HC Deb 26 July 1910 vol 19 cc2065-73

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


I beg to move to lave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "that, whilst desirous of making adequate provision for the maintenance of the Royal Household and the dignity of the Crown, and whilst being willing to provide additional grants in lieu of the revenues of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, this House cannot accept a measure which does not provide for the transfer of such revenues to the Public Exchequer."

In rising, on behalf of my colleagues as well as myself, to move my Amendment, may I say that it refers exclusively to the question of the revenue of the two Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, in respect of which it proposes that these revenues should be nationalised. I desire, if I can, to remove a certain amount of misunderstanding that appears to be in the minds of Members, and also to inform the minds of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen of what we are really driving at. As to the misunderstanding, I think I could not do better than to bring the minds of the House back to the two speeches made from the Front Government Bench last Friday. I had made a speech in which I had endeavoured to make clear a knowledge of what we wanted. Two speeches were made in reply. One was by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in which I was pictured as a fearful sort of stingy individual that wanted to run royalty on the cheap. It was said that I wanted to reduce the amount not only by the £85,000 then under discussion, but that I also wanted to deprive the Royal Family of some of the revenues of the two Duchies in addition to that £85,000. I had no such thing in my mind. Nothing of that sort was proposed in the draft Amendment that I submitted upstairs. Nothing of the sort was in the series of Amendments proposed last Friday. Nor is there anything of that character in my present Amendment.

I have not been unmindful of the fact nor of the argument based upon the fact put forward by the Leader of the Opposition that the Empire is one embracing many races, diverse in character, differing altogether racially, historically and otherwise and therefore as compared with smaller, more compact, and simpler communities it may well be we require a condition of things in connection with the head of the State which would lend itself more to spectacular display and be altogether on a different footing from others. I am not unmindful of that, and therefore I say I had nothing in my mind of the kind atttributed to me by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I do not deny that my friends and I, as a party, are animated by the desire to lessen expenses. We think the amount proposed in the Civil List is excessive, but that is another thing altogether; there is a long difference between that and the views attributed to me by the Chancellor of the Duchy. As showing the confusion arising, I might refer to the speech made later by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said I had proposed that £8,000 more should be spent upon the Civil List than was proposed by the Government. These two speeches of the two right hon. Gentlemen very well answer each other, but I venture to answer both of them and at the same time put our views of the present proposals briefly before the House. The Amendment we propose that the revenues of the two Duchies should be turned over to the public Exchequer, but we never proposed that the public Exchequer should take the revenues of these two Duchies without consideration being given as a quid pro quo.

In the draft Amendment which I moved in the Committee I made certain proposals and re-arrangements of the Civil List generally with the full concurrence of my colleague, the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Shackleton.) I proposed that £40,000 should be added to the Privy Purse in addition to what is proposed by the Government, and that £20,000 should be given to the Prince of Wales, and also that we should commit ourselves now to a provision being made upon the surrender of the Duchy of Cornwall, of a proper marriage settlement for the Prince of Wales when the occasion arises. In addition to that we left the household expenses and salaries as they are, with all the abuses which I went into last, week. We left them practically as they were. This may not be an adequate quid pro quo, but it might have formed the basis for discussion in the event of those revenues being given up. I think I have said sufficient to show that our proposals are by no means what it is said they were, either by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster or the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We put this proposal forward on two grounds, first because we believe that these revenues have drifted from public into private use without any deliberate Parliamentary sanction, in the way of initiative at all events. Parliament has rather acquiesced in something which has been proposed from outside. Secondly, we believe if they were surrendered a great deal of doubt and perplexity would be removed, and the relationship between the Throne and the people would be put upon a proper and understandable basis. In a legal sense the title to these revenues is wrapt in mystery, but one thing emerges from the discussion last week and from previous Debates in this House. These revenues are altogether different from private property in the ordinary sense of the word. Private property of that character would have descended from father to son or to the next of kin, whereas these revenues have descended not in that way at all, but from one occupant of the Crown to another occupant of the Crown, and, skipping over the Commonwealth, from one sovereign to another. There is, therefore, a difference between these revenues and ordinary private revenues.

