Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, O.M.

– in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 28 Mawrth 1945.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Epping 12:00, 28 Mawrth 1945

Mr. Speaker, shortly after David Lloyd George first took Cabinet office as President of the Board of Trade, the Liberals who had been in eclipse for 20 years obtained in January, 1906, an overwhelming majority over all other parties. They were independent of the Irish; the Labour Party was in its infancy; the Conservatives were reduced to little more than 100. But this moment of political triumph occurred in a period when the aspirations of 19th century Liberalism had been largely achieved. Most of the great movements and principles of Liberalism had become the common property of enlightened men all over the civilised world. The chains had been struck from the slave; a free career was open to talent; the extension of the franchise was moving irresistibly forward; the advance in education was rapid and continuous, not only in this island but in many lands. Thus at the moment when the Liberal Party became supreme, the great and beneficent impulses which had urged them forward were largely assuaged by success. Some new and potent conception had to be found by those who were called into power.

It was Lloyd George who launched the Liberal and Radical forces of this country effectively into the broad stream of social betterment and social security along which all modern parties now steer. There was no man so gifted, so eloquent, so forceful, who knew the life of the people so well. His warm heart was stirred by the many perils which beset the cottage homes, the health of the bread winner, the fate of his widow, the nourishment and upbringing of his children, the meagre and haphazard provision of medical treatment and sanatoria, and the lack of any organised accessible medical service of a kind worthy of the age from which the mass of the wage earners and the poor suffered. All this excited his wrath. Pity and compassion lent their powerful wings. He knew the terror with which old age threatened the toiler—that after a life of exertion he could be no more than a burden at the fireside and in the family of a struggling son. When I first became Lloyd George's friend and active associate, now more than 40 years ago, this deep love of the people, the profound knowledge of their lives and of the undue and needless pressures under which they lived, impressed itself indelibly upon my mind.

Then there was his dauntless courage, his untiring energy, his oratory, persuasive, provocative, now grave now gay. His swift, penetrating, comprehensive mind was always grasping at the root, or what he thought to be the root, of any question. His eye ranged ahead of the obvious. He was always hunting in the field beyond. I have often heard people come to him with a plan, and he would say "That is all right, but what happens when we get over the bridge? What do we do then?"

In his prime, Sir, his power, his influence, his initiative were unequalled in the land. He was the champion of the weak and the poor. These were great days. Nearly two generations have passed. Most people are unconscious of how much their lives have been shaped by the laws for which Lloyd George was responsible. Health insurance and old age pensions were the first large-scale State-conscious efforts to set a balustrade along the crowded causeway of the people's life and, without pulling down the structures of society, to fasten a lid over the abyss into which vast numbers used to fall, generation after generation, uncared for and indeed unnoticed. Now we move forward confidently into larger and more far-reaching applications of these ideas. I was his lieutenant in those bygone days, and shared in a minor way in the work. I have lived to see long strides taken, and being taken, and going to be taken, on this path of insurance by which the vultures of utter ruin are driven from the dwellings of the nations. The stamps we lick, the roads we travel, the system of progressive taxation, the principal remedies that have yet been used against unemployment—all these to a very great extent were part not only of the mission but of the actual achievement of Lloyd George; and I am sure that as time passes his name will not only live but shine on account of the great, laborious, constructive work he did for the social and domestic life of our country.

When the calm, complacent, self-satisfied tranquillities of the Victorian era had exploded into the world convulsions and wars of the terrible Twentieth Century, Lloyd George had another part to play on which his fame will stand with equal or even greater firmness. Although unacquainted with the military arts, although by public repute a pugnacious pacifist, when the life of our country was in peril he rallied to the war effort and cast aside all other thoughts or aims. He was the first to discern the fearful shortages of ammunition and artillery and all the other appliances of war which would so soon affect, and in the case of Imperial Russia mortally affect, the warring nations on both sides. He saw it before anyone. Here I must say that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) was a truthful and vigilant prophet and guide in all that information which we received. He was our military representative in Russia. But it was Mr. Lloyd George who fixed on these papers, brought them forth before the eyes of the Cabinet and induced action to be taken with the utmost vigour possible at that late hour.

Lloyd George left the Exchequer, when the Coalition Government was formed, for the Ministry of Munitions. Here he hurled himself into the mobilisation of British industry. In 1915 he was building great war factories that could not come into operation for two years. There was the usual talk about the war being over in a few months, but he did not hesitate to plan on a vast scale for two years ahead. It was my fortune to inherit the output of those factories in 1917—the vast, overflowing output which came from them. Presently Lloyd George seized the main power in the State and the headship of the Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Seized?"] Seized. I think it was Carlyle who said of Oliver Cromwell: He coveted the place; perhaps the place was his. He imparted immediately a new surge of strength, of impulse, far stronger than anything that had been known up to that time, and extending over the whole field of war-time Government, every part of which was of equal interest to him.

I have already written about him at this time, when I watched him so closely and enjoyed his confidence and admired him so much, and I have recorded two characteristics of him which seemed to me invaluable in those days: first, his power to live in the present yet without taking short views; and, secondly, his power of drawing from misfortune itself the means of future success. All this was illustrated by the successful development of the war; by the adoption of the convoy system, which he enforced upon the Admiralty and by which the U-boats were defeated; by the unified command on the Western Front which gave Marshal Foch the power to lead us all to victory; and in many other matters which form a part of the story of those sombre and tremendous years the memory of which for ever abides with me, and to which I have often recurred in thought during our present second heavy struggle against German aggression, now drawing towards its victorious close.

Thus the statesman and guide whose gentle passing in the fullness of his years we mourn to-day served our country, our island and our age both faithfully and well in peace and in war. His long life was, from almost the beginning to almost the end, spent in political strife and controversy. He aroused intense and sometimes needless antagonisms. He had fierce and bitter quarrels at various times with all the parties. He faced undismayed the storms of criticism and hostility. In spite of all obstacles, including those he raised himself, he achieved his main purposes. As a man of action, resource and creative energy he stood, when at his zenith, without a rival. His name is a household word throughout our Commonwealth of Nations. He was the greatest Welshman which that unconquerable race has produced since the age of the Tudors. Much of his work abides, some of it will grow greatly in the future, and those who come after us will find the pillars of his life's toil upstanding, massive and indestructible; and we ourselves, gathered here to-day, may indeed be thankful that he voyaged with us through storm and tumult with so much help and guidance to bestow.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

I think my right hon. Friend has spoken in an unparalleled way and expressed the feelings of the House. We mourn the passing of a great Parliamentarian, and I am certain my right hon. Friend has expressed, irrespective of party, the views held by the House about the great Mr. Lloyd George, as I still prefer to call him. He was a man of dynamic personality, a great and generous friend and a very bitter foe, a man who had a gift of repartee unknown in this House for a long time—I am glad to say that I never suffered under it at its worst—he was a doughty debater, a man fearless in pursuit of all the causes in which he was interested. I was very glad that my right hon. Friend paid a tribute to his background. He was the friend of the oppressed. He was born with that Welsh Radical Nonconformist tradition which meant a good deal to him. Always his mind came back to the things that mattered to the life of the common people. I believe he will go down in history for two things. My right hon. Friend has referred to both of them. He will go down in history as a great war leader. I do not want to say anything about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, but Britain in the two great wars has been profoundly thankful for the war leaders that it found. Long may it be before my right hon. Friend may have to be referred to in the House, but in the days of the last great war it is undoubtedly true that but for Mr. Lloyd George's vivid personality, his strength of character, his foresight, his understanding of the issues that were at stake, Britain might have fallen upon more evil days than we fell on in May, 1940. That is a great thing. This is not a question of party. It is not a question of politics. It is a question of paying a tribute to a great man who played a great part in our national life.

I should like to say something about another aspect of his life with which my right hon. Friend before the last great war was associated. I am not going to be controversial. My right hon. Friend referred to the exhaustion of the Victorian era, yet in that Parliament of 1906 the powerful character of the late Mr. Lloyd George did much to make that Government the success that it was in inaugurating and establishing the great system of social and industrial legislation on which we now build. I would pay my late right hon. Friend that tribute, that in those days before the war, when we got out of the carelessness of the Victorian era, when we passed from the rather slipshod point of view, when we were escaping from a certain amount of hypocrisy, at a time when we were beginning to learn that poverty was not due to the vices of the poor, Mr. Lloyd George was an inspiring force in that Liberal Government, and much we owe to him, and much the working people of the country owe to him. I should like, speaking for the organised working people of this country, to read to the House a tribute paid yesterday morning by the National Council of Labour, for whom I speak to-day, the most representative body of people in the country: The Council places on record its appreciation of the contribution to social and industrial legislation made by Earl Lloyd-George in the course of his long Parliamentary career and his achievements of British statesmanship at critical times in the history of the British people. As my right hon. Friend said, Earl Lloyd-George has died in the fullness of years. We grieve for his relatives. I think we must grieve particularly for those two colleagues in the House who have been bereaved. Our hearts go out to them. We share their sorrow.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

I am intervening with some diffidence after the magnificent tribute, both in form and character a model of oratory, made by the Prime Minister to Lloyd George. If I do intervene, it is because, as the Prime Minister has reminded us, Lloyd George was a great Liberal and a member of our party. He entered the House of Commons half a century ago, when the dominant political figure was Mr. Gladstone. As "L. G." himself told some of us at a private gathering, in those days the issues were mainly political issues, like Home Rule, the extension of the franchise and the status of the House of Lords. The Prime Minister reminded us how, in the 20th century, the problems before Parliament changed, but that was largely due to the dynamic force and personality of character of Lloyd George himself. He took up the cause of the common man. He laid the foundation of our social legislation, which now in this Parliament we hope to complete. His success was due to his understanding of social and economic problems and his ability to make them live when he brought them before the public. He stimulated controversy, but yet his energy and personality managed to translate his ideas into legislation.

But I think the best proof of his genius came at the outbreak of the war in 1914. He who had little experience of international affairs or of war service, threw himself into them with all his energy and carved out victory in spite of all the difficulties. That has been so brilliantly said by the Prime Minister that I have nothing to add to the picture, but I should like to refer for a few moments to the last 20 years of his life. He produced four remarkable volumes of biography, perhaps one of the best pictures ever painted of war. He also found time to devote his energy to studying the problems of unemployment and the restoration of agriculture. It must have been some satisfaction to him to see his ideas taken over by the Government and embodied in their White Paper. There is something rather magnificent about the ending of his days. After a life of over four score years he retired to the village where he spent his early days and where he expressed a desire to be buried. Some of us would have liked to see his ashes laid in Westminster Abbey, but there is something magnificent in his body being buried near to the mountains and streams to which he was so devoted. We here, his friends and colleagues who feel that it is an honour to have known and worked with him, are satisfied that his memory will always remain treasured by his countrymen.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare , Norwich

On behalf of the National Liberals and myself I should like to pay a tribute to the memory of the statesman whom we mourn. Other speakers have referred to his great career as a war leader or as a Radical reformer. I should like in a sentence or two to give a more personal impression, as one who came in close contact with him as one of his private secretaries in the Coalition days. It was a great privilege to a young man to be in that position, and to have an opportunity of meeting great statesmen day by day. Those were the days of a Coalition which had to face all the difficult problems of the transition from war to peace—problems of a similar nature to those which, I imagine, will face any Government in the future. What impressed me most in Mr. Lloyd George was his infinite resourcefulness, his resiliency of mind and his complete and utter absorption in the tasks that lay to hand. If he found the frontal attack on a problem blocked, to use a military metaphor, he would send his armour round the flank searching for a weak spot. He was an empiricist. He was never afraid to make an experiment.

