HC Deb 19 January 1972 vol 829 cc525-53
Mr. John D. Grant

I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 3, line 1, leave out subsection (1) and insert: (1) Future provision for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother shall be £7,500 per annum.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

Order. With this Amendment it is convenient to take the following Amendments:

No. 7, in line 5, leave out subsection (2) and insert: (2) Future provision for His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester shall be nil.

No. 8, in line 9, leave out subsection (3) and insert: (3) Future provision for His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh shall be £20,000 a year.

No. 9, in line 13, leave out subsection (4) and insert: (4) No provision needs to be made yet for any of Her Majesty's younger children, and accordingly section 4(1) of the Civil List Act 1952 is hereby repealed.

No. 10, in line 23, leave out subsection (5) and insert: (5) Future provision for Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret shall be nil.

No. 11, in line 27, leave out subsection (6) and insert: (6) All provision made for the widow of the Duke of Cornwall is hereby repealed.

No. 13, in line 32, leave out '£20,000' and insert '£5,000'.

No. 14, in line 36, leave out '£20,000' and insert '£312'.

Mr. Grant

I would like to look in a little more detail at the job being done by the Royals. The Chancellor said earlier that their activities are on the increase. In dealing with this Amendment, I will have to mention the Queen's activities because they are relevant to the amounts to be paid, particularly to Prince Philip, and to the work-load which the Royals share. In a recent colour supplement the Sunday Times examined what it called a typical day for the Royals. This is what it found. The Queen had two appointments, one an investiture for 176 people at 11 o'clock and the other a meeting with the Prime Minister at 6 o'clock in the evening. In the time between she spent an hour with her dressmaker, she met the Keeper of the Privy Purse and had tea with Lord Mountbatten.

Princess Anne, who is now to get £15,000 a year under these proposals, launched a racing yacht at Portsmouth and left for home by helicopter at 3.30, although it is fair to say that we are told that as she is getting older she is taking over more engagements. The Queen Mother, now to get £95,000 a year, apparently spent the morning resting. She then received a shamrock from an Irish Guards' colonel, she went to a private wedding and then she left for Cheltenham Races. Prince Charles was then at Cranwell. Princess Margaret —£29,000 is proposed for her—went to a charity concert. I know it is said that a lot of this kind of activity must be a terrible bore to the Royal Family, all this pomp and ceremony, hand-shaking and so on, and that they really ought to be well paid for doing these chores. Perhaps that might be told to the miners, the electricity workers or the pensioners who find nothing more boring than sitting at home shivering because they cannot afford money for the heating.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

The hon. Gentleman is really talking a lot of nonsense. May I re-emphasise that when he is speaking in terms of these sums of money going to individuals, he should make the point that it is really going to the staff they employ.

Mr. Grant

We were told on Second Reading that the majority of the staff of the Royals were unpaid. I do not know how that is equated with what the hon. Gentleman says. If we do not like the Sunday Times colour supplement, if that is a lot of rubbish, let us come up to date. I have been looking at the Court Circular and Social Engagements which appear in The Times. That shows that on 1st and 2nd January, a Sunday, understandably they had no engagements. On 3rd and 4th January there were no engagements.

On 5th January there was a sudden flurry of Royal activity. The Duke of Edinburgh went to the pictures. He attended the premiere of a film at the Carlton Theatre which some people might say was appropriately titled "Living Free". Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon opened the International Boat Show. I suppose that they could have got the Prime Minister to do that for nothing. They went on to see "Living Free" in the evening. I do not know what they hope to learn but I think it is a film about lions.

The Duchess of Gloucester received some military gentlemen who were changing their jobs within the Royal Corps of Transport, and then she went to a performance given by the London Orpheus Choir. That seems to have been quite a big day in the Royal calendar for January. On 6th January the Queen conferred a knighthood on Sir Christopher Soames—

The Temporary Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman will recall that Clause 2 refers only to members of the Royal Household. Therefore any reference to Her Majesty the Queen would be out of order.

Mr. Grant

I said that it seemed that it would not be possible to talk about the work-load shared by members of the Royal Family without making some reference to the Queen. I would have thought that was relevant to the Amendment.

The Temporary Chairman

However that may be, it does not happen to be in Clause 2 and we are debating Clause 2.

Mr. Grant

I will continue, leaving out the Queen. On 7th January, nothing; 8th January, nothing; 9th January, nothing. On the 10th I could mention Prince William of Gloucester but he is not mentioned in the Clause either so I will leave him out. On 11th January, there was nothing except for the Queen. On 12th January the Duke of Edinburgh flew in Concorde. Princess Margaret returned by train to London from Sandringham with her children. so the Court Circular says. I do not know whether that counts as an engagement. On 13th January, nothing; 14th January, nothing. On the 15th Princess Anne inaugurated the St. John Ambulance City headquarters at Norwich and lunched at the City Hall. Later she attended a ceremony at Norwich Cathedral On 16th January, nothing; 17th January, nothing; 18th January, nothing.

I do not know whether this was a typical period in the activities of the Royals. It may be that they hibernate for part of the winter.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Like we do.

Mr. Grant

The hon. Gentleman should speak for himself. I do not hibernate. I have a very busy constituency. Leaving out Prince William and Prince Charles, for whom there are separate arrangements, it seems that so far this month there have been something like eight engagements shared by members of the Royal Family. At a very rough calculation based on the total payment to them of just over £1 million—this includes the Queen, the Queen Mother, the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne, Princess Margaret, the Duke of Gloucester—it works out at something between £5,000 and £6,000 per engagement in direct payments. If that is to be regarded as an average monthly output, without taking account of the indirect expenses involved, then for that sort of money I would go to the pictures any time whether to see "Clockwork Orange" or Mickey Mouse. On this basis most of the Royals are well qualified for unemployment benefit.

