The hydrogen bomb: Churchill's last major speech in Parliament
The 1951 General Election saw Churchill as the victorious leader of the Conservative Party for the first time, at nearly 77 years of age. In this period, apart from domestic politics, Churchill focused his attentions on the significance of the atomic weapons arms race for East-West relations. Under his chairmanship of the Defence Committee he decided in June 1954 to recommend that Britain must build its own hydrogen bomb. By this time Churchill's participation and presence within Parliament was restricted by continuing ill health. In his last major speech to the House of Commons in March 1955 he spoke pragmatically about the threat of nuclear holocaust but ended with a note of optimism: 'we shall by a process of sublime irony have reached a stage in this story where safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation'. The following month Churchill tendered his resignation as Prime Minister. The Queen offered him a dukedom which he declined, and he remained an MP until 1964.