HL Deb 08 May 1935 vol 96 cc827-32

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM) rose to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to congratulate His Majesty on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of His Accession to the Throne. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, it is not always an easy task for the Leader of your Lordships' House accurately to interpret the wishes of the House, but I am perfectly certain that in putting down the Motion which stands in my name this afternoon I am expressing the mind of every member of this House, to whatever Party in the State he may belong. The twenty-five years whose completion we have been celebrating this week have been as difficult a period as any in our whole history. They have seen grave constitutional crises at home; they have seen the greatest military effort which has ever been made by any Empire in the world; they have witnessed the slow process of recovery from the ravages of the War, and the painful struggle back towards international peace and more normal conditions. They have witnessed, too, the development of a new conception of the relationship of the States of the Empire to one another, and to that great Commonwealth of which they all form a part.

As a result of that development the importance of the Throne has been emphasised. The Crown has come to be recognised as an essential link in the unity of the Empire. Through all this time His Majesty the King has borne his full share of the burden without once faltering in his duty. He has identified himself with his people as completely as any monarch in our history. He has shared their trials, their sorrows, and their rejoicings. He has set an example of steadfastness of character and of simplicity of life to all his subjects through-out his Dominions. Six years ago the King's illness brought to us a realisation of the place that he occupied in the hearts of his people. To-day we rejoice to find him restored to full health and strength, and we earnestly pray that he may be spared to us for many years to rule and guide his people.

We desire to associate in our thoughts and words this afternoon a tribute to Her Majesty the Queen, the never failing companion and partner of His Majesty, who has won her own place in our affections. It is fitting that the House of Lords, comprising as it does two of the ancient estates of the Realm, and including in its membership so many who have rendered distinguished service to the State at home and overseas, should give formal expression to the loyalty and devotion of the people of this Realm. The Address which I have the honour to move is no empty lip-service. It is in a spirit of heartfelt gratitude to Almighty God that we tender to Their Majesties our thanks for and our congratulations upon all that they have done for us in the past, our confident hope for the future, and the assurance of our deep and abiding love and loyalty to themselves. I beg to move.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to congratulate His Majesty on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of His Accession to the Throne.—(Viscount Hailsham.)


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friends on this side of the House—we who constitute in your Lordships' House His Majesty's Opposition—I beg to second the Motion which has been moved in such eloquent and fitting language by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House. The bare recital of the public events of the King's reign would give us a vivid reminder of the astonishing epoch through which we have lived. To enlarge on them could not be done without filling a volume recording one of the most momentous and crowded periods of history. Even were we to confine ourselves to the customs and habits of the people, the changes which have taken place in these twenty-five years are more surprising than those which are recorded in any full century of past history. Those of its who can remember the spacious and placid days of Queen Victoria may well feel that all the events of her long reign of over sixty years if compressed together would pale in significance when compared with the remarkable changes and startling incidents affecting the destiny of nations and the fortunes of peoples in the quarter of a century of her grandson's reign.

As if fated to live through troublous times, King George stands as a symbol of reliability and constancy amidst the still continuing turmoil. These precious qualities of reliability and constancy are surely a. reflection of the mood Dud character of the British people. Aware as they are that they must adapt themselves to modern conditions, they will want change, they must try new roads, They must grow and they must discard all that hampers the full development of a great population. But their advance must be without violence, it must be undisturbed by internal conflict and their march must receive no check in its onward and forward course. What, better assurance can there be. of ordered government here at home and steady but rapid progress throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations than the continued presence a the head of the State of one who has lived through the test of the last twenty-five years with enhanced prestige and with the increased affection of his people?

In efforts to maintain peace in the world, without which no nation can prosper or continue the essential work of restoration and reconstruction, we feel confident that the King's judicious influence will always be exercised on the side of sanity and in defence of our civilisation. In these days of loud, spectacular and blatant shouting, which in some parts of the world is accepted as a, method of government; in these days of individual domination through self-display and by stern demands for servile obedience, it is a comfort, I would say a blessing, for us as a people to have as our Sovereign one who is as unmoved as we are ourselves by the passing aberrations caused by these distressing symptoms; one who through his knowledge of the temper and character of his people has been actuated solely by his desire to serve them, and who by his nature would never have recourse to alien methods of asserting his sovereignty. The example of a happy domestic life, the punctual discharge of his public duties, compassion for the less fortunate section of his subjects, and the impartial observation of, without interference in, the disputes of a lively and politically minded nation, are surer guarantees for inspiring confidence, ensuring the advance of democracy and reaching the hearts of the British people than any exhibitions of personal ambition and aggrandisement.

