not wanting to be a Redcap.

Price fixing?  It's a good thing.  Apparently:

Mr. Gresham Cooke  asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the fact that after four years of investigation the Monopolies Commission has reported that resale price maintenance does not operate against the public interest so far as the cigarette and tobacco industry is concerned, what steps he proposes to take to ensure that equally comprehensive consideration is given to the merits of resale price maintenance so far as concerns other industries affected by the inquiry which his own Department is making into this subject at the present time.

Mr. Maudling   Resale price maintenance was only one of a large number of matters covered by this investigation. In any case, as my hon. Friend will remember, in the Monopolies Commission's Report an the tobacco industry, as well as the majority view, a minority view was expressed on the effects, as regards public advantage, of resale price maintenance in this industry. When I have before me the results of the Departmental inquiry I shall be able to decide whether any further consideration needs to be given to this problem in respect of other industries.
Maybe further on I'll find a reference to the wonders of beating walnut trees with chains or the  prospect of the use of alchemy to pay off the national debt.

I have warm feelings, generally speaking, towards tortoises, so this is rather sad:

Sir B. Janner (Greville's old man - QG) asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the circumstances in which a large proportion of a consignment of tortoises imported into this country via Newhaven on 19th June arrived in a dead or dying condition; and, in view of this evidence of continuing cruelty, whether he will now consider taking steps to ban or control the importation of tortoises.  
Mr. Maudling   My point is that the powers conferred on me are for use for economic purposes and I do not think that they could be used for other purposes.

Mr. Jeger Is it still intended that these tortoises should be used as the symbol of the Government's economic and financial policy?
The oh so witty Mr Jeger was the Labour MP for Goole and never, it would appear, a regular at the Glasgow Empire. 

Manny Shinwell asks some questions as yet still unsatisfactorily answered:

Mr. Shinwell asked the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the consequences of British entry into the Common Market, with particular reference to an estimate of those countries, apart from the members of the Commonwealth and the European Free Trade Association, with which the United Kingdom would be precluded from entering into independent trading relations.

Mr. Maudling   It would not be feasible to make an assessment of this kind in advance; the answer would depend upon such factors as changes in our own competitive power, the future level of the common tariff, and the commercial policy followed by the enlarged European Economic Community.

Mr. Shinwell Is that not a completely evasive reply? If the Government decide to accept the provisions of the Rome Treaty, that would preclude—apart from the E.F.T.A. countries and the Commonwealth countries—the United Kingdom engaging in independent trading relations. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman say that is so?

Mr. Maudling Simply because I thought everyone knew that.

Mr. Shinwell Are we to understand that the Government propose to enter into negotiations with the Six without having considered the consequences of their actions?

And something else from another age:

Mr. Snow asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to intensify Her Majesty's Customs' investigation of the smuggling of watches from Switzerland, in view of the fact that the present ex-works value of watches being smuggled into the United Kingdom amounts to over £5 million with a consequential loss of duty and purchase tax amounting to £3,750,000; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Barber I do not accept the figures mentioned in the Question, but I agree that the smuggling of watches presents a serious problem. The Customs are making every effort, with their available staff, both to detect it and to prevent it.

Has there ever been a substantial watch making industry in these parts?

The arts commissariat runs riot:

Mr. Hannan (no relation....)  asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has now received from the Arts Council their proposals for allocating the recently increased resources by way of grants and contributions for renovating existing theatres and building new ones; and, in particular, what proportion it is proposed to allocate to Scotland.
Sir E. Boyle I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. and learned Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. Jeger) on lath July. As regards the second part of the Question the allocation to Scotland out of resources made available to the Arts Council is a matter for the Council.
But it would breach their yooman rights, wouldn't it:

Mr. H. Hynd asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now state whether he will seek powers to deport Commonwealth immigrants who become criminals.

Mr. R. A. Butler I have no further statement to make on this subject at present
One for anyone who has ever received a parking ticket:

Mr. Callaghan asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present establishment and strength of traffic wardens in London; how many have resigned since the inception of the scheme; and what reasons they gave.
Mr. R. A. Butler  There is no formal establishment for traffic wardens in the Metropolitan Police District, but the Commissioner of Police would like to recruit substantially more than the 123 who are now in post. Of the 174 wardens who have been appointed since July, 1960, three have had their services terminated and 50 have resigned. Of the 50, two have since rejoined.

