Orders of the Day — Princess Elizabeth's and Duke of Edinburgh's Annuities Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th January 1948.

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Order for Second Reading read.

3.36 p.m.

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

I am sure that the House will not expect me to reiterate those matters which were dealt with on the Debate on the Resolutions just prior to the Christmas Recess. The matter was very fully considered, both on the Select Committee and by the House itself afterwards, and the Resolutions which formed the basis of this Bill were then passed by the House. The Bill sets out, by way of Preamble, the fact that His Majesty is making provision by payment into the Exchequer of £100,000 to assist in the granting of the further sums which subsequently, by the Bill itself, are assured to the young Royal couple.

Clause I provides for the payment to the Princess Elizabeth during her life of an annuity of £25,000, in addition to the sum which is already payable to her under the Civil List of 1937. Clause 2 makes provision for the annuity to be paid to the Duke of Edinburgh at the rate of £10,000, and makes the further provision that, in the event of the death of Princess Elizabeth in the lifetime of the Duke, and there being a child or children, there shall then be paid to the Duke, so long as any such child is Heir or Heiress Presumptive, a yearly sum of £15,000. Under Clause 3, it is laid down that the sums payable shall he charged on the Consolidated Fund, and they will, therefore, as was stated in the Select Committee's Report, attract Income Tax in so far as they are not exempted by special order of the Treasury.

Under Clause 4 an Amendment is made to the Civil List Act of 1937, which is rendered necessary by this Bill and was recommended in the Committee's Report to the House, whereby, if her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth predeceases His Majesty, the provisions contained in the Civil List Act, 1937, shall apply only as respects any period during which one of His Majesty's daughters—that would be at the present moment His Majesty's other daughter—is Heiress Presumptive to the Throne, and not otherwise. That is the total content of the Bill which, as I say, carries out the whole of and nothing more than what the House has decided in its Resolutions, and I hope the House will find it convenient to pass the Bill quickly.

3.40 p.m.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has pointed out that the provisions of this Bill do not in any respect go beyond what was contained in the Resolutions approved by the House before the Recess. There is, I understand, no provision in the Bill which was not fully covered by the terms of those Resolutions. As we on this side of the House supported the Resolutions, we shall, of course, support the Bill. Since the main division of opinion which developed in the course of the earlier Debate was concerned not with the principle of the Bill but with the question of the amount, we may perhaps hope that the Second Reading of the Bill will be passed after a very short discussion.

3.41 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ronald Chamberlain Mr Ronald Chamberlain , Lambeth Norwood

I want to make certain observations as briefly as I can with regard to the Bill, and I wish to reiterate the views which I put forward in the Debate just before Christmas. Those views I hold very strongly and I am aware they have a good deal of support both inside and outside the House. What is proposed in this Bill is wrong in certain important respects; it is, in those respects, symptomatic of an age which has now passed by; and, further, it is a disservice to the Royal Family and particularly to the Royal couple who are concerned in this Measure. I hold that it is very unwise that in these matters we should bury our heads in the sand and mistake the undoubted and very welcome enthusiasm at the Royal Wedding for approval of an outworn Court system. The two things are very different, although to my regret they were confused a good deal in some speeches on both sides of the House just before Christmas. It would be very much wiser to bring our conceptions of Royalty into line with the more democratic thought which undoubtedly prevails today.

The views which I originally put forward, and which I am putting forward again today in a slightly modified form—modified only because there is now a Bill before the House, to the four corners of which I must, of course, conform—these views were extremely distorted by some Members opposite and certainly by the Press. I do not grumble at that—I expected they would be distorted a good deal—but it is my right and my duty to make clear what I was advocating and what I was not advocating. First, let me make it clear that I am in no sense at all a republican. Certain of my hon. Friends made it clear from these benches that they hold republican views. I do not hold such views, and I certainly was not in any sense attacking the Royal Family or the Royal couple. I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the House will bear me out in that. On the contrary, I think I expressed quite clearly the view—and I reiterate it—that this Royal couple are kindly, sincere, well intentioned and of the highest integrity. I put that on record.

Secondly, I was not and am not suggesting that their Royal Highnesses should be expected to keep an expenses account. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris) in the previous Debate expressed himself in these words: The suggestion of the hon. Member for Norwood … that their Royal Highnesses should be required to put in a weekly expenses sheet, like a reporter on a daily paper … seems to me something between the grotesque and the offensive."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1947; Vol. 445, c. 1736.] I never made any such suggestion, and, in my view, the distortion of my words is itself something between the grotesque and the offensive. The hon. Member who made that suggestion knows perfectly well that that was a gross distortion of what I said. He knows very well that there are plenty of members of the Royal Household who would carry out those functions, and that her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth would not be called upon to keep expenses accounts any more than I imagine she is called upon to write her shopping lists. The whole suggestion was entirely grotesque, and, I think, something of a slight on the reporters of daily papers to whom the hon. Member referred. Equally grotesque was the suggestion by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) that some Treasury official would decide what kind of wine should be put on the table when there was a luncheon to the French Ambassador. I think that was something of a slight on Australian burgundy—I do not know a great deal about wines, but the hon. Member for Oxford suggested that this Treasury official would insist that Australian burgundy should be served on such an occasion. The hon. Member said that he had "a horrible vision" of that happening. I think he certainly had a horrible vision; in fact I think it was a hallucination. In my view, the whole thing could and should be based on common sense, as are so many of our functions and so much of the machinery of our public and other life.

