Earl Ferrers was on form yesterday when he moved the motion for the loyal address. He noted that he been in the House for 55 years, but this was the first time he had been invited to move the loyal address. “Your Lordships will soon find out why.” He then made one of his characteristically witty but incisive speeches.
He congratulated the Liberals on achieving office for the first time in 65 years, adding:
“That is quite an achievement whichever way you look at it. They have been at the forefront of all political jokes, especially from my party, most of which we thought were wholly justified. But not no more! We are chained together like suffragettes. When the late Lord Pethick-Lawrence, whom I remember sitting at the end of the Bench opposite, was in another place and his wife was a formidable suffragette, he made the wonderful observation that he would give £100 to a charity for every day that his wife remained chained to the railings of the House of Commons.”
Later, in discussing the proposals for a 55% majority for the Commons to provide for the dissolution of Parliament, he recalled the occasion in 1979 when the Government lost a vote of confidence by just one vote:
“I was watching in the Gallery. There was a sombre feeling in another place because everyone thought that the Motion was lost. Then, one of the Whips-Anthony Berry I think it was-rushed in holding up one finger. The roar was tremendous. Everyone knew that the Government had lost by one. Everyone understood that. Now, one would have to work out 55 per cent of 423-[Laughter]-and come in holding up three and a half fingers.”
It got us off to a good start.