HL Deb 10 May 1973 vol 342 cc514-89

3.25 p.m.


My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the College of Arms Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by this Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. In rising to move the Second Reading I have a minor interest to declare. I am a record agent and as such my work frequently involves me in genealogical research—though I am not a genealogist. I should say at the beginning that the House, having just heard Queen's consent signified, is honoured, but it does not in any way imply Government support for the Bill. I am sure that this is a point to which my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross will refer later, but I thought it would be helpful to mention it now.

Short and, I hope, simple though this Bill is, it seems to me that there may be some misapprehensions about it and about the intentions behind it, so before turning to what the Bill seeks to do I should like to say very briefly what the Bill does not seek to do. The Bill does not seek in any way to take over the College of Arms; it does not seek in any way to make the College any more of a public department than it is already; it does not seek to cause the College to become a greater charge on the taxpayer than it is at the moment. Nor, except to a limited extent in the matter of records, does the Bill seek to alter in any way the internal running of the College or to extend or limit the rights and prerogatives of any officer of the College, whether the Earl Marshal himself or the newest Pursuivant.

One other thing I should like to make clear at the outset is that the Bill is in no way (as has been suggested) an attack either on the College or on any of its officers; and here, like all noble Lords, I should like to express my personal admiration for the noble Duke, the Earl Marshal. There surely will never be anyone like him who can organise ceremonials with such graceful precision. Equally, no moment could be more appropriate for me to pay tribute to the work of the present Garter, Sir Anthony Wagner. Sir Anthony has been Garter since 1961. He has been with the College of Arms since 1931, and during this time he has written and published a great number of learned books and articles on a wide range of matters concerning heraldry and genealogy. The debt that those concerned with these matters owe to his scholarship and learning, and to his gift for lucid exposition, is great. Indeed, for part of what I shall have to say I am indebted to Sir Anthony's own monumental book, Heralds of England, which has recently been my bedtime reading. The other Kings of Arms, Heralds and Pursuivants will forgive me if I do not name them and pay tribute to them personally, but if we must generalise about those whom I have met I can only say that they are a very knowledgeable and learned group of men, and I am sure many of your Lordships will have a substantial corner of your speeches devoted to praising the College of Arms.

I should perhaps remind the House that in 1867 an Act was passed to regulate the Court and Office of the Lyon King of Arms in Scotland. That Act, to put it simply, made Lyon's Office into a public department and laid down in two Schedules the fees which Lyon's Court could charge. I had at one stage contemplated introducing a similar Bill into your Lordships' House, but on reflection, and for reasons which will I hope become clear during my speech, I do not think that this would be either necessary or advantageous. The only point I want to make is that the Bill we are now considering is infinitely less radical than the 1867 Act or, indeed, the suggestions in 1903 to make the College of Arms into a public department similar to Lyon's Court.

As I understand it, Lyon's Court had fallen into considerable disrepute in the middle of the last century. Happily that is not a state of affairs which applies to the College of Arms, which is a flourishing body. Of course, the Lyon Act applied only to Scotland, but in the past Parliament has not hesitated to concern itself with the College of Arms. Indeed, in 1863 following a debate in the House of Commons, the College was ordered to make a return to the House of Commons of the number of applications for grants of Arms, or to change existing Arms, the amount of fees arising therefrom, and the manner in which those fees were applied since 1850. This Order of the House of Commons was complied with and is provided in the Commons Accounts and Papers.

It might be worth while mentioning that in the preamble to the Report, which by order of the Chapter was signed by the Registrar, who was the Somerset Herald at the time, the role of the Chapter can be seen as being not dissimilar from the role which this Bill will attempt to give it, but rather stronger in that returns were laid before the Chapter of the earnings of the individual members of the corporation; that is to say, the College. I hope, then, I have made it abundantly clear that this Bill is not an attack on the College. Indeed, I would urge the House to accept the proposals contained in it, whether the College was the most ill-run or the best run of offices.

Before explaining the Bill to the House, I ought perhaps briefly to try to explain to your Lordships what this College of Arms is. The College is a body corporate set up by Royal Charter over 400 years ago. Its officers form a part of the Royal Household and are responsible to the Earl Marshal who issues orders for their regulation, while at the same time they govern themselves through the Chapter of the College of Arms. The Chapter is analogous to our cathedral Chapters and it consists of 13 officers of Arms, the Garter Principal King of Arms, two Provincial Kings of Arms, six Heralds and four Pursuivants. The officers of the College are listed in the Imperial Calendar and Civil Service List, and the College has always been regarded as an official public body.

Apart from virtually nominal salaries paid from the Civil List, the officers of the College earn their living from the fees to which they are entitled. Certain of these fees arise from their Household and public duties such as waiting on the Sovereign, attendance at Royal weddings, State funerals, and proclamations that are made by the Heralds on certain occassions. Other fees arise from the monopoly which the College has—not in its corporate sense but through the Earl Marshal and the Kings of Arms in the grant of Arms, the issuing of supporters, the augmentation of Arms and so on; and this may well be a very large part of their work. Much of the work of this nature does not, and indeed often cannot, end in a grant of Arms. I have already referred to the Chapter which is, as it were, the executive body of the corporation, and to the College goes a proportion of the fees received by the officers. This money is used for the maintenance of the College's very beautiful and historic building in Queen Victoria Street and for the preservation and acquisition of archives, its collection of which is of unique importance. Apart, then, from very trivial sums of money from the Civil List and also from the Supply Estimates, the College of Arms is financially self-supporting and does not involve the public as a whole in any cost.

Finally, my Lords, in addition to the College itself as I have tried to describe it, there is also a College of Arms Trust which was set up in 1956 With the following among other worthy aims: the maintenance and embellishment of the building and the establishment of a museum and a students' room where scholars might work on the treasures of the College"; and active steps are being taken to achieve this.

Perhaps your Lordships are now wondering why I have thought it necessary to introduce this Bill. If it is one of the greatest privileges of a Member of either House of Parliament to he able to introduce legislation, it is also, I think, his responsibility to introduce worthwhile and justifiable legislation. So I hope that your Lordships will bear with me if I now go through the clauses of the Bill and attempt to show the need for each clause as I do so.

Clause 1 provides that the Chapter of the College of Arms shall within a year of the passing of this Bill publish a table of all fees which any officer of the College can charge in connection with the grant of Arms. However, subsection (2) of Clause 1 endeavours specifically to exclude from the table of fees any private genealogical work carried out by any officer of the College. I would suggest that this clause is desirable, not because there is any particular secrecy about the fees charged in connection with the grant of Arms, but because it seems to me that while undoubtedly nobody has to take out Arms, and therefore it could be argued that people do so, as it were, at their own risk, the fact remains they have no choice as to whom they can go in order to get grant of Arms. For the best and most justifiable of reasons the College has a monopoly in this matter, but I think it is only proper that any body of this sort of an official and public nature should publish in a straightforward manner details of all fees likely to be involved in connection with its monopolistic rights. I can think of no other comparable body who do not publish a list of their professional charges or fees—even, for example, your Lordships' House. Indeed, such open publication of its fees, which could be obtained, for example, from the Stationery Office or elsewhere, can only serve to protect the College from some of the criticism which is from time to time made.

This clause does not extend to the private genealogical work of members of the College, and this seems to me only reasonable because anybody may practise and charge for genealogical research whatever fee he may wish, and I can see no reason why the officers of the College should be singled out for special, perhaps unfavourable, treatment in a field where the laws of the market place operate. If Heralds as a group were to overcharge for genealogical research the public would have recourse to a number of other reputable practitioners. The proposal to publish a table of fees is not new: it was a recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into the College of Arms which was set up by the then Earl Marshal in 1869 and which reported in 1870. Though this recommendation never appears to have been effectively taken up, I think it as a proposal as well justified now as it was a hundred years ago, and that the time has come to give it effect. If, as is not the case, the fees of the College were secret, or if they varied significantly from case to case, the arguments in favour of publishing them would be different, but I would suggest hardly as strong as they are now.

Clause 2 is rather more difficult and I must admit at once that as it stands I am afraid I have drafted it defectively. I had thought that a calendar—and this was strictly from the interpretation of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary—would be a short and simple descriptive list, but I am now advised that this is not the current meaning given to that expression. So if your Lordships give the Bill a Second Reading, I would propose to substitute the word "Guide", although that is not wholly satisfactory; that can be misinterpreted, but "guide" is more appropriate than the word "calendar". I have also thought that I would remove the time limit that I have suggested and merely ask the College to start work on the preparation of the "guide" with-in 12 months. This would entail a further Amendment to the clause as drafted, to ensure that the documents in the possession of the Chapter should be made available to the public, even though they were not listed in the "guide". I must apologise to the House for the defective condition of this clause; it only became apparent to me in the last few days. None the less, I feel that Clause 2 as it is drafted makes clear what I wish to achieve; namely, that this unique collection of records should be made public. The College is, after all, an official body, and many of its records which it obtained as a result of legacies concern matters of more than purely genealogical interest. To illustrate the way in which the library of the College has sometimes been regarded as public, one has only to quote the way in which the records of the Order of the Bath were deposited. I quote: To deposit them in the public library of the College of Arms It is, I think, only right to make provisions to ensure that so notable a collection of records is made readily available to students, and this the clause seeks to achieve, though it recognises the financial charge put on the College by making provision for search fees to be charged, as in fact they are already.

