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House of Commons Hansard
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Election Of Speaker
26 October 1965
Volume 718
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(addressing himself to the Clerk of the House, who, standing up, pointed to him, and then sat down): Sir Barnett Cocks, I have to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the death of the Right Hon. Sir Harry Hylton-Foster, late Speaker of this House, gives leave to the House forthwith to make its choice of a new Speaker.

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Sir Barnett Cocks, by virtue of the Gracious Message we have received, it is the responsibility of hon. Members and right hon. Gentlemen to elect one from among our number to occupy the Chair as Speaker of this House. I regret the tragic circumstances which have made this ceremony necessary—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—circumstances that we all deplore. I learn that tomorrow tribute will be paid to our late colleague, Sir Harry Hylton-Foster. Therefore, all I do now—and I have the assurance that I represent the views of every hon. and right hon. Gentleman of this House—is to express our sincere sympathy with that gracious lady, the widow of our late colleague, Lady Hylton-Foster. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]

I have a proposition to make to the House, and have a suspicion that it will be accepted unanimously in all quarters. If that be so, this is the first occasion since I entered the House in 1922 that any proposition of mine will have been received with complete unanimity by my colleagues.

It is customary on these occasions to dilate on the qualities expected of a Speaker. Naturally, we expect the Speager of this assembly to be seized of the need for impartiality. Impartiality is not easy to define and is less easy to put into practice. I am reminded of the mayor of a provincial town who when he was elected to his high office said, in order to ingratiate himself with his fellow councillors, that it was his intention to be neither partial nor impartial. That, I think, represents the difficulties associated with impartiality. There are motives, there are principles, there is a background and the like, all factors which operate, sometimes excessively, in seeking to interpret impartiality. There is, of course, another quality, a very important attribute, we expect from a Speaker. That is intelligence.

So I venture to make my proposition. It is that my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. Horace King) be elected Speaker of this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]

I have been engaged in some research into the kind of Speakers who have occupied the Chair. I am bound to say that they were a mixed bunch. Some were accused of peculation. Some were found guilty of chicanery. Some were beheaded. Some sought this honourable office, this office of great dignity, in the hope of amassing wealth through the medium of fees associated with the private office, and on occasion there were Speakers who sought to leave the Chair and were forcibly restrained. There has been an infinite variety of Speakers in the past, but now for the first time—I may be corrected, but my researches represent accurately the view I am about to express—we have someone proposed who has high academic distinction, indeed a doctor of philosophy. We have never yet had a doctor of philosophy as Speaker. Philosophy denotes knowledge and something ever superior to knowledge, wisdom and judgment. These are qualities in the possession of my right hon. Friend.

He has also the quality of experience. We can recall those long nights, excessively long in the judgment of many hon. Members. We can recall the stresses and strains and the turbulence and how my right hon. Friend comported himself, leaning neither to the right nor to the left but resting himself on sound and basic principles, the principles of democracy in a democratic assembly. He gained vast experience in consequence, and that experience I am certain he is ready to place at our disposal if, in the judgment of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, we decide to elect him.

My right hon. Friend has other qualities. I learned from the newspapers recently that he is something of a pianist. Of course, he is not the only musician in this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is no mean performer on another instrument. Somewhere on these benches is my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. O'Malley), who is another musician. There are several in this assembly. My right hon. Friend the Member for Itchen may regard himself as something in the nature of a conductor, adapting the strings to the woods and, on occasion, seeking to subdue the cacophonous strains of the brass. Some day we may have a Parliamentary orchestra. All the ingredients are there at our disposal.

These are the attributes of my right hon. Friend. But there is something even more important. We expect Mr. Speaker to be not a superior person, but a human being; to exude a sense of humanity. I recall that when Mr. Speaker Morrison occupied the Chair some years ago I had some difficulty with him. We were at loggerheads. We had occasional quarrels. One day he invited me to his own room at half-past four to have a cup of tea. I could hardly decline, so I repaired to his room. I saw no evidence of tea cups or tea pots or tea caddies. Mr. Speaker Morrison was engaged in supping beer from a pint pot. I was astonished. He invited me to join him. I declined. He asked me whether I was teetotal. I assured him I was not. I said I occasionally liked a glass of whisky. He went to a cupboard, procured a bottle, and poured me out a stiff portion. After that I thought he was the best Speaker I had ever known. Far be it from me to suggest that this should be a universal practice.

