Parliament (Hugh Dalton Speaking)

Illustration © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society. Catalogue information based on the catalogue raisonné by David Cleall. For this and full details of the exhibitions cited, see the links below. Any auction prices quoted may not include all fees and taxes, such as VAT and Artist's Resale Right charges.

Parliament (Hugh Dalton Speaking)

Parliament (Hugh Dalton Speaking), 1938
Red Conté crayon, 17.5 cm x 22.5 cm

Hugh Dalton (1887–1962) was born in Neath, in Wales, and educated at Eton, King's College, Cambridge, the London School of Economics and the Middle Temple. During the First World War he served on the French and Italian fronts. After the war he taught at LSE and in 1924 became Labour MP for Peckham. In 1929 he became Labour MP for Bishop Auckland and a junior Foreign Office minister. He lost his seat in 1931, but was re-elected in 1935. In 1940 he became Minister of Economic Warfare, and he subsequently served as President of the Board of Trade and, after the 1945 general election, Chancellor of the Exchequer, losing this position after a leak of details of his 1947 Budget speech. In a catalogue note when this picture was exhibited at the Gillian Jason Gallery in 1992, John Roberts wrote, 'It is in my memory that the whole family visited the House of Commons, when I was a student in the late thirties. It was Hugh Dalton speaking on Mining Subsidence, and he accused the Minister of enveloping the subject in "a fog of words". I have not been able to find confirmation in Hansard.' An online search suggests that Dalton used the phrase 'fog of words' only once in the House of Commons, in a debate on air defences on 25 May 1938, when he said that 'the Prime Minister the other day enveloped the whole question [of air parity with Germany] in a fog of words.' Before this debate Arthur Henderson MP had moved 'that leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the payment of compensation for damage caused by mining subsidence'. It seems likely that, over fifty years later, John Roberts confused the two speeches and that 25 May 1938 was the date of the Robertses' visit which prompted this picture.
PROVENANCE: Estate of John David Roberts (held in Tate store, 2014)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Reading 1983, Gillian Jason Gallery 1992

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