HL Deb 07 December 1936 vol 103 cc652-4

My Lords, may I ask the noble Viscount the Leader of the House whether he has any statement to make to the House to-day?


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for giving me the occasion of making a statement on the position. In considering this whole matter it has always been, and remains, the earnest desire of the Government to afford His Majesty the fullest opportunity of weighing a decision which involves so directly his own future happiness and the interests of all his subjects. At the same time, they cannot but be aware that any considerable prolongation of the present state of suspense and uncertainty would involve risk of the gravest injury to national and Imperial interests, and, indeed, no one is more insistent upon this aspect of the situation than His Majesty.

In view of certain statements which have been made about the relations between the Government and the King, I should add that, except upon the question of morganatic marriage, no advice has been tendered by the Government to His Majesty, with whom all the Prime Minister's conversations have been strictly personal and informal. These matters were not raised first by the Government, but by His Majesty himself, in conversation with my right honourable friend some weeks ago, when he first informed the Prime Minister of his intention to marry Mrs. Simpson, whenever she should be free. The subject has, therefore, been for some time in the King's mind, and, as soon as His Majesty has arrived at a conclusion as to the course he desires to take, he will no doubt communicate it to his Governments in this country and the Dominions. It will then be for those Governments to decide what advice, if any, they would feel it their duty to tender to him in the light of his conclusion. I cannot conclude this statement without expressing what all your Lordships feel—our deep and respectful sympathy with His Majesty at this time.


My Lords, in the opinion of my noble friends it is quite inadvisable that any discussion should take place at this stage respecting the statement which has been made to the House. Without the essential facts before us any such discussion would, of necessity, be unseal and might be injurious. On the other hand the matter should not be allowed to drift indefinitely, and I therefore hope that as soon as circumstances permit the Government will give to Parliament any information at their disposal.


My Lords, I desire very briefly, as one who, like very few of your Lordships, has had the honour of serving three former Sovereigns in a position of confidence, to add a word to what has been said by the noble Viscount opposite, and by the noble Lord who has just spoken. In the first place I feel sure your Lordships will all be gratified to know that the statements which have appeared in some irresponsible quarters, that His Majesty's Government have applied some undue pressure to His Majesty to declare his decision in this matter, are altogether without foundation.


Hear, hear.


I feel, on the contrary, that we are all indebted to the Prime Minister and to His Majesty's Government for the attitude that they have adopted in this difficult situation. I should like also to add to what has been said, an expression of profound sympathy with His Majesty in the position in which he has been placed, and also an equal expression of sympathy with the Royal Family, and in particular with Her Majesty Queen Mary, who has won so completely the respect and devotion of all His Majesty's subjects.


Your Lordships will not, I am sure, expect me to say more than that. I will certainly convey what has been said by the noble Lord who leads the Opposition, and by the noble Marquess, to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister.