My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, said that he thought he was. He did not exactly think that, but when a journalist said to him, "Sir William, are you the cleverest man in England?", he paused and then he said, "Well, inductively perhaps yes, but deductively Maynard has it". So he did not exactly think that he was God because he had limitations. Maynard Keynes was ahead of him. That was Beveridge. I was with him for three years and I have dragged him in only because he has been mentioned. He did wonderful work with the foundation of the welfare state. The morning after it was completed I went into a newsagent to try to buy a paper. The lady said, "It's no good trying to buy a paper here. That Sir William Beveridge is going to abolish want, so all the papers were sold out". Later that day or the next day I asked him to come to lunch. I was meeting with Evelyn Waugh, an old friend and famous writer. They did not get on at all well. Evelyn Waugh said to him at the end, "How do you get your main pleasure in life, Sir William?" He paused and said, "I get mine trying to leave the world a better place than I found it". Evelyn Waugh said, "I get mine spreading alarm and despondency"—this was in the height of the war—"and I get more satisfaction than you do". So he did not meet with universal acclamation, but nearly everyone admired Beveridge at that time. He was a wonderful man.
07 November 2012
The Earl of Longford: