§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I beg to move,
§ 1. That there be charged on the Consolidated Fund as from the last demise of the Crown the following annual sums (subject to adjustment in respect of parts of a year):—
|5||For the Queen's Civil List: £475,000;|
|For retired allowances: such sums as may be required for the payment of retired allowances granted by Her Majesty or by His late Majesty to or in respect of persons who have been members of the Royal Household;|
|10||For Civil List pensions: such sums as may be required for the payment in each year of Civil List pensions already granted and Civil List pensions hereafter to be granted, so, however, that the aggregate of the pensions granted in any financial year shall not exceed £2,500 a year;|
|For His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh: £40,000, in substitution for any sum payable to him under the Princess Elizabeth's and Duke of Edinburgh's Annuities Act, 1948;|
|15||For the benefit of the children of Her Majesty, other than the Duke of Cornwall for the time being: in respect of each son who attains the age of twenty-one years or marries, £10,000, and in the case of a son who marries a further £15,000; and in respect of each daughter who attains the age of twenty-one years or marries, £6,000, and in the case of a daughter who marries a further £9,000;|
|20||For Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret: £9,000 in the event of her marriage, in addition to any sum payable to her under section six of the Civil List Act, 1937;|
|In the event of the death during the present reign of the Duke of Cornwall for the time being leaving a widow, for his widow, £30,000;|
|25||and that provision be made for continuing for a period of six months after the close of the 25 present reign certain payments charged as aforesaid upon the Consolidated Fund which would otherwise then be determined:|
|(i) as respects any period during which the Duke of Cornwall for the time being is a minor, the sum of £475,000 for the Queen's Civil List shall be subject to a reduction of an amount equal to the net revenues of the Duchy for the year, less—|
|(a) for each year whilst he is under the age of eighteen years, one ninth of those revenues,|
|(b) for each of the last three years of his minority, £30,000:|
|35||(ii) as respects any period during which the Duchy of Cornwall is vested in Her Majesty, the said sum of £475,000 shall be subject to a reduction of an amount equal to the net revenues of the Duchy for the year.|
§ During the past 10 days hon. Members have had an opportunity of reading and considering the Report of the Select Committee over which I had the honour to preside. Therefore, I do not think that I need go through its proposals in great detail today. It will perhaps be for the convenience of the Committee if I comment briefly, according to past practice, on the main features of the Report and on its most important recommendations which are embodied in this Motion.1320
§ objects vested in them, subject to parliamentary approval," presented accordingly, and read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 18th July, and to be printed. [Bill 130.]
§ Before doing so, however, may I invite the attention of the Committee to the first paragraph of the Report, from which they will note that the Select Committee have been afforded every facility to inform themselves of the subjects they have been considering and that we have taken in our nine sessions most valuable evidence.
§ The Report makes it abundantly clear that in considering the financial provision to be made for the Sovereign and the other members of the Royal Family, we 1321 must make allowances for considerable changes of various kinds which have taken place since the last Civil List Act was passed in 1937. The Report brings this out with several illustrations which I need not repeat here. It shows the increase in the burden of public duty which now falls upon the Royal Family, and it shows the extension of the demands made upon Her Majesty the Queen and on the Royal Family as a result, among other things, of the changed relations between the Sovereign and the Commonwealth. In considering this matter, I feel sure that the Committee will bear in mind this aspect of the question, namely, the relationship of the Sovereign to the Commonwealth as a whole and the implications of that relationship.
§ The Report also emphasises that it is impossible to foresee what further changes may occur in the duties of the Sovereign and the burdens involved. There may well be some further simplification in the scale of the official functions of the Sovereign, and I am sure this would be welcomed, but my right hon. and hon. Friends feel that this must be left to the discretion of the Sovereign. There may also be increases in costs and prices which would cancel out any resultant saving.
§ In these circumstances the main task of the Select Committee was to recommend such financial provision as would, in their view, not only be adequate to enable the Sovereign and the several members of the Royal Family to discharge their duties in a manner consonant with the honour and dignity of the Crown, but also—and this is of no less importance—to relieve Her Majesty as far as possible of, among other burdens, that of any financial anxiety.
§ The Report of the Select Committee makes clear the importance of considering the Civil List in relation to the course of costs and prices. In paragraph 12 we set out some figures which illustrate this matter, and I hope hon. Members will give those figures their consideration. For example, the cost of living has almost trebled since Parliament enacted the Civil List for His late Majesty King Edward VII at the beginning of this century. Yet during those 50 years the provisions of the Civil List have actually been reduced. Moreover, at least half of the increase in the cost of living since 1901 has occurred in the 15 years of the last reign, that is, 1322 since the Civil List was established at the lower figure of £410,000.
§ It is not, therefore, surprising—and this was a matter which particularly interested members of the Select Committee—that the Royal Household has had to undertake some striking economies in its own internal management. The Report records that the Select Committee were impressed by the evidence laid before us to illustrate how the increase in costs during the last reign has outstripped even the very substantial economies which the Royal Household put into effect during those years. I should like to assure the Committee that we took evidence on all these matters.
§ The Report also records that the Select Committee have now satisfied themselves that the Household is run on the most economical basis and that adequate measures are in force to maintain a continuous and a continuing review of expenditure. To that we also attached importance, because looking to the future is just as important as being sure, as we were, that the matter had been handled in an economical way in the past.
§ It therefore struck the Select Committee that the realistic course was to set the Civil List on an even keel at the outset of the reign and to provide it also, subject to suitable dispositions which will appear in detail in the Bill, which we shall shortly be considering, with some margin with which to deal with unforseeable contingencies, particularly those to which I have referred—namely, the course of costs and prices—and to do this at the beginning of what, I am sure, all right hon. and hon. Members hope and feel will be a long reign. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
§ The Bill, which we shall be considering after the passage of this Motion, will, as I have said, contain the detailed provisions dealing with these matters, and so I will not go further into them now beyond what is described in the Select Committee's Report. I will, however, say this. Against the general background which I have sketched, the more detailed changes which the Select Committee have proposed, starting with the figure of £410,000 from the previous reign, are as follows, and I will set these out as simply as possible so that they can be followed by the Committee.1323
§ First, the Report recommends that, by contrast with the Civil List of the last reign, which provided both for His late Majesty and for his Consort, the new Civil List should more appropriately be granted to Her Majesty alone and that provision should be made for His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at £40,000 per annum, which is no more than the sum allotted to the Consort in the previous reign, by means of a separate charge on the Consolidated Fund. On this basis, the first change in the new Civil List is a reduction to £370,000.
§ Second, Her Majesty the Queen has voluntarily offered to abate the allotment to the Privy Purse by £17,000 a year, which, I am sure, the Committee would wish to acknowledge. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] This reduces the Civil List still further to a figure rather less than £355,000. The Select Committee, as the Committee have already shown, have recorded their respectful appreciation of Her Majesty's generous offer, and I am glad that we have shown her our own appreciation.
§ Third, the Select Committee were concerned to note that while, on the ordinary good employer principles, the pay of many employees of the Royal Household is periodically brought into line with current outside rates, some of the more senior members of the Household—and this we discussed at some length—and of the staff have been content for some time to accept remuneration which is lower than that appropriate to their duties. They adopted this course, so we understood, in order to lighten the increasing burden on the Civil List imposed by the rise in prices and costs during the last reign. But it is clearly appropriate that this anomaly should now be rectified and that the Civil List of the new reign should make provision accordingly. The Select Committee's recommendation is, therefore, that £20,000 should be provided under this head, which brings the Civil List back to a figure of about £375,000.
§ Fourth, it is suggested that, in continuation of a process which began in the last reign, the Civil List should be relieved of certain items of expenditure which can appropriately be charged to the ordinary Departmental Votes. We had a good deal of discussion on this matter, and no doubt we shall hear more of it today. We propose that the wages 1324 of the industrial staff engaged on the maintenance of the Royal Palaces should be transferred to the Ministry of Works Vote. The Civil List will, as a result, be spared some £25,000, and the total which we have now reached is, therefore, about £350,000.
§ Finally, in the light of the more general considerations which I outlined in the opening of my remarks, it will clearly be necessary to eliminate the deficit at which the Civil List was running towards the end of the last reign—a deficit of the order of £30,000 a year—and to increase the new Civil List accordingly.
§ If to the resulting figure of £380,000, which we have now reached, we add the contingencies provision, which amounts to £95,000, which I mentioned a few minutes ago, the total Civil List provision becomes £475,000, or some £65,000, more than the Civil List of the previous reign. This increased provision would not, I think, be judged excessive even if it were considered simply in the light of the great change in the circumstances affecting the expenditure of the Sovereign, to which I have already drawn the Committee's attention. But in fact, there are two other considerations which I should put before the Committee.
§ First, it is not the whole of the contingencies margin which will be made available to supplement the ordinary expenditure of the Civil List. Part of it—a sum of the order of £25,000 at the maximum—is to be made available to Her Majesty to enable her to contribute towards the unavoidable expenses of other members of the Royal Family, for whom no financial provision is otherwise made. We all know how unsparingly the Royal Family give up their time and give of their enthusiasm to all kinds of public duties and activities, and we are glad to think that various younger members of the Family are now approaching an age when they, too, will be able to take their fair share of public commitments and thereby to relieve Her Majesty of part of the burden which would otherwise fall upon her.
§ It is simple to state that duties of this kind involve a degree of expenditure, and the Select Committee, who looked into this matter closely, have recorded their view that since members of the Royal Family, by virtue of their position near the Throne, are excluded from ordinary commercial activities—that is, 1325 are excluded from making their living in the way that some others have to do—it is proper that Parliament should make it possible for the Sovereign to contribute towards their unavoidable expenses. I trust that this is a view which the Committee will endorse.
§ The second consideration which the Committee should have before it is that, in looking at the demand imposed upon the Exchequer by the Civil List proposals as a whole, we must remember the disposition of the net revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall which the Select Committee have proposed.
§ Not since 1910 has Parliament had to deal with revenues of the Duchy during the lifetime of a minor Duke; and conditions have changed a great deal since then. We look back upon the provisions of the Civil List Acts of 1936 and 1937, which made provision for the minority of a hypothetical Duke of Cornwall and which are not really appropriate today. On the other hand, the recommendations for the Civil List on the present occasion are, I believe, fully in accordance with the realities of our present situation.
§ They provide that during the minority of the Duke of Cornwall, for the time being, the net revenues of the Duchy should be applied in relief of the Civil List, subject to a certain prior charge in favour of the Duke himself. This prior charge should be regarded as available partly for his maintenance and education and partly for the accumulation of a capital sum for him on obtaining his majority.
§ The prior charge which the Committee have recommended is one-ninth of the net revenues of the Duchy, which on the basis of those revenues as they stand at the moment, means approximately £10,000 a year from the beginning of the reign until his 18th birthday, in 15 years' time, and, for the last three years of his minority, £30,000 a year. I trust that provision on this scale will be thought to be suitable.
§ The Select Committee have also recommended that, after attaining his majority, the Duke should make provision for his wife during their joint lives from the net revenues of the Duchy which will then accrue to him in full according to tradition, the Consolidated Fund being called upon only to provide the annuity 1326 of £30,000 in the event of the Duke predeceasing his wife. The Committee will understand that one has to look a certain way ahead and that accounts for the rather long-sighted nature of my remarks in this connection.
§ The point I wish to emphasise to the Committee, and which should be fully seized by hon. Members, is that as a matter of simple arithmetic the balance of the Duchy revenues, after the initial prior charge in favour of the Duke, should, over the whole period of the Duke's minority—and on the assumption, of course, that the net revenues remain at approximately their present average annual level of about £90,000—amount to an accrual to the Exchequer of no less than £1,380,000. This sum, therefore, with the £17,000 a year on Class I of the Civil List which has been offered by Her Majesty the Queen, should, during the Duke's minority, almost exactly equal the contingencies margin which the Select Committee have recommended. The Committee will agree, especially if they look back to a previous understanding, that this is a settlement which the Exchequer of our day cannot but regard as favourable.
§ The only other points which I think I need mention are the provisions recommended for Her Majesty's children other than the Duke of Cornwall, and the treatment of Household pensions. As regards the former, the recommendations of the Select Committee follow, with one exception, precedents which are at least as old as 1910—for younger sons £10,000 per annum at the age of 21, increased to £25,000 per annum on marriage, and for daughters £6,000 per annum at the age of 21. The only innovation is the proposal that the provision for daughters should be increased to £15,000 per annum on marriage. I see that there is reference to this on the Order Paper, and I only add that I am convinced that this innovation is necessary in the light of modern circumstances and that it should be extended to Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret.
§ It only remains for me to mention the arrangement about the Household pensions and on that I draw the attention of the Committee to the recommendations in paragraph 25 of the Select Committee's Report. These are, I think, in general accordance with precedent.1327
§ I hope that I have now gone through all the important features of the recommendations which have been made by the Select Committee and are embodied in the Motion now before this Committee In total these recommendations constitute a very reasonable and moderate settlement which strikes a just balance and establishes a Civil List which is appropriate to the circumstances of the new reign. It is with that in mind that I commend these proposals to the Committee.
§ The Chairman
It may be for the convenience of the Committee if the debate on the Civil List follows the same course as was followed in 1936 and 1937. If the Amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition and his hon. Friends were moved now, it would mean that the debate would be obviously restricted. I therefore respectfully suggest that there should be a general discussion on the Motion and that, when that discussion has proceeded far enough on the Motion in general, the Amendments be moved more or less formally.
§ 4.6 p.m.
§ Mr. C. R. Attlee (Walthamstow, West)
I think that would be for the convenience of the Committee, and it follows precedent.
I have served on a number of Civil List Committees now and I and my colleagues took part in the discussions and production of this Report. The Report sets out the position rather more fully than its predecessors did, and I think that is very necessary, because people are so apt to look only at the figures and not at the content of an estimate.
When we were discussing this, I said that I was quite sure that when the newspapers came out the bulk of them would have a large heading, "£475,000 for the Queen." That is all some people see, and it does really require disecting to see exactly what is actual expenditure on the Queen and the Royal Family and what is actually the cost of upkeep of a large amount of State ceremonial.
We have seen in the course of years a good many changes in the way of simplification and of economy. Indeed, if there had not been, I think the present estimate would be something like £800,000. There has been a constant change; and I think it is very necessary that that should be in accordance with 1328 public sentiment. In saying that, one has to consider not merely sentiment in the United Kingdom. We make provision for the monarchy in the United Kingdom, but the Queen is also the Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and of all the rest of the Commonwealth and Empire. Therefore, in considering what kind of style we think is appropriate for the upkeep of the monarchy, we have to remember that Her Majesty the Queen is Queen of very widespread Dominions and of people at all kinds of different stages of civilisation.
That, incidentally, has meant in recent years a great increase in the burden on the monarchy because of the particular relationship in the Commonwealth. I think also that the increase in facilities for travel has caused an additional burden, because the fact is that the monarchy is one of the ties which unite all the various parts of the Commonwealth and it is vitally important, although it makes a very heavy burden, that visitors from all over the Commonwealth and Empire should see Her Majesty the Queen and should thus keep themselves in close contact.
We looked at this with a view to seeing what is the present position. We went into a great deal of detail, and it will be found that it has been very difficult to make very wide and sweeping economies without changing entirely the general style of today. I think that public opinion today likes a certain amount of pageantry. It is a great mistake to make government too dull. That, I think, was the fault of the German Republic after the First World War. They were very drab and dull; the trouble was that they let the devil get all the best tunes. Therefore, we on this side of the Committee believe that it is right to have a certain amount of pageantry, because it pleases people, and it also counteracts a tendency to other forms of excitement.
On the other hand, we think that there is a case for a fairly steady and constant review. Every Government always desires to make the Civil List cover as many years ahead as possible, because it does not want to be bothered with another Civil List debate. There is, further, a tendency to try to cover every contingency. Having been in office myself, I have some sympathy with that point of view. But we live in a time, not only of widely changing money 1329 values, but possible changes in the makeup of society and the conception of what is convenient and proper.
We all hope that we are now entering on what will prove, we believe, to be a very long reign and a very happy one. Therefore, I think there is a case for saying that there should be provision for a review. In this Report we have provided for a Contingencies Fund, partly for this very reason that we do not know how prices may change. I should say also that there is a reference to the possibility of changes in the other direction from that to which we are accustomed just now—a fall in prices. It has not been put in completely optimistically; but at any rate it is something that the Chancellor might contemplate as a very distant prospect. There can be these changes. We consider, therefore, that it would be useful if there should be from time to time a review by a Committee of this House.
There is a second point. The process has been going on for some time of cutting away from the expenses of the Civil List a number of services which are, quite properly, transferred to other Votes. The advantage of transferring some of these services to other Votes is that they can be dealt with year by year as prices change. There is also the advantage that they do not swell the Civil List by the addition of a whole lot of matters which do not really strictly appertain to Royal expenditure. A very great deal of this Civil List expenditure is taken up with the cost of keeping up such places as Windsor Castle, which is a Royal residence, but which is also a great national monument—almost a museum.
One does get a rather false view of the Civil List, and I think there is a case—we had not the time to do it—for a review by a Committee of the House to see whether it is possible to transfer some other services. It may not be possible to transfer the entire control. We might find many difficult questions of control, such as whether a cost should not be transferred—in some cases with advantage as we have seen already—when the actual service has not been transferred. Therefore, we have put down an Amendment which suggests that this amount should be voted for only 10 years, and not longer than 10 years.
There is one other point on which we have put down an Amendment, and that 1330 is a more detailed matter. We do not think that during the minority of the Duke of Cornwall, or anyway, up to the age of 18, large sums are needed for the provision for a child of his age. Those are the two Amendments which we propose to move.
I think the proposal is a great step forward in the recognition of the position of the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall. Looking over other debates during the last 50 years or so, one finds that it has always been a vexed question. Some people have said, "As a matter of fact, the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall should fall in like anything else and be taken into account." Others have said, standing strictly on history and tradition, "No, these are the private property of the Duke of Cornwall for the time being." I think it is a wise decision which has been made to follow the precedent of what happened when there was not a Duke of Cornwall—although there is now a Duke of Cornwall—and when they are used for other purposes and not regarded as being solely the private property of the Duke of Cornwall.
Those are my general observations on this Report. In due course we shall move our Amendments. I should like to say that we were given the fullest amount of information and help by those who came before us.
§ Mr. Arthur Colegate (Burton)
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, will he be good enough to explain one point which is ambiguous, and which is a purely explanatory point? His Amendment talks about granting these annual amounts for a period not exceeding 10 years. But from line 15 onwards of the Chancellor's Motion, the events contemplated cannot take place within the next 10 years. Does the Amendment mean that the first lot are to be granted for 10 years, and that from line 15 onwards, the benefits to those who attain the age of 21 are to go on for 10 years after they are of that age, or will the whole of that fall if the Amendment is accepted?
§ Mr. Attlee
We have put down this Amendment because we wanted to argue the general principle. If it were carried, there would inevitably be consequential Amendments which would have to appear, but we did not want to load the Order Paper with a mass of them.
§ Mr. James Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
May I seek your guidance, Sir Charles, with regard to the Amendments on the Order Paper? Have you given the impression to the Committee that we should have a general discussion, and then in due course move the Amendment in a formal way, or do you desire a general discussion, and then a further discussion on each Amendment?
§ The Chairman
I think, as has happened on previous occasions, that it would be for the convenience of the Committee to have a wide discussion on the Motion, and then, when we get to the various Amendments, to move them formally and, if necessary, divide on them.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Mr. W. W. Astor (Wycombe)
I consider this is an extremely good Civil List for the conditions of the 20th Century, as regards rising costs and extended duties, and from other points of view. But I think there is one notable omission which I hope the Chancellor will consider. That is the situation which occurred after the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent.
Up to that time His Royal Highness received £35,000 from the Civil List. Anyone who knew him knew the hard work which the late Duke of Kent put in. In a previous incarnation, about 25 years ago, I had the honour of helping to organise the first tour of the Duke of Kent in the industrial areas of South Wales and Scotland, and I saw the hard work which he put in then, and he continued to work hard until his death on active service. Then we had this tragic anomaly, that on his death the £35,000 from the Civil List completely ended; and his widow and family had to depend, not on what they received by right from Parliament, but on what they received ex gratia from the King and from other members of the Royal Family.
We all know the hard work which Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent put in during the war, in spite of this sad bereavement, as one of the leading officers of the W.R.N.S., and, since then, in charitable work. Any of us who has ever had the honour and the pleasure of having Her Royal Highness conduct any public function in his constituency will agree about how well she has done it and the infinite trouble that she has taken.
1332 There is a mention in paragraph 4 of the Report of the Select Committee of the very small number in the Royal Family and the necessity for all members of the family to take part in public work. We know how the Duchess relieved other members of the Royal Family during the illness and in the closing years of His late Majesty the King. I appreciate that in paragraph 15 there is mention of the contingencies fund which should cover cases of this sort, but we need not be readers of Jane Austen to know how delicate are, and must be, financial discussions and provisions within even the closest and happiest of families.
Parliament and the nation should take a pride in making proper provision for people who have done such splendid work. We should not leave it to what may happen outside our knowledge, generous though the action may be. Therefore, I suggest to the Chancellor that he should think this matter over. I do not propose to put down an Amendment, because a suggestion for an increase should come from the Government, by the common consent of the whole Committee, and not from any private Member. I hope that the Committee will feel that in this case, and in similar cases in future, it is right to make some provision—say, two-thirds of the previous grant—during widowhood.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
It is always a matter of some delicacy, on occasions like this when we are discussing the amount of money which Parliament should vote to the Sovereign and the Sovereign's Household, to say things which will not be embarrassing to the Monarch or the Household. But Parliament must examine this matter in its proper perspective. I want to say what I think about the proposals which have just been submitted to the Committee.
Hon. Members will know that in the last century these matters of the Civil List were the subject of heated controversy in the days when Parliament was differently constituted. I have no doubt that today, when some of my hon. Friends may feel disposed to query the sum proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we shall conduct our debate with far more decorum than was shown in the days when we had a different sort of Members forming the Opposition.
1333 I am prepared to support generally the proposals made by the Chancellor, subject to the two Amendments which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has told the Committee will be moved in due course. As my right hon. Friend said, it is just as well that the general public, who have little information on these matters—and indeed Parliament itself, except for those who take part in the deliberations of the Committee—should understand that to a great extent these amounts of money, which in themselves appear to be large, are administrative expenses mainly for the purpose of carrying out State duties.
In just the same way as Her Majesty's Ministers introduce every year their own Estimates for their own Departments, here we have another Department of State introducing estimates for the expenditure in that Department. I am bound to say when I look at some of the expenses incurred by certain other governing bodies, whether they be republican or monarchical, that I think that the British Crown carries out the onerous duties which the public expect, on the whole, economically and reasonably.
There is only one matter to which I wish to refer. It has not been mentioned so far. Indeed, it is one which perhaps will have to be considered later. Provision is made for a sum of £40,000 to be paid to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh for expenses incurred in his department. In the last reign the sum of money paid to the Consort was included in the Monarch's Civil List. But today we are making special provision for His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
I do not know how far the Committee will think it appropriate to examine that £40,000 and to consider what it is for. No doubt a lot of it is for what one might call personal expenses, but I should imagine that some of it is for staff who will have to advise him, as the Queen's advisers advise her, on matters of State. The Government should consider very soon precisely what those constitutional duties of His Royal Highness consist of, apart from the ceremonial duties which he carries out as Consort to the Sovereign.
There is a feeling in the minds of many people, and perhaps in the minds of some Members of Parliament, that His Royal Highness is in a different position from the Consort of the late King. All who 1334 have read or heard of some of the controversies which took place in the reign of Queen Victoria when she had a Consort know that affairs of State, in so far as the Consort was concerned, did not proceed too smoothly in those days.
I relate my remarks to the £40,000 which it is proposed should be voted to His Royal Highness. I should welcome a statement from the Government, either now, if it is appropriate, or on some future occasion, as to precisely what is the constitutional position of His Royal Highess the Duke of Edinburgh as husband of Her Majesty the Queen. Many hon. Members may think that these matters are not very important, but I can conceive that at some time they may be.
Every family knows, whether it is Royal or otherwise, that a husband is intimately involved in his wife's affairs. When they happen to be affairs of State, apart from family matters, then we as a House of Commons voting this money today—as I have no doubt that we shall—should have some precise idea as to what are to be the functions in State affairs of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
I cannot agree that the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) is correct in his assumption of the constitutional significance that would be attached to the position of the Consort of the Queen in the present case. It is true, as I understand it, that some of the £40,000 which we are being asked to vote will be used to pay essential staff, but that will not mean that that staff will be responsible for giving to him the constitutional advice which the right hon. Gentleman assumes. They will be the ordinary members of his staff who are necessary to enable him to carry out his many responsible duties.
It was the point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to which I wanted to refer in particular. It is suggested in the Amendment, which is to be taken formally later, that the whole position of the Civil List should be reviewed and, as I understand it, this refers not only to the actual money which Parliament will, we hope, allocate to the Civil List but also the ceremony and the conduct of the monarchy generally. If the proposal is simply that the review should be concerned with the amount and 1335 the appropriateness of the Civil List itself, I should have thought that that 10-year review was unnecessary.
If the amount granted by this Civil List were too great, then there is every likelihood and, indeed, certainty that the same generous action would be taken by Her present Majesty as was taken by His late Majesty King George VI who, when he found there was a surplus on his Civil List, made a payment of £100,000 to assist the Exchequer. If, on the other hand, the amount of money were too small and the rise in prices meant that it would be impossible for Her Majesty to carry out her royal duties with the money available, then it would always be open to her, as the Report says, to ask Parliament to reconsider the position. If, however, the purpose of this 10-year review is to consider, so to speak, the conduct of the monarchy, I do not believe for one moment that that is an appropriate way of carrying out that particular process.
