HL Deb 29 January 1957 vol 201 cc171-5

2.56 p.m.


My Lords, before we proceed to the full business of the day, there is a matter on which, whatever disagreement there may be between us on other subjects, all of your Lordships would wish me to speak and on which I am quite certain we shall all be in harmony. For the second time within a few days I have to rise to speak of one of our number whose death we mourn. Your Lordships will have heard of the death of Lord Llewellin, which occurred last week, with a sense of deep personal loss. I do not suppose any Member of this House had so many genuinely devoted friends, young and old, as he had and I believe I can count myself among the oldest. For we went to Eton in the same half, moved up to school together, went to Oxford in the same term, entered the House of Commons at the same General Election and, I believe, became members of the Government in the same year. Throughout, our lives have followed parallel courses; and so what I say, I can assure your Lordships, comes from the knowledge of a lifetime.

The thing which strikes me most as I recall Lord Llewellin is that in all that long time he never really changed; he merely matured. Those qualities that made him so valuable a Member of this House—his humour, his robust common sense, his tolerance for the views of others, his inflexible sense of duty for himself—were always in him. Whether he was a boy at Eton, leading his Dorset heavy battery to victory in the King's Cup, representing his country as Resident Minister of Supply in Washington during the last war, addressing your Lordships, as he did so often with such effect, or colloguing with the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, and Sir Roy Welensky in Rhodesia during the last years of his life, he was always the same "Jay" that we had always known, the same good companion, the same wise counsellor. These pre-eminent qualities were never more evident than in that last task which he undertook, of lending his wisdom and experience to the new Federation of which he was the first Governor-General and whose welfare was so near to his heart.

We in this House, our country, and the Commonwealth as a whole, have all suffered a grievous loss by his death. He was one of those men whom we can least afford to lose. I think it is fitting that we should to-day pay our tribute of gratitude and affection to one who never spared himself in the service of his country and who died as he would have wished, still in that service to the end. I am sure the heartfelt sympathy of your Lordships will go out to his sister and brother, whose sorrow we share.

3.0 p.m.


My Lords, I entirely share the view just expressed by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in such feeling terms, of what an enormous loss the passing of the late Lord Llewellin is to our country, to the whole of the Commonwealth and to all interested in the federation of the free interests of the free world. I had known him for a great number of years. As happened with so many of our friends in other Parties, we saw a great deal of each other right through the war, and I must say it would have been impossible to find anyone more easy to work with, yet so sincere and so conscientious in every detail which he had to handle.

If I may speak from the point of view of those interested in the food trades, may I say that probably no man who has held the position of Minister of Food had a more happy knack of dealing with the enormously complex and sometimes differing interests in that difficult field at that time. In the food trades he has left behind a host of friends who honour his memory. Apart from those qualities I have mentioned, he had great social and personal idealism. I often think of the talks I used to have with him, sometimes about the work of his brother in connection with Borstal institutions. That was a great piece of social work and reconstruction, inspired entirely by the highest Christian feeling. That was the feeling which dominated "Jay" as he was known, not only to the noble Marquess and Members of his Party, but certainly to more than half the members of the Party who sat opposite to him in another place. That was a mark to us of how affectionately he was regarded by opponents as well as by friends. His old political opponents will continuously mourn his loss.

3.2 p.m.


My Lords, if I do not add at length to the words which have fallen from the lips of the noble Marquess, the Leader of the House, and from those of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, it will not, of course, be because we in this quarter of the House do not appreciate most deeply the great loss to the Commonwealth, to the nation and, in a very personal sense, to your Lordships' House which has resulted from the untimely death of Lord Llewellin. The large field of political experience through which he went seemed to us all to have opened rather than to have closed his mind to the political point of view of those who were not always in sympathy with his political Party. He was always approachable, always kind, always sincere. He belonged to that comparatively small corps of regular attenders of your Lordships' House who conferred unofficially outside this Chamber, with such pleasure and such usefulness, on the various matters of State which later came into the Chamber to be dealt with officially.