Those figures do not seem to relate to those in the Appendices in the Civil List, where the engagements seem very impressive. They make me wonder what a close analysis of those engagements would show. It may be that the Royals have not got up steam so far in 1972. It seems that they will have to dash about a bit from now on if they are to match what we have been told is their past productivity record. To use a well-known ducal phrase, they will have to get their collective finger out.

Dealing with some particular rises I should have thought that the increase for the Queen Mother at a time when her activities are understandably decreasing makes no sense at all. I am certainly unable to understand why the Duke of Gloucester should get an increase. It seems unnecessary, unless it were to be in some pensionable form and that, I gather, is not the intention. This family is surely well removed from the Throne and it does not seem to make good sense to throw public money away like that.

I have some regard for the Duke of Edinburgh. He has probably been responsible, more than anyone else in Royal circles in recent years, for brushing away a few of the cobwebs, although only a few I am afraid. I cannot believe that on the evidence supplied to the Select Committee—or not supplied to the Select Committee—he needs a rise. It seems ludicrous to suggest that his activities can be separated from those of the Queen. Presumably they endowed each other with all their worldly goods "for richer and for poorer" and I cannot understand why it should he felt that he does not enjoy to the full the benefits of the untaxed income we have discussed. We do not know the size of the fortune and the tax relief but I would have thought that what has been said about the Queen in that respect must also apply to the Duke, certainly in practice if not in theory.

6.30 p.m.

Princess Margaret is joining in the payout in a big way. This does not seem to be justified in the light of the work which she appears to do. I do not see how it can be suggested that she should get an increase of the kind proposed. She has the bonus of a free house, free light and free heat which is worth a lot of money. It would be worth a lot of money to anyone who lived in a council house let alone a palace. It may be arguable whether she should get anything, but I cannot see that she is entitled to a thumping great rise of this kind. A number of my hon. Friends feel particularly strongly about this proposal and are likely to divide the Committee on it.

Whatever is felt about the Monarchy and the proposed increases in pay, particularly for the Queen, there is a strong feeling that the financing of what have become known as the "hangers-on"—a phrase which is widely used nowadays—should be reduced and that much of the Royal expenditure in that respect could be legitimately pruned. It is in that spirit —and perhaps the Committee will accept that I say this with no malice towards any of the individuals concerned—that I hope the Amendment will be supported.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Earlier today I made a formal expression of regret at the absence of the hon. Member for Fife. West (Mr. William Hamilton). Having heard the speech of the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. John D. Grant), I regret much more than formally the absence of the hon. Member for Fife, West because his attacks are so much better than the attack to which we have just listened.

To pick out, as the hon. Member for Islington, East did, an unrepresentative month—January—when members of the Royal Family were, as he knows, like ourselves, absent from public duties is to distort the issue. We must consider the evidence over the period of a year which is given in the report on the Civil List. The engagements are there listed for all the members of the Royal Family. If one reads the report of our Committee one will see the amount of work they do. That is a fairer way of looking at the matter than one gets from the hon. Gentleman's attempt to distort the picture.

Mr. John D. Grant

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman does in the recesses. I always resent it when people tell me that I am on holiday. Will the hon. Gentleman tell us how much time he spends on what might loosely be called public duties—that is, constituency duties? Does he hibernate?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Is is very appealing to try to convert this debate into a debate on my duties in my constituency, and I should be delighted to do so, but it would hardly command rapturous applause. I made passing reference to the matter. I did not go into a great thesis about what I did in the recess. In fact, I was working every day. I merely said that right hon. and hon. Members were absent from public duties in that period and that we must take that into account when considering what the Royal Family did during the period to which the hon. Gentleman referred, which was quite unrepresentative.

We must be accurate and fair in our criticisms. It is innaccurate for the hon. Member for Islington, East to say that Princess Margaret has a free house, free light and free heat. She has a free house, it is true, but she pays rates on it. She pays for her lighting and heating. If she did not, those services would be cut off. What the hon. Member for Islington, East said was the sort of distortion which people must not be allowed to get away with.

We must stick to the facts. If one points out the facts, one is dismissed as a Royal sycophant. I do not mind that; I am perfectly prepared to be abused in such a good cause. The right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) has adopted this attitude, telling me that I am always on my knees—if not before the Pope, then before the Queen. If he was on his knees to anyone at any time it would be very good for his soul and might improve his circulation.

I wish to deal briefly with the question of the Queen Mother's Household, which is the subject of one of the Amendments. It is proposed that provision for her should be reduced to £7,500 a year. Why has that figure been chosen? It is no good the hon. Members who have sponsored these Amendments saying that the purpose was merely to get a debate going. If that were so, they would have tabled an Amendment to reduce the sum by £1; that would have been sufficient to get a debate going. The figure of £7,500 must have been chosen with some purpose in mind; it must have been calculated on some basis. It makes the issue quite derisory to propose to reduce to £7,500 a year provision which at the moment is £70,000 and which it is proposed to increase to £95,000. This ignores completely the Queen Mother's position.

The Queen Mother is voted a sum of this size because she is a former Queen Consort. Hers is a unique position. She has lived as Queen Consort in a state required of her by the people over whom she reigned and it is perfectly proper that in her retirement the manner of life which she follows should bear some relation to her previous position. That is a justification for the provision. It is perfectly reasonable and rational; there is nothing mystical about it. I believe that most reasonable people would think it appropriate.

We have heard much about the Queen Mother's Household in these debates. I wish to go into this question in some detail because false impressions have been created and they have not been corrected. The hon. Member for Fife, West, when he launched his diatribe against the Queen Mother's Household in a previous debate, said that he had checked his facts. He did not check very well, because he gave an impression to the House and to the country which was totally misleading. One can gauge the degree of his researches when one realises that one of the ladies to whom he referred has been dead for a considerable number of years. He further confused the issue by mixing up the honorary and paid officials. We have had an echo of the hon. Gentleman's approach today in the speech of the hon. Member for Islington, East.

Critics of the Royal Family do this sort of thing because it enables them to have the best of both worlds. They can present the Royal Family as being both antiquated and expensive if they mix up the question of the honorary officials with the question of paid officials. Every official household—and this applies to all the members of the Royal Family who have officials—is divided into paid officials and honorary officials.

Let me deal with the paid officials in the Queen Mother's Household. She has a private secretary, an assistant private secretary and a Press secretary. That is not excessive in view of the public duties in which she is involved. She has a treasurer who looks after her financial affairs and deals with the 300 societies of which she is a patron. She has a Comptroller of the Household who looks after her house, pictures, employees, and so on. Helping on the clerical side are three clerks and three typists. That is the extent of the paid part of her Household. No reasonable person would think that it was particularly excessive.

Turning to the part-time officials of the Household, we come to the famous Women of the Bedchamber about whom we have heard so much. A great deal of fun has been made about them and perhaps, in view of their title, it is legitimate up to a point. But who are these Women of the Bedchamber? They are hardworking women who are paid modest sums and who help with the charity and secretarial work. They deal with the private correspondence; they deal with questions of welfare. They work a fortnight in turn; there are four of them, so that they work for one-quarter of the year each. It is easy to make fun of them because of the use of this rather archaic nomenclature, and so to have a joke, but it is not justified. It is harmful to do this because it is not true but is a distortion of the position. We can make fun, for example, of the Apothecary to the Household. Who is he? He is a National Service doctor lurking under that title.

We have heard a lot about the extra Women of the Bedchamber. There has been a considerable amount of mirth in this Chamber about them. I remember that the hon. Member for Fife, West asked what was the size of the bed chamber. But he knew, or he ought to have known, what the word "extra" means in this context. It means "retired". It means that those who have faithfully served the Household for a great many years, perhaps for the greater part of their lives, are given this honorific title in their retirement. But who are these extra Women of the Bedchamber? They are—may be—ladies of advanced years, to whom this title gives some innocent pleasure. It is quite absurd to attack them, to begrudge them this recognition after the years of service which they have given.

There are other honorary members of the Household—the Lord Chamberlain, the Mistress of the Robes. They are all those who give services and who charge absolutely nothing for them.

So that the actual position, as one sees if one examines it in detail, is completely different from the picture which is presented by the hon. Member for Islington, East and the hon. Member for Fife, West and the others who give us a picture of a plethora of flunkies in describing, as they do, those who are by their titles perhaps archaic relics of another age, but who are in fact hard-working people with titles. It may be amusing to make fun of them, but truth has some claims and I think it is right to put this particular record straight.

As for the actual sums of money involved, the wages of the staff in these Households, all of them, absorb virtually all the present annuity and it would be totally impracticable to reduce the global sum. All we should do, if we were to do that, would be to find no one to do their work, or else we would find people having to work for starvation wages.

Let me turn briefly to the position of Prince Philip, because he was mentioned with qualified admiration by the hon. Member for Islington, East. These are issues which have been raised and they must be answered, and they must be answered not out of emotion but out of knowledge.

Mr. Orme


Mr. St. John-Stevas

An apologist, I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, is one who puts forward a spirited defence of a position, but I am not apologising for anything.

Mr. Orme

But well briefed.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am very grateful for that compliment. I briefed myself, but anyone can look up these facts if he wants to.

I want to deal briefly with the position of Prince Philip. Since 1950—and this is in the report, which can be read but does not seem to have been read by hon. Members opposite—he has carried out over 100 major foreign tours, in addition to the tours carried out with the Queen. These are tours which are extremely tiring and taxing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh?"] Yes, they are. There is a myth around that foreign travel is somehow enjoyable. It is not so. Amongst other things it involves a number of adjustments because of time changes, and it involves interference with one's normal life. Most of it is a sheer hard slog. That is true. If one looks at the list of domestic engagements one finds, not the truncated list of engagements produced by the hon. Member for Islington, East but 807 engagements in the 12 months of 1970. That means two or three engagements a day. Could anybody ask any human being to do more than that?

In addition, Prince Philip is the patron of 382 organisations, all of which make demands. Again this is an immense burden of work, discharged by a very small Household, the present grant for which is absorbed in wages; the present grant for that Household is almost entirely absorbed in wages and salaries. The present increase for the Duke of Edinburgh, if spread over the years percentagewise since the last Civil List, would mean an increase of 2½ per cent. a year. That is not an excessive increase.

These are the facts. Hon. Members opposite may not like the facts, they may not like to hear them, but these are facts of the situation and they cannot be got away from.

It is no good hon. Members opposite saying that they are all in favour of the Queen and then getting up and presenting her relations as parasites. That is the merest humbug and hypocrisy. They cannot have it both ways. They should look at the facts, and the facts justify this provision.

6.45 p.m.

Mr. Crossman

I should like first of all to answer some of the points which have been made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas). His was, again, a very elegant speech indeed. He really made me feel that he is royal. There is not a fete he could not open, a church service he could not attend, without distinction, and play the royal rôle. He is by nature royal. He has got an elegant and a futile element, an element which is so important in making one feel he is genuinely royal and therefore impotent.

Hon. Members


Mr. Barber

The right hon. Gentleman was Lord President.

Mr. Crossman

I was never naturally a Lord President of the Council. That came to me most unnaturally.

The hon. Member spoke, I was glad to hear, with such depth of feeling. Now, having said that, I would say to him, hoping he will not be embarrassed to hear it, that I agree with him on one or two points.

