HL Deb 14 March 1944 vol 131 cc2-10

LORD ADDISON moved to resolve, That this House, desiring to promote a closer association between the British Parliament and the Congress of the United States of America, requests the Lord Chancellor on its behalf to invite the Congress of the United States to send a delegation of its members to visit Parliament at as early a date as may be convenient.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have the honour and privilege to move the Motion which stands on the Order Paper in my name. This is a proposal of great significance and one that we earnestly hope will prove to be of historical importance. The Congress of the United States and this Parliament are the world's greatest embodiments of free institutions. They are the bastions of liberty. Now and then, as to-day, we are able on some special occasion to sense the vital part they play, and have played, in promoting human progress. The form of the institutions of government are not the same in the two countries, but Parliament and Congress alike are the directors of the instruments of freedom. A few days ago there was an interesting discussion in this House on the problems of small nations and racial minorities. I remember wondering as I listened to that discussion how it was that a reference was not made to the great lesson which may be learnt from the history of the United States. In that country there has been built up a great nation whose seeds come from all parts of the world. Every race in Europe besides our own has made its contribution. In come cases, I believe, the number of such people in the United States even equals the number of those remaining in their former parent countries. But to-day they are all united as members of a great American nation. They have developed and become consolidated by the influence of liberty, strong in their sense of its rights as well as its obligations. It is the fact that they are free that has made them united—the fact that in their hands is the shaping of their own destinies. The consolidating influence of these forces has proved to be greater than the separating influences derived from the differences of race or language.

What a lesson it is for the world to learn. How important it is that the children of both nations should be well taught their histories and come to understand this vital lesson, because it is on this that the future stability of the foundation of peace depends. The German mind for some reason is unable to comprehend this thing at all. The only cement for people they can think of is compulsion or some form of subjugation. This war is one of its desolating results. There is nothing, I think, in human history more glorious than this proof of the power of personal liberty as it has been seen, and is seen, in the United States and in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Their Congress and our Parliaments are the expression of it. The Atlantic Charter, framed by the heads of the two States, is a noble statement of aims, but we know that the possibilities of their realization depend upon the willing association of the free nations that have given adherence to it. Most of all the continued and concrete support of the United States of America and of the British Commonwealth of Nations is essential. Without that there can be no sure hope for the future. It is therefore of vital importance that we should make every effort to know one another better, to compare experiences and points of view, and thus help to foster that increasing solidarity that will lead more and more to unity of purpose and of action. To this end, my Lords, I pray you to extend this invitation.

Moved to resolve, That this House, desiring to promote a closer association between the British Parliament and the Congress of the United States of America, requests the Lord Chancellor on its behalf to invite the Congress of the United States to send a delegation of its members to visit Parliament at as early a date as may be convenient.—(Lord Addison.)


My Lords, it is intended that this invitation should go from Parliament to Parliament and therefore in this House and in another place it is proper that the Motion should be proposed and seconded not by members of the Government but from the body of the House. It is because of that that I have the privilege, on behalf of my noble friend the Marquess of Crewe and of the noble Lords who sit on these Benches, to support the Motion so admirably moved by the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition. I do so with the greatest pleasure because for years past I have been one of those who have preached in season and out of season that Anglo-American co-operation is really the keystone of the civilization of the world. During four visits to the United States, spaced out over a period of fifty years, I have enjoyed so much hospitality in America, so kind and so generous in its character—as very many of your Lordships must have done—that I am only afraid that we shall be hard put to it to match here the hospitality that is given in America. Perhaps we may be able to do so because our welcome will come from a very full heart. It will be the expression of the deep gratitude felt by this nation for the part that America has been playing and is playing in the great struggle which is now shaking the world.

When, after the defeat of France and the disaster to our Armies in Belgium, this island stood in the greatest of perils, it was America who gave us the help that was urgently necessary, in full measure and with the utmost speed. We remember, too, that when the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand stood in the greatest danger, it was America again—our own naval power not being able yet to render them assistance—that brought them safety. Now that the might of the great Republic is being developed in overwhelming strength, as we see all around us on every hand, it is that that gives us complete assurance of victory for us all. If, as we hope will be the case, Senators and Representatives should come from the United States, they will personify all their fellow-countrymen and we, on our part, members of the two Houses of Parliament, in greeting them in the name of our nation, will be clasping hands with the American people.


