HC Deb 27 November 1956 vol 561 cc234-6
The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I beg to move, That Sir Gordon Touche be the Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means. The hon. Member whose appointment I now move for the office of Deputy-Chairman has been a Member of this House since 1931. He has been the Chairman of the Committee of Selection and since 1945 a member of the Chairman's Panel. He has presided over Standing Committees which have considered important Bills. This experience should stand him in good stead, and I therefore have pleasure in commending the appointment of the hon. Member to the House.

I should like just to say a word or two about the late Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, until recently the Deputy-Chairman, whose death we all feel so keenly. He had many fine qualities which endeared him to us all. He was a man of great integrity, a kindly man, and he presided over our deliberations with tact and good humour.

Sir Rhys was a man of quiet personality. It has been said by one of his most intimate friends that, on leaving the Chair, he usually went to his own room, where he read and rested and did not meet us all outside as much as some other personalities. Nevertheless, we got to know him very well from the contact of his own personality through the Chair and with us personally. We got to know him by talking to him about our small affairs of business and we became grateful to him for the way in which he helped us all.

Sir Rhys's legal training was a help to him in unravelling the abstruse points of procedure which so frequently arise in this House. He had a varied career and was at one time a Metropolitan magistrate. He sat throughout his Parliamentary life for Welsh constituencies and was well respected and very popular in the Principality. We offer our sympathy to his relatives.

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)

On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I wish to support the Motion that Sir Gordon Touche be Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means, and to extend to him our best wishes on attaining this office. As the Lord Privy Seal has just said, his experience in this House, and particularly as a member of the Chairman's Panel, will be of great value to him in his new office. We feel confident that he will uphold the very high standards set by his predecessors.

I would add some words on behalf of this side of the House about the late Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris. We are all aware that the posts of Chairman and Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means are extremely onerous. They involve long hours, constant attendance both in Committee and the whole House, when we sit as a Committee and when we sit as a House. They involve qualities such as tact, skill, knowledge of procedure, and, as the Lord Privy Seal has said, also a sense of humour.

Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris had these qualities in abundance. He was a quiet, modest man, extremely conscientious and essentially fair-minded. He always put the service of the House first. We extend to his relatives our deep sympathy, and pay our tribute to one who was universally respected and liked, and who was, above all things, a true servant of this House.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

I should like to say. on behalf of the Liberal Party, that we welcome Sir Gordon Touche, and regret very much the death of Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris. I would like to be associated with all that has been said about Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris by the Lord Privy Seal and by the Leader of the Opposition.

To us, as to many others in this House. Sir Rhys was peculiarly a friend. It is as that that we shall primarily miss him. He was also, to our small party, a counsellor and adviser who gave his advice without any thought at all of his own advancement. I think it will be agreed that his opinions flowed from firm principles, which he held regardless of their popularity and of political temptations to abandon or modify them. That was a drawback to him, from the point of view of politics, but I think that it lent him very great strength as a Member of the House and as a contributor to the affairs of the country. We, too, would like to send our sincere sympathy to his family.

Mr. David Grenfell (Gower)

On this—to the majority of us here—sad occasion I ought to pay a meed of tribute to the late Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, who was not only a political neighbour but an old friend and fellow-countryman. He was a man with whom I had been on excellent terms for the whole period of my service in this House.

Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris was a modest man. He was high-minded, and concealed a' large reserve of real ability beneath his kindly and simple-mannered conduct. On the morning on which he died he passed me as I sat in the Lobby. I thought he looked ill. He appeared to be almost staggering when I saw him coming. I realised that there was something out of the ordinary in his physical condition. He told me that he had been ill, but that he hoped to be able to go through the day. I did not speak to him afterwards. I feel deeply the loss of a neighbour who had been a friend to all of us here.

Sir Rhys was not a man who sought popularity, but he was truly popular. He was highly respected and I am very proud that it was so. I join in paying a tribute to one who was a faithful servant of the House, a modest Welshman who displayed his courage on more than one occasion, and who was always courteous.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That Sir Gordon Touche be the Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means.