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Statement By Mr Chamberlain

Volume 155: debated on Thursday 22 June 1922

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House Of Commons Adjourns

(speaking with emotion): I was about to address, in the ordinary course, a question to the Leader of the House as to business. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"] It is very difficult to speak. [Hear, hear.] Since I came down to the House, I have heard, and probably hon. Members may have heard, tidings of the most terrible character affecting this House, namely, the death —the murder, I must call it—of a gallant soldier, one of the great figures in the War, who, though only recently elected a Member of this House, already possessed in a high degree its esteem, and, indeed, its affection. I should like to ask the Leader of the House if he can give us any exact information as to the circumstances of this appalling event.

( speaking with equal emotion)

My information is imperfect, but I will give the House all that I have.

Number 36, Eaton Place, was to-day broken into by two men—both now in custody — [Cheers] — carrying firearms. Sir Henry Wilson, the occupier, was shot dead. As far as can be ascertained, three police constables have been shot.

I have not been able to ascertain since I heard this news what is the condition of the police constables who were shot, presumably in effecting the arrest of the murderers. I can only hope that their injuries may not be mortal. My right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) has spoken with emotion of the loss which the country has sustained in the death of one of the men who contributed most powerfully to our success in the late War, and who, for his service, received the thanks of this House a comparatively short time ago. Since then, he had become a Member of our body, and had shown himself possessed of first-class Parliamentary qualities.

I have been honoured by his friendship for many years, and I think that every Member of this House who remembers his great career elsewhere, who welcomed him here, and who had listened to him, will feel with me that this is not only a national, but, for us in the House of Commons, a personal tragedy. I believe that it will be the general wish of the House—precedent notwithstanding—that in the sad circumstances of this case, and as a mark of our profound respect for our colleague, and of our deep sympathy with his widow, the House should adjourn. I, therefore, beg to move, "That this House do now adjourn."

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Nine minutes before Four of the Clock.