Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 24th November 1931.

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Photo of Professor Sir Charles Oman Professor Sir Charles Oman , Oxford University

I have great pleasure in following the speech of my Cambridge colleague to bear out the fact that there is not complete unanimity in this House for the pasisng of the Bill. The first point I make is, as I said before, that the Bill is wrongly named. We have been hearing it called again and again the Statute of Westminster. It is not the Statute of Westminster because that term can only apply accurately to the Statute of Edward I, 1275. The Soliictor-General rather laughed at my petition to him to see that it is registered as the Statute of Westminster, 1931, but to talk about the Statute of Westminster means that old law about the Law Officers and officials of the Crown who extorted so much money and about the arrears of rent of the monks, and so on.

Secondly, I protest against the assumption of the Mover of the Third Reading that a large majority means unanimity and carries with it moral strength. I, myself, am at one with that ancient hero of Plutarch who was accustomed to say when he found himself in a majority, "Have I been doing anything base?" On several times I found myself in that position in the last few days and I cannot say how it restored my right-mindedness to find, as when I opposed the Montagu Bill 12 years ago and other Bills since which have turned out badly, that I am in an honourable minority with some of the men whom I respect most in the House of Commons. Unanimity with them is better than the unanimity I should get with the mosaic of Members of all creeds and political views in which the Prime Minister is once again followed by his ancient gang and by the Liberals mixed up with their reconciled enemies. To a majority of that kind, I pay no attention. I am proud to have voted against the Bill.