HC Deb 09 November 1951 vol 493 cc490-2

11.7 a.m.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

I beg to move, That Mr. Grenfell, Mr. Grimond and Mr. Richard Law have leave of absence to present a Mace to the House of Representatives of Australia and a Speaker's Chair to the House of Representatives of New Zealand on behalf of this House. It will probably be within the recollection of the House that last summer it came to our attention that it would be a nice gesture on our part to present to the Parliament of Australia a new Mace to replace one which had been at some period mislaid, and to present to the Parliament of New Zealand a new Chair for Mr. Speaker, because it had been reported to us that the Chair then in use was not entirely as beautiful as it might be. This House therefore decided, after the necessary Motions, to do that, but as these are gifts from this House to the Parliaments of Australia and New Zealand, I think it is seemly that we should ourselves as a House appoint the delegation to go out there on our behalf to make the presentation.

The Members who have been selected are the right hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell), the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. J. Grimond) and the right hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law). As hon. Members will observe, they represent the three different parties in this House and they also represent three different age groups therefore, they are a very suitable delegation. I suppose one could call our colleagues the representatives of the young, the middle-aged, and possibly the right hon. Member for Gower will not mind being called one of the elderly. He is certainly a very senior Member of this House, and two of them, of course, are Privy Councillors. I hope, therefore, that the House will be good enough to grant them leave of absence.

The Speaker's Chair has already been dispatched. The Mace is to accompany the delegation on their journey. I am sure we all wish them a very happy journey. I have no doubt that the hospitality which they will receive in those two countries will be as generous as it has always been to previous delegations. I hope they will enjoy the voyage, and I certainly hope, as I am sure everybody else does, that they will come back safely to us, having accomplished their mission.

11.10 a.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I desire to support, the Motion on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends. After all. we have some fellow feeling with Australia in the loss of a Mace, for there was an occasion when our Mace also disappeared. The only difference is that we know who was responsible for its disappearance—the hon. and gallant Member for the Borough of Cambridge of those days who, after addressing a few somewhat heavy satirical pleasantries to an ancestor of the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane), ordered that one of your most distinguished predecessors, Mr. Speaker, should leave the Chair, and, referring to the Mace in contemptuous terms which I am quite sure no present Member of the House would regard as suitable, ordered its removal also and, having brought in five or six files of musketeers to see that his wishes were carried out, and one of the musketeers having marched off with the Mace, nothing more is known of its destination.

We sit here today surrounded by the gifts of the great self-governing Dominions. The Box from which I have the honour of addressing the House is the gift of New Zealand. In the last 100 years, during which Sir Charles Barry's House stood, this country witnessed the growth of self-government among those great English-speaking peoples beyond the seas, and it is, therefore, fitting that we should acknowledge our parentage of their deliberative assemblies and our continued interest in their adaptation of the British way of life to the circumstances of the new countries which they have established—not quite the same in all its technical details as ours, but still preserving and to some extent enlarging the doctrines of liberty which have been the proud boast of this House for so many centuries.

We are certain that our three colleagues, whom we are asking to go to these Dominions, will be able to convey to them the spirit in which we have accepted their gifts and to tender to them our gifts. I have only one criticism. I think it might have been possible to have found an Englishman to include in the three, but, after all, we English are a very modest race and it may be that some day we may get home rule for England.

At any rate, we are quite certain that these three right hon. and hon. Members will convey to our sister nations beyond the seas the spirit that animates this House and our hopes that they and we may for many centuries to come preserve the doctrines of freedom for which we unitedly stand.

Question put. and agreed to.

Resolved: That Mr. Grenfell, Mr. Grimond and Mr. Richard Law have leave of absence to present a Mace to the House of Representatives of Australia and a Speaker's Chair to the House of Representatives of New Zealand on behalf of this House