I want to make it perfectly clear that if we are to have a vote on any one of these Amendments I myself shall not vote for that Amendment because I personally think that Member unworthy. One way we cannot treat the Royal Family is to seem to say that we like somebody or dislike somebody in it. We cannot seriously do that. What we have seriously to ask ourselves is whether there is something old-fashioned about our present institution and whether for that reason we should change it, and change it considerably.

I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said about the Queen Mother; that is to say, she is a retired Queen and in a position very different from that of anybody else in the country. I accept the fact that a Queen should be paid a sufficient sum in her retirement to keep her in the station to which she was called. I am not arguing in detail whether the sum of money suggested is right. I accept the case for a Prince Consort who works as hard as ours does, and who, clearly, ought to be paid by us. I see the reason for that.

We would except the Prince of Wales because he is already a millionaire twenty times over, so there is no need to pay him anything, or his widow one day. That seems ridiculous, but the Prince Consort and the Queen Mother should be included in the Civil List.

The question I want to raise is whether the Civil List should go beyond those two, whether all the brothers and sisters, and all the sons and daughters, should be encouraged to remain royal. I would have thought that, if one is not doomed to succeed, one's greatest hope would be to cease to be royal and to be able to become a normal human being—for a girl, to marry a non-royal and get out of royalty, and for a man, to earn his living, as Swedish royalty do.

I regard it as seriously wrong, therefore, to extend this idea of salary or payment—whatever it is—to the Royal Family for services as though on a par with the Queen, beyond the narrow need to look after the Prince of Wales, the Prince Consort, whoever he may be, and any retired Queen. In my view, no one else should be treated in the same way.

I take Princess Alexandra as an example because she is a very gracious lady, a lady whom no one could possibly criticise. She is a Royal who pays out in wages, I think, £10,000 a year. She is married, I believe, to a wealthy man who can well afford to keep her and give her any number of Rolls-Royces, but she has an extra Rolls-Royce and an extra driver for what amount, in fact, to but a few occasions each year. It seems to me that this sort of thing is slightly ridiculous.

The job of attending 30, 40, or 50 occasions a year of one sort or another is a job which Ministers are well used to throwing into a full-scale life. In the ordinary way a departmental Minister will spend the best part of one day a week on services not dissimilar to those done by the small Royals. A Minister knows, for example, that when he opens a hospital his job is to take the place of the Royal that the people there tried to get but could not. Ministers only open places which Royals will not open. They do exactly the same job. It is done as part of the job of Minister, and no one suggests that there should be special consideration and payment for it.

Let us keep the thing in proportion. Attending occasions of this kind is not the most arduous part of a Minister's life. He manages to work six days a week, either here or in the Ministry, and to throw the seventh in on the "Royal" business. But is is regarded as full-time work for the Royals. It is whole-time for the Queen and for the Prince Consort, and it was for the Queen Mother when she was younger, but it is certainly not for many of the junior Royals. They should not be paid these sums. If they do the job, they can be paid expenses, and they can have one of the Royal Rolls-Royces lent to them for the occasion.

Mr. Jeffrey Archer (Louth)

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that if his wife was wealthy and could afford several Rolls-Royces, his Ministerial car should be taken from him when he went to open a hospital?

Mr. Crossman

I did not say that. When I am a Minister, I have a Ministerial car, and I do not have it for any other reason. These people should have the equivalent of a Ministerial car lent to them when they are being Royal in public, just as I have a Ministerial car only for my Ministerial work and not for my private life. They have them for their private life as well. There is all the difference. [An HON. MEMBER: "SO what?"] These small things matter. Where do we draw the line?

If we want to have a Royal Family, we must pay them generously and properly, but then we should cut it and say that at this point it stops: the nephews and neices, the brothers and sisters, can jolly well settle down and live outside the glare as far as possible, and, if they go out on Royal duties on a few days a year, they can have their expenses covered in the normal way.

If it is then said that these people really should remain Royal and be part of the Court, I reply in this way. The Queen should pay. So long as the Queen has a huge private fortune, on which she pays no tax, she is plainly wealthy enough to sustain a large family. In the past, this is what was done. One of the jobs of the Monarch was to look after the indigent Royals. They were looked after in the Court. There is nothing improper in the suggestion that the Queen's large untaxed resources should be used to sustain the Royal Family's indigent relatives.

Let us consider the case of the Prince Consort. He came from a poor family of indigent Balkan monarchs, and I do not imagine that he brought a large sum with him to the Queen. He did not need to, because she is one of the wealthiest women in the world. It seems to me ridiculous that, in assessing what he needs, we have to take account not only of what he needs but of a further sum sufficient for him to be able to save each year and invest for his old age. It is quite unreal. I doubt that he will have to live alone in old age. He will not; he will be with the Queen.

I do not understand why, in the case of the Royals, we have to assess their needs in terms of sums sufficient for them to be allowed to save. It does not make sense. They are part of the Royal Family, and the Queen at the centre of the Royal Family should provide for them.

The hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) said at an earlier stage, "Poor Queen. What can she do? She got not a penny since the time when she came to the Throne". What an innocent the hon. Gentleman is. If one is the wealthiest woman in Britain, if one is not taxed, if one pays no capital gains tax, what one gains by the automatic increase of one's capital year by year is far greater than what we pay by the Civil List.

It is untrue to say that the Queen has received nothing since she came to the Throne. She has received from the Chancellor of the Exchequer tax concessions each year worth several millions of pounds.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Labour Chancellors, too.

Mr. Crossman

Successive Chancellors, of course. I am not making a Party point. Chancellors of the Exchequer have subsidised the Queen by allowing her not to be taxed. In the same way an owner-occupier is subsidised by the Chancellor when he is not required to pay Schedule A tax. We all know this, and we can calculate the amount of money the owner-occupier actually receives by not paying Schedule A tax or by not paying income tax on his mortgage interest payments. These tax concessions amount to hundreds of millions of pounds a year, and we admit frankly to one another that these people are receiving big subsidies from the Chancellor just as genuinely as council house tenants have the benefit of certain subsidies.

But the Queen's subsidy from the Chancellor is infinitely greater because she has a vast private fortune and the accumulated income from that fortune swells year by year.

The Second Deputy Chairman (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)

Order. I direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the Queen and her emoluments are not covered by this Clause.

Mr. Crossman

I am dealing with the question whether we can afford to cut the cost of payments to the Royals, Mr. Mallalieu, and I am answering the argument that it would be an unjust burden to impose on the Queen. The hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford made that point at an earlier stage when, perhaps, you were not in the Chair. It is important to have this matter clear. I am saying that we should transfer the burden to the Queen's private income, and I suggest that we could regard that as perfectly proper, knowing that she has benefited over the period since she came to the Throne to the extent of huge sums of automatic accumulation as a result of her freedom from tax.

I have made the point, Mr. Mallalieu, and I am grateful to you for allowing me to complete it. I regard it as important to understand that there would be no kind of hardship involved. I am in favour of having the Queen's income taxed, though we should then, I agree, have to pay more to the Royals to look after them. If we want to do that, we can decide that for ourselves; but so long as hon. Members opposite want to have them, the Queen can easily pay for them.

Mr. Orme

I do not think it is generally realised that there is considerable criticism in the country of the remuneration which certain members of the Royal Family receive and of the services which they give in return for that remuneration. We can argue about the principal of having the Queen, and we know what public reaction is generally on that, but if one talks to people in the constituencies, as I have, one finds that they are highly critical of what seems to be substantial public expenditure for this purpose, and expenditure which is on the increase. Naturally, with the children now growing up, the demand on the Civil List will call for more Government expenditure.

I do not see why many of these young people could not be gainfully employed. They have had a reasonable education and they could make their own way in the world as other children do. They would not be put at any disadvantage. They are a family with considerable private wealth, and, if necessary, they can be assisted. This is the sort of development which makes people cast their eyes at monarchies in Sweden and Denmark which are far less expensive than ours. This is what brings attacks upon individuals.

7.0 p.m.

I do not want to name any individual. I am making a point of principle. I am not dealing with X or Y or comparing one with the other and the amount of work which each does. Since the publication of the Civil List Bill and our debate, it can be seen from opinion polls and other reactions that the public are getting increasingly uneasy.

The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) thought that the older section of the community were parsimonious and the younger people were in favour of more lavish expenditure. But it is the younger people who would say that the brothers, sisters, nephews, and so on, should stand on their own feet and not be subsidised by the State. Older people, because of their own situation, might criticise any increase which they feel is unfair, but the younger people would see the danger of proliferation.

On the next time round, I do not think it will be possible for a similar report to be brought before the House and debated. The British public will demand a much more open and critical approach. The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought he was being criticised about the manner in which he handled the chairmanship of the Select Committee. I have read the report and the debates of the Select Committee and, apart from the private fortune not being made known as it should have been, everything was done correctly and I do not criticise the Chancellor of the Exchequer personally.

If one looks at past history, one realises that the debate tonight has been on a low key. It is interesting to note that the pressure is coming from outside and not being led by hon. Members. We are making our criticisms in these Amendments not of individuals but of the principle. I suggest that the people who advise the Government on these issues should be wary about the advice they give, because the British public are looking at this issue and will continue to do so. They will demand that members of the Royal Family should be treated reasonably and properly but at the same time be allowed to stand on their own feet, play their part in the community and not be dependent upon State subsidies.

Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)

The hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) has made a very reasonable speech, putting forward the view that brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and so on should not be supported by the State. I do not say that I agree with him. If he thinks that, that is the way to approach it; but that is not what we are discussing now.

We have a Monarchy which is not just the Monarch, the Consort or the Queen Mother, but the whole Royal Family. If that is what we have and what we want, we must provide the finances to keep it going. As I said on Second Reading, over the centuries the Monarchy has changed and, if the British people want to change it further and these views are put forward reasonably through Parliament, there is no reason why it should not be changed. While we have a Monarchy which is buttressed by the whole of the Royal Family, we must finance it properly.

The right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) went much further. He spoke of a Monarchy of three, the Monarch, the Consort and possibly the Queen Mother, but that would make the Monarchy much weaker—

Mr. Crossman

The Prince of Wales, too.

Captain Elliot

And the Prince of Wales. The net effect of all these groups of Amendments is to weaken the Monarchy.

We have heard what the right hon. Member for Coventry, East said about disclosing the Queen's private fortune. I am sure that, once that fortune was disclosed, he would insist on its being taxed. That would undoubtedly remove the Queen's financial independence and the Monarchy would be made into a Government Department under the tight control of the Government of the day. The whole trend of these Amendments is aimed at weakening the Monarchy in that way, and for that reason I shall oppose the Amendments.

The hon. Member for Salford, West put forward his argument in a reasonable way, but the inaccurate, extravagant and rather arrogant language used by some hon. Members opposite is an absolute disgrace.

Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)

Despite what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Captain W. Elliot), I think it can be said that every debate on this subject deepens the dissatisfaction felt by some of us about the way the whole process is conducted. I believe that this feeling will grow and that something on the lines of what I put to the Select Committee—a proposal which was adopted by the Opposition as their official position on the matter in earlier proceedings on the Bill—will come about. I do not believe it will be possible to carry on as we are now.

