HC Deb 26 March 1889 vol 334 cc856-7

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

MR. PICTON (Leicester)

Before the Bill is read a third time I should like to ask a question which, perhaps, the Chancellor of the Exchequer may think illustrates my financial simplicity. Still, every Member of the House has a right to understand these things, if possible, and, therefore, I should like to be instructed why sums applied out of the Consolidated Fund for three years are mixed up together in this Bill? There is just one other observation I should like to make. I think the style of the preamble of Bills like this is extremely old-fashioned and entirely anachronistic, and I wish Gentlemen in framing such Bills in the future will consider whether they cannot adapt the language of the preamble to the actual needs of the day in which we live. Of course we know it is merely fiction when we talk of humbly beseeching Her Majesty to accept this willing offering from Her Commons. We know that the money is intended to go towards the services of the country, and that this language comes down from a day when very different ideas were entertained as to the relations between the Parliament and the Sovereign from those entertained at the present day. I know the Chancellor of the Exchequer will regard this as a very trivial matter—a mere matter of form; but the more the democracy of this country take an interest in the work of the House of Commons, the more offensive does this language of fulsome servility become to them. People do not like to hear the Sovereign talked about as though the Crown were elevated into some supernatural region. The people desire to approach the Crown with due respect, but not with the flattering and servile language of former days. Besides, the ignorant people—and of course there are ignorant people everywhere—are led to think by this form of language that the money is actually given to the Sovereign for her own purposes. We ought to guard against misunderstanding even on the part of the most humble of our citizens. I, therefore, hope that the Government will consider whether the time has not come when the language of the preamble of these Bills cannot be adapted to the opinions and social life of the present day, rather than to the opinions and social life of the twelfth or fourteenth century.


I will endeavour to explain to the hon. Member why sums relating to three years appear in this Bill. The first item which relates to the financial year ending the 31st March, 1888, is due to the fact that the amount expended for certain Services during that year exceeded the amount which had been voted and sanctioned by Parliament for those particular Services. The next amount relates to the Supplementary Estimates which were necessary to provide for the Services of the year ending the 31st March, 1889, and the third item relates to the Supply which is necessary to provide for the financial year, ending 31st March, 1890.

Question put, and agreed to.