HC Deb 09 March 1927 vol 203 cc1251-66

Order for Second Reading read.

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This is a very short and uncontroversial Measure. The Bill proposes to bring the title of the Sovereign and Parliament into consonance with the present constitutional position. The title of the sovereign has been altered twice during the last 60 years. At the Imperial Conference last year it was realised on all hands that the title of the Sovereign was one of the great constitutional questions in which the great Dominions had an interest as much as had this House or this Parliament. The title of the Sovereign at the present time exists under a Proclamation made under the Act of 1901, and is as follows: George V, By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India. As the House knows, there are now two constitutional entities in Ireland. There is the Southern Government of Ireland, which is a Dominion very much on the same lines as the other great Dominions, Canada and Australia and so forth, and there 18 the North of Ireland, which is represented in this House, and for that purpose is united to Great. Britain. The members of the Imperial Conference asked permission, and His Majesty expressed his concurrence, that they should debate this, question, and submit to His Majesty such proposals as they might make for the alteration of the Royal title. They unanimously agreed, with His Majesty's concurrence, that the Royal title should be altered to: George V, By the Grace of God, of 'Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India. 4.0. p.m.

The House will see that that is a geographical description. The word "Ireland" does not indicate either North Ireland or South Ireland. It does not touch the question of the United Kingdom, but it emphasises the fact that His Majesty is King of Great Britain, King of Ireland, King of the Dominions beyond the Seas, and Emperor of India. That alteration was concurred in unanimously at the Imperial Conference, and I have the authority of His Majesty to state in this House that he will in due course, by Royal Proclamation, make that change in the Royal Title, and I am sure it will be in accordance with the view of this House also. Then follows the question of the title of Parliament. It is clear that it is a misnomer to continue to talk of "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland." Quite obviously, since Southern Ireland has been granted Dominion Home Rule, there is no such thing as "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland," but there is still "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." Consequently, after full consultation and interviews with the representatives of Northern Ireland, with the Government of Northern Ireland, it has been decided to ask the House to alter the title of Parliament- and to make it "The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." That, I think, brings it into consonance with the fact. The Bill is a very short one. Perhaps hon. Members may think it an unimportant Bill, but, after all, it is a Bill which brings these titles into consonance with reality. I think the whale House will agree, first, to support the act of the Imperial Conference in asking His Majesty to declare an alteration in the title of the Sovereign, and, secondly, in asking the House itself to declare an alteration in the title of Parliament by bringing the title of Parliament into consonance with what is now the fact.


I rise to intervene with only one sentence to say that we heartily concur in the proposed change in the title which has been discussed and accepted by the Imperial Conference. As the Home Secretary has truly said, it is an alteration which brings descriptions and titles into accord with facts. Therefore we concur in the Bill, the Second Reading of which has just been moved.


I desire to say just a few words with regard to this Bill. The Home Secretary has explained the causes which have given rise to its introduction. When one comes to think of it, the extraordinary thing really is that it is now five years since the change took place which necessitates the change in the title, and that during those five years nothing has been done until to-day. It is a remarkable commentary upon the elasticity of our Constitution that for five years now Parliament should have continued, and His Majesty the King should have continued, under a title which was not strictly accurate. The fact that the proposal to change the King's title was made at an Imperial Conference is also, think, a remarkable commentary upon the development of the Empire, because on previous occasions when the King's title has been changed it has been done, so far, as I know, entirely at the instigation of the Government at home. With regard to the change in His Majesty's title, it has been agreed upon in the Imperial Conference, and I intend to say very little about it. After all, we now see, in the very Bill which is before us, that there is still a United Kingdom, and one would have hoped that the term "United Kingdom" would have been maintained in His Majesty's title. However, regarding the deliberations of the Imperial Conference, one, of course, has nothing to say, and consequently I leave it at that, with an expression of regret that it has been found necessary to alter the title.

