HC Deb 16 November 1948 vol 458 cc211-4
The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to congratulate His Majesty, Her Majesty the Queen and Their Royal Highnesses the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on the birth of a son to Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh. When it was my privilege last April to move an Address of congratulation to Their Majesties the King and Queen upon their Silver Wedding, I remarked that this was essentially a family festival, and the occasion of the Address I have the honour to move today is also a family occasion. The birth of a son is a very special event in the life of a family. It is an event which brings deep pleasure to the parents and grandparents, but it is also an occasion when all those who hold the family in esteem and affection may cordially rejoice with them and share whole-heartedly in their happiness.

Today, our Royal Family holds the affection and regard of the peoples of the Commonwealth and Empire in a measure which has not been surpassed by even the best loved of their predecessors. I know that in millions of homes in this country and throughout the Commonwealth and Empire the news of the birth of a son to Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth brought real gladness. I am sure that this House, representing the people, will wish to join in offering our most sincere congratulations to Their Majesties and to Their Royal Highnesses the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.

A year ago the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh was the subject of great satisfaction and pleasure. Now, again, there is rejoicing that this felicitous union has been blessed with a son who, in course of time, may carry on the great tradition. We are glad, too, because we have the promise of continuity in that happy family life of which Their Majesties the King and Queen have shown so fine an example. The Royal Family, by their example in private life as well as in their devotion to public duty, have given strength and comfort to many in these times of stress and uncertainty.

The young Prince who was born last Sunday may have to carry great responsibilities. But he is the heir to a great tradition. We shall watch him growing to manhood with lively interest, knowing that in his own home he will receive a training, by example rather than mere precept, in that courtesy and in that gracious and tireless devotion to the manifold duties of constitutional monarchy which have won the hearts of our people.

It seems to me appropriate that this Address should be presented to His Majesty by Privy Councillors representing all parties.

Mr. Churchill

It is refreshing to have our party quarrels broken into by so agreeable an interlude, and I am very proud that it falls to my lot, on behalf of the Conservative Party, His Majesty's official Opposition, to express wholehearted support of the Motion which the Prime Minister has moved. I congratulate him upon the appropriate terms and the well-chosen language in which he has commended this Address to us. I am glad that he has invited Privy Councillors on this side and in the Liberal Party, too, to accompany the representatives of the Government to carry this Address, should it be voted by the House, to Buckingham Palace. We shall accept the invitation with pleasure.

The thoughts that are in the minds of the millions to whom the Prime Minister referred are those connected with home and family, which appeal to everyone and especially, if I may say so, to us in this island of ours, so long shielded from foreign invasion and oppression. There is no doubt that it is around the family and in the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained. These are feelings which stir the hearts of all parties and classes throughout the land, and give a joy to masses of people which arises only from the finest and most elevating instincts they possess.

Our ancient Monarchy renders inestimable services to our country and to all the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations. Above the ebb and flow of party strife, the rise and fall of Ministries and individuals, the changes of public opinion or public fortune, the British Monarchy presides, ancient, calm and supreme within its functions, over all the treasures that have been saved from the past and all the glories we write in the annals of our country. Our thoughts go out to the mother and father and, in a special way today, to the little Prince, now born into this world of strife and storm. I have no doubt he will be brought up, as the Prime Minister has mentioned, in all those traditions of constitutional government which make the British Monarchy at once the most ancient and most secure in the world. I hope that among these principles that will be instilled into him will be the truth that the Sovereign is never so great as when the people are free. There, we meet on common ground, and I have the greatest pleasure in supporting the Motion which the right hon. Gentleman has just presented to the House.

Mr. Clement Davies

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity you have given me of supporting the Motion moved by the Prime Minister and seconded by my right hon. Friend in such moving and apt terms. On behalf of my colleagues and on behalf of all whom we represent I wish to tender our sincere and affectionate congratulations to Their Majesties, to the royal parents and to their son. This is one of the great occasions when we appreciate and realise to the full the close relationship that exists between the Royal Family and the people, not only here in this country but throughout the Commonwealth and Empire, and we all rejoice and share in their happiness.

Mr. Butcher

This is such an occasion that my hon. Friends who sit with me have asked me to say how heartily we join in the Motion proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and desire that our, congratulations and humble duty be conveyed to Their Majesties.

Mr. Gallacher

Although I am not one of those invited to carry the Address to Buckingham Palace, I feel like making a few observations on this occasion. In doing so, I wish to make no adverse comment on the celebrations associated with the birth of this baby boy, because when I was born there was pealing of bells and joyful singing in abundance. I was born on a Christmas Sunday morning. I feel it is necessary, though somewhat unfortunate, that I should have to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the fact that, despite the pledge to make housing a military operation, there are far too many babies in this country being born in sub-lets and in appalling slum conditions. I would ask the Government and the Opposition, even as they present this Motion to the House, to reshape policy and to redirect this military operation so that the great problem of housing may be solved and every babe born in the country may get home surroundings conducive to health and happiness. I say to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition that to those who are in greatest need, there should go from this House the greatest measure of service.

Question put, and agreed to, nemine contradicente.

Resolved: That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to congratulate His Majesty, Her Majesty the Queen and Their Royal Highnesses the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on the birth of a son to Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh.

Address to be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of His Majesty's Household.