§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the the Bill be now read a Second time."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House cannot assent to a Civil List Bill which merely accepts and continues traditional conceptions of state and ceremonial instead of recognising that greater simplicity in the daily life of the Court is essential in the modern democratic constitution of the British Commonwealth.This is not an occasion for ordinary party controversy, but it may well be an occasion when there is conflict of opinion on matters which are outside narrow party considerations. On this side of the House, after very full consideration, we decided on a line of policy which we believe is having very considerable public support. We have taken the line that it is desirable to simplify the vast and complex machinery which surrounds the Monarch and his family. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who spoke on the Money Resolution, took the view that we had little support for this attitude, and he did it in what seemed to me unnecessarily offensive words. He said:I wonder indeed on what he bases his contention"—He was referring to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—that there is this deep feeling amongst the advanced thinkers, the modern highbrows, that all this sort of thing requires profound simplification. "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1937; cols. 45–6, Vol.It will be within the recollection of the House that on the passing of the late King and the welcome to the new King my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in simple and dignified language said that he thought this was an occasion when all the paraphernalia surrounding the Throne should be simplified. After that speech we had a good deal of evidence, not from advanced thinkers or modern highbrows, unless the middle classes of this country would care to regard themselves as such, which I do 456 not think they would or could claim to be, that that view met with a considerable amount of support from a large number of people. Since my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Petrick-Lawrence) spoke on Monday last, further evidence has reached us that this view is not merely the view of working people, but is a view which is very widespread among other sections of society for whom hon. Members opposite can perhaps claim to speak more than we do.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping devoted a good deal of his speech to the Coronation celebrations. In my view most of what he said then was irrelevant to what is the problem before the House. We are not against pageantry. Indeed, we should like to make the life of the people a little more colourful than it is to-day. It is, I think, unchallengeable that there was more bunting outside the homes of the poor of this land than there was outside the homes of the well-to-do. My hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) tells me that a well-known Lancashire newspaper, the "Manchester Evening Chronicle," offered a prize of £10 for the best decorated street. That prize was won by the poorest street in my horn Friend's constituency, and the people there gave the £10 to the local hospital. They made another collection and sent a further £6 to the local hospital. In a way there is something pitiful about that situation. It was an opportunity used by the poor to escape for a time from the drabness and the monotony of their lives. It was a spontaneous expression of opinion unrivalled in the West End of London, at least by private houses, of rejoicing on an occasion which seldom occurs in our national life.
In the movement for which I speak we have joyous occasions on which there is colour and life. I think our May Day celebrations and our miners' gala days will rival anything which can be produced by careful State organisation. We welcome that kind of thing; but that is not the point. The point is not the celebration of a particular occasion in which all people can freely take part, but the existence of a system which day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute, by surrounding the Monarch with splendour, separates him from his people. 457 We are not arguing about the Coronation celebrations, but about the opportunity which occurs now to bring the Monarch more closely in line with the general trend of our national life. This is not an occasion to discuss the theoretical question of Republicanism versus Monarchy. The discussions on that subject in this House have taken place on the other side, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's very famous father, and by other distinguished Members of the House.
Republicanism in this country for the last two generations has been a middle-class creed. We do not regard it as a fundamental problem. We recognise now that the Monarchy in this country exists by the will of the British people and with the approval of the peoples of the Dominions. The Monarchy is recognised now as symbolising the fundamental unity of the peoples who are freely associated in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The question before us is whether these democratic peoples, nurtured in democratic usages and institutions, standing as a bulwark to-day against the conception of dictatorship, should accept conditions and traditions of kingship inherited from more aristocratic and, if 1 may say so, more autocratic days. It is always the fact that ceremonial in this country, and, I imagine, in all countries, lags far behind the practice of the time. We are not against ancient customs and traditions if they serve a living purpose, or if they symbolise essential features of our national life, but if they are merely outworn relics of an age long gone by they are of no service. That is not, however, the issue. Traditions and usages, if they are useful, we will accept.
In this matter there are two considerations. The first is that of the newer and younger democracies in the Commonwealth with their far simpler standards, untrammelled by ancient traditions hedged round by these age-long habits and customs, peoples who have struggled their way to democracy and have kept a relatively simple mode of life. The Statute of Westminster of some months ago has proved to be an instrument of value which the authors of that Act had, perhaps, never foreseen. With the Statute of Westminster these free self-governing Dominions, held together not by the 458 threat of force, but by unity of interest, have made their influence felt. They have a right now to be considered in the matter of the Civil List.
The second consideration is the people of our own land, with their modern conceptions of democracy and changes in the method of life. I have no doubt it has been said often enough to the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the great homes of our land are no longer being maintained under the heavy taxation which falls on the rich, and it is undoubtedly true that owing to the development of other interests, to a desire for keeping motor cars and so on, even the great and mighty of our land do not live under the same conditions as the old aristocracy. Life, in spite of all its increasing complications in many directions, is becoming simplified, and the great seigneur to-day, the great lord of the manor, the man who set himself above his fellows, is not in the position he used to occupy. In our view, if the Monarchy is to maintain its position as an Estate of the Realm, it must adapt itself to modern ideas and must truly reflect the national life. In my view it is an offence to the Monarchy, an offence to the idea of kingship, to assume that its dignity can only be maintained by excessive expenditure, excessive splendour and excessive display.
There appears to be in some quarters a. desire to retain the "divinity" that "doth hedge a king," to keep every device and tradition and every custom which marks off the King from his people; to keep the King and the chief members of the Royal Family as a series of public exhibits, deprived almost entirely of the opportunity of living a normal family life, and confined to meeting very carefully selected sections of people from various sections of the national life. It is not many months ago when, in the twinkling of an eye, the Duke of York ceased to be the Duke of York. At that moment a chapter in his life closed. His free intimacy with the boys' clubs in which he was interested came to a sudden end. He exchanged the shorts he used to wear at the boys' clubs camp for the full dress of an Admiral, and by that very act a door was closed against direct contact with one little aspect of our national life.
His Majesty when he was Duke of York, as many of us know, took a very 459 deep and living interest in industrial welfare problems. He made contacts and obtained experience, which -enriched his knowledge of our national life. That door is now closed to him except for those ceremonial occasions when the atmosphere, with all the dignity and splendour of Monarchy, is entirely different from the freer atmosphere he breathed as Duke of York. Now the King is surrounded from morning to night by ceremonial and ritual, by expensive apparatus which was designed in days when grandeur was regarded as essential to kingship. He is surrounded, also, by sage counsellors familiar with all the complications of etiquette and procedure of the Court, and —I am not saying anything disrespectful of them, because their knowledge is limited by their experience—by people who are not representative of the national life. Excessive display, elaborate ceremonial, dressing up on occasions, are barriers to that free play of opinion between the Crown and the cottage, between the palace and the homes of the people.
