HC Deb 07 May 1936 vol 311 cc1992-2015

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]

9.41 p.m.


I beg to move, to leave out from "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: 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. This point was dealt with at suitable length by my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) upon the Financial Resolution. I wish to re-state the reasons which caused my colleague and I to put down the Amendment in Committee to this effect, and to carry it to a Division.

This matter has been debated before in this House many times. It was discussed at length in 1901 and in 1910. Our point of view is that the revenues from the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall should be treated on the same lines as the other hereditary revenues of the Crown. We ask that they should be surrounded in exchange for a fixed annual sum of money. We recognise what His Majesty has done with regard to handing over the Duchy of Cornwall revenues, and it is no part of our case that the Duchies have been administered badly. On the contrary, they have been administered well and generously. The administration of the Duchy Estate would compare well with the administration of any other estate in the country, and very, very favourably with the administration of Crown lands under Treasury control.

I have had personal experience of the administration of these Duchies. I was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and I know well the principle of their administration. We all know the work that has been done in regard to the Duchy of Cornwall. It has been suggested that if the Duchies were assimilated to Crown lands the administration must be conducted on the somewhat severe principles which apply to Crown lands but, of course, there is the alternative that the administration of Crown lands might be reformed. We recognise fully that they are well administered, and we also recognise the personal interest that has been taken in both these Duchies by the late King and by his present Majesty when he was Duke of Cornwall. We recognise fully that there is in the administration of the Duchy of Cornwall a valuable training ground in affairs for the Heir to the Throne.

We quite recognise those points that can be put forward for the retention of the Duchies as they are at present, but we think that there is a matter of principle on the other side. The first point is that these great Duchies are historic survivals and that they cannot be considered in any way to be private estates. They have come down as being attached to the holders of certain positions, to the reigning King and to the Heir to the Throne. They have not passed by the ordinary laws applicable to other property. If they had, they would have departed from the Royal Family on the change of dynasty, and I imagine the Duchy of Cornwall would have gone with James Edward, the Old Pretender. As a matter of fact, these Duchies, whatever their origin—and the Duchy of Lancaster, I think, did really originate in the House of Lancaster, and I think it only retained its separate position from other Crown lands owing to the fact that the House of Lancaster had a very shaky title, and they thought they might keep both Crown and lands by keeping them separate. Whatever may have happened in the past, they have now descended with the Crown and have in fact become attached to the positions of King and Prince of Wales. Therefore, we think they should be assimilated to the position of the other Crown lands.

The next point is this, that they have a fluctuating revenue. I think it is worth while to enlarge upon that point, because the general principle observed with regard to hereditary revenues is that they should be surrendered in return for fixed sums laid down by Parliament. Now you have here a fluctuating revenue. Look at the figures for the last 25 years, and you see that the returns from Crown lands have varied from £459,000 up to 11,267,000. The small branches of revenue have varied from £17,000 to £108,000. Those are the revenues which are surrendered in exchange for a definite fixed payment. On the other hand, in regard to the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, the amounts there are returned at a fluctuating amount dependent on what comes from them. They have varied in the case of Lancaster in the last 25 years from £49,000 to £85,000 and in the case of Cornwall from £25,000 to £83,000. I consider that it is of the essence of the provision for the Civil List that the amount should be certain. No one can judge at the present moment what are likely to be the future revenues of these Duchies. They may increase or they may go down. I think there will probably be a tendency on the whole for them to increase, but I think it is undesirable that there should be either great decreases or great increases, because the whole point of the Civil List is that it is fixed by Parliament at a definite amount. So we would like to see these exchanged for a definite fixed sum.

There is a further point, and one of no little importance, and that is that the Sovereign should be above ordinary political controversies, but as long as his revenue is derived from grants by Parliament, there can be no controversy with regard to the sources of the revenue, except what is common to all our fiscal arrangements. But you have in the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall revenues derived from all kinds of property, and some of that property may of its nature come to be a matter of controversy. You may have, for instance, a severe conflict in this country with regard to mining royalties, you may have attacks made on mining royalties, you may have considerations as between mining royalties and miners' wages. It is extremely undesirable that the personal income of the Sovereign should be in any way derived from kinds of property that are liable to come into controversy. You may have exactly the same thing with land, and that, we think, is an additional reason why these Duchies should be assimilated to the Crown lands.

With regard to the Duchy of Cornwall, which is attached to the Heir to the Throne, no matter with regard to the personal interest of a Prince of Wales can arise for some time, but there is a possibility—and indeed it might happen if certain other steps are taken—of this property increasing so greatly in value that you will have an Heir to the Throne with a greater revenue than the Monarch. On the other hand, you may have it falling to a very low state. There again we think it is undesirable that these should be separate. Therefore, I move this Amendment, because we consider that the principle of the Civil List is that hereditary revenues should be surrendered in exchange for a definite sum of money decided by Parliament.

