HL Deb 15 June 1955 vol 193 cc113-5

2.50 p.m.


My Lords, with the leave of the House I should like to make a personal statement. I have received, as Lord Chancellor, an invitation from the Government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland to attend the opening ceremony of the Federal Supreme Court on July 1. It is proposed that in the Lord Chancellor's robes I should head a procession of all the judges in the Federation, and address them after the new Court has been sworn in by the Governor-General. Your Lordships may perhaps think it fitting that the importance which we all attach to the worthy administration of justice should be emphasised in this way. I should add that in attending the ceremony I should be following a happy precedent set by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, in Kenya when he was Lord Chancellor.

The air services to Rhodesia are such that it will be necessary for me to he away from June 28 until July 6, and therefore to be absent from my place on the Woolsack on several days when your Lordships' House will be in session. Accordingly, I ask for your Lordships' approval of this proposal and for leave of absence from your Lordships' House. If your Lordships are good enough to grant me this, I know that I shall take with me to the Federation and to the new Federal Court the good wishes of your Lordships in every quarter of the House.


My Lords, I rise to say how cordially I support the proposition which the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has put before us. I did exactly the same thing in Kenya. I thought it would be good that the majesty of the law, which I then represented, should be present at the opening of the new Court in Kenya. I am bound to add that shortly after I had been there the Mau Mau rebellion broke out, though I assure your Lordships that it was not a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. I would add this further consideration: that while we shall miss the noble and learned Viscount, we are such a well-behaved assembly that I am sure that we can get on without him for a few days. I think it is important that he should take an opportunity of seeing what is going on there. It is a very interesting Territory, as I know well, and I hope he will not be concerned to get himself back here at the earliest possible day. I believe that if the noble and learned Viscount had a few extra days, or an extra week, in which to see the condition of that area and of the Province, both he and, ultimately, your Lordships' House would be the gainers. I most cordially support this proposal.


My Lords, noble Lords on these Benches will endorse all that has been said by the noble and learned Earl, and I would add my support to his latter remarks. But there is another aspect of this matter. It is not only a question of the impression that the Federation will make on the Lord Chancellor, but also a question of the impression the 'Lord Chancellor may make on it. I am sure we should all like then to feel, after the considerable discussion which has taken place about their affairs, both in this House and in another place, that we do take a real interest in them and should like our most senior officer to visit the Federation.


My Lords, it is hardly necessary for me to add anything to what has already been said. Of course, we always like to have the Lord Chancellor in the House, and if there were not a sufficiently good reason we should make that perfectly clear; but on this particular occasion it is a very special event, and there is no doubt that the visit of the Lord Chancellor will not only acid greatly to the prestige of that event, which is an important thing, especially in African country, but will also, I think, add one further link, if such a link is needed, between these two parts of Her Majesty's Dominions. Therefore, I think his proposal is most desirable. Like the noble and learned Earl. Lord Jowitt, I know the Federation well and I am sure that the Lord Chancellor will find his visit an extremely interesting and stimulating experience. I agree with the noble and learned Earl that if he stays for a day or so, if his visit is not too long, we shall wish him to make full use of his time.


My Lords, may I say, without presumption, that in accepting this invitation the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor will take with him the good wishes of the whole legal profession?


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lords who have spoken and to the whole House for the kindness with which it has received my proposal. I shall try to justify my absence in the service of the House by conveying the good wishes of your Lordships' House and, at the same time, trying to be worthy of the traditions of this House in the office which I have the honour to hold.