Of the wardens who resigned and did not rejoin, 18 left to go to other jobs, 12 gave domestic reasons (inability to find suitable accommodation, moving to another area, travelling difficulties), 10 said that the pay was inadequate, three left for health reasons, and three because of abuse from motorists. Two did not finish their training.
I do not doubt that traffic wardens are thicker skinned these days.

Banker bashing

One would think that Swiss fondness for banks and banking was one of those eternal verities, but a survey suggests otherwise:

The plain people of Switzerland, or at least 500 of them, were asked by Ifop 'whether, in general terms, the image they have of banks is very good, good, bad or very bad'.  And lo and indeed behold, some 35% think badly of banks and their bankers.  Whereas, by point of comparison, 21% of Americans and 51% of French thought likewise.  I've been irked by banks in the past, but would probably answer 'very good', in that I am rather pleased that we have banking as such, the detail of the incompetence, laziness etc of some practitioners nothwithstanding.

Anyway, onwards to seek out Satan in the smallprint:

50-64 year olds are the most likely to have a very bad image of banks, compared to a Swiss norm of 3%.  That's a lot of bounced cheques, incomprehensible call centre staff and grim hold music, no?  Odder still, the equivalent of ABC1s (CSP+) are more hostile - 5% - than C2DEs - 3% - or the retired etc - 3%.

And at the other end of the scale, where is the love? Some 23% of 18-24 year olds have a 'very good' image of banks, nigh on triple the 8% national norm.  Might this be because they still remember the free biro from Appenzeller Kantolbank when daddy took him or her along to open a new account?  Mysterious...  German speakers are more inclined to very/good than Francophones at 9% to 6%.

Asked how they felt about their own bank, Swiss, French and American interviewees all quite liked their own financial stronghold with 87%, 77% and 89% respectively regarding them as very/good.

Subsequently, our fortunate Swiss chums were asked to yay say or nay say to sundry bank-related statements:

Does the banking sector contribute strongly to the Swiss economy?  86% said yes, while a moronic 14% 'thought' otherwise.  And now for something really scary:  'The banks should be placed under state control' (presumably meaning that they should be stolen from the shareholders) - 51% were anti and 49% pro.  And in France 56% wanted the same as did 57% of Americans.  Saints preserve us.

Monday 25 July 2011

Qualified to vote?

I imagine a number of folk have read about the UCU's analysis of qualifications by constituency, and because I thought it would be amusing I've been playing around with the London stats and engaged in a little light graphing.  Bottom of the heap for lack of qulifications is the demi paradise that is Ilford South at 20% (UK Polling report profile here) .  At the other extreme is Brent North (better described as Wembley, I reckon) at a fairly creditable 1.9%.  This is how BN is described at UK polling Report:  "High ethnic population in UK constituencies is normally associated with deprived inner city seats, but Brent North is most owner-occupied residential suburbs. This is a seat of upwardly mobile successful Asians".

Anyway, chart 1:

(Ilford South - Ealing North)
 (Hammersmith - Ruislip)

(Old Bexley - Brent North)

There are 73 London seats.  This is the division, by party, of the 37 least qualified electorates:
And the rest:

I wonder what manner of conclusion on might draw from all this.....

Friday 22 July 2011

Stalked by marketeers?

Surveying my e-mail in box, I spotted this message header, sent straight to junk:

(Click for enhanced visibility, or take my word for it that it reads 'More competition planned for the NHS')

Thinking this might be a sign of the current PM doing something sound (I live in hope...), I had a look at the content:

Yup, it is touting viagra.    Now we all suffer hateful levels of spam on a daily basis, no doubt, but what intrigues is that this particular viagra touter thought that the British policy wonk demographic was one worth targeting.    

Thursday 21 July 2011

Shameless politicians' corner

This, from the Turkish Daily News:

"Forestry and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu had called on [pop singer] Tarkan to help drum up support for hydroelectric power plants in the Black Sea region as part of a public-relations campaign.
“Therefore we are starting a promotional campaign to create public awareness about the uses of hydropower plants… We will ask Tarkan to take part in our campaign by writing a song about Solaklı Valley [in the Black Sea province of Trabzon],” Eroğlu had said".

Tarkan (note the all important 'n') is not keen - “It would be something beyond ironic, something funny for someone who is against hydroelectric [power] plants to write a song about hydroelectric plants,” the singer said".

That is something of a shame, in that there would be much hilarity if Cameron could persuade whoever is hot this week (1) to record a ditty about charter schools, the big society, devolved responsibility etc.  Maybe there are some songs extant that could be re-worked.....

A bit of digging shows that Eroglu is not lacking in hinterland - Prof. Dr. Veysel Eroğlu is married and has 4 children. He speaks English. He has a large number of hobbies and interests, which include the art of marbled paper, swimming, diving, reading and the art of calligraphy. He is a member of the Istanbul Council, the Waters Foundation (SU VAKFI), the History and Nature Foundation (TATAV), the Turkish Hematological Association (THD), the Turkish National Committee on Water Pollution Research (SKATMK), the Civil Engineering Association (IMO) and İSKİ Sports Club.


Similarly, when not singing and not being antithetical to hydro-electricity, Tarkan leads a rich and full life:

"In January 2001, Tarkan joined a global brand and became the first Pepsi spokesperson in Turkey....According to hairdressers, his Kuzu Kuzu hairstyle is still the most frequently requested style in the salons of Turkey.  

His former squeeze has quite a name - Bilge Öztürk.  This is rendered still more droll by her being a lawyer.     

(1) Being too old for the charts etc, I don't have a clue who's in and who's out and therefore will not risk making myself a laughing stock by naming names.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

The 1911 Hansard trawl, featuring a pox upon Stalybridge, battleships and sexist employers. Inter alia.

One of these days I'll do something both more contemporary and sharper-edged, but having an hour to kill, here's another one of these.

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?

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.
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.

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?

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.
I wonder if the candidates were students of Hansard....

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?

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.
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. 

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 Belgium
A pox upon Bury, Birmingham, Wallesey, and furthermore - Stalybridge:

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.
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.

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?

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.
So, go - erm - south west, young man.

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.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Dying ain't much of a living.

I have found that amusement can be derived from outwardly unlikely sources, including phone books, supermarkets and the index of the London A-Z - go on, see what comes after Batley Road in Enfield, I'll wait. 

Anyway, suffused with this principle, I waded through the current issue of 'Hounslow Matters', the propaganda sheet put out by the council headquartered some way to the west of sweet home W4, and found this:

  And in close up, the responsibilities of the chap who runs 'Leisure and well-being':

Yup, L&WB includes 'cemeteries and crematoria'.  Delightful.....

(The headline is adapted / stolen from 'The Outlaw Josey Wales').

Friday 15 July 2011

The 1961 Hansard trawl, featuring junkets, aviation, car parks and Edward Heath

This might prompt a wry smile or two:

Mr. Rankin asked the Minister of Aviation if he has yet received from the French Government a reply on the possibilities of their collaborating with this country in the production of a supersonic airliner.

Mr. Rippon Within the last few days my right hon. Friend has received a reply from the French Minister of Transport suggesting a discussion between them on this subject, as soon as it can conveniently be arranged.

Mr. Rankin Can the hon. Gentleman say whether or not any sort of study is going on with the French Government on how we are to achieve supersonic speed without the power which, according to Lord Brabazon, at a height of 20,000 feet may shatter the windows of houses below the machine?

Mr. Rippon French firms as well as British firms have been engaged on these studies, which include the sort of matter to which Lord Brabazon referred.
I've heard some rather lurid tales about the former member for Hexham, but on the off chance he has not gone to meet his maker I'm keeping schtum.

A less than thrilling junket for the Czechoslovaks:

 Mr. Houghton asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he has invited a delegation from the National Social Security Office in Prague to visit this country; when he expects the delegation to arrive; for what period they will stay; and what arrangements will be made for them to see the working of his Department.
Mr. Boyd-Carpenter The Czechoslovak National Social Security Office has accepted an invitation to send a small party of officials to this country to study the work of my Department. I expect them to come in September for 866 about 10 to 14 days. Arrangements will be made for them to visit my Central Office at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and to study other aspects of my Department's work.
I would have thought that B-C was setting us up for a fall here, given the nature of Socialist planned economies.

