Election of Speaker

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1 March 1950.

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Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire 12:00, 1 March 1950

Sir Frederic, I beg to second the Motion which has been moved by my old friend, the right hon. Member for Dunbarton, East (Mr. Kirkwood), and I am sure it will be the wish of his many friends now that he has recovered after his recent operation that he will long enjoy good health. The right hon. and gallant Member for Hex-ham (Colonel D. Clifton Brown) has served this House as Speaker now for seven years, and, as we have just heard, he possesses all the qualities that are needed for that high office. We have proof of that.

I think he has another quality which perhaps does not come in the category of those four but is equally useful, and that is, as I have appreciated very much, his skill in quickly mastering at the beginning of the last Parliament the names of so many new Members. I feel sure that in this new Parliament with so many new faces he will again master them in very quick time. I do not think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman ever had this difficulty, but I remember the late Speaker Fitzroy having difficulty in pronouncing a name. I refer to the present Lord Mansfield who has now inherited a seat in another place. He was elected to this House as the Member for Perth some 20 years ago. The name that he used at that time was a well-known place near Perth, and it was famous because it was the seat where the Scottish Kings used to be crowned. The first time Speaker Fitzroy had occasion to call the new Member for Perth, he said: "Lord Scone." I was sitting next to an Englishman, and I suppose that by something I said I indicated my surprise. He said to me "Yes, it is funny that the Speaker does not know that it should be pronounced 'Scōne.' "It may be that the Speaker was a bit unlucky because I cannot imagine that there are many one-syllable names that have three correct pronunciations.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has now represented Hexham for more than 30 years, and I am sure that all of us in whatever part of the House we sit were delighted on Thursday to hear of his overwhelming majority. [Hear, hear.] I personally was not very much surprised, because although Hexham is south of the Border they are pretty far north up there. In fact, many in Hexham are north of some living in Scotland. I used to know Hexham fairly well many years ago when I had more courage and carried less weight, because I used to attend pretty regularly the race meetings on the Yarridge heights. I have at home a most lovely silver soup tureen which was presented by the inhabitants of Hexham. It is a trophy which I treasure very highly. I must admit that it has been out of use for some time, because rightly or wrongly I absolutely refuse to clean silver.

It is impossible for any Speaker of this House, however skilful and however wise, to call all those who wish to speak, and therefore I think people should remember that the shorter their speeches the more chances they have of being called. It is very tedious for us on the benches to sit through long and tiresome speeches, but it must be much worse for the occupant of the Chair who has not only to listen but to try to appear interested at the same time.

I have heard innumerable criticisms of speeches made in this House, but I have never heard a speech adversely criticised for being too short. My own rule is to be as short as possible, and I have never had any cause to complain about not being called. I have no intention of breaking my rule today. I wholeheartedly commend the Motion, and if it would not appear arrogant I should like to remind the House that it has been moved and seconded by two Scotsmen, and we both come from the West of Scotland.