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The Lord Chancellor And Spa Conference

Volume 41: debated on Tuesday 6 July 1920

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My Lords, I have to announce that I have received a communi- cation from the Prime Minister intimating to me that, if it be possible, he desires my presence at Spa in order to offer legal advice upon various matters which have arisen. It will be necessary for me to leave the House after the Debate to-morrow, but it will not, I think, be necessary for me to miss more than one sitting of your Lordships' House, on Thursday, unless it should be found necessary (which I do not anticipate) to sit on Monday. It would not, of course, be right that I should absent myself from my duties without obtaining your Lordships' leave, and I, therefore, respectfully ask whether it be your Lordships' wish that such leave be given.

My Lords, the announcement which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has made will, of course, be received with regret by your Lordships. We all feel that it is a misfortune when the noble and learned Lord is not able to take charge of our proceedings from the Woolsack. It is also, we feel, a matter of regret that His Majesty's Government have to depend upon the noble and learned Lord for legal assistance on these important international occasions; but, at the same time, we recognise the compliment that is paid both to the noble and learned Lord and to this House, by the obvious fact that his presence there is indispensable, and that no other member of His Majesty's Government can take his place. Times have changed, probably for the better, since the time when it was considered an almost incredible thing that the Lord Chancellor should ever quit the bounds of the Kingdom. Your Lordships will all agree that a close adherence to that ancient practice might have led in recent days on several occasions to extreme public inconvenience. In the circumstances, therefore, I feel certain that the House will be disposed to be grateful to the Lord Chancellor for his courtesy in informing us thus early, and certainly will not desire to place any obstacle in the way of his fulfilling this important international and public duty.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Marquess for what he has said. In order completely to avoid any misunderstanding I might mention now that I shall be accompanied by my right hon. and learned friend the Attorney-General.