I have a little more to say with regard to the other part of the Bill which alters the title of Parliament. That admittedly is purely a matter of our own domestic concern, and it has nothing whatever to do with the other Dominions what we call our own Parliament here. The Home Secretary introduced his Bill in a very few words. The Leader of the Opposition spoke even fewer, and yet I think the House will agree with me when I say that this really is rather an historic occasion. The previous times when the title of Parliament has been changed have been, se far as I can ascertain, only two in number. In the year 1707, that is 220 years ago, when the Union between England and Scotland took place, the third Article of the Articles of Union with Scotland was as follows: That the United Kingdom of Great Britain he represented by one and the same Parliament and be styled the Parliament of Great Britain. That was 220 years ago. There was no change after that until the year 1800, when the Union with Ireland took place. That is 127 years ago, and the third Article of the Articles of Union between Great Britain and Ireland was as follows: The said United Kingdom be represented in one and the same Parliament and be styled the 'Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland'. That is the -style and title of Parliament which has continued up to this day, namely, for 127 years. Therefore, I say that we are dealing with what is really rather an historic matter—the change in the title of this Parliament. I am glad, very glad, that although the term "United Kingdom" has been omitted from His Majesty's title, it is nevertheless to he retained in the title of Parliament. After all, not only we ourselves, but our fathers, indeed our grandfathers, have lived and grown up under the knowledge of the term "United Kingdom." It has been the pivotal centre of the growth of the Empire during the last 100 years, and I am extremely glad now, when it becomes necessary to alter the title of Parliament, that it is at any rate going to continue to be a "Parliament of the United Kingdom."

There is another matter of great sentimental interest which is affected by this Bill—at least so I regard it—and that is the question of the flag. The Union Jack is a symbol which represents the British Empire. That flag attained its present form after the Union of Great Britain and Ireland in the year 1800, when, as everybody knows, the cross of Saint Patrick was added to the National Flag, in addition to the cross of St. George and St. Andrew; and I think I am right in saying that, apart from the retention of the term, "United Kingdom," and apart from the retention in this Parliament of Members from a part of Ireland, the Union Jack would have had to be changed, and the cross of St. Patrick in it would have had to disappear. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because there would have been no Legislative Union, and it is because there is still a Legislative Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland that it is possible properly to continue the Union Jack in the form in which we have always known it.

There is one other small point to which I should like to call the attention of the Home Secretary. During and after the discussion in the Imperial Conference, I noticed that it became the custom to talk about "His Majesty's Government in Great Britain," as opposed to "His Majesty's Government in the Dominion of Canada" or "in the Dominion of Australia." Surely now, after this Bill is passed, the proper term will not be "His Majesty's Government of Great Britain," but "His Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom," just as it used to be, and I hope in the future in official documents the term representing the Government of the United Kingdom will be "His Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom."

The causes which have given rise to this change are, as the Home Secretary has stated, the departure from this House of representatives from the Southern portion of Ireland. Those of us who have sat here for a good many years will remember the dramatic and often heated discussions and Debates which took place in this House when those Members were here, and I think many of us regret the necessary change in the type of our Debates which has taken place since they left. But they were here always under protest. They never really joined in the work of this great assembly. They were here always with the one desire to get away, and one always felt that they were never really taking their full part—though they took more than their part in the Debates—as Members of the House, and they took no part in the government of the United Kingdom, which they had opportunities of taking many times during the century during which they were here. They have gone, and it has become thereby necessary to change the title of Parliament. We who are Members of this great assembly, the greatest deliberative and legislative assembly in the world—and to be Members of it is the greatest honour to which we can possibly attain—we who venerate this great Parliament and honour it from the bottom of our hearts are glad to retain our membership of the Imperial Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership of the Parliament of the United Kingdom is a, priceless asset, an immensely important privilege, which I cannot understand anybody desiring to give up once they have got it. Is it possible to express, shall I say the hope, that there may come a time in the future, probably in the far distant future and no doubt not in the lifetime of anybody here to-day, when it will be once again possible to restore the title of Parliament which we are burying by this Bill to-day and to call it once again the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland? If that ever happens it will have to happen, of course, in circumstances quite different from those which were in existence before the constitutional change of five years ago.


The right hon. Gentleman is leading us into a very dangerous path if he is going to give a review of the legislation of the last five or seven years. I think we must be careful riot to go upon those lines when we are dealing merely with the consequences of what has been done during the last five years.


