§ As amended, considered.
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
The Bill has been fully discussed in its various stages as a result of the finding of the Select Committee to which we have referred in previous stages of the Measure. I do not think it is necessary for me to go into great detail about the contents of the Bill. I will, therefore, confine myself to saying that it follows the findings of the Select Committee, and it has been amended in one or two respects to meet points raised from the other side of the House and by hon. and right hon. Friends of mine on this side of the House. In all the circumstances I think it would be suitable if the Bill were to be read the Third time.
§ 10.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)
This in a way is a unique opportunity for hon. Members in all parts of the House. There are very few sitting in this House today who are likely in the normal course of events to take part in another Bill dealing with the Civil List. Therefore, I think hon. Members in all quarters of the House may think it a little discourteous, in view of the position which the Crown occupies, not only in this country but throughout the Commonwealth, for the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal to treat the Third Reading as if it were a Measure dealing with the brewers and so smuggle it through at a late hour of the night. There are a great numbers of hon. Members who want to make a few remarks very shortly on the Civil List Bill.
I have not sought to speak on any previous stage of this Measure nor have I spoken in Committee. It would, of course, be convenient if at some time the Lord Privy Seal were to indicate on this unique occasion how long he considers it proper for hon. Members to discuss what is perhaps the central institution of the Commonwealth. Probably to him the Bill has an importance meriting about one quarter of the time devoted to other partisan Measures but I hope he will not, particularly when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose skill, good nature 669 and Parliamentary ability enabled him to carry through the Finance Bill without having one single Closure moved, is present, do what has never been done before on any Civil List Bill, that is, move the Closure on a discussion which must be of the greatest importance to the Commonwealth as a whole.
This is a difficult debate in which to speak because one of the most important things which any hon. Member can do is to contribute to taking the Crown out of politics. It may be said that except for one rather unfortunate corner of the United Kingdom, there is no part of the Commonwealth as a whole where the Crown is any longer used as a party symbol. At one time the Crown was a mark in some ways of privilege and domination, and those people who were associated with the Crown were so associated for the purpose of supporting the domination and privilege of the Crown in some form or another. It has been the task of all parties in the State in the last 50 years or so to try to convert the Crown into something very different—a symbol of the union of the Commonwealth.
There is no reason at all why, if this Measure has to be taken at this hour of night, the Lord Privy Seal should not also remember that the British Commonwealth, which no doubt he has stressed in his more flamboyant Election addresses, is a place on which the sun never sets, and that while it is late at 10 p.m. here it is early in some other parts of the Commonwealth. As we are discussing a question which affects all parts of the Commonwealth we should not be deterred from doing so because of the time that happens to run in this part of it. We should remember that we are speaking at the same time as other Members of the Commonwealth are sitting down to their breakfasts.
Were this debate being held 50 years ago it would be full—as hon. Members who, when the House proposes to sit late, sometimes find consolation by looking into the past numbers of "Punch," may discover—of an approach towards Republicanism. It is a curious change and a very effective one, which has been contributed to by practically all quarters of the House—I exclude only those quarters which still see fit to use the Crown for party political purposes. 670 It is fair to acquit the greater proportion of the Conservative Party—that we have now got to the stage at which Republicanism is not an issue. Indeed, if hon. Gentlemen reflect who would probably have been elected as President of the Republic had we had an Election in 1945, we can see that there are all sorts of reasons against pursuing such a course.
If that is so, it is of particular importance to consider how the sums of money provided under the Bill are to be spent for the benefit of the Commonwealth as a whole. Though they are contributed by the taxpayers of this country they are, in a very real sense the contribution which we, as the Mother Country, make for the maintaining of a symbol which is of value not only in this country but in the Commonwealth as a whole.
Therefore it is particularly important that we avoid, and take care in this debate to see that we avoid, the sort of misunderstanding liable to arise over the grant of large sums of this nature. I would allude for one moment to a matter which has, I know, been pursued by other hon. Members in the course of previous stages of the debate.
In last week's "Sunday Pictorial" one found that a tremendous proportion of the readers who took part in a poll voted that the sums provided in the Bill were far too high. I take the view that in certain cases the sums are too high, but the House has come to another decision, and I am not going to re-open the matter. We are considering now whether we are to pass the Bill as it stands.
What we are concerned with is exactly how the Bill is to be administered. The difficulty is the same as that which faces Members of Parliament, in that there are lumped together both salary and expenses. We are really providing a whole section of the cost of the Headship of the State. The division of the sum is entirely arbitrary. There is no particular reason why, out of the sum granted to the Crown, should not be paid the salaries of ambassadors, and why they should not be included in the Civil List. An ambassador is the personal representative abroad of the Sovereign.
§ Mr. Speaker
We are now on Third Reading. There is no word about ambassadors in the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman must confine his remarks to what is actually in the Bill.
§ Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)
The expenses of ambassadors and Ministers of the Crown used to come out of the Civil List.
§ Mr. Bing
I appreciate that. These are sums which no longer come out of it. I was not attempting to try to make the debate any wider; I was merely attempting to give an example of how in this Bill we are voting large sums of money to be provided for expenses which are theoretically the responsibility of the Crown but which have no more direct connection with the Crown than the salaries of ambassadors and other personal representatives.
There are a host of Palace officials and the like to whom sums are devoted. They are very proper appointments no doubt, but they are paid out of the Civil List when there is no particular logic that they should be so paid. Therefore, I particularly regret that the House did not take the opportunity of limiting the period of this Bill to give us an opportunity of looking into the matter again.
The Crown is far too important a link in the Commonwealth for us to allow very lightly a series of appointments to be made and salaries to be met out of the large sums provided by Parliament when it has no effective control or effective means of influencing the appointments. What appointments of the Royal household are made and paid for out of these sums is a question of most important policy.
We often forget in this House that the Commonwealth, of which this country is the Mother Country, consists both in its economic strength and in its actual physical capacity of far more people who are coloured than of people who are white. of far more people of a different religion from those here. The question of who should be employed in a series of appointments which have no particular or direct relation to the Throne is a matter of policy.
Looking back on the old days one can see as a great progressive move, though it seemed a small thing, the appointment of Indian officials to her household by the late Queen Victoria. That 672 was in its way a remarkable acknowledgment that the Commonwealth did not consist only of people who were situated in this Island. The question of who is to exercise office in the Royal Household is a far wider matter and should not be left to a group of people who are chosen in a traditional form.
It really is a question of policy that we should include in a crowd which represents all the people of the Commonwealth representatives of all the races that go to make up the Commonwealth, and it is no use offering as a Headship to a Commonwealth such as ours an apparatus of symbolism at the top exclusively devoted to one class of people just because they happen to have been those who were traditionally entrusted with the job.
As time goes on there are new forms of society. The Palace of Westminster, indeed the whole of Parliament, has survived because we have adapted our medieval forms. Equally, if we are to preserve traditions in the Palace—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. and learned Member is going very wide of the Bill. On Second Reading he might easily have argued that some provisions for the concepts of which he is in favour might have been included, but they are not, in fact, and the hon. and learned Member must, on Third Reading, keep to the Bill
§ Mr. Bing
I appreciate your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, but it ill becomes hon. Members opposite, when Members on this side of the House are trying to make a contribution in regard to a Bill—[Laughter.]—a contribution in regard to a Commonwealth matter, to sit there jeering. It almost leads me to believe that there are still some hon. Gentlemen opposite who consider in some way that the Crown should be, as it was once, a party symbol. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]
I shall not pursue the point on which I was previously engaged. I merely say that it seems to me desirable that the expenditure on the Household and the whole apparatus of Household, to which these large sums are directed, should be spent in such a way that it embraces the Commonwealth as a whole. Let me take just one example from the Bill, and one of the reasons why if I were opposing the Bill I should feel inclined to do so.
673 The provision for Royal Trustees consists entirely of representatives—the one permanent official the Keeper of the Privy Purse; and two political appointments—deriving directly from this country. How much better it would have been had the Clause been cast in a far wider form and had there been associated nominally in what, probably, are not very onerous duties, representatives of the Commonwealth as a whole.
That is not a valid reason for rejecting the Bill as a whole. It would not be proper, simply because one objects to one Clause in the Bill, to reject the Bill as a whole. But it is of the greatest importance that in voting these large sums of money—that is what the Bill ultimately does—we provide machinery in regard to the Bill which provides that lack of wealth shall not be a bar to access to the Throne.
After all, when considering the great majority of people in this country and the great majority of those in the Commonwealth, it must be remembered that there is a far lower standard of living in many parts of the Commonwealth than in this country. It would be entirely wrong if, by voting such large sums as this, we were to divorce the Crown from the ordinary life of the ordinary people.
The tact that large sums are voted—this is the reason that I advocate the passing of the Bill as it stands—does not necessarily mean that they are to be so spent as to divorce the Crown from the ordinary lives of the ordinary people. But now that we are engaged on the last stages of this Measure, I make the plea that those whose duty it is to administer the Bill shall see that the sums are so spent that there is no person in the Commonwealth, however humble his position, who feels that there exists a huge barrier of wealth which separates him from the Crown.