The Monarchy owes nothing of its inherent dignity to all that kind of splendour, and it would lose nothing by getting rid of these artificial trappings and the magnificences of life which encumber it to-day. It would lose nothing by sweeping away all these gew-gaws and frippery, which have nothing essential to do with the constitutional functions of the Monarch. I beliėve kingship would gain in dignity and in confidence, on which ultimately it must rest, by permitting to it a privacy of life which it does not now enjoy, and by destroying these barriers which stand between the King and the people. We have not taken this line on a matter of pounds or a matter of economy, but on a question of general principle in the interests of our democratic institutions. We believe, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping said, that we are perhaps the stoutest defenders of the democratic system. That system is to us something very precious. It can never be maintained merely by show and glory, but only by the full co-operation of the Estates of the Realm, and to take the Monarch and put him on a Throne which places him above the Estates of the Realm is no service to the democratic interests of our people.
460 We are not raising any issue of a republic, but with the approval of large numbers of people, including Members who sit on the opposite side of the House, we are appealing to the Government for a simpler, more dignified and more honoured position for the Monarchy in this country. It may be that we shall be defeated. The use of uniforms and of ceremonial can never be a safeguard against Fascism. The maintenance of the democratic rights of our people depends upon the confidence of the masses of the people. They have joyously celebrated the Coronation, but they could wish that they were a little nearer to the Monarch. I am afraid the House will not accept my view, hut I wish that it would take that view, for those who wish to maintain the Monarchy in this country ought to be as interested in this as those of us on this side of the House.
It may be that we shall be defeated, but I am satisfied that as time goes by the life of the Royal Family will assimilate itself more closely to the lives of the people. We are asking that that should be done now, rather than that we should wait for the pressure which is bound to come from the people. We hope the King will have a long and prosperous Reign. Perhaps we shall never have the opportunity—at least I hope I shall not have the opportunity—of speaking on an occasion of this kind again, but this is an opportunity on which the House, as the soul of our democratic system should declare—I should imagine with the approval of the Monarch—for that newer simplification which will bring his life closer to the hearts and lives of our people.
§ 4.33 P.m.
§ Mr. Lewis
The Amendment which has been moved by the right hon. Gentleman is very curiously worded, and it contains at least three misstatements of fact. It begins by saying:That this House cannot assent to a Civil List Bill.I think those Members who take the trouble to stay and go through the Division Lobby will find that this House not merely can but will assent to a Civil List Bill. The Amendment goes on to say that the question of ceremonial is essential in the Constitution. In point of fact, it is not essential in the Constitution. The Amendment then 461 describes the Constitution as "modern," whereas, of course, it is extremely ancient. This jumble of inaccuracies appears to arise from a confusion of two different things, one of them being the ceremonial side of the Monarchy and the other the constitutional position of the Monarch.
It is, of course, quite conceivable that a Monarch might carry out his constitutional duties extremely well with little or no ceremony; it is also quite conceivable that a Monarch might carry out his constitutional duties extremely badly, although with very elaborate ceremonial. The truth of the matter is that the ceremonial part of the Monarchy is not, as we are told in the Amendment, essential in the Constitution; it is entirely unessential. But though it is not essential, that does not mean that it is valueless. In the drab uniformity of modern life, the customary pageantry associated with the ceremonial of the Monarchy forms an extremely agreeable feature of our national life, and for that reason it is extremely popular with all classes in the country. Only a very drab and dreary mind could view without any pleasure the beauty and historical significance of such a ceremony as the Coronation.
The only question with regard to ceremony is one of degree. Circumstances might arise in which the Monarch himself might find certain ceremonies tedious and possibly, in his view, a hindrance to his other work, and he might seek to be relieved of them. In those circumstances, I think there might be some disappointment at the loss of some old picturesque custom, but there would be no strong popular feeling in the matter. I venture to say that the position would be entirely different if we in this House were to seek to interfere in this matter. If we were to say that the time had come to sweep away many of these old picturesque ceremonies, we should not in my view be truly representing the people of England. I do not know what precise motives the leaders of the Labour party had in tabling this Amendment this afternoon. I venture to say that, as far as their influence in the country is concerned, the best that they hope is that the Amendment will not be taken seriously.
§ 4.37 P.m.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I rise to support the Amendment which has been moved by 462 my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), and I must express my surprise that the Amendment has not been accepted by the Government. I cannot see what objection the Government can possibly have to the proposal to simplify, as far as is necessary and possible, the State ceremonial and other affairs connected with the pageantry and the fulfilment of the function of Monarchy in this country. Even those who are opposed to us and to this Amendment will agree that a stage is reached when pageantry and ceremonial may easily glide into sheer magic, and I have detected that possibility and danger in certain quarters of the House both during this Debate and in a similar Debate last Monday.
It was taken for granted that to-day the great majority of people accepts the Monarchy. It does not accept it necessarily because of theoretical considerations; in fact, the great majority of people pays very little attention to theoretical considerations regarding either monarchies or republics. People accept the Monarchy because it works well, and in my estimation, they will continue to accept it as long as it not only does not interfere with the progress of the country, but in fact can be accepted in some way as being of assistance to it. If it be the warm-hearted good humour of the British people that makes the Monarchy tolerable, surely that people has a perfect right to say that it must consider whether expenditure on the Monarchy and the ceremonial associated with it should not be modified and simplified. I dissent altogether from the views of the previous speaker, who seemed to suggest that if the Monarch himself wished to simplify the ceremonial, apparently there might be some possibility of accepting his suggested modifications. I dissent from that proposition because surely it is not the Monarch who must decide in a democratic country, but the people. It is a very dangerous suggestion, I venture to submit, which lays the emphasis in this instance on the individual rather than on the State.
That being so, I suggest in passing that, although all of us have appreciated the extraordinary expression of admiration, respect and affection that was demonstrated on Coronation day, we must not interpret that as being itself an endorsement of the magical interpretation 463 of Monarchy or indeed of that extravagance which is frequently associated with monarchies in other parts of the world. Both on this side of the House and opposite we accept the principle of a Monarchy. We could not indeed sit or stand in this House did we not take the Oath of Allegiance on becoming Members. But I would remind hon. Members that the real significance of the Oath or Affirmation lies in the last phrase, in which we state "according to law." That imposes the principle of collective responsibility.
We have long since rejected the conception of the divine right of kings. Unfortunately, in some quarters there are those who desire to exploit the magical remnants that still remain in the minds of certain sections of the community. I believe that if that acceptance of the remnants of the conception of the divine right of kings extends, it will be to the detriment of real loyalty in this country. I repeat, our loyalty is loyalty to the law, loyalty to the country, and if I may say it with deference, surely no one accepts the Monarchy except in so far as it fits in with the law and in so far as it fits in with the highest interests of the country. There are some indeed who are elevating the principle of Monarchy to such a pitch that they are not only perilously near approaching the position of magic, but are in fact approaching a position of blasphemy as well.
For instance, I noticed with interest only a few days ago that a man living in the neighbourhood in which I reside, because he passed some foolish and tasteless remarks about the King, was sentenced to one month's imprisonment. It is certainly a most extraordinary position that while, apparently, we may blaspheme quite freely without any penalty from the law, we dare not use foolish language about the King without being likely to receive the severe sentence of one month's imprisonment. I can only think that the savage and foolish sentence imposed on the man I have in mind was due to the fact that the members of the bench on that occasion were seized with this superstitious and magical idea of the Monarchy which led them to believe that an insult to the King was a far more heinous offence than blasphemy of Almighty God.
