HC Deb 20 October 1959 vol 612 cc2-18
Sir James Duncan (South Angus)

stood up, and addressing himself to the Clerk of the House (who, standing up, pointed to him and then sat down) said: Sir Edward Fellowes, a Gracious Message from the Sovereign having been delivered in another place, it is our duty to elect our Speaker from among our Members. I therefore beg to move, That the right hon. and learned Sir Harry Braustyn Hylton Hylton-Foster do take the Chair of this House as Speaker. The office of Speaker is the highest office that we can offer to any man. It is most important, therefore, that we should deliberate together—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—to find the right man. Historically, this office originally was an office of the Sovereign and, in the days gone by, for the Speaker to be a messenger from the King to this House rather than a messenger from this House to the King. As time went on, the office of Speaker tended to become a party matter—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—simply to facilitate the passage of Government business through the House. But more recently—and I say this earnestly to the House—Speakers have been chosen on their merits and because of the essential qualities which they have shown in their persons. The essential qualities have been impartiality, imperturbability, firmness of decision, patience and a sense of humour.

We have had at this time a special difficulty in choosing a man. We are a new Parliament choosing a new Speaker, which has created, I am free to admit, special difficulties in this case. I hope that it will not be thought inappropriate for a Scottish Member to propose this Motion for the election of an English Member. We Scots have "hogged" all the jobs for too long. We have had a Gaelic-speaking Highlander, in Mr. Speaker Morrison, as Speaker. We have had Sir Charles MacAndrew, whose territory, to my mind, always ranged from Bute to St. Andrews, and all the ancestry of our former Deputy-Speaker could be attributed to Aberdeenshire.

It seems to me, speaking to the Scottish Members here, that we should allow the English to have their share. We are content to have a Highland Prime Minister—

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

We are not.

Sir J. Duncan

—a Scottish Lord Chancellor and another Highlander as Colonial Secretary, and it may well be that the Government will nominate for the office of Chairman of Ways and Means, or Deputy-Chairman, another Scotsman to give us our share.

Now with regard to the man. Earlier, I detailed certain qualities which seemed to me to be essential. First, his absolute impartiality. I believe that the life story of my right hon. and learned Friend up to now, with his distinguished legal career, including office since 1954 as Solicitor-General, combined with a wide experience of life, including service overseas with the Royal Air Force, does ensure that quality in him.

Secondly, I would say that patience and imperturbability he has in great measure, because those who have watched him over the years have found him essentially qualified on these grounds. From what I know of his character, he will be firm, which seems to me to be most important if the House, under our unwritten constitution, is to continue as the leading Western democratic system in the world.

On him lies in quite a high degree responsibility for free and full discussion in accordance with the rules which we make ourselves for the guidance of ourselves. It may be a little exaggerated, but I would go so far as to suggest that in a large measure free Western democracy as we know it depends on his impartiality and his firmness of decision, because weakness may ruin our freedom as we in this House understand it today.

I should like to stress the age and health of my right hon. and learned Friend. In these modern days, when the House sits from 2.30 to any hour at night from Mondays to Thursdays, and from 11 o'clock to 4.30 on Fridays, it is a great strain on any man that he should have to undertake not only the responsibilities of office, but be unable to quit the Palace of Westminster. I believe that it is important that we should have a man who is young enough and strong enough to stand that strain; and I believe that we have him in my right hon. and learned Friend. In a book of reference he gives his hobbies as travel, golf and fishing. I am afraid that he will have little time for those occupations, at any rate during the sittings of the House.

Lastly, I think that my right hon. and learned Friend has pre-eminently one quality which every Speaker must have—a sense of humour. In conversations with him in the past I have noticed that when we come to a point in the argument there has been a glint in the eye, a flash of wit, and he has won the argument every time. I believe that this saving grace of wit and humour, which is so essential to turn away wrath, is pre-eminently an essential part of my right hon. and learned Friend's character.

For all these reasons, Sir Edward, I believe that the House, in spite of all the difficulties regarding consultation, will come to the conclusion that here, in our own strange way—[HON. MEMBERS:" Oh."]—which can never be understood by foreigners, we have met the occasion with the man, one who will fill the highest position we can offer with satisfaction to himself and honour to us all.

