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High Commissioner (Resignation)

Volume 415: debated on Friday 2 November 1945

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I very much regret to have to make the following further announcement. Field-Marshal Viscount Gort, High Commissioner for Palestine and Trans-Jordan, has tendered his resignation to His Majesty on grounds of ill-health which, in the opinion of his medical advisers, makes it necessary for him to return immediately to England for investigation and treatment. In these circumstances, His Majesty has been graciously pleased to accept Lord Gort's resignation with very great regret.

I am sure that the House will join with me in expressing deep sympathy with Lord Gort. I know well that it is a grievous blow to him to be compelled to leave, at this difficult moment, a post which he has filled with outstanding ability and distinction. I should like to convey to him on behalf of the House our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

An announcement regarding his successor will be made as soon as possible. In the meantime, Mr. J. V. W. Shaw, Chief Secretary, will administer the Government.

May I say with what regret we on this side of the House and, I am sure, hon. Members on all sides, have heard the right hon. Gentleman's announcement? It has been obvious for some time that Lord Gort's health had not been fully restored by his visit, on medical grounds, to England this summer, and we very much regret that he should now have to return. May I add this to the graceful tribute which the right hon. Gentleman has just paid him? In the comparatively short time that he was in Palestine, he personally won the hearts of both communities, not by any measures that he was able to announce on behalf of His Majesty's Government, but by sheer force of his own character. His outstanding simplicity, sincerity and courage have been great assets to us in that difficult part of the world in these difficult times. May I also condole with the right hon. Gentleman and His Majesty's Government on being deprived at this most critical moment of such an outstanding representative, and express the hope and, indeed, the certainty that Mr. Shaw, with his distinguished record and great ability, will cope sufficiently with the situation until a successor can be found?