HL Deb 05 April 1982 vol 429 cc1-4
Lord Peart

My Lords, the House will have heard this morning of the resignation of the Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington. On behalf of these Benches, and I am sure all parts of the House, I should like to pay a tribute to the noble Lord for all his work as a Member of your Lordships' House. Obviously this is not the moment to comment at all upon the events which have led to his resignation.

What I want to say is that this is a sad day for your Lordships' House. Irrespective of party, we have all greatly admired him. He has been a Leader of the House as well as Leader of the Opposition. Apart from the war years and his service as High Commissioner in Australia, he has been an active Member of the House for over 40 years and has served us with distinction. Although, of course, we have often joined battle with him politically, we want to express our warmest thanks and best wishes to him. We hope that we shall see him here in the future. He can be sure of a most genuine welcome from all of us, whichever Benches we occupy.

Lord Wigoder

My Lords, it would of course be quite inappropriate to comment at this moment upon the unhappy events of the last few weeks. It is right that I should join with the noble Lord, Lord Peart, in saying that this is also a sad day for the Liberal Peers. This is a sad day, first, because the country has lost the services of a most distinguished and able Foreign Secretary. It is a sad day, secondly, for your Lordships' House because we have lost for the moment a representative in one of the higher parts of the Government who has, by his very position there, caused such esteem to follow upon your Lordships' House.

It is a sad day also for all the Members of your Lordships' House who, as individuals, have always found in the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, a person of such friendship, charm and courtesy. I am sure that all your Lordships' House will hope that the time is not far removed when the noble Lord will be able again to resume his position in the higher counsels of our state for which he is so well qualified.

Lord Shackleton

My Lords, my sorrow at the events of the last few days has been compounded by the loss to this country and to this House of Lord Carrington. I had much experience, as did my noble friend Lord Shepherd, of working with him as we have to work in your Lordships' House. The fact is that he has followed the great British tradition (and I wish it had not been so in his case) that, feeling he was the responsible Minister, whoever else may have been to blame—and we will not even discuss this—he must go.

His services here have been almost immeasurable. Not long ago I had occasion to speak at the Oxford Union on the future of the House of Lords. I was defeated on the simple ground that my chief opponent, a Left-wing Member of the Labour Party, said: "If only they abolished the House of Lords, Lord Carrington could he Prime Minister". We think of his humour, his wisdom, his quickness and his skill as a speaker. I remember on one occasion my daughter had heard us debating. She said, "Daddy, you made a very good speech", and then she said, "I wish you could be a bit more like Lord Carrington".

He brought a wisdom, and he brought a caring for the House. It was possible to deal with him as a man of great honour; a man of humour; a man of understanding. He served this House both in Government and in Opposition, and we all deeply regret his departure.

The message of every Member of your Lordships' House, and certainly of previous Leaders of this House, is one of thanks to him and of appreciation, and we hope he will in the future have an opportunity to continue the great service he has already given to this country.

Lord Windlesham

My Lords, as one who worked closely with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, both in Government and in Opposition, I should like from this Bench to endorse everything that has been said in tribute. His resignation is highly regrettable on personal grounds. The noble Lord has been, I think many people would agree, one of the best Foreign Secretaries of recent years, irrespective of party; nevertheless, his resignation is worthy and indeed characteristic of the man we know and respect. I should like to leave this thought with your Lordships today, as we react to the sudden news of Lord Carrington's resignation, that it is by acts of selflessness of this sort that the British parliamentary system, confused though it often is, maintains its honour.

Lord Aylestone

My Lords, on behalf of my colleagues on this Bench I should like to add a brief word. When history is written I am sure that the name of Lord Carrington will go down as one of the outstanding Foreign Secretaries of this country. We have the highest regard for him. We are sorry that we are losing him as Foreign Secretary, but I am sure the whole House will agree with me that he has proved to be what we always knew him to be—a man of very high integrity and great honour.

Lord Brockway

My Lords, I was the Member of this House who defeated my noble friend Lord Shackle-ton on a Motion of the Oxford Union suggesting that if the House of Lords were abolished, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, would be Prime Minister. I simply wish to comment that even the severest critics of this Government deplore his resignation, how much we regret that the suggestion was made in another place and that we feel confident that, in the present situation, his advice would have been able to solve the situation in a peaceful way. We deeply regret his resignation.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich

My Lords, I am sure I speak for all the Members of this Bench in saying what a shock and sorrow it has been to us. We were not only interested but in prayer for him during the winning of the glittering prize of the Zimbabwe long discussions. It is with great sorrow that I echo, on behalf of my brother bishops on this Bench, everything that has been said in all parts of the House. We wish him well.

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, I believe it would be the wish of some of my colleagues on the Cross-Benches that our voice should not be silent on this sad occasion. Naturally, I shall not go into the reasons which have led to the present very sad state of affairs; it is our tradition that it must be so, but it is sad to feel that at a time of national emergency, the Government should lose one of its staunchest and best members. We cannot have it both ways. As a friend, I deplore his going on this occasion.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Young)

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Peart, and all other noble Lords who have paid tribute this afternoon to my noble friend Lord Carrington. As noble Lords have said, this is not an appropriate moment to dwell on the immediate issues concerning his resignation, but I have been deeply moved at the real sense of expression of the great loss of my noble friend, who will be greatly missed in all parts of your Lordships' House.

As noble Lords will know, my noble friend is not in his place today because he is reading the lesson at the memorial service to the late Lord Butler. I think it right to say that it is rare indeed to find a man who commanded such respect and affection in all parts of your Lordships' House and who has done so for so many years. He was a man of international stature and he will not be forgotten for his part in the settlement and giving of independence to Zimbabwe, and in that work the whole of your Lordships' House basked in some of his reflected glory.

That is not surprising, for my noble friend Lord Carrington put this House very high on his list of priorities. I am sure noble Lords will recall that only last Tuesday he returned from Brussels to make a Statement to your Lordships' House, and I am glad—I think we all must be—that the House sat on Saturday that he might have an opportunity to speak to your Lordships from the Front Bench.

I am particularly pleased that so many of your Lordships have paid tribute to his great personal qualities. He was a very good friend to me. We all know his kindness, his friendship and, above all, his great sense of humour. I feel it a personal loss that he, who always called me the "bossette", should not be able to do so again. But it was, I think, in the selflessness of his going that he was true very much to his own sense of duty and honour.

Back to