Virtually all great archives are calendared in some form or other, and feel that this unique record belonging to the College should be treated similarly. In fact, I think that this clause does little more than to give legislative effect to the frequently expressed wishes of the College—wishes indeed embodied in the Charitable Trust to which I have already referred.

My Lords, the third clause is simpler. It makes provision for the accounts of the Chapter to be submitted to Parliament, and I should stress that these accounts relate to the body corporate and not to the earnings of any individual officer of the College. I should say straight away that though in the Bill, as drafted, the accounts are to be presented to Parliament by the Home Secretary, that is not strictly speaking necessary and I should be happy to consider amending this clause at the Committee stage so that the accounts may be either presented to Parliament directly by the Chapter without going through a Minister, or alternatively that the accounts should not be laid before Parliament but simply published.

Simple though this clause is, it is an integral part of the Bill. I think; is essential that a body corporate of the peculiar nature of the College should make these accounts public, the more so since by doing so I would suggest that it will be all the easier for the College, which is apparently not a wealthy body, to raise money for the many worthy causes with which it is associated. That has been one of the main misapprehensions of the Bill.

That then, my Lords, is the Bill that we are now considering. It is a Bill of modest aims. It is not a Bill to reform or regulate the College of Arms, but it is a Bill to remedy certain anomalies and to place the College in a position which for more than one hundred years it has been intended it should be placed. I hope and believe that I have convinced your Lordships that this Bill if enacted will strengthen the College and protect it from ill-informed criticism.

May I conclude by reminding the House that, rather as the College is a hybrid institution, so is my Bill a hybrid Bill. That means that if the House is now good enough to give this Bill a Second Reading, there will be a petitioning period during which those affected by its provisions will be able to present petitions to this House. If such petitions are presented, the Bill will be referred to a Select Committee before which evidence may be heard for and against the Bill, and the Bill may be amended following the impartial and expert consideration of a Committee of this House. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a;.— (Lord Teviot.)

3.43 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord has introduced this Bill in moderate language and I am sure that all noble Lords will have been very glad to hear what he had to say in his opening observations about the noble Duke the Earl Marshal, and also Garter. I hope in the course of not too long a speech to persuade your Lordships that this Bill is unnecessary. Happily, it is a non-Party debate. It is also my duty to declare an interest as I am a Trustee of the College of Arms Trust, which was formed, as the noble Lord has told us, in 1956 for the maintenance and embellishment of the beautiful house in Queen Victoria Street, a house which was built very soon after the older house on the same site had been destroyed in the Fire of London in 1666. The second object of the Trust is to build and establish a museum. The College has long desired that its precious records and treasures should be seen and enjoyed by a wider section of the public than the present limited accommodation allows.

The City of London, which at one time I had the honour to represent in another place, has generously given an adjoining site, and funds were coming in well until a planning difficulty arose. That difficulty, I am glad to say, has now been resolved and an appeal committee of distinguished men, under Mr. Jocelyn Hambro, has already produced generous contributions. I trust that this debate will encourage others to give when they learn the needs of the College and its desire to give London an important new place of study and, in addition, a delightful attraction for visitors both from home and from overseas. I have in my hand here the accounts of the College of Arms Trust and any noble Lord is welcome to see them, audited as they are by Messrs. Deloitte and Company.

The College of Arms, as we have been told, received its first Charter of Incorporation from King Richard III in March, 1484, though Heralds of course existed long before that time. In 1555 a new Charter was obtained from King Philip and Queen Mary, a Charter which is still in force. They also received at that time the site of the present College. The Kings of Arms, with the consent of the Earl Marshal, are empowered by the Sovereign to give grants of armorial bearings, and they have duties, as we have been told, which include the Proclamation of the Accession of a Sovereign; the ordering of State ceremonies such as Royal or State Funerals, Coronations, State Openings of Parliament, and so on.

Clearly, from what I have heard from other noble Lords, there is some misconception about the finances of the College and the Heralds. The salaries of members of the College are purely nominal. Garter gets £49 and some new pence a year, and the others substantially less. Their remuneration is really by way of fees. Each member practises on his own account in much the same way as one does in barristers' chambers. They also receive some very small fees from time to time from the Service Departments in connection with Service Badges. These men are dedicated scholars and experts in the art of heraldry and genealogy. Some of them, like Garter, whose beautiful book, published by the Stationery Office in 1967, has been referred to, have a great reputation. Many of the Heralds have a world-wide reputation in the field in which they work. The remuneration they receive, if I may say so, does not compare with that of professional men of similar skills. The fees to which Clause 1 refers are fixed by the Earl Marshal and details are, and always have been, available to anyone who inquires. The noble Duke, the Earl Marshal, authorises me to say that he is planning to get them reprinted and they are available to the publishers of any work of reference who wish to print them, whether it is Whitaker's Almanack, Burke's' Peerage, Debrett, or anyone else. Out of these fees the College has to be maintained—and it is a very old building; the staff has to be paid; also the rates (no small sum), running into several thousand pounds; the insurance; the heating; the cleaning; and so on. The Earl Marshal himself draws no salary or fees.

The fee to-day for a personal Coat of Arms with a crest is £250. At the end of the last century it was £76 10s. Od., and as money has depreciated to an eighth of its value since I was born in 1901, that would be the equivalent of more than £600 to-day. So they have not kept up with the fall in the value of money. If your Lordships look at the Standing Orders of the House you will see stated in Order No. 5 that: No peer shall pay any fee to any Herald upon his first coming or introduction into the House. I certainly paid none. No peer who lacks a Coat of Arms need pay any fee unless he desires to have armorial bearings. If he does seek armorial bearings he will pay a fee which helps to maintain an ancient institution and part of the great tradition which is our inheritance and which the noble Duke, the Earl Marshal, has worked so hard and so successfully to maintain. Clause 1, my Lords, is therefore unnecessary as information about the fees is already available.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord in his very interesting speech? Is it a fact that these fees always have been standard and have not been varied; that everybody has been charged the same amount?


My Lords, I do not know that I can answer that question, but certainly the table of fees is published and is available to anybody. Certainly the noble Duke is willing for them to be published anywhere they may be. They are, to my mind, very low.


My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I would only say three words in order that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, should be clear in his mind. There has never been any secret as to the fees chargeable in the College of Arms. Like other fees they have from time to time, varied, but they have always been available. As nobody ever asked for them, and not being a very rich body, we saved ourselves a very small amount by not publishing them: but anyone who wished could ring up and ask for them. Since it has been made clear to me that people feel that these things are not published I have arranged that they shall be (in fact they are being printed now): and as in the past they will always be available to anyone who wishes to have them.


May I now come, my Lords, to Clause 2, which the noble Lord would also like to amend? Clause 2 says that after the commencement of this Act the College of Arms shall ensure that a calendar be made of all records and documents.… I think the noble Lord has accepted that it is impossible, impracticable, to do this in the time proposed. In 1952 Garter produced a book of about 80 pages, a summary of the records, and subsequently he persuaded the Marc Fitch Fund very generously to commit itself to spending money for this purpose; and they have provided some £3,000 a year. The College has given all the help it can to Mr. Francis Steer who was formerly the County Archivist in Sussex, and even if the money were available the task of doing this in 12 months is not possible, as the noble Lord has now admitted. Making a useful calendar necessitates an immense amount of scholarly work, and one volume alone can contain many hundreds of pedigrees of different families. I understand that there are between 200,000 and 250,000 different documents and volumes. Many of these documents are difficult to decipher and only skilled scholars can read many of the ancient manuscripts. I have looked at some of them myself; I am no skilled mediaeval scholar, but I can well believe that it is necessary to have very great skill and experience to be able to read them.

Clause 3 asks the Chapter of the College to keep accounts of all sums received or paid by them and that the accounts should be audited and laid before each House by the Secretary of State. The College of Arms is not sustained by the taxpayer, and I cannot see why the Home Secretary should be burdened with the duty of answering for it in Parliament; nor in fact do the Chapter, which is merely a meeting from time to time of some of the Heralds, fix fees or keep accounts.


My Lords, they do not keep accounts?


?: My Lords, the Chapter, as such, do not. Garter King of Arms receives a gross honorarium from the Treasury which your Lordships can find under sub-head E.3 of Miscellaneous Expenses Vote, Class 11, and that is a fee of £3,000 per annum for work done for the Government in the same way as other professional men receive fees for work done for Her Majesty's Government. Out of that sum, however, he has to pay very many expenses.

I am also authorised to say that the total received for official fees, as shown in last year's audited accounts, was £48,573.12. There was spent on maintenance—that is, the cost of maintaining the building and running the institution, including the cost of the production of the documents—approximately £28,000, leaving the members of the College a total of about £21,000 between them. Their secretaries are paid by the individual members out of these earnings and from such earnings as they are able to make from their private practice, occasional writings and so on. Some of them obviously do more of that than others. As there are about a dozen Heralds, the average income they received from these fees last year was something under £2,000 a year.

I have had the pleasure of knowing several Heralds in my life, from the great George Cokayne, grandfather of the noble Lord, Lord Cullen of Ashbourne. They have all been dedicated scholars, and most of them have had private means which help them to live. None of them in their work as Heralds earns an income which compares with that of men in other professions or professional men in the service of the State. They work chiefly for the love of their job. I gather from what I have heard from certain noble Lords that some people grumble about them. But who does not grumble about lawyers, doctors, accountants and other talented men in every sphere of life —not even excluding football players?

This Bill, my Lords, is a hybrid Bill, and that means that if it is given a Second Reading to-day it will have to go, I understand, to a Select Committee. That would involve your Lordships in much trouble, and it usually involves much expense in lawyers' fees. I trust that my noble friend Lord Teviot, having with some courage raised this interesting debate, may see fit to withdraw the Bill. I know that the Earl Marshal will take note of all that is said to-day and if, after consideration, any improvements can be made, he will I am sure make them. I do not think this Bill will help at all. The first clause is unnecessary; the second is impractical, and the third, which is not very easy to understand, is in my judgment undesirable. Let us, my Lords, go ahead with the building and equipping of our museum, providing scholars with greater facilities for their work, and the public the chance to see some lovely things.

I hope that I may have persuaded your Lordships, including the noble Lord who introduced the Bill, that this Bill is unnecessary; and, after all, we have a lot of important work to do this Session.

3.58 p.m.


My Lords, may I first pay my tribute to the debt which the House, and indeed the country as a whole, owes to the College of Arms for the valuable public services, which it has rendered, literally, for centuries, and also, if I may respectfully do so, pay my tribute to the noble Duke, the Earl Marshal, for his stewardship. I do not for a moment regard this Bill as an attack on the College. The College does suffer from a certain amount of criticism, and I believe that this Bill, and even this debate, should do a great deal to get rid of this criticism.

In view of the list of speakers I propose to deal only with Clause 1, which after all deals with a very simple point, a recommendation made by a Committee 98 years ago that the College's scale of charges should be published. So far it has admitted that it has not been. Lyon King of Arms, who performs the substantially similar function in Scotland, has for long published his list of charges, and I should have thought this was a very reasonable requirement. After all, on the Second Reading of the Bill that we have to consider is whether there is anything in the Bill which we think ought to pass into law.

I think the first of the two points on which the College has been criticised—it may be quite unjustifiably, but as I say I think this debate may help at least to clear the air—is that there appeared to be no scale of charges. I am not quite clear even now about an existing scale. I know noble Lords who have told me they have been charged, for example, entirely different sums for supporters, not as a result of a process of bargaining, although that also, I understand, happens. The impression is about among many Peers that each Herald asks what he thinks he can get.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord on that one point. At the time when Life Peers were created for the first time, apart from the noble and learned Law Lords, I think there was a short period during which the question of the fees for supporters of noble Lords who were Life Peers had perhaps not been fully considered. It was decided after consideration that the fees for supporters for a Life Peer should be less than the fees of supporters for an hereditary Peer because a Life Peer, let us say, a Knight Grand Cross, is created only for his lifetime, whereas the hereditary supporters go on for ever. There might have been a little confusion at one time when Life Peerages were first introduced.


My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Lord. That rather confirms my impression, that misunderstandings are caused when things are not published and these explanations do not occur to people.

The other point on which the College has been criticised, and again this debate may help, is the atmosphere of mystery which seems to surround the work of the College. My father had registered our family Arms with the College. I was only a Life Peer, so I anticipated no difficulty, and did not expect to pay anything, though, if there was anything to pay, naturally I was only too happy to pay it. When I attended at the College I was a little surprised to be told, "You cannot be Lord Gardiner", and the reason I was given was that there is a dormant Gardner peerage. The peerage lapsed in 1883, which is rather a long time ago. The last Lord Gardner went off to India and I think married one or more Indian wives. I pointed out that this was all a long time ago, that I was only a Life Peer and I was not going to live very long, and in any case the name was spelled differently. I was told, "First of all, how do I know that a claimant has not been working on this matter with his solicitor for the last five years? By the first post to-morrow I may get a claim. Secondly, it does not matter how it is spelt, but how it is pronounced". I was told there had already been enough trouble about Lord Robens and Lord Robbins. I pointed out that nobody who spoke properly pronounced "Gardiner" in the same way as "Gardner". That had no effect. I also pointed out that it was very awkward for me, being a practising barrister, as solicitors would not know who to brief.

After something of a battle they relented and said, "You can be Lord Gardiner as long as your geographical appendage is part of your title". So we examined what that geographical designation should be. Nearly all my family since the time of Queen Elizabeth have been minor clergy in two villages in Somerset, Kittisford and Langford Budville, and I plumped for Langford Budville because I thought it sounded well, rather like one of the railway stations the noble Lord, Lord Beeching, abolished. I was told: "You must remember that every cheque you sign has to be signed Gardiner of' and you had better have one word instead of two" I thought that was very sensible and I chose Kittisford. It was announced in the Press that I had assumed the title of Lord Gardiner of Kittisford. Then I was told that I ought to have supporters, and that would cost £70. As a Life Peer I did not see much point in having supporters, the Arms being there. However, I thought I had better keep in with this chap, so I said, "All right, I will have supporters", and I paid my £70. Then there was some change in the atmosphere, because just before I was introduced Garter was good enough to tell me that he had thought the matter over again and had decided that I could be Lord Gardiner, tout court, after all. This seemed to me to be a bit odd, because one would think that rules must apply to these things. He said, "Of course, I do not decide I only advise". The situation, as I understand it, is that he advises the Earl Marshal and there is a right of appeal to the Queen, but of course you are not told that.

It seems to me that if the list of fees was published it would clear away these criticisms which have existed and would expose the thing to rather more open dealing. It seems to me a very simple thing to ask for. Perhaps one of the 17 speakers who are to follow me—and I certainly intend to hear every speech—may be able to tell me whether the publication of the scale of fees by Lion King of Arms has resulted in any unfortunate circumstances or consequences in Scotland, or whether there is in Scotland some move at the present time that, for reasons which can no doubt be explained, instead of the list of fees being published it should in future be made secret. Clause 1 to me seems to be perfectly reasonable. Not until I have heard the whole of the debate shall I decide whether or not to vote for the Second Reading, though at present my inclination is to do so.

4.7 p.m.


My Lords, I crave the indulgence and forbearance of this noble House for a maiden speech. Noble Lords no doubt remember their own maiden speeches with satisfaction or a shudder, but for me those maiden speeches that I have read or recently listened to were lucid examples of what such speeches should be, examples of which the present effort is only a pale shadow, undertaken, I can assure your Lordships, with the most serious misgivings. I make no excuse, however, for speaking about the College of Arms, simply because I have had some personal experience of parts of the Herald's work, and also because this work, which is done extremely well, is not always widely understood. Nevertheless, noble Lords who have already spoken have done much to illuminate the subject, and I apologise if I repeat all or part of what they have said about it.

I do not refer specifically to the advice and help which Garter King of Arms and his assistants give to a Peer when he takes his seat for the first time in this noble House, because that is common knowledge to your Lordships. We have heard of some noble Lords having temporary difficulties over their titles—


Hear, hear!


—but these difficulties have evidently been resolved in the end to their satisfaction. I would only say that in my own case what had to be done was done speedily, efficiently and with dignity.

Nor do I dwell on the College's genealogical researches, many of which are carried out for clients from overseas at their own expense. Research into the deeds of one's ancestors can be a mixed blessing, but there is no doubt that there are still many people who are ready to take this risk, to come to the College for such services and to bring with them dollars and other foreign currencies to pay for them. What I should prefer to stress, if I may, as other noble Lords have done, is the work which the College does on great occasions of State. Of course, I am well aware that the Bill we are discussing to-day contains no shadow of criticism of the manner in which these duties are performed. Nevertheless, other criticisms are implied, and, as it is my duty as well as my aim to avoid controversy, I think it is just as well to mention both sides of the medal. Foreigners who come to our country officially or as private visitors and who take an interest in our customs find some objects for criticism and others for approval, but they seldom fail to admire the manner in which the great State ceremonies are carried out.

Perhaps I may be allowed to refer to the State funeral of the late Sir Winston Churchill as an example of this. That was a day in which the country was united in mourning one of its greatest citizens and on which the rest of the world was watching to see how we honoured his memory. The ceremonial which marked it no one who was present is likely to forget. It is not vanity to claim that no other country could have attempted anything of the sort, and foreign guests, including the late General de Gaulle, were the first to say so. It was a day worthy of the Commonwealth and of Britain and of the statesman who was being laid to rest. If such things are to be done they must be well done, and this was done superbly. Many people worked together to bring about this result. It was certainly not the work of any one person or of any one body. Nevertheless, the College of Arms, under the direction of the most noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk the Earl Marshal, were very important contributors to its success, as they are to that of other public ceremonies which have already been mentioned in this debate. So when the Heralds' affairs are being considered this aspect of their work ought not to be overlooked.

The Bill which is being debated this afternoon seeks three objects, and perhaps I may comment very briefly on each of them. The first is that a table of fees connected with the grant of Arms should be determined and published. As your Lordships have heard, this table has been determined. It exists and can be read by those who ask for it. Whether it is of sufficient general interest to warrant publication is a matter of some doubt. It may be that some people may consider these charges too high. In money terms they have certainly increased since the Middle Ages, but the services given demand scholarship, experience and research, and these, my Lords, have never been cheap commodities. Secondly, the College is to make within a twelve month a calendar or guide of all records and documents in its possession, and all the documents in this inventory are to be made available in the original or as copies to the public. Such an inventory is already in preparation and has been for some time and costs a substantial sum each year. I do not believe that any amount of legislation could have any practical effect on the speed of this process.

Thirdly, its accounts are to be audited and submitted annually to the Secretary of State for him to lay before Parliament. I confess that I do not know much about this part of the business. No doubt the College keeps its accounts, but why it should send them to the Home Secretary or why lie should wish to see them I do not quite understand. The College is not maintained by Her Majesty's Government but by fees paid to the Heralds for work done. The Earl Marshal authorises the scale of fees which Heralds are allowed to charge and they charge them accordingly to those who wish for Arms. It is from this source that the income of the College is derived.

My Lords, I do not wish to make too high a claim for the College of Arms. The College of Arms or the College of Heralds, whichever you please, has existed through a great many years of English history and still occupies a dignified and useful position in the community. But perhaps it is not one of those institutions about which it may be said in the year 1973 that if it did not exist already it would have to be invented. Perhaps that would be going too far. Nor would it be wise to say that its ways of going about its business could not be improved. Even the most august institutions may benefit from an organisation and method study. Constant attention to public relations is never a waste of time. It may be that some of these things are ordered better in Scotland—I do not know. North of the Tweed—and of its noble tributary, the Teviot—there is a great deal of solid efficiency. But what I do know is that to compare the College with the Court of the Lord Lyon is not to compare like with like. The Lyon Court is a court of law and neither their histories nor the circumstances surrounding the two bodies are the same.

Of course there are lines on which the College of Arms might be improved and kept in touch with modern conditions. Are there many institutions of which the same could not be said? Some of these lines are being followed already; others no doubt will be. But, my Lords, I do not believe that such changes are best to be secured through legislation and therefore I am bound to say that I am unable to support this Bill.

4.16 p.m.


My Lords, I am privileged to have the opportunity of congratulating my noble friend Lord Adeane on his maiden speech. I have known him for many years and I suppose few Members of your Lordships' House have had wider experience of all kinds of political problems, although from a somewhat particular angle. I am sure, my Lords, that whenever my noble friend Lord Adeane sees fit to address your Lordships' House we shall all pay the greatest attention to what he has to say.

My Lords, I propose to speak for only a very few moments on this Bill. I think that my noble friend Lord Teviot made a cogent and sensible speech, but having made it I hope, with the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, that he will be persuaded to withdraw the Bill. I say this because I cannot see how the Bill can be enforced or what sanctions can be used without doing what he says he does not want to do; namely, attacking the Earl Marshal and the College of Arms. Let us suppose that the Bill is passed and that these complaints we hear of are continued; what happens? I suppose it is possible that some writ of mandamus—I am not a lawyer—could be issued against the Earl Marshal, but it seems a clumsy and peculiar way of going about things. I feel that we either have to work in with the College of Arms and with the Earl Marshal, or replace it and have a Bill for nationalising the whole of its work. I consider that it would be almost ridiculous to consider that, having regard to the present state of our legislative process.

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Teviot has succeeded in getting certain assurances from the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, and from my noble friend the Duke of Norfolk, and I hope that he will be satisfied with that. I fully appreciate that at times in the past the College of Heralds may have shown a certain arbitrariness, and this debate may have done some good in making them less arbitrary. I hope my noble friend will be satisfied with what he has achieved in this debate and will not attempt to have a battle which he has said he wants to avoid.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, I should first like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, for raising this most interesting subject, and the large attendance to-day shows how much interest there is in it in your Lordships' House. Whether, if the Bill gets a Second Reading, there will be a similar interest later in another place remains to be seen. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, a notable defence of the College which would perhaps have had a little more substance had the College been attacked, which, in my view, it has not been. We have also had a notable maiden speech, which I am sure we all very much appreciated, from the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, who obviously speaks on a matter of this kind with great knowledge and authority. He also, however, came to the defence of the College, which, as I said, in my view had not really been attacked.

Perhaps I ought to declare a kind of interest, since I am what I term a "do-it-yourself" genealogist, helped very greatly by tuition from the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, who has taught me most of what I know on the subject. My very interesting researches into two families in the last two or three years have led me to, among other places, the Public Records Office in Chancery Lane, where there is no research fee of any kind and one can easily determine the kind of documents that are there; to the Census Office in Portugal Street, where conditions are similar; to Somerset House for births, marriages and deaths since 1837, and also fen wills in a similar period; and to the records of the Guildhall, which are open and free to all who may require to use them. Only this morning I visited the Library at Lambeth Palace, where I was greatly helped by the Librarian in a little search which I was trying to make but which was not successful; and of course no fee of any kind was charged.

In the course of my inquiries, I have also been to Coutts Bank, to Drummonds Bank, to Barclays Bank—the old Goslings Branch—and to the Bank of England, two of which turned up without any difficulty interesting records of some of the people whom I was trying to trace. I asked beforehand if they would kindly let me know whether there would be any substantial fee for this research, but they all replied that no fee of any kind was charged. I have also been in touch with the Queen's Librarian at Windsor and with the Royal Commission on Historic Manuscripts and my inquiries in both cases were free of charge. I am at present in touch with the Inns of Court, and I have also consulted the archives section of the Westminster Library, which is also free of charge. I have, too, been in touch with the Society of Genealogists, which is not supported by any public funds, and, therefore, as a non-member, one has to pay—and one expects to pay—a search fee which is determined in advance.

I am not saying that the College of Arms should be, or could be, conducted on the same lines. It would be a great pity if anything we did by legislation changed the essential nature and purpose of the College, which I suppose is unique in the world. But, as I said, I am a "do-it-yourself" genealogist and I very much fear approaching the College of Arms, which seems to conduct its affairs in a rather secretive manner. One has no idea what one would be up against in the way of charges. It would be a great advantage to people like myself—and there must be many thousands—if the College of Arms could come a little more into line with these other bodies which carry such interesting and important records. It would be a great advantage if one knew exactly what to expect there, if one knew that some kindly person—of course, one would expect to pay a reasonable fee—would help one to find records for oneself, so that one could go through a lot of the donkey work which is required.

My own very minor dealings with the College of Arms have been entirely happy and congenial. I have no personal complaint of any kind to make, and I am not speaking in any way in criticism of the College. I am merely supporting what I see as the motivation behind this Bill, and expressing the hope that they might find some way of making their extremely interesting and important records more easily accessible to people like myself, who do not wield the very large numbers of dollars which were rather obliquely referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, in his maiden speech.

4.27 p.m.


My Lords, I have listened very carefully to all that has been said thus far in the debate and for the life of me I cannot find a case for the Bill made. Are we seriously to consider that the changes suggested in this Second Reading debate would be entirely for the better? I submit not. Members of the Government, such few as are left in the Chamber, may have noticed that I am not always an Establishment Peer. I regard these Back-Benches, and those that are almost totally unoccupied on both sides of the Chamber, as being places where one should be at liberty to criticise and perhaps to change; or, indeed, as places where one should be at liberty to stand for the stauts quo. We all know that change for change's sake is unacceptable to this House.

I submit that the College is not the quintessence of democracy nor, with respect, is this House. I think that if one uses the services of the College—and I have found them to be excellent—one should be prepared to pay for those services; and I welcome the fact that there is to be a published list of fees available, though I think we ought to market our affairs a little more judicially. There may be those from other countries who are prepared to pay a great deal more than the running charge, so do not let us necessarily lose for this country the opportunity of doing some good business in foreign currency. Perhaps that is a little cheap and peevish; I hope not, but, as we know only too well, that attitude has been taken in other fields, such as antiquities. What I am anxious to preserve is the essential quality and individuality—indeed, the very uniqueness—of the College of Arms, no matter how laudable some of the objects of the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, may be. As your Lordships have heard, the College is almost self-governing and it is also self-supporting, and I hope that it will remain so in the future.

If I may so submit to your Lordships, I think this country demonstrates its own unique quality, partly through the massive support for voluntary associations and not least through some of its almost ancient, if not downright archaic, institutions, like the College of Arms. I speak in favour of the old tradition. I speak in favour of proper pomp and circumstance; and I think, if I may say so, that some of the greatest attractions to the overseas visitor to this country must be the immense quality of such great daily events as the Changing of the Guard or such massive demonstrations as Trooping the Colour or Beating the Retreat on Horseguards. To us, these things may be just matter of fact, day to day. We get in a taxi and we are inconvenienced by them for a brief moment or two because we think our own work very important—and probably it is. But to thousands and thousands of people it makes London. It brings a sense of history and pageantry into their lives; and I have met many Americans—some very recently, at a big electrical contractors' convention at the West End—who were thrilled to bits just to see the Changing of the Guard and to walk through St. James's Park, very beautiful as it is at this time of the year; and then to see the excellence and quality of the clean buildings in Whitehall and the pageantry, as I have said, of some of the affairs of State.

Frankly, my Lords, I am wondering what the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, is really frightened about. Does he think that inside the College of Arms there is some multi-century Watergate affair? I cannot believe that the noble Duke is the arch-robber—he cannot be "robber Baron", but he might be making out like a powerful bandit. But I do not believe either, and I wager that the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, does not, either. I would say that those who know these Offices of State are in fact—


My Lords, I hope I will be forgiven for interrupting my noble friend, but I should like to say that I made it clear, and stated at length, that the Bill was nothing to do with an attack on the College or the Earl Marshal or anybody at all.


My Lords, if my remarks were taken seriously, I apologise. I thought that a light reference to Watergate would not be altogether amiss. But we will leave it there, shall we? I beg your Lordships' pardon. Perhaps I may say to your Lordships that I consider that the Office of the Earl Marshal and the other great Offices of State are really callings. Enormous sacrifice is made by the noble Duke, and indeed by Garter King of Arms and by the other officers, the heralds and the pursuivants; for your Lordships have heard from the noble Lord who was first to speak after the noble Lord, Lord Teviot—the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe—that in fact the fees paid are essentially reasonable and scarcely up to the standards of the kind of fees that might be charged professionally outside. I submit to your Lordships that we ought to be intensely grateful for the dignity, skill, assiduity and attention to minute of detail which the Earl Marshal and Garter King of Arms, and his officers, give; and to the artists and researchers of the College. I have broken another rule of the House in bringing arms into the House, but not in the accepted sense. This represents, if I may say so, the work of the College of Arms in 1964 for me as a Knight Bachelor.


