HC Deb 04 February 1952 vol 495 cc646-9
Mr. Richard Law

On 9th November last, the House gave leave of absence to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell), the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and myself, so that we could present on behalf of this House a Mace to the House of Representatives of Australia, and a Speaker's Chair to the House of Representatives of New Zealand.

You, Sir, were good enough to make available to us the services of a senior official of the House. Mr. T. G. B. Cocks, who accompanied us and who, because of his great knowledge of the working of parliamentary institutions, did much to enhance the dignity of the ceremonial in which we were privileged to take part, a ceremonial which none of us who shared in it is ever likely to forget.

I have to report, Sir, that we have fulfilled the mission with which you entrusted us. We were received in the New Zealand Parliament at Wellington on 20th November. The Speaker's Chair, which had preceded us by sea, was there formally presented by us on behalf of the House. Later the same day we had the privilege of attending a debate with Mr. Speaker Oram in the Chair which, we may hope, will always be a symbol of the kinship of this House of Commons with the House of Representatives in New Zealand, and of our regard for it.

I have also to report this Resolution which the New Zealand House of Representatives agreed to without a dissentient voice on that occasion, and which you, Mr. Speaker, may think proper to have entered in our Journal: That this House accepts with thanks and appreciation the gift of the Speaker's Chair from the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to mark the completion by New Zealand of a century of full parliamentary government, and as a token of friendship and good will on the part of the British House of Commons and people towards the House of Representatives and the people of New Zealand. A few days later, on 29th November, we were received in the House of Representatives at Canberra, where, once again, the gift of the Commons was formally presented before a crowded House and galleries, and where we had the honour of hearing the thanks of the Australian Parliament, proposed by the Prime Minister, supported by the Leader of the Opposition and agreed to unanimously, in these terms: We, the Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, express our thanks to the Commons House of the Parliament of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the Mace, which, by direction of His Majesty the King, it has presented to this House. In accepting this generous gift, we do so with a full realisation of the good wishes that accompany it and of its significance as a symbol of the freedom and the responsibility which we, as members of the British race, have inherited from the House of Commons. We ask the Members of the delegation to convey our affectionate greetings to their colleagues, and we express our confidence that the highest aspirations of our peoples will ever find expression in their House. This Resolution, too, Mr. Speaker, you may think fit to have entered in the Journal of the House.

In bidding us goodbye before we started on our journey, the Leader of the House spoke of the hospitality which he anticipated that we might receive. Certainly, the whole of our visit was marked by the warmest of greetings and the greatest respect, not, indeed, for us as individuals, but for the delegation which was sent out from this House.

I think, therefore, that the House would wish me to thank, not only the Governments and Parliaments of Australia and New Zealand, and the officials to whose thoughtfulness and consideration we owed so much, but also to those most generous hosts who honoured us, the representatives of the Commons, with unstinted hospitality in Wellington, in Palmerston North, in Hamilton, Rotorua and Auckland; in Sydney and Canberra, Melbourne, Linton, Beaufort, Yallourn, Adelaide, Seppeltsfield and Wollagong.

During our stay in the Southern Hemisphere, we attended debates in seven Legislatures, and in all of them we felt at home. The strength and vitality of our parliamentary institutions are as marked there as they are here. Indeed, Sir, it is impossible to encircle the globe, as we have done, without strengthening the conviction, with which, certainly, we started, that parliamentary government in the hands of those who have been nurtured in the parliamentary tradition and who respect it is still the firmest buttress of human liberty.

There is another conviction which our experience has reinforced in the mind, I think, of each one of us, and that is that the bond which links the people of these islands with their kinsmen on the other side of the world is one which we must never allow to be loosened. Rather is it a tie which we must be continually at pains to strengthen for the peace and order of the world as much as for the prosperity and safety of our own people.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

In November last, when they were about to proceed on their mission on behalf of the House, I wished Godspeed to our colleagues. Now, again on behalf of the House, I hope I may be allowed to welcome them back, and to thank them, on behalf of us all, for the successful way in which they carried out their duties. I am sure that it is a great satisfaction, and, indeed, a romantic thought for us all, to think that now the Chair and the Mace are respectively in use in other Parliaments, and I think, too, that we would today desire to thank all the hosts to our delegates in the Southern Hemisphere for the generous hospitality which they showed to them.

Mr. Gordon Walker

If I may, I would briefly associate myself with the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House. We are all very grateful to the delegation for the way in which they discharged their duty. Parliamentary democracy is, I think, one of the most important links of Commonwealth, and these exchanges of symbols, like the presents to us in this Chamber, are of very great importance, and I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will agree that those messages should be inscribed in the Journal of the House.

Mr. Speaker

I will give directions that the Resolutions referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law) be entered in the Journal of the House.

Forward to