It has been clear to all those who have studied the history of the relationship between the monarchy and the nation over a period of 200 years, that that relationship has changed very greatly, not because of any representations made by Parliament to the Crown but because of the sensitiveness of succeeding Sovereigns to the changing atmosphere and changing public opinion. It is quite clear that, so far as the 19th century is concerned, the character of the monarchy at the beginning of the reign of the late Queen Victoria and the character of the monarchy at the end were very different.
I have no doubt that changes will take place in the years ahead, perhaps in the ceremony and the general conduct of what I might call the business of the monarchy, but I am sure that that must depend upon the undoubted sensitiveness and sense of responsibility of Her present Majesty and upon the advice which she will have from time to time front the Prime Minister of the day. I should have thought, having had some slight experience of this, that the knowledge which can be possessed except by the most experienced senior Ministers and senior leaders of the Opposition parties of the actual problems of the conduct of the monarchy, is very small indeed.
1336 I do not think for one moment that a Select Committee such as is proposed in the Amendment which we are to consider would achieve the results which hon. Members opposite desire. I am sure that it is far better that we should leave the matter in the full trust that Her present Majesty, brought up as she has been under the very careful example and guidance of the Queen Mother and His late Majesty, will conform to the wishes and views of the people as to the changing relationships between the Crown and the people of this country.
I should like, however, to make one point relating to another aspect of this general subject which the Leader of the Opposition raised. He said quite rightly that the Queen is now the Queen of a number of different realms. That was first recognised constitutionally, I think, in the Coronation Oath of His late Majesty King George VI. I have no doubt that it would be right on the analogy, so to speak, of the progresses of Queen Elizabeth I, when she made her famous progresses in those days through this country and as a result, for the first time in the history of the Crown, came into personal contact with the people of this country of all sorts and statuses, that the progresses of this present reign will be throughout the Commonwealth, and that there will be a far greater demand than there has ever been in the past upon Her Majesty and upon other members of the Royal family to take a more intimate part in the affairs of the Commonwealth and the Colonies.
It seems to me that one of the objects which the Committee has in view and, indeed, which the Committee upstairs had in view, was to try to reduce the heavy burden on the Queen. I should have thought that there was one way of doing that, and one way which would conform to the changing constitutional relationship which has been taking place in the British Commonwealth ever since the Statute of Westminster. After all, the status of the United Kingdom is analogous, although not exactly the same, to that of one of the Dominions. If Her Majesty is the Queen of Canada, besides being Queen of the United Kingdom, then the position of the United Kingdom vis-à-vis Canada is on roughly the same basis. I say "roughly" because there are historic differences into which I need not go now.
1337 That being the case, as she is represented in Canada and in the other Dominions by a Governor-General, so I would feel it would be appropriate in order to relieve her of certain of her burdens here in this country and also to fill the gaps caused by her absences far more satisfactorily than can be filled under the present Regency Act, that she should have a deputy here in the United Kingdom. That deputy, or Governor-General, or whatever the appropriate title might be, would act for her during her increasing absences overseas. I believe there would be nobody more appropriate to fill that rôle than the present Queen Mother with all her unrivalled experience.
It seems to me, that it would be appropriate when the time came for the Duke of Cornwall—whom we hope by that time would be Prince of Wales, and is the Heir to the Throne—to get his tutelage in the very difficult and responsible position which he will one day, we hope, fill, that he should do so by means of acting as deputy for his mother in this country. That would enable us to escape the intimate problems which arose in the 19th century in the relationship between the Crown and the Heir.
In those circumstances, this appears to me to be a constitutional change which might well be considered at the time when the House is considering the way in which it would be possible to ensure that Her present Majesty does not suffer the damage to health and strength which undoubtedly arose in the case of her father from the very great burden which he had to bear in his time. Therefore, it is along those lines rather than along the lines of a Select Committee to review the position of the monarchy, that we would find some way of assisting in the problem with which hon. Members on both sides of the Committee are concerned.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
The novel suggestion made in the last part of the speech by the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) will have to be very carefully considered. I cannot feel that it is one which will commend itself universally. There are certain disadvantages in having a designated deputy, and in all these matters there should be the greatest possible degree of flexibility 1338 in order that one may meet circumstances as they arise.
The first part of the hon. Gentleman's speech was a persuasive argument in favour of the proposal of the Government. Nevertheless, I think there is a very strong case for the Amendment which has been mentioned by my right hon. Friend that these matters should be subject to periodic review by the House. So far as I am concerned, I am in general agreement with the proposals for the present Civil List, unlike my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and others.
I think the work which has been done by the Royal Family in this country is of very great social value, and that it should be done in such a way as meets the needs of a very large proportion of the public. If it is done, it should be done and paid for in a proper way. I cannot help thinking that the proposal for a review is valuable, not simply because there are persons who hold different views—and the Amendments on the Order Paper show that there are such persons—but if only for the reason that it is valuable to have that kind of examination of this position from time to time, for which, at the moment, we are indebted to the Select Committee.
Many of these functions and expenses of Royalty are, for the ordinary person, wrapped in mystery, and it is right and proper that, from time to time, we should have the assurance, which I think we have had on this occasion from the work of the Select Committee, that the affairs of the Royal Household are conducted with due regard for efficiency and economy. Unless we have a periodic examination by the House, I fail to see how the general public is to have that kind of assurance. That seems to me to be a very important argument for having a periodic review.
We all hope that this will be a long reign. It may last for 50 years, even 60 years, conceivably, and we surely ought not to commit posterity to these expenses. But there are other reasons why I think it would be valuable to have an occasional review. I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Colchester, who suggested that there was no value in having such discussions in the House, but that we could rely entirely upon the sense and sensitivity of the Royal Family.
1339 I would, of course, accept what the hon. Member says—that in recent years the Royal Family have shown themselves to be remarkably sensitive to changes in public opinion. Nevertheless, I think we have some duty in this Committee to give expression to the feelings which we think are those of the people whom we represent. It may very well be that there will be considerable changes in the future in social conditions in this country. After all, economic conditions may change, and other conditions may change, and it may make it appropriate for some changes to be made in procedure and in the relationship of the Royal Family to the public.
Even within living memory, there have been changes, and I am very glad that there is far less ceremonial now in connection with the social presentations at Court. I think that is one of the Royal functions that might be dispensed with altogether, and I say that for this reason. While the Royal Family naturally have their own circle of private friends and acquaintances, whom they entertain privately, and while they have their duties which concern the public as a whole—the ceremonial processions, functions and receptions by the Royal Family of persons who are in some way distinguished for work they have done—I can see no reason whatever for what seems to me to be a completely outmoded social distinction by which certain young ladies have the privilege of being presented at Court for no virtue of their own.
I may say that I am one of those who, at the proper age, might have sought presentation at Court, but I did not do so. I did not do so at that time because it was a period of extreme industrial depression in this country, and I felt that it was completely wrong, when many of my own friends in South Wales were living in conditions of poverty, that I should take part in seeking a social distinction which seemed to me to have no proper moral basis whatever. I think that in matters of this sort we wish to see that kind of restraint which I believe would be in keeping with a democratic society.
Furthermore, in looking to the future, I can see no reason why we should, at this stage, make provision for the possible widow of a child of four. There seems 1340 to me to be a very strong argument for suggesting that future consideration should be given to these matters, so that we should not attempt to tie our successors to provisions of this kind. I would have no objection at all to the proposed allowance for Princess Margaret, who, at the present time, is of marriageable age. I am myself in favour of the proposal made by the Chancellor, if only to give her adequate freedom of choice in the matter of a husband.
There is one quite different subject upon which I venture to touch. It appears upon the Order Paper and, therefore, presumably is in order for discussion today, although it is not really a matter which is any longer concerned with the Civil List. I am referring to the Civil List pensions. These pensions, which are of very small amounts, are paid to persons of distinction in the arts, science or literature, or to the widows or dependants thereof, and they were, presumably, at one time paid out of the Privy Purse of the monarch. They are now a charge on the Treasury, and have no connection whatever, as far as I know, with the Royal Family. Nevertheless, they are included in the amounts which we are asked to discuss today.
For this purpose, we are asked to fix a definite sum in perpetuity of £2,500, beyond which no new grant of pension may be made in any one year. Where the major sums which we are discussing today are concerned, the Chancellor has said that there should be a contingency fund to provide for increases to meet the rise in the cost of living, but, where these very small pensions for very distinguished persons or their dependants are concerned, there is no such arrangement, and no contingency fund or any alteration in the possible scale of allowances.
I have been examining in the Library the list of persons to whom such pensions were given last year. There were 51 payments made during the year, of which only four were really new pensions. All the remainder were additional sums paid in order to bring the original pension up to what seemed to be a more appropriate level in present circumstances. Because additional sums have to be paid, presumably, there was some feeling in the minds of those responsible for these matters that they must be cautious, at least, in making entirely new grants to deserving persons.
