Skip to main content

Address In Reply To Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech

Volume 212: debated on Tuesday 28 October 1958

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

The Queen's Speech reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.

3.46 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as followeth:

"Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."

My Lords, I am acutely, indeed somewhat painfully, conscious of the great honour which the noble Earl the Leader of the House has done me in inviting me to move the humble Address to Her Majesty. The last time that I addressed your Lordships' House was from the platonic sanctity of the Cross-Benches. I then had the aesthetic pleasure of seeing your Lordships in profile: I now have the equal pleasure of seeing some of your Lordships full face. I do not know why I find myself in this particular hot spot this afternoon. I can only surmise that the noble Earl, fishing for a good large Tory trout, cast over the Cross-Benches for an ex-Ambassador and hooked an ex-First Secretary by mistake.

To-day my greatest privilege is to voice the deep thankfulness of all your Lordships that the Crown is in the safe and devoted hands of our most gracious Queen. We live in one of the great troubled times of history, and none of us can know what the future may hold. We are indeed fortunate to possess in the Monarchy this pledge of an essential national unity, this sure bridge between our ancient past and that unknown future. But the Crown is not our Crown alone. The Queen is Queen of many distant lands, and head of a great, diverse Commonwealth. Our country lies at the crossroads of three great groupings—Commonwealth, North America and Europe. It is symbolic of this that Her Majesty will be visiting Canada, the oldest independent member of that great association of peoples, and Ghana, almost the newest. Whilst in Canada she will, as Queen of Canada, open, with the President of the United States, the great St. Lawrence Seaway. Only last week we witnessed the significant spectacle of the State visit to this country of the President of the German Federal Republic.

Our world, my Lords, grows smaller day by day, and no one appreciates this fact better than our Royal Family and turns it more to our advantage. The recent visits by Princess Margaret to the West Indies and Canada, and by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, for whom this country has so very special an affection and admiration, to Australia and New Zealand, are fresh in all our memories. This very afternoon His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh is leaving for Canada in a Comet IV. Next year the Duke will visit India, Pakistan, Burma, Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei, North Borneo, Hong Kong, the Solomon and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Christmas Island and, on his way home, our off-shore islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda. It is indeed an expression of the contemporary touch which His Royal Highness imparts to the Monarchy that in New Delhi and Karachi he will address the Indian Science Congress and the Pakistan Association for the Advancement of Science respectively. In the coming twelve months the Queen Mother will visit Kenya and Uganda, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester Ethiopia, the Somaliland Protectorate, Aden, Nigeria and the Southern Cameroons. Next summer Princess Alexandra will visit Australia. My Lords, this is quite a travel programme! We must pay due and full tribute to the way in which the other Members of the Royal Family sustain the Queen in the discharge of her heavy responsibilities.

When we consider the world scene, the Great central fact which we must hold steadily in focus is that the Sino-Soviet group is dominated by men dedicated by ideology, by habit of mind and by ambition to the extension of their system over the remainder of the world's surface. I do not believe that the Soviet leaders intend to bring about this extension of Communist power by force of arms, at least not at the risk of global war. They believe our world will fall like a rotten apple into their basket if they wait long enough. The Chinese leaders possibly may not share all their inhibitions. Nevertheless, the risk of ultimate catastrophe seems to lie rather in miscalculation than in any direct or major act of Chinese or Soviet aggression. The long-term threat, to my mind, is that over the long pull the Communist leaders will succeed in undermining the cohesion of the West and in dragging, by political hook and economic crook, the uncommitted countries of the world into their embrace.

The gracious Speech emphasises the determination of the Government to play its full part in preserving peace. The first hinge of peace is the armed forces of the West, above all the nuclear capacity of the United States. Although I am glad we have our deterrent, I am equally glad that more than three-quarters of our military expenditure is devoted to conventional arms. In this unsettled world little may be predictable, but one thing I am prepared to predict with absolute certainty is that from time to time, and here and there, our armed forces will find themselves face to face with the sort of situation which, if not dealt with quickly, could easily expand into a larger and much more dangerous problem. For this large forces are quite unnecessary. What we must have are forces, highly efficient, immaculately equipped and, above all, mobile.