The value of the Crown is the value of a symbol, and the value of that symbol is entirely destroyed if we erect by means of money an artificial barrier between those whom the Crown should represent and the Crown itself. In these circumstances, I hope that we shall have from some hon. Gentlemen opposite an expression of opinion in regard to how they feel, under these new conditions, 674 these new changed circumstances in which we find ourselves, the whole of the Civil List provision should be administered.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
Like my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing), I should like to pay a tribute to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the way in which he has handled the Bill. At all times he has been dignified and helpful, and he has endeavoured to give us all the information for which our searching questions have sought.
Never once, much as he may have felt that some of our opinions were distasteful, has he in any way taken offence at what has been said. Always he has accepted that those who differed from him were quite genuine and sincere in those differences. Because of that he will get this Bill through tonight without any difficulty and without any vote against it from those who have expressed some opinions contrary to the general opinions expressed during its course.
One of the things which rather dismays me in regard to this Bill is that it arises from the Report of a Select Committee which was set up on 20th May. That was five days after the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made his statement to the Joint Advisory Council on wage restraint in British industry. That statement has been used by his colleague the Minister of Labour to prevent 12 wages councils from granting increases to 1½ million people of from 5s. to 10s. a week.
My difficulty in trying to accept—as I am quite prepared to accept—the majority decision of this House and in trying to recognise that my point of view is a very small minority point of view not shared by many, is that I have to explain to men who are getting £5 10s. a week that it is very necessary, because the Chancellor said so on 15th May, that they should not press their wage claims to meet the increased cost of living, yet at the same time I am expected to justify to them the grants contained in this Bill.
It would be very difficult for anyone to convince me that it is really necessary for our Royal Family, if they are to live useful and dignified lives, to have these sums. I think I have been justified in putting forward the point of view I have expressed on Second Reading and during 675 the Committee stage. By the very nature of the sums that members of the Royal Family receive they are bound to live artificial lives; they are bound to lead lives far removed from the people over whom they reign.
The Queen and her Consort are a young married couple with two young children. I believe that it would be better for them if, instead of having to indulge in all this pomp. they were allowed to lead the lives of ordinary married people, spending far more time with their children and knowing the joys of the company of their children. That would probably come about if the suggestions I have tried to make during the course of the Bill had been accepted.
Nevertheless, I know that my point of view is not shared by very many, and on this matter I am quite prepared to bow to the majority point of view. Whatever opinions I may have expressed, I should like to assure the House that, just as I have no hatred, or animosity towards anybody, certainly I have none towards any member of the Royal Family. It is my wish that they should live a long and happy life, and I hope that during the reign this country of ours may not only have peace but the prosperity to which, after their trials and tribulations, the people of this country are entitled to look forward.
§ 10.35 p.m.
§ Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)
I have listened to some of the debates on the sums to be given to the Royal Family with some embarrassment. It is not easy, if one is a public servant—and the Royal Family are public servants—if a clear distinction is not made between one's private life and one's public commitments. I think that it is now clear that on this side of the House we resent and do not accept the position that the Royal Family are a private monopoly of the Tory Party.
I am quite certain that in taking that point of view we are doing something for the Royal House which the Tory Party is not capable of doing. If the Tory Party had their way and could maintain the Royal Family as a centre of snobbery and colour prejudice and class prejudice that would be the end of the British Royal Family as a Royal Family in other parts of the world.
676 I believe that when we enter into an honourable agreement we should keep it honourably. Therefore, when we on these benches say that we recognise the services which the Royal Family render as the Head of the Commonwealth and not just as the Head of an Island, we should show good taste when we are discussing, among other things, the financial provisions for their needs. [An HON. MEMBER: "Let us have some."] We do not expect good taste from the type of Tory hooligans who do their best to humiliate Members of Parliament, who are also public servants. We do not expect good taste from that type of mentality, which knows perfectly well the difficulties of many hon. Members in doing their public duty.
I believe that Great Britain, although going through hard times, can see that public duties are carried out with dignity; and, therefore, I make a suggestion most respectfully. The other day, when we were discussing the maintenance of museums, it was suggested in this House that a committee of the Treasury should find out if any savings could be made in the running of our museums and art galleries because it was claimed that we could save a few hundred pounds.
I respectfully suggest to the House that the Royal Family are in many respects the victims and the prisoners of Buckingham Palace. I suggest that when we are asked to give great sums of public money at a time when the coalminers are told that there can be no advance for them and when many people are faced with the increased cost of living and other difficulties in meeting their family needs, two things are required.
The first is that if we are to have a Royal Family we ought not to have a shabby Royal Family, and we ought not to have the job done too cheaply. The second is that we should have a Family who can live in such a way that they are a symbol of their representative capacity in the face of the entire world. But that does not mean that we should hand out large sums of money blindly to keep going all kinds of archaic processes. I hope, therefore, that a clear distinction will be made between private and public spending.
I hope that someone on the Government Front Bench can later answer a very simple question that is still a matter of 677 controversy. I do not know whether Her Majesty, as a private citizen, is an immensely rich lady or whether it is true that her fortune has been handed back in the main for public purposes, and that, therefore, she is largely dependent on supplies granted by this House.
I think that in fairness to Her Majesty and in fairness to the taxpayers of this country it would be useful if we could have clear statement of what the position is in that respect. So far as the Royal Family's public expenditure is concerned, that is the responsibility of the House of Commons, and I hope that we are going to be sensible, but at the same time dignified and not shabby and nagging in the standards we ask for and in the supervision of how that money is spent.
I hope that the plea already made from these benches will be recognised—that the Royal Family are great public servants, that they have got to stand as the symbol of a great organisation covering the Commonwealth, most of whose citizens are coloured, not white, a Commonwealth going through very severe economic difficulties, and that some way will be found of freeing them from the old-fashioned conception that their main function is to be the centre of social life.
I hope that all young women, from whatever kind of home they come, have a good time. But I do not see why the energies of the Queen and Royal Family, when they have so many other public duties to perform, should be taken up at this time with the traditional reception of young women simply because they are rich. I think that is bad for the Royal Family. It is not in keeping with the 20th century.
Therefore, whatever criticisms we make of the sums that are being allotted are not criticisms that are being made in a disrespectful sense or a nagging sense. We believe that there is a honourable bargain to be made. We believe that the Royal Family can do a wonderful job at the present time for Great Britain and the British Commonwealth, but we are quite certain that it cannot do its job and cannot maintain its standards unless it ceases to be the prisoner of the snobbery and class privileges for which Members opposite stand.
§ 10.44 p.m.
§ Mr. James Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
As one who took part in the earlier proceedings let me say at the outset that I appreciate the manner in which the Chancellor has handled this debate from the very beginning. In fact, if he will permit a back-bencher to say it, I think his Parliamentary skill has been very largely responsible for the smooth passage of the proceedings up to now. Therefore, I must express my appreciation.
The second point I want to make before dealing with the Bill is that I want it to be quite clearly understood that my opposition to many of the Clauses of this Bill was not prompted by any ill-feeling or nastiness of mind against any member of the Royal Family or against any individual, because my very nature does not permit me to be nasty-minded towards any individual. I may lose my temper occasionally, but I do not have any permanent against anybody.
When I oppose this Measure I do so because I have a feeling that when we finally pass it we shall have failed to reduce the social barriers between the Crown and the common people. We shall have established those social barriers more firmly. That is my strong objection to the Bill. In these times, if we are to move towards a broader way of life, if we are thinking in terms of bringing the people of the Commonwealth together, whatever be their colour, and into closer unity with the people of this country, one of the essentials is that we should reduce the social barriers and, as far as possible, remove the class distinctions within society. Frankly, I see in this Measure a continuation of those barriers.
When we examine the allocations of money to the various members of the Royal Family, we cannot find any evidence that the approach to this Measure differs from the approach to any Measure dealing with the Civil List in former times. I do not want to go into undue detail, but in the case of the Duke of Edinburgh there is something strange in inserting a Clause of this kind which is permanent and cannot be reviewed. I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Scotland Division (Mr. Logan) is not unduly worried—
§ Mr. David Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)
I should like to worry the hon. Member if he gives me a chance. As he has mentioned me, I should like to know what he means by some of the fulsome terms he has been using. Platitudes coming from people are all very fine, but words have a value. I am reminded by George Bernard Shaw's "Apple Cart" of some of the revolutionaries on the stage, but in this House I expect greater—
§ Mr. Carmichael rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
I understand that the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) gave way in the middle of his speech to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Scotland Division (Mr. Logan), and the hon. Member for the Scotland Division is making an intervention, but that should not be too prolonged. If the hon. Member for the Scotland Division rose, it may be that he would catch my eye later. Mr. Carmichael.
§ Mr. Carmichael rose—
§ Mr. Logan
With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege in this House for anyone to direct adverse criticism at another hon. Member; but, when he is named, that hon. Member has a right to rise and rebut what has been said, if it is offensive. I want to say to the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael)—and I do so with full knowledge of what I am saying and with responsibility, for I am as qualified as he is to use words on the subject—
§ Mr. Carmichael
I have no desire to pursue in the House of Commons something which would be regarded as a personal feud.