Under my scheme this Clause would have been mainly unnecessary. Provision for members of the Royal Family could have been made under those proposals out of revenues of the two Duchies and out of other resources which the Royal Family have. If the Monarch was adequately provided for and if there was constant vigilance over expenditure and provision for it, there would be no need to make pre-emptive bids for the future against inflation by providing a margin for savings later on. This is the basis on which we are undertaking this process at present. We are pre-empting all the time against the continuance of inflation and, therefore, making more generous provision now than is really necessary in order to have funds in hand to be drawn upon later if need be.

Another feeling of unease about the Clause of this kind is that it can become invidious. Amendments can be tabled to reduce the allowance of one member of the Royal Family from £50,000 to nil, or from £20,000 to £7,000, or any figure that comes to mind. This exposes the whole process to some of the undesirable features of parliamentary procedure.

I have worked out from the figures given in the Select Committee Report that what we need for the Queen Mother, the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne, Princess Margaret, and the Duke of Gloucester under these proposals is a total of £255,000 a year. Then there is provision for younger sons at 18 before marriage, £20,000; younger sons after marriage, £50,000; daughters at age 18 and before marriage. £15,000; daughters after marriage, £35.000; and the widow of the Prince of Wales. £60,000 a year. This is what we are having to provide for in the Bill.

If we add the second half of the sum it would appear to be around £150,000 a year, depending on the number of children and the possibility of certain contingencies arising. In that case a sum of roughly £400,000 per year will be needed to cover all the provision required in Clause 2. This could have been done from the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster, which I would have left undisturbed as a means of providing the Royal Family with these additional resources. A Royal Family trust to provide for the distribution of responsibilities and income among members of the Royal Family would be a more satisfactory way than identifying particular members and making special provision for them.

In the Gracious Message which the Queen sent to the House, she asked that provision be made for Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester or any future wife of a younger son in the event of any of them surviving her husband. We then see in the Report: Your Committee are satisfied of the need for such a provision and propose that the annual amount payable in these circumstances should be fixed at £20,000. In fact, the Select Committee was satisfied by a narrow majority on a number of matters, and when the Chancellor of the Exchequer refers to the majority of the Select Committee he must bear in mind that he had a very critical element on the Committee and that, although we made his task comparatively pleasant, nevertheless we had strong reservations, as he well knows.

7.15 p.m.

Furthermore, with this kind of provision large sums are allotted to a Royal Family no matter what its size. Queen Victoria had nine children. I believe that if the present Monarch and her Consort had nine children, they would be deserving of the strongest criticism for setting a bad example to the people. I do not think a Royal Family that chose to have a lot of children should come on the State for £20,000 each for some, £50,000 for others, and £35,000 for others. I do not regard this as a responsible approach to provision for the Royal Family.

I am not sure that I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) or with my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) that members of the Royal Family should go out into the harsh world of commerce and enterprise to earn their own living. I have some misgivings about that. I am not sure that we would like to see a member of the Royal Family on television telling us that something washes whiter than white. I am not sure that it would be desirable for a member of the Royal Family to be engaged in a commercial enterprise which, although quite appropriate for an ordinary citizen, would not be regarded as quite suitable for members of the Royal Family.

Mr. Orme

One member of the Royal Family already engages in commercial pursuits—that is to say, in the Press. Surely my right hon. Friend is not suggesting that members of the Royal Family who are not in direct line to the Throne should be denied the freedom and the right as individuals perhaps to make the same mistakes or the same successes as every other person in the community has the chance to do.

Mr. Houghton

The moment one mentions any particular aspect one sees how controversy begins in these matters since there are many opinions on this subject. I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to the fact that I am talking about the children of the Monarch, not about the husbands of children of the Monarch. I am talking of those who are members of the Royal Family. There is a distinction. We make provision for Princess Margaret because she is a daughter of a Monarch and direct children of the Royal Family are provided for and, in a few cases, their spouses. Whatever is done about this matter, there are bound to be difficulties.

I have always had reservations about the tax position. If one taxes people they must be free to do what other taxpayers can do—and what other taxpayers do does not always receive the approbation of the House of Commons. We do not want to see Royal tax evasion on a vast scale. There are considerations which have to be borne in mind if the dignity and position of the Royal Family is to be maintained. When I was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the betterment levy came up, I was firmly of the opinion that it should not apply literally to the Duchy. However, I was of opinion—and it was provided for in the Act—that a payment should be made in lieu of the betterment levy which would otherwise be levied on any other citizen, and it was to be of an amount agreed with the Treasury. That was a sensible way of proceeding and would be the best way of dealing with taxation if ever we seriously came to consider how it should be done, otherwise one exposes the Monarchy to the Administration in an undesirable way and precludes them from behaving as ordinary citizens in dealing with their tax affairs. However, there it is. We have to do all these things under Clause 2 if we are to implement the Report of the Select Committee.

We on this side of the Committee have a free vote on these matters. However, I find it difficult to vote against the Clause as a whole because it makes quite necessary provision in some cases. I find it difficult to single out one member of the Royal Family and to give him or her an adverse report of some kind. In those circumstances, like many of my hon. Friends, I shall have to refrain from voting. My own view was put fully to the Select Committee in an elaborate alternative proposal which, I believe, would have provided a better way of dealing with this matter. One day it will come. Until then we shall have to try to get by.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor)

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down—

Mr. Houghton

I have sat down.

Mr. Barber

The right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) put forward his views with his usual moderation and courtesy. I feel that it was in marked contrast with the speech of the right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) whose remarks about my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) were both nasty and despicable.

In putting forward his proposals once again, which in effect are for a Department of the Crown, the right hon. Member for Sowerby is repeating a proposal that we considered with immense care during the deliberations of the Select Committee. In principle, it was the main issue that we discussed. We considered a variety of ways of dealing with the problem but, at the end of the day, the choice came down, broadly speaking, to the proposals that the majority eventually put forward in the Select Committee's Report or the proposals carefully worked out by the right hon. Gentleman.

