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.


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

    They do indeed - most surprising to read.

  2. James - I checked it was that Casement before running my keyboard. Unexpected indeed.