That being so, though none of us will join in cheap and derisive sneers at those 464 who disagree with us, we say definitely that we will not slavishly bow down to Monarchy and accept it as something apart from rational consideration. In these days, kingship has to be considered on its merits, and the traditions and ceremonial of kingship must also be considered on their merits. We are not going to accept all the ceremonial associated with Monarchy without analysing its value and considering from time to time whether it could not be simplified in some degree. Judging by the interruptions made by certain hon. Members opposite the other day, they were apparently so stirred by the fact that a huge multitude had gathered in the West End on Coronation Day, that they lost their whole sense of proportion, It is true that possibly a million or more people gathered on that day, and that many of them sat up all night in order to see the procession. I heard of one lady of 63 who travelled to London at 12 o'clock on the previous day, waited on the kerbstone for the procession, and had fallen asleep when it arrived.
Some may look upon that as an act of piety, greatly to be admired. Frankly, I regard it as an exhibition of superstition, and lack of proportion which is to be deplored. I am certain it is not the desire of the Monarch himself that people should do those things. If we had an opportunity of discussing these matters with His Majesty, I am sure that he being a sympathetic and wise man would see that this kind of excessive adoration, this kind of extravagant adulation is not desirable and does not add to the dignity of his position. There are times when the multitude can be swayed by men who deliberately exploit that sort of psychological condition. Those who have given even slight attention to the study of human behaviour in the mass—even amateur students of psychology—know full well that the behaviour of crowds does not necessarily, in itself, indicate what is really valuable. Crowds can be swayed by propaganda, both wise and unwise. The mass of people who have but little colour in their lives will rush forth to witness some episode which breaks the drab monotony of their existence. I do not deprecate that nor do I cast any gibe or sneer at them.
For my own part, I joined in the Coronation celebrations in my constituency with the utmost sincerity and 465 geniality. Even though the rain poured down upon us we entered into the spirit of the occasion, and I had more cups of tea and pieces of cake than I really desired. I was glad to find that my supporters were among the most enthusiastic of those who justifiably took this as an occasion for rejoicing. Discussing the matter with them I found that their attitude was that they accepted the King as part of their lives; they believed him to be "a good sort," as they put it, and in view of a certain episode they wished to be even more emphatic than they would otherwise have been in the expression of their respect and good wishes to him. But they repudiated emphatically any belief that he was above ordinary human beings, or was in the nature of a god. The British people are full of good humour and good-will. They are, in some ways, unlike the people of other parts of the world where great chasms seem to yawn between one section of the community and another. It is to the credit of this country that we have escaped the bitter intolerance that is often unfortunately exhibited in other countries, and I can well understand my own supporters in my locality gladly and willingly entering into the spirit of Coronation Day, sending their good wishes to His Majesty and trusting that during his reign the country would progress to a higher state of enduring peace and social justice.
I hope earnestly that some hon. Members opposite, before this Debate closes, will show that they recognise that this Amendment is not moved in any churlish spirit against the King in person. Nor is it an exhibition of disloyalty on our part. We wish to register our firm conviction that the Monarchy is not above the interests of the nation, but that it serves the national interests and, therefore, we have a right to consider the exact degree in which the ceremonial of the Monarchy should be exercised and the form which that ceremonial should take. If, without qualification or reflection, we accept blindly all the traditions of Monarchy, good and bad, and continue them in the future we shall be sliding perilously near to magic, superstitution and indeed blasphemy. We shall be nearing the point of accepting the majority of people as ordinary mortals with just a few individuals in special positions to be treated 466 as higher than the rest and almost worshipped. I hope the Amendment will be accepted by Members on both sides of the House with the recognition that if Britain is to continue to show the world that curious combination of traditional autocracy with constitutional democracy, we shall do so not by blindly worshipping the past, but by being bold enough to strike out in a new, a clearer, and a simpler direction.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Fletcher
I intervene in this Debate in order to bring forward a concrete, practical proposal for giving effect to my right hon. Friend's Amendment. It is not my purpose to have a nice talk about kings and queens or to advance my opinion upon matters about which I know little, and, frankly, care even less. I remember reading in some book of doggerel poetry something to this effect:If you can walk with kings and keep the common touch.As far as I am concerned my struggle in life is to keep the common touch and I am willing to leave the walking with kings to other people, especially as I notice they often have to walk backwards. I start from the point of view that the people of this country desire the maintenance of the Crown as the outward and visible symbol of the State. If that be so, then the Crown must be supported with adequate and due dignity. But I feel that there is something more than that. Although the Crown has been divested of all executive authority a great variety of public duties is thrust upon the wearer of the Crown and certain members of the Royal Family. They have exacting rounds of public engagements to fulfil, and the Monarch has to be constantly at the disposal of his Ministers and the high officials of the State for purposes of consultation and advice and for the transaction of public business. The Monarch is compelled, in many ways, to lead a completely unnatural life. A great number of real disabilities are inflicted upon him, and his natural liberties are curtailed by virtue of his position.
It seems to me, therefore, that over and above whatever sums are necessary for the upkeep of the Monarchy, there is a clear case for granting, what I would bluntly call a salary, to the Monarch and to other members of the Royal Family 467 who are called on to perform public duties. I should like to see a distinction drawn in the Civil List between what I call the salary of the Monarch for performing his duties as a public servant, and those sums which are necessary for the upkeep of the status and dignity of the Crown. If that were done, a very widespread but false line of criticism would be disarmed. At present the Civil List comes to something approaching £500,000, and if one is addressing a meeting of miners or other working-people it is impossible to disabuse their minds of the idea that that is the sum which is paid to the King for doing his job. It is impossible to make clear all the details and technicalities about how much is required for the upkeep of the status and dignity of the Crown. It is impossible to make them realise that much of that money is received with one hand and immediately paid out with the other for matters concerned with the upkeep of the Monarchy and the performance of public duties, and not for the benefit of the Monarch personally.
Similarly, in the case of the Queen Mother, while the country most rightly regards her with great affection, it is extremely difficult to justify, say to an audience of miners in Nuneaton, the grant of £70,000 a year to her. It is a colossal sum, and very difficult to explain. I believe that to maintain a destroyer in the Home Fleet costs £80,000 a year, which indicates the magnitude of the sum. I have had two cases brought to my notice recently in my constituency of widows, one of whom, whose husband lost his life rescuing a mate in a gas-filled sewer, is to receive something like 5s. a week from the Carnegie funds, and the other, whose man died after a lifetime of labour in the pit, has been tided over by the Labour club. They have nothing but a bare pittance to look forward to for the rest of their lives, and with these actual instances in mind, how is one to explain this grant of £70,000 a year or all that is involved in it? There is another line of criticism. Rightly or wrongly, the Royal households give to the country at large an impression of innumerable officials wearing remarkable uniforms and bearing strange titles and with very little to do. A great many of them are, in fact, extremely con- 468 scientious and hard-working men, as one knows, but not all of them.
Yet another line of criticism which it is difficult to meet is this: The Civil List is voted at the beginning of the reign. One always hopes that the reign will endure for a long time, but, however long it may last, the Civil List remains unaltered, and unscrutinised. In view of the extent and number of Royal estates and residences, and the size of the Royal households, surely unceasing financial scrutiny and vigilance are necessary if avoidance of waste is to be secured. We all remember that when the Prince Consort looked into these matters he found terrible waste and extravagance in the maintenance of the Royal households and was able to effect great economies. I am unable to believe that there are not similar instances of waste, extravagance and unnecessary expenditure at present, which could be removed if these sums were subject to unceasing scrutiny and supervision. That scrutiny and supervision could be arranged without any curtailment or infringement of the dignity or comfort of the Monarch.
