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 Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland 12:00 am, 9th March 1965

My hon. Friends and I would like to join in the tributes that have been paid to Lord Morrison of Lambeth and to express our sympathy to his family. If I do not repeat what has been said about his work for London and as Home Secretary during the war and in the other high offices which he occupied, this is only because the ground has been well covered already. It does not in the least mean that we do not appreciate the services which he rendered.

Herbert Morrison was a man for whom the last throw of the political ball ran wrong. He failed to become Prime Minister. But it is the greatest compliment which one can pay to him that, in spite of a career as full as any man could show, it is this ultimate disappointment which is most vividly remembered about him. He was, indeed, as the Prime Minister has said, a great Parliamentarian. He understood the business of politics through and through. He learned it in local government, practised it in the House of Commons and then in the House of Lords and as a Minister. Again, as the Prime Minister has said, he made a notable contribution to our understanding of politics in a book which Nuffield College enabled him to write.

Herbert Morrison was a notoriously successful Leader of this House. This has perhaps led to a suspicion that he was first and foremost a political manipulator. But that is not so. In fact, it is the political manipulators who make bad leaders of this House. Lord Morrison of Lambeth was a success with the House of Commons because the House knew that he loved it and served it as a whole—and served it for itself with no ulterior motive. He was quite prepared to stand up for its rights against his own Ministerial colleagues.

Herbert Morrison's love of politics was founded on a love of the people. However high he rose in the hierarchy of Government, he always had time to help younger and less experienced men than himself. In a broadcast he made in 1957, when he talked about his time as a Minister, he said: 'Paper is not enough', I would tell my private secretary. 'My lad, the time has again come when I must shake the dust of Whitehall from my feet and go into the highways and byways of the Kingdom and meet the human race.' The human race owes him a great deal and parts from him with profound regret.