HC Deb 22 June 1939 vol 348 cc2491-4

Mr. Speaker: In accordance with the wish of the House, the Chairman will suspend the sittings of the Committee this afternoon at 5.15 in order to enable Members to take part in the welcome to Their Majesties on their return from Canada, the United States and Newfoundland. The pavement outside New Palace Yard and that across the road opposite will be reserved for the use of Members of Parliament. The Chairman will resume the Chair at 6 p.m.

3.53 p.m.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain):I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty assuring His Majesty, on the occasion of His return from Canada, Newfoundland and the United States of America, of the loyal and affectionate welcome of this House to His Majesty and Her Majesty the Queen. Seven weeks ago, it was my privilege to move that an humble Address be presented to His Majesty on the eve of his departure for Canada with Her Majesty the Queen, assuring him of the affection and deep interest with which this House would follow their progress during their journey. At that time all of us anticipated that this memorable visit would be accompanied by scenes of the greatest enthusiasm. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the demonstrations of loyalty and affection by the crowds which flocked together to welcome Their Majesties at every point of their journey have exceeded the utmost expectations. Thanks to the Press and the radio and the news reels, we have been able to follow every detail of Their Majesties' progress almost as if we had been present ourselves. We have been able to see with our own eyes how in Canada, and in Newfoundland later on, the visit has demonstrated in a most impressive manner not only the significance of the Crown in the British Commonwealth of Nations, but how loyalty to the Crown in the abstract has been translated into a personal feeling of affection for Their Majesties, a feeling which has been generated by seeing the simple, kindly and human qualities which we know are characteristic of our King and Queen.

When Their Majesties crossed the frontier of the United States, that magnificent welcome they received from the President and the American people outdistanced all precedents, and must have delighted Their Majesties' hearts. I am certain that it afforded profound gratification to Their Majesties' subjects throughout the Empire, and I can speak for the people of this country when I say that we have all been profoundly moved by the warmth of this greeting, which we acclaim both as a personal tribute to the King and Queen, and also as a striking proof of the sympathy and friendship which animate the feelings of the peoples of the United States and the United Kingdom. You have told us, Sir, that there will be an adjournment this afternoon, when hon. Members will have an opportunity—of which I know they will desire to take full advantage—of expressing their own personal feelings of loyalty to Their Majesties when they pass this House. I hope we shall not forget to express our appreciation of the exertions of all those who, throughout this long journey, covering so many thousands of miles on sea and on land, have given ceaseless care to the wellbeing and safety of Their Majesties.

3.57 P.m

Mr. Arthur Greenwood: 1 rise to associate myself with the Motion which has been moved by the Prime Minister and, in such words as I can command, to say, "Welcome home!" to cur Sovereign from his historic mission overseas. In the past, monarchs and royal princes have left these shores for visits abroad, but this visit of the King and Queen across the Atlantic is, I believe, unique in the annals of this country. The visit to Canada has proved to the world that this Dominion, with problems of its own, with an historical background of its own, with internal questions of its own, is a loyal and devoted member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. If there be some who believe that this far-flung Empire, with the King as its symbolic head, is a myth, the visit of Their Majesties must have dispelled that view. Should it be that His Majesty contemplates further visits to others of his Dominions, that view will be corroborated. If I may say so, in passing, if it should be that the United States President may break an old tradition and visit this country or one of His Majesty's Dominions, he would receive an equally warm welcome. This side of the matter really needs no emphasis, because I think we all feel that the sister nations of the Commonwealth, through their own loyalty to the Crown, express their common loyalty to one another.

The visit which Their Majesties paid to the United States opens, I believe, a new chapter in the relations between this country and the American Republic. It proves that blood is thicker than water. But it proves even more the brotherhood of peoples who live under the flag of freedom and democracy. The enthusiastic welcome of the United States, to which the Prime Minister has referred, was, I believe, the outpouring of the pent-up feelings of a great people desiring to make known their fundamental unity of purpose with Britain and her sister nations. There is for the world as a whole profound significance in the reception which the King and Queen received. It was, as the Prime Minister has said, a tribute to the personal charm and the friendliness of Their Majesties, but it also expressed the real kinship of the English-speaking peoples, and although one is a Republic and the other a Constitutional Monarchy, it proved that there is a real understanding, that they are facing common problems, sharing common ideals, desiring what all men and women of good will desire—the maintenance of peace and of freedom, and the establishment of enduring prosperity in the world. I feel that no words of mine are adequate to express what I believe to be the real significance of this visit. It may have—may it be so—more far-reaching results in maintaining peace and friendliness in the world, than we know. For that we greet them back home amongst us.

4.2 p.m.

Sir Archibald Sinclair: I rise on behalf of my hon. Friends to support the Motion. This afternoon the people of London will joyfully seize the opportunity of welcoming Their Majesties back to their family and home, and it is only fitting that we, who have the honour to represent in this House so many people who cannot share that opportunity, should express on their behalf as well as on our own our loyal and affectionate welcome. In Canada Their Majesties' grace and dignity in the pageantry of formal ceremonies, and still more their natural friendliness in meeting the men and women, and the children too,

of that great Dominion, have invested the Crown, as the vital link between the peoples of the British Commonwealth, with fresh human and simple meaning. In the United States they were the good neighbours of the people of the United States paying a visit, and we have all been deeply moved by the striking demonstrations of friendship and understanding with which they were greeted—a friendship which is none the less real because it is not exclusive, but is one in which every peace-loving nation may share. So we welcome home our King and Queen with pride in their achievements and with gratitude for the service which they have rendered both to their faithful subjects and to the cause of peace and understanding between the peoples of the world.

Question put, and agreed to nemine contradicente.

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty assuring His Majesty, on the occasion of His return from Canada, Newfoundland, and the United States of America, of the loyal and affectionate welcome of this House to His Majesty and Her Majesty the Queen.

To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of His Majesty's Household,