HL Deb 12 May 1926 vol 64 cc189-90

My Lords, I have to ask the noble Marquess the Leader of the House whether he desires to make any statement, however brief, about the situation to-day.


My Lords, I, of course, respond to the invitation of the noble and learned Viscount. As he rather indicated there is not very much to be said this afternoon. Your Lordships are all aware that the General Strike came to an end at a quarter past twelve to-day. That is, I need not tell your Lordships, a matter of profound satisfaction to His Majesty's Government as it is to the whole country. I need not tell your Lordships with what great satisfaction it is to us that we revert once more to our rÔle of mediator. We were obliged to take a much more active part than corresponds to the word "mediation" recently in resisting the General Strike. That was our bounden duty, as I ventured to tell your Lordships when I had occasion to speak upon the subject on the first day. But the proper rÔle for the Government in these matters is that of mediator. So long as it was a trade dispute our role was that of mediator. When it became a General Strike it was necessary for us to vindicate the authority of the law and of the Constitution.

But in welcoming this great news I need not say there is no note of triumph in my voice and I hope there will be no note of triumph anywhere else. We are only too delighted, too glad and too thankful, I should say, that the principles of common sense and the sentiment of legality so deeply imprinted in the minds and hearts of the English people have asserted themselves. They have gone back to the paths of legality. For our part, we resume the role of mediator and our effort to produce peace in the coal industry will be at once resumed, without the least delay, and I hope it may bring a satisfactory termination.

Viscount HALDANE

My Lords, I think no one could take exception to the tone of the statement made by the noble Marquess, and it is very satisfactory to think that in that spirit he and his Government are entering upon the task of mediation.


My Lords, your Lordships will have heard with relief and intense gratification the announcement which the noble Marquess has been able to make. I agree with him and I am sure I am only uttering the sentiments of the whole of your Lordships' House when I say that this is not a moment either for recrimination or exultation. I do not think we should be discharging our duty even now if we did not express what all your Lordships and all classes in the community feel—a sense of pride and satisfaction at the constancy, the patience, the good temper and the self—sacrifice that have been exhibited in all quarters. I will only add one word of warning. We are not at the end of our troubles in this matter and the exercise of those qualities will still be required in full measure in the weeks that are before us.