My Lords, although in Congress there are no Benches corresponding to that from which I am now speaking, I think it is only fitting that I should join in supporting this Resolution which has been put before us in such eloquent terms by the two noble Lords who have preceded me. We send this invitation for various reasons. We are glad to have the opportunity of showing in this way our gratitude for the really wonderful hospitality which the Americans have shown to so many of cur people, especially those in our Navies, during this war. We send this invitation because if it is accepted we believe that it will encourage that personal intercourse between representatives of the two nations which must make for better understanding and for the future peace of the world. But we send this invitation for yet another and deeper reason, for we, like the American people, believe in representative institutions, in government by the people for the people, and when our American visitors come here they will see, amidst all the stress of war, the representative Constitution still working. They will see the House of Commons, the old House of Commons, ruined and destroyed, but they will find that the House which worked within it continues its labours without an hour's interruption. And they will see that, notwithstanding the war, democratic government still continues in this country. We shall welcome them here, and we hope that we shall give them a most interesting time. They may be certain of the warmth of the reception they will receive, and, speaking for the Church of England, I can say that I am certain we shall do our best to welcome them and to make their visit useful and happy here.


My Lords, I feel it is right that every Party in your Lordships' House should acquiesce in this Motion. I entirely agree with and uphold every word that has been said by my noble friends Lord Addison and Lord Samuel. Naturally, having come back from a visit to another country not very long ago, I do appreciate the enormous importance of personal contact with those who are in this war with us. I suppose there is nothing which brings people more together than fighting together and suffering together, and that is what that great nation, the United States, and ourselves are doing. I feel confident that this visit will enable us both to understand each other better, and to draw the reins of friendship tighter than they have ever been in past history. I most heartily support what has been said by my noble friends who have already spoken.


My Lords, this to my mind is an unique and historic occasion, and I should like, if I may, to associate myself with all that has been said, and especially with what has been said by the most reverend Prelate, the Archbishop of York. The invitation proposed is not from the Government but from one people to another people, and thus it emanates from the High Court of Parliament in this country, and is addressed to the Congress of the United States of America. This is a symbolic act of deep and momentous significance. It sets the seal upon the friendship and singleness of purpose of the two English-speaking nations. What the Old Book says is true: "Where there is no vision the people perish." In this invitation we see a vision of creative unity of thought and action, but it this is to be enduring it must be inspired and energized by spiritual power. In common with members of all other branches of the Christian Church this invitation will, I am confident, be viewed with deep thankfulness and unfeigned delight by Free churchmen on both sides of the Atlantic, and let me remind your Lordships that there are some seven million Methodists in the United States and even more Baptists, as well as numerous members of other Free Churches.

Like so many members of your Lordships' House, I have travelled through the United States from coast to coast, and with that experience in mind I rejoice the more at this spontaneous expression of our kinship with and admiration for the American people. It so happens that in recent weeks a great crusade has been carried on in the United States by the American Methodist Church, the theme of which has been: "The Coming Peace and the Prince of Peace," and arrangements were made some time ago for next Sunday week, March 26, to be observed as a Day of Consecration to Jesus Christ as Personal and World Saviour, and the Methodist Church in this country has been invited in like manner to observe that day as one of intercession and dedication. I believe I see the hand of God in this overture to the American people, and most warmly, therefore, do I commend this invitation which is now before your Lordships' House. May it be the precursor of and a contribution to that peace which shall establish a World Order grounded in freedom, racial and economic justice and the brotherhood of man.


My Lords, may I also support this Resolution, which has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Addison, to ask a delegation of Members of Congress to come over here. I cannot say more than that having also returned very recently from that great country, the United States, I can think of nothing more likely to bring about friendship between the two countries than that elected representatives of each should meet in their representative capacity over here. May their visit also have the effect of bringing and joining together still more closely, and of welding into closer relationship, the three Services. On those three Services now depend victory in this war and the peace of the world in the future. May they by this meeting cement the will to unity, and the will of the nations to work together to ensure the peace of the world.


