Clause 9. — (Application of Sums Paid for the Queen's Civil List.)

Orders of the Day — Civil List Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd July 1952.

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12.15 a.m.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I beg to move, in page 4, line 35, at the end, to insert: (i) that amount shall be available, up to twenty-five thousand pounds, for making contributions towards expenses of the performance of duties pertaining to the Royal Family by those of Their Royal Highnesses for whom Parliament has not made provision. The object of this Amendment is to clear up a doubt which arose as a result of an interchange between myself and the right hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) in the course of our previous discussions. He was kind enough to accept the explanation I gave at that time, that by a deficit on, say, Class III it would have been possible for Her Majesty to spend the money involved in helping the members of the Royal Family to whose needs particular attention was drawn in the Select Committee's Report.

However, on looking at the matter again, and in order to remove doubt, we thought it wise to make this clear. Therefore we placed on the Order Paper this Amendment, since when we see that right hon. and hon. Members opposite have also placed an Amendment on the Order Paper intended, I believe, to cover the same point.

As that is the case, perhaps I need not say much about it, because they know the reasons for this Amendment as I do. The reasons are that this makes clear the wishes of the Select Committee that this sum shall be available. for making contributions towards expenses of the performance of duties pertaining to the Royal Family by those of Their Royal Highnesses for whom Parliament has not made provision. That means close members of the Royal Family. The two succeeding Amendments are consequential.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

The Chancellor is very lucky because none of us has been so fortunate with our Amendments. This is the one lamb which happens to escape.

I think hon. Members are entitled to have a little more explanation of what exactly this means. It may be quite clear to the Members who are on the Select Committee, but it is not clear to those of us who are not. I should like to know exactly who are their Royal Highnesses who are to be allocated this sum of £25,000 a year. What, for example, is the mystery of the Duke of Windsor? Is any part of this £25,000 to be allocated to the Duke of Windsor?

I am not objecting to it, because I believe that in the circumstances the Duke of Windsor, who is a member of the Royal Family, deserves to be compensated if he has the handicap of not being able to do useful work as a result of his education and training. What exactly does this reference to their Royal Highnesses mean?

We were told it referred to one of the Duchesses. Does that mean that we are now committing ourselves to pay £25,000 a year to one person, or to two or three persons? Could not the Chancellor be explicit and tell us exactly what we are legislating for and to whom we are allocating this sum of £25,000 a year?

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

I am glad the Chancellor had second thoughts on this point. It seemed to us, even after he had given the explanation during the Second Reading debate that Her Majesty would be able to spend this money under Classes II and III, that there was something rather odd about that situation, because Classes II and III are the salaries and expenses of Her Majesty's Household.

It was clearly laid down in the Select Committee Report that this £25,000 or part of the Contingency Margin should be made available, not for anything to do with Her Majesty's Household, but for certain members of the Royal Family for whom Parliament made no provision and who had to undertake a number of duties and incur heavy expenses in doing so.

Therefore, I think the right hon. Gentleman has done very well to bring forward this Amendment. I think the new subsection makes it perfectly clear what this money is for. Indeed, it is a good deal more precise than the Amendments we put down, and in the circumstances we do not propose to move our Amendments. We shall therefore be glad to support the Government in this modification of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon East

I am glad that this Amendment has been put forward, because I was worried for the same reason as the right hon. Gentlemen the Mem- ber for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell). Had it not been, I think five people—Her Majesty, the Royal Trustees, that is the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day, the Queen's Treasurer of the day, and finally the auditor of the Civil List, who is the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury—would have been gravely embarrassed. I cannot imagine a Bill like this, when enacted, coming before the courts for interpretation, but if one of the four persons other than Her Majesty challenged the use of part of the supplemental revenue for Classes II and III, I think that action might open serious questions and Her Majesty might be put in the gravest embarrassment.