What we know about the progress in building up our conventional forces is gratifying. Nevertheless I feel that we must give unremitting attention to their ability to deal quickly with the conventional local situation. I must confess that I, for one, am not altogether happy about the equipment of our army. Much of its equipment is a bit out of date. The boots which I have been so generously loaned for this occasion are fifty years old! But so, my Lords, is the Vickers machine gun. There are other dark spots. Wireless is one. There is also the crucial question of mobility. An adequate transport command is central to our ability to fight the type of war we are most likely to have to fight. A Britannia in time may save nine. But material, as well as men, must be airlifted. I therefore hope that the Government will be able to give us satisfactory assurances about the equipment of Transport Command and about their plans for the provision of a long-range heavy-lift aircraft.

My Lords, peace depends as much upon the health of our alliances as upon our armed forces. If we allow our alliances to become rusty or rickety we shall only stimulate Communist pressure and perhaps provoke a fatal miscalculation. It is therefore encouraging that lately our co-operation with the United States has been strengthened. The roots of Anglo-American friendship are very tough and very deep, but the plant itself needs careful tending. We are bound from time to time to have our differences with the Americans. We all know, for example, that in the Far East we stand in a somewhat different posture to them. Nevertheless, I believe that, generally speaking, it is far better to settle our differences in the parlour rather than to shout them from the rooftops.

It is the Government's intention—indeed, it would be the intention of any conceivable Government—actively to strengthen the N.A.T.O. alliance. But this alliance, too, needs careful tending. As long as this dreary dispute drags on in Icelandic waters there is always a risk of an incident. It is therefore gratifying to learn of the Government's support in the United Nations of the proposal to convene another world conference on the Law of the Sea. Perhaps in that forum a settlement may be found.

There is the thornier problem of Cyprus. I have seen and loved that lovely Island in happier times. It is pitiful to see the breakdown of the relations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, relations so peaceful for so long. It is painful to see our forces discharging so honourably tasks so uncongenial to soldiers. It is above all tragic to see the vision of two great statesmen. Venizelos and Ataturk—a vision of Greco-Turkish friendship—at least temporarily dispelled. For those who believe in the N.A.T.O. alliance, it is most tragic of all to see its cohesion in a vital area so grievously weakened. We all know the efforts that are being made to reach some solution, and wherever we sit on these Benches we must all trust that a way forward can soon be found.

I believe it is true to say that either or both of these differences with our friends could have become even more acute had not N.A.T.O. existed. That is one side of the coin. The other, the positive side, is that political consultation with our partners within our partnerships is a good thing in itself, and I believe it is a process which could well be further fostered. Peace must be our first priority when global war can only bring a return to the civilisation of the jungle. But we must all hope that some way can be found of mitigating the bleak rivalries of our world. Soviet society does appear to be in a more fluid state than in the days of Stalin and there is the saving grace that the Russians are a very human people. The readers of a Soviet Youth magazine were recently "quizzed" as to whom they would most like to flirt with. It is reassuring to learn that Miss Brigitte Bardot was a very easy winner! More seriously, the Soviet intelligentsia have a very deep nostalgia for the culture of the West. Let us turn this to the advantage of us all. The West should pursue its policy of encouraging every form of free exchange—political, cultural and economic—with the Communist countries. We should not exaggerate the value of such exchanges. Nevertheless, the more fresh air that we can let into the suffocating atmosphere of the Communist world, the better.

Your Lordships will have noted from the gracious Speech the hopes entertained by the Government for the discussions which should begin in three days at Geneva on the suspension of nuclear tests. No one can foretell their outcome. If successful they may help to create a climate in which some move forward to controlled disarmament, perhaps on a step to step basis, may be possible. If not, the Government, I am sure, will neglect no valid chance of easing international tension.

Progress is bound to be slow and arduous. Meanwhile, it would be quite unrealistic, in my view, to expect the Communist leaders to shelve their ambitions. Meanwhile, therefore, we must prevent any further erosion of the free world. Our success or failure may largely turn on our ability to establish a mutually satisfactory relationship with the uncommitted half of the free world. We are witnessing throughout that half of the world—in Asia and Africa—a procession away from the type of Parliamentary democracy with which we are familiar. Our constitutional processes may be almost perfect—perhaps quite perfect since your Lordships took due note of the fact that man was born of woman—but at the same time we must recognise that our type of Parliamentary government is not necessarily suited for all countries at all stages of their constitutional development. Our criterion should be whether we can do business with a Government—whether it rests on a sufficient measure of popular assent to command reasonable stability.

Only a minority of these countries along the confines of the Communist world are committed to the cold war—those which are linked with us in the Baghdad Pact and in the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. Many of these countries have long, open frontiers with the Communist world; they live even more dangerously than we do. They deserve all the support, moral and material, that we can give them. It is gratifying to learn in this respect that the Shah of Iran will be visiting this country in May.

It is much more difficult to strike the right balance with the uncommitted and unaligned countries of the free world, especially the Arab countries, with all their psychoses, but I believe that the present time may present us with a chance, albeit a fleeting one, of edging towards an easier relationship with all the Arab countries. By a curious irony the revolution in Iraq may have made that readjustment easier. But in attempting to strike a new relationship I feel that the first consideration we should bear in mind is not to attempt a closer relationship than the Arab countries themselves desire. If they wish to remain unaligned in the cold war, we must respect and recognise that wish. In general, therefore, it might be wise to assume a somewhat more relaxed stance in our relations with the Arab countries. In the jargon of the racecourse "Don't dope the horses; study the form!"

Our ability to get our politics right with the Arabs may largely turn on economics. Here, as your Lordships well know, we have the advantage that oil creates a basic community of interest between the Arab countries and ourselves. Nobody appreciates this fact better than the Russians, who have so much to gain by upsetting that delicate balance. If oil production in the Arab countries were to lag, so would the economic development of the Arab countries; the door would have been opened that much wider to economic discontent and Communism; and as oil production of the Arab countries in the Middle East lagged so would the wheels of European economy be slowed.

It is not going to be an easy business to get our oil business in the Arab world on to a really solid footing; but in striving to do so it would, I think, be wise for the West to bear in mind the need for satisfying, at least in part, the desire of the Arab countries for a greater sense of participation in the actual business of the oil business. Of course, they must realise that this cannot be a one-way participation; they will have to participate in the risks as well as the rewards.

My Lords, all the underdeveloped countries share one thing in common: a desire to catch up with the industrialised Joneses. They all wish to have their industrial revolutions and they all wish to have them quickly. This desire is both natural and legitimate and not, I think, inconsistent with our own long-term interests. The Communist leaders are fully aware of all this. Soviet material progress, which is a reality, constitutes a very real challenge here. It may be of little concern to a steel-worker in the Ruhr that a peasant of Soviet Azerbaijan now wears good shoes, but those good shoes may be a very different matter—a matter of possible envy and discontent—to the Azerbaijanis peasant over the frontier to the South. The very speed of the Soviet revolution presents a temptation to other Governments to take the same short cuts.

The scale of Soviet aid to these countries is very small compared to the aid which the free world gives; but it is shrewdly directed at the soft spots and far, far better publicised than the aid which we extend. All this presents the West with a great challenge. We must be able to show the expanding countries that we are able to offer them an expanding economic horizon and a place in the economic sun. This challenge, which we should not shrink from taking up, is one in which this country as the centre of the Commonwealth has a very special part to play. This is because no other association of people embraces, as the Commonwealth does, in free and equal partnership, European and non-European peoples, industrially developed, developing and under-developed economies, and committed and uncommitted Governments. As no other association in the world to-day where inter-dependence is an inescapable fact, the Commonwealth continues to show how dependent countries can move forward to full independence without lapsing into a narrow parochialism.

The gracious Speech rightly refers to the spirit which inspired the recent successful Conference at Montreal. That Conference was remarkable for the like-minded approach to their common problems shown by countries at all stages of their economic development, and all beset with their particular problems. It was remarkable, too, for the recognition by the industrialised countries of the Commonwealth of their obligation on grounds of policy and humanity to stimulate the flow of investment, both public and private, to their less developed partners. We can be proud of what we have done in this way in the past. But I am glad that our delegation was able to announce our decision to make special Commonwealth assistance loans available to other Commonwealth countries.

I am glad, too, that we are going to play a generous part in the new and imaginative scheme for Commonwealth Fellowships—a scheme which would surely have rejoiced the heart of Cecil Rhodes. I have been told by the noble Earl the Leader of the House that one of the things which impressed him most at Montreal was the crucial importance attached by all Commonwealth countries to education. In this technical world our scientific and technical élite must be the best in the world if we are to hold our own. But our youth must be well grounded in the broader humanities if we are to continue to exert democratic leadership in a world in which democracy is easy to preach but increasingly hard to practice. It is gratifying to learn from the gracious Speech that further improvements are contemplated in our educational system—gratifying not only for us but also because this country must remain a great reservoir of humane wisdom and technical knowledge on which the Commonwealth and the free world can draw.

