HC Deb 18 June 1928 vol 218 cc1419-21

Mr. SPEAKER (The RIGHT HON. JOHN HENRY WHITLEY), announcing his intention of retiring from the Chair, all the Members being uncovered, said:

May I have the indulgence of the House for a few moments before we proceed with the business of the day.

It is with very deep regret that I find it necessary to ask the House to allow me to retire from the Chair at the close of to-morrow's Sitting.

For nearly 28 years I have been a Member of the House; and for the last 21 years I have been continuously in office, without any of those intervals which usually come from changes of Governments, or from the impatience of constituencies.

Recently I have had warnings that my strength is being overtaxed, and it appears that I must have a considerable period of rest, if I am to be capable of some further work later on, in a quieter sphere.

The duties of the Chair do not become lighter as the years pass on. Legislation becomes more complicated, and affects more intimately the life of the individual citizen.

With each new Parliament, there are more Members who wish to take an active part in the proceedings, by Questions, or in Debate: and a Speaker often carries to his pillow an acute sense of loss for the speeches that were undelivered—speeches, no doubt, much better than those to which he has listened.

In laying down the great Office to which in four successive Parliaments the House of Commons has called me, my great hope is that I can, hand on its traditions unimpaired. It fell to me to follow one of the most distinguished of the long line of Speakers. It was no easy task. If I have been able to discharge it with any degree of success, it is only because I have received in full measure the help and support of all my colleagues—of those who are newly come to our councils, as well as of those who can look back upon a generation of service.

To leave this place, where I have spent so large a part of my life, will be a great wrench; but I shall go in happy confidence that the future of the House of Commons rests secure in the guardianship of its Members, however much they may change from time to time.

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

The statement which you have just made to the House is one that will be received by every Member of it with profound regret, and I am quite certain that it will be the desire of the House, in accordance with custom, to take the opportunity at the earliest possible date, to-morrow, to give full and formal expression to their feelings. With that object in view, I ask your leave, Sir, to read to the House the Motions which I propose to put on the Order Paper tonight.

  1. (1) "That the thanks of this House be given to Mr. Speaker for his distinguished services in the Chair for more than seven years; that he be assured that this House fully appreciates the zeal, ability, and impartiality with which he has discharged the duties of his high office through a period of unusual labour, difficulty, and anxiety, and the judgment and fins ness with which he has maintained its privileges and dignity; and that this House feels the strongest sense of his unremitting attention to the constantly increasing business of Parliament, and the uniform urbanity and kindness which have earned for him the respect and esteem of this House."
  2. (2) "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying His Majesty that He will be most graciously pleased to confer some signal mark of His Royal Favour upon the light Honourable 1421 John Henry Whitley, Speaker of the House, for his eminent services during the important period in which he has with such distinguished ability and dignity presided in the Chair of this House, and assuring His Majesty that whatever expense His Majesty shall think fit to be incurred upon that account this House will make good the same"


Tomorrow, when the Motion of which Notice has just been given will be discussed, will be the opportunity when we shall do our best to express to you, Mr. Speaker, great regret at the intimation that you have just made to us, and also our very high esteem for you both personally and as Speaker, but, Sir, I cannot allow this moment to pass without taking the opportunity of expressing to you the sincere regret with which we have listened to the intimation that you have just made to us.


Just in a sentence I wish to associate myself with the expression of regret that has fallen from the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition, that you should have found it necessary to retire from the Chair, but to-morrow undoubtedly will be the opportunity to give fuller expression to the sentiments which we all feel.