9.53 p.m.


The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has presented his case in an eminently fair and reasonable manner, but when he talks of the unification of mining royalties and of land legislation, I have been through a good many of these so-called disturbances, but they have never touched either of the Duchies. I am interested more especially in the Duchy of Cornwall, because it has large interests in the West of England. As a matter of fact, part of the Duchy is in my constituency, and rather than follow the Opposition in this thin end of the wedge of land nationalisation, I would prefer the interests of the tenants in the Duchies themselves. The right hon. Gentleman has said, quite frankly and fairly, that the Duchies are extremely well managed. If they are well managed, why change the management? It seems to me that my right hon. Friend has chosen very bad ground for this thin end of land nationalization. If he wants to nationalize the land, let him take a badly administered estate, not a well administered one, and in this case it is a well administered estate.

With regard to the Duchy of Cornwall, the Committee we had under examination the Receiver-General, who is an extremely able man, such a man as the Treasury cannot command, for they would not pay him salary enough. For something like 40 years I have been connected with public life in the west of England, and I have never received a single complaint about the management of the estates of the Duchy of Cornwall. That shows that they are well managed, because it is known to all Members of Parliament that when things go right they do not hear of them, but when things go wrong the Member of Parliament is the recipient of the complaints. The tenants are satisfied and happy, and they have generous treatment. During the time of the agricultural depression, the tenants of the Duchy of Cornwall were treated handsomely, and there is also in the management of the Duchy of Cornwall estates, as I can say from personal experience, a touch of progressive interest. There is the kindly touch, which you cannot get from the Treasury; the human element comes in. If any complaints are made to the managers of the estates, they are remedied at once. I happen to be the chairman of an agricultural college in Devonshire, and only recently the Duchy offered a scholarship for the son of one of their tenants at this agricultural college. I never knew the Treasury, or any Government Department, to offer any scholarship for anything.

My right hon. Friend said, quite rightly, that it is an excellent training for any monarch to manage such estates as those of the Duchy of Cornwall, and that the Monarch has managed them well is proved by the fact that there has not been so little complaint. When, as Prince of Wales, he came down, all the tenants turned out to welcome him. I suppose that under this Amendment the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) will probably be the controller, for, if there should be a Socialist Government he will probably be the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he came down to Devonshire or Cornwall, we would welcome him, but it would not be an enthusiastic welcome. The Treasury extracts the last drop of blood. The Leader of the Opposition says that we have had experience of Treasury management in the case of the Crown lands, the gross income of which went up from £644,000 in 1910 to £1,924,000 in 1935. But we all know that in Regent Street the rents were put up three or four times, to the ruin of many small shopkeepers. We have not had that in the Duchy of Cornwall, and, therefore, I do not want to make any change. My right hon. Friend says, "Yes, but change the administration of the Crown Lands." I would say, do that first, before you change the management of the Duchies. I know enough about the Treasury and about the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his officials. They have no bowels of compassion at all, and I certainly object to handing over the Duchy tenants to these soulless Shylocks.

I would ask the Opposition not to press this matter to a Division, because, if the Amendment were carried, it would put a large number of tenants, including some of my constituents, in the West of England, under the harrow of the Treasury. I do not want that, and they do not want it. If I may utter one last sentence on the subject of land nationalisation, I beseech hon. Gentlemen opposite to realise that they are flying in the face of human nature. It is human nature for everyone to wish to possess something that he can call his own. Therefore, I sincerely hope that the Opposition will not press this Amendment.

10.1 p.m.


As a new Member of the House, I rise with a considerable degree of diffidence to participate in this Debate, but I must confess that, after listening to the discussion on Tuesday night, my nervousness has been somewhat removed. A witty Member of the House once observed that the best way to make a speech was to make sure of the beginning, to make sure of the end, and to bring them close together. I can make sure of the beginning, to the extent that, as a Member of the Committee who had freedom to make any proposals or inquiries on that Committee, it is incumbent upon me to defend the attitude that we took in our delibera- tions. I hope the House will be a little patient as regards the hiatus between the beginning and the end, because, after all, the subject which we are discussing to-night is of some importance. It has considerable historical significance, and the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken must, I think, have lost sight of the views of some of his political predecessors.

There have been great parliamentarians and fervid Radicals in this House who have addressed themselves to the issues which are the subject-matter of the Report that we are considering to-night. The sovereignty of this House, and the foundations of democratic freedom in this country, were jealously regarded more than 100 years ago. Indeed, then and much later the cry of Republicanism was much louder in the land. Tradition and precedent have been invoked in support of the general proposals in regard to the Civil Lists, and, of course, with very good reason, but at the same time there are high parliamentary opinions and weighty words in line with the proposals which have been the special subject of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition to-night, and I think we should be concerned with those great precedents and arguments quite as much as with other parts of the Civil List recommendations.

