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Forty years in and out of parliament

by Sir Percy Harris

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FORTY YEARS IN ANDOUT OF PARLIAMENTRt. Hon. Sir PERCY HARRIS, Bt.Forty years on, growing older and older,Shorter in wind, as in memory long,Feeble of foot and rheumatic of shoulder,What will it help you that once you were strong ?God give us bases to guard or beleaguer,Games to play out, whether earnest or funFights for the fearless, and goals for the eager,Twenty, and thirty, and forty years onCONTENTSChapterINTRODUCTION Page 7I YEARS OF PREPARATION 9IINEWZEALAND l8III THE 1906 ELECTION 30IV THE LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL 36V THE VOLUNTEERS 5VI IN PARLIAMENT, igi6 TO igi8 63VII HOUSING AND EDUCATION 78VHI BACK IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS QOIX CHIEF WHIP s 124X PARLIAMENT, 1939 TO IQ45 145XI POSTSCRIPT igiINDEX 199ILLUSTRATIONSThe Rt. Hon. Sir Percy Harris, Bt.5 D.L. FrontispieceFacing Page,Sir Percy Harris and his wife driving with Sir Leonard Powell 40With the keepfit class, Daniel Street Evening Institute 41The Chamber of the House of Commons 144The Council Chamber, County Hall, London 144The Duchess of Atholl receiving gifts for Bethnal Green 145NurserySir Percy Harris in Canada at the Empire Parliamentary 160ConferencePortrait of Lady Harris 161INTRODUCTIONA man who writes an autobiography is under the gravesuspicion of having a considerable conceit of himself. But afterhaving been twentyfive years in Parliament and forty years inactive political life I found myself suddenly with a lot of idle timeon my hands and with a real danger of boredom.After my defeat in the General Election of 1945 I was staying ata delightful Suffolk farmhouse licking my wounds and ruminatingabout the events that led up to it. I had come ostensibly to help afriend with his harvest, but I regret to say my help was negligibleand I certainly did not earn my keep. I had all sorts of visions ofnew activities to fill up the remaining years of my life. Any activeman has moments when he yearns for a complete change and I wasno exception. But as it often happens in August there wereconsiderable spells of wet weather, only occasionally broken bysunshine. I had brought down with me a number of books butI soon exhausted them. I am not one that can sit long with myhands folded in front of me. In the sittingroom of the farmhousethere happened to be on the desk some sheets of foolscap, justcalling out to be used. And so one dismal morning when the rainwas beating against the window pane, I took possession of thatpaper and commenced to jot down reminiscences. Once I startedthere was no stopping me. Memories came rushing back and thisbook, such as it is, was written at post haste. Of course it has beenchecked and rewritten in many parts, but the last forty years rolledpast me like a kaleidoscope and I saw them as a complete whole.CHAPTER IYEARS OF PREPARATIONI OFTEN wonder why so many people desire to enter publiclife. In many ways it is a mugs game. The rewards are few andthe disappointments many. The electors are notoriously fickle.During recent years I had to do with the placing of men andwomen as Parliamentary candidates.



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