HL Deb 08 September 1942 vol 124 cc270-2

My Lords, since your Lordships last met the House has suffered the loss of one of its oldest members by the death of Viscount Dunedin at the age of 92. In view of Lord Dunedin's long and distinguished public service in both Houses of Parliament, your Lordships would not wish this sad event to be passed by without some words in recognition of a career which was full of useful and successful achievement. In the Commons, Andrew Graham Murray, who was Member for Bute, held in turn the offices of Solicitor-General for Scotland and Lord Advocate. Next he was for some two or three years a member of Mr. Balfour's Cabinet with the office of Secretary for Scotland. Then, in 1905, Lord Dunedin began a judicial career which extended over more than a quarter of a century, first as Lord President of the Court of Session in Edinburgh, and then from 1913 to 1932 as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary sitting in this House and taking a constant and prominent part in the judicial work of our supreme tribunals.

This is not the occasion to attempt an elaborate estimate of his powers and qualities, but I would say quite simply that he may be confidently placed in the very first rank of British Judges. I believe that is the estimate formed of him both by his colleagues and by those who had the experience, as I had for many years, of practising before a tribunal in which he was included. He was a man of varied accomplishments and of the most lively understanding, and he inspired in some of us, not only a respect, but an affection which will not be lessened with time, but will be constantly sustained by the memory of his personality. Your Lordships would wish, I am sure, to join with me in the expression of the sympathy which we in this House sincerely feel for Lady Dunedin in her bereavement.


My Lords, to the tribute which has been so eloquently paid to the late Lord Dunedin by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack I should like to add just a word or two in praise of his services to the law of Scotland. Lord Dunedin had a very distinguished position in our legal annals. Parliament House in the Scottish Capital has seen many famous men, but few have done more to maintain its great traditions than the distinguished lawyer who, as Lord Justice-General and Lord President, presided in the Supreme Courts of Scotland for the period of eight years. His strong and vitalizing influence imparted a welcome stimulus to all our activities. Law, and especially the law of Scotland, was the dominating interest of his life, and none has done more to maintain its integrity. But he was no dry-as-dust lawyer. He had many contacts with the wider world, and to the solution of our legal problems he brought a fresh and interested outlook.

It was my fortune for many years to argue cases before him in the Court of Session, and I can only say that to argue before him was a sheer delight and an inspiration. The most accurate way in which I could characterize his legal ability is to quote the words which Lord Macaulay spoke of another eminent Scottish Judge. He said: He had one of those happily constituted intellects which, across labyrinths of sophistry and through masses of immaterial facts, go straight to the true point. His judgments will serve for profit and instruction to many future generations of Scottish lawyers. In these days, when the lamp of justice is extinguished throughout a great part of the world, we do well to honour those who, in this country of ours, have kept it burning so brightly. The work of a great Judge is best appreciated by those who share in it, and I know that all my brethren of the Scottish Bench and Bar would wish me to-day to express, in valediction, their admiration for one of the greatest masters of Scottish jurisprudence.


My Lords, permit me to add my tribute to the memory of a very distinguished Judge. Lord Dunedin was a great master of the law. Few men have made as great a contribution to the building up of our jurisprudence in the last forty difficult years, with all their new ideas in legislation and the new problems to be solved. To a profound knowledge of case and Statute law he brought a robust and virile common sense. Above all, his personal charm and consideration were welcome, not only to his colleagues, but to the counsel who practised before him. And may I add this: Sometimes in the course of a case a Judge is apt to make observations which, fortunately, do not appear in his final judgment. Sometimes these observations are contradicted immediately, but Lord Dunedin was always most charming and most considerate, and would always help you afterwards in suggesting that perhaps the observations you had made in the course of the case needed some consideration. I add my grateful tribute to the career and personal charm of Lord Dunedin.


My Lords, I am half ashamed to trouble your Lordships again, and I had hoped that my noble and learned friend Lord Atkin would have been able to complete the eulogium of Lord Dunedin that has been so well expressed by the three noble and learned Lords. I had the pleasure of enjoying Lord Dunedin's friendship for many years, and my relationship with the late Lord Rosebery, who was his contemporary, enabled me to hear much of the distinction already mentioned which surrounded him in Scotland. I remember him as a most cheerful and delightful companion, full of every kind of interesting reminiscence and, as the years advanced, showing an absolute refusal to grow any older.