What are the qualities that hon. Members expect from Mr. Speaker? This is very simple. I will explain them. When an hon. Member rises in his place he should immediately, without hesitation, catch Mr. Speaker's eye. If that happens, then Mr. Speaker is a great Speaker. But if the hon. Member has to wait through long periods of time until he is called, as time passes his enthusiasm for Mr. Speaker gradually dwindles.

We are faced today with the selection of a right hon. Gentleman, a colleague of ours, to occupy this honourable and dignified position, one that I feel sure is the ambition of many right hon. and hon. Members, with my exception. The idea of wearing a wig and ruling this assembly is quite beyond me. I am in a way, in a more modest fashion, a Speaker in that I am the Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Unfortunately in my case it is without any salary attached to the job.

My proposition is that my right hon. Friend should be elected unanimously to fill the Speaker's Chair with the dignity we expect of him, with the judgment that resides in him, with compassion, with understanding, and, in particular, with a due regard to the rights of minorities in this assembly.

I beg to move, That the Right Hon. Dr. Horace King do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.

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Sir Barnett Cocks, in rising to second the Motion that is before the House, I am sure that the House will allow me to preface my remarks for a few moments by echoing the words of sympathy which the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) expressed on our behalf to Lady Hylton-Foster. I think the House would expect that of me. Not only was Sir Harry my friend for 40 years, but for five years, up to the end of the last Parliament, I had the privilege of working under him as Deputy Speaker or as Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. No man can know better than I how conscientious he was in the service of the House; and who can say to what extent he sacrificed himself in serving us?

Sir Barnett Cocks, I would like to turn to the Motion which I have been privileged to be allowed to second. In doing so, I shall not dilate so much on the qualities that we require of the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. Horace King), because I think we are all agreed that he holds them in great measure. I want to dilate rather on the difficulties of the office of Speaker in a Parliament like this. I do this, not because I have the slightest doubt that the right hon. Member will be able to cope with those difficulties, but because I believe that he will do so more easily if the House appreciates how considerable they can be.

The first thing—it is most difficult for a kindly man to face this fact—is that it is impossible for a good Speaker to please everybody. Quite the contrary. Further, the more evenly divided the House and the more important the ruling required on a marginal point, the clearer it becomes that what will please one side of the House is likely to displease the other. Yet Mr. Speaker must face decisions without fear or favour. I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman will do so.

The closure, I suppose, is the commonest occasion when this takes place. I do not mean the automatic closure at the end of a debate when both sides are determined to vote. I mean a closure on a controversial subject, perhaps during the Report stage of a Bill. It all depends from what point of view Mr. Speaker's decision is regarded. By and large, the Government will want him to accept the closure. The Government want to get on with their business. By and large, the Opposition will hope that Mr. Speaker will decline the closure, because the Opposition wants to delay the Government's business and ensure that all points against the Motion are heard in full. There Mr. Speaker is faced with the impossibility on an important matter of pleasing at the same time both sides of the House.

This can arise again with Standing Order No. 9. I do not want to labour the point, but very often it is marginal whether a matter is urgent, is of public importance and is definite. The case can sometimes be foreseen. Then Mr. Speaker will have had time to give full consideration to it, and probably 99 times out of 100 he will give the right answer. However, it is possible, as all of us know, for a point to be raised under Standing Order No. 9 quite unawares. Then Mr. Speaker is faced with giving an immediate decision, a hurried decision; but yet, if he is a good Speaker, that decision must not be just an opinion. It has to be a ruling which the House as a whole, and on both sides, will accept. I do not think that any of us who have considered the position of Speaker in this House will underrate the burden that we place upon the right hon. Member to whom we entrust that important duty, and also the heart-searching that he will have as to whether or not he is doing right in his decisions.

The right hon. Member for Easington mentioned the calling of a Member to make a speech or to ask a Question. The Member who is called thinks Mr. Speaker splendid, but what about the other Members who are not called? Whatever they think Mr. Speaker is, "splendid" is not the word.