Thirdly, I was not suggesting any parsimonious and niggardly measure. I said nothing to that effect at all. On the contrary, I did not even use the word "austere." I spoke about "simple" living, but not about "austere" living. I did not ask for it, although some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House did suggest it. That was not and is not my formula. My plan, which I think is reasonable and sensible, is that there should be adequate allowances for the private and personal needs of their Royal Highnesses, and that all other expenditure should be put in an expenses account. I regret that such a provision has not been made in the Bill. That is why I am criticising it. It might be said that it is not possible to divide personal from Royal expenditure, but that is at once belied by the Report of the Select Committee, because it is stated in that Report that those who gave evidence before the Select Committee themselves suggested that £5,000 was an appropriate amount for the personal needs of Her Royal Highness. I did not originally propose that amount; it is clearly in the Report. That was the evidence submitted to the Select Committee; and, therefore, there can be no question of any impossibility of dividing these two forms of expenditure.

The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) criticised my proposal, and one of his principal grounds of criticism was that there was no upper limit to the possible expenditure. That was true. I was prepared to rely on the good sense of those who held the appropriate office at any time and, indeed, from any party As the proposal was then, there was no upper limit, but now, because I am making the proposal within the four corners of the Bill as it faces the House, there is perforce an upper limit; so that objection, which the right hon. Gentleman had, has now been removed and I hope he will find it possible in due course to support my Amendment. It is true that I advocated certification of these Royal accounts and I still hold very thoroughly and very strongly to the view that, when large sums of public money are involved, it is only correct and reasonable that that expenditure, item by item, should he agreed and certified in this way.

I go beyond that. In my view, this certification of expenditure on Royal duties and obligations should be a very important means of doing what all, certainly on this side of the House, desire—effecting gradually some reduction in the extent and size of the Court and of the establishment. Many views were expressed, particularly on this side of the House, that it was desirable to get some reduction in the size of the Court and the establishment, but no other practical view beyond mine, I think, was put forward as to how to do it. This plan of mine makes it very possible for household officials, helped by and in collaboration with Her Royal Highness, I would hope, to effect with this method of control that reduction in the size and extent of the Court and establishment which and certainly many on this side of the House, believe should be effected. Further, in my view this reduction and contraction in the size of the Court and the number of retainers is definitely in keeping with the views sincerely held by the great bulk of the people of this country.

I am therefore this afternoon quite definitely asking the Government if, when they reply, they will give me an assurance that the Amendment which it is my intention to propose on the Committee stage will in due course be accepted by them, either in the form in which I put it forward or in some modified form. The burden of my Amendment I believe to be right and, therefore, the position which I find myself obliged to take up is that if the Government are able to give me an assurance to this effect this afternoon, then I would certainly be prepared to support the Second Reading of today's Bill. Otherwise, I will not. It is no good for the Government to say that at some later date they hope to amend and revise the whole basis of the Civil List. In my strong view, and I believe in the view of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, this is the time to make a move in this matter and this is the time and the fashion in which to make a start.

I do stress that what I am putting forward will not in any way impair or cramp the efficiency or, if you like, the splendour and the pageantry of our Royalty. Splendour and pageantry are required and undoubtedly will continue, but this proposal of mine will put them in a very much fairer light, especially from the point of view of their Royal Highnesses; it will put the whole aspect of this matter on a much more democratic basis, and it will start a reform which we believe in, which should be started now and which, in my view, would have the backing of the great mass of the people of the country. I want to remind my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench of the Amendment which they put down in 1937 to the Civil List Bill. It makes rather sad and surprising reading, since they have now entirely and obviously reversed the attitude which in great detail is set forth in their Amendment for 1937. They seem to have forgotten their earlier and better conceptions of this matter. I am reminding them, I hope, of their better selves. For that reason, I very earnestly ask the Government to make quite clear when they reply whether they are prepared to accept either the exact words or at least the spirit of the Amendment which in due course I shall hope to propose, and if they will give careful consideration to this matter and will believe that I put forward the plea in every sincerity myself, feeling very strongly that it is something in keeping with the sense and viewpoint of the present age.

3.56 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I rise with some reluctance to take part in this Debate, because I regret that we are having to have a Debate at all on this matter. As I conceive it, there are only two grounds upon which the Government proposals in this Bill can be opposed. The first is that we do not desire the institution of the Monarchy to continue. The second ground is that we regard the provisions which the House proposes shall be made for the Duke of Edinburgh and his wife as excessive provisions. Those are, in my judgment, the only two grounds upon which the Government's proposals could be attacked.

I submit that the first ground is absolutely invalid. Not for 100 years has the institution of the Monarchy in Britain been seriously questioned, and I venture to think that anyone who had fought the last election on a programme to destroy the Monarchy would not be here today to take exception to the proposals of the Government. I regard that ground, therefore, as absolutely inadmissible. If we will the end we must provide the means. If we will the institution of the Monarchy to continue—and the more I see of republics the more firmly I am convinced it should continue—we cannot object to making the necessary provisions for the maintenance of the institution.