My Lords, I should like in a few words warmly to welcome the Resolution which has been proposed in such felicitous terms by the noble Lord, Lord Addison, Leader of the Opposition, feeling convinced, as I do, that it will be much appreciated in America and that the result of it can be nothing but good. In the strenuous years ahead we shall require the help of and close co-operation with America, and in my opinion the best way of securing these, with their abiding friendship, is by personal contact. Like the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who so eloquently supported the Resolution, I have always felt that the Confederation of the English-speaking peoples is the greatest bulwark of safety for the world; and indeed I think I voiced that opinion in the first utterances I made to your Lordships in this House. To-day I feel more strongly than ever that that is the case. When visiting Canada and America last year with other members of the Empire Parliamentary Delegation, I had the great honour of meeting the delegation which came from Washington to Ottawa. We met them in informal conferences in the Houses of Parliament there and we also spent a very pleasant week-end together at the Seignory Country Club. There we opened our hearts to each other and discussed the problems which confronted each nation and the world generally. We found that their ideals and ours had very much in common; they were in fact identical. They gave us then a very definite assurance that they would be with us 100 per cent. in fighting Hitler and the Axis Powers until victory was achieved, and to the same extent in rebuilding the world of liberty and freedom on solid foundations which would last for all time. They were so transparently sincere in their assurances that not a doubt was left in our minds about their intentions.

I hope to see these visits develop into a permanent application of the principle of Lend-Lease and the interchange between our two countries of ideas, ambitions and aims. In an Allied partnership such as this, which has to stand the test of time, the guiding principle must be "Each for all and all for each," with mutual trust as its inspiration and foundation. I feel, indeed, that it is a blessing that the two great leaders in America and in this country are such close personal friends and have such a comprehensive understanding of their duties and responsibilities. It is this happy combination which has brought us so far along the road to victory, and leads us to the fortunate position in which we now find ourselves. With this in mind I welcome what is being done to-day and look forward keenly to the arrival of the American representatives, feeling that we shall be forging yet another link between America and ourselves and helping to establish a permanent partnership, working unitedly and unselfishly in the highest interests of humanity.


My Lords, I should like in one sentence to claim a privilege of a more personal kind. As an ordinary member of your Lordships' House who has had the honour of being received by the Senate of the United States, as they say, "on the floor of the House," and of opening its proceedings with prayer, I ask the privilege of being allowed in this one sentence to support most warmly the Resolution before the House.


My Lords, as a member of the Executive of the British-American. Parliamentary Committee I should like to add one word of appreciation to the tributes paid in another place to Major Braithwaite, the Member for Buckrose, for his part in preparing the way for this invitation, and a word of support for the Resolution which has been so admirably moved here to-day. I have two particular reasons for doing so. The first is that I spent a large part of my life in the United States, and learned early to realize that, as Lord Addison said, Anglo-American co-operation in every sphere alone provides hope for the future. The second reason is that in May, 1941, I had the honour to be on the floor of Congress when the historic warning was given to both Houses by the President of the United States which so largely influenced the future course of events. I enjoyed the privilege traditionally extended to members of this House. For both those reasons I welcome this invitation.


My Lords, in the enforced absence of the Leader of the House, before I put this Resolution to the vote I should like to be permitted to add a few words. It is evident from the speeches which have been made and from the way in which they have been received that this proposal meets in this House with universal approval. Some two hours and a half ago, in the House of Commons, a Motion in similar terms, moved from the Back Benches but supported by the Leader of the House, was unanimously adopted, and in a very short time, Mr. Speaker and I will be authorized to transmit, as we shall very willingly do, the invitation which Parliament as a whole desires to send to the great Congress of the United States.

I should like to make this single observation before I put the question. In the course of this war and throughout this war the United States and ourselves have been strenuously co-operating at many levels. We have co-operated, for example, at the level of high statesmanship, producing the Atlantic Charter, to which Lord Addison referred just now, and many other declarations and decisions of stupendous importance. On the level of high statesmanship, therefore, we have been actively co-operating. Again, we have been co-operating at the level of the higher conduct of the war. Decision after decision has been reached, many of them yet to be revealed in history but all contributing to the common purpose of securing victory, on which we are resolved. We have also had co-operation on the level of supply, of a mutual lend and lease, which has meant so much in the carrying on of the war. Most of all, perhaps, we have had co-operation at the level of the comradeship of fighting men on land, on sea and in the air.

These Resolutions to-day have indeed, as more than one of your Lordships have observed, a very deep significance, because we are seeking to promote cooperation at yet another level, at what I may call the Parliamentary level of the two nations. It is right to describe, as I think was done by Lord Addison, these two institutions—the British Parliament and the American Congress, and indeed the American Constitution as a whole—as the two greatest constructions of the thought of man which have secured democratic advance in this world. There is not one of us at this moment who does not feel from his heart that this Anglo-American co-operation is not only the basis upon which we may confidently hope for ultimate victory, but is the foundation upon which alone can be built the happiness of a future peaceful world.

On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente.