HL Deb 16 February 1937 vol 104 cc150-67

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Halifax.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clause I agreed to.

Clause 2:

Regency during total incapacity of the Sovereign.

2.—(I) If the following persons or any three or more of them, that is to say, the wife or husband of the Sovereign, the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Lord Chief Justice of England, and the Master of the Rolls, declare in writing that they are satisfied on the evidence of physicians or otherwise that the Sovereign is by reason of infirmity of mind or body wholly incapable for the time being of performing the royal functions, then, until it is declared in like manner that His Majesty has so far recovered His health as to warrant His resumption of the royal functions, those functions shall be performed in the name and on behalf of the Sovereign by a Regent.

(2) A declaration under this section shall be made to the Privy Council and communicated to the Governments of His Majesty's Dominions and to the Government of India.

THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (VISCOUNT HALIFAX) moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "on the evidence of physicians or otherwise" and insert "by evidence which shall include the evidence of physicians." The noble Viscount said: This Amendment is one that is proposed in accordance with the promise given by the Home Secretary on the Report stage in another place. The object is to remove doubts as to the meaning of the clause as it was originally drafted, and to make it clear that the evidence on which the persons designated in the Bill would decide whether the Sovereign had become incapable or not must necessarily include the evidence of physicians but might also include other evidence as well. That is the only object of the Amendment. I beg to move it.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 24, leave out ("on the evidence of physicians or otherwise") and insert ("by evidence which shall include the evidence of physicians ").—(Viscount Halifax.)


I do not know whether the noble Viscount has considered the effect of this Amendment on the Amendment which stands in my name—[after "body," in subsection (I), to insert ''or other cause"]. As a matter of substance the two are perfectly consistent, but as a matter of drafting this Amendment is fatal to the next one, because, under the contingencies which I endeavoured to set forth to your Lordships last week, the evidence of physicians would be irrelevant and useless, but if the Amendments of the noble Viscount are carried the evidence of physicians would be necessary to establish any cause of non-capability or inability. I do not know whether the noble Viscount could make any statement about it, but, if necessary, I would defer the Amendment in my name to a later stage.


When we come to my noble friend's Amendment I am afraid that I shall have to adduce reasons why I should hope he would not think it necessary to press it upon the attention of your Lordships, but, having regard to what he has suggested, if he thinks that the effect of my Amendment would be to rule out the free discussion of his Amendment, I do not know whether the Lord Chairman could devise means by which my Amendment could be discussed without prejudicing the point that my noble friend desires to raise on his.


It is the custom of your Lordships, when two Amendments bear on the same subject, that we take the discussion of both together on the first Amendment.


If the noble Viscount does not think it inconvenient to state his views on the following Amendment—I confess I think it would be convenient to me—perhaps the rest of your Lordships would like to have them now.


I am extremely glad to fall in with whatever is for the convenience of my noble friend and of the Committee and, therefore, I will, with the permission of the Committee, say what I have to say on the first Amendment that stands in my noble friend's name, on line 25 to insert "or other cause." The Committee will remember that my noble friend made reference to this point in the debate on the Second Reading of the Bill last week. In accordance with the undertaking that I then gave him I took the opportunity of drawing the attention of the Home Secretary to the point that my noble friend had made. The Home Secretary, with me, recognised that there were outside cases, such as those to which my noble friend had drawn attention, in regard to which it was quite possible to say and to argue that they were not wholly met by the Bill as it now stands, but, none the less, he was extremely reluctant to change the form of the Bill by the inclusion of such Amendments as my noble friend suggests, partly because, as I tried to say on the last occasion, he does regard these contingencies as sufficiently remote to justify us in leaving the cases in the position that if and when they did arise it would be the duty of Parliament to deal with them, as no doubt it would then find means of doing.