May I tell one story which will illustrate his mistrust of dogma and rigid belief? He told me that once in the village where he lived there were two sects of one denomination and the members of either sect would not speak to the other. One believed in baptism in the name of the Father, and the other believed in baptism into the name of the Father. Mr. Lloyd George added: "I believed passionately in one and I would have given my life to the cause, but for the moment I forget which sect it was." It was this resourcefulness and fertility of mind that enabled him to see the fundamentals of our economic and, political problems. The Prime Minister has referred to several contributions he made in his amazing career. May I mention one which, with my experience of the Dominions Office, I shall always associate with him? I think it was he who first saw the real structure of the British, Commonwealth as a number of sister Dominions, each self-governing and with complete automony. It was he who first initiated, in 1917–18, the experiment of the Imperial War Cabinet, and he fought, at the Peace Conference, for the international status of the Dominions.

The other great impression made on my mind as a young man was that of a great human personality, throbbing with life, overflowing with spirits and with an infectious gaiety of mind. He loved youth. He loved the company of young men, particularly those entering public life, and he gave serious attention to their views. Mr. Lloyd George was always a listener. What impressed me most was the fact that a man with his remarkable career, who played one of the leading parts, if not the leading part, on the stage of public life and in every conflict and controversy in which he revelled had not in his nature and make-up one atom of vanity. The only thing that interested him was to tackle the problem before him, and he never considered his own advancement in relation to it. That is why I think that, though he never held office since 1922, he still remained a potent force in public life. I believe he was completely happy at Churt because he put all his amazing energy and resource into showing the nation a great experiment of how, by scientific cultivation and culture, he could reclaim the barren wastes of heather and sand and turn them into some of the most beautiful and flourishing apple orchards of the country. With the passing of Earl Lloyd-George there is the passing of an era, and we shall never see his like again.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

The House will think it fitting on this occasion if I, as chairman of the Welsh Parliamentary Party, associated that party and, if I may say so, Wales, with what has been said so eloquently this afternoon. We have lost our most distinguished member and Wales her greatest son. I knew him, of course, merely towards the end, but I knew him intimately, and I was the recipient of his advice and of his encouragement on many occasions. I also, if I might remind the House, had some exchanges with him, and he was, like the Prime Minister, a most formidable and even terrifying debater, but he possessed what the Prime Minister also possesses, and that is the generosity of greatness. Despite the sharp exchanges, his spirit was sufficiently urbane to enable him to forgive everything afterwards and to be good friends. His name and the name of Wales are inextricably associated in men's minds, and neither has lost by the association. What the nation fathered in him the man brought to fulfilment in his career. The qualities that Lloyd George possessed we like to behove are the qualities of Wales—quick imagination, eager and ardent spirit and an insatiable curiosity. He never seemed, no matter where he was, to be tired of learning new things and meeting new people, and I believe that it was this insatiable curiosity, this ability to see things freshly, which was mainly responsible for some of his success.

Perhaps the House will permit me to say this, because I am anxious not to say anything that may appear to be controversial. When Lloyd George was denied office towards the end of his life by a concurrence of hostile political currents, I thought, as I watched him during those years, and at the same time watched the Prime Minister, who also for some time was out of office, that it must cause some of us to feel extremely humble, because there were two of the most eminent and brilliant Parliamentarians of this era denied employment by the State. It shows for us a moral—although perhaps it is not one to urge on this occasion—that even the most superabundant personal qualities are irrelevant if not associated with great mass machines. Lloyd George was a very democratically-minded man. He was first and last a democrat. He was at home in the village as well as in the central councils of the State. It was because of this universality of his that his speeches were always informed and enlivened by concrete metaphors. He always hated the tired phrase or the abstract noun, and if anyone wishes to learn the art of persuasive oratory he could not do better than read his speeches, because, although they may lack the classic form, every metaphor comes with an impact on the mind. At the same time, David Lloyd George was a patriot. His love of Wales was deep and passionate, but it was also associated with a cosmopolitan quality. The larger embraced the smaller. His patriotism was not exclusive. It functioned at the level of universal tolerance, and that, I think, was one of his most charming characteristics. He was able to give a universal significance to the local and the immediate because his preoccupation was as great in the smaller as in the larger. We ourselves in the Welsh Parliamentary Party mourn his passing. We have lost in his death the most iridescent figure that ever illumined the British political scene.