There is indeed a very wide territory and an exciting field for historians in the story of the Duchies and the varying fortunes of the monarchs who have been associated with them in the past. In. this House 150 years ago the position of the Duchies was hotly debated, and no less an authority than Burke took precisely the position that the Labour party are adopting to-night. He was strongly of the opinion, for the reasons that have already been stated, not as a propagandist for land nationalisation but on the sound constitutional basis for which we are contending that this change should be made. Indeed, he went further in meeting some of the objections raised by the right hon. Gentleman when he said: If the Crown has any favourite name or title, if the subject has any matter of legal accommodation within any of these jurisdictions, it is meant to preserve them. We have no objection at all to any associations of a sentimental or traditional character being still associated with the Duchies. Considerable play was made of the importance of a breach or break of this character, and in reply to an argument of that kind Burke retorted: A fracture properly healed acquires strength superior to any other part of the bone. The Crown held no public property but as a trust for and under the people. The prerogatives of the Crown—the highest and most transcendent part of its power—were created, and ought of course to he exercised, for the benefit of the people who created and conferred them. It was particularly of the very essence of that House to inquire, to regulate and control, and whenever it waived, concealed or suspended that right when an occasion offered, then most clearly every object of their meeting and deliberating was at an end. I take it that that is what we are doing to-night, and to that extent the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last is departing from the traditions of the party with which he is associated. Unfortunately Burke's proposal was not adopted, but at the same time I think it can be said that there was no effective reply. It was a bold, convincing, reasoned argument for the change. At the same time there was a proposal, also advanced by Burke, to abolish the office of Master of the Buckhounds. That was also defeated, and that queer calling and perquisite has since disappeared along with many other decorative attachments. The release from a number of these decorations has strengthened, and not weakened the character and dignity of the Throne. There are other representative opinions in this connection. Lord Brougham, for instance, in 1850 laid it down as a principle that it was not in conformity with the genus of the constitution that the Sovereign of this country should have the means of acquiring wealth, but that it should be dependent upon Parliament. Again that is what we propose. Again, Sir William Harcourt observed in 1889: I absolutely deny that the hereditary estates of the Duchy of Cornwall or of Lancaster are in any sense personal estates of the Sovereign. They are trust estates held for the benefit of the public. It seems to me that all that was cogent and true in that connection is more so to-day. All the constitutional objections that were advanced then have been emphasised since. The largely increased value and the imminence of controversial legislation are all likely to involve the Crown in controversy and in political issues which may be hotly contested in the House. All that is sentimental and traditional about the Duchies in a nominal way can still be retained. The proposition that we are advancing as against the chief recommendations in the List is practical commonsense. We recognise, of course, that the proposals of the Sovereign are in a measure a move towards the end that we expect to effect in our proposal, and we suggest that it is most desirable as a constitutional change, and not as an effort in land nationalisation propaganda or any other party or propagandist end associated with this party.

Further, it is due to the House that one should say a word in regard to the other aspects of the recommendations. If there are any substantial criticism of the rest of the proposals in the Civil List I certainly think it ought to be advanced. If not it should be defended. It is one of the ancient rights and one of the evidences of the freedom of this country, the House and the Constitution that we have the opportunity, unfettered and free, to discuss the King's prerogative in many of its aspects: It may be the case that there is a Republican movement in this country, but it is difficult to ob serve precisely where it is. I suggest that in the main it disappeared some 50 years ago. Someone very aptly said: When Republicanism ceases to be a heresy it ceases to be a faith. Indeed, Bright, who was reputed to be a Republican, recorded in his diary in 1867: I am not a courtier, but I can respect an ancient monarchy and can admire and even reverence a monarch whom monarchy bas not spoiled. There are still Micawbers in our midst. Micawber may not have been an entirely praiseworthy person, always waiting for something to turn up, but there are on the other hand inverted Micawbers who are always waiting for something to turn down. There has been a definite change in the direction I have indicated, but I do not know that there is any particular reason why we should be unduly depressed about it. There are people who seem to thrive on melancholy and disaster, and I suspect that there may be people who come to this House as apostles of progress, who always seem depressed when any progress is made. Indeed I think it was George Bernard Shaw who once observed that some people think they are good only when they are uncomfortable, and in the same way some people are definitely nervous about any improvement for somewhat the same reason.