Sir Robert Cary (Manchester, Withington)

I rise to second the Motion which has been moved so generously, ably and sincerely by my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan).

This is the third occasion on which I have had the privilege of participating in the proceedings and ceremony of the House in electing a new Speaker and selecting from among our midst one whom we deem most fitting.

Anyone outside, uninstructed and uninformed, may think that this is a mere formality—[Interruption]—but nothing could be further from the truth. The Chair and its occupant is the hinge on which turn not only the proceedings of Parliament, but the dignity and impartiality of the greatest Parliament in the world. I am old enough in the service of the House, Sir Edward, to recall some of the great speeches made by Lord Baldwin in support of the Statute of Westminster and those great ideals which were to convert the British Empire into a great Commonwealth fertilised with self-government.

It always seems to me that the happiest moments of our times are those occasions when Mr. Speaker delegates to a small band of hon. Members of this House the task of taking a mace to a faraway country with the good wishes of the Mother of Parliaments and the instruction to aid and succour is brought to them by us in creating the image of ourselves.

Sir Edward, may I leave these wider matters and turn particularly to the person concerned in this Motion, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Cities of London and Westminster (Sir H. Hylton-Foster). I have three points in my mind. First, I can think of no one in this House who by appearance and bearing is more fitted to occupy the Chair in the rôle of Speaker. Secondly, my right hon. and learned Friend is highly trained in law and a much respected member of his great profession. That, surely, is an asset to any Speaker.

Also, and this for a more personal reason, right hon. and hon. Members opposite will recall that in the last Session of the last Parliament they did me the honour of asking me to second for them from this side of the House a small social Bill proposed by an hon. Member opposite. My right hon. and learned Friend, in attending the Committee on that Bill to give us his legal guidance as Solicitor-General—the Bill being a delicate matter—expressed certain sensibilities of mind and texture which, I think, fitted him not only to occupy the rôle of a great Speaker, but one who, as a citizen, will I am sure obey the highest traditions of the House

Finally, may I say this to the House as a whole? We hear much about the duties and responsibilities which fall to Mr. Speaker in the discharge of his task to the House of Commons, but that is a two-way matter. There are great responsibilities and duties of right hon. and hon. Members of this House to their Speaker. In those circumstances, the greatest tribute, the greatest honour, that each individual Member of this House can pay to a new Speaker is to see that he takes his place with the unanimous vote of all hon. Members. It is in that mood, Sir Edward, and in that spirit that I second the Motion.

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)

Sir Edward, I rise not to propose the name of another candidate, still less to criticise the personal qualities of the right hon. and learned Member for the Cities of London and Westminster (Sir H. Hylton-Foster) whose name has been proposed for the office of Speaker, but to express on behalf of all my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself our strong dissatisfaction with and disapproval of the methods by which in practice this election has been conducted.

The hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) said that this should be a House of Commons matter and that the Members of the House should deliberate among themselves before making their choice. I do not think any of us could possibly claim that any deliberation of that kind has taken place. Obviously, what one would like to have happened was to have had such discussions freely, informally between Members—not just Front Benches, but back benches as well—in all parts of the House, with the hope that out of such discussions a common view would have emerged. Well, that certainly has not happened.

I realise that, as the hon. Member himself pointed out, there are difficulties in pursuing that kind of procedure when we have to proceed to elect a Speaker between Parliaments. I hope that in future this difficulty will be avoided by the retiring Speaker choosing to retire at some other point; but, even so, I cannot but feel, reflecting on what has happened in the last week or so, that more could have been done to ensure those deliberations recommended by the hon. Member. It surely could have been possible for hon. Members to have been invited to return a day or two earlier so as to have had these informal discussions which, apparently, we all regard as desirable; but, quite apart from this and admitting the difficulties, I am afraid we cannot feel satisfaction with what has been done.