Through all these years Queen Mary has with never failing diligence stood at the King's side and supported him in the multifarious duties and ceremonies, which no one need suppose are anything but fatiguing and exacting even when accompanied, as they always are, by the welcoming acclamations of the people. Even the brilliance of the beautiful May morning last Monday was outshone by the joy and radiance of that vast concourse of people who lined the route to St. Paul's. I would add that the services rendered by the Prince of Wales and his brothers, in season and out of season, in this country, in the Empire and abroad, hare added to the respect and affection with which the King and his family are regarded throughout the Realm.

We may well pause in our political and Parliamentary disputes, although they are an essential element in our democratic system, to unite in our sincere congratulations to the King and his Consort and to express the hope that he may enjoy health and strength and continue beyond these twenty-five years to occupy the high position he holds as a constitutional monarch with such calm dignity, such ready sympathy and a faithfulness to duty which have endeared him to his people.


My Lords, after the eloquent speeches to which your Lordships have listened there is no place for additional observations, save to express the whole-hearted support of those with whom I am associated of the Motion for a congratulatory Address now before your Lordships' House, and to endorse, with the fullest approval, all that has been said so well by the Leader of the House, who, in the position he occupies in the House, has discharged his duty by expressing without any qualification the thoughts, sentiments and views of all your Lordships. Those views, and the observations so well made by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, represent the views and sentiments of the people throughout the country and the Empire. Both of the eloquent speeches which we have heard to-day may be taken as faithful representations of all that is felt by the people of this country and of the Empire.

The occasion has been especially memorable for the tributes of loyalty, devotion and affection which have been evoked from every part of the country, and equally every part of the Empire. These manifestations have served to mark the unity of our people, and their happiness in joining in the celebration of this anniversary. In surveying the world situation to-day it is a striking thought, on which it is well to reflect, that the expansion of democracy in this country has led to the strengthening and cementing of the ties of loyalty and devotion of the people to the Throne. The simplicity and the modesty of the Sovereign throughout his tenure of the Throne, and his love of home and family life, have added greatness and dignity to his august office, and have had their due share in attracting the loyalty and devotion of his people. It may indeed truly be said that at no period of our history have the Crown and the people been brought more closely together. Never have the Crown and the people been dearer to each other

We join in deep thankfulness to God for these twenty-five years of the King's reign, and in gratitude for His Majesty's devotion to duty and to the welfare of his people. We most earnestly pray that His Majesty's reign may long continue, and that His Majesty and Her Majesty the Queen, who has borne her full share of the burden of the Throne with the King, may together, through the many years that we trust their lives may be prolonged, have the joy of witnessing the preservation of peace and increased prosperity and happiness among the King's people in this country and throughout the Empire.


My Lords, let me, in a few sentences only, associate myself with what has been so eloquently said by the Leader of the House and by the noble Lords who have followed him. Many Addresses will be presented to His Majesty, but by far the most eloquent has, already been presented. It was presented on Monday by the cheers of the vast multitudes who then acclaimed the King and Queen. Assuredly no Address will more deeply touch the hearts of Their Majesties. The strength of a free people lies in its instincts, and it is by one of those instincts, almost unconscious but none the less true and lasting, that the people of this country have discerned that in their King is a man to whom they can give trust and affection, and in their Queen an example of all gracious womanhood, and that both, to use the words of Burke, have brought "the dispositions that are lovely in private life to the service and conduct of the Commonwealth." But it is right that this House, with the Monarchy itself the most ancient of our institutions, should in a more sober and dignified way give its own expression to the feelings which it shares with the whole people; and perhaps it is not unfitting that, representing one of its most ancient constituent elements, one of the estates of the Realm, I should support the Motion which has been so admirably moved.

On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente, and the said Address was ordered to be presented to His Majesty by the Whole House to-morrow in Westminster Hall at twelve o'clock.