HC Deb 15 July 1965 vol 716 cc781-2
The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

Before making the statement which I think the House expects me to make about my hon. Friend's visit to Hanoi, I am sure that the House would wish me to express the deep sense of shock everyone of us felt when we heard the sad news last night of the death of Adlai Stevenson.

A number of us here were privileged to regard him as a personal friend, and those of us who were able to meet and talk with him on this, his last visit to London, perhaps find it most difficult to find words to express what his sudden passing means to us. He was a great friend of this country, but more than that—and this phrase has been on the lips of so many in these hours—he was a citizen of the world.

Deeply civilised, a standard-bearer of liberal, humane ideals, a master of the spoken word, with a wit which is memorable equally for its penetration as for its complete innocence of malice, above all a statesman dedicated to a great vision of the new world he laboured so devotedly to create, Adlai Stevenson will be missed here in Britain, in the Commonwealth, and more widely, just as sadly as in his sorrowing homeland where he is so deeply mourned today.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

May I associate this side of the House with everything that the Prime Minister has said of Mr. Adlai Stevenson and send our sympathy to the people of the United States who have suffered this great loss?

I had the privilege of working over a number of years with Mr. Adlai Stevenson while he was at the United Nations. There his great qualities of sincerity, advocacy and humanity were at their best and found their fullest scope. He was one of the staunchest defenders of the rights of free men everywhere and yet he never lost any opportunity of promoting harmony and tolerance among men. Therefore, he will be widely mourned not only in the United States, his homeland, but in this country and far further afield.

Mr. J. Grimond

May we, too, be associated in the tributes to Adlai Stevenson? Some people looked upon him as a charming orator, but not as a wholly successful politician. I think that they were wrong. He was a most effective Governor of Illinois, a man who showed that it might be possible to marry idealism to skill for the solution of the world's problems. He certainly had a capacity to refresh old ideas and communicate them anew. His 1952 and 1956 presidential campaigns raised the standard of political discussion all over the free world. We certainly mourn with America in her sudden and tragic loss through the premature death of Adlai Stevenson.