HC Deb 29 January 1962 vol 652 cc708-9
Mr. Speaker

I have received a letter from the Chairman of Ways and Means, the terms of which I wish to communicate to the House. It reads as follows:

"My dear Mr. Speaker,

Acting on medical advice which I cannot disregard, I am forced to tender to the House through you my resignation of the office of Chairman of Ways and Means.

It is a great honour to have occupied one of the chief offices in the House of Commons, and I need not say how greatly I regret that I am unable to serve the House for the full term of this Paliament.

To you particularly, to right hon. and hon. Members, to the Clerks at the Table and to the officials of the House, I express my warm thanks for the consideration and kindness which have been show to me.

I have the honour to remain,

Yours very sincerely,

Gordon Touche."

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Iain Macleod)

The House will have heard with regret of the decision of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Touche) which you, Mr. Speaker, have communicated to the House. My right hon. Friend joined the Chairman's Panel in 1945. He became Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means in 1956 and Chairman in 1959. That means that ever since the war he has taken part in the work of the Chair, either in Committee or in the House.

I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House would wish to express gratitude for the work he has done over the years in these responsible and demanding positions, which are of key importance to the House of Commons. I am sure that we all wish that with the lightening of his duties improved health will quickly follow.

The letter which you, Mr. Speaker, have just read will involve a Motion being put before the House. On precedents which I understand go back for a century or more this is done at once without advance notice. Accordingly, I wish later to move that the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) be Chairman of Ways and Means and the hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) be Deputy-Chairman.

These two hon. Members have between them nearly sixty years' service in the House and I am certain that every hon. Member knows that they will fulfil their duties in an admirable way.

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)

I associate my right hon. and hon. Friends with the words of appreciation of the former Chairman of Ways and Means Which have been uttered by the Leader of the House and express our regret that illness has obliged him to give up his position.

Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)

On behalf of my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), may I associate my colleagues and myself with what has been said by the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition. We all deeply regret the going of the Chairman of Ways and Means. We all equally regret the cause of it and we sincerely hope that his health will now benefit. We are all deeply grateful to him for the way in which he exercised his heavy responsibilities.

The responsibilities of Chairman of Ways and Means are very difficult to carry out, because he has not that cloak of authority which surrounds you, Mr. Speaker, in the Chair. We are very sorry that ill-health compels the right hon. Member to relinquish this office.