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His Majesty's Reply

Volume 478: debated on Thursday 26 October 1950

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His Majesty's Most Gracious Reply to the Addresses from both Houses was as follows:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons:

I thank you for the loyal and dutiful Addresses which on your behalf the Lord Chancellor and Mr. Speaker have presented to Me.

I am glad to be here today and to congratulate the Members of the House of Commons on the rebuilding of their Chamber. I look back with pride and gratitude to the part that Parliament played when this country was in danger. True to its function of expressing the will and spirit of my people, the House of Commons continued with unshakeable courage and high purpose to fulfil its duties despite the bombing of its home. The destruction of the Chamber in which it had met for so many years was not allowed to inter-

rupt our Parliamentary Government. When the peoples of our Commonwealth of Nations stood alone, the spirit of a free people ensured the maintenance of our system of Government. May it always continue to stand for those great and permanent realities expressed in our way of life, whatever the strains and stresses we have to endure.

The new Chamber has been built as far as possible in the form of the old. There is a traditional intimacy about our legislative Chambers which is very characteristic of Parliamentary life in our land. It suggests a close and almost homely place of discussion and taking counsel, as if it derived some of its virtue from the family circle. I am glad to know that this feature has been preserved in the new building. I congratulate the architect who designed the Chamber and all the men and women who have taken part in its building and furnishing: its decoration and fittings are outstanding examples of our skill and craftsmanship in wood and metal and stone.

This Chamber, in a sense, belongs to our great family of nations, for it is adorned and enriched by generous gifts from all over the Commonwealth.

I am happy to welcome here today the Speakers of the Legislatures throughout the British Commonwealth. Their presence makes this a symbolic occasion of untold value. Of all the bonds which unite my peoples none is stronger than our common devotion to the ideals of freedom, justice and toleration which, in the political sphere, find their supreme expression in our Parliamentary system. These ideals have been evolved, tried, and enriched through the long process of our history. They were born, and have grown to maturity, here in Westminster. It is a proud day when we welcome here in the very cradle of our Parliamentary institutions, representatives of the Legislatures of the other territories, great and small, united in the Commonwealth, to rejoice with us at the opening of the new Chamber of the House of Commons. Here they can see another of the links which unite us. For the symbols and procedure of our various Legislatures are to all intents and purposes identical. Although my peoples vary in race, language and tradition, the spirit of our Parliamentary system permeates every legislative assembly in the Commonwealth.

This new Chamber will stand as a sign to the world of our faith in freedom, of our confidence in the permanence of our common ideals, and of the ties flexible yet firm which hold together the peoples of our Commonwealth, and unite in brotherhood the freedom-loving peoples of all nations. For freedom finds expression in this Palace of Westminster, where free men and women can speak in accordance with the dictates of their consciences, yet with that saving grace of humour and readiness to understand the point of view of others which has ever been typical of our race. Not for us the silence of suppression. In other places liberty has perished, but the voice of true democracy is still heard among all our peoples and is a comfort to all those who love, and believe in, the unfettered expression of honest opinions, noble aspirations and sincere human feelings.

This is our heritage. May all those who shall serve their Country in the new Commons Chamber strive to maintain and uphold those great and enduring principles on which our political ideals are based. May they, in their work, be an inspiration and example to all throughout the world to whom our way of life stands as a guiding light at a time when it is opposed by the dark counsels of materialism and tyranny. May this Chamber long stand to shape the destinies of My people at home, and may the blessing of Almighty God for all time rest upon it and all who labour in it.

The House resumed at a Quarter to Three o'clock.