In the first place—and I say this with-out a shred of discourtesy to the right hon. and learned Gentleman—there are some objections in my opinion to a member of the Treasury Bench being selected for the post of Speaker. We were not enthusiastic when Mr. Speaker Morrison was chosen, because he had been a Minister, but he was not at that time a Minister, nor had he held Ministerial office—I think I am right in saying—for some years. The right hon. and learned Gentleman comes straight from a distinguished position on the Treasury Bench, and that, I think, is another difficulty. The difficulty is, of course, that we wish the Speaker not only to be impartial but to appear to be impartial from the very beginning, not to side with the Government or with the Opposition, but to hold the balance between them.

There is another matter to which I refer with a little more diffidence, but I think that I must mention it. I believe it to be in the interests of our Parliament that Speakers should be chosen over the years from different parts of the House and from different parties. I think that on this occasion there was a peculiarly strong case for such a man to have been chosen from the Opposition benches. I must point out that when we were in power after 1945 and had the opportunity of choosing our own Speaker, in the sense that we could have used our majority to elect anyone we wanted, we deliberately refrained from exercising that power and invited Mr. Speaker Clifton Brown to continue in office.

I have never for one moment regretted that, and I believe that he was an excellent Speaker and a very fair-minded man, but I believe that it would have been better if on this occasion that path had been pursued with a little more vigour. In fact, I made such representations to the Leader of the House, and he was good enough to consider them. I had hoped that we should be able to reach agreement in that way, but I must say that although the right hon. Gentleman fully recognised the case for a Speaker from this side of the House, he made it plain to us—I do not think he will mind my disclosing this; indeed, I am bound to do so—that there was only one Member on our benches who in his opinion was likely to be acceptable to right hon. and hon. Members opposite.

I would be far from saying—nor is it any part of my argument to suggest—that the Government should, so to speak, invite the Opposition to choose the Speaker. That would be absurd. On the other hand, there is a middle course between inviting the Opposition to choose the Speaker and, in fact, choosing from the Opposition the Member of the Opposition who is to be selected. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I did not feel that the latter was the right course.

I should have liked him to have discussed freely with us a number of names which could have been put forward, and which indeed were eventually mentioned in the course of our discussions. I underline this because the right hon. Gentleman in question, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice), whose name was suggested by the Leader of the House as being acceptable, or likely to be acceptable, to hon. Members opposite, was, as I told him at the start, very unlikely to accept; and, as I think is generally known, my right hon. and learned Friend decided to decline the honour of allowing his name to go forward.

What the Leader of the House was saying to me in so many words was that there was only one Member of our party who in the opinion of hon. Members opposite was fitted to occupy the Chair.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think it comes to this: either that was the case or they were saying that in their opinion it was not of prime importance that the Speaker should be chosen from our side of the House. They are entitled to their point of view, and I make no complaint about that. But I regret that this should have been their point of view, and I thought that, in view of the fact that hon. Members opposite could hardly have been properly consulted, it was still more regrettable that we could not quietly consider a number of names in the hope that agreement could be reached. At any rate, I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman or anybody else will expect me to agree that there is only one Member of our party who is fitted to occupy the position of Speaker. There are, in fact, a number of my hon. and right hon. Friends who could have been considered for this post.

We do not propose to put somebody else forward, because we do not think it appropriate to make this a party issue in which there is a party battle on our very first day. Had it been in order, we should have divided against the proposal to elect the right hon. and learned Member for the Cities of London and Westminster, not for any personal reasons whatever but simply on principle, because we feel that the procedure has not been what it ought to have been. In fact, it is not in order for us to do so.[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] The Question is not put to the House. If my hon. Friends will consult Erskine May, page 285, they will see the answer.

Since this is the case, I must content myself with making this protest on behalf of the Opposition—a strong protest revealing our dissatisfaction with what has occurred—and must express the hope at least that in future the House as a whole will give further consideration to this matter so that we may have a better procedure on the next occasion that a Speaker has to be elected.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

I will detain the House for only a very short time. I should like to confirm the first point made by the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), because it seemed to me a very fair and a very strong point. There is, of course, a difficulty in timing when a Speaker resigns at the end of a Parliament rather than during a Parliament, because during a Parliament all the consultations and contacts which Members can have are much easier to arrange.