We do not base our proposal upon legal construction or upon the ransacking of historical dust-heaps. We rather base it upon modern and present day convenience. We really want to know where we are. There are those who do not agree with us, but, at all events, there seems now to be a consensus of opinion in the House, as there has been upon previous occasions, that at all events these revenues should be taken into consideration when the Civil List is fixed. I have gone over the records of the last two or three generations, and I venture to say, with a full knowledge of the case, that very little consideration, at all events, has been given to these revenues, and especially to the growing nature of these revenues. Chancellors of the Exchequer and those responsible for Civil Lists, having that in their minds, have made statements to the House altogether contrary to the facts. I do not say they have done so consciously, but they have been made, and are on record. For instance, the Chancellor of the Exchequer nine years ago stated that he did not look forward to any increase in the immediate future from the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall, whereas, as a simple matter of fact, they have increased by close upon £20,000 in those nine years.

On Friday last the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking of the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall, committed himself to a still more extraordinary statement. He said these revenues were of a fluctuating character. They amounted to £87,000 last year, but in 1901 they only amounted, I think he said, to about £52,000. As a matter of fact, the revenues of the Duchy amounted to £73,000 or £74,000. If the right hon. Gentleman will look in another column, he will find in addition to that £52,000 that another £21,000 was paid. I refer to this simply to show the straits to which those responsible for Civil Lists are put in defending them. There is nothing fluctuating about these revenues in the larger sense of the word. Of course, they are subject to fluctuations as all incomes of that character must be, but those fluctuations are all on an ascending scale. Going back to 1837, I find these revenues, on the accession of Queen Victoria, amounted to less than £30,000, whereas to-day they amount to over £150,000. I think I have said sufficient to justify me, on behalf of my colleagues, in putting forward this Amendment. I ask the House to favourably consider it, and I venture to say, if these revenues were regarded frankly as national property and were taken over to the national revenue, not for nothing, but on proper consideration being given for the vested interest involved, we should at least know where we are in the future, and we should be able to make adequate provision as I am sure we all want to do for the proper maintenance of the dignity of the Crown and the upholding of the household of His Majesty.


In rising to second the Amendment, I hope the House will accept the assurance from me that in taking the action we are we are not in any way desirous of being niggardly in our recognition of the demands of the Crown, I would like to say a word respecting the censure that has been passed on our action. There are some who seek to interpret it as an attack upon the Throne or the occupant of the Throne, but I beg the House to accept the assurance, at any rate so far as I am able to speak on behalf of the Labour party, that our action is in no way animated by those motives, but simply by a desire to have this matter settled on what we comprehend as business lines. There seems to be no doubt whatever these two Duchies should be regarded as State property. Even the Leader of the Opposition on Friday did not push his theory so far as to suggest they should be regarded as the property of the Sovereign.


Hear, hear.


I am glad the Chancellor of the Exchequer assents to that, because, at any rate, it affords some justification for the position we have taken up. My view is that the Civil List is entirely misleading. The country is given to understand that the cost of maintaining the Royal Household and the dignity of the Crown is £470,000 as set forth in the Civil List, whereas the actual cost has to be supplemented by the revenues derivable from the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. We feel the country is entitled to be taken into our confidence in this matter, and that the Civil List should set forth the whole cost so that the people should know exactly what is expected of them. The theories of right hon. Gentlemen seem to be somewhat conflicting in this matter. We are told, on the one hand, that these are not State properties and that they are really in the possession and under the control of the Crown. On the other hand, we now have the admission that the Crown has no right, as private individuals, to the possession of these properties. We claim these revenues should be directed into the State Exchequer. As my hon. Friend the Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow put it, adequate provision should be made for the maintenance of the Crown. Our real purpose is to insist on business-like principles being brought into operation in this connection. These two Duchies should be transferred once and for all to the State and be placed under the control of Parliament. It would be quite true to say that the Civil List stands not at £470,000, but, supplemented, by the revenues of the two Duchies, at £628,000. The historical aspect has been introduced into this matter. As far as I am able to judge, at no point can we say that the Crown had any private rights in these properties. They are the property of the State, and the Civil List should be presented to the public in a fair and open manner, so that the people may know exactly what the cost of Royalty is in this country. The King has no right to alienate these properties, and when they are spoken of as Crown property it is simply in the sense that all land at one time was regarded as Crown property. My hon. Friend, in moving this Amendment, has been animated solely by the desire that this question should be thoroughly sifted by Parliament, and that it should be determined once and for all whether these Duchies should not be transferred to the State. Why should we maintain this fiction any longer? Let us conduct this matter on business-like principles, and, having taken the Duchies over, fix the Civil List on the basis of the revenues that are given up.

