HC Deb 22 July 1910 vol 19 cc1690-5

The Regent, before she shall act or enter upon her office of Regent, shall take the oaths set out in the Schedule to this Act before the Privy Council, and the Privy Council are empowered and required to administer those oaths and to enter them in the Council books.


moved, after the word "oaths" ["take the oaths"] to insert the words "and shall make, subscribe, and audibly repeat the Declaration." It will be remarked that this Bill does not include the King's Declaration. I think there is every reason why that Declaration should be included in a Regency Bill. It was included in 1811 and again in 1830, but in 1840 it was left out, presumably by accident. Lord John Russell in moving the Second Reading of the Regency Bill in the House of Commons on 29th July, 1840, said:— The only precedent on the subject to which Parliament could look with satisfaction, was that which it was proposed to follow in the present Bill, namely, the provision of the Regency Bill in the year 1830. In seconding the Motion Sir Robert Peel said:— In the provisions of the Bill he cordially concurred. It was founded altogether on the precedent set in l830. Therefore, from the speeches of both Mover and Seconder, it was obviously the intention of the Government of the day to include the Declaration in the Regency Bill, and it was purely by accident that it was left out. I presume the same thing applies to-day, and that it is purely by accident that the Prime Minister has omitted the Declaration from the present Bill. If possible, it is much more important that the Regent should make the Declaration than even the Sovereign, and to my mind it is very important that it should be made by the Sovereign. The reason why I think it is even more important in the case of the Regent is that the Regent would not only rule the same as the Sovereign, but also have the care of the young Sovereign, who probably would be of tender age and entirely under the domination and control of the Regent, who might wield a very undesirable influence over him. It may be contended that it not particularly important that the Declaration should be inserted in the present Bill. I submit that it is very important, because this Bill will probably form a precedent for future Bills. Therefore, I trust that the Government will see their way to accept my Amendment.


I beg to second the Amendment. I do think that it is absolutely necessary that we should protect this Declaration wherever we can, and get it into the Regency Bill, as we hope to preserve it in another place. I trust the Government will accept this Amendment of my hon. Friend, as we have no mandate from the nation to make this alteration.

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)

My hon. Friend certainly has not neglected any opportunity to put his views before the House, and in this case I may say in the crudest and bluntest manner possible. [Sir CLIFFORD CORY: "No, no."] Here is a measure dealing with matters more or less controversial, and the hon. Gentleman desires to thrust a Declaration into it, which the House of Commons quite recently, by an enormous majority, decided it is undesirable to force any British Sovereign to make at the present time.


The House only voted for the First Reading out of courtesy.


Do hon. Members expect the Government to accept this Amendment?




Then I am afraid they are doomed to disappointment.


I rise with some regret to find myself in complete disagreement with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. What is wanted by the Amendment is, I understand, that there shall be but the same Accession Declaration of a belief in the principles of the Church of England as by the law established, and leaving out any statement that is offensive to the religious convictions of many of His Majesty's subjects: that the Regent shall be called upon to make the same Declaration of his religious faith as the Monarch himself. Surely that does not import anything at all derogatory or objectionable to the conscientious scruples of anyone of the millions who may believe in other faiths. I think with the hon. Baronet who has moved the Amendment that it is quite as advisable in the case of the Regent to have the necessary Declaration made as it is in the case of the Monarch. The Regent is something more than a person engaged in uncontroversial matters. The last Regency—the prolonged Regency of George IV.—was a Regency, I think we may say, at least not creditable in the history of England. The Regent is something more than a mere dictator of fashion. He creates the atmosphere of the time very largely. We do say that this is a matter of infinite importance to the well-being of these realms. The Regent should be called upon in every respect to act in the place of the King. If it is necessary—and I think every person will agree that it is necessary—that the Sovereign himself should make a Protestant Declaration, it is surely quite as necessary that the Regent also should make a Protestant Declaration. That Declaration, I fully agree, should not contain anything unreasonably offensive to anyone of the millions of His Majesty's subjects who believe in other religions. I will certainly vote for the Amendment and for the insertion of a Declaration that would not antagonise and embitter the feelings of others. It is necessary for the Regent as it is for the King, for the Regent governs as King for the time being, to make some declaration. There is now in the Schedule some reference to the government and discipline of the Church of Scotland as by law established. The very fact that the Church of Scotland is brought into it gives point and pungency to the need for bringing in the Church of England. No one seeks to import any bitter or barren controversy, but surely if the Church of Scotland is brought in that fact in itself emphasises the necessity for asking the Regent to make some Declaration and Belief in the Church of England as she is required to do in the case of the Church of Scotland. This is not a small matter. It is a very serious one, and it opens up, in my opinion, a great range for controversy. I do not think we ought to be described as being very valorous, rushing in where angels fear to tread, because we point out to the Government an omission which we are entitled to have supplied in this Bill.


I think the hon. Member who has spoken last overlooked the fact that the Amendment of the hon. Member beside him proposes to insert the old Declaration.

Sir C. J. CORY

I propose the one existing to-day, but I am quite willing to alter

my Amendment so as to include any Declaration passed by the House of Commons.


That will not do. The two Amendments hang together. If the hon. Member has got some other Amendment which he proposes to the Schedules, notice should be given of it. Until that is done, I assume the Amendment he is now moving relates to one of the Schedules.


It is obvious what this Amendment means. The Home Secretary is entitled to claim that whatever else the Division on the First Reading meant, it did mean that the House thought the present Declaration should not stand. It is clear the House will have to frame a new Declaration, and to enter into the whole discussion now, which will come on next week, would be in the highest degree inconvement. The hon. Member's proposal, that upon the Report stage of the Regency Bill, we should enter upon framing a new Declaration, cannot be regarded as reasonable. This would be a very inconvenient moment to enter into a discussion as to whether we could frame a new Declaration and as the matter is now only purely academic, to enter further into it would be a waste of time.

Colonel SANDYS

There is only one Declaration in force and it is Protestant. The hon. Baronet spoke in the direction of supporting that Declaration; I shall support his Amendment. This particular Declaration was omitted on a previous occasion, and we should now endeavour to repair that omission.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 25; Noes, 123.

Division No. 126.] AYES. [5.25 p.m.
Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.) Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay) Tullibardine, Marquess of
Bird, Alfred Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droltwich) Valentia, Viscount
Bryce, John Annan MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Walsh, Stephen
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Mackinder, Belford J. White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Clyde, James Avor. Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M. (Bootie) Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Craik, Sir Henry Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire) Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)
Dairymple, Viscount Stewart, Gershom (Ches. Wirrall)
Gilmour, Captain John Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkc'dbr'tsh.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir C. Cory and Mr. Morton.
Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Thomson, W. Mitchell (Down, N.)
Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)
Alden, Percy Bentinck, Lord Henry Cave[...]dish Carr-Gomm, H. W.
Allen, Charles Peter Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Bowerman, C. W. Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)
Baird, John Lawrence Bowles, Thomas Gibson Chapple, Dr. William Allen
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Brassey, H. L. C. (Northants, N.) Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.
Barnes, George N. Brocklehurst, William B. Clough, William
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.) Byles, William Pollard Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Croft, Henry Page Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Crosfield, Arthur H. Joyce, Michael Rosh, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Dawes, James Arthur Kerry, Earl of Runciman, Rt. Hon Walter
Dillon, John King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Seddon, James A.
Elverston, Harold Lawson, Hon. Harry Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.
Fisher, William Mayes Leach, Charles Sherwell, Arthur James
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Lewis, John Herbert Shortt, Edward
Gibbs, George Abraham Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Greene, Walter Raymond Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Soares, Ernest Joseph
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Spicer, Sir Albert
Guest, Major Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Strachey, Sir Edward
Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward MacVeagh, Jeremiah Sutherland, J. E.
Hackett, John M'Callum, John M. Sykes, Alan John
Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Meagher, Michael Talbot, Lord Edmund
Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington) Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Tennant, Harold John
Hancock, J. G. Menzies, Sir Walter Thynne, Lord Alexander
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Morpeth, Viscount Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Muspratt, Max Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) O'Dowd, John Vivian, Henry
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.) Ormsby-Gore., Hon. William Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Palmer, Godfrey Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Parker, James (Halifax) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Hayward, Evan Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Henry, Charles S. Peto, Basil Edward Waterlow, D. S.
Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.) Pringle, William M. R. Watt, Henry A.
Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich) Proby, Col. Douglas James Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Badford, George Heynes Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)
Hughes, Spencer Leigh Rainy, Adam Rolland Young, William (Perth, East)
Hume-Williams, William Ellis Rea, Walter Russell Younger, W. (Peebles and Selkirk)
Hunter, Wm. (Lanark, Govan) Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Illingworth, Percy H. Rees, Sir J. D.
Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel Ridley, Samuel Forde TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Gulland.
Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.