HC Deb 02 May 1876 vol 228 cc1982-5

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether on March 20th, at the time the Royal Titles Bill was in Committee, it was the intention of Her Majesty's advisers not to advise Her Majesty to take the title of Empress to be borne in this Country, but that it should be a title of a local character to be borne in India; whether the Proclamation issued under the Royal Titles Bill does so limit the use of the title of Empress that it cannot be used in this Country; and, whether the Proclamation renders it a title of a local character to be borne in India?


Mr. Speaker, I have referred to the report of the debate to which the hon. and learned Gentleman calls attention; and I may say that the intention of Her Majesty's advisers was expressed in that debate, both by the Prime Minister and by other Members of the Government, including myself. Substantially it was stated, as is mentioned in the Question of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that it was the intention of the Government to advise that the title of Empress should not be borne in this country, but should be a title of a local character, to be borne in India. I think I myself made use of these words. But there was considerable debate, and it was explained in the course of that debate by the Prime Minister that there would be circumstances under which it would be necessary that the Queen should acknowledge herself in this country, and should allow others to acknowledge her, as Empress of India. Instances were given, and it was on this ground that the Government resisted an Amendment which was under discussion, moved by the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease). That Amendment was to this effect— That nothing in this Act contained shall be taken to authorize the use in the United Kingdom of any style or title of Her Majesty other than those at present in use as appertaining to the Imperial Crown. That Amendment was resisted by the Government on the ground that it would preclude the Queen, under certain necessary circumstances, from using the title of Empress in this country. It was resisted, and it was not adopted by the House. Well, Sir, it appears to me that the Proclamation exactly gives effect to the intentions so expressed by the Government. It would have been contrary to those intentions if it had not expressed them as they were expressed on that occasion in opposition to the hon. Member for South Durham, and if it had so limited the use of the title as that it could not, in any circumstances, have been used in this country.


asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether the new Imperial Title will be used in Army Commissions?


Mr. Speaker, on the 3rd of April the hon. and learned Member for the City of Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) inquired of me whether— In the event of Her Majesty being advised by Her Ministers to assume the title of Empress of India, it is intended that such title shall be employed in all public instruments and documents of State in which the full statutory style and title of the Queen is now set forth, and particularly in the case of Writs of Summons to Peers of Parliament, Writs for the Election of Members of the House of Commons; Patents for the creation of dignities of the United Kingdom, Patents for appointments to offices in the United Kingdom, such as those of Lord Chancellor, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Law Officers, and the Judges of the United Kingdom; instruments relating to the appointment of Bishops in England; Commissioners for giving the Royal Assent to Acts of Parliament; instruments relating to the summoning, prorogation, or dissolution of Parliament; documents authorizing the meeting of Convocation; Commissions to Justices of the Peace in the United Kingdom; Royal Commis- sions for inquiry and report into matters not relating to India; Patents for inventions in the United Kingdom; commissions to Officers in the Army; Charters of Incorporation or for other purposes in the United Kingdom; and other like instruments issuing under the authority of the Crown; and, if so, in what manner he proposes generally to limit the public use of the title of Empress to India and Indian affairs and to restrain its application in respect of acts of State relating to the government of the United Kingdom? I answered the hon and learned Gentleman then, that in the first place, speaking generally of what our policy was, that in the internal government of the United Kingdom the title of Empress was not to be used, but—and what I said will probably be remembered because it was the subject of a jest at the time, and not a bad one—I said, I believe, that it was to be "used externally." These were the remarks I then made, when the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the City of Oxford read that bead-roll of public documents and instruments, which, in fact, included the whole of the government and administration of the United Kingdom. I have to say, in answer to the hon. Baronet, that with that catalogue before me, and under what I must consider the highest advice on the subject, I believe that, with one exception, there is not a single public instrument or document of State, including, as the catalogue did, the whole of our administrative system and government, that is not entirely and completely covered by the Royal Proclamation; and that sole exception is the commission to officers of the Army now referred to by the hon. Baronet. That was purposely omitted, because the Army serves Her Majesty in India; and to bring about such a state of affairs in which the Army in the Indian Empire did not bear the authority and commission of the Empress of India would be, every one must feel and know, most ridiculous. That is my answer to the Question of the hon. Baronet.


asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether the Royal Proclamation of the 28th April requires that in future the additional Title of Empress of India must be used in Proclamations, Writs, Charters, Commissions, and other like instruments issued by the Governors or out of Supreme Courts of Colonies? The hon. and learned Member explained that he al- luded to cases in which the full title of the Queen is at present used?


In answer to the Question of the hon. and learned Gentleman I have to say that the Royal Proclamation, in my opinion, only requires the use of the addition of Empress in instruments having operation in the Colonies or out of the United Kingdom, in cases where it is necessary to make use of the full and complete titles of Her Majesty. I doubt whether it is, in strictness, necessary to employ the complete titles of Her Majesty in proclamations, charters, or commissions, if there are any issued, by the Governors of Colonies. In writs, the form of which is prescribed by charter, it may, perhaps, be necessary to employ the full titles; and in respect of instruments in which it is necessary to do this it will be for the authority issuing them to decide whether the addition of Empress can be conveniently used.


I beg to give Notice that on Thursday next I will ask the Attorney General Whether, in his opinion, Sir Bernard Burke is correct in advising the Corporation of Dublin that the proper style and title of Her Majesty to be used in their congratulatory Address includes the words Empress of India, as stated in the newspapers of this day.