The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Mr. Joseph Pease)

I do not want to traverse the ground I covered two or three nights ago. I accept at once the views expressed by the hon. Members who have just spoken that they desire to make adequate provision for the Sovereign, but I think I was fully justified in the view I took having regard to the speech he delivered in the House and the Amendment on the Paper. He did propose a reduction so far as it could be ascertained by Amendments on the Paper, and there was no indication in the speech which he then delivered that he was prepared to give anything in exchange for the revenues he proposed to take from the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, and when I saw the Amendment on the Paper this morning it rather reminded me of a young lady who, having had a proposal of marriage, had a little time to reflect upon the attitude of the night before, and said:— Yes,' I said to you last night; 'No,' this morning, Sir, I say: Colours seen by candle light Do not show the same by day. I admit, at once, I was mistaken in regard to the attitude which the hon. Member and his friends took up upon this matter, and I welcome the explanation which he has given to-night in regard to those views. The question resolves itself tonight not as to whether this £150,000 is going to be taken away from the heir to the Throne and from the Sovereign, but whether it is expedient at this moment that the revenues of the two Duchies should be transferred from the Crown and some other revenue obtained for the Sovereign and the Duke of Cornwall instead of the £150,000 obtained from the two Duchies. I explained the other night that this property had been originally private property, and that it had come to the Duke of Cornwall in the time of the Black Prince, and that similarly, through the wife of John O' Gaunt, private property had descended to the kings and queens of this country; but the point I want to make to-night is this, that there is no attack being made as to the management of these estates. There has been no scandal in connection with their management, and there is no good cause shown why they should be managed better under the present proposal than they are to-day.

It is a great advantage to the Sovereign and the heir to the Throne to be brought constantly into touch with the great agricultural interest of the country, by being made responsible for the management of an estate farmed by a large number of tenantry and small holders as at present. There are a large number of statutes which have been passed in con-

nection with the work of these two Departments, and we cannot by mere Amendment on the Vote of the Civil List alter them. In the offices of the Duchy of Lancaster a large number of duties are transacted similar to those which the Home Secretary and the Lord Chancellor perform for the rest of England. These offices are established by statute, and there will be no economy if they are attempted to be transferred in the way suggested by the Amendment. The duties would go on, and you cannot by an Amendment of this kind transfer the revenues and abolish the offices without a considerable waste of public funds. These revenues have not, as the hon. Member suggested, been hidden from the country. Every year Parliamentary Papers are issued showing exactly how much is derived from the Duchies, and to suggest that there has been an attempt to conceal this from the public is not really a fair statement of the case. Everyone knows that in addition to the Civil List this £150,000 is divided, about £90,000 in one case, and about £60,000 in the other, between the Sovereign and the Prince of Wales. I think no sufficient case has been made out to-night why we should accept the suggestion of hon. Members below the Gangway.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 221; Noes, 52.