That leaves only the other ground—that the suggested proposals made are exorbitant or too great, and ought in some way or other to be reduced or restricted. I know the hon. Member who has just addressed the House, and I know that what he said was said in all sincerity, but I take a different view. I take the view that it is impossible for this House, consisting of 640 Members, to argue in detail the expenditure in a case of this kind. If that be granted, then we are left to adopt the only course compatible with commonsense—to take the advice of the leaders on all sides of the House whose job it was to look into this problem, and to come to us with reasonable proposals. I am not always in the habit of accepting with credulity what is recommended to the House by the leaders on either side, but this Is a question on which we ought to take the advice of the Committee which has gone into the matter.

I hope there will be no cowardly running away as there was in the Debate earlier. I am not enamoured of party Whips, but I must say the decision last time to put on the Whips, and then the decision to withdraw the Whips displayed this House in a very unfavourable light indeed, in a matter in which the House should not be made to appear in an un- favourable light. I support the Bill; I hope the Government will stand by it, that it will, as far as possible, be unanimously endorsed by the House, and that as little pain will be given as is consistent with the circumstances to those who are the subject of the Bill this afternoon.

4.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

I differ entirely from the views expressed by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). There is no more remarkable phenomenon that that of an extreme revolutionary or ex-revolutionary turned into one who makes conventional and respectable speeches. That description applies not only to the hon. Member for Rugby but also to right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench who are now advocating in this Bill exactly the opposite opinion to that which they expressed in 1937. I listened with very great respect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the previous Debate, and I have had time to reflect upon the arguments he brought forward on that occasion. He was, I believe, in a somewhat romantic and sentimental mood. I should have thought that he would have got over that during the Christmas Recess. There were no new arguments brought forward to support the flimsy case which resulted in the Select Committee's recommendations being carried by this House—and carried not with th2 votes of the Labour Party, but by the Tory Members of this House. I say that the Chancellor and those who support him would not dare go to a Labour Party conference, or to the rank and file of their constituents, and talk in the manner in which they talked in supporting these proposals in this House.

The Chancellor talked to us today about the full information which was given to the Select Committee. Those of us who are private Members of this House have had no access to the information which was placed before the Committee. It is the most condensed and abbreviated document, which gives us none of the information relevant to enable us to make up our minds upon this issue. There were no indiscretions committed by the Members of the Select Committee. When I asked some of them as to the facts and figures they were as reticent as oysters. We still do not know, those of us who are ordinary Members of this House, the relevant facts and figures which we must know before we can decide whether we can vote for this Bill or not. I put a Question to the Minister of Labour recently, and asked him if he could tell us how many insurable workers are employed at the Palace of Westminster, and his reply was: This information is not separately recorded, and I do not propose to make special inquiries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT: 4th December, 1947; Vol. 33, c. 577.] Then he looked reproachfully at me over his spectacles as though I had asked an indecent question.

We have heard a lot about iron curtains during the last few years. I fail to see why there should be an iron curtain surrounding Buckingham Palace, or why we should not have the fullest possible information on the items of expenditure we are called upon to consider before we can make up our minds on this question. We have to have recourse to the papers. I see a report in one very well circulated paper to the effect that there is a Comptroller of the Household, that there is a private secretary, that there are butlers and footmen and chefs, and that there is a very large retinue to be supported from public funds. I say—and I have taken the trouble to get the opinion of my constituents on this matter—that this is not a Bill which should be brought forward in a time of austerity; that the £15,000 which is allowed to Her Royal Highness is sufficient for the time being, as long as we have an economic crisis, and that when we come out of the economic crisis it will be time to consider any increases. After all, plain and simple people assess these things in a very simple way. The old age pensioners in my constituency have said that there is no reason why this should have priority over their claims. I have discussed this matter in Scotland and in South Wales with men who are living on a low standard of income and suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.

I want to know why it is impossible in these days for dignity to be upheld in a decent, respectable way on £15,000 a year. I maintain that we are not entitled to give an extra brass farthing on this occasion, and that it is possible for a party representative of democracy in this country to take up this view on this particular occasion. Of course, we do not wish any ill will to the Princess. We wish her joy. We wish to both the Princess and the Duke of Edinburgh the utmost happiness. But is it necessary to have a huge income in order to maintain dignity? Is it not possible to live quite happily on £15,000 a year? We have been reading recently, those of us who read the Sunday papers, of a previous monarch; and I must confess that I have read the articles with a great deal of sympathy and sadness—about the routine, and the education of the Duke of Windsor. If the Duke of Windsor had been compelled to live on £15,000 a year I believe he would have been happier. I do suggest that the education of the Princess would be richer, for she would understand the lives of the common people and the women of this country better, if she were to take her place along with the women queueing up—for their potato rations, for instance. There is nothing undignified in that. I maintain that if the Monarchy in this country is to exist, it should know the minds and the lives of the people of this country.