If I was outside the bounds of order I apologise. The suggestion I was making, and which I thought would be in order, was that the time might come when the name of Parliament might be restored to the name which we are now doing away with by this present Bill.


The reason I rose was that the right hon. Gentleman was expressing hopes, and I might have had other Members expressing other opinions on that hypothesis. This would mean the renewal of a very old debate, which I thought we had done with.


The last thing I desire to do is to go outside the bounds of order, and I think the House will bear me out that I was only going the least bit on to the verge of it. But having got so far, perhaps you will allow me, in order to complete my argument, to finish in the way I intended to finish and thus show that I intended nothing controversial. I was going to say that if such thing ever did take place it could only take place in circumstances quite different from those which existed before and it could only take place by the spontaneous wish and at the unfettered request of the representatives of that part of Ireland which is not now represented here. I do not of course say that they would request to be represented in the way in which they were formerly represented; but while still maintaining their separate Legislature for local matters, if they desired it, and I think it is within the bounds of possibility that they might desire it in the course of the next century or so, they might ask to send representatives here for certain purposes just as Northern Ireland does. If that ever happened, there would once again be a Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.


think all of those with whom I sit will associate themselves with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in introducing the Bill. From what he said the Bill is really a matter of form and, in his own words, it is intended to bring the Royal title and the style and title of Parliament into consonance with reality. I only intervene because I have same doubt as to whether the Bill will do so. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken and whose argument in the later stages of his speech I am not going to follow, referred to this as a historic occasion. If that be so, it should be our care to ensure historical accuracy. I suggest that the only possible criticism of this Bill—which is merely a matter of form—would be on the ground that it does not carry out what it purports to do. I find when the Act of Union was passed, and when there was for the first time what the Home Secretary has called the constitutional entity of Great Britain and Ireland, the title of Parliament was prescribed by Article 3, but the Parliament in which that Act was passed was known as the Eighteenth Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain. After the passing of the Act of Union they did not call the next Parliament the Nineteenth Parliament, but the First Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

I raise the point now because if there is anything in the argument the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will desire to consider it before the next stage of the Bill. In the second Clause of this Bill it is laid down that the present Parliament is to be known as the Thirty-fourth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If this be the Thirty-fourth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, then there should have been 33 similar Parliaments before it. As a matter of fact there have not been such Parliaments. I suppose the Thirty-fourth Parliament means the 34th since the Act of Union, but as a matter of fact this is only the Third Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and if we wish to be accurate we must call it the Third Parliament. There was, I believe, before 1921 no constitutional entity known as Northern Ireland, and although it is true that this Parliament, previous to that date and for 100 years before, had governed the territory which is now known as Northern Ireland, we are not here concerned with the territories governed by Parliament, but only with the exact title or titles of the constitutional entities which were or are comprised in the territory governed by this Parliament. I therefore throw out fibs suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman might consider with the Law Officers, between now and the Committee stage, whether the term "Thirty-fourth Parliament" ought not to be altered to "Third Parliament."


My right hon. Friend the. Home Secretary described this Bill as small, hut not unimportant. I heartily agree that it is not unimportant. Indeed, I desire to associate myself with everything which was in order said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Antrim (Mr. O'Neill). He described this, I think with perfect accuracy, as an historic occasion, and there will be general assent to that proposition. Speaking as one who has been, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, rather closely associated with that portion of Ireland which is still, happily, included in the United Kingdom, and also as one among those who are most jealously proud of the history and traditions of this House, I should like to say one or two words which arise from rather mingled feelings in regard to this Bill. First of all, it is to me a matter of real satisfaction, and I will add of very considerable relief, that Northern Ireland is not to be separated, even in name—nothing could divide it in fact—from the rest of the United Kingdom. But there mingles with this feeling of satisfaction another which is closely akin to pain and regret. It seems to have escaped the notice of those who have preceded me in this Debate that for the first time in the long history of this House and of Parliament we are being asked to take a step which formally diminishes and constricts the jurisdiction of this House.