It is good that these schemes of Commonwealth assistance are not conceived in any narrow or exclusive framework, or tied to political strings like the schemes of aid of the Communist world to the outside world. There is a striking contrast between the spirit in which we, in partnership with the United States of America, Canada, Western Germany and Japan, have offered aid to India to tide her over her balance of payments difficulties and the aid offered by Khrushchev to Nasser. Our aid to India is extended in no narrow spirit of political calculation. It is given in partnership with other free countries and extended in association with the World Bank. But what a contrast in another way! Our aid to India hardly ripples the surface of the world's attention; not so, with Khrushchev's. I have studied your Lordships debates with keen interest. I know very well your views on the inadequacy of our information services and I should like to add my small voice to those who are pressing for our country's voice to be better heard.

In none of the fields I have surveyed could we play an effective part were we not operating from a sound home base. We could not make any effective contribution to our alliances; we should have no effective defence; we should play no positive rôle in the Commonwealth nor our due part in raising the living standards of the world. The noble Viscount who will shortly be following me will be dealing with the internal situation. Nevertheless, since the economic health of our country and the strength of sterling are the foundations of our ability to play an effective role in the world, I should like to congratulate Her Majesty's Government on the striking successes they have achieved. It is truly remarkable that we should have had a credit balance on visible trade of £137 million over the last six months. Not since the turn of the century have we even had a credit balance on visible trade. It may be that we are not in all ways masters of our own economic destiny. It may be that this striking success owes something, in the words of Mr. Bernard Shaw, Mr. Stanley Holloway and the Prime Minister to "a little bit of bloomin' luck". Nevertheless, this great achievement of stabilising the economy and consolidating the pound is one of which Her Majesty's Government, and the nation, can be justly proud. We can be proud since it enables us to play our rightful rôle—a proud but helpful rôle—in the world. I beg to move.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as followeth—

"Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—( Earl Jellicoe.)

4.15 p.m.

My Lords, I rise to second the Motion of my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, and I should, first of all, like to thank the noble Earl the Leader of the House for asking me to do so. I speak with some trepidation because I know the standards which have been set by those who have carried out my task in previous years. I was frightened when I came in: I am a great deal more frightened since listening to the powerful and polished speech by the noble Earl on my left.

Like my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, I should like to thank Her Majesty for her gracious Speech to us this morning. History has indeed been made within this Chamber during the last few days. Last week, ladies' voices were heard here for the first time, and to-day we have Baronesses sitting with us. To them, and to the noble Lords who were introduced with them, I would extend a warm welcome. We shall all look forward to hearing them take part in our debates.

Again, to-day, as Her Majesty mentioned in the gracious Speech, the ancient ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament was watched for the first time through the medium of television, by millions of people in many countries. By giving her gracious consent to this broadcast Her Majesty has beyond doubt given enormous pleasure and interest, not only to those people at home to whom it means so much but also to those on the Continent who received the televised ceremony over the Eurovision link. By films and recordings Her Majesty will similarly have given enormous pleasure to those in the Commonwealth who will be able to see the Opening of the Mother of Parliaments, in which they take such a great interest, and to whom it means so much. My only regret is that it has not been possible to have a colour recording made of this event. Had that been possible all the richness and splendour of this ancient pageant could have been reproduced.

I must mention another historic event which took place recently, and which gave enormous pleasure not only to those in the Principality but to the whole nation and Commonwealth. I refer, of course, to the creation by Her Majesty, on the happy occasion of the Commonwealth Games, of His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall, as Prince of Wales.

My Lords, I now turn to the gracious Speech itself, and particularly to home policy which is stated therein. It underlines the determination of Her Majesty's Government to maintain the strength of sterling and employment. I feel that the economic question can be compared with a conventional military battle. The situation starts with intelligence reports that enemy forces are massing and concentrating against you. A plan of attack is made and launched. The attack is successful: the enemy are partially destroyed, and the remainder scattered. A period of consolidation follows, and a firm base is set up from which further advances can be made. Surely that is what has been happening in the economic field.

