HL Deb 10 April 1946 vol 140 cc641-3

My Lords, I am sure it would meet with your Lordships' approval and be in accordance with your wishes if I were to express our deep sense of grief at the sudden death of Lord Southwood today, who was one of our Whips for a considerable time during the war period. I am quite sure it is true to say that he was beloved in every quarter of the House. I know just as well as any man could how ceaseless a worker he was and how full of all sorts of interests which many people little suspected. One was always discovering many acts of kindness that he had done quietly so far as he was concerned, with no one knowing, and there are many organizations of the helpful kind which owed very much, sometimes even their continued existence, to his help. You are, of course, aware that he was interested in the great Children's Hospital for which he worked so hard for so many years, and in all topics connected with the welfare of young people he was consumedly interested. I always remember the speech he made in your Lordships' House on the need for family allowances in which he was ably supported by the late Archbishop Temple. It was a very striking and, to me, a not forgettable occasion. Behind it all, as we know, he had a very acute ability and a remarkable power of direction on a great scale which few suspected, I think, who knew him only as a modest and kindly friend. Through everything he did there was a kindness of heart and lovability which I am sure all of us who knew him well will ever treasure in our memories. I am sure, my Lords, you would like to be associated with the tribute to him and with of sympathy to those he has left behind.


My Lords, as the Leader of the House has well said, there is no one in any quarter of this House who would not wish to join in the most truly personal sense with the moving tribute that he has paid to an old friend and an old colleague. We got to know Lord Southwood first as a Whip. A Whip, I always think, has one of the most difficult jobs of anybody, very often a harder job than the Minister. He has to keep everybody right; he has to keep the people behind the Ministers sweet, when the Minister has ruffled them; and he has not only to deal like that with his own people, he has to have, if business is to go through expeditiously, equally happy relations with his opponents on the other side. Lord Southwood, coming to that post with I suppose no political experience of any sort or kind, by his ability, and indeed perhaps even more by his kindliness and good nature, did turn out to be the ideal Whip. He made friends with us all. We all feel we have lost a friend. That kindliness was, I think, the whole key to his character. It was that which made us so fond of him, and it was characteristic of that kindliness that not only was he most generous with his wealth in the cause of children and young people, but equally generous and unsparing in his personal energy and his great ability. We all wish to be truly associated with the tribute and with the sympathy the Leader of the House has expressed.


My Lords, the sudden and wholly unexpected death of Lord Southwood has come to us all as a great shock. He was a man who had here very many friends. He was remarkable for his great kindness of heart and his deeply benevolent disposition. This was shown in his indefatigable work for the hospitals and also during the war by his invaluable service for the Red Cross. I think he was the initiator and was certainly a prime mover in the Penny-a-Week Movement for the Red Cross which yielded many millions of pounds to the Fund. On the Front Opposition Bench he was for some time Chief Whip, and I have no doubt that the present Prime Minister would have invited his services in the Government if he had not been tied to the great newspaper enterprise which he had himself largely built up and in which he took so deep and legitimate a pride. Your Lordships' House has lost a faithful member who commanded here universal affection and esteem.


My Lords, may I as one associated with Lord Southwood in the profession which he followed, be permitted to say a few words on this sad occasion? I have known Lord Southwood possibly for more years than anybody else in this House, and I had many associations with him. He was a man of inexhaustible courage and tremendous industry. He rose by his own efforts alone from the humblest of beginnings. He was never a journalist, and he was not very interested in politics, but, by his great powers of organization, he managed to steer two national newspapers to vast circulations and at the same time to create a publishing business which is one of the largest in the country. He became the employer of thousands of men, and commanded their whole-hearted admiration and esteem. At one time, as some of your Lordships may remember, he was faced with a great catastrophe due to no fault of his own, and it looked as though he would go under, but with great courage and determination he fought his way back and re-established his enterprises on a stronger basis than ever.

He was a lonely man, and of recent years, as has been said to-day, he became associated with a number of charitable enterprises. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has mentioned some of the public ones, but I would also refer to those connected with his own profession to which he gave great assistance in every direction. He was not by any means a wealthy man but he gave freely of his money. What is more, he gave his time. What he did for the charities of which I am speaking—and this probably can be said of the charities in the public world too—was that he made as great a success of them as he did of his life in the business world. I pay tribute, above all, to his benevolence and his kindliness of heart.

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