As a means of meeting these criticisms, I suggest that the sums voted in the Civil List should be divided under two heads. First of all a salary should be paid to the Monarch arid then salaries to other members of the Royal Family who perform public duties, and an annuity to the Queen Mother. The sums should not be subject to revision but should be paid to the members of the Royal Family for them to administer and to spend as they like. Side by side with that I suggest the constitution of what I would call a Crown Office out of the materials already to hand in the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. All the expenses concerned with the upkeep of the Monarchy and with the performance of public duties, the maintenance of the Royal residences, estates and stables, entertaining, charities and so on, should pass through the Crown Office and be budgeted for yearly. All this is public money voted for public purposes, but it is the only money voted by Parliament which does not receive yearly scrutiny of the sort to which I have referred. Diplomats and admirals and other distinguished servants receive their salaries personally, but the money for the upkeep of their position is subjected to yearly supervision and scrutiny in a Government 469 office. Why should not this public money which is voted for the upkeep of the comfort and dignity of the Crown be subject to the same scrutiny and examination?
I cannot see that either the comfort or the dignity of the Crown would be in any way affected or impaired by such an arrangement as I have suggested. On the contrary, the Crown and the whole of the Royal Family would be rendered immune from a considerable volume of damaging and unjust criticism which attaches to them owing to the idea that large sums are voted for their personal expenditure. They would also be relieved from a vexatious burden of personal responsibility, and their comfort and dignity would be enhanced. If these expenses were passed through a Crown Office, the Royal households, instead of presenting as they do now an appearance of great establishments, innumerable officials, great expense and vast size, would evolve into simple Royal establishments and households such as are the admiration of all who visit the Scandinavian countries. Moreover, officials of the Crown Office would feel able to scrutinise expenditure and put forward proposals for retrenchment and economies without in any way appearing to reflect on Royalty or upon the members of the Royal Family.
I make no attempt to go into detail now, but I think this proposal for the creation of a Crown Office, through which this expenditure should pass, is a workmanlike and practical one. It would not only result in economies, but would remove a great deal of undeserved criticism at present attaching to the wearer of the Crown and to the Royal Family. After all, it is the proudest boast of our Kings that they are the servants of the public. They are indeed very hard worked public servants, and as such there is no reason why they should not receive the salaries which they earn and deserve. There is also no reason why they should be credited, in the eyes of the great majority of the people of the country, with receiving large sums for themselves which in fact, are not spent on themselves but on maintaining a position of dignity which they themselves do not want but which the country imposes upon them for the purposes of the Constitution. This proposal, which I hope may receive some consideration, is obviously one which 470 could not be adopted forthwith, but I suggest that in the course and passage of time some such arrangement should be made.
The Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) is one to recommend a greater simplification of the life of the Court and the bringing of the Court more into line with the everyday life of the people. A great deal could be done in that direction by the Press. If exaggerated and fantastic notions and ideas about the Monarch and about Royalty prevail, the Press is largely responsible, and if the simplification recommended is to be attained, then the co-operation of the Press will certainly be required. The way in which the Press at the present moment talks about the Royal family and royalty is incredibly fatuous and stupid and can only do great harm. I noticed earlier in the year that someone writing to the "Spectator" to call attention to this fact said:The blurb writer represents our Royalties to be partly creatures out of fairyland, partly super-human and partly semi-divine. I read in a great newspaper 'the Princess Elizabeth has to a peculiar degree the art of carrying herself with easy charm and graceful b dignity,' that 'she is steeped in economics and the sciences and accomplished in Latin, French and German, while the principles and precedents of the Constitution will soon be studied'.As the writer truly remarked, to emphasise its absurdity such dope usually concludes by saying:The aim of her parents is not to spoil the child but to bring her up exactly like other children.I venture to entertain the House with one or two other extracts from the Press. Here is one:There is something very homely and informal in the fact that the Lady Elizabeth should suddenly become Queen and Empress in the middle of an attack of 'flu.…The arduousness of the Royal Family's life was never more obvious than this week when Queen Mary went twice to the films.Here is another extract—a very good one indeed. The "Stamp Collectors' Fortnightly" said that:Much as we all admired and almost worshipped Edward VIII, it is well known that he was not personally a philatelist.It is almost beyond one's comprehension that newspapers should find it necessary to publish such stuff. Before the birth of the last child of the Duke and Duchess 471 of Kent, one of our evening newspapers announced:Blue has already been adopted as the colour of the baby princess. Already, too, she is the owner of quite a considerable quantity of jewels.If the need of some simplification of the life of the Court does commend itself to the general good sense of the community, the Press could certainly do a great deal to assist by ceasing to publish such fatuous nonsense as I have read to the House.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) made a speech on Monday which really sounded to me to be very like Colonel Blimp describing the Coronation to a spinsters' tea party in Bath or Cheltenham. He ventured to rebuke my friends on this side of the House for something which they had said about the Royal residences and he was extremely sarcastic. Now I find this extract on this subject in a paper, not of the Left Wing, but in the "Sphere," which I should describe as a Right Wing publication.If the question be raised as to a redundancy of Royal residences, let us not dismiss it as an outrageous impertinence. The Royal Family is to-day embarrassed by too many residences and if one or two were disposed of and the proceeds remitted to the public exchequer or towards the cost of social services, what a magnificent gesture of the promise of the new reign it would be. There are four or five satellite Royal residences in commission round Windsor; three or four more round Balmoral; two or more in Norfolk; in London there are Buckingham Palace, Marlborough House, York House, Clarence House, not to speak of 'private' houses in Royal occupation. Some of these are permanently redundant henceforth, and examination of the problem of disposal and retrenchment must not be dismissed as impertinent.I have read this from an article in the "Sphere" by way of some answer to the gibes of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping. He rebuked us on this side for what we had said about association between the Monarchy and the Labour party or Left Wing elements and said that if we wanted to have these associations with the Crown we ought to persuade the country to elect us as the Government, and then we should have them. That is entirely to miss the point of what is involved. In or out of office the wealthy and privileged classes who support the Conservative party surround the Throne. You have only to look at the 472 Coronation Service—which really ought to be done in tapestry, a service completely divorced from any practical connection with modem life—something completely mediaeval and fantastic. But the point is that, when the Labour party is in office, it is, of course, granted its proper official access to the Crown, but there such access ends. When the Labour party goes out of office, what opportunities of real contact with the Crown or the Court has the Labour party got? You cannot force intimacy or friendship. One may hope that they will develop, but at present there is no intimacy between the Crown and the Court and the representatives of the alternative Government of this country.