Viscountess Astor:

If the words of my mouth could express the meditations of my heart at this moment, I could speak with the tongue of angels in paying tribute to that great man, Lloyd George. I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me a few moments to speak about him. First I want to say how grateful the women of my generation were to him because, even in their darkest hour when they were fighting for the suffrage, Mr. Lloyd George backed them and thought they were worthy of citizenship. Well do I remember Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Arthur James Balfour, both champions of the women's cause, leading the first woman up the aisle of the old House of Commons. This woman could not help feeling that though they had wanted women to enter the race, they were slightly embarrassed at having to lead in the winner. After I had been in the House some time I understood and respected their shyness, and I also respected them for that quality which Henry James said was a British characteristic, that "dauntless decency" when they had to perform a task which I do not think they ever expected they would have to perform.

I want to talk of the characteristics that seemed to me to form the greatness of Lloyd George. Of all men I have ever known he was freer than any from personal vanity. I shall never forget the night after the armistice, when a few of us dined with him in Downing Street. As we came out of the dining room I looked at an appalling oil painting of him, and I asked him why on earth he did not get John Sargent to do a good one of him. He replied quite simply: "I would like to have asked him to paint me, but I am told he is tired of painting portraits, so I never asked him." It never entered his head, even at that supreme moment of his life, that he would be asking Sargent to paint the world's foremost figure. There was no vanity there.

Secondly, there was a quality he had which we all knew and realised. He was more free from "side" and snobbishness than any man I have ever met in public life. He was far too great a gentleman in the real sense of the word either to be a snob or to be class conscious. We know how he hated and fought inherited privileges, and some of us helped him. Yet he never hated the privileged. He was far too great either to hate or to fear. That always struck me as unique. He might have so easily in these bitter fights carried a little hate in his heart, but I never saw it. I should not have called Mr. Lloyd George a spiritually-minded man, but yet he loved and respected goodness, and he certainly recognised it. He always seemed to me to be a man who had walked with men who had walked with God. He was a great Nonconformist, and he never conformed to the shams and shibboleths of this wicked world.

We all know his passionate love of mankind, and that made him hate war with all his heart. I remember his showing me soon after the war a letter from General Plumer after he had entered Cologne. Lloyd George had a great admiration for him and said he was one of his doughtiest generals. General Plumer wrote that the battle was over and the victory won, and he hoped very much, after seeing some of the conditions of the children in Germany, that the Allies' plan would not be to starve children. If so, he said he would ask to be relieved of his task. Mr. Lloyd George was delighted with that, because he always knew that the wisdom of man was far better than the weapons of warfare. Yet no one was a bonnier fighter. I always thought that the secret of his vitality during those years of war was the same as that of our present Prime Minister; he took his job and not himself seriously. He, like the Prime Minister to-day, realised that he was fighting the good fight, and, like the Prime Minister again, he fought it with all his might. When the day was finished he, as the Prime Minister does, went to sleep and slept peacefully. Mr. Lloyd George was further like the Prime Minister; he was not a weary Titan, and we ought to be very grateful to both of them for that.

Lastly, Mr. Lloyd George was, above all public men I have ever known—and by public men I do not mean only politicians—the most simple, the most natural and the easiest to talk to. The limelight never blinded his vision. He will ever live as a symbol of British democracy. He wanted freedom and a better world for all mankind, and the whole world is better for his fight for the things he thought right.

