Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, O.M.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28 March 1945.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield 12:00, 28 March 1945

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.