I conclude with a further extract from the article in the "Sphere" to which I have already referred. It puts the matter in a nutshell. This was written some weeks ago, and it says:During the coming Debate on the Civil List the Labour opposition w ill raise a number of points envisaging further simplification and even further democratisation of the business of kingship and the Court. This point should not be pettishly dismissed as 'vulgar obstruction' or 'ill-mannered criticism of our beloved Royal Family.' The Government and Parliament should receive these criticisms in a spirit of co-operation and as offering suggestions for reforms which may be overdue.The writer of that article has put our point of view in a nutshell. It is interesting to see that the leaven is working and that the views which we hold on these benches are making themselves felt in such circles as read a publication like the "Sphere." The people of this country do like a show and processions and ceremonial. I do not think they care very much what it is about or what are the principles underlying it as long as it is a good show and good ceremonial. They think that a King is necessary in this country and, thinking that, they do not want any cheeseparing about the upkeep of the Throne. All these things are compatible with economy, with simplicity and with the true spirit of democracy.
I am certain that the great problem of the next 25 or 30 years will be to work out a real system of relationship between ourselves and the Dominions. We are very far from having worked out that relationship yet. Although we think that we have such a genius for political government, we do not seem to have evolved the right system of relationship with India 473 or Ireland yet. During the next 25 or 30 years, however, that will be one of the great problems of our country. In working out the basis of relationship between ourselves and the Dominions, the one certain thing we have to count upon is that we and the Dominions have a Crown in common. There was, therefore, probably never a time when the position of the Crown and the upkeep of the status and dignity of the Crown were more vital to the whole of the British Commonwealth than at the present moment. If we are to give the Crown its full value in this great problem of statesmanship which lies before us, I believe that the way to it lies along the lines of the Labour party's Amendment to-day in bringing the Crown into relationship with every element in the country, and particularly the working-class element, which it would be folly and a mockery of words to pretend exists at the present moment.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Sir Percy Harris
My right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) expressed the view of our party on this problem the other day. Unfortunately, he is prevented from being present this afternoon to express our views on the Amendment. With the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate in favour of increased simplicity in the Court, my right hon. Friend expressed, and I express again, considerable sympathy. I think the whole House will recognise that with the growth of democracy the spirit of simplicity is most desirable. We feel, however, that it can be left in the hands of His Majesty to introduce it gradually and at the right time. The experience of the last few years is ample evidence of the desire of King George V and of the present King to have every opportunity of making contact with and approach to the King as easy and simple as possible. Anybody who was present in Westminster Hall the other day when the King met representatives of all his Parliaments from overseas at a lunch, will recognise that the precedent in that direction is symbolical of the spirit which inspires the Crown at the present time.
With regard to the cost and expense of maintaining the pomp and circumstance of the Court, I would remind the House 474 that we appointed a committee representative of all sections of the House, except the section represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). They had the facts and figures put before them and had the opportunity of considering what revenues were required to keep up the dignity of the Crown. I venture to suggest to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher), who put forward some interesting and contructive suggestions, that that was the opportunity for the financial details of the Civil List to be discussed.
If we were to pass the Amendment to-day it would mean the rejection of this Bill. Surely that is not a good message to send to the new King charged with a difficult problem in very special circumstances. If there is reason to believe that different methods and different forms should be followed to provide the Court with the necessary revenues for carrying out its work, a special committee should be appointed for the purpose. There is much to be said for a suggestion of my hon. and gallant Friend, but the suggestion that the nation desires that much of the ceremonial that now goes on should be less decorative by no means represents the feeling of the country. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Opposition said rightly that the loyalty of the mass of the people in poor streets likes to take the form of decorations. They like to express their feelings in displays of flags. I can bear witness that in the East End of London there was more display of bunting and flags in the poor streets than in the more wealthy corners of the town.
If there is any criticism of the Monarchy, it is that the King and Queen too often drive through the streets in a dull drab, unattractive motor car instead of in a picturesque carriage. I remember on the occasion of a Royal visit the disappointment of a poor child, because the Duke of York, as he then was, wore a top hat and tail coat instead of a crown and picturesque attire. There is something in the argument that in the dull drab life of modern industry a little pomp and circumstances, a little beauty and pageantry are to he encouraged, and that entails heavy expenditure to the Monarchy. This Bill is the result of an inquiry before a representative committee which discussed 475 in detail, with the evidence before them, what was required to maintain the Monarchy, and as this Amendment is a rejection Amendment I shall have to oppose it.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Annesley Somerville
The hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) was obviously impatient with the vagueness and inconsequence of the Amendment that was moved on behalf of his party, so he proceeded to make suggestions for improving it. As far as I can gather, he desired to separate the expenditure in Royal Households which is due to public functions and the private expenditure of the Royal Family. It would be extremely difficult to do that, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman's remedy is more impracticable than the Amendment. He said he found it difficult to explain to one of his miner constituents at Nuneaton why the country should provide £70,000 a year for Queen Mary. He might have begun by saying that this sum was agreed to by a Committee of this House on which his party was well represented. He might have gone on to say that Queen Mary has the duty of keeping up a historic residence, that the upkeep is considerable, and that it involves the employment of a number of some of the best citizens in the country. They are tried and worthy ex-service men and women, and that applies to all the Royal residences. There we find employed many people who have deserved well of their country. They have served their country, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman did, and he ought to have great sympathy with them. I have the honour to represent a number of them as the Member for Windsor. It is a worthy thing that some of that money should go to keep these people in comfort, in return for which they do valuable service. The hon. and gallant Gentleman might have gone on to say that Queen Mary is in great request at functions in connection with social service, where her presence is always welcomed with the greatest loyalty. This costs money. If he had made that explanation, I feel sure that his miner friend would have accepted it and would have been ready to explain the expenditure to other constituents.
The Preamble to the Bill states that the Civil List provides means for the maintenance of the honour and dignity of the 476 Crown and the Royal Family. That implies provision for the maintenance of the honour and dignity of the Crown throughout the British Empire. The doubt with regard to it is not that it is excessive, but whether it is adequate. The Leader of the Opposition laid great stress on the necessity for simplifying the life of the Royal Family and bringing it more into touch with the life of the people. As one who has had a small share in the training of one of the members of the Royal Family, I can testify that the domestic life of the Royal Family is as simple and natural as that of any family in the country. There is no household in this land in which a sense of public duty and social responsibility is so highly valued and so carefully inculcated as in the Royal Household, and it is well to realise that and to remember it.
The Leader of the Opposition wishes that the Royal Family should not be always on parade. Has he thought the matter out? Does he realise the size of the engagement book of Their Majesties? If he saw it, and noted the number of functions they have to attend throughout the year, visiting great cities, opening great buildings, and taking part in the starting of great social services, he would see that Their Majesties must be, to a large extent always in state. Their hosts on those occasions want them to come in state as representatives of the State. When they visit the Dominions and Colonies, it is the same thing. If we realise these things it seems purposeless to say that the Royal Family should not be always on parade. When they go to Royal Lodge at Windsor and relax, there are no people who value that relaxation so much, or are so simple and natural in their family life.
