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CLEMENT DAVIES: AN UNDERESTIMATED WELSHMAN AND POLITICIAN* by Emlyn Hooson, QC, LLB Introduction As I am not an historian, I cannot claim to have investigated the life of the subject-matter of my talk this evening with that thoroughness which is the hallmark of the true historian's skill. However, speaking as a politician, lawyer and businessman from a rural Welsh background who was to follow Clement Davies as the Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire, and, as someone who happened to know him reasonably well from my early twenties until the time of his death in 1962, I feel able to contribute to the process of reassess- ing the life and career of this underestimated Welshman. I have also had the advantage of knowing many of his old friends, both supporters and critics. Indeed, he and my late father-in-law, Sir George Hamer, despite some dis- agreements, were close friends. I was also privy to some of the praises and criticisms of him by some of his contemporaries and some of his closest polit- ical associates. The Need for a Reappraisal For me to embark upon a new venture of this kind required some provoca- tion. The first occurred in a lecture delivered to this very Society by our dis- tinguished member, Professor Kenneth O. Morgan. During a lecture on a cen- tury of Montgomeryshire Liberalism, he described Clement Davies as 'an erratic Member of Parliament'. He added: 'Yet, it is a paradox that someone who was for so long a political maverick became so powerfully identified with the harmonies and historic continuities of Montgomeryshire Liberalism.' I believed then, and do so even more powerfully now, that this view certainly needs modification. In my view, he had always been powerfully identified with those 'harmonies and historic continuities'. Also, whilst it is hard to think of any worthwhile MP who has not, occasionally, appeared to be erratic, I hope to be able to provide some insight into why Clement Davies appeared to be so at times. The second catalyst came from Lady Byers, the widow of the late Lord Byers, who as Frank Byers had been the Liberal Chief Whip from 1945 to This paper is based on a lecture given to the Honourable Society at the British Academy on 19 June 1996, with Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, CH, in the chair. I am grateful to my former researcher, William Williams, Esq., Barrister at Law, for collating references to the sources as given in the footnotes, and to my secretary, Mrs. Calan McGreevy, for typing the various drafts and the final version.