Robert Rhodes James, M.P., April 27, 1986

It is especially moving for an Englishman to receive such an honour in this beautiful church - which stands serene and unconquered, in the heart of America - a living memorial to the genius of Sir Christopher Wren and those who worked with him to create it. A memorial to the ordeal through which my country passed in war. A memorial to the man who led us in that grim, but indeed "Finest" hour. And an inspiration for future generations.

It was built in London as a labour of love. It was rebuilt here in the same spirit. It is cherished by you, and for all this "We are not ashamed to be grateful."

President Saunders, Mr. Kemper, Members of the Faculty, Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Doctors:

It is a novel and welcome experience for me to receive an honorary degree. I always had to work for the other ones! But I am especially moved that you have given me the same degree as the one you gave to Sir Winston Churchill 40 years ago, and that you have linked my contributions to public service and scholarship in your kind citation.

That link seems to be oddly regarded today. Somehow it is thought that politicians should be politicians and nothing else, and that scholars should be scholars and nothing else. This is a novel doctrine in Britain and in the United States and would have astonished Churchill. One of my predecessors as Member of Parliament for Cambridge was Sir Isaac Newton: Others were Francis Bacon, the young William Pitt, and Lord Palmerston. President Truman was one of the best read of all American presidents, and Winston Churchill moved easily and happily between the worlds of thought and action.

If you do not have the first, the latter can be unfortunate.

This is not only an honour for me personally, but for the City and University of Cambridge. Churchill College Cambridge is the British national memorial to Winston Churchill. Also, although I cannot personally claim the credit, I have more Nobel Prizewinners among my constituents than any country except the United States. In Britain we have more Nobel Prizewinners - principally in the sciences - per head than any country in the world, including the United States.

Very early in my decade as Member of Parliament for Cambridge, I attended a meeting of my constituents. I was the only person there who was not a Nobel Prizewinner. These are humbling occasions!

Only a few days ago I was canvassing in Cambridge - not in the University but in the streets, on the doorsteps, in shopping centres, and the council estates. There I was dealing, or attempting to deal with the daily and practical concerns of the people I have the honour to represent, whether they vote for me and my party or not. I am their servant. The difficulties and worries of the people of Cambridge are my concern, whether they be Nobel Prizewinners or a distraught family with a housing problem. I am almost tempted to relate to you the saga of the Cherry Hinton railway crossing or the saving of St. Bede's Roman Catholic School, or of the two young constituents who, wrongly convicted, I was able to bring out of prison to be returned to their families and their jobs.

But, I mention these episodes out of many to demonstrate my point - one should be able to understand the concerns of one of the world's greatest universities and those of people who have no connection whatever, with higher education, and who simply want - and deserve - a better deal for themselves and their families. I am a one nation conservative. In Cambridge I am a one-city Member of Parliament. I see no difference, let alone oddity, in someone who endeavours to be a scholar, being also a community member of Parliament.

Thus, in accepting this high honour, I do so on behalf of all the people of Cambridge - of all parties and of none.

I thank you deeply for the honour you do to Cambridge and to me.

“Leave the past to history especially as I propose to write that history myself.”

Winston S. Churchill