I gather from what the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) said on Monday that he wishes the Royal castles to be institutions in the social service of the country. They are. Is it no service to the country that they should be repositories of tradition and art and beauty? I can speak of Windsor Castle. To that castle there come from all parts of this country, from all parts of the Dominions and from all parts of the world, thousands and thousands of pilgrims every year. They go through the State apartments, which are repositories of some of the greatest treasures on earth. To go 477 through the Rubens Room is an education in itself. Is not that a social service to the country? Incidentally, a small charge is made to those going through the State apartments. What is done with the money? It is given to local charities, and, in particular, to the King Edward VII Hospital, which is one of the best appointed hospitals outside London, due to the great interest and work of King Edward VII. We all know the interest which the Royal Family takes in hospitals. The King should keep in touch with all sections of his people it is said. He does. We know what interest he takes in the great question of National Defence, as a sailor King of whom we are proud. He has that question at heart. We know what he has done for boys' camps. He has lived with the boys and has been of the greatest service to that movement. He takes the greatest interest in sport of all kinds, is a good shot and keen horseman. That is what the people like—a man who is in touch with every side of social life.
When Members of the Opposition are discussing these matters, I would ask them to keep to the facts. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) made the astounding statement that the Civil List provided £10,000 a week for the King. That hon. Member speaks more often than any other Member of this House and when he does he is a standing refutation of his exotic political theories, for in no foreign country would he be allowed so much freedom of expression. If his theories of government are no more accurate than his arithmetic, they must be worth very little. I will only add that this Civil List provides Their Majesties with, I hope, an adequate amount. It provides His Majesty with the means to be what he desires to be and what, for the good of the country, he is, and that is the leader in all our great national social activities, the guardian of the high traditions of government and the leading representative of peace and freedom in the world.
§ 5.35 P.m.
§ Mr. Maxton
I do not wish to prolong this Debate. I have a feeling that the House is interested in other matters than this. Perhaps the announcement of the Prime Minister at Question Time to-day was of more direct personal interest to the majority of Members, and perhaps the 478 changes impending to-morrow make us regard to-day's business as the end of an epoch rather than as the beginning of one. But I should not like the Debate to end without one or two words being said from this bench. An hon. Member behind me apologised for the absence of his leader on this occasion. I have to apologise for the absence of my party. On this occasion, at least, they have a good alibi, because one is sitting on a Select Committee on Procedure and the other on the Factories Bill Committee. Both those Committees are meeting just now, and I think that is unfair to parties whose numbers are small. Both of them are there or should be, for I can only assert with positiveness that that is where they are supposed to be. The fourth member of the party is, unfortunately, unwell. Silence on an occasion of this sort is liable to misinterpretation.
I wish to say that I associate myself with the attitude taken up by the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment for the Opposition. The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville) said Windsor Castle performed a certain function as a museum. I have not the faintest objection to its performing that function, and I think the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) has no objection. If I understood the hon. and gallant Member aright he was anxious that all that type of expenditure associated with the Monarchy should be brought under the definite control of this House, and be separated from the personal expenditure of the Monarch and of the individual members of the Royal Family. That is a proposal which ought to receive careful consideration by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is a wise and a sensible proposal. I have never been in Windsor Castle and have never had the privilege of seeing the beauties which the hon. Member has described to us. I understand that the hon. Member is now giving me a personal invitation, and to make the visit under the aegis of the Member for the division would add much to the pleasure of the occasion and, I am sure, add to my knowledge. But while I have not visited Windsor I have visited the Palace of Versailles, which is also an entertainment place, a show place and an educative place—but there is no monarch in France. It is of great historic interest—but there is no king.
479 History remains when the king has departed. I have also been at Potsdam, which is very beautiful and very interesting. It was the home of the ex-Kaiser. The Kaiser has gone, but the history is still there, and the hon. Member, as an old schoolmaster, will agree with me that the history is the more important.
The hon. Member went on to say that in no country in the world would my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) be allowed to speak with so great freedom as here, but that is not absolutely true. There are, fortunately, still a good many countries in which a man can voice his political views with complete freedom, and there are many countries in which the point of view of the hon. Member for West Fife has much bigger support than it has in this country. I would remind my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor that that is not so because of the virtues of monarchy, because any democratic rights which we have here, indeed our right to exist as a House of Commons, has had to be torn from monarchs by the force of the people. He talks as if it were some act of benevolence on the part of the monarchs in the last two or three reigns.
§ Mr. A. Somerville
I did not make any such suggestion. I mentioned only that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) had said that the King has £10,000 a week given him by the Civil List.
§ Mr. Maxton
The hon. Member went much further than that. He suggested that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and people like myself should be very silent, very humble, very grateful to the Monarch because we are allowed to speak at all.
§ Mr. Somerville indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Maxton
That is the suggestion made not only by the hon. Member for Windsor but by a whole lot of other people, that we ought to be thankful to the Royal Family because we are allowed to have a voice in things. That is a complete perversion of history. The reason we have the right to speak here is because commoners in the past were never prepared to accept the monarchy as being above criticism, as something that was absolutely perfect, as something that could not be improved upon. That is 480 the mood of certain Members of the House to-day, that in the relationship of the monarchy to the people we have now reached perfection, that while all the modifications, adjustments and changes which were made in the past have been good, and have led to a good final result, that now we have finished. and that it is rather low, just bad form, to raise one's voice, to put forward even in the most moderate way the suggestion that we have not reached perfection, and that in many ways the general structure of this country politically from the standpoint of the monarchy could be tremendously improved.
I take an equalitarian view of society. My purpose in politics is to try to reach a state of complete economic and social equality, and I have never made any secret of it. I am here because I have stood for that object unequivocally. Yet to-day I am asked to vote silently £100,000 as personal remuneration for a Monarch, to vote tens of thousands of pounds to the women members of the Royal Family, to vote £6,000 to a schoolgirl. The hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton quoted a statement that she is very good at Latin. The professor of Latin at my old university in Glasgow does not get half that sum. I am supposed to sit here silently and vote all that money, as an equalitarian, as one who has fought hard with my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) for something more than 17s. a week for an unemployed man, and have met with a non possumus—told it could not be done—and for 3s. a week for a child and 10s. for old age pensioners. We have fought and struggled for all that the House has been able to obtain for these people. Now I am expected to be a gentleman and vote £100,000 for the Monarch, £70,000 for some Princess and £6,000 for one little girl. It is just a lot of utter rubbish to expect it of me, and I would not do it. I am not going to carry on with this Debate. I know when I am on a bad wicket. I know, as well as anybody here, that my propaganda activities in this matter will have to be directed in more likely-looking quarters than the present House of Commons, but I was not going to let the occasion go past without saying what I felt.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Sir William Davison
The thing that impressed itself most on my mind in the 481 genuine speech that we have just heard was the phrase which the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) used as he sat down, about recognising that he was on a bad wicket. Incidentally, with regard to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) the words which were originally used by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) were that this Debate hitherto had shown the extraordinary fairness of the democracy of this country because, in this assembly of Parliament, the hon. Member for West Fife, whose views are abhorrent to practically the whole of the House, was allowed not only to speak but to speak without interruption words which were out of tune and abhorrent to nearly all of us. We ought to be congratulated on our democratic power of self-control that we listen to such things, although we are entirely out of sympathy.
§ Mr. Maxton
At no time, and I did not do it to-night, have I voiced any criticism of the House of Commons as a fair debating assembly. I never have.
