HC Deb 03 July 1918 vol 107 cc1731-2

I greatly regret to have to announce that Lord Rhondda died this morning. Lord Rhondda was a very old Member of this House, which he entered some thirty years ago, and he was a person well known to an unusually large number of Members, by whom he was much respected. On the formation of the present Government he joined it as President of the Local Government Board. In that office he took, as the House knows, the keenest and most active interest in everything connected with the social welfare of the people. A little more than a year ago he became the Minister of Food. At that time that office was probably the most difficult in the Government. Lord Rhondda fully realised the difficulties. He was naturally reluctant to accept the post, but he did so, as I know, entirely from a Benee of duty. After assuming office the difficulties, owing to the submarine campaign, continued to increase, but he faced them with a quiet courage, with a tenacity of purpose and with a businesslike sagacity which in the end enabled him largely to overcome them, and he won for himself and for his Department the respect of Parliament and the country. The seeds of the illness from which he died were, there is reason to believe, laid in the exposure to which he was subjected when he and his daughter were among the victims of the "Lusitania"; but I cannot help thinking that his devotion to duty, the strain of his office, and the worries and anxieties inseparable from it, had weakened his constitution and rendered him less able to meet this attack. I am sure I am only echoing the feeling of every hon. Member of this House when I express our heartfelt sympathy with the widow and daughter who mourn his loss, and when I express our sense of the loss to the State which his death involves, and our gratitude for the great services which he was privileged to render.


I would like to associate myself in the fullest manner with what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman in reference to the grave loss that has been sustained by the state. Lord Rhondda, or, as we used to know him, Mr. Thomas, was a Member of this House almost the whole time that I have been here, and, while he was with us in the House of Commons, he was always a noteworthy personality for his singular financial and commercial acumen, and his versatile and widespread activities, and for his great independence of judgment. He filled during the last year of his life one of the most difficult and perhaps one of the most thankless offices of the State, and discharged the duties of that office, it can be said without exaggeration, not only with devotion and assiduity, but with great foresight and with tact, and, as I believe, with beneficent results to this country and to the cause of the Allies. The House will join my right hon. Friend in paying the most sincere tribute of respect to his memory and of sympathy for those whom he has left behind.