It is, however, as we have been told, our duty to elect a Speaker today. There are only two points that I wish to make. The first follows something which the right hon. Gentleman said. In this century we have set up a better tradition, I think, than in the last century, and the Speaker, once accepted, has in fact been continued in office through General Elections, even when they have brought a Government of a very different complexion from that when he was first elected.

In that sense Mr. Speaker Lowther, who was elected at the end of a Conservative Administration, was re-elected and kept as Speaker by the overwhelming Liberal majority in 1906, and he continued, if I remember rightly, until 1921. His successor, Mr. Whitley, who was Speaker when I first entered the House, was a Liberal and was not displaced either by Conservative or Labour majorities. Nor was Captain FitzRoy. As the right hon. Gentleman has reminded us, Colonel Clifton Brown, elected during the war, was re-elected by the overwhelming Labour majority which came in 1945. I agree with him that this is a good tradition, and I hope that it will be preserved.

I come to the second point. This is the only point which I wish to make in reply to the right hon. Gentleman. I think that the House is entitled to have—and, indeed, the strength and dignity of Parliament demands—a Speaker of the highest available quality. That is of the greatest importance. I have no doubt at all that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Cities of London and Westminster (Sir H. Hylton-Foster), whose name has been proposed, will in every way be an admirable Speaker. Nor indeed, as the right hon. Gentleman frankly said, does anybody else doubt that.

At the same time—this had to be done immediately after the election—I felt that there was, in the person of the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice), a man whose qualifications for this task, of character, knowledge and experience were, curiously enough, very similar to those of my right hon. and learned Friend, and I certainly thought that he could be regarded as fulfilling the needs of a Speaker.

In these circumstances—although, of course, it rests with the House—my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, after consultation with me, informed the Leader of the Opposition that if the right hon. and learned Member for Newport would like his name to go forward, we would do our best to canvass support for him in our own party. There was no question of handing over the choice of the Speaker to the Opposition—no question of that. This is a matter for the House. I am very sorry that circumstances, which I fully understand and which the House will fully appreciate, made it impossible for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to allow his name to go forward. Therefore, it would be the best course for the House to select a man with such high qualifications as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Cities of London and Westminster.

In saying this, I do not mean that there are not other hon. Members on both sides of the House whose quality and character would have entitled them to stand for the Speakership, but on the information available it seemed clear that no other hon. Member, except one of these two, could command the kind of support that either of these two can expect. It is for that reason that I personally regret that it was not possible for the right hon. and learned Member for Newport to accept this suggestion, which we made in good faith. I regret that what was intended to be a friendly gesture has been taken in this way by the Opposition.

In these circumstances, I thought that I should say a few words to explain precisely what was our position in a situation which the right hon. Gentleman described as one which does not allow quite the same degree of discussion and consultation as on another occasion when a Parliament was in Session. It is right that I should say this in order to make our position absolutely clear, and I know that all hon. Members will proceed to this election with the knowledge that they will have found an absolutely first-class Speaker to preside over their duties.

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

I hope that no one on the other side of the House will mistake the very deep feeling which we all have on this side upon this issue. We consider that this has been made a purely political appointment, and that the Leader of the House has been rather smug about it. He made an offer to one person from this side of the House who, after all, could not accept in the long run.[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] It is nobody's business to say why my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) declined an offer such as this. If hon. Gentlemen opposite think that my right hon. and learned Friend was worthy to accept this high honour they should assume that his reasons for declining such an honour are good and creditable.

We are not arguing about my right hon. and learned Friend. We are trying to consider the position of Speaker and consider whether this was done rightly. Most of the difficulties spring from the fact that we are choosing a Speaker at the beginning of a Session. It is remarkable that Sir Gilbert Campion says at page 77 of "An Introduction to the Procedure of the House of Commons": The election of a new Speaker generally takes place during the Session. Most of our difficulties arise because we are electing this Speaker between Parliaments. I believe that Mr. Speaker Clifton Brown resigned at the end of the 1951 Parliament, and that that created a difficulty which we have never envisaged. I say perfectly straightforwardly that our resentment does not date from today. It dates from the rather high-handed manner in which Mr. Speaker Morrison was selected, of which we expressed our disapproval by dividing the House. On that occasion we had a nominee who had been for eight years Deputy-Speaker and sixteen years Chairman of Committees. Mr. Speaker Morrison broke all the precedents by coming, not from the Treasury benches, but from Ministerial rank.

