MR. J. R. Clynes (Tributes)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25 October 1949.

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Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse 12:00, 25 October 1949

I am sure that all Members of this House, and particularly older Members, will have heard with regret of the death of Mr. J. R. Clynes, who has passed away at the ripe age of 80 years after a life devoted to the service of his fellow citizens. He started life with few advantages. He went to work at the age of 10, and he was one of those who took part in the organising of the less skilled and underpaid workers towards the end of the 19th century. He did a great work in the trade union movement. He was the youngest of those members of the Labour Party who entered the House in 1906 and formed the first Labour Party here, and he was the last survivor.

He served in this House, with an interval of four years' absence, for nearly 40 years. He was the Leader of the Labour Opposition in 1921; he was Deputy Leader of the House and, in fact, officiated a great deal as Leader of the House during the Parliament of 1924. He was in that difficult office of wartime, the Ministry of Food, in the First World War, first as Parliamentary Secretary and afterwards as Minister. He has been Home Secretary and Lord Privy Seal.

Throughout his career I think it will be said of him that he was a man who never made an enemy. I think his outstanding quality was his complete unselfishness and complete loyalty. He had a very clear mind, good judgment and, without being eloquent, I think he had the gift of simple, lucid speech. But I think most of us will particularly think of him as a very lovable person. One could never meet him without realising how kind, how unassuming and how friendly he was. We have lost one who was a great personality of this House, who did great service in every kind of activity. Many of us mourn the loss of a very dear friend, and I am sure the House will join with me in extending their full sympathy to his widow and children.