Speaking of planned economies, here's one from 'the past is a foreign country' file:

Mr. V. Yates asked the Minister of Aviation why he has increased the car-parking charges at London Airport;

...(much blah)...

Mr Rippon....As regards the future, I think that the multi-storey garage which is being built will go far to ease the position.

And aviation again:

Mr. Stratton Mills  asked the Minister of Aviation what regulations he makes regarding the tipping of porters at airports and air terminals under the control of this Department.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon) Ministry of Aviation porters at airports and aerodromes are forbidden to solicit tips from passengers or visitors or to behave in such a manner as to suggest tips are expected, but they are not debarred from accepting tips which are freely and spontaneously offered. Ministry porters are not employed at the air terminals.

Mr. Stratton Mills

While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him if he does not feel that as B.E.A., particularly, and other airlines have a strictly enforced "no-tipping at all" 876 policy, there is considerable confusion in the minds of people using our airports? Will he also bear in mind that, as I once had a tip returned to me by a French porter at a French airport—[HON. MEMBERS: "Was it too small?"] —I admit that this should be considered somewhat unusual—it would be more desirable to have a definite policy of no tipping at British airports and air terminals? 

Dame Irene Ward Is my hon. Friend aware that I think our men at our airports are jolly good? Is he aware that they do not let it be known that they would like tips, whereas when one arrives at foreign airports a standard rate is generally demanded? Will he see that our men are put on the same favourable terms, if this decision is an international one, at our airports? Our men have done jolly well.

Mr. Rippon My hon. Friend does not bestow tributes lightly, and I know that the porters will be grateful for her observations.

Doubtless the conversation in the Heathrow breakroom was of little else.  Meanwhile, the Dame is worth reading about.  She was once the Conservative member for Wallsend.  We got 18% in the successor seat in 2010.

Pity the poor Greeks:

Mr. F. Noel-Baker asked the Lord Privy Seal what was the purpose of his recent official visit to Greece; for how long he stayed; which Greek Ministers he saw; and what decisions were taken.

Mr. Heath I visited Athens from 11th to 13th July for discussions with the Greek Foreign Minister. I also met the Greek Prime Minister and the Minister for Co-ordination of Economic Affairs. This provided a most useful opportunity for a frank and friendly exchange of views on matters of mutual interest.
It probably involved Edward the Worst telling Karamanlis what a marvelous Lord Privy Seal he was.

What the...

Captain Kerby asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the financial losses incurred by the British Railways, if he will give a general direction to The Britisth Transport Commission not to undertake prestige advertising.

Mr. Marples No. This is a matter for the Commission's commercial judgment.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

A 1911 Hansard trawl, featuring opium, stamps, Peru and mixed marriages

Been a while, hasn't it?

Bad things afoot in darkest Peru, it would seem:

Mr. KING asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now give further information about the atrocities perpetrated on natives in the Putumayo district of Peru; and particularly whether any persons have been apprehended, charged, tried, or punished for these offences?

The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Edward Grey) I have nothing to add to the replies to the questions put on 31st May by the hon. Member for Norfolk, North, and on 4th July by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme.

And that Q&A from 31/5/11

Mr. NOEL BUXTON asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Report of Consul-General Casement, on the treatment of Indian labourers in the rubber plantations of the Putumayo Valley, has been considered by His Majesty's Government; whether he will state what action they propose to take upon it; and when the Report will be published?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. T. McKinnon Wood) I have received the report of Consul-General Casement, which fully confirms the information received as to the ill-treatment of the natives. I am in communication with the Peruvian Government, who have expressed their determination to put an end to the present condition of affairs, and I am also in correspondence with the company, who are considering plans of reform. In the meantime, the visit of Mr. Casement and of the Commission has greatly improved the condition of the Indians; and it is hoped that this improvement may last until the reforms have been introduced. Many of the chief criminals have fled the country, and the Peruvian Government are endeavouring to effect their capture, although the inaccessibility of the country and the long distances render this a difficult task. I cannot yet say whether the Report will be published.

Casement, eh?  Opinions on the man differ, depending upon which side of the Irish Sea one is on.