I ask all hon. Members to think about matters within reasonable memory. I ask hon. Members opposite whether they think that they are dealing fairly and equitably with the Labour Party. In 1943, during a period of coalition, representations were made by us, but Colonel Clifton Brown was accepted. In 1945. Colonel Clifton Brown did not expect to be elected. He turned up at the House of Commons with empty cases. I learned this from Mr. Whiteley, who was the late Chief Whip and was well known to many people. Colonel Clifton Brown described it as an amazing act of generosity when Mr. Whiteley told him that a Labour Government—the first Labour Government returned all-powerful—had decided to continue him in office. Bowing to tradition, the Labour Party backed Colonel Clifton Brown. Nobody on this side of the House regretted that.

Therefore, we had the right to assume that we would have been treated rather better now. We are not speaking—I hope that no one will accuse me of it—merely as between one person and another. We are speaking today about the first commoner, about the right of the House to choose freely a person who should preside over its deliberations. It would be a very bad day if the idea got about throughout the world that the office of Speaker was one for a party returned to victory to put in a political placeman.

I ask hon. Members opposite calmly to reverse the position and bear in mind the history since 1943. If they have a real knowledge of what took place, they must agree that our resentment is justified in these circumstances.

There is another reason why the Speaker should resign during his term of office. A known Parliament elects a known personality. There must be 100 to 150 new hon. Members who will not know the personal issues involved. If the Labour Party had advanced a name, those new hon. Members would have been voting completely blind on an issue which was not a party matter, but a House of Commons matter. Therefore, I hope that we will order our affairs very much better in future.

I do not want to say any word this afternoon which would even appear to reflect on the right hon. and learned Member for the Cities of London and Westminster (Sir H. Hylton-Foster). He has the greatest degree of good will from this side of the House. There is no doubt that, once elected, he will receive all the support from this side of the House to which a Speaker is entitled. If hon. Members are a trifle impatient with me, and resent the sort of things that I am saying, they should reflect on some of the occasions when Liberal Speakers were elected in the past. They will discover that Conservative hon. Members in those days sometimes rose to complain about the very matter that we complain about today.

I notice that there were complaints in 1921 about an accusation that in those days the Prime Minister was deciding the question. I am not going to read the volumes. I have merely brought the authorities in because it is the general custom of the House. I am very sorry to say it, but with the greatest degree of good will my right hon. and hon. Friends and I rather think that the Prime Minister decided the issue on this particular occasion. Any hon. Member reading the Prime Minister's speech in HANSARD tomorrow will find that it rather bears that out.

I must say that the Leader of the House is rather unctuous on these occasions. A spirit of unctuous righteousness always creeps into everything he says, and most of his perorations finish with indications that he always thinks that the Lord is on his side. His statement, "We offered you someone from your side. He refused", is a piece of smugness.

The House then unanimously called Sir HARRY HYLTON-FOSTER to the Chair.

Sir Harry Hylton-Foster (Cities of London and Westminster)

In accordance with our ancient custom, I beg to submit myself to the will of the House. At this moment I cannot help thinking about the last occupant of the Chair and how desperately difficult it will be for any hon. Member to follow one who so assuredly commanded the confidence, respect and affection of the whole House.

On a personal note, I wish to acknowledge to the House that I have all those defects in this connection to which the Leader of the Opposition referred. I am greatly obliged to him for referring to them in such courteous terms. I was not going to say this to the House, but it occurs to me now. The time was when the Chair was considered a kind of perquisite of the office of Solicitor-General. However, all that came to grief in the year 1601, when one of my predecessors in the office of Solicitor-General—a certain Serjeant Fleming—was said to be too lawyer-like and uncouth for the Chair, and the House was advised to find someone more presentable. I hope that the House will forgive that digression, which was a little prompted by the right hon. Gentleman's observations.