There have been certain references during the Debate to Monarchs of one kind or another, and there have been very strong words used at various times in this country about various sovereigns who have reigned in this country, and by way of contrast I would remind the House that the "Times" Obituary notice on George IV contained these observations: The truth is—and it speaks volumes about the man—that there was never au individual less regretted by his fellow creatures than this deceased King. If George the Fourth ever had a friend—a devoted friend in any rank of life—we protest that the name of him or her has not yet reached us. There has been a considerable change since, and Professor Laski some time after the death of the late Bing observed: Anyone who, compares this comment with the national sympathy in the illness of George the Fifth can hardly regard the change as other than a political miracle. If social change and important miracles occur, and they are riot too frequent, I have no reason to suppose that we should be unduly depressed about that. Again, Labouchere in this House opposed such a List as we are considering this evening, and, in regard to the principles of republicanism, he spoke in these terms: Radicals are essentially practical. They do not approve of fuss and feathers of Court. They admit, however, that the scheme of a Monarch who reigns but does not rule has its advantages in an Empire such as our own. Then he observes further, and as complaint has been made in regard to the provision for hypothetical persons and happenings in the future, I think that there is a reasonable and decent argument for that. He went on to say: Nothing has, conduced more to shake that decent respect for the living symbol of the State which goes by the name of Royalty than the ever recurring rattle of the Money Box. If people are not in favour bf our existing Constitution and if they favour the republican method, I think it -is much better that the arguments should be advanced on those lines than that the indignity and indelicacy of recurring de- bates and deliberations in this House should be avoided. A reference was made on Tuesday night to a well remembered, speech of Mr. Chamberlain—the predecessor of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who sits opposite to-night—when he was Mayor of Birmingham. He said in 1874, as he was known as a republican in those days: If a republican is one who would thrust aside the opinion and affront the sentiment of a huge majority of the nation merely to carry to a logical conclusion an abstract theory, then I am as far from being a republican as any man can be. I hold that Radicals and Liberals have quite enough to occupy their best energies without wasting their time in what seems to me a very remote speculation. At the same tune there may be an exaggerated loyalty as well as exaggerated republicanism. It seems to me that if we transpose the party titles that is our position in adopting the attitude we do generally to this List. As far as we are concerned in our opposition to the List that we are considering to-night, it represents a recognition and an appreciation of our constitutional system and does not imply by any means any form of servility but the preservation of a symbolic authority that has served us so well. I appreciate that there is a very real difficulty in some quarters quite naturally, of recognising the symbolic value associated with this authority, and for that reason, it invites many cheap, easy and irrelevant criticisms. I make bold to say that some things must remain firm if many things are to remain free. I need not develop that argument or give illustrations, but the sooner some democrats recognise that truth the safer it will be for democracy in this country and other countries. As far as we are concerned the grant that we are making to-night represents provision for what is our national form of constitutional authority, with its own special national manifestations. We have municipal authority that is typified by its own special form of manifestation. and is capable of much of the same kind of criticism that has been levelled against the general proposals in this Civil List. I think it was Shakespeare who said that: Like the baseless fabric of a vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,… shall dissolve, And… leave not a rack behind. We are not concerned with the preservation of palaces as such. We are certainly not likely to be mesmerised with the glamour of the Court, or to seek to get within the walls that were referred to by one hon. Member the other night, much less to scrounge about the gates for admission. In supporting the major principle of these proposals it simply means financial recognition for the equipment not essentially individual but expressing in a permanent and authentic form the constitutional means by which we function, as free men, instead of changing to an insecure constitutional process, with all the dissipation of the political energy. We enjoy the framework of constitutional freedom which gives as ample place for the vigorous activities of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) as it does for Noble Lords on the other side who are not less provocative in their own particular way. Somebody has summoned up the position in these very pertinent words: A republic differs from a constitutional monarchy only in form. A constitutional monarchy differs from a republic in substance. A namesake of one hon. Member who spoke from these benches, in a very admirable criticism made of the times of Queen Victoria, used these words: The dominant issue in politics is the issue between Capitalism and Socialism. The difference between a monarchical capitalist democracy and a republican capitalist democracy is normally immaterial. I understand that the late Mr. John Wheatley, who represented a constituency now represented by one of our hon. Friends below the Gangway, made some such observation to the late King in conversation with him on that particular issue.

In conclusion, I suggest that our general support of the provisions of the Civil List, subject to the Amendment that has been moved to-night, is not incompatible with the movement that is advocated from these benches, and we have a. right to resent some of the suggestions that we are indifferent to or are letting down any of the humble folk we represent. Republicanism is not synonymous either with freedom, peace or Socialism. With regard to toadyism, you can have it in any country, in any strata of society, and you can have it in any political party. If words, like patriotism and loyalty, carry false and unworthy values, then so much the worse for the people who use them. On the other hand, there is no reason why they should not be invested with real and deep human values, and we should engage in a ceaseless struggle towards the attainment of a, life and society which will make them carry these values in the interests of the whole people of this country. I conceive it to be the purpose of our political contests to develop and extend that work, and I consider the general part of the Bill which we are passing is not prejudicial to that end.