It is curious that we sometimes hear him spoken of as a common man. He was a most uncommon man. The Americans speak of Abraham Lincoln as a common man, but there has never been any other man like Abraham Lincoln, and if there had been other men like these two uncommon men, I do not believe we should be at war to-day. The common men of both countries believe in democracy, and have every reason to be grateful to these two great men.

We can thank God that Lloyd George passed away peacefully in his sleep, but I cannot help thinking that when he slipped through the portals of this weary world he would rather have slipped through from the doors of his beloved House of Commons than from those of their Lordships. It is hard to speak of Mr. Lloyd George without great emotion. Nobody will ever be able to describe accurately what he was but I, like other people, feel that if democracy is on a sound footing in this country at this time, that has as much to do with Mr. Lloyd George as with any single British man who has ever lived, and I am proud of my friendship with him and am grateful for all that he did for the causes which he loved so well.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I would be well content and so, I think, might this House, to leave the matter where it has been put by the speech of the Prime Minister and the speeches of those who have followed him this afternoon; but I have been asked by a number of independent Members to make a very brief contribution associating them with what has been said. After all, at any time in the last 20 years, Lloyd George might have appropriated the title, which was once applied to Cromwell, "the great Independent." The tributes that have been paid so far have laid emphasis on the successes of that astonishing career. When he was at the zenith of his power I never knew him, except as a name and an inspiration. When I came into this House in 1929, he had already passed, by some six years, the peak point of his career and he was, till the end of his life, in the political wilderness. Of all fates to impose upon a great man, none could be so harsh or so melancholy as that he should be condemned to watch the things that he has fought for successfully in his time, dissipated and squandered, while he is in the wilderness, and facing advancing age. That fate England, in my lifetime, has put upon its two greatest sons. In the years between the great wars, the period that I describe as the ignoble years and the period that history will surely characterise as the locust years, that fate was imposed both on the present Prime Minister and upon Mr. Lloyd George. When this war came, the Prime Minister was young enough and strong enough to set about the business of redeeming the years which the locusts had eaten, but about the head of Mr. Lloyd George there were already gathering the shadows of oncoming death.

I want to pay tribute not merely to his political greatness but to his personal kindness. In that 1929–31 Parliament, as older Members of the House may remember, I ocasionally had difficulty with my then party, the Labour Party, and I shall never forget the encouragement and kindness of Mr. Lloyd George. He said two things to me that I will never forget: "Don't let 'em get you down"—I think I can claim that I did not—and "Vote according to your conscience, and justify yourself to your constituents." Those words ought to be put up in the voting Lobbies on both sides of the House, as they provide a basis for a free Parliament in a free country.

I am glad that they are not going to bury him in Westminster Abbey, under the shadow of Westminster, with its intrigues. I am glad they are going to bury him in the shadows of the mountains of Wales, with its simple faith. We shall not find marble in the world white enough to put on his tomb. He will live in the memory and in the hearts of the people whom he loved so greatly and for whom he worked so well, and his epitaph should be as short as his life was long: "This was a man."

Photo of Mr George Lambert Mr George Lambert , South Molton

It is with some emotion that I rise to add a word or two to the tributes that have been paid to the man whom I knew so well. Mr. Lloyd George came into the House of Commons in 1890 and I came here in 1891, both at by-elections. I had an experience that he never had; I was once defeated. He was a prophet in his own country. He had a passionate devotion to Wales. I remember in the very early days when he got into conflict with that awesome figure, Mr. Gladstone, on the subject of Welsh Disestablishment.