1341 I understand that the hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir E. Keeling) may be moving an Amendment to omit the definite sum on the Order Paper, and I would myself wish to support that. I think that, in this matter of rewarding those who have spent their lives in un-remunerative work in the arts or sciences, we have a certain duty towards them, and I should feel that it is only proper to take the course that is suggested. I hope that matter may be taken into consideration by the Committee.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Ralph Assheton (Blackburn, West)
As a Member of the Select Committee, I should like to make one or two points this afternoon. I shall not keep the Committee for more than a few minutes. I support the proposals which the Select Committee has put forward. They were considered with care, and I think that most hon. Members will be in agreement with them. There is, of course, a good deal to he said for the proposal made in the Amendment put down by the Opposition Front Bench; I can see the attraction of a 10-year review, and I think many of us were impressed with the fact that there are advantages in it. On balance, however, my own feeling is that it would tend somewhat to bring the Crown into the field of controversy from time to time, and that is something which I should prefer to avoid.
There are two points which are not, I think, fully understood by the public. One is that when a new Sovereign comes to the Throne a surrender is made by the Crown of the Crown Lands. It should be remembered that the revenue of the Crown Lands is greatly in excess of the total amount voted in the Civil List, so that not only is there no burden upon the taxpayer in consequence of the Civil List, but there is a profit to the taxpayer from that transaction. I do not think that that is widely known. I have seen little or no references to it in the Press, and I think it would be desirable that the general public should be made aware of it.
§ Mrs. White
In making that statement, would it not be correct to say that Death Duties are not payable on the Crown Lands, and that had they been payable that position would not have arisen?
§ Mr. Assheton
It is quite true to say that. Taxation does not fall upon the 1342 Crown, and in that connection I come to my second point.
Income Tax is not payable by the Crown itself, but it is not generally known that Income Tax is payable by other members of the Royal Family, although the Inland Revenue make allowances for expenses, just as they make allowances for other people's expenses. I am quite certain that the Committee as a whole endorses the view of the Select Committee. We take great pride in the Crown; we have a great loyalty to it and we wish to see its dignity properly maintained. The burden of the Crown is a very heavy one, and I should like to conclude by reminding the Committee of some words of which I myself was reminded last night by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn), words used to Parliament by Queen Elizabeth I at the end of a long reign, when she said:To be a King and wear a Crown is more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasure to them that bear it.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Like General Eisenhower, I am a republican, and I understand that if hon. Gentlemen opposite lived in the United States they also would be republicans, because the republicans are the Tories of America. I understand that the broad general question of republicanism is out of order in this debate and that what we are concerned about is the financial provision for the Royal Family during the coming reign.
I must confess that I do not share the apparent agreement of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen about the Select Committee Report, but there is one sentence in it which I could cordially endorse, and it is this:Every effort has been, and is being, made to reduce the burden of work, particularly bearing in mind that Her Majesty has, in addition, the duties of a wife and a mother of young children.We can all subscribe to that, and it is because I believe that the burden both on Her Majesty and on the finances of this country should be lessened that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) and I have put certain Amendments on the Order Paper.
I am surprised that the Chancellor should come here this afternoon and sup- 1343 port the largest wage claim of the century after the very grim warning be has given to workers in industry who are demanding wage claims. He is both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but today he is Dr. Jekyll agreeing to everything that has been suggested. What is more, it is even suggested in this Report that if the sums which are to be granted are insufficient the Chancellor, like Oliver Twist, will come to the House of Commons and put out his hand for more. We cannot forget that in the last few months the Chancellor has been urging the most stringent economies upon the nation.
When the Government took office, the first thing the Prime Minister did was to inform us that our economic and financial position was so grave that it was necessary to reduce the salaries of Cabinet Ministers. With the Chancellor and the Prime Minister agreeing that economy is necessary in the salaries of Cabinet Ministers, I fail to see why this mood should not have found expression in a more stringent examination of the monies to be voted in the Civil List. I do not know how the Chancellor will now be able to argue with Mr. Horner or with Mr. Figgins on wage claims, when he now agrees to this enormous wage claim after giving such grim warnings to the trade unions and employers on 16th May.
I do not know whether or not the Chancellor is familiar with the warnings given by the Prime Minister in a recent address to the Press Association, in which he said that the position was very grim and that we were standing upon a trapdoor. After that gruesome warning I thought we would have an announcement that the Coronation would take place in the Crypt. While we are on this trapdoor the Chancellor comes along and says that before the noose is put over our heads we must have a silver collection and the band is to play "God Save the Queen."
While the people of this country are not interested in republicanism, because the issue of republicanism is not immediately in issue, having nothing very much to do with poverty, I believe that there is a very strong opinion in the country that this Civil List is excessive, and that we might have seen the mood for economy expressed in its various 1344 provisions. Not only in this country but in the United States, where the President has a much smaller salary than that outlined in this Civil List, and where the republican Administration is run with a far greater need for economy, there will be some raising of eyebrows at the very large expenditure we are at present devoting to Royalty in this country; and I do not want to hear any hon. Members opposite express any anti-American feelings in this debate.
We have to bear in mind that we are a poor nation, that we are a nation that should be thinking in terms of economies and that when hon. Members opposite are demanding a scrutiny of the expenditure of all nationalised industries they should demand economy in our oldest nationalised industry. I believe that even if we agree with Royalty we could have just as dignified a Royalty and a less expensive Royalty.
Let us take for example and for comparison the case which is most analogous to our own where there is a Queen and a Prince Consort. In Holland, the Queen receives £142,000 and Prince Bernhardt £28,000 and there is £33,000 for the upkeep of the Royal Palace. Compared with those comparatively modest sums our Civil List is simply fantastic. I have here a quotation from the "Observer," which points out that the monarchy in Holland has succeeded in becoming more democratic and in shedding a good many of the medieval flummeries and aristocratic traditions which are quite out of keeping with a modern democracy. The "Observer" states:Juliana, as Queen, succeeded her mother and by considerable changes in the monarchial customs has increased the good will. She has shed the trappings of Royalty to a surprising extent. Both the Royal Palaces—at The Hague and Amsterdam have been abandoned"—
§ Mr. Hughes
It is merely a simple comparison and there is only one further sentence. It is this. The Palaces have been abandonedfor a simple country house. Curtseying to the Queen has virtually been ended and as a rule there are no ladies in waiting. Today the Dutch Royal Family mixes freely with the people and the young princesses all attend the ordinary day school in the village near their home.1345 I believe that to be in the tradition of this country and that if it were followed the monarchy would lose nothing in dignity and would receive just as much respect from the people.
I have details of a good many monarchies, Scandinavian and others, which show that dignity and democracy and simplicity can be observed with no respect lost to the institution if the need for economy and frugality in national finances are taken into consideration too. I believe that that represents a very large public opinion in this country and that it should be interpreted in the decisions of the House of Commons.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
Perhaps it is not unfitting that after one representative from Scotland, in the person of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has spoken, another representative should take up the tale. I find myself in no great agreement with any of the points which have been presented by the hon. Member. The fact is that we are dealing with the Report of a Select Committee which covered all parties in the House of Commons; to which close examination was given by hon. and right hon. Members representing very different points of view; and on which a surprising amount of general agreement was reached. That is the first thing which we should remember. It is very noticeable not merely in the discussions in the Select Committee but in the speeches which we have heard so far in this Committee, that a very considerable degree of general approbation for the proposals put forward in this Report has been secured.
It is quite right, no doubt, that other views should be put forward. But I think it is only fair to say—and I am sure the hon. Member for South Ayrshire would recognise this—that the hon. Member represents the view of a very small minority in the House of Commons, and indeed in the country as a whole. I am certain that it is a small minority in our own country of Scotland, because whatever else we may say about the present Queen, none of us can forget the Scottish ancestry which we are proud to claim for her. We can claim for the present Royal Family that they are "art and part" of our country in a way which is almost a 1346 new factor in the connection between the monarchy and the people.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, West (Mr. Assheton) has said, there are no doubt certain advantages in some kind of periodic review although, like him, I feel that the proposal of the Opposition for a 10-yearly review has greater disadvantages than advantages. The changing value of money is a very real thing. In that connection surely the hon. Member for South Ayrshire might remember that the present proposals for the upkeep of the monarchy are very much smaller than those brought forward and passed by previous Parliaments, considering the change in the value of money.
I am not at all sure that if the same standard were applied all round to the claims which he mentioned, a solution along those lines would meet with approbation from those putting forward those claims. Again, he quoted foreign monarchies. But if he took a proportionate figure for population, and the extent of the territories, of the British Commonwealth and Empire, and applied it to the figure he gave for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, he would find that it would bring our figure to well over £1 million a year, instead of the comparatively moderate figure which is proposed.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is putting forward a geographical argument about the extent of territories he had better be careful, because now the Sovereign is no longer monarch of India, and India is no longer a part of the Empire. That means that on that basis the Queen should receive a good deal less.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I should be willing, on another occasion, to break a lance with the hon. Member about the exact constitutional position of various parts of the Commonwealth and Empire. Meanwhile, I content myself with saying that I do not think he would be very popular, even in all parts of India, if he expressed there the constitutional doctrine which he is now putting forward to the Committee. The extent of those territories and the great population—and the duties—which go with those territories would fully justify, on the comparison the hon. Member himself has chosen, a much higher figure than is put forward in the proposals before the Committee.