10.26 p.m.


I should not intervene but for a remark of the right hon. Member for South Molten (Mr. G. Lambert). In my constituency I have a considerable proportion of property which belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall. I have no complaint as to the management of that area, it is a, working-class area, and, frankly, on the whole it has been well administered. But I want to put this point. The fact that nominally the Prince of Wales has been in control of that property has brought the Prince of Wales more than once into local political controversy, and that I suggest is undesirable. On many occasions tenants of the Duchy of Cornwall have come to me when they have considered that something has been wrong in their house or with their tenancy, or about some grievance which has not been rectified. It may be that they cannot get some repairs done, or that they have been given notice to quit unjustifiably and feel that they have a serious grievance against the Royal Family, or the Prince of Wales. It maybe quite unjustified, and really one of the most unfair things about it is that the Prince of Wales who has been attacked is debarred from answering. The position is unsatisfactory.

But there is more than that. There have been in my constituency plots of land which many people consider should have been built upon, that working-class houses should have been built. I am talking of some years ago. These plots were vacant for a long time and there was a raging local controversy as to why the Prince of Wales would not build houses on this land. His name was bandied about at political meetings, at which considerable heat was engendered, as to whether the Prince of Wales was carrying out his duties properly. I know, and others realise, that probably the influence of the Prince of Wales in this matter was exactly nil, but, nevertheless, he became the subject of a very strong political controversy, and I maintain that in any part of the country where there is land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall or the Duchy of Lancaster at any moment the administration of this land might become the subject of controversy and inevitably the Royal Family will be dragged into it. It is most unfair because the Royal Family cannot answer, and I think hon. Members will agree that it is undesirable to drag in the Royal Family into a public controversy, and particularly a political controversy. It is wrong that the subject should have a grievance, true or imaginary, against the Royal Family, which the latter cannot answer. I hope the House will support the Amendment.

10.30 p.m.


I will keep the House only a. few minutes, because we on these benches occupied a considerable amount of time the other evening on this matter. The first observation I would like to make it that there seems to me to be almost a mystery about the Rules of the House these days. In Committee we were definitely ruled from discussing this matter, because we were told it was not right to do so, but to night we are discussing it with complete freedom and abandon. We intend to support this Amendment to-night. As every hon. Member knows, those who are opposed to a Bill usually join in supporting any Amendment which has as its object the rejection of the Bill. Consequently, we intend to support this Amendment because it rejects the Bill, to which we are opposed.

I would like now to say a few words regarding the question whether the King ought to own this particular land or not. When I first came to Parliament, I lived for some years in the district represented by the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss). Some people there said that the Prince of Wales was a very good landlord, but there was a great deal of conflict about it. It all depended upon where you lived, what kind of rent you paid and how you got out of it when you did not pay the rent. That was the test as to whether he was a good landlord. May I say that I did not think some of the property altogether good; indeed, I thought some of it was shocking, particularly from the point of view of lavatories, bathing facilities and the provision of a decent water supply. I thought the position was indefensible. I considered that it was wrong for anybody to live in some of the places.

In my opinion we cannot stop the King from being a human being, and I am afraid that as long as he is a human being with such an income he is bound to become the subject of controversy. I do not believe he can use that income, and he must have a surplus. If he has a surplus he must do something with it; that is to say, he must invest it. As soon as he does that he enters into the capitalist framework of society, and it is impossible to keep him outside, no matter how much you would like to do so. I would like to say to the hon. Member who criticised the Treasury that the Treasury is a very mixed thing. The Treasury, through the Commissioners for Crown Lands, owns property, and I must confess that the great difficulty is to get into the houses, because the Treasury is looked upon as a first-class landlord. Taking the Treasury as an employer of labour, my experience —and I do not think there is an hon. Member on this side of the House who would say I am incorrect in stating this—is that the ambition of every working man is to be employed by the Treasury or the State. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] To a great extent it is. It may be that the people in my division are different, but I know that there they would tumble over one another to become employés of the State. I would say that in the main the State is better than the average employer throughout the country.

On the general issue our attitude remains unchanged. The point under discussion to-night is whether the King should be allowed to have an income which might go up or which might go down, or whether he should be given a fixed income. Hon. Members of the Labour party have moved that the King should get £80,000 per annum instead of having the income from the Crown lands or from his own lands. In addition, they moved that in the cases of other persons there should be incomes of £30,000 a year and £10,000 a year. I speak from memory, but I think those figures are correct. The issue is: Are you going to hand over a, fixed income, in which case the person who receives it becomes part of an exploiting system, or is he to become part of that system by being made a landlord? It does not seem to be an issue of great material importance.