§ Mr. Carmichael
When an hon. Gentleman reaches the age of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, and hates with the venom he has displayed towards me tonight, I think I am entitled to say that I do not think his remarks do him credit.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Whatever may be the import of these exchanges it is clear to me that we are very far from the Third Reading of the Civil List Bill. I ask the House to deal with the Bill as expeditiously as possible.
§ Mr. Carmichael
At the outset of my speech I said I had no desire to be intolerant of anyone, and I want to keep to that.
§ Mr. Carmichael
I will pursue my speech in my own way and time.
I have every desire to be as brief because I have already taken sufficient part in the deliberations of this Bill. Before I was interrupted I was making the point that from the very beginning of the proceedings of this Bill we have had the Clauses presented in a manner similar to the contents of any Civil List Bill of the past.
As far as the Clause relating to the Duke of Edinburgh is concerned, I think it is quite wrong that its provisions are for all time, and I pleaded for an Amendment to have the matter examined every 10 years. It is quite wrong to give an allowance for life without knowing what is going to happen in the next 10 or 20 years. That is one of the outstanding weaknesses of the Bill. The social barriers are as wide as ever.
It is not so much the sum of money but the way in which it has been allocated that leaves an impression which bewilders ordinary people. The Government are putting forward a Measure which in total will result in handing over to the Royal Household in one way or another more than £1 million, and at the same time they are telling ordinary people that the economic condition of the country is so serious that even the poorest workers in the land cannot make an 681 application for an increase in wages. I know it can be argued that the total sum for the Royal Household is infinitesimal compared with the national income, but we have to consider the attitude of the ordinary people.
We have tried on a number of occasions to amend this Bill. Strangely enough the only Amendments accepted by the House were those to increase the money for the Royal Household. No other Amendments were considered. Therefore, I make my protest in the mildest manner I can against the way in which this matter has been handled. If we had been given more details about the allocation of the moneys there might have been no difficulty at all, but I must register my protest at the way this Bill has been handled from the beginning.
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)
From some of the remarks of my hon. Friends there seems to be a feeling that although we have not been able to get what we wanted we should support the Measure. Although I do not agree with some of the Clauses, I take the same view that the Labour Party took when it opposed the Civil List in 1937.
I agreed with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), but what she said is not in the Bill, and it is not clear that the Bill would be administered as she desires it. I should have thought that because we have not been able to influence the House in favour of a more simplified form of Monarchy by reducing the expenditure and limiting the paraphernalia responsible for dividing the Crown from the people we could have made an even bigger protest than we have done.
I am particularly opposed to one or two of the Clauses. This is not because I feel any personal hostility to those who bear the responsibility of being members of the Royal Family. I have had the opportunity of speaking to Her Majesty the Queen. and I am sure that she is a gracious woman and would desire to follow her calling with all the dignity that is possible.
At the same time I believe that the more lavish and luxurious the standard imposed upon Royalty the further is Royalty removed from the mass of the people. I believe that no position is 682 more important than that of Prime Minister. Yet the fact that the Prime Minister holds that position, with a special income, does not of itself mean that he lives in a state which divides him from the people. But that result does follow in the case of Royalty under our present system.
My objection to some of the provisions of the Bill is that I do not believe that the problem has had the long, careful examination that it requires. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that before the Bill was introduced he assured himself that all reasonable economies had been made. I have never been able to accept that. As I said on a previous occasion, it is impossible to examine in the space of nine days the ramifications of £500,000 of expenditure. Therefore, I think that this matter has not been adequately considered. As the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) has said, when matters are introduced for debate at late hours it is impossible for us to give them adequate consideration.
I would particularly mention the Clause of the Bill which gives to Princess Margaret an additional £9,000 in the event of her marriage. I was surprised by the arguments used by the right hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) in justification of this. He said the other day that people talk about the amounts given to Royalty as though all the money were going to the Queen. I do not believe that the mass of people think in those terms, but I do think that the man and woman in the street questions individual items.
They see clearly that Princess Margaret is to get £6,000 a year, or £120 a week, and is to be given an additional £9,000 a year in the event of marriage, making £300 a week. They wonder why this should be so. I should have liked to see the right hon. Member for Ipswich in revolt, but instead of that he suggested that it is necessary to give Princess Margaret a wider choice by giving her this additional sum. Although, like him, I am a bachelor, I do not share that view. I think that there ought to be periodical examination of the expenditure.
There could be considerable reduction of the Royal Palaces, and they could be used for better purposes. I do not fully agree with the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) who asked 683 that Buckingham Palace should be used for flats, but I can think of many—
§ Mr. Yates
I remember that when the Civil List was discussed in 1937 Amendments were moved by Members of the Labour Party. One was that one of the Royal Palaces should be used as a convalescent home, another as a university. There are other ways of using them, and we might have considered in this enlightened democratic age a new approach to this problem
I would point out to the hon. Member that he can only at this stage discuss what is actually in the Bill.
§ Mr. Yates
I was really referring to the amount of money in the Bill which covers the Royal Palaces, but I will not pursue that line any further, except to say that in my own constituency in Birmingham questions are put to me from time to time about why large sums of money should be paid out to individual members of the Royal Family.
I have also been asked this question: "If we want to get a pension increase or some special consideration in a certain case, we have to work hard for it and then perhaps in the end we do not succeed in getting the benefit to which we are entitled. Yet Parliament is willing to vote these items of expenditure quite readily."
I myself am trying at the present moment to persuade the Secretary of State for War to do justice to a woman whose husband has been missing for 10 years, and how difficult it is. Yet here we are passing a Bill which represents 684 about £500,000 of expenditure when the country is being asked to bear excessive burdens, and when men and women are asked to refrain from making applications for increased wages.
It is morally wrong and I am opposed to it. I should have thought that we could have said tonight: "Let us refer this back. Let us defer it until we get a more sane approach to this problem, a more sensible, simplified and dignified form for the Headship of our State; one that will be in conformity with the difficult times in which we are living."
§ 11.9 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn, East)
I was rather surprised at the brevity, not to say the brusqueness, with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer initiated the debate this evening. He seemed to imply that any of us who wished to take part in it could only be doing so for frivolous reasons.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I think the hon. Lady would have learned my attitude and motives towards the Bill and to the House if she had been present more frequently during the debates on this Bill. I have sat through every debate on it. I have not had the privilege of seeing the hon. Lady often, and I am only too glad to hear her contribution now.
§ Mrs. Castle
I am delighted to know that the eye of the Chancellor is for ever searching me out in the remote corners of this Chamber. I only wish that he occupied your Chair, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, because I should be in a very happy position.
I can assure the Chancellor that I have from time to time slipped into the Chamber to hear his contributions, and I have also followed them in the records of this House, which is the normal custom of busy Members. But I think the right hon. Gentleman is merely trying to create one of his clever tactical distractions to evade my accusation, which he knows is correct, namely, that his assumption was that we have had full debates and that we ought to allow the Bill to go through "on the nod."
I suggest to the Chancellor that the very fact that we have had quite detailed debates is an additional reason why we should have a further one tonight. It is as a result of our debates in this House 685 and the inevitable limelight that they have thrown on the whole question and status of the Monarchy in this country now that the people of this country have begun to think about the problem and to express their own point of view.
Since the first debate took place we have had some quite original expressions of opinion from the people at large and from our own constituents in the form of letters and conversations which have come as a surprise to some of us—as a revelation that the people of this country have not—[Interruption.] May I try and make this point in spite of the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Booth by)?
§ Mrs. Castle
I suggest that the expressions of opinion which have come to us from our constituents have come as a considerable surprise to many of us, because we have found that the reaction of the general public to the proposals in this Bill are by no means the conventional ones that hon. Members opposite have always assumed were the reactions to Royalty in this country. I think we have discovered that the people of this country, when they have thought about this problem in the light of this Bill—
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Lady, but I would point out that this is not the occasion for a Second Reading Speech. On the Motion for the Third Reading, speeches should be directed to what is actually in the Bill.
§ Mrs. Castle
I do not see how I can more directly relate my remarks to what is in the Bill than when I say that these proposals have been discussed and commented on by our constituents. Must that not be a guide to us for action tonight, when we must decide our attitude on the Bill and whether we are to vote for it or not on Third Reading?
I would suggest that some of us have occasion to think very seriously. in the light of the comments of our constituents, before we cast a vote tonight or give consent to the Bill. We should reflect for a moment on the revelations we have had of popular feeling on the Monarchy at the present time.
686 My experience—and, I think, the experience of most hon. Members, if they are honest—is that we have discovered that when the ordinary person in the street has been discussing Royalty and the Throne in this country, and what kind of provision we should make for the Royal Family, he or she has shown, it is true, the respect and affection for the Royal Family that we always knew was the case. But such discussion has also shown that that respect arises much more from a sense of nearness to the Royal Family than from a sense of remoteness, and that we endanger the position of the Royal Family in the minds of the people if we believe that we must create round the Royal Family an edifice which will enable them to be, in some majestic way, and financially also, remote from the ordinary lives of the people.
In this respect, the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite in the discussions on the Bill, when they seem to imply that any desire by hon. Members on this side of the House to consider the proposals in some detail, at some length and with some seriousness, is simply an attitude of disrespect, reveals once again that the Conservatives are the worst defenders of tradition.
