May 19, 1921

UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I very much desire

that that would be possible. I should like, indeed, to be in the House, particularly when the hon. member is speaking, and I may say that I would have expected from any other rather than from him a refusal to quote in my presence an interview in which I was directly concerned. However, he did not do so. I was able to obtain from Hansard a statement of the hon. gentleman's remarks in which the alleged interview was quoted, and I quote from it as .follows-this is the only part I need refer to:

The person who made the overtures to me presented to me a letter addressd to me and signed

by Premier Meig-hen. This letter showed-that the Premier was in close touch with the situation, and further I can say that a certain other Cabinet Minister also wrote to this same person. It is scarcely necessary to add that the party who made the overtures is a strong and influential Conservative. I never sought the position, and my reply, dated January 11, 1921, can be produced to prove this when the proper time arrives.

All I need say is to repeat the statement I made before. No such proposal was made by me, by any one with my authority, directly, indirectly, definitely, indefinitely, or in any other way, and no such letter to Mr. Veniot as referred to by him in the interview quoted ever was written. What the next step on the part of hon. gentlemen opposite should be I need not say. It is obvious to me, and should be obvious tc them.

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L LIB

Charles Murphy

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

May I just put my right hon. friend right in one particular? The subject was not brought up by me. It was originally mentioned by the hon. member for Centre Vancouver (Mr. Stevens).

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No, originally it was

mentioned by the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar).

Main motion (Sir Henry Drayton) agreed to, on the same division reversed.

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WAYS AND MEANS


The House in Committee of Ways and Means, Mr. Boivin in the Chair. Progress reported.


PRESENTATION OF SPEAKER'S CHAIR BY RIGHT HON. J. W. LOWTHER

L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

I have the honour to inform the House that the beautiful replica of the Speaker's chair in the British House of Commons at Westminster, presented as a goodwill gift to this House of Commons by the honourable members of the Houses of Lords and Commons, constituting the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association, will be officially presented to the Canadian House of Commons by the Right Honourable James William Lowther, P.C., Speaker of the British House of Commons from 1905 to April of the present year, this day, Friday, May 20th, at half past two o'clock in the afternoon.

The ceremony of presentation will take place in this chamber. Members' galleries will be reserved for the wives and families of hon. members. The usual tickets of admission will be required for the other

galleries, all of which will be open to the public at two o'clock in the afternoon.

On the motion of Eight Hon. Mr. Meighen for the adjournment of the House:

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

May I ask my right hon. friend two questions? Will he inform the House if the Government has reached any decision as to sitting on Tuesday of next week? Also what business shall we take up later in the day?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I have had this morning an opportunity of inspecting, a number of members, both peers and members of the House of Commons, were anxious to do what they could to assist in completing the beautiful edifice which was Ibeing reared in Ottawa. Their first idea, I may tell you, was to offer to you a replica of the Table in the House of Commons-a table which was once described by Mr. Disraeli, when he professed to be alarmed at the gesticulations of Mr. Gladstone, as "this substantial piece of furniture Which happily divides us." On second thoughts, however, it was decided' that a table rather connoted conference, but that a chair, a replica of the Speaker's Chair, would be more suitable as being more emblematic of parliamentary institutions and more symbolic of the authority which rests with every Parliament.

Now, the Chair, which for the moment is veiled with the Union Jack, is an exact replica of the Speaker's Chair in the House of Commons, Which was erected in that building in 1844. Above the Chair, in the canopy, you will observe, when the flags are removed, the Royal Coat of Arms. This is carved out of a peice of oak which until recently has formed part of the roof of Westminister Hall. The roof of Westminister Hall was erected in the time of Richard II, in the year 1397. I think, imitating the celebrated mot of Napoleon, I can fairly say that from here five centuries will look down upon you.

The Chair was designed by the well-known architect, Mr. Pugin, and the replica has been carried out by Sir Frank Baines. T'he Chair brings to mind the names of eminent statesmen who, from time to time, have addressed its occupant. I need only refer to the great names of Sir Robert Peel, Lord Palmerston, Lord John Russell, Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Asquith, Mr. Balfour, Mr. Lloyd George. The inscription in front of the Chair, which you will observe when the Chair is more open to view, recalls what I think I may call this historical occasion. The occupants of the Chair, before I had the honour of taking it, were Mr. Shaw Lefevre, Mr. Denison, Mr. Brand, Mr. Peel and Mr. Gully. And, showing how long my Parliamentary career has been, I may add that I have seen in the flesh everyone of those gentlemen, and that I have sat in Parliament under no less than three of them.

But the Chair is something more than a mere gift of friendship on the part of the Empire Parliamentary Association

towards yourselves. It acknowledges, I think, in its presentation by us and its acceptance by you, the great principle which has been accepted by Great Britain and by all the Dominions within the British Empire, that Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, is best carried out through Parliamentary institutions. That is the best-known method by which a free people can govern themselves, and by which their aspirations or their aversions can be either realized or removed.

The donors cherish the hope that this Chair, presented to the House of Commons of Canada, will, within the walls of this magnificent building at Ottawa, bear an everlasting testimony of the goodwill existing between the members of Parliament and the Mother Country, and of the long sucession of parliamentary traditions inherited conjointly by the free nations of the British Empire.

In 1918, the members of the Empire Parliamentary Association of the United Kingdom presented to the Senate of Canada a Black Rod to replace the one which was burnt in the conflagration, and they hope that the gift now made to this House to replace the Chair destroyed by the same fire will be considered as essential to parliamentary proceedings and will forever stand as the symbol of the good-will and the earnest desire for still more cordial and closer relations between the members of the Parliament at Westminster and their colleagues in the Parliament at Ottawa.

Finally, I would say that the Speaker's Chair is the symbol not only of Parliamentary Government as evolved by the great constitutional elements of the commonwealth of nations, but of authority, the authority of the individual selected by his colleagues to preside over them, authority to regulate debate, to mainain order and to ensure the free expression of all opinions. It marks, therefore, not only the similarity and the continuity of Parliamentary institutions in the New World as in the Old, but it emphasizes the principle that, without law, order and authority, there can be no true freedom. Upon the Chair itself you will find this principle enshrined in the succinct maxim: "Libertas in Legibus."

It is the hope then of the donors that the Parliamentary instincts and traditions which, "broadening down from precedent to precedent," have come to us in St. Stephen's, may flourish and abound in this country, and that when this generation and future generations look upon this Chair, the sight

may kindle in their hearts a spark, nay, I would rather say a flame, of respect and admiration and, I trust, affection for the "Old Country."

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Your Excellency, Mr. Lowther, gentlemen of the House of Commons-one year ago a cablegram was received by the Speaker of this House from the Secretary of the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association conveying the offer of a Speaker's Chair "as an abiding token of goodwill between both Parliaments."

Acceptance would obviously involve the necessity of foregoing a custom which has obtained in Canada almost since the inception of responsible government, that the retiring Speaker should take with him the Chair which he occupied during his term of office. But the spirit -Which prompted the proposal of so fine a gift and the accompanying expressions were of such a character that no shadow of doubt as to its acceptance could exist, and accordingly on June 8, 1920, on the motion of the Prime Minister, seconded by the leader of the Opposition, it was unanimously resolved:

That the offer of a .Speaker's chair to the House of Commons of Canada by the Lord Chancellor and the 'Speaker of the House of Commons as Joint Presidents and by the members of the Empire Parliamentary Association in the House of Lords and in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom be most gratefully accepted, and that Mr. Speaker do inform the donors of the high appreciation of this House for the gift, and particularly for the sympathy and goodwill which it expresses.

We now see the Chair in its permanent home. An object of beauty-the finished product of expert craftsman. It is this, and far more than this. It comes to us surmounted by the Royal Arms carved from the oak of old England, which has viewed from the roof of Westminster Hall the changing scenes of the great Mother of Parliaments since the fourteenth century. It brings with it hallowed associations in its being a replica of the Chair at Westminster, a gift from our brother parliamentarians across the sea. It will be valued because it has been brought to us by one who occupied the original with singular acceptance and distinction during sixteen stirring and epoch-making years in the history of Great Britain.

As the years roll by new memories, traditions and sentiments will mingle with those of a far-off past challenging and inspiring future generations to maintain those cherished institutions which through

the centuries have been inseparably associated with this ancient seat of authority.

We gratefully accept, we thank the donors for this treasured gift, and to you, Mr. Lowther, we are deeply grateful for the honour you have done us in making the presentation in person.

Mr. Speaker then took the Chair.

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

To preserve the bi-lingual character of the House of Commons, which was so happily recognized by you, Mr. Lowther, I shall call upon the Deputy Speaker (Mr. G. H. Boivin) to follow me in French.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Boivin):

(Translation.) May it please Your Excellency, Mr. Speaker, Right Hon. Mr. Lowther.

It is a signal honour for me to speak on behalf of the French Canadian representatives and French Canadians of Canada in order to add a few words to those the Speaker of the House of Commons has just delivered.

We see in the Senate the Throne occupied by Your Excellency as the representative of our illustrious Sovereign George V.

In the House of Commons, the Speaker's Chair is the throne of the people, the symbol of the citizens' authority. He who occupies the Chair is the spokesman of the representatives elected at the polls and when speaking, he speaks with all the authority arising from prerogatives obtained through many centuries of struggle, from the time of the Magna Charta up to the present day.

Thanks to the genius of the British people, our parliamentary institutions have reached a stage of perfection which is envied by the whole world and secures to the minorities the absolute enjoyment of their rights and prerogatives. The generous donors of this Chair, a replica of the one which you, Mr. Lowther, have so gracefully occupied for sixteen years, wanted to bear witness to the fact that the Parliaments of the Dominions are enjoying no lesser privileges than those pertaining to the renowned Parliament of the United Kingdom.

From that Chair at Westminster, one of your illustrious predecessors, in 1867 put the question and called for the votes which guaranteed to us the British North America Act, the shield of our liberties, our rights and prerogatives. It is owing to that Act that we, from the province of Quebec, will ever be entitled to send here

sixty-five repxesentatives and to speak in these precincts the ever beautiful French language. It is owing to the beneficient influence of that constitution that those who sit in this Chair must alternately be of English or Freneh-Canadian blood. We hope that the rulings given from this Chair shall always bear the stamp of the same knowledge of parliamentary procedure, the same righteousness and impartiality, the same courteousness which characterized yours, Sir, during the sixteen years you have occupied the Chair of the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster.

Let me conclude with a word more expressive than the few remarks I have made to the House, so that you may convey it to the generous donors you are representing to-day. I also address it to you as a [DOT] token of gratitude for the long journey you have undertaken so as to present us with that gift and to offer us a living testimonial that the statesmen of England can speak like us the language of our ancestors. When translating that word, - you will find in it, I hope, all that our French-Canadian heart feels; it is one of the softest, the most expressive words in the French vocabulary: "Merci."

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, Your Excellency, Mr. Lowther, and Gentlemen of the Parliament of Canada:

You, Mr. Speaker, and the Deputy Speaker as well, have couched in very few words the sentiments that animate us all on this occasion, sentiments that I believe are shared not only by every member of this House but by every Canadian worthy of the name. , The presentation of this Chair is an event of real significance. Possession of so splendid and beautiful an ornament adds immensely to the attractions of this chamber but what is of infinitely greater moment it will hold before our eyes throughout the long, we hope unending years of parliamentary government in Canada the symbol of the great mother Parliament of which ours is the offspring and the replica. It will stand as well as evidence of that sense of fellowship felt for us in the old land the helpful results of which we have through all our history enjoyed.

Every nation has made its own characteristic contribution to the world's advancement. Rome has given her simple but sane principles of law, Greece her ideals of beauty, Israel her ideals of religion; Italy has brought us something, Russia even has brought us something; France has

brought us much. It is the peculiar glory of England that she has given to her daughter nations the model, and to the world the example of popular institutions of government. Just when the British Parliament took [DOT] its birth historians hesitate to say, neither its birth nor its growth has been marked by any convulsion, by any easily discernible recasting or innovation. Time and events have done their work along sound and natural lines and wisdom has always presided in the process. This Chair will embody for us British traditions, it will remind us from day to day through the stern trials of the future of British wisdom and British patience.

In Canada we are not all of one race; a large part are of French descent. But I shall echo and anticipate the words of those who in the ceremony of this afternoon will especially represent French Canadians, just so far as to say that they as well as we of Anglo-Saxon blood are 'attached to the free institutions that we inherit from old England, that they believe as firmly as we in the essential rightness and fitness of the form of Government that she developed and that now is ours.

It is worth noting, indeed to me it is a valuable fact, that this gift from British Parliamentarians to the Canadian Parliament is carved out of English oak. The piece that is now the Royal Arms surmounting the Chair is cut from the rafters of the great Hall of Westminister. In the blood of every race there is something, there is some characteristic of every leading race that accounts for its place and power, indeed for its survival. It is the sturdy oak fibre of the British people that has carried them in triumph through the storms and perils of a thousand years.

We are honoured, very highly honoured, in having this Chair presented by the Right Hon. Mr. Lowther-the more so because he has travelled from London to perform this ceremony himself. For sixteen years, heavy, crucial, and eventful years, Mr. Lowther has presided over the House of Commons of Great Britain, and always with singular dignity and capacity. The name of his family has been associated with the public service of England ever since or almost ever since there was any England to serve. Within the walls of the British Commons for centuries back there has sat one of his line. It is therefore a memorable event for us that he should signalize the close of a long and distinguished service as first Commoner in the Mother of Parliaments by coming among us and presenting in person this visible

and lasting link between the Commons of Britain and the Commons of Canada.