I think that all of us had two great hopes about Lord Llewellin recently. The first was that he would succeed in the great office that he took in Africa, the second, that we should see him back among us here. Our second hope, tragically, will not be fulfilled. The first one most emphatically has been. I think it is not out of place to recall that some of us had some misgivings about this great project of the Federation. I must say at the same time that it seemed to us that once it was a fait accompli it had to succeed, and should have our highest support. Its success depended very much on the personality and the activities of the first Governor-General, and I think that we can look back with real gratitude to the service of "Jay" Llewellin, as a great man coming to the flower of his greatness in that territory, which he looked after so well and to which he gave such a great start in its new form.

3.5 p.m.


My Lords, as another very old friend who worked closely with Lord Llewellin, I should like to add a word or two of tribute to what has been so well and so understandingly said about him. He and I served together in the House of Commons and, incidentally, as members for neighbouring Divisions for a number of years. We worked together in the war. Immediately before the war, and particularly during the war, he held a number of Ministerial appointments which gave him experience which was to prove of very great value to the country. As the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition has said, it also gave him invaluable experience for what I shall always think was perhaps the greatest work he undertook.

When it came to the appointment of the first Governor-General of the Federation of Rhodesia it fell to me formally to make the recommendation. Naturally one took a great deal of consultation and advice, particularly with Sir Godfrey Huggins, as he then was—Lord Malvern, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and Prime Minister Designate of the Federation—with Lord Chandos, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies, and with the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, who had taken such a keen interest in the earlier stages of the Federation. It is always important that a new Dominion should start off with a good Governor-General, but in Rhodesia this was a particularly difficult appointment, because it so happened that he did not succeed, so to speak, to a fully-fledged Dominion and take office as a Constitutional Governor-General, a sort of Constitutional Monarch. He had the very difficult task, during the six or nine months of the transitional period when the Federation was coming into being, of being in effect the Government of the Federation. I can hardly imagine a more difficult or delicate task; and with that in our minds all four of us who consulted on this matter were unanimous that we could not do better than appoint Lord Llewellin, because he was a man well versed in administration and politics and also, as we all knew, so human.

So Lord Llewellin was the unanimous choice, and events have proved how wise that choice was. During that difficult initial period he worked in complete harmony with Lord Malvern and the Ministers-designate. In fact, then and afterwards, I think it is true to say that he never put a foot wrong—and there were plenty of pitfalls. I think he owed his success not only to his long experience but also to those personal qualities of which the Leader of the House has spoken—going back to the earliest days—those qualities of wisdom and sympathy and common sense.

I am not sure whether the House realises that during his term as Governor-General he became very seriously ill. Indeed, it was an even money chance—if I may so put it—whether he would come back here for his treatment in hospital and to convalesce. He did so and for many weeks he lay between life and death in hospital here. Gradually he recovered—certainly not complete health. If he had consulted his own interests and the interests of his health he ought never to have gone back to the climate of Salisbury. But he wanted to go back. If he had considered himself he would not have done so. But he was dedicated to that service and to that country which he loved. He died in that service, and his name will always be enshrined in the great University which is now being built and in which one of the great buildings will bear his name. But his name still more will live always with that great experiment—the greatest, I am sure, we have made in Africa. His name will be enshrined in the memory of every citizen of the Rhodesian Federation which he served so well.


My Lords, I have been asked by a few friends to say a word to express their great sympathy, as well as my own, at the tragic death of the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin. I began to know him only after the war, but he was a great help to younger Members of your Lordships' House like myself. He was a man of great understanding and he took immense trouble to help younger Peers in their work. It was a privilege and honour for me to work so closely with him during the five years that he was chairman of the Home Affairs Committee of the Conservative Party when in Opposition. My Lords, I felt to-day that I had to say a few words on behalf of my noble friends on this side of the House, in sympathy to his family in their loss.