What they always seek to do with it is to ossify it instead of adapting it to changing circumstances. We have had so often in our history occasions when a short-sighted attempt to perpetuate a tradition beyond which the times and the circumstances have moved has undermined that tradition, and has weakened the very cause for which Conservatism was trying to fight.
We must recognise tonight, as I do not think has yet been adequately reflected in our debates on the subject, that the country is in a period of fundamental transition, that we are not in a static period. It is rather an anachronism that we should be presented in the Bill with proposals which make provision for the whole duration of what everybody expects to be a long reign.
With every decade that passes, there are profound changes in our way of life and our way of thinking. For the Conservative Party to imagine that we can make provision for what may be a period of 40 or 50 years and expect it to endure, is a completely unreal assessment of the 687 situation. In attempting to do that, we are in the Bill ignoring the two profound changes that have taken place in this country since the war.
The first of those changes is a change in the position of Britain in relation to the rest of the world. If any of us ever had any doubts about that, by the end of next week, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in another transformation, has finished with us, we shall have no doubts then that we are a very poor country and that we are still failing to face up to how poor we are.
We are a country that has to make psychological and practical adjustments to the realities of the post-war world. We shall have some more of those painful adjustments thrust upon us, no doubt, next week. We have to recognise that our contribution in the modern world will be one which will depend much more upon our national character than upon any national wealth. That has been expended, and it is as a poor country that we shall have to go forward in the future, recognising that every mouthful of bread we eat has to be earned by harder and more difficult toil than we have known up to now.
If that is true, why do we keep up a pretentious apparatus which is inconsistent with that situation? We have had to cut our commitments in more than one direction in order to achieve the reality instead of merely the appearance of reality, and I think it is not showing any disrespect for the monarchy—in fact, on the contrary—to suggest that if we, as a whole people, make these adjustments, it must make them too; and that we must turn to our monarchy in future years and expect it to rely much more upon its personality than upon the pomp and the pretentiousness that might have been appropriate to a pre-war Britain that still believed itself to be well off.
The second big change which has taken place in this country has been an internal one. Since 1945 we have had a social revolution, a very profound one, and a very necessary one—one which has given us a new vigour and a new sense of comradeship among our people. Under the Labour Government we made great strides towards the establishment of equality in this country.
688 We began to carry into effective practice in our national life the conception of human equality. It was resisted by hon. Members opposite, but it was, none the less, achieved.
The hon. Lady has enjoyed considerable latitude and is really making a Second Reading speech. I have called attention to the fact that on Third Reading speeches should be strictly directed to what is in the Bill itself.
§ Mrs. Castle
Of course I am very anxious to keep in order and within your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I was just pointing out that the Bill as it stands is failing to meet that new mood and achievement of equality we have attained in this country.
I am suggesting that if the aim of our social and economic organisation today is, as I profoundly believe it should be, to put the emphasis on the value of human personality instead of disparities of wealth, our Monarchy should not, in that new situation, remain a symbol of personal wealth and private privilege. We should ask ourselves whether we are doing any service to the institution of monarchy in this country, which I personally want to see perpetuated, if we fail to reflect in our provision for that monarchy the new ideas and new expressions of social relationships which are taking place throughout the rest of the community.
I suggest that that is something we should bear in mind when considering this Bill and its provisions. If we look at the profound changes since 1945 in the organisation of our economic life and in the social standards we have introduced—[Interruption]—I ask your protection, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, because I have taken great care to keep within the bounds of order, although I do not expect hon. Members opposite to see the relevance of a sustained argument, which I am sure you do.
I would point out to the House that when we are voting these sums of money—which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) said, do not 689 clearly distinguish and are not clearly divided between personal and public expenditure of the Crown—we have to remember that as a result of legislation passed in this House various financial Measures have created a state of affairs in the distribution of income whereby it is now very difficult for any private citizen to be left with a net income, after payment of Surtax, of much more than £4,000 or £5,000 a year.
That is the expression of the desire of Parliament and what it feels is decent provision for a private citizen. I would agree that that has not yet completely achieved the equality of income and the financial position I would personally like to see, but, after all, we had only begun this social revolution, and it is quite true that there are gross inequalities of wealth.
It is quite true that the social life of this country still reflects gross inequalities of wealth, because it is possible to side-track the intentions of financial Measures which are introduced by living on capital. Many people have done it to keep up standards which otherwise would be impossible. I suggest that in this Bill we are making an assumption that certain social and financial inequalities in this country will persist and should persist in order that the Throne, in the form in which we are trying to establish it in this Bill, should reflect a social division in this country which is in process of rapidly disappearing.
Certainly we on this side of the House are pledged to the disappearance of those social conditions and great inequalities of wealth. I suggest that those of us who feel most strongly that the Amendment moved from this side of the House was right, namely that we should not in this period—
§ Mrs. Castle
I think that I am in order in explaining to the House the sort of difficulty some of us face in deciding whether we should support the Third Reading of this Bill or not.
The hon. Lady is not in order in discussing the Amendment. She can put forward arguments why this Bill should not be supported on Third Reading, but they must be arguments dealing with what is actually in the Bill.
§ Mrs. Castle
I am arguing that the reason why this Bill in its present form is not desirable is because it provides for a whole reign which we have agreed, and which the Select Committee agree, will be probably a very long reign. I suggest that a serious drawback in the present form of the Bill is that it does not provide for periodic and frequent adjustment of financial provision for the Monarchy in relation to circumstances. I suggest that, as may very well happen in the next 10 years, if further changes are made in this country through more equal distribution of property, in order to obtain a more equal society—
The hon. Lady is now repeating arguments which she has already advanced to the House.
§ Mrs. Castle
I suggest that the Bill as it stands makes the monarchy not so much a symbol of the whole people as the representative of that 1 per cent. that still owns nearly half the wealth of the country.
I want to see the monarchy firmly grounded on a popular basis. It will not be grounded on that basis if we expect the Royal Family to behave not merely as dignified public representatives of our Commonwealth but also as wealthy private citizens. That is the danger of the Bill in its present form, particularly at a time when we know that very great hardships lie ahead of our country and people, hardships which are probably more serious than we have yet fully realised.
If the Chancellor is going to give us next week that grim picture it may be too late, if we have voted for this Bill, to make the necessary adjustments. I say that the monarchy achieved its strongest position in the people's hearts at a time when there was the least pomp and ceremonial attached to it, namely during the war.
It was at the very time when the Royal Family put on the uniform of the ordinary people of this country and of the Services, when they dressed so indistinguishably from their subjects, when they accepted the standards of rationing and of hardship which everybody else was accepting, when they were not kept segregated by standards of luxury to which ordinary people could never aspire, that 691 the monarchy in this country became fortified in the people's hearts. If in the period of the war, when the rest of the community was struggling for sheer existence, the Royal Family had kept up a standard of life and a level of living out of touch with the common people, the monarchy today would not be as strong as it is.
That, I suggest, is what hon. Gentlemen opposite are asking for now: that an unreal standard of life should be maintained by the Royal Family when the rest of us are engaged in an economic struggle as desperate as the military struggle was during the war. In refusing to face these realities, the party opposite is doing great harm to an institution which has played an important rôle in the unification of our national life and can go on doing so if we are prepared to look at its rôle quite dispassionately, without all the mystique with which hon. Members opposite try to surround it, and look on the Crown as the servant of the community, which gives it the status it enjoys.
§ 11.31 p.m.
§ Mr. R. R. Stokes (Ipswich)
It is not with any wish to curtail the debate that I rise to speak now, and I hope that my hon. Friends behind me realise that it is not my intention to do so. I did not follow the Chancellor because I felt that either upstairs or here we seem to have made the same speech several times over, and I thought it might be helpful to my hon. Friends if I waited a little and perhaps helped to clear up some of the misunderstandings which seem to have arisen as a result of discussion of the Bill.
If I may say so to my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael), it really is not true to say that the Amendments which have been accepted and were, in the main, put down either by myself or my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), make any more funds available. They make it more specific where those funds were to go to, which was what we were anxious to make sure and that the rather irregular way the Chancellor suggested the matter should be handled should not be allowed to prevail. I understand that he was lost in a maze of legalities and 692 was taking a shot at it on Second Reading.
I would say to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) that I studied the "Sunday Pictorial." I am bound to say that I was not much impressed by the result. I thought it was a poor result whichever way it was looked at, and it should not be allowed to go out from this House that anybody who studied the figures was impressed by them because they did not give rise to any result whatever. I did not find in my examination on the Select Committee that there were all sorts of people included for remuneration or engagement on the Civil List who should not be there.
I was ragged a bit by the Chancellor, on the Second Reading, for my remarks about barnacles. He said I was barnacle-minded. That may be so. I find that in running a business successfully it is essential to cut the barnacles off the bottom. But I do not want to repeat what I said. I want to assure my hon. Friends that in the time available—we had nine Sittings in a limited time—we did our best to ensure that there were no barnacles and that proper provision was made for barnacle cutters. [An HON. MEMBER: "No such thing."] One of my hon. Friends says there is no such thing as a barnacle cutter, but I am sure the House understands what I mean.