But more than that I think, taking all my noble friend's Amendments together, the broad effect of them is greatly to lessen the contrast between the two clauses—Clause 2 and Clause 6—which, having regard to the general structure of the Bill, it is desirable to maintain. Clause 2 deals with the case of incapacity necessitating the establishment of a Regency, and Clause 6 deals, as your Lordships will see, not with incapacity but with illness or other causes that do not amount to incapacity and, therefore, do not necessitate the establishment of a Regent, but may render it convenient, for the better dispatch of public business, that machinery should be created to avoid delay and the like. It is mainly because of the fact that we look to this Bill being an enduring and permanent Bill, that we think it is of the greatest importance to maintain that contrast unimpaired between the causes and the consequences of the two clauses to which I have drawn attention. That, in brief, is why my right honourable friend would be extremely reluctant to accept the Amendments in the name of my noble friend, and that is why I would ask him not to press them upon your Lordships.


I do not know what course will be taken by my noble friend whose Amendment is being discussed, and of course it is very difficult with regard to a measure of this kind brought in on the responsibility of the Government to press an Amendment which they are unwilling to accept, but I would like to point out to my noble friend the Leader of the House that there is this difficulty in his argument. He says that the causes which my noble friend submitted on Second Reading are very remote, and that should the time come when the contingencies would have to be faced Parliament would make some arrangement accordingly. But the difficulty is that without some breach of the law Parliament would be unable to make any arrangement. That is the point.

When you are dealing with a case of the inability of the Sovereign to act from any cause, Parliament cannot pass anything at all. I have no doubt that as we live in a country which always finds a way by which inextricable difficulties can be surmounted something would be done, but it would be irregular in the contingencies my noble friend has contemplated. The Bill does not deal with anything that is probable at all. We do not expect a case of the King being incapacitated in respect of his health or any other respect. Whatever part of the Bill you consider the contingencies contemplated are remote. If, however, you are going to deal with them—and I think the Government are perfectly right to deal with them—it is a pity that you should not deal with them altogether. Therefore I hope my noble friend the Leader of the House will consider before the next stage whether, if he is going to deal with remote contingencies, he should not include them all.


Perhaps I might be allowed to say one further word in reply to the observations which have fallen from the noble Marquess. With regard to the first point, that in such a contingency as my noble friend contemplates there would be no one to give the Royal Assent to a Bill, the noble Marquess said that it would be possible for Parliament to deal with the matter but that it would be irregular. I agree, but it would not be without precedent, because that is exactly what happened during the reign of George III in 1811. The procedure adopted then, if my memory serves me rightly, was that each House of Parliament passed a Resolution authorising the application of the Great Seal to the Bill to which the Sovereign himself was unable to give assent. Therefore, although the action might be irregular, it would not be, as I say, without precedent.

With regard to the other thing he said, surely there is considerable distinction to be drawn between the contingency of the Sovereign suffering from infirmity—which is the common lot of man—rendering him incapable of exercising his royal functions, and the contingency that my noble friend quoted last week which he said had not occurred since the time of Richard Cœur de Lion—namely, the chance of the Sovereign being made prisoner while living abroad. As to that, I suppose any Ministers who were deserving of His Majesty's confidence would have had the opportunity of giving him advice that he should not go to such a place where he would be in danger of being thus placed in captivity. Therefore, I should have thought there was a distinction between the two cases. If my noble friend desires it, I will certainly ask my right honourable friend the Home Secretary to consider the matter again, but, for the reasons I have given, I do not honestly think, after the exhaustive investigation of which this matter has been the subject, that I can hold out much hope, while recognising the point made, of my right honourable friend varying his opinion.


As I read the discussion on the Second Reading I felt there was a good deal of substance in the point there made by the noble Lord in asking for some extension beyond the cases which are included in the Bill. I still feel that it is possible there may be other cases, however remote they may be, and I welcome the suggestion of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House that there should be further consideration before the Report stage. It is just possible that by wider words means can be found to deal promptly with any contingency that might arise, whereas if the matter had to be referred to Parliament it would take some time to make the necessary alteration in the law.


My noble friend Lord Snell asked me to watch this Bill for him. My noble friend did not give me special instructions with regard to Lord Rankeillour's Amendment, but as I understand the noble Viscount is going to raise this matter with the Home Secretary I should like to ask him to consider this point. I think the particular case of the Sovereign being taken prisoner is one which perhaps should not be considered so remote as some might suppose. The words which the noble Lord, Lord Rankeillour, proposes as an Amendment are however very wide. If it is proposed to make provision for the Sovereign being held by force majeure, or whatever the appropriate expression may be, I do not mind, but I think the expression "or other cause" is far too wide. I should like respectfully to suggest to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House that if he does add anything in this direction he should seek much narrower words than those on the Amendment Paper.


In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, I may say that I am not wedded to the words "or other cause." Other words could easily be found, such as "detention without the United Kingdom" or something like that. On the main question I would ask the noble Viscount to consider this. Would His Majesty's advisers at the end of June, 1914, have told the Sovereign that there was danger in his going to take the baths at Homburg? I can hardly believe so. We know with what extreme suddenness the crisis came. If during the course of taking the waters the Sovereign became so ill that he could not be moved the very situation I have suggested would arise.

With regard to the Royal Assent being conferred on a Bill by Resolution of both Houses of Parliament to affix the Great Seal, surely that was a very extraordinary precedent. It had to be followed no doubt because there was nothing else to be done, but surely it is action which it should not be necessary to repeat. This may not be the only contingency to be borne in mind. There is the matter of the Dissolution of Parliament which could not be effected. Again, if it so happened that the heir to the throne was incapacitated and there was a demise of the Crown the whole machinery of the monarchy would be stopped. It would not work. I certainly will not press this Amendment now. It would be useless because if the present Amendment is accepted mine, though not technically out of order, would become futile. But I very much welcome the statement of my noble friend Viscount Halifax, and on the next stage I will put down words to the text of the Bill as amended in Committee which I hope he with earnestly consider with the Home Secretary.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT HALIFAX moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "wholly." The noble Viscount said: This is not much more than a drafting Amendment, but it was felt on a review of the Bill that the word "wholly" might give ground for needless and undesirable argument if the occasion ever arose, and that on a strict interpretation of the English language a man is either incapable or is not. Therefore, redundant adverbs being dangerous, I move to leave this one out.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 26, leave out ("wholly").— (Viscount Halifax.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, in subsection (2), after "communicated," to insert "by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom." The noble Viscount said: It seems to me that the words of this subsection leave too vague the definition of the person or body who is to be responsible for informing the Dominion and Indian Governments of a declaration made under this clause, and I cannot think of any better body than His Majesty's Government. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 33, after ("communicated") insert ("by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


The intention of Clause I (2) is, I should have thought, fairly clear. It is that on the making of the declaration to the Privy Council by the persons appointed under subsection (I) it is the declarants who would be responsible for seeing that that declaration was communicated simultaneously and directly to all His Majesty's Governments. I think that perhaps my noble friend does not appreciate that, as constitutional relations stand between this country and the Dominions to-day, it would not in fact be strictly appropriate to the present constitutional position of the Dominions that this communication on a matter directly affecting the Crown should be made to the Dominions by the United Kingdom Government. They would not be an appropriate channel of communication. I am advised that the correct course is followed by laying down that those persons who are in fact responsible for making the declaration in this country shall also be responsible for making the declaration to the Dominion Governments. I hope that in those circumstances my noble friend will not think it necessary to press the Amendment.


After what my noble friend has said, I beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3:

The Regent.

3.—(I) If a Regency becomes necessary under this Act, the Regent shall he that person who, excluding any persons disqualified under this section, is next in the line of succession to the Crown.

(3) If any person who would at the commencement of a Regency have become Regent but for the fact that he was not then of full age becomes of full age during the Regency, he shall, if he is not otherwise disqualified under this section, thereupon become Regent.