Those of us who see it in this way are more in touch with what ordinary people are thinking—the miners, fishermen and farmers—than the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson). After all, it is his Motion we are being called upon to support by our votes to-day. It is not a Motion which came from the Labour Party's Members. It is the Motion of the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities that he sponsored in the Committee. I am not going to take my leadership on any of these social questions from the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities, who came to this House recently and suggested that we should delay our consideration of the claims of the old age pensioners. As for his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, he is already occupying a position under the Crown. According to the "Scotsman" newspaper, he is in receipt of £15 2s. 2d. per week. That is a quite substantial sum from the point of view of the average wage earner—the miner, the farmworker, and the fishermen.

I feel that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have made a mistake in attaching the Duke of Edinburgh to one of the military Ministries. The Duke of Wellington, a former Prime Minister, and an authority on military affairs—[Laughter.] I am rather sur- prised that Conservative Members should laugh about the Duke of Wellington. He expressed the point of view that the military profession was a "damnable profession"—and he ought to have known. I wish the Duke of Edinburgh had been attached to the Ministry of Fuel and Power. [Laughter.] Why laugh? Field Marshal Montgomery has described coal-mining as an honourable profession, and I know nothing that would increase the popularity of the Duke of Edinburgh more than if he went to Scotland or to South Wales and attempted to dig up coal.

These are the views of men in the mines and on the land and in the workshops, and they should be expressed in this House by voice and by Division. I hope we shall divide against this Bill. I ask even at this late moment that the Government should consider again that we have our traditions, and that they are the democratic traditions of Keir Hardie, who stood in this House and protested against the extravagant sums granted to Royalty in his time. I hope we shall go into the Division Lobby and force the Government to withdraw this Bill even at this late moment, in order to express the views of the common people of this country.

4.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

I, in common with other hon. Members, expressed my view on the last occasion on which these proposals were debated. I am certainly not so optimistic as the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr Emrys Hughes), who says he hopes that even now the Government will withdraw these proposals from the House. I go further, and say that in this House there would be a majority in favour of a Monarchy were it put to the test and had the House the right to decide the issue. However, I would not be prepared to dogmatise about whether there is that clear majority in the country, as is so often stated by hon. Members.

These proposals were submitted to a Select Committee of the House who decided in their wisdom, or otherwise, that the proposals should be put before the House and should have the backing of the majority of hon. Members. They are now before the House, but I am not prepared to support the proposals now being debated. I accept as largely true, having seen the developments throughout the world in the new republics, that when we compare our system with that in those republics, we are driven to the conclusion that we are a very lucky democracy indeed to be living under our present conditions. At least, there is no threat that we will lose our heads if we oppose. Nevertheless, I maintain that, as the Government have a mandate to modify the effects of capitalism and the privileges of a privileged section of the community, this might have been one of the privileged sections to be considered. Even if we con-tinned provisions made previously for the Royal Family, we might very well have begun a modification with these two young people and made an entirely different approach to the provisions to be made for them in the future.

It is a bad thing to have too much time on one's hands and too much money in one's pocket. Without going into the details of the alleged revelations made by the Duke of Windsor, in my view, had he had much less money to spend, he might have been a more satisfied citizen; and the community might have derived greater satisfaction from his rule than it did, had steps been taken to modify the effects of the monarchical system and the provisions then made. Even had the ordinary provision been made for the Princess, we could have begun a completely new departure in the case of this young couple. Supposing foreign statesmen come here and there are gatherings to be presided over, what would be wrong with Government Departments—whether the Foreign Office or some other Ministry—having a reasonable function and the Princess or the Monarch being invited to come and preside and to receive any presents there, should that bring advantage to the community, the expenses of the function being borne by the State? It would then be an expense of the, Department concerned, and we would have the right to criticise, without introducing the affairs of the Monarch at all.

The young couple themselves should also be able to lead a private life to a greater extent than at the present moment. I have great sympathy with monarchs, princes and princesses when they go around the country. They have no private life at all. Everywhere they go there are the Press and the photographers. There was one occasion when photo- graphs of a very illuminating nature were taken at a function at which the Duke of Windsor was present, but they were not allowed to be published in this country; we had to get them from the American and the Continental Press. I myself possess a photograph of the Duke of Windsor wearing British naval uniform, coming off a British cruiser and giving the Fascist salute.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

On a point of Order. Are we concerned with what the Duke of Windsor did in the matter of the Fascist salute? I see no reference to the Duke of Windsor in this Bill.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I must confess that I do not see that it has anything to do with the Bill before the House.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

I accept your view on that matter, Mr. Speaker. I have no anxiety to provoke anything in the nature of antagonism, more than any expression of mine in relation to the Monarchy is bound to provoke antagonism in the unreasonable minds of those who do not agree with my views. Those hon. Members who are monarchists are entitled to defend the Monarchy; they are entitled to vote for it; and they are entitled to back any provision that is made for it, while I must take the opposite point of view.

In this Measure we could have made the departure I have suggested, and we could also have given these young people the right to pursue a modified form of living. After all, we cannot expect miners, old age pensioners, widows and men blinded or disabled in the war to be enthusiastic over the provisions of this Bill when they see outrageous sums of money being voted away by this House, while at the same time they themselves are living in a state of penury. I can understand the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) approving of this Bill, although he did not show the same enthusiasm over provisions for old age pensioners and people receiving family allowances. Indeed, he condemned the haste of the Government in introducing those Measures. When a right hon. Gentleman flies to Spain to attend the wedding of the Duke of Alba to a millionaire's daughter, one can understand that his sympathies do not lie in exactly the same field as my own.

I take strong exception to one provision in this Bill, namely, the provision to put the Duke of Edinburgh on to the Civil List. I am not prepared to attack him as an individual, or to say that he did not give valiant service during the war. I have no complaint to make and no criticism to offer in respect of those services, for which due homage could be paid in other ways. But simply because an individual is married to a member of the Royal Family is no reason why we should give him an income and a situation, neither of which he would have received in the ordinary course and to which strong exception can be taken. Therefore, I take strong exception to the provision that is being made for the Duke of Edinburgh, with at least four-fifths of the income being outside the ordinary provisions of Income Tax because it is treated as expenses. We have heard the Conservatives say, "Jobs for the boys," but this is surely one of the worst cases of a job for the boy that we have had in this Parliament.

I am prepared to accept many things which the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) says, but I would point out to him and to other hon. Members that on one occasion I introduced a Private Members' Bill to make the taking of an oath of allegiance to the Monarchy optional. Those who fought me on that occasion produced tens of thousands of leaflets giving extracts from my speeches in the House, and asking the electors to vote against me. The electors did not vote against me, but I would not say that that proved they were anti-monarchists.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

Will not the hon. Member agree with me when I say that there is probably not a Member of the 640 in this House who included in his election address the issue of the destruction of the Monarchy. If that is so, am I not entitled to observe that, having willed the end that there shall be a Monarchy, we are logically bound to provide the means?

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

I accept that in a large measure. It is not one of the things which we can determine completely here. I have argued in many of my speeches that the present capitalist system should be modified and got rid of, not by ruthless methods, but according to British traditions; a should be modified according to enlightened opinion. I regard the Monarchy as the highest symbol of the capitalist system. It should therefore be modified in the same way, and these modifications should have begun with this young people. We ought to have made a completely new departure here, apart from what has happened in the past.

I do not blame the Government, as the hon. Member for South Ayrshire has blamed them. I have come to the conclusion that oppositions are very violent and unreasoned in their attitude towards governments. Many of the things they put up are things they would never dream of carrying out if they were in office. It is right for a government, if there is an overwhelming body of opinion in favour of Monarchy, in the democratic manner, to change the attitude which they adopted to unseat the other fellows when they were not in office. Therefore, to that extent I am not aghast at what the Government are suggesting, nor am I hot under the collar whether or not there should be a Division.

I believe that once a Member has made his point of view known to the House, it is not necessary to go on voting again and again against a Measure. When I was a Member of a party of three, we used to ask the Government to accept a certain thing as our opinion, although we did not necessarily divide on the issue. I am in the same position tonight. I do not accept what is being proposed. I think it is unreasonable, in view of the changes which have taken place. I simply make known again my point of view, and state my objections to the provision which is being made. In the case of the Duke of Edinburgh, it is completely out of line with the popular opinion of the large masses of the people of this country.

4.25 p.m.

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

In the discussion today and in the Debate which took place before Christmas, it is curious to note that no mention has been made of the position the Royal Family occupy in regard to the British Commonwealth of Nations. I consider it is a matter of prime importance that some voice should be raised in this Debate concerning this aspect. If hon. Members will look at the Statute of Westminster, which is perhaps one of the most important State documents ever issued, they will find it is laid down that the Crown remains the one and only link between the free nations of the British Commonwealth.

Photo of Mr Ronald Chamberlain Mr Ronald Chamberlain , Lambeth Norwood

I am sure that the hon. Member does not wish to do me an injustice, but that was one of the principal points in the speech I made before Christmas. I believe firmly in the Monarchy, and I think I am right in saying that on that occasion I said it was the "linch-pin" of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

I am delighted to hear that the hon. Member said that, and I apologise to him if he thinks that I was in any way casting a reflection on his views. I regret that I overlooked the reference in his speech. On the other hand, I can hardly believe that that is in line with what he is now doing.

It seems to me that the Parliament of the United Kingdom is dealing with something which is really common to the whole of the British Commonwealth. When this matter originally came forward, the Government should have consulted with the British Dominions to find out what were their views. I feel very strongly that just as in the days of Queen Victoria and her Consort, when Balmoral was established as the home to which the Royal Family could go to get to know Scottish habits and customs, so now there should be suitable houses established in every Dominion where the Royal Family can go and mix with their subjects. It should not be a great occasion of surprise and astonishment when the Royal Family go abroad, as it was when they went to South Africa. It ought to be common form and practice.

I believe that the duties of the Royal Family overseas will, as time goes on, become greater and greater. I wonder what will be the opinion of some of His Majesty's subjects in the Colonies, as well as in the Dominions, when they read passages from the Debates which have taken place in this House on this subject. I know there is no Member who would use this occasion to do anything to reduce the vital position of the Crown as the only link in the British Commonwealth. I think it ought to be said emphatically that though we bear the whole of this financial burden in this country, we ought not to assume it is not equally the wish of the Dominions to assume their share. The Royal Family is not the prerogative of the United Kingdom, but is the proud possession of every member of the King's Dominions. In these circumstances, I hope that it will be possible in future for Princess Elizabeth and her Consort to visit every part of the British Commonwealth and to get to know all their subjects overseas. I hope there will be no Division tonight, irrespective of the views which have been put forward in absolute sincerity by the hon. Member opposite. As a Select Committee of this House has made a report to Parliament, and in view of the tremendous implications involved from the Commonwealth point of view, I hope that we shall be able to come to a conclusion without expressing dissent.

4.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Albert Davies Mr Albert Davies , Stoke-on-Trent Burslem

I hesitate, as a humble back bencher, to participate in this Debate, but I feel it my duty to express the apprehension and difficulty in which I find myself today. Before the Recess we had some discussion on this subject, and the point I want to make now is that as Members of Parliament representing our constituents we are in great difficulty because the full facts of the case are not before us. We are asked to do, as we were on a previous occasion, to consider figures which may or may not represent the price of the job, if I may, without disrespect, use that phrase. The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) said that none of us had indicated in our election addresses that we wished to sweep away the Monarchy, which is quite right. He also said that not having done that, we should will the means to make possible the continuance of the Monarchy. But would not he and all other Members agree that it is most difficult to come to a reasonable and considered view of what the proper sum is in the absence of evidence?

We certainly remitted this question to a small Committee of responsible and representative Members of the House, but what was the position that emerged? We were confronted with a minority Report. The argument was advanced that since the senior Members of the Committee were associated with the majority Report the House should thus pay more attention to that Report. That, I think, was a spurious argument. I did not think that because men were new to this House, and were rather young, that their views were any the less valuable on a matter of this kind. I should have thought it was a reasonable request—and I should think that the Royal House itself would not consider it unreasonable—for some information to be given to the representatives of the people who are responsible for dealing with the taxpayers' money. They should have the fullest explanation. If nothing can be done on this occasion I think a useful purpose will have been served by raising the point today, as it is likely to be raised on subsequent occasions.

We are not here concerned as to whether the Monarchy is a good or bad thing; we are agreed, presumably, that the Monarchy is to continue, and we are asked by the Government, in this Bill, to give our assent to the provision of a certain sum of money. As I did not vote on the last occasion, in the absence of complete information and the presence of conflicting views from the minority section of the Select Committee—views for which, nevertheless, I have every respect—I am not in a proper position to give my considered point of view now. The sum of £50,000 might or might not be appropriate, but it appears to be a large sum to the ordinary man and woman in the street. The hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) has just reminded us that this is not a matter which concerns only the people of these islands; it is a matter of interest to the whole Commonwealth of Nations. It may be that the sum proposed is not unreasonable, but I believe that many of the common people think it disproportionate. We ought to have access to the fullest information. I cannot for the life of me see why it is denied to Members of Parliament, and I hope the Government will do something about this in the future.

4.35 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

We have heard today an amazing exposition of the classical expression of the American politician who said, "Ladies and gentlemen, these are my principles. If you do not like them, I am agreeable to changing them." I hope we shall never give support to such irresponsibility. I want to oppose this Bill but, at the same time, I do not want to say anything offensive. I want to speak with the utmost good will in the world in accordance with my New Year resolution. I would say only this: That if this extra money was being provided because those who were to receive it were giving up the job, I would be prepared to grant it. It is inherent in any policy of real Socialism that there should be an end of the Monarchy—

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

I would observe that there was such a thing as a Monarchy before the development of the capitalist system, and that it will probably survive long after its passing.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

It will be very revealing if the hon. Member can show me that any real Socialist system is consistent with the continuan of the Monarchy.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

The hon. Member has it in Russia.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

As I have just said, this money were to be compensation for giving up the job I would agree that it should be granted, but as it is, I shall join with those who oppose its grant.

4.37 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

I think the House will agree that the Debate we had on the Committee stage of the Money Resolution adequately covered all the points that have again been raised by Members today. I think the House will also generally agree that the Chancellor of the Exchequer adequately answered the points that were made in that Debate. It would, therefore, be unfair to the House if I now attempted to cover this ground again. It is not often I agree with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), but I think he put the case for this Bill in a nutshell. It is possible to be a republican and against all monarchies, but no one who has spoken in our Debates has for one moment taken that line. Bouquets have been flung at the Royal Family, even by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher)—

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

It has been taken for granted that the Royal Family do a very difficult and tiresome job well, to the satisfaction of the peoples of this country and the Commonwealth and Empire beyond the seas. The question before us is not whether we should or should not have a Monarchy—it would be out of Order to discuss that on this Bill—but whether the amounts which are proposed in the Bill are or are not reasonable in all the circumstances. The Select Committee which considered this matter, and which heard and sifted the evidence, came definitely to the conclusion that the amounts in the Bill were reasonable, and that the House should be asked to agree to them. Those who have read the Report will notice that the evidence placed before the Committee did, in fact, put forward estimates which suggested that the sum should be greater than the amount now proposed. The suggestion was, in the view of those who gave evidence, that a further £10,000 would bring the total to nearer the amount required. Therefore, I think that the Government have been reasonable, and that the House should be well satisfied to accept the figures placed before it in this Bill.

The point has been made that the Government, or many of the Members who now help to form the Government, took an entirely different line in 1937 That, of course, is not the case. In 1937, the House was not dealing with anything analagous to this. Then, at the beginning of a new reign, it was overhauling and considering the whole Civil List. Here, we are dealing with the much narrower issue of how much is a reasonable sum to grant to Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on their marriage, in order that they may keep up the dignity and standards of the duties which they have to perform? This is, therefore, not the occasion for the general overhaul which some Members have suggested.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Tradeston

The right hon. Gentleman has touched on what is a sore point for many of us. He said that this was not the time for facing up to a general overhaul. Does he indicate that there will be a reconsideration of the functions of the Monarchy in a Socialist democracy at an early date?

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

That is a question which I cannot possibly answer. For one thing, it would be out of Order for me to do so; for another, such a review cannot take place until there is a demise of the Crown. Every time there has been such an occasion—up to now, at any rate, and I take it that it will continue—it is usual for Parliament to look anew at the Civil List. I was saying, in reply

to criticisms of a complete change of front by right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen now sitting on this Bench, that we are not dealing with the Civil List in its entirety, but with one thing only. Therefore, without saying any more, I would ask the House—I hope without a Division—to give a Second Reading to this Measure.

Photo of Mr Ronald Chamberlain Mr Ronald Chamberlain , Lambeth Norwood

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, may I point out that I asked a specific question and for a specific assurance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not see fit before Christmas to answer the question which I then put to him. Surely, the right hon. Gentleman is not now going to brush aside entirely the question which I have asked him, which was specifically to say whether the Government would be prepared to accept the sense of the Amendment which I have put down for the Committee stage.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

The point raised by the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Chamberlain) is a Committee point. I have noticed that he has an Amendment on the Order Paper which, no doubt, will be dealt with when we reach the Committee stage. It will be for whoever then stands at this Box to indicate what is the attitude of the Government to it. If I am asked to make a forecast, I would say that I would not, if I were in the hon. Gentleman's place, assume that the Government are likely to accept even the sense of the Amendment which he has put down.

Photo of Mr Ronald Chamberlain Mr Ronald Chamberlain , Lambeth Norwood

I wanted that point made clear, so that I might make my position clear. If the right hon. Gentleman had been able to give that assurance, I should be able to support the Second Reading of this Bill, but if he is unable to do so, I cannot support it.

Question put, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 294; Noes, 17.