I should like to thank my hon. Friends the Members for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) and Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary) for what they have said. I cannot claim the qualities which, in their kindness, they bestow upon me, but I can and do claim this: that I love and revere this House—its long history and the gay vigour of its modern life; the good humour, most of the time; the friendships that it makes; the quick changes of mood; the sure collective judgment of this House about a man—this House, an institution so much greater than the sum of all of us of whom at any one time it is composed.

There have been references to certain discussions—a misery for a candidate in my circumstances to have to listen to. I can only say that there is only one will to which I beg to submit myself and that is the will of this House. Should the House do me the great honour of calling me to its service, I can promise that it will be not only my duty but my whole ambition in life to serve it faithfully and well to the best of my ability and, with the help and with the forbearance of my fellow-Members, to maintain in full vigour those traditions that have made this House at once the origin and the example of Parliamentary institutions throughout the world. I beg to submit myself to the will of the House.

The House then having again unanimously called Sir HARRY HYLTON-FOSTER to the Chair, he was taken out of his place and conducted to the Chair by Sir JAMES DUNCAN and Sir ROBERT CARY.

Mr. Speaker-Elect

(standing on the upper step): Before I take the Chair as Speaker-Elect, I beg most sincerely to thank the House for the great honour it does me in calling me to its service in this place.

Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT sat down in the Chair.

Then the Mace(which before lay under the Table) was placed upon the Table.

The Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker-Elect, it is my privilege to be the first to offer you congratulations on your election to the office of Speaker of the House of Commons. In doing so, I feel sure that I can speak on behalf of the whole House. It is not an easy task that you are undertaking, but in the speech that you have just made to us I think that you have shown that we have been fortunate in finding you willing to undertake this task.

You, of course, have shown the traditional reluctance in accepting this high honour, but we look to a Speaker to be a worthy representative of the House and, of course, an embodiment of all the virtues, and it is really noticeable how one Speaker after another turns out to have all those virtues. I will not weary the House with a list of the qualities—they have often been mentioned; wisdom and impartiality and, as you have said, a sense of humour. With all of these you are, I think, endowed.

I am, of course, quite sure that we shall find you a very good Speaker. I do not quite know what sort of a House you will find us, but we will do our best, too. Whatever befalls you, Sir, I am sure that we can look to you for impartiality and to preside over our deliberations with dignity, and in accordance with our traditions. Your guidance, your help and your friendship will be particularly valued by the large number of new Members who are here for the first time, and I am sure that you will have a special sympathy for them.

Perhaps you would allow me, Sir, without impropriety, to add this. We know from experience how great a help "Mrs. Speaker"—if I may use such a term—can be in the life of the House of Commons. Your wife will have, I am sure, a distinctive contribution to make here, for, apart from her own qualities, she is the daughter of a much-respected and loved Speaker. I wish you, Sir, all success in your high office.

Mr. Gaitskell

Mr. Speaker-Elect, I rise on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself to add my words of congratulation to those of the Prime Minister. It was no part of the strictures I offered a few moments ago to criticise in any way your personal qualities. On the contrary, we on this side recognise those to the full, and We believe that you will be a very good Speaker indeed.

I must say that I do not think that it is an easy job. You have to know all of Erskine May, and you have to be able to answer at a moment's notice any query that may be put forward—and there are some very good ones put forward from this side. You have to prepare yourself very hurriedly for a lot of them. You have to be ready to listen for a very long time to a great many speeches, not all of which are passionately interesting. Above all, you have to keep the House in good humour, so that, when tempers are ruffled and there appears to be overmuch excitement, by a word or a phrase you can bring us back into a more harmonious relationship again. We wish you the very best in your new office, and offer you our heartiest congratulations.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

Mr. Speaker-Elect, I add on behalf of my party our congratulations to you, and our very good wishes for your tenure of the Chair. Our pleasure is tempered slightly by regret that you will be removed from the Government Front Bench, where you have added a good deal of lightness and, indeed, entertainment, to the debates of the House and to the Committee stages of Bills. We do sincerely wish you well. Like the Prime Minister, we remember your father-in-law with great respect and affection, and we hope that, like him, you will have a long and successful period of office.

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