LORD DICKINSON moved, in subsection (I), after "shall," to insert "unless Parliament otherwise determines." The noble Lord said: I ventured to put down this Amendment in order to raise a further discussion upon the point which was so ably put by the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, on the Second Reading. I suggest that the words which are used in Clause 5, "During a Regency, unless Parliament otherwise determines," in the provisions regulating who shall have the custody of the infant Sovereign and the management of his estate, shall also be included in Clause 3, which lays down definitely who is to be the Regent. It is a mistake to take out of the hands of Parliament, as this clause does, the nomination of the Regent. Up to the present, so far as I know, Parliament has always kept that important function in its own hands. As long ago as the reign of Henry III the Earl of Pembroke was appointed Regent by the consent of the Barons, and Lord Coke in his "Institutes" lays it down that the office depends on the will of Parliament. This Bill, therefore, makes a considerable change in the Constitution, or at any rate in the law, because, as I read it, it proposes to tie the hands of Parliament for all time. There is no opportunity of choice of a Regent: the Regent is definitely declared to be the next successor to the Crown.

The noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, pointed out with great force the other day that if this condition of affairs had held good in the early years of last century the result might have been very serious. In fact, I think he pointed to the possibility of a revolution taking place had it been insisted upon that the next successor to the Crown should be the Regent. The noble Earl might have gone still farther into the history of that time and added what Parliament actually did when, in 1830, it had to deal with the problem. As your Lordships are aware, William IV came to the throne when the Princess Victoria was still under age and, the King's health being uncertain, it was necessary for Parliament to make provision for a Regent in the event of the King dying before the Princess attained eighteen years of age. So the Act was passed—1 William IV c. 2—by which it was declared that the Duchess of Kent, the mother of Princess Victoria, was appointed Regent in that event. That was far the best arrangement in the circumstances, and might well be the best arrangement under modern conditions. Under this Bill, however, that solution is rendered absolutely impossible. The Queen Mother is ruled out altogether; she cannot be appointed Regent. One can very well see that the circumstances of the day are not very dissimilar to those which existed at the time of the accession of Queen Victoria. Is it therefore wise for us at the present moment to rule out such a possibility—the possibility of the Queen Mother being Regent during her daughter's infancy?

One learns a further lesson from the history of the early years of the last century, because there was another Regency in 1840. When Queen Victoria was expecting her first child, it was thought well to provide for the possibility of her dying, and so an Act was then passed in order to appoint a Regent. Under those conditions Parliament chose the Prince Consort, the Queen's husband, as Regent, and under the Act 4 Victoria c. 50 he was to become Regent during the infancy of the Sovereign, but no longer. If the present Bill had held good at that time, that arrangement would have been impossible. I see no reason why the father of an infant Sovereign should not he Regent, and still less, I submit, is there a reason for us definitely to decide now, once and for all, that in no circumstances is the father of an infant Sovereign to be the Regent. As I said, it is a great change in the law, and it may involve considerable hardship and bring about conditions which really do not seem advisable.

There are a great many reasons which one could give for arguing that the father of a Sovereign should be the Regent, and there again the circumstances to-day are not unlike those of a hundred years ago. If His Majesty's eldest daughter ascends the Throne—she will, I hope, some day—and if she were to be taken from us, leaving a husband and a young family, that husband, if this Bill passes, could not be the Regent. The Regency would pass automatically to her younger sister, who might be married, and who might for many reasons not be suitable to be the Regent. It seems to me that we are trying to solve very difficult questions much too far in advance, and that it would be far wiser if we allowed Parliament to have the right to vary this rule—a rule which is, I have no doubt, satisfactory at the present moment, but which may not he satisfactory in the future. That is the reason why I submit that this clause should have the same words in it that exist in Clause 5, and that we should declare that if a Regency becomes necessary under the Act, the Regent shall, "unless Parliament otherwise determines," be the person who is next in the line of succession to the Crown.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 37, after ("shall") insert ("unless Parliament otherwise determines").—(Lord Dickinson.)


