Lord Morrison of Lambeth

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th March 1965.

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Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire 12:00 am, 9th March 1965

The Prime Minister has paid the most moving tribute to one who, in a long life, served the Labour Party with zeal, loyalty and distinction. Perhaps he will allow me to say that we share the sense of loss of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite and the affection with which hon. Members on the other side of the House will have for this very likeable and very humane man.

Herbert Morrison was, as the Prime Minister said, first of all a Londoner, proud to claim that he was a cockney. His first love was his native city, and he was never wearied by its service. He will be remembered as an organiser and administrator in local government and an initiator of the highest quality and ability as a member of the London County Council for many years, and leader of the Council from 1934 to 1940.

Many tributes have been paid to Herbert Morrison. His political opponents in local government would be the first to proclaim him as one of the first distinction in their ranks. All the tributes to him have been most thoroughly deserved.

Herbert Morrison was, too, devoted to Parliament, and particularly to the House of Commons, in which so much of his public life was spent. He was a master of our procedure, he saw Parliament's place in the machinery of government and he made Parliament live in that machinery. There is, as the Prime Minister said, much of great importance to students in the history which he wrote of the working of Parliament, in the government and Parliamentary survey, as he did it from inside.

I remember him in earlier days in debates in this House, always in command of words, dominating a debate in which he took part and, in particular, at Question Time, playing this largely by intuition and by ear, and, in doing so, giving great delight to both sides of the House, because it gave him full scope for his humour.

Herbert Morrison was, after a career in which he suffered the ups and downs of political life—they brought their triumph to him, but also took their toll—a member of the War Cabinet, looking after home security during the time that our nation was besieged. His name became a household word. He was one of those statesmen in the War Cabinet who gave the highest service, sacrifice and endurance of which they were capable. He was one of these and we remember him for this with great gratitude.

I think that it is typical of the man that he asked that at his funeral jolly music should be played, because we remember him as undefeated and with a vital personality. Above all, therefore, we remember him with gratitude as Leader of the House, and one, as the Prime Minister said, who was always jealous of the rights of Members and particularly those of back-benchers on both sides of the House.

If I may, I should like to join humbly with the Prime Minister to send to Lady Morrison the sympathy of his one-time political opponents on this side of Parliament.