See if you can read this one without sniggering:

Sir REGINALD POLE-CAREW asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that on Sundays, when Cornish fishermen do not go to sea, French fisher-men, when they think they can do so without being seen, lift the crab-pots which are laid at Handeeps, near the Eddy-stone; whether he would cause inquiries to be made; and, if necessary, would he be prepared to take steps for the adequate protection of the Cornish fishermen.
The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Buxton)  My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. I am not aware that the facts are as stated in the question, but I will make inquiries into the matter and, if necessary, consider what action can usefully be taken.

On a less flippant note, it would be nice if trade ministers still stood up for our fishermen.

As is traditional, Irish fun and games:

Mr. CHARLES CRAIG asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether his attention has been called to the fact that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Waterford, speaking in St. John's Church, Waterford, on Sunday, 25th June, denounced a certain married couple as living sinful lives because, one of them being a Protestant, they had not been married in a Roman Catholic church; and whether he will consult his law officers as to whether the Roman Catholic bishop can be prosecuted for criminal libel for thus holding up to public contumely a man and woman who have been married according to the laws of the country?

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. Redmond Barry) Since the hon. Gentleman's question was put on the Paper, I have seen a newspaper report, from which it appears that the bishop did, in the course of a sermon, on the occasion mentioned, expound the views of the Catholic Church, in relation to mixed marriages. The bishop made no reference whatever to the position of the parties in such cases under the civil law, and in no way impeached the validity of such marriages under the civil law. The law of criminal libel has no application whatever to such a statement.

(Much chin music)
And then this:

I cannot for the life of me see what objection there is to a Bishop of a Catholic church or any other church, stating his religious beliefs-and convictions in regard to any matter

What would Redmond make of the modern age?

The opium of the masses, or perhaps a small minority:

Mr. NIELD  asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is aware of the existence of shops for the sale of opium to the coolies employed in certain of the tea gardens in Assam and of the growth of the opium habit among them, especially at the Dejoo Company's Garden, opposite Joyhing, and the gardens of the Jokia (Assam) Tea Company, Limited, at Pathahpam and Derpai; whether he is aware that a new opium shop has recently been opened at or close to Panitola; and whether, either upon the information he has or the result of any inquiries confirming the above matters, he will cause the Government of India to take speedy measures to deal with the subject?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Montagu)  The Secretary of State has no reason to believe that the opium habit is on the increase among the coolie population of the tea gardens in Assam. During the last four years the number of licences for retailing opium has been reduced from 632 to 381 in the five Assam Valley districts and the issue price of opium raised. The consumption of opium has also fallen. As regards the location of particular shops, the Secretary of State does not interfere with the discretion of the Local Government.
What's wrong with a nice cup of tea?  Anyway, onwards.


asked the Secretary for the Colonies whether, in view of the opinions expressed by some of the representatives at the Imperial Conference, the Government propose to take steps and, if so, what steps to establish a decimal system of coinage and a metric system of weights and measures simultaneously in the United Kingdom and in His Majesty's Dominions overseas?
    The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Buxton)

    My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question so far as it relates to weights and measures. Some of the representatives of the Dominions expressed themselves as theoretically in favour of a change, but recognised the practical difficulties which would attend it, and the resolution put forward was withdrawn by its proposer. The Government do not propose to take any steps in the matter. As regards the question of coinage, perhaps the hon. Member will address the Treasury on the subject.

    Sir HILDRED CARLILE Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether his Department will bear the matter in mind?

 Mr. BUXTON We had a discussion on the matter at the Imperial Conference which I attended and a Motion was moved. On behalf of my Department I made a general statement with regard to our conviction of what appeared to be the insuperable difficulties in the way. I will not say in consequence of my speech, but, after discussion of the matter, the resolution was withdrawn.

The knight was, get this, a Conservative.

And so to philately:

Mr. TOUCHE asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he can state whether, in accordance with the former practice, six months' stock of halfpenny and penny postage stamps is now held at Somerset House, including both old and new designs, or what period of consumption the total stock represents; and can he say for what period the existing stock of new George V. penny and halfpenny stamps is sufficient to supply the requirements of the United Kingdom?

Mr. HOBHOUSE The stock of halfpenny and penny postage stamps now held represents about seven weeks' consumption. The existing stock of new George V. stamps is sufficient for the requirements of a few days.