Division No. 53.]AYES.4.46 p.m.
Acland, Sir RAssheton, Rt. Hon. RBattley, J. R.
Adams Richard (Balham)Attewell, H. C.Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.
Agnew, Cmdr. P GAustin, H. LewisBechervaise, A. E
Alexander, Rt. Hon A. V.Awbery, S. S.Bellenger Rt. Hon. F. J
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Ayrton Gould Mrs. B.Bennett, Sir P.
Amory, D. HeathcoatBacon, Miss A.Benson G
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Baldwin, A. E.Berry, H.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)Barstow. P G.Beswick, F.
B[...]van, Rt Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Hardy, E. A.Nicholson, G.
Binns, JHarris, H WilsonNield, B. (Chester)
Boles Lt.-Col. D C. (Wells)Harrison, J.Noble, Comdr A. H. P.
Bossom A CHaughton, S. G.No[...]l-Baker, Capt. F E. (Brentford)
Bower, N.Haworth, J.Nutting, Anthony
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Head, Brig. A. H.Odey, G. W
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.O'Neill, Rt Hon. Sir H
Bramall, E A.Henderson, Rt. Hn A. (Kingswinford)Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Brooks, T J. (Rothwell)Henderson, John (Cathcart)Palmer, A. M. F.
Brown, T J. (Ince)Hicks, GParker, J
Brown, W. J. (Rugby)H[...]llis, M C.Paton, J. (Norwich)
Bruce, Maj D. W. THope, Lord J.Peake, Rt Hon. O
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.House, G.Perrins, W.
Bullock, Capt. MHoward, Hon A.Pickthorn, K.
Burke, W AHughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)
Butcher, H. W.Hurd, APoole, O. B. S (Oswestry)
Butler, H W (Hackney, S)Hutchinson, H. L (Rusholme)Popplewell, E.
Butler, Rt Hon. R. A. (S'f[...]r'n Wld'n)Hutchison, Lt -Cm Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Porter, E. (Warrington)
Byers, FrankHutchison, Col J R (Glasgow, C.)Prescott, Stanley
Carson, EHynd, H. (Hackney, C)Proctor, W T
Cattle, Mrs. B. A.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Raikes H V
Challen, CIrvine, A J (Liverpool)Ramsay, Maj S
Champion A. J.Isaacs, Rt Hon. G A.Randall, H. E.
Channon, H.Jeffreys, General Sir G.Rayner, Brig. R
Chetwynd, G. R.Jeger, G. (Winchester)Reed, Sir S (Aylesbury)
Clarke Col R. S.Jones, Rt Hon A C (Shipley)Rees-Williams, D. R
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col G.Jones, D T (Hartlepools)Reeves, J.
Cluse, W S.Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Reid, T (Swindon)
Cole, T L.Jones, P Asterley (Hitchin)Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Comyns, Dr L.Joynson-Hicks, Hon L W.Robertson, J J (Berwick)
Conant, Mai R J. EKeeling, E H.Robinson, Roland
Cooper-Key, E MKerr, Sir J GrahamRoss, Sir R D. (Londonderry)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Kingsmill, Lt.-Col W. H.Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Crawley, AKin'ey, J.S[...]nderson, Sir F
Cripps, Rt Hon. Sir S.Lambert, Hon GScott, Lord W.
Crockshank, Capt Rt Hon H F CLancaster, Col C. G.Scott-Elli[...]t, W.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Langford-Holt, J.Segal, Dr S
Crowder, Capt John E.Law. Rt Hon R K.Sharp, Granville
Daines, PLawson, Rt Hon J. J.Shephard, S (Newark)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Lee, F (Hulme)Shepherd, W S (Bucklew)
Darling, Sir W [...].Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Simmons, C. J.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Skeffington-Lodge, T C
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Leonard, W.Skinnard, F. W
Diamond, JLevy, B WSmiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Dobbie, WLewis, J (Bolton)Smith, H N (Nottingham, S.)
Dodds, N. N.Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)Smith, S. H (Hull, S.W.)
Dodds-Parker, A. DLipton, Lt.-Col. M.Smithers, Sir W.
Drayson, G BLloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)Snadden, W. M.
Drewe, CLloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Snow, J. W.
Driberg, T. E. N.Low, A. R. W.Soskice, Maj Sir [...]
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Lyne, A. WSpence, H. R
Dumpleton, C WMcAdam, W.Stanley, Rt. Hon O.
Duncan, Rt. Hon Sir A. (City of Lond.)McCallum, Maj. D.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Duthie, W SMcCorquodale, Rt Hon M. S.Stokes, R. R.
Dye, S.McEntee, V La T.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Eccles, D. M.McKay, J (Wallsend)Stross, Dr B
Ede, Rt Hon. J. CMackeson, Brig. H. R.Studholme, H G
Edelman, M.McKinlay, A S.Summerskill, Dr Edith
Eden, Rl Hon. A.Maclay, Hon. J. S.Sutcliffe, H.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwell[...]y)Mainwaring, W. H.Symonds, A. L.
Elliot, Rt Hon WalterMar[...]owe, A. A. H.Taylor, C S (Eas[...]ou[...]e)
Evans, S N. (Wednesbury)Marsden, Capt. A.Taylor, R J (Morpeth)
Ewart, RMarshall, D. (Bodmin)Taylor, Dr S (Barnet)
Farthing, W J.Marshall, S. H (Sult[...]n)Teeling, William
Fletcher, W. (Bury)Martin, J. H.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Fraser, H. C P. (St[...]ne)Mathers, Rt Hon. G.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Freeman, Peter (Newport)Mayhew, C. P.Thornton-Kemsley, C N.
Gage, C.Mell[...]r, Sir JThorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Galbraith, Cmdr T. D.Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R.Thurtle, Ernest
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)Mitchison, G. R.Tiffany, S.
Gibbins, JMolson, A. H. E.Titterington, M. F.
Gibson, C WMorley, R.T[...]lley, L.
Glyn, Sir R.Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Tomlinson, Rt Hon. G.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Morris-Jones, Sir H.Touche, G C.
Granville, E (Eye)Morrison, Rt Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)Turton, R H.
Greenwood A. W. J. (Heywood)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Ciren[...]ester)Ung[...]ed-Thomas, L
Grenfell, D. R.M[...]rt, D. L.Usborne, Henry
Grey, C F.Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Vane, W. M F
Grimston, R V.Moyle, AVernon, Maj. W F
Guy, W H.Mullan, Lt C. H.Wadsworth, G
Haire, John E. (Wy[...]mbe)Neal, H (Claycross)Walker, G H.
Hall, Rt. Hon GlenvilNeill, W F (Belfast, N)Wallace, G D. (Chislehurst)
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Neven-Spence, Sir B.Wallace, H. W (Walthamst[...]w, E.)
Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Warbey, W. N.
Wall, Sir G. S. HarvieWigg, GeorgeWise, Major F. J.
Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)Wilkins, W. A.Woods, G. S.
Wells, P. L. (Faversham)Willey, O G. (Cleveland)Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Wheatley, Col M. J. (Dorset, E.)Williams, C. (Torquay)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
While, Sir D. (Fareham)Williams, W. R. (Heston)TELLERS FOR THE AYES
White, J. B. (Canterbury)Wills, Mrs. E. A.Mr. Pearson and
Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.Winterton, Rt. Hon. EarlMr. Collindridge
Ayles, W. H.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Pritt, D. N.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Holman, P.Ranger, J.
Chater, DKeenan, WSylvester, G. O.
Gallacher, W.Moody, A S.Mr. Chamberlain and
Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Naylor, T E.Mr. Emrys Hughes.
Grierson, E.Piratin, P.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole Richard Adams.]