On the other hand, I agree entirely with what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch said about the 10-yearly review. We all, without exception, on this side of the House, think it is most regrettable that the Government did not accept our proposal that there should be a 10-yearly review. There is nothing unreasonable in it. Every hon. Member on this side, and in my view, quite a number of hon. Members opposite, took that view; and certainly I have been told by people outside the House who do not share my political views that a 10-yearly review was a very reasonable suggestion. It is most regrettable the Government did not accept that proposal, but there it is.
I do not propose to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates) into what I would call the "Windsor Bachelor Stakes," but suffice it to say that I took the view which I did about Princess Margaret because I 693 felt that the important thing was that she should be completely independent to marry whom she liked and when she liked. I do not want to do more than repeat what I said then.
My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle) appears to have been immersed in letters. All I can say is that I have had only one letter on the subject. I have tried to find out whether other right hon. Members have had many letters and I gather that their postbags have not been very heavy. I do not mind admitting to the House that my letter was mainly concerned with whether Queen Victoria preferred port wine to whisky. In any event, there are always people who write letters.
I do not want to detain the House further. In the main, the Bill before the House is what the majority of the Committee on the Civil List asked, and to a certain extent it meets what the minority wanted. We regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not deal with the Duchy of Cornwall money in the way we wanted. As I have said, we regret that there is to be no 10-yearly review.
The Bill is not entirely satisfactory, but I endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) said—and I think we all feel that what she said was true: we do not want this business done on the cheap. It should be done properly, it should be done with due liberality and with proper respect and also so that there is no unnecessary expense. I entirely support her view on the snobbery issue. I wish I had remembered some of the things which I wanted to say on Second Reading and then forgot. I am sure that if we cut a lot of the snobbery out we could make the Queen's life very much more enjoyable. I could think of a lot of things I could do with garden parties and receptions which would make them far more entertaining for the Royal Family than they are at present, and I should have hoped, had I—
I hope the right hon. Gentleman is not now going to remember his Second Reading speech.
§ Mr. Stokes
I was merely regretting, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I forgot it.
Having said that, I conclude by saying that had the Government put in the Bill 694 the things which we wanted, many of the points to which many of us take exception might have been modified in such a way as to make the whole situation meet with far greater popular approval. I accept the Bill in the main as implementing what the majority view is and a great deal of what the minority wanted, and I recommend my right hon. and hon. Friends not to vote against the Third Reading tonight.
§ 11.40 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
Like the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), I have not had any opportunity of speaking on this matter during its earlier stages. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle), although I have not received a large number of letters, but from a number of conversations during the course of the Bill, and from what has been said in the Press and by the B.B.C., there has arisen a fairly wide sense of opinion on the whole matter which, as far as my constituency is concerned, I should like to express.
After all, we are being asked to pass a Bill which provides for fairly large sums, all the larger when compared with the weekly incomes which large numbers of people have to do their best to live on, as the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) said. I felt sorry, in a way, that some of the reductions moved in Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) were so large, because if they had been smaller the votes he would have accumulated would have been larger, and larger votes for smaller reductions would have accorded with the opinions of a large number of people. However, we cannot amend the Bill any further, nor discuss the Amendments which might have been made.
What matters now for the ensuring years is very largely the way in which the Bill is to be administered. The administration will depend largely on the Sovereign and her Consort. As the years go by an immense opportunity is being presented to them, and I hope that they will take advantage of it, and that they will respect what I believe to be the will of large numbers of their subjects. I hope that in their administration they will move with the changing times in which we live.
695 I am in agreement with the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing)—as I think every Member is—in hoping that none of us will be here when the next Civil List Bill is considered. We are at the beginning of what we all hope will be a very long reign, and many of us have speculated whether a new Elizabethan era is dawning. History can never quite repeat itself. The conditions in the first Elizabethan era were different for a variety of reasons.
We are now in a quite different situation in a world where great changes are going forward, and, I too, believe that it is much more likely, in the course of this reign, that we shall find ourselves extraordinarily poor, and that during the reign of Her Majesty we shall learn what it means to live graciously and creatively with a far less total of national wealth than we had expected, and lead each other to expect.
That being so, I believe there will have to be with many of us, and particularly with those who hold any sort of leading position or position which gives them any authority over any department of our public life, a great simplification in our living and much less respect for everything which is in any way connected with material wealth. I believe that Her Majesty and her Consort during what we all confidently hope will be their long reign in these changing times will need to give to our whole community the leadership in that simplification and in that lessening of the emphasis and the attention that is paid to material wealth.
Therefore, as we now pass a Bill which enables Their Majesties to command large sums of money I most earnestly hope that they will feel and sense the opinions of large numbers of their subjects and will, as the years go by, progressively bring about marked simplifications in the whole of the living with which they now find themselves surrounded. If they then take advantage of this to make voluntarily some part of the economies which my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire would have imposed upon them compulsorily, I believe they will in that way endear themselves to their subjects and preserve the traditions by which the Crown in Britian has maintained its contact with the lives of the people and with the changing times in which we live.
§ 11.47 p.m.
§ Mr. I. Mikardo (Reading, South)
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) said that if we had been having this debate 50 years ago it would have been most likely that in the course of it there would have been a considerable expression of republican feeling. I am sure that that is so. I am equally sure that there is very great significance in the fact that both in the House and outside where these matters are at present being discussed there is virtually no feeling for republicanism at all. If we stop for a moment to consider the reasons for that virtual disappearance of republican feeling we may find in that consideration some excellent reasons why all hon. Members, even including those who have some reservations about some of the points in the Bill, wholeheartedly support its Third Reading.
Broadly speaking, there are two reasons for this change in public sentiment over the last 50 years or so towards the institution of monarchy. The first is, very naturally, the behaviour of successive Monarchs themselves and the way in which that behaviour has to an increasing extent endeared the successive Heads of our State to their people. That behaviour has had two characteristics.
First, the monarchy has grown in respect among very great numbers of our people because, unlike monarchies in many other countries, it has progressively during this century dissociated itself from the hurly-burly of the political life of the country. In other countries that has not been so, and perhaps that is why in many other countries the monarchy has not endured as the British monarchy has and even when it has endured, has not so firmly rooted itself in the respect and affections of the people.
Secondly, the monarchy has above all endeared itself by the process which perhaps I may, without disrespect, call getting out of the glass case in which Monarchs in the 19th century and earlier locked themselves, within the sight of their people but outside the hearing of their people and beyond contact with them. In discussing the Third Reading of this Bill I think that we ought to record the way in which His late Majesty King George VI and his Queen, when London was being savagely attacked from the air, identified themselves with their 697 fellow-Londoners in taking whatever rained from the skies.
I think the hon. Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle) made a powerful point when she said that at a moment when the monarchy had less pomp and circumstance attached to it, and was doubtless spending much less a year, than at any other time, the monarchy was closer to the people, and stood higher in their regard, than when they were surrounded by pageantry, pomp and circumstance, and other things which involved large expenditure. One reason why I believe that the monarchy of this country has established for itself a permanence which others have failed to establish is that it has come close to the people.
It has been said that His Majesty King Farouk of Egypt made a prophecy which is intrinsically wise, and which perhaps has grown in wisdom because of the events of which we have read today. He has been quoted as saying that in 50 years' time there will be only five kings left in the world—the King of Britain, the King of Clubs, the King of Hearts, the King of Diamonds, and the King of Spades. I think he was probably right in that statement. Doubtless at this moment he has an intense feeling that he was right.
We would, because of this, want to see continuation of those trends which have established these close ties between the monarchy and the people. If it be true, as I believe, that it is the escape of the Monarch from the glass case, the intermingling with the people, the identification of the life of the Monarch with the life of people of similar age in the community, that trend ought to be continued. If we do see that, as I hope we shall, and if as a result there is less expenditure upon the trappings of monarchy and not on the monarchy itself, that will be to the good.
I hope we shall see continuation of the process of doing away with identification of the monarchy with one class. It is inconsistent with the spirit of our times, as some of my hon. Friends have said, and as I believe some hon. Members opposite believe in their hearts, to associate the monarchy with that archaic survival—the presentation of debutantes—for which some of the money we are voting will undoubtedly be used. That 698 has become, on the part of certain tradesmen and certain other people, what might almost be described as a money-making racket. It is a great pity that we permit the continuation of a condition by which the great respect which the country has for the monarchy should be exploited because the desires of people who seek to derive a special cachet that they do not deserve on their own merits are exploited by others.
One other reason why the people of this country have changed considerably. during the last 50 years, their views about the monarchy is that they have had a good look at the social climate of some other countries which have no monarchy. A good deal of the republican sentiment of 50 years ago was based on an antipathy to hero worship. There were many serious and sincere people—
§ Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
On a point of order. Is there one law, Sir, for males and one for females in this House? My hon. colleague the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle) was interrupted constantly as being out of order on a Third Reading speech, and my colleague who is now speaking apparently can roam round the world.
