Thursday, October 02, 2008

J. W. Logan: Some quotations from Hansard

I have written before that J. W. "Paddy" Logan, who was Liberal MP for Harborough 1891-1904 and 1910-16, is one of my political heroes.

I have now found a website that carries Hansard debates from the 19th century, so I can share some of his wit and wisdom with you. Note that in those days it was written in reported speech, which reads oddly to modern eyes.

The power of the Church

Here is Logan speaking on an education bill in 1896:

He was not surprised that hon. Gentlemen opposite did not like the Board Schools. He should be surprised if any Tory liked the Board Schools. In the Board Schools the children were inculcated with a spirit of independence. They learned there how their fathers had suffered under former generations of Tories—[Ministerial laughter]—and it was not be wondered at that they did not love the Tories. In the Board Schools the children were not taught to curtsey to the squire or to the parson. In the Church Schools the children were taught to fall down and worship the great god of the Clerical party—the landowner. Hon. Gentlemen might laugh, but he knew what he was talking about. He saw it too frequently.

What the children were being taught in thousands of villages today might be summed up in the words:— God bless the Squire and the Squire's relations, And make us know our proper stations. [Laughter]—to which, in view of the Agriculture Rating Bill, would probably be added, "And give us strength to pay their share of the rates." [Laughter.] The Church had always been against progress.

Taxation of the poor

Speaking against Customs duty on tea in 1896, Logan said:

There were really so many means in which taxation could be raised without taxing the very poorest, that it was high time the statesmen of the country set themselves to work to see if it was not possible to allow the poor of this country to enjoy the necessaries of life—such as their cup of tea—free from taxation.

The right hon. Member for Thanet had said that if the Tea Duty were abolished the bulk of the revenue of the country would have to be found by the Income Tax paying class. But who was it who enabled them to pay the Income Tax if not the working class? It was the men who worked for him (Mr. Logan) who enabled him to pay the Income Tax. The whole of the expenditure of this country, whether local or Imperial, was found by the working classes, and by no other people, and the least they could do for them, whilst so many of them were suffering from starvation, was to free their breakfast table, and to allow them to enjoy the bare necessaries of life free from taxation.

Let the right hon. Gentleman substitute for this tax and the paltry sum it yielded, the taxation of land values, which would have the advantage of being a tax to which every man, woman, and child in the land must contribute.

Yes, Logan was a great Land Reform League man, despite being a landowner himself.


Logan was Sound on bicycles.

When J. F. Hogan, the Member for Mid Tipperary, complained of "the reckless riding of cyclists, and especially lady cyclists, in the crowded thoroughfares," Logan asked:
whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that a large number of clerks, artisans, and others now used cycles to enable them to get home, and by the aid of which they were enabled to house their families in healthy neighbourhoods, away from the slums and crowded areas of large towns; and whether cyclists had not an equal right to the use of the streets with the more fortunate owners of carriages and pairs and of men who run coaches as a hobby? [Laughter.]
And when another MP suggested the introduction of bicycle licences (note this was in 1896), Logan asked:
if the right hon. Gentleman entertained the suggestion he would also consider the advisability of recommending that the money so collected should be allocated for the purpose of providing a well-kept track for the use of cyclists.
More wit and wisdom from Mr Logan another day.

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