1347 When the hon. Member is bold enough to go further and claim that it would be much better to have the system which they have in the United States of America I beg him to go to the Smoking Room and read accounts of the arguments which are now going on in that country about the selection of a President and to consider whether, on the whole, our system is not actually cheaper as well as being at least as dignified.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
To make a comparison the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should rather take the cost of the General Election here and the cost of speeches made by Lord Woolton and compare that with the cost of the speeches made in Chicago.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The rashness of the hon. Member is paralleled only by, I regret to say, his uncertainty as to the facts of the case. The election of the Congress and Senate is additional to the election of the President, and he would require to compare the former with the cost of the General Election.
As I say, he will find, and this has been worked out—it was worked out by Benjamin Disraeli long ago—considerable saving, even on the financial side, in the provision which we are making for the Head of the State in this country.
We are engaged on a very great matter. The Report is most valuable in that it brings up to the forefront the great duties which fall upon the Head of the State—the great and increasing duties which fall upon the Head of the State—in connection with the great Empire and Commonwealth of which the Queen is Head. I do not think that any of us would deny that when visitors come from overseas parts of the Empire one of the things they most keenly desire and are most greatly honoured by, is to be received by the Monarch. They go back and describe it with the utmost pleasure, even laying emphasis, if I may say so, on those very points of ceremonial and pageantry to which certain hon. and even right hon. Gentlemen take exception.
I remember entertaining, when I happened to be Public Relations Officer at the War Office, a distinguished Indian soldier during the war. That distinguished fighting man, alas, since dead, came fresh from the fighting in Abyssinia. He had the honour of being received by both the 1348 King and the Prime Minister. He broadcast to his own country, the very country of India which has been mentioned today, about his reception here, and, believe me, the emphasis he laid was much more on the honour of having been re-received by the Monarch, than that of being received by the Prime Minister, great as that honour was.
Let hon. Members hesitate before they attempt to weaken the enormous and important though impalpable duties which the Crown performs, not merely in relation to the self-governing Dominions but to the other parts of the Empire. We take great interest, for example, in the special position of certain territories within the boundaries of the Union of South Africa—Basutoland and Swaziland. We have hon. and right hon. Gentlemen stressing the importance of their direct link with the Crown. But the link with the Crown is because it is the Crown. Let us hesitate before we weaken or diminish in any way the position and authority which the Crown has, not merely in relation to this country, great as that is, but in relation to the Empire and Commonwealth, where its significance and duties are great, and will be greater in the years ahead.
I do not think that these provisions are excessive. We shall have to defend them in our constituencies, and will undoubtedly have to do so to people to whom these sums seem great indeed. I think we can honestly do so with a full sense of responsibility. I, as a Member of the Select Committee, support the provisions here being made, and there is not one that I would not defend on a platform in the poorest part of my constituency.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
Many hon. Members on this side of the House will agree with the observation of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) that the figures mentioned in the Report of the Select Committee and in this Motion are very high, but I think that many of us on this side of the Committee will not come to the conclusion on the whole matter at which my hon. Friend has arrived. We shall not desire to scale down these provisions and we shall feel that any criticisms of them that may be made are sufficiently met by the Amendment put down by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.
1349 The point on which we differ from my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire is that any of us think that the emphasis of this debate, taking it all in all, should be upon the value of the Crown to this country and the Commonwealth. The whole conception of the Commonwealth as it is, and as we hope it will develop, is dependent upon the existence of the Crown. Moreover, the social processes upon which we are engaged and the social changes which we have wrought in recent years have been achieved in the particular way in which they have been achieved as a consequence of the existence of the Crown and of our Constitution as it stands, with the Crown playing a supremely important part within it.
We on this side of the Committee are, of course, all in favour of simplification and a very large measure of it. We are also all in favour of reasonable economy; and the more reasonable economy there is the stronger we think will be the foundations of the institution. I am bound to say, however, that there is plenty of evidence that those responsible recognise the importance of increasing simplification in these matters and indeed also of increasing economy. This Report, whatever else it may divulge and expose, shows that the costs with which the Report is concerned bear very little relation to the rise in prices which has occurred, and there are plenty of marks of substantial economy which stand out in this Report.
It must also be said, if we are to be realists upon this matter, that the vast majority of the British people like pageantry, and like it very much. After all, this institution represents the continuity of the British tradition. It represents a bond which is above party strife, a tie which keeps together peoples all over the face of the earth who are of different colour and of different race. I believe that it is an obvious fallacy to attempt to argue that the processes of Parliamentary democracy must necessarily be drab. Why should they be? What conceivable contradiction is there between the processes of Parliamentary democracy and the pageantry of a high historic tradition?
There are those of us on this side of the Committee who think that two of the main objectives of British policy in the 1350 next 25 years should be, first, that we should secure in the present reign and in the coming years an expansion and extension of the influence of the British Commonwealth in foreign policy and world affairs vis-à-vis the influence of the United States of America, although we are all the time anxious to remain on the most friendly terms with the great Republic.
That is one objective which we think should be in the minds of the British people at the beginning of this reign. Another is the rapid development of under-developed areas in the world, many of which are inside the Commonwealth and many of which are outside. We believe that that development on an adequate scale is not only a great task in itself in these areas, but that it may contain in it the solution to the great economic and financial predicament which faces this country at the present time.
It is a question for the electorate whether or not we get a mandate for policies of that kind. The observation I desire to make in this debate is that if we do get such a mandate we shall find, in elaborating and working out that enterprise and that policy, that the existence of the Crown, with all it means to the British Commonwealth, will be a most beneficial and advantageous factor indeed in the situation. I think we should bear that in mind on this side of the Committee.
It would be an entire misrepresentation of the opinions and intentions of the Labour Party in a matter of this kind to say that we want to scale or pare down these provisions. I think it is a great mistake to think that radical policies, even extreme policies, require the abandonment of traditional forms. Why should they? I know of no reason why they should or why we should not maintain and hold on to these most valuable traditional forms at the same time that we set afoot the most radical and extreme policies of reform and improvements in our own country and the Commonwealth. I think the fallacy that one cannot have effective radical policies without abandoning traditional forms has been the cause of delaying many important reforms in our history.
I represent a great industrial constituency on Merseyside and I try as best 1351 I can in the House and in Committee to interpret the views of my constituents. So far as I can understand they have many anxieties and many resentments about the present state of affairs—and many hardships, heaven knows—but I do not believe that there is any desire among them to pare or scale down these provisions.
They do not want to be parsimonious and mercenary in a matter of this kind. The plain fact of the matter, which is of great significance for the world, is that they would let none outdo them in loyalty to this great institution of the monarchy.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Sir Edward Keeling (Twickenham)
I want to amplify briefly what was said by the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) about Civil List pensions. I am sorry she is not here at the moment. Line 11 of my right hon. Friend's Motion limits to £2,500 the amount which may be granted in any one year in respect of new pensions. I would ask my right hon. Friend either to accept my Amendment, which leaves out that limitation altogether or, alternatively, if he prefers—and you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, will accept it—to move a manuscript Amendment increasing the amount proposed in his Motion.
Perhaps I might tell the Committee—though they probably know already—that Civil List pensions are defined in the Civil List Act of 1837 as being available for persons… who, by their useful Discoveries in Science or Attainments in Literature and the Arts, have merited the gracious Consideration of their Sovereign and the Gratitude of their Country.In the general words which precede that definition the pensions are available also for the widows or other dependents of such people.
Since they were first made statutory there have been great names in the list of people who have received them. I should like to give the Committee a few. There was John Dalton, the originator of the atomic theory; Michael Faraday; Mary Russell Mitford, author of "Our Village"; Paley, whose "Evidences of Christianity" some of us had to study as a condition of entry to one of the universities; Constantia Maria Wren, a great-great-granddaughter of Christopher Wren 1352 —her father was present at the Battles of Dettingen and Fontenoy; Sir Richard Owen; Thomas Huxley; Samuel Wesley; Richard Burton of Arabia; Livingstone; Haydn, compiler of the "Dictionary of Dates"; and, coming down to more recent times, Sir Frank Benson; the widow of James Elroy Flecker; Ben Greet; the widow of Sir Charles Stanford; Lucas Malet; the widow of Dr. Bradley, editor of the "Oxford English Dictionary": and the two daughters of Sir Robert Hunter, founder of the National Trust.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
Has the hon. Gentleman got particulars of the sums which were paid to them?