The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Simpson) talked about republicans. The greatest man whom the Labour party ever produced, the man who bad more to do, possibly, than anybody else, with building up the Labour party, made part of his reputation in the republican movement. One of the first things which made Keir Hardie an outstanding figure in this House was his attack on a Civil List, and I think his contribution to politics was no less beneficial to the working-class movement than that of any Labour leader of to-day. Most Labour Members have a great respect for Russia. Russia is a republic. Russia has thrown over monarchy and nobody in Russia would dream of asking to go back to a monarchy, even of the so-called democratic kind which we have. Provided people are intelligent they can run their system without kings or rulers. They can do it by their own capacity through their own elective institutions.

We oppose this for two reasons. First, we think that the monarchy is not necessary in a civilised community. We do not think it is required in the organisation of our system. Secondly, we take the view of the early Labour movement and the view of the Labour movement to-day on almost every other subject but this, namely, that it is wrong that wealth in large quantities should be handed out to one man while there is the social disease of terrible poverty in our land. We say that it is indefensible and morally wrong to hand sums 'like £80,000 or £100,000 to one man, with only one man's human needs, while, on the other hand, you have living on a starvation level and housed under shocking conditions another man who has the same human desires as any king, a man who likes his children, who has, it may be, fought for the community. I remember when it was proposed that Sir Ernest Gower should receive £7,090 per annum, even the Tories, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) hotly disputed the proposal as being excessive, particularly in view of the fact that the nation could not afford to pay other decent people adequate incomes. I say we are doing wrong to-night in handing out vast sums to people who, in my view, are neither better nor worse than the average, who are just ordinary decent folk. To hand out to them lavish sums of this kind is bound to have a bad effect on the recipients as well as on the givers.

A person who is given an income of this kind is given a power over his fellow human beings that is neither good for him nor good for the rest of his fellow men. This proposal is one that I cannot defend. The Government are possibly doing one of the few popular things to-night that they will ever do. They have done nothing but unpopular things since they came into office, and when they have tried to do the popular thing they have done it in the most stupid and unpopular way. To-night they may be doing a popular thing. I do not deny that they are putting forward what represents the view of the mass of the people of this country. But I was not sent here to represent simply the great mass. I was sent here to represent a division because I do not accept the views of the great mass. As long as I am here I shall claim that the giving out of this sum of money is shockingly wrong, particularly when, in the next few weeks, the Government will discuss how little they can give to the unemployed, not how much. They will discuss counting in pennies and halfpennies the incomes of the poor. We will support the reasoned Amendment in the same way as we shall support every other political move against the Civil List because we believe that, if the Amendment were carried, it would be one vote against what we regard as a shocking wrong.

10.43 p.m.


If this Amendment had to be moved, I freely recognise that it could hardly have been moved in terms less likely to give offence than those which were used by the Leader of the Opposition. He made an acknowledgment of the generous spirit in which His Majesty has approached the subject of the new Civil List. He did not suggest that there was any fault to be found in the administration of the Duchies, but, on the contrary, he paid a well-deserved tribute to the general satisfaction which had been found to exist in connection with that administration. He admitted that His Majesty, as well as his late father, had taken a personal interest in the Duchies which had been of general benefit to them; and he further and finally agreed that on the evidence the Committee had before it the association of the Prince of Wales with the administration of the Duchy of Cornwall was a form of training which was especially valuable for one who would hereafter fill the exalted position of King in this country.

I regret that, in spite of all that, the right hon. Gentleman felt it necessary as a matter of principle to ask the House to divide on this Amendment, because I cannot help feeling that, if the House were to pass the Amendment, it would be viewed by the great majority of people in the country as an extremely regrettable incident. I do not believe for a moment that the Amendment represents any body of opinion in the country generally. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Simpson), in his interesting and well-informed speech, quoted words which my father used on an occasion many years ago in reference to republicanism, when he said that he was not prepared to affront the general sentiment of the people for the sake of a pure theory. These words are exactly applicable to the Amendment. To justify this Amendment something more than abstract principles is required. We must be told either that there is some grave defect in the system as it exists, or that there is some great advantage to be derived from the change.

I submit that the right hon. Gentleman did not advance anything which would justify either of those arguments. What did he allege in order to support his Amendment and the principle for which he was contending? In the first place, that the existence of these Duchies in their present form is a historic survival. I agree, and this country is full of historic survivals. It is in that respect the envy of many newer countries which would like to be able to enjoy the continuity of policy and stability which is in part derived from those historic survivals. I will not enter into any argument with the right hon. Gentleman on his contention that these Duchies are entirely different from private properties. I will, however, say that they are also entirely different from the Crown lands, and that if they are not exactly the same as private property in the ordinary sense their description approaches more closely that of private property than of Crown lands.