Last year, all the information was that the evil forces of inflation were massing against us. The plan of attack was made and launched. The weapons used were the raising of the bank rate, intensification of the credit squeeze and limitation of capital expenditure by local authorities. This battle was successful. The consolidation or stocktaking period showed results. It was found that the sterling position had very greatly improved, as also had the balance of payments—and as my noble friend has told us, they are still improving. Furthermore, another result was a very great rise in personal savings. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been an admirable commander-in-chief, imperturbable and resolute throughout. A further result has been the check in the general rise of prices, and reasonable stability is now being secured.

But, my Lords, the results of the use of these economic weapons are not felt quite so quickly as those of a military character, and we are now still reaping the benefits of the measures which were taken last year. Since July we have been able to make some advances from our firm base—and I am sure that it is a firm base, and that it will remain so. Her Majesty's Government have been able to lower the bank rate, to abolish the credit squeeze—I read in my morning newspaper that a further step has been taken to-day—and to allow increased expenditure by Government authorities. Thus private capital expenditure can now go forward. At the same time we are in a position to help the Commonwealth countries with loans for their development.

These measures will set in motion forces which, provided we work hard, will increase production and, with that, employment. Nevertheless, these advances must not be allowed to get out of control, otherwise the forces of inflation will again be ranging themselves against us. It is essential that our production is competitive and that it is increased. The danger, surely, lies in a fall in production and rising wages. Employment must be flexible, and special measures, such as the introduction of different industries into new areas where unemployment figures are bad, must be continued. Where there is persistent unemployment, Her Majesty's Government are to continue to help to move men from one area to another. To this end one of the last Acts passed during the last Session extended the power of the Treasury to grant loans to areas threatened by unemployment. I very much hope and trust that when the commander-in-chief is going into the matter of honours and awards for the battle which has been successful he will not forget to give the main forces, by which I mean the British public, some reward in the way of relief in taxation.

My Lords, I very much welcome the fact that legislation will be introduced to help the small farmers, and that further support is to be given to the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. No words of mine are necessary to remind your Lordships that agriculture is an all-important industry in this country, and for centuries the small farmer has played a very great part—and long may he continue to do so! But in recent years, with the coming of mechanisation, he has had a hard task to keep pace with his larger brethren. Public money must not, however, be wasted in farms that cannot be made economic. Those farms that are capable of producing a reasonable amount will be helped in the way of capital and in securing improved systems of management. The scheme will be voluntary, and it is really up to the farmer. If he works hard, and takes the advice of the Advisory Service, he will be all right; but if he fails in this way, then he will cease to be given help. Efficient farming needs a lot of capital. There are farmers who raise stock and who have no money coming in for perhaps a year; and they badly need capital. There are other farms where capital is needed for efficient working. Any help that Her Majesty's Government can give in this direction must do nothing but good to the industry. I am sure that we all commiserate deeply with the farming community, which has this year seen so much of its initiative and hard work go to ruin as a result of the atrocious weather that we have had during the last few months.

The National Insurance Scheme, my Lords, another matter dealt with in the gracious Speech, must be able to pay for itself, and must not run at a deficit which at the moment is £14 million a year, and which, if there is no check, may rise to £250 million in the next three years. Her Majesty's Government's proposals to introduce contributions graduated according to earnings are, to my mind, quite correct. These will do more than restore the balance in the Scheme's finances. It must be fair that those who are to receive a pension related to their earnings should pay more towards the scheme. There are, of course, many private occupational pension schemes, and I feel it quite right that these should be preserved and encouraged and that provision is to be made for contracting out of the State scheme.

I now come to the problem of mental illness, which, as the gracious Speech tells us, is to be tackled—and, my Lords, it is a problem of very great importance. I believe that in the past too many people have been certified as being insane. This condition was held to be a disgrace. But to-day, as a result of the great amount of research which has been done, of which we can read in the Report and recommendations of the Royal Commission, the whole outlook is different. Hundreds of people—and there are hundreds who have mental disorders—are suffering really from just another disease which, in a large percentage of cases, can be cured. Therefore I believe it is necessary for the law on this subject to be brought up to date.

My Lords, an important paragraph in the gracious Speech refers to continuance of efforts on the part of Her Majesty's Government
"to secure a just balance between the expanding demands of the modern State and the freedom and status of the individual."
All of us have known cases in which grave hardship has been caused by the amount of compensation paid for compulsory acquisition of land, which has in no way been related to the actual value of the property. An improvement in the basis of this compensation will be most welcome. As to the proposal to encourage home ownership, most noble Lords know that there are many people who wish to own their own homes but who have been unable to buy them owing to inability to obtain a mortgage loan. In recent years demand has outpaced the financial resources available, and the fact that Her Majesty's Government are to do something to help in this matter will no doubt give great satisfaction. I am informed that only one-third of all householders in this country are property owners. This figure is lower than that in many other countries, particularly in the United States, but I am quite certain that the percentage will now go up a great deal. I believe that all of us—or, at any rate, most of us—want to feel that we own a little piece of England.