Division No. 133.] AYES. [11.42 p.m.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Brunner, John F. L. Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Brunskill, Gerald Fitzgibbon Craik, Sir Henry
Agnew, George William Bryce, John Annan Crawshay-Williams, Eliot
Allen, Charles Peter Bull, Sir William James Croft, Henry Page
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid) Crosfield, Arthur H.
Attenborough, Walter Annis Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Dalrymple, Viscount
Baird, John Lawrence Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Carlile, Edward Hildred Dawes, James Arthur
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Carr-Gomm, H. W. Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas
Balcarres, Lord Castlereagh, Viscount Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S. (Glasgow, E.)
Baldwin, Stanley Cave, George Duncannon, Viscount
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Haywood) Dunn, Sir W. H. (Southwark, W.)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Falconer, James
Barclay, Sir Thomas Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.) Falle, Bertram Godfray
Baring, Captain Hon. Guy Victor Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Fell, Arthur
Barnston, Harry Chapple, Dr. William Allen Ferens, Thomas Robinson
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick) Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C. Munro
Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.) Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Forster, Henry William
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Clough, William Furness, Stephen
Beale, William Phipson Clyde, James Avon Gelder, Sir William Alfred
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.) Coates, Major Edward F. George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish Colefax, Henry Arthur Gibbs, George Abraham
Bird, Alfred Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Gilmour, Captain John
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.) Grant, J. A.
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Compton, Lord Alwyne (Brantford) Gretton, John
Boyton, James Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward
Brackenbury, Henry Langton Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Guest, Major
Brocklehurst, William B. Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.
Brotherton, Edward Allen Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)
Hamersley, Alfred St. George Mon[...], Hon. E. S. Stanier, Beville
Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry) Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Morpeth, Viscount Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. Stewart, Gershom (Ches., Wirral)
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Munro, Robert Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkc'dbr'tsh.)
Haworth, Arthur A. Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C. Strauss, Arthur
Hayward, Evan Muspratt, Max Summers, James Woolley
Helme, Norval Watson Neilson, Francis Sutherland, John E.
Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Newton, Harry Kottingham Sykes, Alan John
Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Nield, Herbert Talbot, Lord Edmund
Hooper, Arthur George Norton, Captain Cecil William Taylor, T. C. (Radcliffe)
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid) Tennant, Harold John
Hope, John Deans (Fife, West) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)
Horner, Andrew Long Parkes, Ebenezer Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Hunt, Rowland Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. Thynne, Lord Alexander
Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath) Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge) Toulmin, George
Illingworth, Percy H. Pollock, Ernest Murray Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel Pretyman, Ernest George Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Jessel, Captain Herbert M. Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Valentia, Viscount
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Primrose, Hon. Nell James Verney, Frederick William
Kemp, Sir George Pringle, William M. R. Verrall, George Henry
King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Proby, Colonel Douglas James Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Kyffin-Taylor, G. Quilter, William Eley C. Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)
Lambert, George Raffan, Peter Wilson Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Lawson, Hon. Harry Rainy, Adam Rolland Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Raphael, Herbert Henry Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Levy, Sir Maurice Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel Waterlow, David Sydney
Lewis, John Herbert Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan Wheler, Granville C. H.
Lincoln, Ignatius Timothy T. Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Llewelyn, Venables Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.) White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Lloyd, George Ambrose Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)
Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Robertson, John M. (Tyneside) White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Roe, Sir Thomas Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Lyell, Charles Henry Ronaldshay, Earl of Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude
Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.) Rothschild, Lionel de Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Mackinder, Halford J. Royds, Edmund Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Magnus, Sir Philip Rutherford, Watson Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Mallet, Charles Edward Salter, Arthur Clavell Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)
Manfield, Harry Sanders, Robert Arthur Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)
Masterman, C. F. G. Sanderson, Lancelot Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Menzies, Sir Walter Schwann, Sir Charles E. Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B. Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)
Millar, James Duncan Shortt, Edward
Mitchell, William Foot Simon, John Allsebrook TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Gulland.
Molteno, Percy Alport Soares, Ernest Joseph
Alden, Percy Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Barnes, George N. Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Snowden, Philip
Barton, William Higham, John Sharp Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Bowerman, Charles W. Holt, Richard Durning Thomas, James Henry (Derby)
Brace, William Johnson, William Thorne, William (West Ham)
Byles, William Pollard Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Twist, Henry
Chancellor, Henry George Jowett, Frederick William Wadsworth, John
Clynes, John R. King, Joseph (Somerset, North) Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Lehmann, Rudolf C. Wilkie, Alexander
Edwards, Enoch Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Williams, John (Glamorgan)
France, Gerald Ashburner Ogden, Fred Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N. E.)
Gill, Alfred Henry O'Grady, James Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Glover, Thomas Parker, James (Halifax) Winfrey, Richard
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Pointer, Joseph Wing, Thomas
Greenwood, Granville George Radford, George Heynes
Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton) Rendall, Athelstan
Hancock, John George Richards, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.George Roberts and Mr. Charles Duncan.
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Robinson, Sidney
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Shackleton, David James

Lords Amendment Considered, and agreed to.