Then my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) said that the change was wanted neither by the tenants of the Duchy nor by anybody else. I can assure him that he can include in that category the Treasury, who also do not want to have the administration of these estates, in order that they may be termed by my right hon. Friend "soulless Shylocks." Another argument advanced by the right hon. Gentleman was that it was undesirable that His Majesty or the Prince of Wales, as the case may be, should be in receipt of a revenue which fluctuates. He went on to say that in his view the fluctuation was more likely to be upwards than downwards. That, perhaps, might give rise to a feeling if this Amendment were carried that the real motive at the bottom of it was to secure an unearned increment. But I give the right hon. Gentleman the credit for the view that he was not seeking to make a profit out of this transaction, but that his argument was the genuine one that it was undesirable that the Sovereign should be in receipt of a revenue which fluctuates. I confess that I do not share that view. The fluctuations in the revenue of these properties, if they occur, are likely to occur in connection with some general movement throughout the country, and to my mind it is rather an advantage than a disadvantage that the Sovereign should feel himself, in his own person, some of the effects which are present to the minds of so many of his subjects. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Some hon. Members may sneer at that sentiment, but to me it is a perfectly genuine conviction. It is not good to try to isolate the Sovereign completely from the feelings, fluctuations and fortunes of his subjects, but it is well that he should be brought as closely as possible into contact with them.

We were told also that there was a possibility that the Sovereign might be brought into political controversy, because a part of his revenues was derived from property which might become the sub- ject of controversy of that character. Have mining royalties and the taxation of land never been the subject of controversy during the late King's reign, during the last 25 years I Surely we are all aware that these controversies have raged as bitterly in the past as they are likely to rage in the future, yet I cannot recollect that the Sovereign has been brought into these controversies, which have been carried on entirely apart from his person and from any advantage which might accrue to his position. I would put it to the House that no case has been made which would justify them in trying to make a change for which there really is no practicable object, but which is founded entirely on a theoretical principle which has no value or substance in fact; and seeing that we are not now in the reign of George IV, to which allusion has been made, but in the reign of King Edward VIII, whose relations with his subjects are entirely different from those of his predecessor to whom the hon. Gentleman referred, I feel that it would be in accord with the sentiment of the people of this country that we should reject the Amendment and pass the Bill as it stands.

10.53 p.m.


I rise to support the Amendment. During the last few weeks I have been endeavouring to elicit from the Duchy of Lancaster a certain transaction which has taken place in my constituency. I have been able to ascertain that 205 acres of land have been sold to the Dunraven Estates Limited, of which the Chairman is Sir Rhys Williams, one of the large landowners of Glamorgan-shire, and I am unable to ascertain the price for which that land was sold. I am informed on fairly good authority that it was sold for a few hundred pounds, and in its sale the company obtained not only the 205 acres of land but the foreshore rights of that portion of the Bristol Channel coast. The commoners have been complaining for some years about this transaction, and most of the people who reside in my part of the area look on it as a grave scandal and believe that it should never have taken place. The commoners were not offered the land. The public authority have had no opportunity, because of impediments put in their way by this company, to perform their public duties. This is the only opportunity I have of stressing this matter and I rise to do so. I had hoped to have done it before the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his remarks, because much has been said about good government, particularly about the Duchy of Cornwall.

I submit that this is a concrete instance of bad management, and not only of bad management. If a Labour Government had been in office and had had authority over those bodies, and if they had sold land to a co-operative society, to a trade union or to some such body with which they would have been politically allied, that would have been called nepotism, and perhaps something worse. In this case land has been sold to people who are known to be of the same political colour as the Government under which the land was sold. It has been administered by people who are receiving, according to evidence which I have received from the Duchy of Lancaster during the last few days, 500 a year in car park fees, but they have not even provided seats for the public, apart from other amenities. A beautiful coast is being run by these people, and yet nothing is done about it for the public. It would seem, now that the sale has taken place, that it is irrevocable and that nothing can be done. The public have been deprived for all time of the right that they should exercise. It has been assumed that the Duchy of Lancaster was administering Crown lands as a public trust, but in this case they have deprived the public of their rights as well as the commoners of their commons rights. I submit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this is concrete evidence that there has been bad management, and that it would be better that the House should agree to this Amendment.

Captain RAMSAY

Is the hon. Member insinuating in this accusation that the Crown or the Royal Family are to blame? If he is blaming the Government, does he think that the situation would have been better if the land had belonged to the Government?