My Lords, I feel that Parliament should enter into this Session with confidence. Much has been achieved, as I have already said, in the economic field—the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has already brought up this matter. He rather stole some of my thunder, if I may say so, because he mentioned the "little bit of luck". It has been said that the success we have achieved has been more through good luck than good management. I would rather put it that the success was achieved by good management with an element of good luck; and this good luck has undoubtedly been well used to help secure our firm base.

Our industries have done well, and here I feel that I must mention the motor industry which has beaten all records and which, as your Lordships will have read, has taken vast orders at the Motor Show now being held at Earls Court. Our scientists have kept well to the fore and have kept up their fine achievements. In the field of aviation we have made remarkable progress. The Comet, as my noble friend has already mentioned, has blazed its path across the skies, and the Rotodyne, which is a new effort altogether, blazes it up and down and sideways—and, so far as I can remember from seeing the television, backwards as well.

In the world of sport, which means so much to this country, we have had our fair measure of success. Our athletes at the Commonwealth and European games, and our horsemen and horsewomen, have had great successes both at home and abroad. Our cricketers did well in the last Test series. Our association football team, by its great win last week, has made an excellent start to the new international season, and for the first time an Englishman is the world champion motor racing driver. Now, my Lords, all this adds up to quite a lot. It is a record that I feel we should all be proud of and not shy about. I believe that only too often we are inclined to hide our light under a bushel. There is a great difference between bragging about one's achievements and being rather satisfied with them and quietly letting people know.

My Lords, the programme of legislation as set out in the gracious Speech is progressive and up-to-date. It shows no signs of a "final fling" but is the natural consequence of previous policies. I have already touched on more points than I had intended, but there are many more important ones within the gracious Speech—that of penal reform being one of the most important. Much hard work lies ahead of us, and, indeed, ahead of the whole nation. We should, however, show that we are confident that we have the capabilities and the determination to maintain our home economy, and to fulfil, in conjunction with the Commonwealth countries, our allotted tasks in helping to secure the peace of the world and the betterment of mankind. Again, my Lords, I humbly thank Her Majesty for her gracious Speech, and I beg to second the Motion for an humble Address.

4.35 p.m.

My Lords, as is the custom on the first day of a Parliament, I rise at this Box to move the adjournment of the debate. In the first place, I should like to say how happy we were that in the second speech to-day reference was made to the changes which have occurred in the composition of our House in very recent days. I feel sure that what the noble Viscount said will find an echo in the hearts of all Members of your Lordships' House. We welcome the advent here not only of the new Baronesses but also of the other Life Peers who have been sent, it seems to me, to do a specific job and to give us their general help. We, on these Benches, should like to share in the welcome which has already been extended.

In moving this adjournment Motion, it is the custom to make some comments upon the noble Members of the House who have received the honour of moving and seconding the Loyal Address to the Throne in reply to the gracious Speech, and I am sure your Lordships will agree with me that we have had a very happy experience to-day. Apparently we have seen the Guards in action. It does not lie with us this side to decide which was the better, the Coldstream or the Grenadier, but certainly they have given us an interesting afternoon and we have enjoyed their speeches very much indeed. I remember that last year I commented on the nicety of the choice of the Leader of the House as between Oxford and Cambridge. To-day we have had a Cambridge speech, it is true, but it seems to me that the choice has been between public schools; and we have had Guards representing both Eton and Winchester. Winchester, I seem to feel from my political position, is sometimes apparently more free in mind and thought and tends to make contributions to my particular way of thinking which are exceedingly valuable.