I should like to give an occasion from my experience, if the House will allow me. Eighteen months or so ago, when I was Chairman of Ways and Means, I found it impossible during a debate to fit in a certain old Member whom I had known for many years. I will not say whether he is still a Member of the House, and I will not say on which side of the House he is sitting if he is still a Member. He came up to me when the last Government Front Bench speaker had been called and the last chance had gone. I was sitting in the small Chair over there and he said, "Bill, we have been friends for 20 years. Now you have left me out of this debate and I never want to talk to you again." Ordinarily that sort of thing runs off me like water off a duck's back, but the right hon. Member for Itchen is a kindly man and I would say to him, "Do not take it too seriously when an hon. Member who is bitterly disappointed is for just an hour or two more disgruntled than he should be".

My last point, and it is a serious one, applies to this Parliament in particular. It is the question of the naming of a Member and causing him to be suspended from the service of the House, which, after all, means five sitting Parliamentary days. The Chair, of course, is always reluctant to suspend a Member. Firstly, it is rather a confession of failure if one cannot control an assembly without resorting to sanctions. Secondly, it may well have been grist to the mill of the hon. Member concerned to get himself suspended, and not only grist to his personal mill but grist to the cause which he may be representing. Therefore, for that reason in particular, the Chair is always reluctant to suspend a Member. The Member gets headlines in the Press, he gets a mention on the B.B.C., and probably gets invited to appear on television, and gets paid for it, too! But sometimes, in the case of gross disorder or the striking of blows, authority must be asserted, and, let hon. and right hon. Members believe me, I conjure up no hypothetical situation when I speak of the striking of blows. I have seen blows struck in this House before now, and so have other hon. and right hon. Members. I hasten to say that it was a long, long time ago, and time cures everything.

If Mr. Speaker is reluctant, and he certainly is, in a normal Parliament to suspend an hon. Member, how much more that must be so with the situation today when the Government have one, two, or is it three, majority? [An HON. MEMBER: "Three."] Anyway, when it is so marginal. There might require to be not one hon. Member but two or three hon. Members suspended, all on the same side. Would I be wrong in saying that there are certain differences of opinion between certain Members which might make blows not inconceivable even on one side of the House or the other and not necessarily across the Floor? In those circumstances Mr. Speaker will know that if he suspends a couple of hon. Members from the House for a week it may bring down the Government. All of us are prepared to grant great powers and authority to the Speaker. Speaking for myself, I am particularly glad to grant great powers and authority to the right hon. Member for Itchen, but it had never occurred to me, and I would not think it would ever occur to the Leader of the House or to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, that we should give Mr. Speaker the power to make or unmake Governments. Yet that is the situation which we find ourselves approaching.

I have made much of these difficulties, not to alarm the right hon. Member for Itchen—he is well aware of them already—but purely so that the House may appreciate what a formidable task we are inviting him to shoulder in electing him as Speaker. I am seconding the election of the right hon. Gentleman because, in my opinion, he is the best man for the job, and I believe that that is the opinion of the House as a whole. Nothing can be certain in this uncertain world, but it seems to me that the right hon. Member has every qualification. I believe that he will be a good Speaker. It may well be that he will become a great Speaker. May I be allowed to say to him that the whole House this afternoon wishes him all success in his exacting task?

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In accordance with ancient custom, I beg to submit myself to the will of the House. This is a solemn moment at all times, dating back even before the first recorded Speaker of the House. Today, for me it is a sad one. The late Sir Harry Hylton-Foster and myself were friends. I believe that Sir Harry will be remembered as the kindliest and gentlest of Speakers, and I of all men in this House know how much he prized his sense of fairness and utter impartiality. Parliament has lost a noble and distinguished Speaker, and every hon. Member of the House has lost a friend. I say that as a personal tribute, knowing that Parliament's own tributes will be paid tomorrow.

I am grateful for the warmth and generosity of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). Nobody could ever accuse my right hon. Friend of having been obsequious or subservient to the Chair. That has been true during the whole of his long and distinguished Parliamentary career, except in the year when he was Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party Conference, when he showed a deference to the Chair which had never been equalled before. I have no illusions. I know that he will accept the stern Rulings of the Chair in future with the same modified rapture—to quote Gilbert—which he has always shown.

I know that my right hon. Friend's boast is that he never prepares a speech, that he believes that "impromptu speeches are not worth the paper they are written on". I would remind him and the House that when Shakespeare's words were first printed and the editors of the First Folio boasted that Shakespeare was so perfect that they received a manuscript without a blot in a single line, Ben Jonson said:
"Would he had blotted a thousand."
I am sure, however, that nobody this afternoon would wish to blot a single word of the utterance which the right hon. Gentleman has made.