The noble Lord cannot do that.


I thought I could not bear arms of the sort that explode.


The noble Lord cannot do that either.


I cannot do that, either. I apologise to your Lordships and to the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. At least your Lordships have had a chance of seeing it quickly. May I say to your Lordships that the quality of the work of the College of Arms is really exemplary—quite excellent. If one has to wait some time for the work to be completed because there is a tremendous pressure of business in the College of Arms, then, frankly, I think one must be patient if one wants to have the quality of work which is in every essence carried out by them—and I have never at any time seen poor work.

The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, suggested that the Bill may not seek to make various changes; but, with respect, I think that if we give it a Second Reading and pass it, various changes may unfortunately result. I waited with all respect, but in vain, to know why the proposer of the Bill really brought it forward. On the assurances that were given after the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, had spoken in regard to the release of the information in regard to the fees and the cost of supporters, it seems to me that the case for a Second Reading of this Bill has not been made out.

In summary, my Lords, may I say that, as a customer, I feel that the work of the College of Arms is excellent, and that I hope very much that nothing will be done to change the unique quality of that work and the unique standing of the College of Arms internationally. If I was a little put out at first in being asked to produce my own pedigree, I have never at any moment had the slightest doubt that all the work which has been undertaken has been carried out excellently. It has been undertaken, it is true, in the form of a monopoly—and the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, mentioned the word "monopoly". I cannot believe that there can be an authority of this sort which is not a monopoly. It is not the type of work which in my view can be submitted—I give way again.


My Lords, I am very sorry to interrupt my noble friend again, but I do not think I said that, either. Quite properly the College of Arms has a monopoly.


And how much I think it essential, my Lords, that there should be one authority, in this case under the Queen's Household, for this type of work. Personally, I should much prefer it to remain in this form than for it to move into a Government Department or some other separate entity. I echo the sentiments already expressed in the debate by noble Lords, that the wonderful archives should be made available to public view as soon as possible and as soon as the finances of the College will allow this to be done.


My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him? I did not quite hear him. Did he say that he had to produce his pedigree?


Yes, my Lords.


That has nothing to do with the Bill, but where does his pedigree come into this?


My Lords, the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition prevents me from showing him that, in order to have a grant of arms, one must first have a pedigree, and if one's pedigree is not established one's legitimacy is in doubt, and then the College of Arms, quite properly, will not give a grant of arms, in my case as the son of a former bearer of arms and a gentleman when I was a knight. I hope that I have satisfied the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition.


My Lords, may I raise a different point with the noble Lord? I understood him to say that he preferred the College of Arms to be where it now is—"under the Queen's Household". Is it?


I am led to believe that it is, my Lords.


By whom?


In the course of the debate and, indeed, in the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Clitherce, I was led to believe that the College of Arms comes under the Earl Marshal, and he is in office as a member of the Queen's Household as Earl Marshal of England.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me, when I was having a little bother myself with Garter King of Arms the question arose as to whom I should appeal, and on the noblest of advice I was told it could not be to Her Majesty, because it was not to her; it could not be to the Prime Minister, because it was not to him; and it turned out to be the Earl Marshal. But we never found out how it came to be to him. So if the noble Lord has done some more researches, will he please tell me where the Earl Marshal gets his authority from?


My Lords, I believe that the Statute established in the reign of Queen Mary I of England, is my answer to the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown. But I do not stand here, my I Lords, as an authority on the College of Arms, merely as a Back-Bencher. I recall, and noble Lords will recall, the difficulty which the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, had over his title. We felt very much for him, and we are very glad that a satisfactory solution was found to the problem to preserve his unique identity in this House. Perhaps noble Lords will forgive me if I try to preserve the unique identity of the College of Arms in like manner.

The noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, has said that he feels the Bill to be unnecessary, and I think that summarises the situation in the light of the discussion that has thus far been held. As for being able to control the College, may I say to noble Lords that I do not think we should be in a position to compel the College to do one thing or another, any more than we should be able to order the Tate Gallery or the National Gallery to put on a particular exhibition of this or that at some time or other. I think that the individual governorship by the Chapter of the College of Arms of the affairs of the College of Arms is proper in every way. Before the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, interrupted me for the second time I was going to venture to comment on the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Platt, from the Cross-Benches. He spoke of the Public Record Office as charging no fees and of Somerset House charging almost no fees, although I think on company matters there is a fee of a shilling; but noble Lords must recall that these are subsidised departments while the College of Arms are not; they must pay for their own affairs from the fees which are levied. One must respect the fact that they do everything they can to make readily available to the public the wonderful archives that they have.


My Lords, I thought I made it quite clear that I recognised that neither the Society of Genealogists, which I quoted, nor the College of Arms had support from public funds and that therefore it was only right that they should charge fees. I made that perfectly clear in my speech.


My Lords, with respect, I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Platt, and I are in any kind of disagreement. I merely underline the fact that Somerset House and the Public Records Office, being Government-subsidised departments—and in one case a Government department completely—should not charge fees because taxpayers' money is used to maintain those services. As for the joint stock banks being kind enough to make available certain information for the noble Lord, Lord Platt, I think, with respect, that they are in a position to afford to do so without making a charge. But I can understand how the College of Arms must make a reasonable charge—and I have never heard of their being unreasonable—in respect of Lilly individual research which any member of the public or any noble Lord in this House may require.

My Lords, I would summarise by saying that I am sure we are most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, for bringing forward this Bill and for giving us the opportunity to exchange views and to clear up a considerable number of misunderstandings (and points of order, too). I hope that after all that he has heard from all sides of the House, and particularly from the Cross-Benches, he will withdraw his Bill at Second Reading.

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, I feel like a ballerina on the sidelines, waiting to come on stage, while every time I try to do so somebody else comes on. The noble Lord, Lord Hewlett, has had his criticism within your Lordships' House this afternoon. I hesitated to intervene in this debate because of its technical nature and, in doing so, I reflect on the old saying that fools rush in where angels fear to tread; but I may say it is also a subject with great tradition behind it. Some of us must be feeling that on this subject we are skating on very thin ice; we are probing into the darkness to learn more; we want to be more interested in the subject, yet it appears to be something of a "sacred cow", not to be taken from its stall, not to be held in question or seen other than from a distance. I heard that there was a very strong atmosphere of opposition to the noble Lord's Bill; and I noticed a week ago a very cold wind blowing in the corridors from the direction of older Members of your Lordships' House who feel that we are dealing with something very sacred and that no one should be allowed to look at it, let alone interfere with it or question it. But we have already witnessed the Earl Marshal—and I am not attacking him in any way—saying, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that from now on the fees are going to be published. I agree that it is about time that this was done. So the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, has, by his Bill, already achieved a great deal; and I congratulate him. On the other hand, I said to the noble Lord that I would not take part in this debate except to protect the Royal College of Arms; for it is something about which we younger Members of the House can get rather too agitated—like the "Angry Young Brigade" that we used to hear of —and it is something on which much destruction could be wrought without the possibility of reconstruction.

I have also heard it said—and I appreciate its importance—that many of us have family histories pigeonholed in the archives of the Royal College of Arms, and that in this Bill we are asking the Royal College of Arms to allow the public to be able to see or to get hold of the documents of those family histories. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, that while I go along with this proposal so far, I think it could be dangerous, because certain rare documents—and I am sure that the Royal College of Arms has many rare documents—might get into the wrong hands and perhaps some awful family stories would "leak out" to the effect that a Member of your Lordships' House was really not entitled to be a Member owing to his being born on the "wrong side of the blanket". With the public free to have access to the documents referred to in the Bill, we must be careful how we tread in that respect.

I would rather that we looked at this subject more seriously. I allowed my own family papers to go to the Wiltshire Archives Department, knowing that each document and letter would be sealed in a plastic sheet so that those who wished to look at a letter or document would not destroy it. I do not want to tell the Royal College how to run their business, but I am sure that this is already their practice and if it is not, I hope it will become so. At this point I should like to congratulate the Earl Marshal. I understand he has 40 years' service here. No one can have done a greater service to his Monarch or to his country on the many State occasions which he has had to organise. I should also like to congratulate—and I do so knowing him only through correspondence—Sir Anthony Wagner, and the Heralds, for the standards they have kept up, not only in this country but throughout the world and in America specially. And I extend the congratulations to their staff. We have heard this afternoon that they are not paid a great deal but that they work for the love of the job. May that continue! I am sure that the Royal College need congratulating. We do not know how much they export: it must come under the heading of invisible exports.

I support the noble Lord's Bill. We want to know more of what the Royal College are doing and of how they earn their money, because at the moment we do not know how good at exporting they are, or the marvellous job they are doing in bringing in the dollars. I have attacked the Earl Marshal and others and I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Shackle-ton, on extracting information from the Earl Marshal so early in the debate. I think that is the greatest point that has been made in respect of the whole Bill. To write to the Royal College and ask a question costs 15 guineas, or whatever is the sum, and you have to supply the money in advance. I suppose that is all right. If you want anything else, you are given another figure, and so it goes on. I dealt with the Royal College in 1967, and I felt that I could not go on with them because it would have been far too expensive for me to do so. I did not understand how they costed the matter. Surely it would not be difficult for the Royal College to break down the cost of a particular job. If that can be done in a factory in respect of hours, surely it could be done with a job card in the same way by the Royal College. Probably it is done already, but we do not know. So I would go a long way with this Bill, my Lords, and with the fact that the Royal College should publish their fees. There is no harm in that. But in future do not let us have to force such an issue in a debate like this. I agree with the provisions in Lord Teviot's Bill and so I shall support it.

4.52 p.m.


My Lords, may I express my apologies to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, for not being able to be present when he introduced the Bill. I was engaged on the work of the Judicial Committee. Fortunately, I was back in time to hear the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, and I would add my congratulations to those of others which have been extended to him. The noble Lord knows a great deal more about the College of Arms than I do. The only point that I wish to make is a short one, and perhaps I should confess that I have some sort of personal interest. Legislation passed by the Houses of Parliament in 1972 is contained in rather more than 2,500 printed pages and, what is almost worse, ten inches of the rapidly diminishing space upon the shelves of my legal library. I am supposed to know it all; and so, for that matter, are all your Lordships, the difference between us being that I am paid for it. So that when a Bill is presented before this House, however tiny it may be, I do not ask myself first the question, "Is it harmless?" I ask the question, "Is it necessary?" and if the answer to that question is, "No", then I am inclined to think that it is a bad Bill.

My Lords, the commodity which the College of Arms supplies is not one of the primary necessities of life. It does not rank high in any cost-of-living index. I speak as a brief but satisfied customer of the College. When I went there they had no hesitation in telling me the cost of providing me with what I wanted to know. I did not, in fact, ask the cost, the very thing I did not want or would not have been entitled to. But I have little doubt that had I done so, they would have been only to willing to satisfy my idle curiosity. I understand that now it has been said that these fees will be published, so that those who wish to satisfy their idle curiosity will have only to ask for a piece of paper. So I ask myself whether Clause I of the Bill is really necessary. I would point out that subsection (2) of that clause does not require the College to publish the kind of fee in which the noble Viscount, Lord Long, appears to be interested. It requires it to publish only the fees for the grant of Arms. Those are going to be published; moreover, you could have found them out previously by asking for them. So I respectfully submit to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, that Clause 1 of this Bill is quite unnecessary.

Clause 2 raises rather different difficulties. It requires the College within twelve months to, ensure that a calendar be made of all the records …".


My Lords, will the noble and learned Lord forgive me for intervening? He said that he was unable to be present to hear my opening remarks, but I did inform your Lordships that Clause 2 was in a way ineffective, and I have intimated an intention not to put in a length of time in which to make a calendar. That wording will be changed. Also the College will be given one year in order to prepare to start the work. That is the course of action I propose.


My Lords, I am sorry that my absence did not enable me to hear that explanation before. If that be so, and since, as I understand it, the work of preparing such a calendar has already been going on for the last four years—since 1969, when funds were obtained from a charitable trust—it does not seem to me, with respect, that it is necessary to place a Parliamentary sanction on the College of Arms to do what it is already doing. I say "Parliamentary sanction" because there are no other sanctions in the Bill. I suppose that if one wished to enforce it, one would have to apply to the courts for an order of mandamus and I am in some difficulty (perhaps these are really Committee points) in seeing who decides what would be a reasonable fee for inspecting and copying the documents.

Finally, my Lords, I turn to Clause 3, which requires the Chapter of the College of Arms to keep properly audited accounts. They already do so, my Lords. Subsections (3) and (4) require those accounts to be transmitted to the Secretary of State and laid before Parliament, and they provide for nothing else. My Lords, it might satisfy our idle curiosity to see the accounts of the City Livery Companies, or even those of the Athenaeeum Club. But it hardly seems necessary, as distinct from being merely harmless, to require everyone whose accounts one might be interested to see—but about which one has power to do nothing—to lay them before Parliament. What is Parliament to do about it? Should it read them? Should it ask questions about them? And if so, of whom?


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble and learned Lord? It really is very unfortunate that he should debate, clause by clause, a Bill which has been carefully explained. The reasons for it were given by the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, and at any moment now the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, will have to get up and make another speech explaining what he meant and the particular reason for it.


My Lords, I again express my regret. I shall be very interested to hear the reason because I find it difficult to conceive that there can be any reason, other than idle curiosity, which would require the College of Arms to lay their accounts before Parliament. And I would respectfully suggest that this is a Bill to which the question "Is it really necessary?" cannot be answered.


My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Lord this question? He seems to be advancing, as a member of the Judiciary who pronounces on many things, if I may say so, a very curious doctrine, which is that nobody should ask to see the accounts of any body which is publicly accountable. I am assured that the College of Arms is part of Her Majesty's Household, so it must be somehow publicly accountable. The noble and learned Lord, who addresses trade unions regularly, is saying that it would be idle curiosity to want to see the accounts. May I ask the noble, judicial and learned Lord to explain to us how that fits with the doctrines of judgments that he regularly hands down in other cases?

5.1 p.m.


My Lords, it is with some diffidence that I rise this afternoon, since my mail to-day included a letter from Windsor Herald, whom I have never had the honour to meet, inviting me to dinner—nothing to do with the passage of this Bill, but simply to dine with his territorial battalion when it is in camp near my home.

Leaving this on one side, no one could be more reluctant than I am to advocate any form of change just for the sake of change. But I feel considerable sympathy for the thought behind this Bill, even if the wording of the clauses may invite justified comment from some who say that certain proposals are unnecessary. It seems to me a pity that some of those speaking in opposition to the Bill should reveal a feeling that the purpose is some form of an attack—and the phrase "sacred cow" has been aptly mentioned. It could be that the whole situation has been changed by the assurances that have been given in this Chamber this afternoon, but in my view that does not in any way show that there was not a good cause for us to discuss this subject to-day and to have a closer look, if not to-day at some other time, at the general functions of the College and the services they provide for individuals. I was going to say what the noble Lord opposite has just said. What is really wrong with a public body publishing its accounts? Are we to suppose that whenever we ask for any public accounts to be published and laid in some form or another we do so from idle curiosity? That seems to me to be a strange interpretation of the functions of Parliament.

My Lords, very few individuals, if we take this country as a whole, have in the course of their lives much to do with the College of Heralds. I presume that the proportion of Members of this House that does is much larger than the proportions of almost any other body, for one reason or another, and not least because there will be a number of Peers of first Creation who will have had to augment their Arms in some way or to petition for a grant. From my own experience the individuals with whom I had to deal were absolutely charming, if a little vague, and especially vague about the final cost as we went through various stages step by step. The bulk of the work that I was asking them to do was no more than to add Supporters to my family Arms. I remember at the time comparing the Heralds' advice in my mind with the sort of advice one might have had when consulting a firm of eminent solicitors. The former were much more vague about the outcome and the cost. I was hence pleased to hear my noble friend Lord Long refer to the habit of suggesting in the last paragraph of the letter that they will be pleased to go on with the job suggested, but they would like a sum on account first. I should have thought that the normal routine of any firm of solicitors would be a better one to follow.

In my case, my Lords, it did not seem so difficult to add these Supporters, having justified my claim to the family Arms, since my uncle in 1891 had established his claim to the Barony of Barnard before the Committees for Privileges of your Lordships' House after a very long hearing. I should not have thought that, starting from 1891 would have been a very laborious business, and I had just to show that I was the son of that noble Lord's younger brother. But that seemed too simple. Since I am descended from somebody who had had his head cut off though a long time ago, but without, as it is claimed, forfeiting the family's right to bear Arms in the process, a complicated situation exists where research seems necessary every time there is any suggestion in the family of change in the Arms we are entitled to bear. I thought they made rather heavy weather of this, and it perhaps results in a rather heavier bill.

But, my Lords, I should not like it to he thought that I am arguing a general principle from an individual case, and I would not wish to pursue that further. I would, however, submit that if there is not a case for this Bill as drafted, particularly after the assurances that have been given in this House this afternoon (and I must admit that I was not here when they were all given), I think there is a case for us to have more information readily available about the rôle, the actual work and the cost of this venerable body which we all admire so much.

5.7 p.m.


My Lords, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, I think this Bill is an impertinance, and I hope in the course of a short speech to explain why. Clause 1 asks for a table of fees. Well, you can already get it, and, like the Light Brigade, it is over-charged. I have been "stung" for a wad in my time. Clause 1(2) we have all agreed is unnecessary. Clause 2 has been adequately dealt with. Five years' work has already been done on the documents, and I am told that it will take another five years to complete. I like the bit about "a reasonable fee", but I am more than cynical when it talks about "being made available to the public": that every self-appointed tin-pot investigator should be able to advertise in the Australian and American Press and get some information on the cheap and then flog it to his customers on a more expensive basis. What is proposed in Clause 3(1) and (2) is already done. Clause 3(3) is, I think, dangerous, because no matter what the noble Lord denied to-day, and also in his letter to The Times, I do not think he can deny that it gives the impression that this could only lead to a Minister eventually having to answer Questions in Parliament; and from that it could be seen to lead to the College of Arms becoming an extension of the Civil Service. I know that the noble Lord has denied it, but I say that the Bill, in the way it is presented, gives that impression to other people.