§ Mr. Speaker
I was listening carefully to what the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) was saying, and although he seemed to me to be getting somewhat away from the Third Reading of the Bill, I could see a connection with the Third Reading. However, I was about to ask him to restrain his eloquent speech a little more closely within the limits.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I will do that with great pleasure, Mr. Speaker. I am not sure whether the point of the intervention of my hon. Friend was to express regret that our mutual hon. Friend had her speech interrupted, or to express regret that I was being allowed to continue with mine. In either case I am glad to abide by the rules of order. I was adducing what I thought to be a germane argument as to why we should support this Bill, but I subject my view to your ruling.
I was addressing myself to some of my hon. Friends who, I know, have sincere reservations about the constitution of monarchy and about this large amount of money. What I was trying 699 to say to them was that they ought not necessarily to imagine that we should have a less expensive apparatus of the Head of the State if we had a president instead of a Queen. In some other countries where they have carried republican sentiment to the extent of having a republic, they have a relationship between the community and the Head of the State which, in my view, is inferior to that which prevails in this country and which results in a great deal more expense than we are asked to vote in this Bill.
It may be an unfortunate fact, but it is a fact, that in the present stage of development of people—perhaps in due time we shall all develop out of it—a great many feel an urge for an emotional outlet which they want to project upon somebody whom they can hold in specially high regard. The monarchy provides a source—and, I think, an extremely good source—for that projection of this emotional feeling.
I think that the demonstrations of loyalty to the monarchy, which are such a common feature of life in London, are much healthier than the tearing up of directories and the throwing down of ticker tape in a city like New York, upon people much less deserving of honour than the Royal Family.
I would say to some of my hon. Friends and to the people outside who have some reservations about the hero-worship of monarchy that I would sooner have that than the hero-worship of strange people like film stars and others that goes on in some other countries. I support this Bill—though not without some reservations about its content—because, on the whole, I think, that we are helping to further an institution valuable in itself and giving the country a good return for the money involved in the Bill.
§ 12.1 a.m.
§ Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
I shall try to confine my remarks to what is in the Bill. My constituents do not appear to be interested in the Bill: I am sorry to say that I cannot join my colleague and say that I have received many letters about what is in the Bill. I have received not a solitary letter—and I represent a hard-pressed, dark, bleak area of iron and steel. Although I have 700 seen no visible interest in what is in the Bill on the part of my constituents, I can only say that if some of the money in this Bill is spent in Coatbridge, they will flock in their thousands to see Her Majesty or anyone else connected with the Royal Family to the extent that I, if I made an appearance at all, would be a completely forgotten number.
I try to maintain a sense of proportion. I am glad—and so are my constituents—that we are in a country where we can actually discuss this, because in the country that has had that great social revolution that so appeals to my colleague from Blackburn the Kremlin costs them a great deal more than what is in this Bill and that social revolution has failed to bring them that distinction between the luxury life of the Kremlin and the life of the people there. So I am glad to know that we are all freely able to state our opinions about the Bill.
I do not agree with what is in the Bill; nor do I agree that the Amendments would create the conditions that their sponsors claim they would. I think it grossly unfair to put aside this sum of £475,000 without putting down a review date, because I am certain that that is a great amount, which brings very great responsibility to our young Queen. I think that in those circumstances the greater the amount the more we expect her, willy-nilly, to try to accomplish.
I was astounded to hear the hon. Member for Angus, North and Mearns (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) make a plea that the Queen should be relieved of a great many of these duties—a plea which I wholeheartedly agree with—and then go on to say that she should spend some months of the year in Canada or South Africa or some other far-removed spot where she could not enjoy a mother's dearest possession in life—the companionship and fellowship of her young children while they were growing up. As we impose this extra money, we are willy-nilly imposing the extra responsibilities that no woman should have to shoulder. I should tremble if any of my young married daughters had the responsibilities placed on them that our young Queen has.
It is said that the Royal Family themselves could so shape things as to make it easier for themselves. I doubt it. It is 701 very difficult to refuse invitations. Every one of us here knows that when we are told how much good we can do if we will only go to such and such a meeting, or open a sale of work, it is very difficult indeed to refuse. Especially is this so for those who have the high sense of public duty and honour that the Royal Family have always had. Therefore, I think that there should have been provision for a review and that Parliament should have insisted upon it. I do not think that we should have committed ourselves to these amounts for all time.
As a wife, I view with some trepidation a husband getting £40,000 annually for life—irrespective, I take it, of whether he is still a married man, a widower, or married to someone else. I should not like things to be made so comfortable for my husband on my departure. I do not think that we should have been so overwhelmingly generous to the young Prince. There is a certain joy in carving out from one's own purse the welfare and upbringing of one's children, and I am quite certain that this could have been shouldered very willingly by those who have shown themselves always so willing to sacrifice their personal pleasures for the good of the people.
I therefore deplore that in the Bill there should be a complete lack of time specified for reviewing the position. The Government have been too generous and, in their generosity, they have imposed responsibilities that they should have considered before fixing the amounts. I am sorry that I cannot agree to the proposals in the Bill. I hope that sooner or later reviews will be made and that not only will the amounts be cut down but that automatically—and what is more important—there will follow with the decreasing of these amounts a great decrease in the work and responsibilities of the Royal Family.
§ 12.9 a.m.
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
Whatever divisions there may be as to the merits of the Bill, I am confident that I express the sentiments of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House when I say we hope that Her Majesty will have a long and happy reign. None of us can forget the finality with which the Royal Household 702 dedicated itself to the work of the nation in the dark and anxious days of the war, neither can we dismiss from our minds their very deep religious convictions, which act as a moral stimulus to us in the days through which we are now passing.
In the discussion of this Bill we ought not to be too sensitive in examining the expenditure of the Royal Household, which is the purport of the Bill. I recognise that there are hon. Members opposite who are deeply sensitive that we should be discussing a matter of this character. I do not think that that would reflect the opinion of the Royal Household; I do not think it endorses such an attitude of mind and to that question I should like to direct a few thoughts.
I believe that they are sufficiently democratic to believe that a periodical re-examination of the circumstances of expenditure involved is something which would be in alignment with the present economic difficulties of the country, to which the Chancellor has directed our attention. He has indicated quite clearly what is happening. Only a few days ago in this House he reminded us of the impending grave economic crisis. It is extremely difficult to understand the logic of imposing a wage freeze on 1½ million workers and, at this hour of grave economic difficulty, agreeing to the amount involved in this Bill. If this decision is to stand, I submit that we ought to give due consideration to a re-examination of the decision in respect of the 1½ million workers to whom the Chancellor has denied the right to enjoy what has been resolved and determined by an arbitration board.
I believe that the burden in respect to the Crown should be lessened. If the economic crisis is such as he asks us to believe—if it is a real economic crisis—there should be sacrifice on the part of each and every one of us, from the highest to the lowest in the country. I have no doubt as to his good faith that the economic position is so grave. Even hon. Members of his own Government, particularly Members of the Cabinet, have accepted a reduction in their salaries. That being so, I think it is a demonstration of good faith in regard to the present economic situation but, I suggest that we ought not to agree to this Measure— 703 although we can support it—without the qualification that there should be a periodical review, as suggested by the Opposition. I ask that the re-examination should take place as soon as possible, even though this Measure may receive the assent of this House.
§ 12.14 a.m.
§ Mr. L. M. Lever (Manchester, Ardwick)
I should like to join the voice of the great City of Manchester to those who have supported the Third Reading of this Bill.
I feel that in the discussion of the Bill there has been a complete misapprehension as to the position. I join wholeheartedly with my colleagues on this side of the House in condemning the Government of the day for their failure to recognise the justifiable wage claims of the workers in industry who have well earned those claims. But I cannot reconcile support for the justifiable claims of workers in industry, which are a political or an economic question, with refusal to support this Measure, for it refers to the monarchy, which is outside the sphere of politics.
This Measure should be supported because it reflects the dignity of the institution of the monarchy which is universally supported throughout this great country and Commonwealth. There can be no argument about that. North, south, east and west, the Queen and her Consort and the members of the Royal Family are beloved and held in the highest affection. This Bill provides for a Royal Family who are the symbol of our liberties in this democratic country and of the unity of the Commonwealth, and who are a model to the rest of the world.
Due provision should be made for those reasons for what is our own dignity as a nation. The democratic approach of the Royal Family today has evolved in the course of time and has not been forced upon them. They have accepted it readily. There is no reason to suppose that in whatever is required in the interest of the nation our beloved Queen and her Consort will not do all that they can to follow the spirit of the times in which we live.
The monarchy is not the spokesman of any political party. It is true that we 704 have the Speech from the Throne at the beginning of a new Parliamentary Session, but that Speech is the mouthpiece of the Government duly elected by the people and, therefore, the Speech from the Throne is deemed to be the Speech of the people. We should have due regard to the strength of this institution of the monarchy in this country and in the world, but that is not irreconcilable with according the justice which the Government should accord to the workers in industry in providing them with a decent standard of life. I am very proud to support this Measure. I hope that the House will accept it unanimously in the interest of the country and of our future as a great democratic nation.
§ 12.19 a.m.
