19 JUNE 1936, Page 23

A Labour Peer's Memories

Tuouon Lord Parmoor achieved distinction mainly in the sphere of law, his chief interest appears to lie in the field of politics. Nearly half his autobiography is devoted to the eight years between 1923, when he took office as Lord President of the Council in the First Labour Government, and 1931, when the Second Labour Government gave place to a Coalition (in circumstances which impel Lord Parmoor to some sharp criticisms of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) and all but four mem- bers of that administration went into opposition. Nearly half, again, of the record of the eight years in question concerns the Geneva Protocol, to which Lord Parmoor clearly attaches more importance than to anything else with which he was concerned in all his public life. He may be right, and since one school of reformers of the League of Nations today still looks hopefully for a revival of the Protocol this detailed account of its formulation, and of the principles that inspired it, is opportune and useful. Lord Parmoor was head of the British delegation during most of the Fifth Assembly, when the Protocol took shape, and it is a permanent disap- pointment to him that his Prime Minister telegraphed from London forbidding 1 to sign it.

But post-War politics is a trite theme after the activities of a legion of biographers and autobiographers, and Lord Parmoor does little more than tell a story often told before. He includes few estimates of men, though the consistent warmth of his references to a politician very different in temper and outlook from himself, Lord Curzon, is notable. His work as lawyer and Churchman, in the days when he was Sie Alfred Cripps, is of greater interest. At the Bar he was con- temporary with Asquith and Haldane, and it was the former who invited him to accept a place on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and a peerage with it. He was never a Law Lord, but he has some forcible observations to make on the multiplicity of appeals which the English legal system permits, instancing particularly a case (concerning the settle- ment of a woman for Poor Law purposes) which came before biro, as Chairman of Quarter Sessions, on appeal from Petty Sessions. The decision of Quarter Sessions was challenged in a Divisional Court, then carried to the Court of Appeal, and finally to the House of Lords (which confirmed the Quarter Sessions judgement). In condemning that superfluity of liti- gation Lord Pannoor is in line with all the best contemporary legal opinion.

In his day one of the most prominent laymen in the Church of England, Lord Parmoor deserves to live in history as the author of a measure which more than any other factor has operated to thrust the disestablishment issue into the back- ground. For it was he who in 1013 moved, in the Repre- sentative Church Council, a resolution calling on the two Archbishops to appoint a committee of enqui ry into the relations of Church and State. That led ultimately to the passage through Parliament of the Enabling Act and the creation of the Church Assembly. Regarding the rejection by Parliament of the Revised Prayer Book after its approval by the Assembly, Lord Parmoor, it may be noted, holds that the Lords and Commons were perfectly justified in exercising their own judgement in the matter.

Lord Parmoor might with advantage have dealt with his legal career more fully and in compensation dispensed with some rather unnecessary quotations from resolutions and speeches at meetings of secondary importance. And rather more might have been said of the Oxford of the 'seventies. Still, it is something to know that the author was a soccer blue, and that the eleven in his day won the Association Cup. Of his footballer son, Sir Stafford Cripps, by the way, he says strangely little, not even mentioning that father and son were Ministers together.