I am deeply grateful to my good friend the right hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) for years of friendship, just as the House is equally indebted to him for his own splendid services as Deputy Speaker. I know that he might have occupied the Chair himself, and, had he done so, he would have done so with great distinction.

I count it an act of friendship and supreme loyalty to Parliament that he should today have seconded the Motion.

I have noticed the ominous warnings in the speeches of both right hon. Gentlemen. I understand that when a Privy Councillor is invited to tea, the tea has to be Irish coffee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It must be unique in history to be honoured by two powerful Chairmen, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Chairman of the 1922 Committee. If I may coin a phrase, it would be to say that Prime Ministers may come and Prime Ministers may go, but the Parliamentary Labour Party and the 1922 Committee go on for ever.

Since the House elected me as Chairman of Ways and Means, I have never made a party political speech. Perhaps half the House will forgive me if for a moment I speak for the last time as a Labour man. Today, it seems that the first Labour Speaker will be elected in this Parliament. The pioneers, men like Keir Hardie and Arthur Henderson—whose son is still with us—who came here at the turn of the century could hardly have dreamt that the moment might come in history when the Speaker's Chair might be occupied by a Socialist.

I am deeply conscious of the joy which today will bring to the movement for which I have worked since I was a boy of 15. This day may be a "first" in many ways: the first Speaker from Southampton in its 650 years of Parliamentary representation: the first trade unionist—although here I may be wronging the legal profession—[Laughter.]; the first member of the teaching profession—and I know that the teaching profession will be very proud today; the first elementary schoolboy. After my parents, I owe everything to those who taught me at school and the State which sent me by scholarship to university.

Above all, however, for the thousands and thousands of men and women who have done all the drudgery work in the constituencies for the Labour Party—and may I say to every right hon. and hon. Member that but for the loyal work of many men and women, especially the women, none of us would be here—to have a Speaker chosen from the Labour Party is indeed an historic occasion.

I now sever myself completely from all party politics. This is no light matter. No man easily breaks with the political faith which has given the whole of his life purpose and meaning except for the even greater faith that he has in political freedom itself.

If as the only non-party man in the House I might venture to advise the House, I would say never be ashamed of party politics, never be ashamed of party loyalty. Loyalty is a virtue, not a vice. My own loyalty henceforth must be to no party, but to Parliament itself.

I hope that in all our conduct and speeches in the House of Commons, we may remember that we are here not because of some merit on our part or our condescending acceptance of the votes of the electorate, but because free men and free women have faith in us, have faith in the principles which we put forward in election campaigns and have faith in our free Parliamentary way of life.

It is in that spirit that I am today conscious of the confidence that my fellow Members of this House have placed in me and more profoundly moved by the loyalty and the affection which the Opposition benches have shown to me just as much as the Government benches have shown to me.

If in a few moments the man whom you have chosen as Speaker resists in a token way as he is dragged to the Chair, I would hope that British citizens would regard this as no idle ceremony but would take it as a reminder that freedom did not spring armed from the head of Zeus but had to be won stage by stage, and that one of the most important and one of the longest battles in that history was that for a free choice of the Speaker, a Speaker who would show fear or favour to nobody—king or baron, Tory, Socialist or Liberal, Front Bencher or back bencher—because he is the servant of only one master, and that master is the freely elected House of Commons. We are indeed citizens of no mean city, and it is as a proud but humble citizen that I now submit to the will of the House.

The House then having unanimously called Dr. HORACE KING to the Chair, he was taken out of his place and conducted to the Chair by Mr. SHINWELL and Sir WILLIAM ANSTRUTHER-GRAY.

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(standing on the upper step): Before I take the Chair, I wish to pay tribute to the Clerk and other officers and servants of the House, whose services we can command but whose loyalty and devotion are so generously and lavishly given to every hon. Member of this House.

I humbly thank the House for the great trust that it has placed in my hands. This Chair and this House are the heart of the free world. May we together—for without you I am nothing—preserve and enhance the dignity and efficiency of the Mother of Parliaments, remembering all those who sacrificed life and limb in two world wars to keep it free.

Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT sat down in the Chair.Then the Mace (which before lay under the Table) was placed upon the Table.