§ Mr. T. Driberg (Maldon)
A number of hon. Members, in the course of the debate, have referred to the growing identification in modern times of the Royal House with the people. In the Report of the Select Committee on the Civil List there are tables which indicate, roughly, how some of the money provided for in this Bill will be spent. One finds some rather interesting illustrations of that process. Although, quite naturally, wages have gone up more than double since 1937 there is one very significant reduction. The item under medical expenditure has been reduced to practically nothing since 1948, presumably because, as we all know, the Royal Family were, I think, actually the first people in this country to decide, very properly, to give a lead to the nation in using the National Health Service.
Several references have been made tonight to the expenditure on purely social functions at court. I agree with some of what has been said by some of my hon. Friends about the snobbery and the rather pathetic ambitions catered for on such occasions. But it is, I think, worth noting that the total sum involved is extremely trivial in relation to the total sum that is being voted tonight. Under the heading "Sundries (including Sandringham and Balmoral expenses, Garden and Presentation parties, flowers, etc.)" the sum in 1951 was only about £12,000 and that compares with about £10,000 in 1937. So there has been extremely little increase over years in which the cost of living generally has gone up substantially.
705 I agree with some of the criticism made tonight, but I think the difficulties to which exception is taken are not primarily financial, but psychological. I think there is some psychological danger and I think it is unwise psychologically that there should be so much emphasis in the illustrated papers and the so-called glossy weeklies on so-called presentation at court of young girls of a particular social and economic class; but the actual expenditure involved is quite trivial.
I think it is even more true of a constitutional monarchy than of an absolute monarchy that it must represent in its dignity the true full dignity and the wealth of the great nation of which it is the symbolical head. I therefore agree strongly with part of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) when she said that in such a monarchy we cannot expect, and should not expect, that things should be done shabbily or on the cheap when it comes to anything like public ceremonial or pageantry.
Without any disrespect to the ruling houses in any other countries I do not think we want in this country to reduce our Royal Family to what might be called a Scandinavian level and ' have them bicycling round London all the time. I do not think people would like it. Here I think there has been some ambiguity in the use of the word "ceremonial" in various discussions on this Bill and on the Civil List itself. Many of us on this side agree with the criticisms that have been made of court ceremonial in the purely social sense; but I think there are very few of us who want to reduce the public or State ceremonial in the sense of pageantry.
The most important, the outstanding example, of that ceremonial is, of course, the Coronation, to which everybody in this country is looking forward. I hope very much, and indeed we can be quite sure, that there will be no economy, no shabbiness, in the presentation of the great ceremonies associated with that historic occasion or with any aspect of them, in so far as they are covered by the Bill—as, indeed to some extent they must be.
On that point, I might be allowed to come back to what I said at the beginning of my speech. There has been a 706 good deal of talk tonight and on other occasions at various stages during the debates about the modern democratisation of the Court or of the institution of monarchy and the fact, or the supposed fact, that the Royal House is being more closely identified with the people, of whom it is the symbolic head, but I would point out that, historically, this is merely a reversion to the earliest ideas of monarchy. The removal of the Crown, the Throne, to some remote and aloof place, taking it far out of the reach of the common people, is a late mediaeval and post-mediaeval heresy.
In the earliest times, as the Coronation service itself still reminds us, preserving its essential structure certainly from the eighth century, the Monarch always had to be acclaimed by his people. He had to turn to every corner of the Cathedral Church or the Abbey Church and be acclaimed by his people before he could be regarded as properly a Monarch at all. Any tendency to democratisation which occurs in modern times, therefore, is merely a return to the earlier and perhaps saner concepts of the idea of monarchy. Unless the King is acclaimed and accepted as head and representative of his people, he is not truly a king at all.
Since I have referred to the Coronation service—and undoubtedly some of the expenditure for which provision is made in the Bill will take place at the time of the Coronation—perhaps I may say that I strongly support the suggestions which have been thrown out, in a general connection, by one or two hon. Members tonight that there should be some closer identification of the people of the other countries of the Commonwealth with the Crown, and how warmly, I am sure, most people in this country and throughout the Commonwealth would welcome it if that closer identification could be symbolised in whatever revision is now taking place of the historic Coronation service itself. There may be all sorts of difficulties caused by tradition, by conservatism—with a small "c"—but one cannot help feeling that most hon. Members on both sides of the House and most people throughout the Commonwealth would warmly welcome such innovations as that and the closer knitting together of all the peoples of the Commonwealth which they would symbolise.
§ 12.30 a.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I think it will be perhaps valuable if I answer some of the points raised in the debate, and then I hope it will be possible to get the Third Reading of the Bill, which we have considered in some detail before. I am not going to indulge in any extras and frills, but merely intend to answer the points simply.
The first main point was covered by the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) when he said that the Bill represented what the majority of the Select Committee wanted and also included a great deal of what the minority wanted. That is, I think, the answer to the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle) who, I think, was wrong to try to attribute the contents of this Measure, and also certain motives, to the party on this side of the House. I think it is bad both for the Royal Family and for our institutions generally to try to make out that when the House sets up a Select Committee the responsibility falls on one party and that the motives of that party are not right in the circumstances of the time.
The second point which was raised by more than one hon. Gentleman was that if we did the job it should be done properly. That was also raised by the right hon. Gentleman and supported by the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) and others. That has been the objective of the Government, and I do not attempt to remove the responsibility from the Government or myself in putting these proposals to the House. That has been the objective of the Government in interpreting, as best we could, the objectives of the Select Committee and enshrining them in the Bill. This means that the job will be done properly.
There is obviously in the House a general feeling that there should be greater simplicity in the ceremonials and in the activities of the Palace. As far as I can interpret the view of the Royal Family that view is shared by the Palace itself. I am in a somewhat embarrassing position. It is not for me to speak for them, but in putting forward these proposals I must be in a position to interpret, as far as is possible, what is likely to happen. I can give no forecast of the future, and it is not my business to do 708 so, but I know, as far as I can express an opinion, that those hon. Gentleman who are nervous that in the new reign there will be an intensification of elaborate ceremonial which would take the Crown further away from the people, are making a mistake. That is neither the wish, intention, nor the tradition of our present Royal Family. I am quite certain any remarks by hon. Gentlemen made in what I have previously described as a "human spirit" will be read and studied in the quarters to which they are directed.
The question of "debs" came before the Select Committee, and more than one person—and not on one side alone—took the view that there are objections to this sort of activity. I am not particularly interested in "deb" parties, although I am not in the fortunate bachelor position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich.
§ Mr. Butler
I have a daughter, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, and when we were colleagues together he was extremely kind when we worked at the Ministry of Education. My daughter will never forget the right hon. Gentleman's kindness, but that does not mean that she will be keen to go to a "deb" party. I have not discussed the matter with her, but I do not think the future of the monarchy depends on whether we should have "deb" parties or not.
As I was journeying to and from my office this morning I saw some people going to an investiture, and whatever one may think of "deb" parties, I am quite certain that investitures are of great value to the public, to those who are invested, and the whole tradition of the Royal Family. They go deep into the breasts and lives of those involved. I think they are both a dignified and a valuable part of our ceremonial.
That deals as far as I can with the question of simplicity, but into these arguments the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) brought some rather more profound historical research than some other hon. Members did. He said that we are getting back to a more simple and, he thought, mediaeval concept of the monarchy. Whether that he so or not, 709 I am certain that the British monarchy will never retain its hold on the people if it gets out of touch with the people, and, as far as I know, nobody can accuse the present Sovereign of having, in a very short reign so far, been out of touch with the people of the country. In fact, I have not known of any greater activity exhibited by any one individual than that of Her Majesty so far. I feel certain, again, that the more the monarchy are with the people and share the feelings of the people the more it will be in the interests of the monarchy and their relations with Parliament.
I do not believe that there is anything in the Bill which would make this very desirable objective further removed. In fact, I think that if we can establish the position of the monarchy as the Bill suggests, it will leave them all the freer to practise those traditions, such as have been referred to in the debate, as were carried out in war-time and which, as has been said, endeared them so much to the public.
The last great issue to which I shall refer is that phrase of the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock in referring to the monarchy as "great public servants." The hon. Member for Reading. South (Mr. Mikardo) said that he thought that they were more suitable to us and more democratic than a president can be in another country. I feel certain that that is the case. That is part of the point of a constitutional monarchy. Not only can it, and should it, be above politics, but under this umbrella we are able to disagree with each other as much as we like and not feel that any one of us is competing for the highest office of the State in the extremely costly and blatant manner in which it is done in some other countries. I underline the word "costly," because the expenses involved in these tamashas are very much greater than the House is voting today.
Therefore, let us stick to our own institutions, let us trust that they will be interpreted in a simple traditional way, and, as the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) said in an extremely touching speech, let every one of us feel whatever our position be, as hon. Members or even right hon. Members, that when we are in the presence of the monarchy we are of little account even to our own con- 710 stituents. Perhaps that is just as well because it gives them an occasional change.
I am sure that the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie would not like a change in a certain direction that we on this side of the House would like, but I am sure she is perfectly right to feel that when a member of the Royal Family comes to her own district there is something which represents history and traditions coming in our midst, and if it can be accompanied with grace and simplicity, I am sure we all bow before it.
There has been a feeling and a fear that a standard of life or social institutions may be established which would create a gulf in between the social standards towards which we all aspire and those which are imagined to be going to be set up under the Bill. I do not believe that that is a reality. After all, a personality and a tradition are more important than anything else, and the personality and tradition of the Royal Family are bound up with that of a family, first of all, their own family—and we are voting money for a household—and secondly, the Imperial family, which has been mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and other hon. Members.
