HL Deb 16 February 1943 vol 126 cc1-5

My Lords, your Lordships will have heard of the death of two distinguished members of your Lordships' House, both of whom had been Ministers of the Crown. Lord Gainford and Lord Olivier had both grown old in the service of the State and each had an enviable record of something attempted and something done. Lord Gainford was one of the few remaining figures whose political philosophy, whose personal qualities and whose general outlook connected us with the sturdy Liberalism of the Gladstonian period. Lord Gainford's reactions to political problems were consistent with his political faith. They were always definite and they could usually be foreseen. He had many friends in your Lordships' House and no enemies. There were few noble Lords from whom on political philosophy I differed more and none for whom I had a warmer personal regard. I shall miss him very much and I beg to offer to his and my friends on the Liberal Benches the sympathy of your Lordships' House in the loss they have sustained.

I had the privilege of knowing Lord Olivier for more than fifty years and he had some part in my own political development. He was the first secretary of the Fabian Society and he had a notable propagandist zeal. He had a distinguished career at the Colonial Office and his most distinctive achievement was as Governor of Jamaica. The West Indies always had the first place in his political affections. His health did not permit him to give continuous service in your Lordships' House, but my friends and colleagues on the Labour Benches, especially those of us who knew the quality of his earlier work, will, like myself, and the House, greatly regret his passing.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friends on this side of the House, I should like to associate myself with all that the noble Lord has said. Lord Olivier, from the time I had the honour to come to your Lordships' House, was not able on account of failing health to take a very active part in our deliberations, but, like my noble friend opposite, I had known him for many years and had learnt very much from him. In particular, his continued enthusiasm for the development of our West Indian Colonies was of an abiding sincerity which impressed every one of us who had the privilege of his personal friendship. For Lord Gainford I had a very special regard, because he was the first Minister under whom I had the honour to serve as Under-Secretary. I well remember the encouraging support —I may say the enthusiastic encouragement—he gave me as Under-Secretary to the Board of Education when he was President, in getting forward some things for which he, I scarcely think, received full credit. It was largely due to him and the organization he set up that what has now become the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research was created. We owe its origination to the time when he was Minister. Having full knowledge of what went on, I can say it owed much to his continued inspiration and support. At all times, as my noble friend opposite said, he was a champion of the causes in which he believed and, above all, to every one who had the privilege of knowing him he was a most affectionate and loyal friend.


My Lords, the two noble Lords who have spoken have paid eloquent tribute to those whose loss we lament. We on these Benches naturally feel with particular depth the loss of Lord Gainford, and certainly none more than myself, when I think of a friendship which dates back nearer seventy than sixty years to the days when we were undergraduates at Cambridge. Lord Gainford was a representative of one of those great clans of the Society of Friends, which has been so conspicuous for centuries past in the financial and industrial development of the country and no less conspicuous for devotion to many good causes at home and abroad. It is natural, therefore, that Lord Gainford's private life should have been devoted to the great business with which his family were connected; but that did not prevent him from having varied interests in public affairs. He sat for years in the House of Commons, and, as has been stated, he filled three great offices under the Crown. I was particularly glad to hear from my noble friend Lord Addison the tribute that he paid to Lord Gainford's work at the Board of Education. This work, I think, has never been sufficiently recognized, because he was not merely always an industrious and conscientious Minister, but he was anxious also to encourage and develop original ideas, either of his own or propounded by others. In this House, when Lord Gainford intervened in debate, I am sure that your Lordships always listened to him with respect because he spoke on matters of which he was really Cognizant. He was one of the most modest of men, and he never obtruded his views on matters with which he was not fully acquainted. He thoroughly enjoyed all the pleasures of country life. He was a very fine rider to hounds, and as a shot he could hold his own in any company. But one thinks of him, indeed, as a man of most lovable character and as one who was a great public servant.

I must not sit down without saying a word about Lord Olivier. Like the noble Lord opposite, Lord Snell, I cannot profess to be in complete agreement with all the views of one whom I greatly respected, but it so happens that I came into frequent contact with him from the fact of my having been at one time Colonial Secretary and therefore more or less acquainted with many of the subjects which interested him. He was a man of great ability and knowledge and of a particularly distinguished and distinctive appearance. I cannot help regretting that the accidents of time have brought about the fact that, at this moment, when so very much interest is being taken in Colonial development and improvement, he should not be there to give his judgment on affairs affecting those Colonies of which he was so fond and with which he was so well acquainted.


My Lords, I should like to be allowed to associate myself with what has been said with regard to Lord Gainford. It was my duty, many years ago, in another place acting under the orders of the then Chief Whip, Sir Alexander Acland-Hood, to have frequent contact with Jack Pease, as he was then known. I think it is true to say that neither he nor I ever let our respective Parties down, and it is also quite true to say that somehow or other we never quarrelled. I look back with great pleasure to the frequent contact which I had with him in those days. He was, if I may say so, a really good man and a most lovable character, and I regret his loss very much.


My Lords, I hope that I may be permitted in a very few words to associate Lord Gainford's many friends in the County of Durham with the eloquent tributes which have been paid to his memory here to-day. He played a great part in Durham in the great industry with which he was closely associated, and his wisdom and courage have, over a long period of years, borne fruit. I would only add that he will be deeply missed not only in your Lordships' House but also in the County of Durham.


My Lords, may I be allowed to associate myself, in two or three sentences, with what has been said by noble Lords about Lord Gainford? He entered the House of Commons fifty years ago, though I only saw him at work there much later. But I saw him at work there in times of very intense Party controversy and I am deeply touched by what has been said by my noble friend Viscount FitzAlan, because it is the observation which I think a private member would make about Lord Gainford. We try on these occasions to pick out the characteristic qualities which marked a departed friend and I should say of jack Pease that the qualities which stood out were these: first of all, in the most heated controversy, he preserved an unfailing self-control and a generous temper; secondly, in every negotiation he undertook, and in every bargain that he ever made, he was downright and upright and straight in all his dealings. Some of us have lost a very dear and very faithful friend.

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