The speech of the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Jellicoe, commenced, it seemed to me, in a rather extraordinary way, when he was tendering thanks to the Leader of the House for conferring upon him the honour of moving the Motion. After listening to him we shall all agree that he is no trout; and the extraordinary breadth, width and freedoms of his speech will be noted by other leaders of Parties, as well as the noble and respected Leader of the Party opposite. At any rate, it is fitting that from that point of view we shall look with great interest for further contributions from the noble and gallant Earl. We were all impressed when he addressed us from what he termed the "platonic position" he then occupied—the Cross-Benches. We were all exceedingly moved with his personality, with his capacity and with the way in which he could convey to your Lordships the benefit of his experiences. We have listened to-day to his speech which seemed to me to have gone even further than his former speech did in that connection. I felt, as he roamed over the various matters which appear in the gracious Speech from the Throne, that we were all the time listening to one who not only was exceedingly cultured and well-educated but also had had very vivid experience in life already. The way he is using it pays great tribute to his very noble and gallant father, who was the friend of many of us in this House and whose memory was especially recalled to our minds as we listened to his son to-day.

The other thing I should like to say (and I am quite sure there are many other Members of your Lordships' House who would like to say it at some time or the other) is how much gratitude we who were engaged in war administration feel to him and to others of similar capacity for the work they did in the general war conflict—this last conflict, His was unique, because it was often an engagement of the kind which is not usually commented upon or written about fully at the time, but which no doubt has earned merited recognition since. I hope that we shall see the constant attendance of the noble and gallant Earl and hear from him many helpful contributions to the debates in your Lordships' House.

The other Guardsman comes from Eton. Of course, I have to be careful, after what I have said about Winchester, because I have some Etonian friends in my own Party as well. After such a brilliant speech from the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Jellicoe, I was greatly impressed by the way in which the noble Viscount tackled his job, with the same spirit of— what shall I say?—"Guards, up and at 'em!" He has given us a fine presentation of a seconder's speech this afternoon. All the time I had the feeling in my heart that if I were going to engage in debate, which of course I cannot do if I am to open the debate tomorrow, I should have to answer the noble Viscount on a much less philosophic basis than I should answer his noble and gallant friend. Still, the noble Viscount and I have this in common: that we are both friends of the County of Somerset. This is the second year in succession on which I have had to say this. I pay tribute to the line from which the noble Viscount descends. From his speech this afternoon, it may yet be that he may come into such prominence in your Lordships' House that somebody may "overlook" him as someone "overlooked" his grandfather! That would be quite an event in your Lordships' House.

As I say, when I come to discuss his speech I shall have to do so on a much more political basis than when I discuss in detail the speech of the noble and gallant Earl; but I did enjoy it. I like the forthright way in which he demonstrated to the House his attitude of. "Here I am; take me as I am. I am a convinced Conservative, indeed a real Tory Member of this House, and I do not mind who knows it." I like people to speak like that, exactly as they feel. I enjoyed his speech very much indeed.

I am not going to comment on the substance of the speeches and I hope that the noble and gallant Lords to whom I have been referring will forgive me if I reserve the right to say something more about their speeches to-morrow. I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—( Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough.)

4.44 p.m.

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Rea would have seconded the Motion for the adjournment of this debate but, unfortunately for my noble friend and possibly unfortunately for your Lordships' House, he is at present on the way to Hong Kong as part of a delegation representing this Parliament in that part of the world and his mantle has fallen upon me. Therefore I have the pleasure of seconding this Motion.

First of all, I should like to join with the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, who has just spoken, in paying tribute to the admirable speech of the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Jellicoe, who moved the Motion for the humble Address. It gives me great pleasure to do so because he is the son of a man whose name was a household word in my young days and remains an extremely important one in our history. The second reason for my pleasure in doing so is that I had the chance of coming across the noble Earl at the Foreign Office when a delegation in which I was interested came from the Soviet Union and there was a good deal of anxiety about what we should do about it. I was told to go to the noble and gallant Earl and get his opinion. When I went to see him, the problem was immediately solved. He told me to go straight ahead and make what arrangements I could. I have a grateful memory of the noble and gallant Earl's help on that occasion. I also think of the fine speech made by the noble and gallant Earl in your Lordships' House in the last Session and combine it with his speech to-day, and hope that we shall hear him on many more occasions.

The noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, is an old friend of mine. We have sat on Committees together—I particularly recollect the N.A.T.O. Committee in Paris—and I know what a sound judgment he has. Judging by the fine speech he has made to-day, I think that there is no danger of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, or any other noble Lord "overlooking" him as his grandfather was "overlooked." I should like to add my thanks to the noble Viscount.

The last thing that remains to me to do is, on behalf of noble Lords on these Benches, to welcome the Peeresses who come here for the first time. It is a great pleasure to me and, I am sure, to most noble Lords to have them with us. Possibly there may be one or two noble Lords who have doubts about this change. To them I should like to quote the words which were spoken by the dying King Arthur:
"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world."