It is to the Queen as head of her own household and to the Royal Family as the centre of the Commonwealth and Empire that we wish provision to be made, and that is why we ask for the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ 12.40 a.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
It would not be fitting for this historic occasion to pass without our offering a sincere tribute from these benches to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the way he has handled these debates throughout and for the brilliant and able speech that he has just made, with most of the words of which we would all agree. Indeed, I am sorry that the Leader of the House was not present last night, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer paid justifiable enconiums to the way hon. Members on this side approached the matter—their constructive approach and helpful suggestions. Had he been present we would not have had the savage outburst which occurred an hour and 14 minutes later.
711 As the proposals in this Bill represent the unanimous conclusions of the Select Committee I am surprised that no Member of the Tory Party has got up to support them.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
I did not wish to prolong the debate, although I did rise.
§ Mr. Hale
I was about to add, before the right hon. and gallant Member rose, that we appreciate that it is not through reluctance to support the proposals that they are not rising, but because they want to spend their Bank holiday Monday at Southend. It is also right to say that the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove, who is respected on both sides of the House, did rise to his feet, but was then seen in conversation with the Patronage Secretary, and did not move again.
Why is there this reluctance to prolong the debate? Many people feel that a matter of this kind is a great historic occasion, and that it ought to be treated with at least as much solemnity as is accorded to an ordinary Bill dealing with a much smaller expenditure of money; also, that there ought to be no question of curtailment The monarchy has become enshrined in the hearts of the people during the last four generations because of the admirable example of family life and public service which those who have held that high position have set.
All of us would wish to speak of them with profound respect. They cannot reply to criticism; they cannot even speak about these matters. The hon. Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle) touched the heart of the House when she said that in the moments of the least pomp and ceremony, in the moments of the fewest trappings, members of the Royal Family came nearest to the hearts of the people.
Last night I made one or two remarks which I thought were important, and as I do not wish detain the House I will only say that the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) said one thing of great importance, namely, that the monarchy's great value is as head of a great Empire, or Commonwealth of Nations, which includes a republic. It 712 is right that in moving forward with the times more attention should be paid to the needs of the Empire, and to the very justifiable aspirations of peoples in all parts of the Empire to enter into closer association with the monarchy.
It has been the practice, when one of their late Majesties was Emperor of India, to have as aides-de-camp some of the nobles of the old Indian Empire. Today, we do not see that close association when appointments are made. I want to suggest that it would, perhaps, have been kinder and more generous to the monarchy if we had taken this opportunity to take over the staff and the maintenance of the staff, because it is true that most people do misunderstand these proposals and do not realise that the bulk of this money is to maintain a permanent and large staff with very varied duties. Some of these duties have little to do with the monarchy. Some are concerned with maintaining departments of State, maintaining the fabric of buildings, maintaining a series of ceremonials, and some with duties of a semi-political nature.
We remember days when the Tory Party were opposed to the monarchy, the bitter criticism of the young Queen Victoria over the Bedchamber appointments, and the appointment of staff at the palaces. We have long since left that, but it is still the fact that there are many offices which are virtually hereditary; many offices for appointment to which one of the qualifications is relationship with nobility, the "old school tie," or birth with a silver spoon in one's mouth.
I venture respectfuly to suggest that one of the causes of our worry on this side of the House about these proposals is that the monarchy has to be advised all too customarily by people who are not in close touch with modern events, and, indeed, by people who are very much out of touch. I should have thought that at this moment there should be on the staff an adviser on industrial relations.
I should have thought that at this moment there should have been on the staff someone acquainted with industrial conditions and with the thoughts and views of the workers in industry throughout this country. Certainly, there should be progressive advice by people who understand race relations. I do not want 713 to hark back to the events of the last few months, but, had there been an adviser on race relations, I think that proposals which were fundamentally I blunder would never have been made.
All of us wish quite sincerely that the young Queen—embarking on these enormous responsibilities to be placed on the head of a young girl who was left fatherless at an early age—will be able to perform those duties in happiness and in comfort and as a member of the happy family to which she belongs.
I shall not tonight refer again to the several proposals to which objection has been made in the course of this debate. After the excellent speech of the Chancellor it would be more in accordance with the wishes of the House and the taste of the House that I should not refer to the specific matters to which I raised objection last night and to the Clauses of the Bill which have been the subject of criticism in the course of the Committee stage both of the Bill and of the original Motion before the House, though certainly there are such matters.
I deplore that we did not take the opportunity of placing a limit of time. I deplore that future Houses are virtually being committed. It is one of the rules of statutory law that no Act of Parliament binds any future Parliament. At the same time, it is obvious that any Parliament would be in great moral difficulty in seeking to vary provisions that have been made with this solemnity and in seeking to vary proposals now embodied in this Bill and which refer to people, some of whom we do not know who they will be—the wife of the Duke of Cornwall, for example, who may have any nationality, who may have any place of residence.
However, I do not want to delay the House. We have taken the view—I certainly have—that the House, having appointed a Select Committee to examine these proposals, having had access to all documents and all sources of information, and having made a profound study of the figures, it is more in accordance with the decency and decorum of the House that we should accept the proposals of the Select Committee even if some of us have mental reservations about them, even if some of us, had we been members of it, might have phrased the proposals in another form.
714 With these quite brief remarks, therefore, I thank the Chancellor and commend the Bill to the House.
§ 12.49 a.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
During the Second Reading of this Bill I said I was a republican. I was called to task by the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), who advised me to go to the Smoking Room and see what was happening in Chicago. Well, I do not know whether anything that has happened in Chicago—
§ Mr. Hughes
No, Sir, but there was a certain continuity in the course of the discussion, and the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove made a remark when I said that I was a republican. However, I will pass from the right hon. and gallant Member and say one thing to the Chancellor.
I rather detected a reference to republicanism in the United States—a sort of deprecatory reference.
§ Mr. Speaker
It is quite out of order on the Third Reading of the Bill to refer to that. We have nothing to do with republicanism in the U.S.A.
§ Mr. Hughes
I was greatly surprised at the Chancellor's reference to the institution in America. I very much regret that the Chancellor should have made that reference, because I believe other countries have institutions which are not so expensive and I do not believe that because we take a certain view of our own institution that we should necessarily be off-hand and assume that the parallel institution in the great Republic of America is anything in any way inferior to our own institution.
There has been a good deal of sentimentalism in this debate and we might as well say what is in our minds. I am 715 a Socialist and for a Socialist to talk about wanting to perpetuate the monarchy is something which I do not understand. We may be as sentimental as we like about love, but I do not think we should be sentimental about money. In the present sentimental mood of the House the Chancellor is getting away with a good deal and as for accepting with "decency and decorum" the decisions of the Select Committee—as accepted by my hon. Friend for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), I should like to consider the Select Committee, how it met and some of its evidence—
§ Mr. Hughes
I understand that we are discussing the Third Reading, Sir, based upon evidence submitted by the Select Committee; and in so far as the Committee produced evidence which we are to consider in making up our minds on the Third Reading, I presume that, in referring to the Committee, I am within the limits of order.
§ Mr. Speaker
These things must be done in stages. We have had all the previous stages from the Report of the Committee onwards. It seems to me that the hon. Member should have made his speech about a fortnight ago.
§ Mr. Hughes
You may have omitted, Mr. Speaker, to notice that I made certain similar observations, too. I submit that we are asked to agree to the Third Reading of a Bill in which speaker after speaker has quoted from the proceedings of the Select Committee. I submit that in the Third Reading debate I am in order in referring to the proceedings of this Committee.
I suggest that we should remember that this Select Committee was no Committee in the ordinary sense of the word. This Committee, from the beginning, was a Committee which, it was clearly known, did not have the power to send for papers 716 and examine witnesses. That was precisely stated, so I suggest that this Committee was far from being—
§ Mr. Speaker
I must ask the hon. Member to pass from that topic: I rule it out of order at this stage of the Bill.
§ Mr. Hughes
Well, Sir, if it is not in order, on the Third Reading of a Bill, to refer to the guidance of a Select Committee it means that that Select Committee does not seem to have been of much value at all.
All that I wish to say is that the evidence that has been produced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not impressed me, and that in this mood of sentimentalising and rhapsodising we are forgetting the essential fact that we are voting away a large sum of public money at a time when there is a very great industrial crisis and when the working people are being asked to economise.
I do not know how any hon. Member can go to the miners or to the shop assistants, or to any of the workers who are being urged by the Chancellor to accept wage cuts, and say, "Yes, we have agreed with this. We are all enthusiastic about it and we have all agreed with all the pious sentimentalising that has been expressed."
I have sat through the whole of the debate and I have not heard a single argument which has changed me from the point of view that from the beginning the Committee was set up according to tradition, precedent and routine to perpetuate an institution which is an expensive institution, an institution which should be superseded by something more democratic. I believe that there are in this country people who, in spite of all the platitudes that have come from both sides of the House, believe that that is the honest view and should be expressed on the Floor of the House at the present time.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.