For 600 years Parliament has moved steadily in one direction—in the direction of inclusion, of expansion, of comprehension. The history of this Parliament, as all hon. Members are aware, began with the representation of England in the narrowest sense, and indeed not of the whole of England. The first step towards a widening of jurisdiction and of representation came with the inclusion of the Palatine counties and of Wales. The next step, as hon. Members are even better aware, was taken at the beginning of the 18th century when, as the House has been already reminded, the personal union between the Monarchs of England and Scotland gave place to complete legislative union between the two countries. Of course it is known to every Member of this House that in the administrative sense and the judicial sense the Northern kingdom retained, and still retains, a certain measure of independence but from that time onwards the legislative union was complete. Again, the House has been reminded that 100 years later the comprehension of Scotland—in so far as we can comprehend anything which is so philosophical in character—was followed by the comprehension of Ireland and by the legislative union with Ireland. I have been warned by your ruling, Sir, and I think even if I had not been warned by your ruling, I should not have attempted on this occasion to rake up memories which are not wholly pleasant by any attempt to analyse the reasons why one of these unions was so signally successful while the other was a palpable failure. I have always thought that this country, meaning it in the narrowest sense—that this English Parliament as it still was at the time—missed one of the greatest opportunities in its long history when at the time of the Union with Scotland at the beginning of the 18th century it actually rejected a petition from Ireland for union with that country as well. Thus was a great opportunity missed and never recovered and my own opinion, for what it is worth, has always been that even the union accomplished with Ireland a century later might have attained a very much larger measure of success if it had really fulfilled the whole scheme of William Pitt, that is to say, if it had been accompanied at the time by a complete measure of Catholic Emancipation. Had that been the case I believe that the Irish union would have had as good a chance of success as that with Scotland.

It may be said that all this is ancient history to-day. [HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear!"] I thought it would be so regarded, at any rate by some hon. Members opposite. May I suggest to them that though in a sense it is ancient history it is ancient history which has a very direct and immediate bearing on the events which we are considering this afternoon. I confess that it is with very considerable reluctance that I view the step which I am asked to take as a Member of this House this afternoon. It is a step which is distinctly reactionary in character, a step not towards inclusion and comprehension, but towards excision and contraction. I admit, of course—nobody can deny it—that this Bill is the logical, and indeed perhaps the inevitable, corollary of the Treaty of 1921, which I think you, Mr. Speaker, would not desire that we should discuss this afternoon, but leaving this part of the Bill, may I say a very brief word in regard to the other portion of the Bill, that which deals, not with the style of Parliament, but with the Royal style and titles.

I need not say that I approach this portion of the Bill with very respectful, if not wholly uncritical consideration. Indeed, I would apply to this portion of the Bill—supplemented, as the information contained in the Bill is, by the information which Was given us by the Home Secretary a too the intentions of His Majesty if this Bill should become law—very much the same sort of criticism that I would apply to the other part. It is perfectly true that the tradition of inclusion and comprehension is not so uniform in the case of the Royal titles as it is in the case of the title of Parliament, for, after all, the Kings of this Realm have abrogated in the past, at any rate, one portion of their power, that referring to the Crown of France. Although not quite so unbroken, still the tradition is very strong. I was looking up a few hours ago the two Acts which have been recently enacted by this House in regard to the Royal titles. I mean the Act of 1876, the Act of 39 Vict. chap. 10, which was, I ask the House to observe, according to its Title, An Act to enable Her Most Gracious Majesty to make an addition to the Royal Style and Titles appertaining to the Imperial Crown of the United Kingdom and its Dependencies, and similarly, the Act of the first year of King Edward VII, the Act of 1901, which was described as: An Act to enable His Most Gracious Majesty to make an addition to the Royal Style and Titles in recognition of His Majesty's Dominions beyond the Sea. Now, there is a very striking difference between the Titles of those two Acts and the Title of the Bill which we are asked to consider this afternoon. We are not now asked to provide for an addition to the Royal style and titles; we are asked to provide, quite accurately, for an alteration in the Royal style and titles. For the first time, as far as I know, in the history of this Parliament, we have been asked to make an alteration which is not an addition to the Royal style and titles.

