Friday, 3 October 2014

Father of the House

Winston Churchill resigned from the House of Commons 50 years ago. He started in the House of Commons in 1900 as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Oldham.  He was Prime Minister twice 1940-1945 and then 1951-1955.  In 1959 he was given the title Father of the House (the member with the longest continuous service).
On the 28th July 1964 the then Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) said “ I beg to move, That this House desires to take this opportunity of marking the forthcoming retirement of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Woodford by putting on record its unbounded admiration and gratitude for his services to Parliament, to the nation and to the world; remembers, above all, his inspiration of the British people when they stood alone, and his leadership until victory was won; and offers its grateful thanks to the right honourable Gentleman for these outstanding services to this House and to the nation.”
I thought I would check Hansard for some of his speeches from World War I and from World War II.  An example of one of the many hundreds of speeches he gave in the House of Commons is on the 27th November 1914 as the First Lord of the Admiralty where he states “But even if we were single-handed, as we were in the days of the Napoleonic wars, we should have no reason to despair of our capacity-no doubt we should suffer discomfort and privation and loss-but we should have no reason to despair of our capacity to go on indefinitely, drawing our supplies from wherever we needed them, and transporting our troops wherever we required them, and to continue this process with a strength which would grow stronger with each month the War continued until, in the end, and perhaps not at any very distant date, the purposes for which we are fighting are achieved.”
Obviously one of the most famous speeches he made to the House of Commons on the 20th August 1940 was “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day....”
All the many speeches Winston Churchill gave to the House of Commons can be found via the  National Library of Scotland's website if you live in Scotland and you have a library card. It is listed under licensed digital collections and contained in the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers database.

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