Orders of the Day — Civil List Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Walter Monslow Mr Walter Monslow , Barrow-in-Furness 12:00 am, 23rd July 1952

Whatever divisions there may be as to the merits of the Bill, I am confident that I express the sentiments of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House when I say we hope that Her Majesty will have a long and happy reign. None of us can forget the finality with which the Royal Household dedicated itself to the work of the nation in the dark and anxious days of the war, neither can we dismiss from our minds their very deep religious convictions, which act as a moral stimulus to us in the days through which we are now passing.

In the discussion of this Bill we ought not to be too sensitive in examining the expenditure of the Royal Household, which is the purport of the Bill. I recognise that there are hon. Members opposite who are deeply sensitive that we should be discussing a matter of this character. I do not think that that would reflect the opinion of the Royal Household; I do not think it endorses such an attitude of mind and to that question I should like to direct a few thoughts.

I believe that they are sufficiently democratic to believe that a periodical re-examination of the circumstances of expenditure involved is something which would be in alignment with the present economic difficulties of the country, to which the Chancellor has directed our attention. He has indicated quite clearly what is happening. Only a few days ago in this House he reminded us of the impending grave economic crisis. It is extremely difficult to understand the logic of imposing a wage freeze on 1½ million workers and, at this hour of grave economic difficulty, agreeing to the amount involved in this Bill. If this decision is to stand, I submit that we ought to give due consideration to a re-examination of the decision in respect of the 1½ million workers to whom the Chancellor has denied the right to enjoy what has been resolved and determined by an arbitration board.

I believe that the burden in respect to the Crown should be lessened. If the economic crisis is such as he asks us to believe—if it is a real economic crisis—there should be sacrifice on the part of each and every one of us, from the highest to the lowest in the country. I have no doubt as to his good faith that the economic position is so grave. Even hon. Members of his own Government, particularly Members of the Cabinet, have accepted a reduction in their salaries. That being so, I think it is a demonstration of good faith in regard to the present economic situation but, I suggest that we ought not to agree to this Measure— although we can support it—without the qualification that there should be a periodical review, as suggested by the Opposition. I ask that the re-examination should take place as soon as possible, even though this Measure may receive the assent of this House.