An audience with Sir Peter

Sir Peter Tapsell

On Tuesday evening, I attended the second in the series of Speaker’s Lectures on great parliamentarians.  It was given by the Father of the House of Commons, Sir Peter Tapsell, MP for Louth and Horncastle, on F. E. Smith (later Lord Birkenhead).  It was Sir Peter’s 81st birthday. 

It was a magnificent evening.  Sir Peter regaled us with examples of F.E.’s legendary wit as well as lacing his talk with humerous asides of his own.  He clearly knew Smith’s life in detail – great detail.  The lectures are each meant to last about 50 minutes or so, followed by questions.  Sir Peter began shortly after 7.00 p.m.  At 8.00 p.m. he was still going strong.  As 8.30 p.m. approached, he had yet to get to Smith’s ministerial career!  He reached his conclusion, having cleary jettisoned some of his notes, shortly before 9.00.  It was a remarkable tour d’horizon.  

I may not necessarily follow Sir Peter’s example when I come to give my lecture on Enoch Powell.  Then again….

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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5 Responses to An audience with Sir Peter

  1. Carl.H says:

    I shall be very interested in the text of your lecture on Enoch Powell if available.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl.H: The lectures themselves are being broadcast at some stage by BBC Parliament. (I suspect Sir Peter’s lecture may provide some interesting problems in terms of scheduling.) The Speaker announced on Tuesday that the texts of the lectures would also be drawn together to be published in a book. I may well make the text of mine available on here following the lecture.

  2. Carl.H says:

    Sir Peter’s lecture on F.E.Smith will be available on BBC Parliament 9:00 PM, Saturday 5th February 2011 and soon after on the BBC iplayer.

    I presume your lecture will available in the same manner.

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