Again, my Lords, many of the documents include details of families which are or have been deposited on a system of trust. To give the Bill a Second Reading, to my way of thinking, and to quote the words of one of the most erudite servants of your Lordships' House, would be "the same as ordering a family solicitor to disclose your personal affairs." I understand that the College is, through the help of charity, wading through something like 250,000 documents. As public funds do not assist the College of Arms (and be it noted that the Bill does not suggest that they should), it would, if carried to its logical conclusion, make it subject to a Minister answering Questions in Parliament. If that had to be done, one can imagine what a field day a certain Republican would have on some of the Questions that would be asked. I do not suggest for a minute that the noble Lord wants that, but this is a danger that I think could arise. It seems to me that the College's very independence is part of its strength, especially in dealing with places like Commonwealth countries and the United States. I do not like the idea of having it nationalised. Of course we all know, especially in your Lordships' House, of the public duties that are performed.

It has been denied that the Bill is a criticism of the College or of the Earl Marshal, but it cannot be denied, I think, that the first impression of the Bill was that such a criticism was implied. In my view, the College and the Earl Marshal should be congratulated, and not criticised. Their article for sale is their records and expertise—hence the complaint about the mystique. But, as was pointed out by the noble and learned Lord, these are not articles on the costof-living index. I cannot help feeling that the reason lying behind this Bill is to make information more easily available to people who can make use of it by way of business. I get many letters, especially from the United States, asking whether, because the name of one of my farms is such-and-such, their family name is related to it. If my archives can supply the answer I tell them—without charge, be it noted.

I have genuine sympathy with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, and the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, who has just left the Chamber. But the College have to be careful about the names that people take. For example, my brother-in-law is the noble Lord, Lord Fisher, and when the late right reverend Primate became Lord Fisher of Lambeth, many invitations intended for him were sent to my brother-in-law. The invitations were duly sent on when the mistakes were discovered (incidentally, they were never acknowledged), until one day they thought, "This is enough". So one day they accepted an invitation (which obviously was not meant for them) to some rather important ecclesiastical function, and when Lord and Lady Fisher were announced everyone expected to see gaiters, and so on, instead of which my rather agricultural brother-in-law and his wife arrived, to the distress of the people who had sent the invitation.

I should rather like to see a Bill to control these freelance people, some of whom—though not all—are not above suspicion. They advertise as researchers and expert genealogists. I have seen their advertisements in the United States and Australia, and have had overseas visitors coming to me quoting these people as being absolutely official. Having seen how some of these innocents have been had for "suckers" makes me all the more irritated that this Bill should be introduced by—but I will leave that where it is.

I wonder whether your Lordships have seen the April issue of Which? It contains an article which I believe shows these people up for what they are worth. Page 120 and subsequent pages give the thing away. I will just mention two cases which they quote, and there are many others. A man called Bibby was issued for £5.50 a coat of arms which was once given to a John Bebb in 1801. A man called Sandringham was given the coat of arms of one Sander, and, as Which? points out, the name "Sandringham" was invented by a Dutchman when he applied for nationality in 1930. So I would much rather see a Bill directed against such people rather than against the College of Arms. Perhaps I may quote just a sentence from the article in Which? underlining this. It says: The Heralds at the College of Arms will research your ancestry for you and are the only people with access to some sources of information.' My Lords, I would keep it that way. Though personally I object to the height of their charges, I object even more strongly to what I consider to be the import of this ignoble Bill.

5.16 p.m.


My Lords, as I see it, the College of Arms or the Heralds College, first incorporated in 1484, and again in 1555, is an interesting example of an ancient institution with its roots in the Middle Ages which has, by adaptation, survived into modern times. Although no longer used for the purpose of personal identification in battle, heraldry is still very much a live subject. Arms are frequently granted to individuals and corporate bodies throughout the Commonwealth, and honorary Arms are granted to American citizens of British descent.

Already before the outbreak of the Second World War there had been a revival of heraldry in this country; and since the end of that war it is common knowledge that there has been an enormous increase of interest in heraldry and family history, both in this country and in the English-speaking world generally. The College of Arms, under the direction of the noble Duke the Earl Marshal, has played a major part in this revival and may be said to have become a national asset. It has always been self-supporting, as other noble Lords have said, and since the war I understand it has become a substantial earner of foreign exchange. In dealing with customers abroad it must surely be an advantage for the Heralds to say that they are servants of the College and not of a British Government Department—though I appreciate that the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, did not, and does not, intend this Bill to have that effect. I also appreciate that the noble Lord bade no attack on or strong criticism of the College of Arms, though I feel that the very fact that this Bill is being moved does imply a certain criticism.

Apart from the public aspect of the work of Heralds at important State ceremonials, such as Coronations, State funerals and the Openings of Parliament—which is widely known—there is their private work as consultants for heraldic and genealogical research for individuals, which not only adds to the volume and range of their records but also provides considerable financial support for the College. One can only speak from experience, and from time to time I have had occasion to employ the services of the Heralds for research. The results have been very satisfactory. On one occasion I commissioned a summary of pre-16th century heraldic references to my family, and among the manuscripts in the College was found a description of a standard borne by a direct ancestor who had been made a Knight-Banneret at the Battle of Stoke in 1487. I had this drawn out and coloured by one of the College's heraldic artists. This kind of work is not particularly cheap—it is in fact a luxury—and one has to think in terms of a year or more rather than months before such work is done. However, I find this applies generally to work which is done by genealogical agencies. The great advantage of the College of Arms in doing this kind of work lies, of course, in their enormous collection of early manuscripts and records, and also in the very high standard of their scholarship.

My Lords, I see no real reason to justify the introduction of this Bill, and I should like to identify myself completely with what was said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, in that regard. I see no reason why the College of Arms should be compelled to publish their table of fees. Anyone who is applying for a grant of arms would presumably he told the fees on presentation of his application, though I understand that now the noble Duke has made a concession and the fees will in future be published.

Clause 2 would seem to imply a criticism of the speed at which the cataloguing is being done. But in view of the vast number of documents involved and the time necessary to accurately describe and appraise many of these documents, one would expect such a work to last for decades. I understand that more than a quarter of a million documents are concerned. The answer to any criticism that there may be about the speed of cataloguing would appear to be the employment of additional experts to assist the work under the direction of the Herald in charge. This will require more money.

I have no doubt that the College of Arms which has done so much already to raise money for this object from a generously disposed charitable founda- tion, the Marc Fitch Fund, will be fully capable of raising more money for the purpose by public appeal or otherwise. Already, in 1954, the public subscribed a substantial sum towards the repair of the building, and subsequently considerable funds have been subscribed by private appeal towards the proposed museum for the display of the College treasures.

Finally, I believe that the proposed Bill is unnecessary and serves no useful purpose. The College of Arms is very much a going concern which has made remarkable progress over the past 50 years under the extremely able direction of the noble Duke the Earl Marshal.

5.22 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, am opposed to this Bill and shall vote against its Second Reading. I accept completely Lord Teviot's assurances that he means no attack upon the College of Arms and the Earl Marshal's domain. I should have thought that he had done enough for honour and had such assurances as he might reasonably have asked, and we should all like him to subside at the end of the debate. I should also like to say how much we enjoyed the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, with every word of which I agreed; in fact, I was going to use one or two of those words myself.

My reasons for being opposed to the noble Lord's Bill are simple and two: the first is the old Whig maxim, that if it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change. Although I would not extend that maxim to all fields of life or public activity, in fields of social manners, such as this is, I suspect it is a better guide than many. Curiously enough, it is a guide that is always deep in the hearts of the strongest progressives. It was the type of maxim which Lenin or Mao Tse-tung always acted upon. People who are really interested in progressive thought cannot afford the energy—or even the frivolity—to spend their time "dickering" with things which need not be "dickered" with. That is why I am always suspicious of what you might call the "fringe left" which is attempting to make commotions on things which do not matter, and thus take all our energies away from concentrating on the things which do matter.

My second reason is even more simple. This happens to be one of the things we do very well. Those of your Lordships who have foreign friends who travel widely will know that they are not bemused by the English conceit, which is very real, and are not taken in by all our self-congratulations. Usually they find two things to admire passionately about this country. One is our pure science; I say "pure science" and not "applied science", which we do per head as well as anyone on earth—I will not go farther than that. The second is our public ceremonial, and anything which falls under the domain of the noble Duke the Earl Marshal. As the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, said, this is one of the things which profoundly impresses foreigners. There is no other country which can put on a show like this country. The example which the noble Lord gave of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral is a good one, particularly if you compare it with other funerals of eminent persons which happened at just about the same time. I sometimes think that the noble Duke was slightly wasted as Earl Marshal; he might have had a reviving effect upon large spectacles on the English stage, where we have never been especially good. The Americans are very much better than we are at that.

Similarly, the College of Heralds has done admirable work in things which are not so near the public eye perhaps as giving grants of Arms. Garter has made genealogy a tool of sociology; that is a very difficult thing to do, but extremely valuable. No one has ever thought of doing it before; it is entirely original. He has used the skills he has picked up in his job to be a real guide to things which have been left in doubt by historians for two or three hundred years; for instance, the extent of nobility in English society. There he has given answers of great value which could probably have been produced in no other way. Similarly with his colleagues. I therefore think it would be entirely folly either to disturb them, or to give the impression that we want to disturb them. Let us have these accounts, let us have these scales of fees, if anyone wants them; we have already had a guarantee of that being done this afternoon. For the rest, let us waste no more time and leave the matter here.

5.28 p.m.