I do not think people realise that the accounts for Classes II and III are audited. There was a headline in the newspapers, "Queen's Money £475,000," about which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made some caustic comment in an earlier debate. It is most misleading. The bulk of it has to be spent in accordance with the instruction of Parliament under the First Schedule to the Bill. It is only the Privy Purse which is personally for Her Majesty, and a great deal is probably spent on public rather than private matters. The Duke of Windsor does not enter into the picture, as the hon. Gentleman who raised it must have known if he had read the Report of the Select Committee. We all know that there are two ladies of outstanding distinction who incur vast expenditure and are hard up, and they should not be asked to continue to face embarrassment financially in the discharge of duties which are acceptable to the whole nation.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

This addition is being made because there are some members of the Royal Family, or members close to the Royal Family, who are financially embarrassed. I do not think anybody would object to some allocation or grant being made, but why £25,000? How is that sum reached? If it be the case that this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will extend for the whole of the present reign then other persons may be added to the list of people who are in financial difficulties. Is £25,000 liberal enough? In the event of the stage being reached where Her Majesty has outlived these persons, is this sum still to be allocated to her? [Interruption.] I do not mind a decent interjection, but this constant irritation by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) when we are trying to discuss this in a friendly manner gets us nowhere, and I do not want to lose my temper with him.

I do not ask who are the people involved, because the Amendment refers to "Their Royal Highnesses," but I think, without being too inquisitive or personal, if they are allocated a sum of money some idea of the numbers involved might be given, even if their names are not disclosed. What happens when the numbers diminish? Is the £25,000 still allocated to Her Majesty? [Interruption.] I know sufficient about the English language to know the difference between maximum and minimum, but a figure has been laid down, and I want to know why the sum should be £25,000 as against £30,000 or £20,000. Surely that is a reasonable request to make. I think the Chancellor might tell us that there is justification for arriving at such a figure, and what action is to be taken about this money in the event of the numbers involved diminishing.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The Select Committee, to use their words: noted with concern that there are several members of the Royal Family who, by virtue of their position near the Throne, are excluded from ordinary commercial activities and must, of necessity, devote their lives to public duties, and fulfil heavy programmes of official engagements, in spite of the fact that Parliament has made no financial provision for them at all. This drafting is an attempt to carry out that phrase, because it is only those who may be described as "Their Royal Highnesses" who are precluded from commercial activities. That is the reason for these words being inserted.

If there are members attached to the Royal Family, or members who are not Royal Highnesses or are no longer Royal Highnesses, they are not precluded from commercial activities and, therefore, could make a living. This provision is intended to be strictly confined to those who are unable to make a commercial living by reason of being Royal Highnesses. That is a sensible provision.

The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) asked what would happen in the future. The sum of £25,000 was agreed upon as being roughly the amount that might well be necessary for Her Majesty to dispense in this way, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) so wisely, clearly and frequently remarked, it is a maximum sum, and I do not envisage that it will always be spent. In the event of it not being spent, it will accrue to the Contingencies Margin, or the Supplementary Provisions as it is now called, under a trustee.

At the end of the reign, if there is any balance, that will be for Parliament to decide about. If there is a margin left, in so far as this sum is not used for the specific purpose set out, it will accrue to the Contingencies Margin and will be available as a surplus.

I ought to mention a personal point about the Duke of Windsor. It would not be possible to interpret this Clause as referring to him, because the Amendment says: … towards expenses of the performance of duties pertaining to the Royal Family". That is deliberately put in to cover those persons who actually perform duties pertaining to our present Royal Family.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 4, line 41, after "classes," insert "so much of."

In line 42, after "provision," insert: as is not applied in making such contributions as aforesaid."—[Mr. R. A. Butler.]

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I beg to move, in page 5, line 4, to leave out, "the Treasury may direct that," and to insert "then."

This is a drafting Amendment which relates to subsection (2) of this Clause, in which the word "may" occurs, whereas in the draft of subsection (1, b) the word "shall" occurs. This Amendment is a little more complicated than simply substituting "shall" for "may", but has the same result. This puts upon the Treasury a duty which some hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee thought was sensible.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Here again the Chancellor has accepted a suggestion from this side of the Committee, and we are much obliged to him.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 5, line 5, after "excess," insert "shall."

In line 10, after "III" insert: and of any contributions not exceeding twenty-five thousand pounds made as mentioned in subsection (1) of this section."—[Mr. R. A. Butler.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 10 to 12 ordered to stand part of the Bill.