It was the main issue that we discussed when we debated the Select Committee's Report, and I referred to it again an hour or so ago when we debated the group of Amendments on Clause 1. I am sure that every Member of the Select Committee will agree when I say that any system had both its advantages and disadvantages. On balance, I believe that the system which has been put before the Committee is preferable to the one proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. However, I have never been one of those who have said that the right hon. Gentleman's alternative is totally unacceptable for basic reasons. In the main, I believe that it is a matter of judgment as to which choice one makes and, for the reasons which I have deployed on other occasions, I think that the proposals now before the Committee are the better ones.

I can deal briefly with this group of Amendments. First, there is in the Select Committee's Report and in the evidence appended to it a very considerable amount of detail which bears upon the individuals covered in Clause 2. I want therefore to refer to the salient points which I believe that the Committee should take into account.

The first point to be recognised is that, in these Amendments, we are considering the expenses of State, in other words, of carrying out Royal duties. Anyone looking at the evidence appended to the Select Committee's Report will agree that there was considerable probing of witnesses asking for details about the way in which some of these individuals performed their functions and what was involved. It is also important to recognise that these individuals have to meet all the costs of carrying out Royal duties except that of rail travel, which is covered separately.

It is also relevant to bear in mind that the proposed increases in the amounts are much less than the increases in costs since 1952. Salaries and wages, which are the main item, have gone up by more than 200 per cent. since then, but the increase in the annuities proposed are all very much less than that. Consequently, in all these cases, the increased annuities will be worth less in real terms than the annuities which were granted in 1952.

I accept that some hon. Members still think that they are excessive or take a more extreme view and think that these individuals should be provided with nothing at all, in which case they would not be able to carry out these duties.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)

The right hon. Gentleman said that the sums proposed would not meet the costs of the increases, which are more than 200 per cent. However, there is at least one increase which is well over 300 per cent. May I refer the right hon. Gentleman to subsection (5)?

Mr. Barber

I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that in each case the increase proposed is less than the increase in costs since 1952. I have the specific percentages available if the hon. Gentleman wants them.

The point to bear in mind is that the primary purpose of the annuities is to cover the expenses of Royal duties. In that connection I shall quote a few lines from the Report of the Select Committee. In paragraph 32 one reads: Your Committee have been provided with evidence of the duties carried out by those for whom this provision is made and Your Committee are satisfied that the amounts currently provided are inadequate. That is a matter of judgment, of course. But the report goes on: This is also evident from the fact that, in three cases"— there are five people receiving annunities at the moment— …the Treasury had used the powers mentioned in paragraph 5 to exempt the whole amount from tax and that in the other two cases the amount exempted was 80 per cent. and almost 95 per cent respectively. If one is trying to form an honest judgment about whether these amounts are appropriate, it is important to recognise and to accept that the annuities are only free of tax to the extent that they can be shown to be wholly dispersed on expenses of State. The words of the Income Tax Act are: …expenses which are wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of the duties in respect of which the annuities are payable". The Permanent Under-Secretary to the Treasury, Sir Douglas Allen, who is known to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides, was asked to give evidence to the Select Committee inter alia on this point. He explained: When a request is made for us to consider the figure"— the figure of tax allowance— …and increase it, the household concerned submits to us full information about its expenditure, which we examine very carefully and critically, to make certain that it is genuinely incurred, and we may in fact before that happens have given advice about the scale of provision of certain services which the household had. That was in answer to specific questions on this point. In answer to a further question, Sir Douglas confirmed that officials would …think it perfectly proper to query whether a particular head of expenditure ought more properly to be regarded as personal as opposed to public … (and) … to query why a particular figure for a particular item of expenditure had greatly increased over a period of a year or two years". If the Committee is trying to come to a genuine conclusion on the adequacy or otherwise of the amounts referred to in the Clause and in the Amendments, it is a matter of the highest relevance that, in the cases of the present five annuitants, the Treasury exempted the whole amount from tax in three and exempted 80 per cent. and almost 95 per cent. respectively in the other two, and did so on the basis that the Treasury was satisfied that the amounts involved were …wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of the duties in respect of which the annuities are payable". I believe this to be a matter of great importance if we are to try to reach an honest and genuine conclusion on this subject.

7.30 p.m.

The existing tax allowances which these individuals are getting at present on this basis will not be automatically increased to correspond with the increased annuities, because each Household will have to submit a claim supported by detailed expenditure figures if it wants an allowance increased.

The real issue is whether we believe that the extent of the duties performed by members of the Royal Family, taken as a whole, are excessive or could be cut down. We should make no mistake about this matter, bearing in mind that the minutes of evidence show the five annuitants concerned between them carried out nearly 1,500 engagements in 1970, whatever one may say about particular engagements. We can poke fun at right hon. and hon. Members for some of the functions which they perform in their constituencies. It is easy to mock, but this is not our concern. There is no possibility whatever of the Queen taking on a further burden of duties even beginning to match the duties at present being done by other members of the Royal Family.

The right hon. Member for Coventry, East, who was once in charge of the Department of Health and Social Security, is muttering away as I make this point. But, naturally and rightly, he said that when he was asked to open a hospital, as I was when Minister of Health, in many cases, if not all, some member of the Royal Family would have been preferred. That does not just mean the Queen or the other two members of the Royal Family mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman; it includes the people mentioned in the Clause.

It may he said that they should not be doing that; they should be doing a job of work and earning their living. I entirely disagree. It can only be a matter of judgment, but I believe that the British people much prefer that members of the Royal Family should open their hospitals than the right hon. Gentleman or myself. If this is what the people want, why should we not pay members of the Royal Family to undertake these engagements?