§ Sir W. Davison
The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) referred to that very remarkable and inspiring luncheon which we had in Westminster Hall a week or so ago, when His Majesty the King met representatives from this and all the other Parliaments of the Empire. I had the pleasure of having two men from Dominion Parliaments, one on each side of me, and I was greatly interested by what one of them said to me as the King came in. He said: "The people over here do not really understand what we feel in the Dominions for the King and the Throne. I suppose it is that you see him walking about among you, but in the Dominions the King is something emblematical to us. He stands for the finest ideals that we have. He represents in his person all the ideals of the British Empire, and all that it means and involves." I thought to myself, as I heard this Debate to-day, and the Debate the other day: What would those two simple gentlemen have thought of this Debate in this House of Commons on the Civil List?
In the first day's Debate, the Leader of the Opposition recognised that this country likes pageantry, and I think it was he who said we do not want any cheeseparing. We like the King to go 482 out on certain occasions with all the nobility and pageantry of which this country is capable, but at the same time hon. Members are urging cheeseparing. One of the largest items in the Civil List is £108,000 for the upkeep of the Royal palaces. You do not suppose the King desires to occupy those great Rubens Rooms that we have heard described in Windsor Castle, for his personal enjoyment; he goes there in order to receive visitors of state. As I pointed out the other day, there is no more simple family in the country than the Royal Family have always been. They love simple pursuits. What does the King do when he is released from duty? He goes to the Royal Lodge, a comparatively small country house in the middle of Windsor Park. He does not go to Windsor Castle, and he gets away from Buckingham Palace and such places. These expenses are largely Imperial expenses. These places are kept up so that the great ideals of the Empire and the Dominions, of which my friend spoke the other day, should be properly housed.
To carry out the same idea as is suggested, you would throw down Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's. No doubt people could worship just as well in a tin tabernacle or in some rough shanty. No doubt they would, if it were necessary to do so; but just as we venerate the fane of Westminster Abbey, which has been associated with the history of the country for all these centuries, and venerate St. Paul's Cathedral as a great shrine where we can have our national celebrations, so we consider the Throne, which is the keystone of the Empire, and which means so much as a great centre of Democracy throughout the world. Hon. Members opposite are always railing against Fascism and dictatorship; they must see that the British Monarchy is the greatest bulwark against those ideas. The King stands above the ordinary man by reason of his exalted position.
This Debate, from beginning to end, has seemed to me to be frivolous and out of touch with the feeling of the vast mass of the people of this country; certainly out of touch with the feeling of the people in the Dominions. I trust that we shall have no more of the frivolous speeches that we have recently had from the other side and which made fun, 483 vulgar fun, of a thing which is a sacred thing, because an emblem—[Laughter] —you hear the vulgar laughter—of all that we hold venerable and inspires us with the ideal of Great Britain and of the British Empire.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Leckie
I did not intend to intervene in the Debate, but when the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) was speaking I was reminded of an incident which shows the value of uniform. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment rather deprecated uniform and contrasted the Duke of York in his shorts among his boys with the Duke after suddenly changing into Admiral's uniform. Evidently he does not approve, to a great extent, of uniform. When the then Prince of Wales, shortly after the War, came to my constituency it was arranged that the mayor of the borough should meet him by car, and dressed in his red robes, cocked hat and chain of office. He went out to the edge of the borough and met the Prince of Wales, who was in a lounge suit. The Prince entered the car and they drove through the borough. The Prince of Wales showed the greatest interest in everything.
Next morning, a teacher in one of the schools said to a boy in a class: "I suppose you saw the Prince of Wales yesterday." The boy got up and said: "He looked lovely. He was in his red robes, his cocked hat and his chain of office, and he really looked beautiful." The Prince of Wales had not been recognised on that occasion by many of the children.
I feel that a great deal of the Debate this afternoon was unnecessary. We hear about the expense of the Royal Family and of the Monarchy, but if we compare the expenditure in other countries, where they have no Royalty but are republics, we find that their expense is far greater. I have seen figures for the United States which show conclusively that that is so, and I think hon. Members would find the same thing among our friends in France. We can leave it to the good sense of His Majesty to spend this money quietly and to mingle with the people of all parties and all sections of the community. There is no doubt that the King is a democrat 484 in this democratic country, and I am sure that we shall find, as the days go on, that he will meet all parties and all sections of the community, and be as popular and well-known as any King in our history.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Chamberlain)
The right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate began by saying that this was not on the ordinary lines of party controversy. That is so true that I am anxious not to discover differences that do not exist. In the course of the discussion the differences that have been marked have been in fact rather imaginary. I want to treat the Debate as fairly and as impartially as I can, and not to represent it as being something different from what I understand is the case. In reading the Amendment for rejection of the Civil List Bill, we must take into consideration what was said in the Amendment to the Money Resolution, and also the terms of the Resolution which was moved in the course of the proceedings in the Select Committee. If that be done, we must readily accept the claim of the right hon. Gentleman that what is behind the Amendment is not a desire for what he called cheeseparing economy. I would go a little further, and say that the Amendment does not rest upon a question of economy at all, nor is it a criticism of the pageantry which is displayed on particular occasions; it is, as I understand it, a desire to place on record the view of hon. Members opposite that greater simplification should be maintained in the day-to-day life of the Monarch and those who surround him. That is a proposition which can be maintained without the slightest offence to the present Monarch and one which must be dealt with upon its merits. As I shall show later on, I think the real difference between hon. Members and others in this House does not lie so much in the general proposition; the basis of the Amendment is the method by which it is proposed to carry the Amendment into effect.
Let me say in passing that although I have so fully accepted the view of hon. Members that it is not their desire to base their proposition upon considerations of economy, nevertheless it is extremely 485 difficult to get away from the suspicion that that is, in fact, one consideration which they wish to accomplish. It will be seen how difficult it is for them to keep off the subject. We had the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher), part of which was devoted to the suggestion that there was waste in the conduct of the Royal Household, and that it should be the subject of investigation. He obviously wished that kind of thing discovered and discontinued. I am not denying that, in the past, there was waste in the Royal Household, but I do not think that is a complaint which can fairly be brought against the Royal Household to-day, granted that certain styles of living are to be maintained. There has, for a long time, been an Officer of the Household, a competent officer from the Treasury, whose business it has been to investigate and keep a close watch upon all the items of expenditure in the Royal Household, and to advise His Majesty when, in his opinion, there was any extravagance or waste in any direction. It will be remembered that as a matter of fact considerable economies in that respect were already made in the reign of King George V, and that the Civil List which is before the House to-day has the benefit of those economies. The Committee of 1936 had before them a very full account of the expenses of the Royal Household, and they did not form the opinion that there was any serious waste or extravagance in the present method of carrying on the Royal Household.
Coming back to the general proposition in favour of simplification, the right hon. Gentleman alleges that there is a widespread feeling in the country, not confined, he says, to the working class, but also expressed by an extensive section of the middle class, that such a simplification is desirable. I can only say that for my part I have not received any representations of the kind, either in correspondence or in any intervention at any meeting that I have addressed in the country; I have never heard any criticism of that kind. I think the right hon. Gentleman was on rather more dangerous ground when he seemed to suggest that this feeling existed in the Dominions. I know of no evidence of that, but in any case I do not think it would be right for us to ascribe opinions to the Dominions one way or the other, as they have their 486 own channels for making any representations that they want to make.
