HL Deb 16 April 1991 vol 527 cc1335-6
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Waddington)

My Lords, your Lordships will have been saddened to hear of the death over the Easter Recess of my noble and gallant friend Lord De L'Isle. Few Members of your Lordships' House have had so distinguished a career in so many spheres of public life as the noble and gallant Lord. Indeed, it would be hard to find many in the history of our country who could match his many talents and achievements. In him the blood of his famous ancestor, Sir Philip Sidney, ran true.

Lord De L'Isle first entered your Lordships' House in 1945, on the death of his father. At that time he had in fact been a Member of another place for a few months, having been elected to represent Chelsea in 1944. However, before that time, he had performed signal acts of bravery at the Anzio landings for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He served in the government of Sir Winston Churchill as Secretary of State for Air from 1951 to 1955. Then, in 1961, he became Governor General of Australia, a post which he held for four years. Thereafter, he pursued a distinguished career in both business and public life.

I know that all Members of the House will wish to join me in sending the sympathy of the House to Lady De L'Isle and his family.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, in his worthy tribute to Lord De L'Isle, the noble Lord the Leader of the House described the various aspects of Lord De L'Isle's long and distinguished career. He was a popular parliamentarian. Further, although his tenure in the House of Commons was short, as the noble Lord said, after he entered this Chamber he served in the Ministry of Pensions and later as Secretary of State for Air for a period of four years. In the latter office, as one would expect, he showed imagination and enterprise. Five years later he returned to public life as Governor General of Australia—the last Briton to hold that post. We are told that it is not easy for the British to achieve great popularity in Australia. But Lord De L'Isle became one of the most respected and well-liked governor generals in the history of that country. Australians will mourn his passing as we do.

However, it was the courage of Lord De L'Isle which became legendary. We know that he inherited and was proud of the long and historic tradition of service exemplified in his ancestor, Sir Philip Sidney. I am glad to be able to say that I found Lord De L'Isle to be a most friendly and modest man whom it was a privilege to know.

Lord Jenkins of Hillhead

My Lords, I am glad to be able to associate myself and my noble friends with the tributes which have been paid to a man who, to an exceptional degree, combined personal courage and high service to the state. Only he and Lord Roberts, as some of the obituaries reminded us, could write VC before their KG. He added an engaging geniality to those other qualities. I recollect him displaying that to the full at the dinner of the Other Club last May when he was judged to be the most appropriate person to preside over the special dinner to celcbrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the great Churchill coalition government. We salute his record from Anzio onwards; we acknowledge our own loss; and we send our sympathy to his family.

Baroness Hylton-Foster

My Lords. I am sure that all Members sitting on the Cross-Benches will want to support the tributes which have already been paid to Lord De L'Isle. He was an exceptionally gallant soldier who, after the war and after criticism that he was not an Australian, was appointed governor general to that country in 1961. When he retired from that post, everyone would have welcomed his extension of appointment. He was also a kind, charming and thoughtful man. I have reason to be grateful to him because on a cold winter evening I was walking from St. Stephen's to the Underground when he caught me up. He insisted that I should not walk alone and escorted me the whole way to the Underground.

I am in order in saying that the field marshals who sit on these Benches would also like to he associated with the tributes and are only sorry that they could not be here today to pay them themselves.

The Lord Bishop of Worcester

My Lords, I wish from these Benches to be associated with the tributes. As a former Bishop of Tonbridge in the diocese of Rochester, I took enormous pleasure in having Penshurst Place within my area. Therefore, from personal experience of those days I can speak of the service which Lord De L 'Isle and Dudley gave to the County of Kent and to the diocese of Rochester in which he was patron of the living of Penshurst. Formidable as he was on the beaches of Anzio, he was also formidable in the diocese. We knew him to be a faithful and true Churchman. I join in the tributes to his service to the county and to the Church and also in the conveying of sympathy to his widow and family.

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