4.47 p.m.

My Lords, I rise to accept the Motion which the noble Viscount has moved, that this debate be adjourned. I should like to associate myself and the whole House with the welcome which he and the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, have given to the Life Peers and Peeresses who have joined us. My reason for rising for a few minutes is to express my personal gratitude to the two noble Lords who accepted the formidable task of moving and seconding the humble Address in reply to the gracious Speech. The pavilion critics are always on the look out for faults in players who have caught the selector's eye. Well, I hope that I shall be allowed to enjoy some satisfaction and to bask in the signal success of the two noble Lords whom I was happy enough to select to open the innings.

It was only a short time ago that the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Jellicoe, made his maiden speech in this House, and it must be an unusual thing for the second speech which a noble Lord makes in this House to be the speech moving the Address of welcome to the gracious Speech. When I cast my fly, the noble and gallant Earl suggested that I might have cast elsewhere, as it must put a line on him. When he made that suggestion and I looked at the Cross-Benches and saw what I might have caught, I was so unnerved that I almost gave up. But, as the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, has said, those who heard the maiden speech of the noble and gallant Earl will realise that I was running no risk at all in selecting him. And those who look up the noble Earl in Who's Who will find out "what's what" about him. They will find that he is the holder of the Distinguished Service Order, of the Military Cross, of the Legion of Honour, of the Croix de Guerre and of the Military Cross of Greece. That is a record of which his most illustrious father would have been proud indeed and of which this House is proud. Incidentally, it shows that he has met situations before at least as challenging as that which he has had to face this afternoon.

Those who heard his speech this afternoon will echo his tributes to Her Majesty The Queen, and to Prince Philip and the members of the Royal Family for the unstinted services they give to the country and to the whole Commonwealth. We have marked with interest and appreciation for future occasions the philosophic approach which he made, the penetrating analysis of the world political and military situation, the depth and confidence of thought which was in his speech and the vision which he showed. It is always dangerous to prophesy, but his speech will clearly influence the debate that we are to hold over the next five days. There can be no doubt in any of our minds that the noble Earl, at the height of his powers, has the Parliamentary field in front of him to conquer, if he so wishes; and we all profoundly hope that he does. I notice that he has moved from the centre to a position behind me, and that is a mode of political progression which I am sure, without being controversial, I can recommend to noble Lords on all sides of the House.

The noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, who seconded the humble Address is, if I may say so, an old hand, and, indeed, an old friend. He is so modest that he would not be interested in records, but there is one record that might give him, and will certainly give a great many noble Lords here, satisfaction. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, referred to the Guards on parade. This is the third consecutive year in which a Grenadier has seconded the Royal Address. When my noble friend Lord Goschen uses words, he uses simple words the meaning of which is plain; and he prefers to use words only when they are the prelude to action. The gracious Speech to-day, I am pleased to think, gave him full scope, and he was clearly happy in his task and in sympathy with it. The noble Viscount said that the months ahead are going to mean hard work; and let me warn him at once that he will be one of the hardest worked, because we shall call upon him many times, in the legislation about which he spoke, and which is promised, to help us make it a fact and put it on the Statute Book.

In the selection of these two Peers there was really only one condition that had to be fulfilled: as there had been certain comments on recent Government appointments, I had to make sure that there was not one drop of Scottish blood in either of the Peers selected. It was nice to have the testimony to the virtues of the "old school tie" from the noble Viscount opposite. Still, the name of Goschen is indelibly written on the heart of every Scottish administrator, because it was my noble friend's grandfather who decreed that, whenever a grant was made by the United Kingdom Government for the United Kingdom, eleven-eightieths should be applied to Scotland. That has been ever since a target for the critics, but no one has ever thought of a better fraction I would only express one hope: it is that my noble friend Lord Goschen should make as indelible an impression upon British politics as did his grandfather, but would he please leave Scotland alone!

We are told that this new Session of Parliament is going to be one in which we shall take the gloves off—I do not know; we shall see—but if we preserve the standards which have been set for us to-day by my noble friends Lord Jellicoe and Lord Goschen, then we shall sustain the dignity, the prestige and the usefulness of Parliament in the life of the community. I wish to express, on behalf of all noble Lords in the House, our gratitude to my two noble friends.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.