As far as this country is concerned, although, as I say, I have not seen any evidence that there is any strong feeling on the subject, I am of opinion that the whole trend to-day, not only as regards the Monarchy but elsewhere, is towards a greater simplification of manners, and to some extent a breaking down of barriers which used to exist in the old days. I remember on one occasion having the honour of accompanying His Majesty King George V on his drive through some of the poorer parts of London to open a new building when I was Minister of Health. When we got to those poorer parts of the town, there were loud cries, from the people who were lining the streets, of "old George." I looked with some concern to see how His Majesty would receive a title of that kind, but I saw no traces of embarrassment or of displeasure on His Majesty's countenance. On the contrary, he seemed heartily to enjoy the familiarity with which he was being addressed.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
It is a very funny thing that the hon. Member should have said that, because that is exactly what they did say, and I can assure the House that it caused me much more embarrassment than the remark addressed to His Majesty caused to him. I cannot imagine that when Henry VIII drove through the streets anyone called out "Good old Henry." I think everyone knows that the occasions and the places upon which and in which their Majesties come into actual personal contact with their subjects are far more numerous to-day, and far more informal in character, than they ever were before. That is a natural trend which has been going on for many years, and which, I am certain, will continue to go on in many directions.
I think, really, the difference lies in this, that hon. Members, in their desire to hasten the process of simplification, have it in mind that some body should be set up to examine, as was said on previous occasions, with His Majesty, how this simplification could be brought about at once, instead of, as we would desire, leaving it to His Majesty's own inclination and natural disposition to bring about a gradual simplification as 487 it may seem to him good to do. I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman to-day, and the Leader of the Opposition the other day, while they repeatedly spoke of ceremonial, gewgaws, uniform and so forth in general terms, refrained from specifying exactly in what respect it was that this simplification was to be effected. I know that there have been suggestions that there is a multiplicity of Royal residences and palaces, but, when you come to the question which Royal residence or palace should be abolished—
§ Mr. Chamberlain
That is comprehensive, but I do not imagine that the Front Bench opposite would be prepared to start quite so drastically as that. I have assumed that they would have to begin with one or more of these Royal residences or palaces, and I should be curious to see with which one they would begin. Whichever it was, it would he recognised the moment it was proposed to interfere with it, that something was being taken away from the nation, or from a part of the nation, on which the nation set very great value and store. It may be suggested that there might be some diminution in the number of servants, but is it really suggested that His Majesty is going to be brought nearer to the hearts of his people if there are 50 servants to-morrow where there are 60 to-day? When you try to translate simplification into actual transactions and actual measures to be taken, while they may come gradually, if an attempt were made to put them into a scheme which could be worked out by a committee the result would be so ridiculous as to make the whole scheme one of a most un-
§ dignified character. I cannot help thinking that, whatever may be the general desire of sections of people in this country that the Monarchy should grow more simple as the people grow more simple in their habits, they would far prefer that that should be left to His Majesty to decide for himself, rather than that, at the beginning of his reign, which has begun so happily and with so much general satisfaction and rejoicing, he should be asked to enter into this meticulous examination, the results of which he could hardly refuse to accept, whatever they were, and to cut down here and there in his Household or relinquish some of his Royal residences which have been in the possession of his family for generations.
§ I do not take the Amendment, whatever its form, as meaning any hostility to the idea of the Monarchy, or any hostility to the suggestion that we should have a Monarchy which should be kept up with due regard to dignity. I take it as being moved for the purpose of placing on record a point of view which has been put before us in very moderate terms by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and I could have hoped that it would not be necessary, having stated the point of view, to carry it to a Division; but, if that is asking too much, at any rate I hope that the description of the motive in the minds of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite which I have ventured to suggest is accurate, and that it is not to be regarded as anything more than that.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 240; Noes, 112.491
|Division No. 193.]||AYES.||[6.11 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Blair, Sir R.||Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Boothby, R. J. G.||Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Bossom, A. C.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Boulton, W. W.||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Channon, H.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Bracken, B.||Chorlton, A. E. L.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Brass, Sir W.||Clarke, Lt.-Col. R S. (E. Grinstead)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Clydesdale, Marquess of|
|Assheton, R.||Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Bull, B. B.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Cox, H. B. T.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Burgin, Rt. Hon. Dr. E. L.||Craven-Ellis, W.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Carver, Major W. H.||Critchtey, A|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Cary, R. A.||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page|
|Bernays, R. H.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.|
|Croom-Johnton, R. P.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Cross, R. H.||Hopkinson, A.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Rowlands, G.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Hulbert, N. J.||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Hunter, T.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Danville, Alfred||Keeling, E. H.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Doland, G. F.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Donner, P. W.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Dower, Major A. V. G.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Savery, Sir Servington|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Selley, H. R.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Latham, Sir P.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Leckie, J. A.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Levy, T.||Shuts, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Lewis, O.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lindsay, K. M.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Emery, J. F.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Lloyd, G. W.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Loftus, P. C.||Spens. W. P.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'ld)|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Evans, Capt. A, (Cardiff, S.)||M'Connell, Sir J.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||McKie, J. H.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Everard, W. L.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Fleming, E. L.||Mander, G. le M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Foot, D. M.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Fox, Sir G. W G.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Furness, S. N.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Train, Sir J.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Gledhill, G.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Turton, R. H.|
|Goodman, Col. A. W.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Cower, Sir R. V.||Moreing, A. C.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Morgan, R. H.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Munro, P.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Nioolson, Hon. H. G.||Wells, S. R.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||White, H. Graham|
|Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Palmer, G. E. H.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Patrick, C. M.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Guy, J. C. M.||Peake, O.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hanbury, Sir C.||Petherick, M.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Wragg, H.|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Procter, Major H. A.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Radford, E. A.|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Lient.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Higgs, W. F.||Ramsbotham, H.||Ward and Sir Henry Morris-|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Rankin, Sir R.||Jones.|
|Holdsworth, H.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Cluse, W. S.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Cocks, F. S.||Groves, T. E.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)|
|Amnion, C. G.||Daggar, G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Dalton, H.||Hayday, A.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Day, H.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Barnes, A. J.||Dobbie, W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)|
|Barr, J.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Hopkin, D.|
|Batey, J.||Ede, J. C.||Jagger, J.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)|
|Broad, F. A.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Gallacher, W.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Gardner, B. W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Buchanan, G.||Gibbins, J.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Burke, W. A.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Cape, T.||Green, W. H. (Deptford>||Kirby, B. V.|
|Cassells, T.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Chater, D.||Grenfell, D. R.||Lawson, J. J.|
|Lee, F.||Parker, J.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Leonard, W.||Parkinson, J. A.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Price, M. P.||Thorne, W.|
|McEntea, V. La T.||Pritt, D. N.||Tinker, J. J.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Viant, S. P.|
|MacLaren, A.||Riley, B.||Walker, J.|
|Maclean, N.||Ritson, J.||Watson, W. McL.|
|MacNeill, Weir, L.||Rowson, G.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Sanders, W. S.||Westwood, J.|
|Marshall, F.||Sexton, T. M.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Maxton, J.||Shinwell, E.||Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Messer, F.||Short, A.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Milner, Major J.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Montague, F.||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Noel-Baker, P. J.||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Oliver, G. H.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Paling, W.||Stephen, C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—[Captain Margesson.]