There is just one other quite small point on which I wish to ask a question of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I observe that in Clause I of this Bill it is stated: It shall he lawful for His Most Gracious Majesty, by His Royal Proclamation under the Great Seal of the Realm. I want to ask my right hon. Friend whether that is an expression which has hitherto been known to constitutional law. I am not quite sure—I am asking purely for information—but if it is, what I want to know is this: Are you going to have a new Great Seal? Because the phrase, at any rate, strikes me as an unfamiliar one. When I turn back to the Acts to which I have been alluding, the Acts of 1876 and 1901, or, if not those Acts—I speak under the correction of learned lawyers—at any rate, the Acts of Union of 1707 and 1801, my recollection is that there the Great Seal is described as "the Great Seal of the United Kingdom." I presume that the Great Seal of the United Kingdom is still in use, and what I want to know from my right hon. Friend, when the Bill speaks of "the Great Seal of the Realm," is whether that is the Seal of the United Kingdom, or whether it is a new Seal, which, as a consequence of this Bill, it is proposed to bring into being. At any rate, I hope we shall have some information on a point which, I think, is of some little constitutional importance. It may be thought that the points which I have attempted to make are not of great substance or importance, that they belong rather to the realm of black-letter learning than to that of practical affairs. It may be so, but I agree with my right hon. Friend that this is an historic occasion, and I hope that, whether or not the House takes that view, it will forgive me for having detained it by a few words in the domain of historical sentiment, if not of unavailing regret.


I do not, of course, in any way qualify what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition with regard to our general approval of this Bill, but if I may follow up what the hon. Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) has just said, I would like to ask about the phrase "the Great Seal of the Realm." There may be such a term known to the constitution, but I have not met it before, and the word "Realm" is spelt with a capital letter and, therefore, I assume that there, is an existing Great Seal, which must be the Seal here referred to. I cannot accept the possible explanation of the hon. Member for York that this Seal can refer to a Seal hereafter to be made. The Bill treats the Seal as already in existence, and, therefore, it must be the existing Seal with which we are dealing. It would be unfortunate if there was any slip-shod description in this Bill in its final form, and if we were to refer to "the Great Seal of the Realm" when there was no such thing.

The only other point I wish to make is this, and I wish here rather to support the framers of the Bill as against the hon. and gallant Member for West Walthamstow (Major Crawfurd), who raised the question that this could not properly be described as the Thirty-fourth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, because, as I understood has argument, the previous 30 Parliaments have been the Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland and that, therefore, this must be the Third Parliament of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I think he forgets this fact, that Northern Ireland is itself a part of Ireland, that it is not a separate entity, and that, therefore, those previous Parliaments were Parliaments which covered the area of Northern Ireland. Therefore, I think that, even from the most pedantic point of view, one may approve of the words here inserted. Perhaps the Home Secretary will tell us about the Great Seal of the Realm, and, if the word "Realm" is not appropriate, insert in Committee a reference to the actual technical title which the Great Seal now bears.


The criticism raised by the hon. and gallant Member for West Walthamstow (Major Crawfurd) seemed to me to be one of considerable importance to Great Britain and of the very greatest importance to Northern Ireland. The object of this Bill is to make the title of the King and the title of this Parliament in accordance with the actual facts of the case as they are to-day, which are different from what they were in 1800, because a large part of Ireland, some 26 counties, has gone out of the Union and has been established as a self-governing Dominion with the status of the Dominion of Canada. The title of Great Britain and Ireland, therefore, was a misnomer, and it was obviously right and proper that the title should be brought into accordance with the facts. Therefore, the title of the King is to be changed in accordance with the recommendation of the Imperial Conference, and the title of this Parliament is to be changed from that of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to that of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Our point of view in Ulster has always been that we wanted to remain in the Union. We did not want our constitution changed at all, and we were only willing to accept the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, on the terms that we remained in the Union. That is, we understand, to be the position. The Union, so far as Northern Ireland is concerned, has never been dissolved. Therefore, for us as for Great Britain this is the Thirty-fourth Parliament of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and that is the title that it ought to have, and I trust that the Home Secretary will stand by the drafting of the Bill. I can only say it would be a bitter misfortune to the people of Ulster if they thought that there was to be any indication in this Bill that they had lost in any way at all their right to share in the United Kingdom.