The Prime Minister has paid a most eloquent tribute to him. I want to point out one angle which might be a little different. I want to say nothing about his great duel during the South African War, or, when he became a national figure, over the Education Act, 1902. Then, from being a Welshman, he became a great national figure, and he was in demand all over the country. May I illustrate this point? I was walking with him down one of the corridors here, where the lockers are, and he opened one of the lockers, and out came a litter of prepaid telegrams. He had not the time to answer them. He was a poor man. He had to earn his living. He became, as the Prime Minister has well said, the most outstanding figure in this House, and not only here but in the world. I am always proud to have belonged to this House. It shows what a House of distinction this is, because it recognises merit.

Take Mr. Lloyd George's great performances in the last war. He was put into a commanding position. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that Britain was especially fortunate that at the time of crisis in 1918 it produced a man. If I may be permitted to say so, it produced a man again in 1940. Mr. Lloyd George came to a commanding position. He owed nothing to birth and to wealth, but achieved everything by his native ability and his perseverance. What an example that is to young men, that they can come into this Assembly and rise to the highest and most commanding position, by dint of ability and perseverance. During his stormy, turbulent career—and it was stormy and turbulent—I remember the great Budget days, as the Prime Minister can remember them. This is a tepid and formal Assembly compared with the House of Commons in those days. During the time of buffets and blows, Mr. Lloyd George was always able to return to a sheltering home and to a welcome by an appreciative and loving comrade. I cannot help thinking that he owed much of his success to Dame Margaret Lloyd George, that maternal female, proud of her husband and proud still more that she lived to see her son and her daughter leaving their mark upon the House of Commons. Wales has lost its most distinguished citizen, Parliament a great Parliamentarian and the Empire a devoted public servant.

Photo of Miss Thelma Cazalet Miss Thelma Cazalet , Islington East

Having been privileged to know "L.G." in the intimacy of his family life for the last 26 years, I should like to pay my tribute to him as a wonderful friend, because that is what he always was to me. Apart from the greatness and glory of his unique life, those who were fortunate enough to be numbered among his personal friends will always remember his simplicity and naturalness. He never needed to turn on his charm, brilliance and kindness for a special person or occasion, because they were an integral part of the man himself. No matter who you were, important or quite insignificant, "L.G." was always the same. I shall never forget the advice he gave to the noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George) and myself when we decided on a political career. "Never, never," he said, "allow yourselves to grow bitter and never jog backwards." Although "L.G." could, on suitable occasions, bite with his oratory, he had absolutely no bitterness in his nature. It is indeed a privilege and an honour to have known such a man.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

As a Communist, I would like to add my tribute to what has already been said. It is a little over 4o years ago in the great days of which the Prime Minister spoke, that I first heard Lloyd George speak, and even now I can recall the throb and the thrill of that great meeting. Courage—it was there in abundance; eloquence—his tongue was like a silver trumpet or a flashing sword. This is not the time to recall old controversies, but it may be permissible to say that when others were not so kindly disposed towards him Glasgow opened its heart to him and gave him a welcome. Thirty years ago, I met him under different circumstances in Glasgow. But no matter how bitter and deep the dispute might be, the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) will join with me in saying that in the conversations we had he was always courteous, understanding and considerate.

In 1920 I met Lenin. I was a very difficult person to get on with, and Lenin advised me—I remember it so well—to study David Lloyd George. He held the opinion that David Lloyd George was the greatest political leader this country had known. Much has been said about the part he played in the first world war. It is true that his name is interwoven with every gigantic effort of that time, but we should also remember the effort he made in trying to preserve peace, and prevent this present terrible war from coming upon Europe and the world. Eagerly, anxiously, he sought for understanding and alliance with the Soviet Union. He recognised what a mighty combination that would be in maintaining peace. In this he had a common bond, one of many, with the present Prime Minister. In the strange drama of life he played many parts, great parts, always with the fervour and intensity of a son of the people, for it was the common people that bore him. It was the suffering of the common people that called him forth to battle against poverty and neglect. But the drama for him is ended. Others must take up the burden and the task. Very quietly, very softly, after all the storm and strife, the curtain has fallen. May he rest in gentle peace.