I do not wish to repeat anything that the noble Lord has said so well or anything that I attempted to say on the Second Reading. I quite appreciate the point made by the Leader of the House that there was an alternative before the Government—that they could either have made this matter automatic or selective, and they have chosen the automatic way. There is nothing better than an automatic system, but there is nothing worse than an automatic system if it does not work. It is only because I fear that there may be pitfalls before us, that I think it is at any rate desirable that this thing should be very carefully considered. But the reason I rise is to put another point to the noble Viscount, which has been brought to my notice since the Second Reading by a learned Scottish professor of history. As the noble Lord who has just spoken said, there is to be no choice of a Regent. I also point out to your Lordships that there is going to be no choice by a Regent. Supposing a Regent, as he might be for some perfectly honourable reason, is unwilling to act. What then? I am not going to get into a discussion with learned Lords on the subject of domicile. I suffer from that difficulty myself, as anybody does who lives in Ireland. But supposing the Regent were domiciled in the United Kingdom but preferred to live abroad for some perfectly honourable reason. Then, if the person designated here were unwilling to act as Regent, the same statemate would occur as has been referred to in previous speeches. And though of course I quite appreciate that the Royal Assent might be given under the Great Seal in the way that has been mentioned by the Leader of the House, I am quite certain that it is not a precedent that any Government would follow with pleasure, and it would be much better to deal with this matter, if possible, in advance.


This is, as my noble friend Lord Dickinson said, an echo of the short discussion that we had on the Second Reading, and I make no point at all of that, because I think it is of the first importance that all of us in this House should apply our minds as closely as we may to a Bill which is to be a permanent part of our constitutional machinery. I am therefore only grateful to my noble friends for the suggestions that they have made. But I think that there are considerations also on the other side of which note has to be taken. First of all, my noble friend Lord Dickinson rested part of his argument upon the fact that the words that he seeks to introduce by this Amendment find a place in the Bill, at the opening of Clause 5. But, with all respect to him, it will not have escaped his notice that Clause 3 and Clause 5 deal with totally different matters. Clause 3 deals with the question of Regency; Clause 5 deals with the question of guardianship of the Sovereign.

I entirely agree with him that in the case of guardianship it is eminently appropriate that the Queen Mother, let us say, should exercise those functions of guardianship, but I suggest to him that there is a presumption that, in the case of a Regency exercising the royal functions, the appropriate person to exercise them is the person who stands next in order of succession, and who would be exercising them if the Sovereign had died—unless of course you adopt the line of thought of my noble friend Lord Donoughmore, and I think also of Lord Dickinson, and think that on balance it is wiser, choosing between the automatic and the selective plan, frankly to favour the selective plan and leave Parliament perfectly clear, after discussion and possibly some controversy, to decide on the day between all the possible claimants for the Regency, commanding their several measures of support in the country. I cannot think that would be a good plan. I can imagine endless controversy arising in certain circumstances if the selective plan of choosing your Regent were to be adopted. The whole object of this Bill is to have an automatic plan. If indeed you were to have the selective arrangement you might as well not have this Bill at all, because the only object of this Bill is to set on a permanent and statutory basis what, up to this time, Parliament has, when these lamentable circumstances have arisen, found itself compelled to deal with ad hoc; and it has been the very inconvenience of that condition of affairs which has led the Government to introduce this Bill of which the main virtue is that it does settle the question once for all.

A considerable argument has been directed to establishing that that method of settling automatically who shall be Regent might, in certain circumstances, lead to undesirable results, and that the principle of automatic succession to the post of Regent is open therefore to some danger. But I do not suppose that those who use that argument will have overlooked the fact that exactly the same argument might be employed to suggest dangers in that which lies at the foundation of monarchy—the automatic succession to the Throne itself—and it is, I would have asserted, as possible to conjure up the dangers of imagination in the one case as in the other.

