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 William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby 12:00, 28 March 1945

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."