I can well understand hon. Gentlemen opposite sneering at this suggestion, but, when requests come in for these functions to be performed, in almost every case, as the right hon. Member for Coventry, East stated, if they involve matters of any significance, they are requests for members of the Royal Family to carry them out.

Mr. Orme

No one is sneering. We are making critical comments. We are concerned with a basic principle. How far does the right hon. Gentleman want to see this practice extended? Does he want it extended to cousins and second cousins? How many people will be involved? When people ask for members of the Royal Family to perform these functions, they probably do not take into account the cost to the nation. Will the Chancellor recognise that there is widespread public concern about the inevitable extension which is taking place and the number of children who will become involved, thus widening the whole issue? This is what we are arguing about.

Mr. Barber

Again, this must at the end of the day be a matter of judgment. I have given a good deal of thought to this matter, as have members of the Select Committee, and the majority came to the conclusion that the kind of provision which we are making in the Clause is about right. However, I agree that some people will think that other sums would be more appropriate. I believe the figures in the Clause are about right, and that was the view expressed in the Select Committee's Report.

I should like to reiterate that the principal consequence of accepting the Amendments would not in most cases make the annuitants poorer. What it would do—this is the relevant consideration for the nation—would be to cut down their share of the work which I believe the nation appreciates. Certainly the Queen could not take on the additional burden of work which is undertaken by these individuals. I do not believe that the British people want the work of the Royal Family to be cut down. I believe that they want it to be continued and performed by the Royal Family. I agree that in the end these are matters of judgment and that the figures in the Clause represent a degree of judgment. At any rate, they represent the judgment of the majority on the Select Committee.

For these reasons, I hope that, particularly in the light of what has been said by the right hon. Member for Sowerby and in the light of the information which I have given about the taxation provision, the hon. Gentleman will not seek to press the Amendment to a Division.

Mr. John D. Grant

Despite what the Chancellor has said, we shall seek a Division, but only on one Amendment. I should like it to be understood that, in selecting one Amendment, we are not picking out any particular individual. We

feel that the principle applies to this whole group of Amendments.

Amendment negatived.

The Chairman

The Question is, That Clause 2 stand part—

Mr. Orme

On a point of order, Sir Robert. When the Amendments were selected it was agreed that we could vote on any one of them. You are now proposing, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill". We should like to vote on Amendment No. 10.

The Chairman

I was waiting to be informed on which Amendment a Division was required.

Amendment proposed: No. 10, in page 3, line 23, leave out subsection (5) and insert: (5) Future provision for Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret shall be nil.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 34. Noes 148.

Division No. 36. AYES [7.37 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Foot, Michael Marks, Kenneth
Atkinson, Norman Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Marsden, F.
Booth, Albert Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Heffer, Eric S. Prescott, John
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Horam, John Skinner, Dennis
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Stallard, A. W.
Dalyell, Tam Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) John, Brynmor Watkins, David
Deakins, Eric Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Dormand, J. D. Jones, Dan (Burnley) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Eadie, Alex Kaufman, Gerald Mr. Arthur Davidson and Mr. Stanley Orme
Ewing, Henry Latham, Arthur
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McGuire, Michael
Adley, Robert Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hawkins, Paul
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Drayson, G. B. Hay, John
Atkins, Humphrey Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hicks, Robert
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Holt, Miss Mary
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Eyre, Reginald Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Benyon, W. Farr, John Hunt, John
Biffen, John Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hutchison, Michael Clark
Boscawen, Robert Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) James, David
Bowden, Andrew Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Brewis, John Fookes, Miss Janet Jopling, Michael
Brinton, Sir Tatton Fowler, Norman Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Fox, Marcus Kilfedder, James
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M) Glyn, Dr. Alan King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Carlisle, Mark Gower, Raymond Kinsey, J. R.
Chapman, Sydney Gray, Hamish Kitson, Timothy
Churchill. W. S. Green, Alan Knight. Mrs. Jill
Clegg, Walter Gummer, Selwyn Knox, David
Cockeram, Eric Gurden, Harold Lane, David
Cooke, Robert Hall, John (Wycombe) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Coombs, Derek Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Cordle, John Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Loveridge, John
Cormack, Patrick Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Luce, R. N.
Costain, A. P. Haselhurst, Alan MacArthur, Ian
Crouch, David Havers, Michael McCrindle, R. A.
McLaren, Martin Osborn, John Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Page, Graham (Crosby) Sutcliffe, John
McMaster, Stanley Peel, John Tebbit, Norman
McNair-Wilson, Michael Percival, Ian Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Maginnis, John E. Pounder, Rafton Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Mather, Carol Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Maude, Angus Redmond, Robert Tugendhat, Christopher
Mawby, Ray Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Ridley, Hn. Nicholas van Straubenzee, W. R.
Meyer, Sir Anthony Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Waddington, David
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Rost, Peter Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W) Russell, Sir Ronald Wall, Patrick
Moate, Roger St. John-Stevas, Norman Weatherill, Bernard
Molyneaux, James Sharpies, Richard White, Roger (Gravesend)
Money, Ernle Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Monks, Mrs. Connie Soref, Harold Wiggin, Jerry
Monro, Hector Speed, Keith Wilkinson, John
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Spence, John Winterton, Nicholas
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Sproat, Iain Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Morrison, Charles Stainton, Keith Worsley, Marcus
Mudd, David Stanbrook, Ivor Younger, Hn. George
Murton, Oscar Steel, David
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Neave, Airey Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.) Mr. Victor Goodhew and Mr. Tim Fortescue
Normanton, Tom Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Nott, John Stokes, John

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 3 and 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

[Sir ALFRED BROUGHTON in the Chair]

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