Lord Dickinson spoke of the position if these words were not inserted, amounting to a state of affairs in which the matter was being taken out of the hands of Parliament by the passage for the first time of a permanent Act. In the sense in which he used those words, I understand and appreciate them and can agree with them; but in another sense he will know as well as any one that one Parliament can never bind its successors and that the sovereignty of Parliament remains always undiluted and unimpaired. The noble Earl; Lord Donoughmore, spoke of possible contingencies in which the person naturally under this Bill designed for the post of Regent would be unwilling to act. Frankly I prefer not to contemplate that contingency, and I should be sorry to see provision made in a Bill for the contingency in which the person who might be designated as Regent would be, as it were, almost encouraged in advance to think it was a permissible course of action to decline, on whatever grounds, these great and high responsibilities. I should be very sorry indeed to see such words or such a suggestion, explicit or implicit, on the face of any Statute. For these reasons, while I do not at all fail to follow the arguments of my noble friends, I yet think that the arguments I have adduced are the stronger, and I hope they may be felt to be the stronger by others of your Lordships. For these reasons I hope my noble friends will not think it necessary to press their Amendment.


I think it is as well to say one word on this Amendment because this is a very important Bill, as has been said more than once, and it is meant to last a very long time and to deal with contingencies which we cannot foretell. If I may express this opinion, I think there is a great deal to be said for Lord Dickinson's Amendment. It is a useful compromise between what the noble Viscount so aptly described as the automatic and the selective methods. If your Lordships will look at the Bill again for one moment, you will see that we have in Clause 3 relied upon the automatic method of succession by heredity, and so it will remain unless, as my noble friend Lord Marley has pointed out to me, a contingency arises such as Lord Donoughmore described—if the Duke of Cumberland of the day were to be the prospective Regent. Then, as the noble Lord said, Parliament could pass a special Bill. But that is rather invidious, for then you would have to legislate for a contingency that might arise but not for one which had actually arisen. I suggest that Lord Dickinson's Amendment offers a good compromise between the two systems. It could be laid down that in the case of a Regent Parliament should decide and choose who was to be the Regent. The noble Viscount has given, from his point of view, arguments against that, and the two noble Lords who have interested themselves in this particular matter have given arguments for the other point of view. I suggest that Lord Dickinson has found a very good halfway position.

With great respect to the noble Viscount, the present hereditary system with regard to the Royal Succession is not entirely automatic because of the religious bar. To-day, the Heir has to declare adhesion to the Protestant reformed religion, and it is therefore not entirely automatic, as it was some centuries ago. It has also to be remembered that the automatic system is comparatively recent in the history of the monarchical system, which used to be much more selective for obvious reasons. Therefore I do beg your Lordships not to be swayed entirely by the very cogent arguments of the Leader of the House in respect of the so-called automatic system of succession. There is one other difficulty that presents itself and which has also to be considered, because this is the last occasion on which this very important Bill will be before Parliament. Supposing Parliament wished, as Lord Marley has suggested, at the time of the emergency, to prevent the Regent by birth, so to speak, from assuming his royal office under this Bill, there is no machinery for that unless the precedent stated by the noble Viscount were followed.


In I8II.


Therefore, you get a situation in which the emergency had arisen perhaps quite unexpectedly and public opinion, if I may so put it, was against a certain personage—we are looking a long way ahead now and all sorts of things may develop. How are you going to alter that? Supposing the emergency to have arisen, that the Sovereign is incapable of acting and that public opinion is against his natural successor becoming Regent, because it may be only a temporary affair. What is Parliament to do? I suggest that these are matters for consideration and discussion, and I venture to put these opinions before your Lordships.


May I intervene for one moment to answer one point that the noble Lord opposite has put? If I followed his argument correctly, it was that, unless these words were inserted in the Bill, it would in fact be impossible for Parliament to exercise any power of selection, should it wish to do so, after the emergency had arisen. I do not follow how the insertion of these words would in fact help that case at all, because it would be quite clear a at the emergency having arisen, and there being under the selective system no Regent automatically there to act, there would be no one to give the Royal Assent to any Act in the direction of selection that the noble Lord opposite would like to see passed.


