28 MAY 1948, Page 5


I T is no use pretending that a chance collection of Englishmen in frock coats or morning coats of different cuts, carrying umbrellas or not carrying them, wearing top hats or carrying them or with no hats at all, forms a peculiarly impressive spectacle. That reflection must have struck everyone who witnessed the laying of the foundation- stone of the new House of Commons on Wednesday. (A good deal, incidentally, might be said about foundation-stones, for the new House has managed to get about half up without anyone worrying about a foundation-stone at all.) It was a notable ceremony none the less. The Prime Minister, with manuscript, dwelt effectively on the continuity of the House of Commons as an entity, whatever might happen to the structure in which it meets ; Mr. Churchill, noteless, rose to an occasion which made compelling appeal to his sense of the historic and his passion for freedom ; and Mr. Speaker, when the time for action came, spread the mortar and banged the mallet as vigorously as if he was on piece-work. There the stone stands for generation after future generaton to survey. The new fabric is not likely to be ready before the present Parliament ends, and many of the members of this Parliament will never take their seats in it. Some are standing down for reasons of age or health ; some are being extruded by decision of their fellow-Members ; more will be extruded before 1950 is out by their present con- stituents. But however much individual membership may change, the institution persists and will go on persisting, with its ancient traditions on the whole singularly little modified.