I am sure we, one and all of us, are grateful to the United Kingdom branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association, and particularly to the President who is here and to his co-President. We value this Speaker's Chair as we value the sense of fellow-citizenship in the British Empire which it is intended to express and to ensure.

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?

Right Hon. S@

Mr. Speaker, Your Excellency, Mr. Lowther-Little remains to be said after all that has been so eloquently and appropriately uttered by the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, and the Prime Minister. May I ask to be associated with them in profound appreciation of this gift from the Empire Parliamentary Association of the United Kingdom; in appreciation also of the presence of Mr. Lowther, whose name is as well known in Canhda as it is in the Mother Country, and who has served, not only the United Kingdom but the Empire, in the Speakership of the British House of Commons.

Just one thought, perhaps might be added. The parliamentary institutions which we have inherited and which we hold as of right and not of grace, were won by a common ancestry, and through gradual evolution and development during the past five or six centuries. I say a common ancestry advisedly, because it was under the leadership of Norman Barons that the Saxon people forced the Great Charter from a reluctant Norman King. The man who summoned the first gathering that might be regarded as the forerunner of the Commons House of Parliament of Great Britain, as well as that of Canada, was a Frenchman, born in France. He well served our country by calling together the Commons of England at Westminster on January 20, 1265. Thus, we can look back with satisfaction upon the fact that Saxon and Norman, five or six hundred years ago, stood side by side in the assertion of liberties that are ours today. With even greater satisfaction we remember that, since the establishment of representative and responsible government in this country, Canadians of French descent have co-operated effectively and whole-heartedly with those of British descent in developing our political institutions and asserting our .liberties in this Dominion:

It is perfectly true, as has been observed this afternoon, that the present system of

parliamentary government has been of gradual evolution. One hundred years ago there was in Great Britain representative and responsible government, but the House of Commons was then representative of what was called "an educated minority." To-day the Parliament of the United Kingdom is representative of nearly the whole people. In Canada the franchise began to be extended somewhat earlier than on the other side of the Atlantic. It now includes practically the entire community. I am sure that the influence of women in public life in both countries will be for the best. Already in Great Britain, Mr. Lowther has had the honour of having associated with him in Parliament a lady member of the House. So we .in the near future, I imagine, may expect to see ladies sitting within the precincts of this chamber. It is even quite possible that some lady of distinguished parliamentary service may eventually attain the Chair, where I am sure she will preside with great dignity and impartiality.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I desire once more to express my very great gratification that this gift has been made. During all the years to come it will serve as a symbol of the common purpose of these two parliaments; and I trust that this common purpose may ever tend toward the maintenance of liberty, autonomy, and justice, towards the attainment of the highest ideals of democracy for which it is our duty constantly to strive.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (leader of the Opposition) :

Mr. Speaker, your Excellency, Mr. Lowther-The constituent elements of Parliament here represented do right in regarding the present moment as one of historic significance. There are under British parliamentary institutions two symbols of authority-the Crown, which speaks of the sovereignty of royalty; the Speaker's Chair, which speaks of the sovereignty of the people. That, under the aegis of the British flag, these two sovereignties have blended into one, is a tribute not less to the character and devotion to duty of the occupants of the British throne than to the genius of the British peoples in the art and science of government.

On this occasion, we have these sovereignties not only represented in the symbols I have mentioned; we have them personified in the distinguished presence of His Excellency the Governor General and the presence of the eminent statesman who has crossed the seas to make to this Parliament and the people of Canada the gracious gift

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REVISED EDITION. COMMONS


from our brother parliamentarians at Westminister, which by you, Mr. Speaker, has just been accepted in terms so adequate and appropriate. y It was said of our illustrious Queen Victoria that Statesmen at her council met Who knew the seasons when to take Occasion by the hand, and make The hounds of freedom wider yet. We of this Parliament of Canada, reverencing British lore, and schooled in British parliamentary traditions, recognize in this moment such an occasion. We recognize in our parliamentary institutions, fashioned as they are upon the British model, the greatest guarantee of freedom which a people can possess. We recognize that in the preservation and extension of the principles of government underlying our free parliamentary institutions lies the possibility of our largest contribution to the freedom of mankind. Further, we recognize that it is around the Speaker's Chair that in the Mother of Parliaments the battles of political freedom have been waged, and in appeals to the authority of the Chair, as the symbol of a people's sovereignty, that British political liberties have been won. We accept, therefore, this gift with a full appreciation of all that it signifies of what we owe of freedom to the Parliament at Westminster, and of courtesy and goodwill on the part of the members of the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association; and we ask you, Mr. Lowther, in conveying the thanks of this Parliament and of the Canadian people, at the same time also to convey the assurance that it will be our high privilege to seek to preserve, with due regard to its rightful dignity and authority, and its ancient and honourable tradition, this noble expression of the freedom and unity of the British peoples so generously committed to our charge.