What I was trying to convey to your Lordships was that this Bill requires still further consideration. I did pose a difficulty, and I think it should be met. I think further amendment is required, if Lord Dickinson has converted your Lordships to his point of view. In other words, Lord Dickinson's Amendment alone does not get us out of the difficulty.


But if the Bill stands as it does the difficulty, I venture to think, does not arise.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

LORD HALIFAX moved, at the end of subsection (3), to insert "instead of the person who has theretofore been Regent." The noble Viscount said: This is a self-explanatory Amendment. It is to make clear out of an abundance of caution what the whole Bill does, I think, make plain, that it only contemplates one Regent at one time.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 13, at end insert ("instead of the person who has theretofore been Regent").—(Viscount Halifax).

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 3 shall be agreed to?—


May I ask a question on Clause 3? I would like to have an explanation of some words in this clause. I gave rather short notice to the Leader of the House about this. Why do these curious words occur in subsection (2) of this clause: "domiciled in some part of the United Kingdom." Some of my friends have queried those words. Why not say simply "domiciled in the United Kingdom." If there is some special reason for having the words as they appear in the Bill we should like to know it.


I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord for having given me notice about the question of domicile upon which no one would care to embark with an explanation without first fortifying himself by looking into the matter. I am advised that there is no United Kingdom domicile; it is either an English domicile, a Scottish domicile or an Irish domicile; therefore the words "some part of the United Kingdom" are strictly and necessarily accurate.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5:

Guardianship, etc., of Sovereign during Regency.

5. During a Regency, unless Parliament otherwise determines—

  1. (a) if the Sovereign is under the age of eighteen years, and unmarried, His mother, if she is living, shall have the guardianship of His person;
  2. (b) if the Sovereign, being married, is under the age of eighteen years or has been declared under this Act to be wholly incapable for the time being of performing the royal functions, the wife or husband of the Sovereign, if of full age, shall have the guardianship of the person of the Sovereign;
  3. (c) the Regent shall administer the Sovereign's property, and shall, save in the cases aforesaid, have the guardianship of His person.


The first Amendment in my name to this clause, in paragraph (b), is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 3, leave out ("wholly").—(Viscount Halifax.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT HALIFAX moved to leave out paragraph (c) and insert: (c) the Regent shall, save in the cases aforesaid, have the guardianship of the person of the Sovereign; and the property of the Sovereign, except any private property which in accordance with the terms of any trust affecting it is to be administered by some other person, shall be administered by the Regent.

The noble Viscount said: The object of this paragraph is to make it quite clear that in the event of any private property being put in trust by the Sovereign for the Heir to the Throne until he or she attains the age of eighteen the administration of the beneficiary interest in that property should remain in the hands of the trustees upon the accession of the Heir and should not be in private property in trust passed to the Regent. The earlier paragraph in the original form was open to some doubt on that point, and it was therefore thought desirable to make it plain.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 8, leave out paragraph (c) and insert the said new paragraph.—(Viscount Halifax.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 [Power to delegate Royal functions to Counsellors of State]:


I should like to ask for an explanation in regard to subsection (2) of this clause. Is it or is it not a fact that the four persons who are next in the line of succession to the Crown should be of age? There is no limitation of age. The next part of the clause states that whatever their age may be there are to be four Counsellors to whom this important duty is to be conferred.


I think the answer to my noble friend is to be found in subsection (2) in the words following the "four persons"—namely, "excluding any persons disqualified under this Act from becoming Regent." If the noble Lord will turn back to Clause 3, subsection (2), he will find that it says: "A person shall be disqualified from becoming or being Regent, if he is not a British subject of full age."

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Repeal of 7 Will. 4 and 1 Vict. C. 72]:


What is the effect of this repeal?


I think the plain effect is that this Act, now that we have permanent provision for the continuous performance of the royal functions, is no longer required. My noble friend will be aware that the purpose of that Act was mutatis mutandis to deal with some of the matters for which the Counsellors of State under this Bill are designed to deal, and, that provision having been made, there seems no purpose in retaining on the Statute Book an Act that has became superfluous.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

The Schedule:

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