§ Sir E. Keeling
I have the figures. I may say that at one time the means test for qualification for these Civil List pensions was not so keen and strict as it is today.
When the Civil List pensions were first made statutory in 1837 it was laid down that the pensions granted in any one year should not exceed £1,200. I want to make it perfectly clear—because some people do not understand it—that that figure of £1,200 was not the amount which was to be granted altogether, but the maximum of new pensions in any one year. On page 20 of the Select Committee's Report we have the statement that in 1951 the whole of the Civil List pensions cost £32,000. Apart from giving that figure, the Select Committee make no reference to the matter. I believe that they did not even consider the Civil List pensions. I understand that this £32,000 was shared by 181 pensioners, giving an average of about £177 per pension.
The maximum of £1,200 fixed by the Act of 1837 was continued throughout the reigns of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V. In 1936, when Edward VIII came to the Throne, that admirable and courageous Member of the House, Sir Alan Herbert, suggested—in the debate on the Civil List Resolution—that the amount should be doubled, but when the Bill was brought up he changed his mind and increased the amount to £4,000.
That change of mind seems to have annoyed the then Chancellor of the Exchequer—Mr. Neville Chamberlain—who refused to countenance any increase. 1353 Sir Alan Herbert's Amendment was rejected, on a Division. In consequence. Edward VIII then being very young, everybody thought that the figure so retained in 1936 would continue for a very long time; but in the following year Edward VIII abdicated and a remarkable thing occurred. In the Civil List Bill of George VI, His late Majesty, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, without a word, without any Motion or Amendment, increased the amount from £1,200 to £2,500, and that increase was agreed to, also without a word.
The amount of each pension is decided by the Prime Minister and, up to quite recently—certainly since the death of Queen Victoria—the maximum was £100. In the last few years, owing to the rise in the cost of living, some pensions have had to be increased. The List, which is in the Library of the House, shows—as the hon. Lady said—that 51 pensions were granted last year and that most of them were in addition to existing pensions. When those had been increased the money left was sufficient for only four new pensions. Eighteen of the 51 had themselves rendered the qualifying service; the other 33 were the widows or daughters of distinguished people. Fifteen of the 51 pensioners were men and 36 were women. The amounts granted last year varied from £275 to £10. The variation was not due to a scale of merit so much as to the financial circumstances of the recipients. As is explained in the list in the Library, this is always taken into account.
Because of the limit of £2,500 some of the pensions, even now that they have been increased, are pitifully small, and I suggest that that is not what the Committee desires. In view of the rise in the cost of living since 1936—I suppose it has certainly doubled and some people say it has trebled—the figure fixed at the beginning of the reign of His late Majesty ought to be raised, in the same way that the pensions of all other State pensioners have been raised. If the maximum total were doubled, and all the amount so allowed were used, the annual cost of the increase to the State would not exceed £30,000.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Test)
Has the hon. Gentleman also noticed that the £2,500 is by no means all spent in the accounts which he has examined? There 1354 seems to be room for expanding the range of pensions.
§ Sir E. Keeling
I do not know where the hon. Gentleman gets the idea from that the £2,500 is not spent, because the List shows that it is. Perhaps he will explain if he catches your eye, Mr. Hopkin Morris.
My Amendment does not fix a new amount. If it had done so, it would have been out of order. It merely makes the Chancellor of the Exchequer free to increase the amount when the Bill is produced. Alternatively, if he prefers substantially to increase the amount in his own Motion, I shall be happy to withdraw my Amendment. In either case, I hope the Chancellor will bear in mind what Sir Alan Herbert described as the spiritual foundation of a proposal for increase. That spiritual foundation is the fact that the British race has spread its literature, its art, its learning and its inventions throughout the world; and it is the last hope of many who have contributed towards that to get one of these small Civil List pensions.
It is quite true, as I am reminded, that a National Insurance pension is now available to some, though not all, of the recipients of these pensions; but it is not enough. It is also true that there are benevolent funds and charities, but, as we all know, the springs of charity in the last few years are lower than they were. Once we have accepted, as we did in 1837, the principle of pensions of this kind, I do not think we are doing our duty if we grant only the amount fixed at the beginning of the reign of His late Majesty, when not only was money worth much more but the struggle for existence in the artistic and scientific world was not so severe as it is today.
I am not suggesting that every artist or scientific man who is indigent should receive a pension. The Prime Minister decides who shall receive one, and I think there need be no fear, at any rate today, in spite of what the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) said, that the money will be improperly disposed of.
When this subject was debated in 1936, Miss Ellen Wilkinson remarked that we largely remember a country because of the great names in its art and literature; we do not want this country remembered 1355 by its poor treatment of its artists. And, of course, not only artists but scientists too.
We owe an increase in these pensions to distinguished men and women suffering from poverty who might have been comfortably off had they busied themselves with money-making but who instead devoted themselves to their art or scientific calling. I believe our country would bear this small extra expense gladly and proudly.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. John Parker (Dagenham)
I do not think there are many people on these benches who are ardent republicans, but I think the great majority on these benches do not look on the monarchy in the same way as do most hon. Members opposite. We look on it as the most convenient form of running the country, more convenient than the American or some other methods, but we also think that it ought to be brought more into line with the general feeling of the age. A number of hon. Members opposite have said that the monarchy has altered its character in recent years, and I agree with that, but I think there is room for still further alteration to bring it into line with the accepted views of the country.
May I put a number of questions to the Government and make a number of suggestions? If I understand the position correctly, the Civil List was started in 1697, when King William III handed over to the Treasury the receipts from the Crown Lands and other Royal property in return for a grant from Parliament. I think there is a strong case for extending that custom by also including the Duchy of Cornwall and handing over its receipts automatically to the Treasury.
Since that time, various people have given properties and money to the Royal Family. Particularly during Queen Victoria's reign, it became the habit for many courtiers to leave their property to the Royal Family, and there has grown up quite a large fortune held by the Royal Family which is not taken into account at all in these discussions. On the accession of King Edward VIII I believe it was very substantial indeed, although I think he dissipated a certain amount of it. In my opinion, we ought to be given figures to show what the 1356 Royal Family's income is at present, apart altogether from the Civil List. I suggest that the income from these properties ought also to be made over to the Treasury and taken into account by Parliament in deciding the size of the Civil List.
I understand that it was from these sources of Royal revenue that Sandringham and Balmoral were originally purchased, and I noticed from a Question answered yesterday—it had been asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes)—that among the Royal Palaces maintained by the Ministry of Works, Balmoral and Sandringham are not mentioned. I should like to know bow they are maintained and what is the cost of their upkeep.
I think, also, that hon. Members would like to know whether this income the Royal Family receives from other sources is used to maintain the Duke of Windsor. We should like to know whether part of the money on the Civil List is diverted for that purpose. We know that in 1937, when King George VI became King, there were discussions about giving a grant to the Duke of Windsor. It was believed that the House would not be prepared to support such a grant, and, therefore, all such suggestions were dropped. I think we ought to be given information about all the other sources of the Royal income, because, in deciding what the size of the Civil List should be, we ought to have that information before us.
§ Captain Christopher Soames (Bedford)
Does the hon. Gentleman think that everybody's income should be made public, or only the Royal Family's?
§ Mr. Parker
I think the latter is relevant to the matter we are discussing. We are discussing the Civil List to maintain the Royal Family for their services; if they have large other forms of income coming in, that is relevant to the size of the grant we should fix for maintaining those Royal services.
I should like to take the question of the Royal Palaces further. We were told in answer to a Question yesterday that full maintenance and repair of Royal Palaces had been handed over to the Ministry of Works. What does that mean? If alterations are made at Windsor or Buckingham Palace by the Royal 1357 Family, do they have to obtain the authority first of the Ministry of Works, or not?
As I mentioned earlier, Balmoral and Sandringham are not included among the Palaces maintained by the Ministry of Works. There, presumably, the Royal Family can make any alterations they wish, and finance them out of their own private fortune. What is the position, however, about other Royal residences, such as Fort Belvedere and Frogmore? Do they count as part of Windsor, or are they treated differently and maintained by the Royal Family out of their private income?
I should like some more information about the proposal made in the Civil List Report that the Ministry of Works should take over the wages of the industrial staff working inside the Royal Palaces. I think we ought to be told exactly what that means. What industrial staff is there in the Royal Palaces? What is the staff doing? Are they doing ordinary maintenance work—keeping Windsor, and so on, in repair, or not?
While I am on this point, I do think that in the present inquiry the position with regard to the Palace of Westminster ought to have been cleared up, and that the whole of its control and maintenance ought to be handed over to the Ministry of Works. There are continual difficulties at present between the people in control of different parts of this Palace. This would provide a convenient opportunity to clear up that matter.