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Mr. Speaker-Elect, as has been said, tomorrow will be the occasion on which we can say what we feel about your distinguished predecessor in the Chair and Lady Hylton-Foster. Today, however, it is my privilege, on what is for the most part, quite rightly, a back-bench occasion—which, I think, all of us will feel has been fully used today—to be the first to congratulate you on your election to the highest office which this House can bestow on one of its Members.

I am grateful to have the chance to do this, not only because—and in saying this I assure you that I am not trading upon the hope of favours to come—I have had the privilege of your personal kindness and friendship for very many years, but, as you yourself have said, because you are the first Member of our party to be entrusted with this great responsibility. On this side of the House, therefore, I am sure we shall be forgiven if we not only feel but also show some emotion as well as some pride in seeing you installed in the Chair.

Your office, however, as you said, is one which divorces you not from your political faith—that we know can never happen—but from the personal challenge of political life in this assembly. In your apprenticeship as Deputy Speaker, the whole House has seen you apply in practice the impartiality, the balanced judgment and the dignity which is so essential to anyone who occupies the Chair. But, more that that, we have come to appreciate in you also that degree of kindly wit which has so often helped the House during a difficult passage. Every one of us in this House knows full well that, whatever his party, whatever his views, whatever his standing, he will be assured by you at all times of the fullest protection of his rights as a Member and of a fair hearing in accordance with the great traditions of the House.

Yet we do not elect a man to the Chair because of those qualities alone. He must be, as has been said, a man we can trust as a friend, a man we can go to quietly and alone for guidance and help when the need arises. Again, we know that you have those qualities in full measure. In the long history of this House, there have been many great Speakers. There can be no possible doubt in the minds of any of us that today we have chosen from among us one who possesses all the attributes which the House looks for in the greatest occupants of the Chair and the Office to which you have been elected.

Your task, Mr. Speaker-Elect, will be no easy one. Conflict and passion can never be removed from our proceedings, and I am sure that none of us would wish it to be otherwise, and some of us would find it difficult to have it otherwise. But those conflicts and the heat they generate throw on you, we all recognise, a very great burden. Your sense of humour and your great understanding of us will, we know, quickly abate the storms and bring back the harmony so essential to our deliberations.

You have one advantage, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) pointed out, over all your predecessors. You are the first doctor of philosophy to occupy the chair, and there may be—indeed, I think there will be—many times when we shall cause you to feel the need to call up all your philosophic wisdom. But we on our part, because of the great respect we bear for you already, will be all the more anxious to ease your task on those occasions.

You have, of course, like your distinguished predecessor and others before him, another advantage in the help you will be able to call for from your delightful wife. She is, I believe—I hope I shall get away with this—almost as learned as you are yourself, and a pioneer, to boot, she having taken her degree at Cambridge before women were formally admitted to that institution. She combines so many other virtues, as those of us who know her know so well, which go to make a perfect help-mate that we can regard you as doubly fortunate. Mrs. Speaker is not known to the official annals of the House. Yet each one of us knows how important a part she plays in the rôle that you are now going to play.

Mr. Speaker-Elect, I believe that I can speak for the whole House when I say that I congratulate you and wish you a long and very happy term of office.

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Mr. Speaker-Elect, tomorrow will afford us the opportunity of expressing our grief at the death of the late Speaker and our sympathy with his widow.

Today, I should like to join with the First Secretary of State in offering you on behalf of all my colleagues the warmest congratulations and a welcome to your wife at the Speaker's House.

Those of us who have known you since 1950, when we came into this House together, have known you as a friend. When we recall your days on the back benches we do not recall that you were violently partisan. Indeed, as becomes a doctor of philosophy, we think of you as in many ways the quiet seeker after truth, and during your past year as Chairman of Ways and Means we have been greatly impressed by your patience, fairness and unfailing courtesy to us all. At no time was this better shown than during the long and complex debates on the Finance Bill, and the congratulations which were offered to you at the end of those proceedings were genuinely and deeply felt. We believe that this augurs well for the future, as does, indeed, the remarkable speech which you have just made to the House.

