Friday, November 27, 2009

House Points: Search Hansard from 1803

My column in today's Liberal Democrat News is largely a cut-and-paste job from this blog. I have added some hyperlinks here that do not appear in the printed version.

Gems from Hansard

House Points is nothing if not loyal. Nick Clegg called for the Queen’s Speech to be abandoned, so we are ignoring this week’s proceedings and looking at political history instead.

A valuable new resource has appeared on the net. Thanks to a company called Millbank Systems (as with all the sites mentioned here, it is easy to find them with Google), you can search Hansard right back to 1803.

Already a couple of bloggers have made good use of this facility. Croydonian has been running regular 50 Years Ago and 100 Years Ago features. And Mark Pack has been entertaining readers with some of the quirkier questions and debates.

On Liberal England I have used the search facility to find snippets of local history.

Here is John Baldock, then the Tory MP for Harborough, speaking in December 1953:
On Saturday I went to see a train leave Market Harborough Station. It was larger than the customary trains which have been leaving on that line for a considerable time, and it was headed by a very ancient Midland engine. On the platform were a very large number of people to see this train, the last ordinary passenger train on this line to leave Market Harborough for Melton Mowbray. … Many who witnessed the departure … were wearing mourning clothes with black ribands and armlets.
Back in April 1889 Henry Labouchère, the radical Liberal MP for Northampton, made a more political point with this question:
I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether he is aware that a printed placard, announcing that a Primrose and Conservative demonstration will take place at Husbands Bosworth on 8th August, at which there will be addresses from two Conservative Members of this House, dancing, a dinner, a donkey race, and other similar amusements, is exhibited in a prominent position in the post office at Market Harborough; and whether he will issue orders forbidding such placards to be exhibited in post offices in future, and will see that this particular placard is forthwith taken down?
The Postmaster General said he would do just that.

Small beer if you are not from Market Harborough, perhaps. But there are gems from your own patch waiting to be found in Hansard too.


crewegwyn said...

Henry Du Pre Labouchere please.

My hero.

Niles said...

I wonder if the old adage about all publicity being good publicity was old in Labouchère's day? The event he talks about sounds like quite a day!

Niles said...

Oh, and PS, I had fun with old hansard myself a few weeks ago.