Then there is the question of Class IV, which covers Royal alms, money for charities, and so on. I think we ought to be told what that means. In the past quite a lot of money was given by the Royal Family to help particular hospitals. Their names used to come at the head of lists of subscriptions for hospitals, and so on. With the taking over of the hospitals the need for that has disappeared, but we still find people who want to raise money for a particular charity and who like to get it put under Royal patronage and get some donation from a member of the Royal Family to put at the head of the subscription list.
I am not saying that that should be ruled out altogether, but I think we ought to be given some information of the sort of principles on which the Royal 1358 Family do decide to subscribe to particular charities, in what cases they propose to give alms, and so on, because sometimes we do have this Royal patronage abused, and some particular charity which is not, perhaps, altogether desirable, if it has Royal patronage, does have a greater chance of raising money than would otherwise be the case.
I should also like to raise the question of the maintenance of horses in the Royal establishments. It seems to me that the number of 35 horses normally kept for all the ceremonial occasions of the Crown is a very high figure. I should have thought that it would have been possible to have had some kind of pool of horses kept in London for all kinds of ceremonial occasions. I think that that probably would be a good deal cheaper than the very large amount of money that has to be put aside for maintaining the Royal mews at the present time. Most of us are in favour of the ceremonial side of the monarchy, but I think that is a very high number of horses and a very expensive establishment to be maintained, for looking after these various ceremonial activities.
I should like to suggest that the time really has come to rationalise the monarchy and its maintenance. I do not see why we should not make to the Queen and to other members of the Royal Family wishing to do public service salaries and expenses on the line of those to the Prime Minister at the present time, or why the various Royal properties should not be completely taken over and maintained by the Ministry of Works or some other suitable Department.
Now I should like to take up those remarks made in the Report that the Committee… noted with concern that there are several members of the Royal Family who, by virtue of their position near the Throne, are excluded from ordinary commercial activities and must, of necessity, devote their lives to public duties, and fulfil heavy programmes of official engagements. …I quite agree that it may be desirable to use junior members of the Royal Family to carry out public duties, but why should they have to do that if they do not want to do so? I personally see no reason at all why people who are related to the Royal Family should be debarred from taking up careers of their own and taking part in business if they so wish.
1359 At the present time we do not deal with the matter rationally. Under a Proclamation made by King George V similar to one made by Queen Victoria, the sons of the Sovereign count as princes, and their sons, but not after that. The result at the present time is that we have the young Duke of Kent and two young sons of the Duke of Gloucester who are debarred from any kind of commercial activity or any kind of career of their own; on the other hand, the two sons of the Princess Royal are allowed to lead their own lives and have their own careers. They are not princes, because they happen to be the sons of a Royal daughter instead of sons of a Royal son.
The suggestion I would make is that the time has come when the title of prince should be restricted just to the sons of the reigning Monarch, and that it should be withdrawn from, or not given to, other descendants, unless they happen to come into the direct line of succession to the Throne through the death of someone else. I think we should put them in the position where they can lead lives of their own, and—
§ Mr. Colegate
On a point of order. I do not see anything in this Motion about the use of titles—the title of prince—or anything of that kind. Are these remarks in order?
§ Mr. Parker
I am only commenting on the suggestion made in the Report about the members of the Royal Family close to the Queen, and the fact that they are not allowed to earn their own livings or to have careers of their own, and I am suggesting that they should be able to do so in future.
I take the view that it is a good idea, if these people are prepared and want to carry out duties on behalf of the nation, that they should be in the position of being granted money from the contingency fund; but that, if they do not wish to do so, they should not be debarred from taking part in commercial activities and of living their own lives. I think that to restrict the title of prince in the way I have suggested would make it easier for them to lead normal lives and to earn their own livings if they so desire.
1360 I think that that would be an important contribution towards rationalising the monarchy.
To sum up, I would say that many of us feel that this Report does not go far enough in trying to rationalise and modernise the monarchy. We feel it would be better if a definite salary and suitable expenses were paid to the Queen and other members of the Royal Family for carrying out their public duties, and if the other activities financed on the Civil List were handed over to the relevant Government Departments.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)
It is not, of course, my intention to close the debate, nor is it my intention to carry the matter very far along the lines expressed by the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) about rationalising the Monarchy, but I thought it might be convenient, as we have had two speeches on a subject slightly out of the general stream, that is to say, the Civil List pensions, by the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Sir E. Keeling) if I rose and said something about that.
It is a curious thing that these matters come within this particular Motion, because they are nothing to do with the Civil List. They are merely an authority by Parliament for the payment of certain moneys to distinguished persons, but for historic reasons this Motion has always been attached to the Civil List at the beginning of a reign. It has nothing to do with it, and I think it may be convenient to clear that out of the way.
The facts of the situation were very clearly put by the two hon. Members who spoke. The basic Act was, of course, passed over 100 years ago, in 1837, and as my hon. Friend pointed out, the figure was raised in 1937 from £1,200 a year to £2,500. When I speak of the figure, I mean the annual amount of extra pensions granted within one year. But, of course, it does not mean that only £2,500 is outstanding.
As a matter of fact, as the Report of the Select Committee pointed out, in 1951 the issue from the Treasury for this purpose was £31,790. The number of Civil List pensions at the moment is 180 and the names of the persons receiving them are available for those who wish 1361 to see them in the return rendered, which is available in the Library of the House. These Civil List pensions are granted by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of the day, and the governing words of the original Resolution, passed as long ago as 1834, are that the pensions shall be granted tosuch Persons only as … by their useful Discoveries in Science and Attainments in Literature and the Arts, have merited the gracious Consideration of their Sovereign and the Gratitude of their Country.They are given, as I say, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister to such persons or their dependants, because it may be widows or daughters, who are in need of financial help. They are not given as an award, as a decoration so to speak, but in consideration of the need for financial assistance. Therefore, it happens that the pensions which are granted during any particular year consist of two classes.
There are totally new pensions and there are increases of existing pensions, and, of course, the great bulk in every year in which the increases are available is due to changes in circumstances and to any increase in the cost of living, and so on. In that way the increases in the cost of living since 1937 have been largely met owing to the increased annual amount available as the result of Parliament's decision in that year. In fact, the average pension is now double what it was in 1937.
Therefore, since it has been possible under the existing limits to increase the amounts of existing pensions as well as to make new awards, there is not any very strong case for an immediate increase in the annual limit. The limit is being spent at the present moment, but in cases where the pensions were very low they have been gradually brought up during the last 15 years.
My hon. Friend said that in recent years the heart of charity had dried up. I am not so sure that that is a generally accepted statement as regards the whole field of charitable works in the country. But what is true is that there have grown up, with the development of National Insurance and indeed in the academic field and in the institutional world, all sorts of superannuation schemes and the like which nowadays affect quite a proportion of the persons 1362 about whom we are talking, and possibly also their dependants. Anyhow, the fact remains that there has been a tendency for the number of applications which can show real need to decrease.
There is no special reference to this in the Report. Whether this was discussed by the Select Committee or not is not for me to say, because what happens there is naturally not reported; but the Select Committee deliberated on a great number of matters, and it is certainly true, I think, that it would be in accordance with what has been done in another field in the Select Committee's Report—I hope my colleagues on the Select Committee will agree with me when I say this—regarding the contingencies fund on the Civil List portion of this Motion to provide some method of safeguarding against further increases in cost during a long reign.
By leaving it at the figure of £2,500 since 1937 it is clear that there is no cushion there unless the effect of the State schemes to which I have referred is in itself a cushion. Therefore, the Government have taken the matter into consideration since the Select Committee reported, and we are prepared to invite the Committee to accept a manuscript Amendment if it is called—which I have reason to believe it will be—to increase the statutory limit as laid down in the Motion as printed from £2,500 a year to £5,000 and so to provide what I think ought to be an adequate margin for future contingencies, taking the whole picture into view.
But it would not be the intention of the Government—in this case it is, of course, the Prime Minister's recommendation—because the figure has gone up from £2,500 to £5,000 to increase at once the annual amount of new pensions to that particular limit. The time to do that is when the need becomes apparent. After all, the grant of these pensions is a recognition, however small it may be in some cases, of accepted eminence in science, literature or the arts, and I think and hope that Parliament will consider that the standard of attainments and qualifications should be maintained, as otherwise, of course, the value of it—not the financial value but the honorific value—would diminish as the years go by.
1363 Therefore, by raising the maximum there is no intention of spending £5,000 straight away just because there is £5,000 to spend. The attainments and qualifications and standards should be maintained and have been maintained as my hon. Friend pointed out—he read out some of the names—and in that way, I think, we are meeting the very proper case which the hon. Lady and my hon. Friend put forward.
The Government have not had the opportunity of consulting every member of the Select Committee on this subject since the decision was made, but judging from the relationships which were formed through that Committee and the happy way in which we worked, I have reason to think—