I submit that in this case something very irregular was done, and that it could not have been done if this Amendment had been carried.



Captain RAMSAY

Would the hon. Gentleman explain why?


We should have been able to obtain a statement in this House, and I should have been able to obtain facts. Apparently the facts are not to be revealed. I cannot obtain even the price, because the information is considered not

to be in the public interest, although it is known to be a public scandal.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 202; Noes, 95.

Division No. 169.] AYES. [10.58 p.m.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Gridley, Sir A. B. Palmer, G. E. H.
Albery, I. J. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Peaks, O.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Grimston, R. V. Peat, C. U.
Anstruther-G ray, W.J. Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Penny, Sir G.
Apsley, Lord Guinness, T. L. E. B. Perkins. W. R. D.
Aske, Sir R. W. Guy, J. C. M. Petherick, M.
Assheton, R. Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Hanbury, Sir C. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Hannah, I C. Procter, Major H. A.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Harris, Sir P. A. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Hartington, Marquess of Ramsbotham, H.
Beaumont, M.W. (Aylesbury) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Ramsden, Sir E.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Rankin, R.
Bernays, R. H. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Birchall, Sir.J D. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Blindell, Sir J. Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Bossom, A. C. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Remer, J. R.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey) Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon) Rothschild, J. A. de
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W. Holmes, J. S. Rowlands, G.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Hopkinson, A. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)
Bull, B. B. Hume, Sir G. H. Sandys, E. D.
Bullock, Capt. M. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Savery, Servington
Campbell, Sir E. T. James, Wing-Commander A. W. Scott, Lord William
Cartland,.J. R. H. Joel, D. J. B. Selley, H. R.
Cary, R. A. Keeling, E. H. Shakespeare, G. H.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Kerr, J. G. (Scottish Universities) Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Channon, H. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Colman, N. C. D. Latham, Sir P. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J. Leckie. J. A. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Leech, Dr. J. W. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Lindsay, K. M. Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Craven-Ellis, W. Little, Sir E. Graham- Spens, W. P.
Crooke, J. S. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Lloyd, G. W. Stourton, Hon. J.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Loftus, P. C. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Cross, R. H. Lumley, Capt. L. R. Stuart,. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Crossley, A. C. Mebane, W. (Huddersfield) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Cruddas, Col. B. McCorquodale, M. S. Sutcliffe, H.
Donner, P. W. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Titchfleid, Marquess of
Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop) McKie, J. H. Touche, G. C.
Dugdale, Major T. L. Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Duggan, H. J. Magnay, T. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Dunglass, Lord Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Eales, J. F. Mander, G. le M. Turton, R. H.
Eckersley, P. T. Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Markham, S. F. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Elliston, G. S. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Wedderburn, H. J. S,
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Wells, S. R.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) White, H. Graham
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Fildes, Sir H. Mitcheson, Sir G. G. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Findlay, Sir E. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Fleming, E. L. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Foot, D. M. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Fraser, Capt. Sir I. Munro, P. Wise, A. R.
Fyfe, D. P.M. Nall, Sir J. Womersley, Sir W. J.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Gledhill, G. Nicolson, Hon. H, G.
Glucketein, L. H. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert
Gretton, Cal. Rt. Hon. J. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Ward and Major George Davies.
Adams, D. (Consett) Griffths, J. (Llanelly) Potts, J.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Hall, A. H. (Aberdare) Pritt, D, N.
Adamson, W. M. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Ritson, J.
Ammon, C. G. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Holland, A. Rowson, G.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hollins, A Sexton, T. M.
Bandsfield, J. W. Hopkin, D. Short, A.
Barr, J. Jagger, J. Silkin, L.
Batey, J. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Simpson, F. B.
Belienger, F. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Benson, G. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Sorensen, R. W.
Bevan, A. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Kelly, W. T. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Buchanan, G. Kirby, B. V. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Burke, W. A. Lathan, G. Thurtle, E.
Cape, T. Lawson, J. J. Tinker, J. J.
Charleton, H. C. Leach,.W. Viant, S. P.
Cocks, F. S. Lee, F. Walkden, A. G.
Compton, J. Leslie, J. R. Watkins, F. C.
Daggar, G. Logan, D. G. Watson, W. McL.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Lunn, W. Welsh, J. C.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) McGhee, H. G. Whiteley, W.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) MacLaren, A. Wilkinson, Ellen
Ede, J. C. MacNeill, Weir, L. Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Markiew, E. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Maxton, J. Wilson, C H. (Attercliffe)
Frankel, D. Milner, Major J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Gardner, B. W. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Woods, G. S (Finsbury)
Garro-Jones, G. M. Paling, W.
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Parker, H. J. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Parkinson, J. A. Mr. Mathers and Mr. John.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—[Captain Margesson.]