With the permission of the House, I will answer one or two questions which have been put to me. The first point is in reference to this being the Thirty-fourth Parliament of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and, if I may say so, I think that was very accurately answered by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Londonderry (Sir M. Macnaghten) and by the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser). It is a fact that it is the Thirty-fourth Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and that portion of Ireland which still remains a portion of the United Kingdom. The hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds and my hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) raised a very interesting question in regard to the Great Seal. I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for York will forgive me if I do not follow him into his historical disquisition, which was so interesting, in regard to the various stages of the title of Parliament. I apologise to the House, and perhaps I ought to have made a longer speech than I did in moving t lie Second Reading of the Bill, but I am a man of few words, and of action as far as possible. With regard to the question of the Great Seal, we are met with the difficulty that I do not want to refer to the Seal by any title which would be inconsistent with the new title of the King. The hon. and learned Member realises that the Great Seal of the King or of the Realm is used sometimes for documents which are not confined to the United Kingdom. Just as the King is King of Great Britain and of the Dominions beyond the seas, and so forth, so there is only one Great Seal, and it may be utilised for documents connected with countries outside the United Kingdom itself. I, therefore, had to cast about for an expression which would not be slipshod, as the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds seemed rather to suggest, and I was rather pleased to find that the expression "the Great Seal of the Realm" is used in the Statutes for the Order of the Bath. It appears there for the first time as the Great Seal of the Realm, and I find also that the word "Realm" is constituted an alternative expression for the "Dominions of the Crown." It goes back as far as the reign of Henry VIII. The Act 24th year of Henry VIII, Chapter 12, says: This Realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and king, having the dignity and royal estate of the Imperial Crown of the same. Perhaps those are rather archaic words at the present time, but they show that as long ago as that "Realm" was a comprehensive term for the Dominions of the Crown; and as the Great Seal may be utilised for documents or proclamation connected with the whole Dominions of the Crown and is, as it were, a mere appanage of the Crown—of course it is not the appanage of Parliament at all, it is purely the appanage of the Crown—I and my advisers thought it would be well to go back to that rather fine old term "The Realm," and that Parliament would be rather pleased to be associated with this alteration in the style and title of his Majesty the. King and the style of Parliament through the utilisation of the old words "The Seal of the Realm."


Is not the usual style simply "A proclamation under the Great Seal"? It stops there. Does not that cover the whole Empire, and is not that the ordinary usage?


I think the hon. and learned Member will find that in many Acts the Seal is referred to as "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom."


Not often.


It is in very many. Having regard to the change in designation which has been made, in consequence, as I said in my former speech, of the Imperial Conference, "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom" is not the correct expression to use at the present time, any more than it would be correct to continue to use "United Kingdom" in connection with the Crown. I need hardly say that it is not a matter of vital importance, but if the hon. and learned Member opposite and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York convince me that "The Great Seal of the Realm" is not the correct expression to be used, that can be remedied in Committee. I suggest to the House that "The Great Seal of the Realm" is a fine term, a term which, though not exactly a term of art, is an historical term and one which might very well be enacted by Parliament to represent the Seal of His Majesty the King.


Would the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to satisfy some of us on another point? Will the physical Great Seal require to be changed in consequence of this? The right hon. Gentleman, when he was referring to the interesting precedent which he quoted from a famous Statute of Henry VIII, was referring to a time before there was a United Kingdom. But what I want to know is whether there will be any necessary change in the physical Seal?


Yes, Sir. As soon as this Bill is passed, arrangements will be made for a new Seal, the Great Seal of the Realm, and the first occasion probably on which it will be used will be for the Royal Proclamation by His Majesty the King proclaiming the new Royal title.


Will the right hon. Gentleman explain the term "Realm"?


With very great humility, I thought I had already been explaining it. It is difficult to explain.


Does the right hon. Gentleman know Lord Coke's definition of the word "Realm"? The Northern Islands are not in the Realm. The point is a very small one, but it is deserving of notice.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time," put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second Time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.—[Sir W. Joynson-Hicks.]