Yup, that's Touche as in Deloitte Touche, showing the tendency towards less than fascinating detail that was to make him great.

And the perennial problem of interns:

Mr. ASTOR asked whether, in the case of a boy apprenticed to a skilled trade who received no wages, the master will be compelled, under the provisions of the National Insurance Bill, to contribute 7d. weekly on his behalf?

Mr. HOBHOUSE The answer is in the affirmative.

What a way to run a railway

While my attention has been elsewhere, those lovely people at Eurobarometer have been surveying Euroman and woman on railways, the results are in and the time has come to make mock.

Firstly, my fellow South Easterners / Londoners will be a little surprised that a mere 12% of train trips were commutes and a further 12% business travel (I imagine the tube was not counted) with nigh on two thirds leisure trips. (Edit - rather than total journeys, these figures refer to respondents.  Which is rather more credible).  Which does rather make one wonder whether the prospective Lon-Brum-Manchester high speed rail link will do anything much more than whisk shoppers to and fro. Leisure travel peaked in Finland at 76% and bottomed out at 35% in Hungary, then again 47% of our Magyar friends answered other rather than commuting, business or leisure.  Suggestions as to what they were up to on an e-mail please.

Given our status as a nation of moaners, note that 87% of us were satisfied with the ease of buying tickets.  Clearly most Britons have never been at a London terminal at rush hour.  And despite the supposed efficiency of Deutsche Bahn, Germans were the least satisfied on this measure, with 42% dissatisfied.  Then again, maybe they have higher standards.

Some 85% of us were satisfied with platform / schedule information (and presumably have never used Clapham Junction....) while 46% of Poles were unhappy with Lodz Parkway, Warsaw Novy Street etc.  Elsewhere, we were third behind the Finns and Irish for station personal security, with Poland and Bulgaria the worst.  Admittedly there are fewer scammers trying on the 'lend me a fiver to get home, I've lost my wallet / handbag' trick than a few years ago.  60% of us are happy with transport connections, so maybe there is a joined up transport policy after all.  The top figure is 80% in Luxembourg, then again the lazy blighters should not bother with trains but try walking.  Here's a list of stations in Luxembourg. 

Moving swiftly on, 79% of us are happy with station cleanliness and 71% with facilities / services.  Poland and other Eastern European countries are bottom of the heap.  In terms of the best scores for rail, we give 88% for personal security, 87% for ticket buying and 85% for provision of information.  At the other end of the scale, the top moan is 28% griping about parking.  Or perhaps the length of walk from the station car park to the station.  Contrast that with the 71% of Poles unhappy with station cleanliness.  Maybe they should try using the bins....      
And so the trains themselves.  A mere 13% of us are dissatisfied with service frequency.  Surprising, no?  And 6% were unhappy about journey time.  Polish services were the worst, or Poles the biggest whiners.  However, here's the one we've all been waiting for:  asked about satisfaction with punctuality and reliability, 63% of Italians were satisfied and the rest dissatisfied.Whereas 46% of Germans and 52% of Poles did not find that their trains ran on time.  Portuguese trains sound rather comfy in that 95% were very / satisfied.  We managed 84%, and the Poles 48%.  61% of Britons have never tried rush hour in the commuter belt, it would seem, as they are satisfied with capacity for passengers in rail coaches.   

Tuesday 5 July 2011

A test for thinness of skin

I have a bit, in fact rather a lot, of a weakness for the works of P.G.Wodehouse, and having thoroughly enjoyed lately re-reading 'Psmith in the City' and 'Psmith, Journalist' went in search of Psmith novels other than 'Leave it to Psmith'.  And lo and behold there is 'Mike and Psmith' (a school story intended for a younger audience, but hey ho..), and a newly gifted copy od such has this on the second title page:

"This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today.  Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race have changed before allowing them to read this classic work".

Consequently, I read on thinking that there might be an African pupil with cannibal tendencies, an Indian with comically bad English or slighting references to a Jewish pupil.  This, however, was the sole reference to ethnicity:
"The Irish blood in him, which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing, now rendered him reckless".
Granted it is not the most PC of all possible descriptors, and it is a US published edition but I would not think it merited quite such a warning at the front.  Or am I being woefully insensitive?