But, Mr. Speaker-Elect, you have not been elected Speaker because you were Chairman of Ways and Means. Indeed, it has been constantly reaffirmed in this House on previous occasions that the Chairman of Ways and Means has no automatic claim to succeed to the Chair. No, as my right hon. Friend said, you have been elected because the whole House feels that of all its Members you are the one most suited to become the occupant of the Chair. This, I have no doubt, will be a source of strength to you in the arduous times which lie ahead.

If I may say so, I was glad that you were rightly proud of being the first Speaker from your own party, but I know that all the time that I have been in the House the party opposite have understandably and honourably looked forward to the time when one of their own Members would be in the Chair, and not only your party but you yourself should rightly be proud of this great honour. Yet now when the moment has come, when you lay aside all partial affections and when you don the mantle of impartiality, I hope you will also feel rightly proud that we your former opponents not only congratulate you today but offer you our wholehearted support in maintaining the position and dignity of the Chair in the service of the whole House.

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Mr. Speaker-Elect, I should like on behalf of the Liberal Party to be associated with the sympathy which has been expressed to Lady Hylton-Foster.

We should also like to be associated with the congratulations which have been offered to you. You said that you were proud to be a Member of the Labour Party and proud to be the first Labour Speaker. We all understand and, indeed, share your pride, but I think that the other parties, too, might claim some part of you. You have always shown a truly Liberal regard for liberty, and I think that the Conservatives could find no one who has shown a deeper respect for the traditions and institutions of this country.

You know full well, Mr. Speaker-Elect, that you take the Chair with the affection and respect of everyone in this House. We on our side know that we shall always get from you not only justice but sympathy. It has been said that you may find it very useful to be a doctor of philosophy. I suspect that it may well be more useful to have been trained as a schoolmaster.

I believe that you, coming to the Chair with many of the most important attributes that any Speaker could have, will add this particular lustre to this office, that by your command of the English language and your knowledge of English literature your judgments will be read not always with agreement but at least with pleasure. So may we say that we, too, look forward to a very successful Speakership.

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As Father of the House, may I offer you my congratulations on your election, Mr. Speaker-Elect. You were an outstanding Chairman of Ways and Means and last autumn, during the illness of the late Speaker, you filled that Chair with great distinction. I wish you many years of happy occupancy of it, and that, I am sure, will be to the benefit of the House.

May I add this, Mr. Speaker-Elect. I believe the back benchers, on both sides of the House, wish to see the proceedings of this Parliament carried out with greater expedition and with greater efficiency. Tomorrow we are going to debate certain proposals of the Select Committee, but I am convinced myself that we shall not get that progress without accepting a much stricter measure of discipline from the Chair. If you, Mr. Speaker-Elect, decide to treat us all—and, may I add, Front Benchers as well as back benchers—with greater firmness, all of us—although at times we shall find it irksome on the occasions when we are the victims of that firmness—all of us will welcome the change. The reputation of this House as the greatest debating chamber in the world lies in your competent hands.

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May I speak for a moment on behalf of many thousands of people who hold you, Mr. Speaker-Elect, in the greatest regard and respect and who cannot, of course, be here today? I refer to the citizens of the city of Southampton, one part of which you have represented with such great distinction for many years, the other part of which it has been my privilege to represent for just one year. I know, Mr. Speaker-Elect, and I am sure that all hon. Members know, too, with what great affection and respect you are regarded in your constituency, and, indeed, in the whole city of Southampton. I am sure that it would be appropriate for me to place on record on this occasion the great joy with which the news of your election to this high office will be received in the city of Southampton and the pleasure it will cause to the Mayor, the Sheriff, the Councillors and, indeed, all the citizens. I know, too, that the citizens feel that by your assumption of this great responsibility today our name will be added to the list of illustrious sons which Southampton has given to the world and that you will bring credit both to that city and indeed to Westminster.

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I have to signify that it is Her Majesty's pleasure that this House should present their Speaker on this day at Four o'clock in the House of Peers, for Her Majesty's Royal Approbation.

3.23 p.m.

Sitting suspended till Four o'clock.

On resuming

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners;

The House went:—and, having returned;

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I have to report to the House that in the House of Peers Her Majesty, by Royal Commissioners, has been pleased to approve the choice made of myself to the Office of Speaker.

My first duty to the House is to repeat my very respectful acknowledgments and my grateful thanks for the great honour which you have conferred upon me in placing me in the Chair, and to dedicate myself, by God's help, to be worthy of that confidence.