UNI L

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Unionist (Liberal)

Hon. THOMAS ALEXANDER CRERAR (leader of the National Progressive party):

Mr. Speaker, Your Excellency,

Mr. Lowther,-There is not much left for me to say on the present occasion. I am reminded however, that it has this fortunate aspect for us. Uusally the debates that take place in this chamber are not attended with the entire unanimity that has marked the proceedings this afternoon; and consequently it is a happy occasion when for the time being we can forget our controversies in the chamber and centre our thoughts on a united purpose. The circum-

stance is not an ordinary one. We to-day, in the admirable words of Mr. Lowther, have been presented with a replica of the Speaker's Chair in the great Mother of Parliaments. That, because of the preeminence of British institutions and parliamentary government, is a matter of no small consequence to us. I am reminded of the fact that Canada has enjoyed now for many years the precious boon of self government. It is a tribute to the genius of the Anglo-Saxon people that they have always endeavoured to build upon the broad foundation of freedom, and there is no finer or greater word in the whole Anglo-Saxon lexicon. We have also-and rightly and naturally so-derived our inspiration in parliamentary government from the Mother Country. We are familiar enough with history to know the struggles that have gone on in the Old Land for many centuries past, resulting in bringing the system of parliamentary government we have up to the state of perfection that we at present enjoy. It is also peculiarly fitting, Sir, that this Chair should come from the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association. That association embraces the self-governing Dominions of the Empire, and it is a great honour to this House that we should receive from them this splendid testimony of their good-will and affection for us.

I wish also to join my voice with those who have preceded me in saying that we are greatly honoured to-day in having with us the distinguished right hon. gentleman who for so many years presided over the deliberations of the British House of Commons. As Sir Robert Borden has stated, Mr. Lowther's name is not unknown in Canada; in fact, it is almost as well known here as in the Mother Land; and I am sure we all feel the deep debt of gratitude we are under to him for the trouble he has taken in coming to Canada to make this presentation in person.

This Chair will grace this chamber long after we who are now participating in the activities of this House have passed from the stage. It will be a constant reminder to the generations who come after us of the greatness and grandeur of British parliamentary institutions, and, moreover, it will be a lasting link with the Empire to which we are proud to belong.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Hon. RODOLPHE LEMIEUX (Maison-neuve and Gaspe) :

the ocean, we beg our cousins over there to welcome you in that chamber of the British Parliament where, after many centuries, are still sitting the descendants of the old Norman aristocracy.

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I am sure I voice the unanimous desire when I express the hope that His Excellency will do us the honour of addressing us.

His Excellency the DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE, Governor General of Canada:

Mr. Speaker, I hope I may express my grateful thanks to the House of Commons and yourself for having so made the arrangement for this historical and significant occasion as to allow me to be present. As far as I know, neither in the letter nor in the spirit have any of the justly-guarded privileges and traditions of the House of Commons been in any way encroached upon, and I hope I may take it as a happy omen for the future that the cordial relations that I have enjoyed will always exist between my successors in the distinguished office which I now have the honour to hold, and the members of the House of Commons.

The ceremony we witness this afternoon will hold an honoured place in our parliamentary records. The present and future members of the House of Commons will, I know, always have the same respect and veneration for this Chair that their colleagues have for its prototype in the venerable assembly which throughout the Empire we are proud to call the "Mother of Parliaments."

To myself as a former member of the House of Commons the occasion is one of special interest, and that interest is enhanced by the fact that the presentation has been made with characteristic charm and grace by an old House of Commons friend and colleague. I am afraid that I cannot honestly say that I have any reason to believe that Mr. Lowther during his long and distinguished career, first as chairman of committees and then as Speaker, had any particular reason to he impressed with any utterances of mine. At any rate, I think I can claim the satisfaction of knowing that to the best of my belief I never caused him any anxiety.

I join with you in the expression of grateful appreciation of the gift and in the confidence and assurance that the spirit which prompted it is sincerely reciprocated and will still further strengthen the ties which bind the two Parliaments together.

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May 19, 1921