My Lords, very early in this long debate (I think after Lord Clitheroe had spoken) I began to feel some doubt whether there was much that I could contribute. I felt that even more clearly after the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, made his plain but none the less eloquent maiden speech, on which I should like to congratulate him, as other noble Lords have done. Now that the noble Lord, Lord Snow, has sat down after clearly expressing, as it seems to me, the essence of the matter, I find myself unwilling to trouble your Lordships for more than a moment or two.

This is a Bill which is not necessary, and it would be a pity to add to the great bulk of Statutory Instruments which we in Parliament are bound from time to time to add to rapidly. Moreover, I do not think that this Bill would achieve any of the things that those who think well of it would wish it to achieve. Certainly it would do nothing to help newly-created Peers in their choice of titles. I see nothing in the Bill which bears on that at all.

The noble Viscount, Lord Long, said it would be nice to know more about the important export trade for which the College of Arms is responsible. I do not think we would learn much about that even if the accounts were published in the form suggested in the Bill. Those accounts would be only the accounts of the College as such, and the Bill is at pains throughout to point out that the private work of individual members of the College, which accounts for a lot of the export trade, would not be included in the matter of publication of fees nor, presumably, in the accounts of the Chapter of the College as such. So I end by adding my plea, if I may, to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, to be content with having ventilated the matter and not to press the Bill further.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Helsby, who has just sat down, I have little to add to the many speeches which have been against this Bill. The reason why I wanted to speak to-day, very briefly, is that, although I have no personal interest to declare, I have an inherited interest, as my noble friend Lord Clitheroe mentioned, in that my grandfather spent all his working life in the College of Arms. Many of your Lordships will be familiar with his magnum opus, The Complete Peerage, of which there is a set in the Derby Room. Since he is reputed to have compiled all this information entirely single-handed I feel that this is an impressive example of the devoted, even dedicated work which is done by the Heralds.

What seems to me surprising about this Bill is that there has not been, I think, any consultation with the College of Arms. I believe that had there been such consultation (perhaps I am wrong in saying this) this Bill would probably not be before your Lordships to-day. Clause 1 would, I think, have been settled in a few weeks. Clause 2, as we have heard, is to be entirely changed because the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, has withdrawn the 12 months date. Clause 3 I personally do not agree with, and could not, I am sure, have been dealt with just in consultation. As I say, Clause 1 no longer seems to apply; nor does Clause 2. Clause 3 I do not think is reasonable, in that the College of Arms has been a self-supporting organisation for nearly 500 years and, so far as I know, has had no financial support from State Departments of any sort. That being so, it seems to me quite unreasonable that one should now ask that it should produce its accounts before Parliament. So, my Lords, I think I am with most of the speakers to-day against this Bill.

5.33 p.m.


My Lords, may I first of all add my tribute to those of noble Lords who have already spoken and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, on his thoughtful and weighty maiden speech, which I think we all agree has been a valuable contribution to our deliberations. I have myself admired the noble Lord since I first knew him as a company officer at Sandhurst in, I think, 1939; and to-day he has certainly lived up to my highest expectations. We all look forward to hearing from him in your Lordships' House on many future occasions.

This is a Bill which nobody should logically object to. Some of your Lordships may feel, and obviously do feel, that the subject would have been better dealt with outside the glare of public debate, or even in this House by an Unstarred Question. But since the Bill has been introduced we must treat it on its merits. There certainly is a case to answer and a situation which obviously can be improved. It would be wrong to refuse, or defer, a Second Reading of a Bill which attempts to initiate such an improvement. It has been suggested that this debate has already achieved all the desired objectives. I should prefer to reserve judgment on this until after all petitioners have been heard by a Select Committee and the Bill is then returned to your Lordships' House.

Clause 1(1) covers a grant of new Arms and the confirmation of existing Arms. For the first there is to be a stated fee, and for both, the first and the second, there will be charges on an agreed scale for any necessary historical and/or contemporary research. The fee for a grant of new Arms will of course embrace all necessary formalities as to registration and also ensure (we heard from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, on the subject) that no sensitive toes were trodden on. This is a moment in time when, as we know, toes become very sensitive. The confirmation of existing Arms would not be very far from the procedure now ruling North of the Border, where each successive holder of a Scottish title has to re-matriculate his or her Arms at Lyon Court in order to established his or her right to succeed. This is an aspect to which I shall return a little later on. Clause 1(2) has been dealt with and need not detain us. This gives the College of Arms a free hand in their dealings with the merely curious, and especially those who have no specific interest in past, present or future grants of Arms to justify exercising their curiosity at the expense of the College.

Clause 2 is a logical step. As applied to the past it might take some time and some effort to find, straighten out, file and cross-reference all the historical records of the College, and we have heard about that this afternoon. I think that perhaps the difficulty has been exaggerated. Not only is there a great deal of stuff there but also, of course, there will be many large gaps. I think for the future it might be made obligatory that, once a grant of Arms is recorded, the College must also record all subsequent events which might possibly affect the right of others to come who wish to bear those Arms and/or any related title or titles. As guardians and as trustees of honours conferred by, or in the name of, the Sovereign, there is surely a duty here which the College should not refuse. If it is objected that the volume of records is too large—and I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, made this point—then I suggest that the College should adopt, or at any rate examine, the Micro-Fiche technique which has already revolutionised the information retrieval systems in the United States and is beginning to do so fairly rapidly in this country also.

Clauses 3 and 4 are not very demanding. Much has been made of them this afternoon but I should not have thought that they were very demanding. The College is, we have heard, incorporated by Charter and therefore it must obviously keep corporate accounts. These are naturally subject to some form of audit and inspection, however private this may be. I feel that the service supplied by the College is to the public. We cannot get away with this idea that it is like being a club such as the Athenæum. It is not so. It is a service which is supplied to the public and we cannot get it anywhere else. So if the service supplied by the College is to the public, it is only sensible, it seems to me, and indeed desirable that the accounts and the audit should also in some form—I do not refer to the Home Secretary or lying on the Table—be accessible for inspection by the public.

What I myself am most concerned about, and the reason I have been emboldened to intervene in this debate, is the curious procedure whereby a successor to a title has to set about proving his right to succeed. Your Lordships may think this is slightly outside the scope of the debate on the particular Bill that we have before us this afternoon. However, as it seems that on occasion the College of Arms may be drawn into this procedure, its methods and its charges are inevitably involved, and I therefore submit that what I am about to say is relevant to the subject before your Lordships' House. I speak from personal experience and I am arguing from the particular to the general.

Approximately ten years ago my father died and I succeeded as Lord Killearn in your Lordships' House. As I recall, in order to prove my right of succession to the satisfaction of the Crown Office, it was necessary for me to produce not only my own birth certificate and my father's death certificate but also some acceptable first-hand evidence that my mother was his first wife and that I was their first legitimate male child. As my father was 40 when I was born and 84 when he died, this was no easy task; but happily I was able to find one such person and, happily more so, his affidavit was accepted by the Crown Office. I do not know what the position would have been had nobody been still alive who could so testify from his own knowledge or had such knowledge been held by the Crown Office to be insufficient to be accepted as fact.

About two years ago I succeeded my father's first cousin as fourth Lampson Baronet. My kinsman, whom I never met, was born in 1890 and succeeded his father as third Baronet in 1899. Since that date all the reference books have carried as "heir presumptive" first of all my uncle, then my father and finally myself. Yet, to establish my succession to the satisfaction of the Registrar of the Baronetage at the Home Office, acting under some rigid regulation laid down in the reign of King Edward VII. I now have to prove beyond peradventure, and over three generations, not only what legitimate male births have happened—which would not be very difficult—but what legitimate male births have not happened, which is clearly an impossibility.

I feel strongly that official watchdogs such as the College of Heralds and the Registrar of the Baronetage should have an obligation to ensure not only that honours conferred by the Sovereign are protected from usurpation by false claimants, but also that they are not allowed to lapse if they are still alive. It seems to me logical that any claimant should give details of his own claim, but not that he should be required to disprove all possible claims of all possible other claimants—known or unknown, existent or non-existent. If any doubt exists, then the authority concerned, acting on behalf of the Crown, should adopt the same procedure as that adopted by executors and trustees of wills; that is to say, to advertise the known facts in the London Gazette, and The Times. If no objection or better claim is received within a given period—which may well be one year—then the apparently best claim should be confirmed.

In my own case, in an obviously hopeless quest which I could obviously never prove to the satisfaction of the Registrar, it was suggested that the College of Arms might be able to help, though to my simple mind it was not clear how they could prove the unprovable any better than I could myself. It took me £15 to confirm what I already knew; namely, that they had nothing of relevance on their files. To pursue the hopeless quest further, I was invited to put down £250 "on account"—at which point your Lordships will not be surprised to hear that I decided the game was not worth the candle. So at the moment Burke and Debrett have me recorded, but the Registrar does not.

I adduce my own experience not only to show how impossible and indeed ridiculous is the present procedure in such cases, but also to suggest that the College of Arms itself is rather less than clearheaded about its obligations. How could it otherwise lend support to such a half-baked demand and offer to undertake a financially open-ended quest for something which, by definition, could and can never be achieved.

May I for a moment develop this last point? Your Lordships will at once perceive that to establish with "cartesian" certainty what I am required to establish would require that a continuous, 24-hour, life-long watch had been kept not only on my great-grandfather, my great-uncle, my distant cousin and on my uncle, but of course on my grandfather as well. I am assuming that, as I had succeeded my father in your Lordships' House, he may be considered as hors concours. This continuous watch would have had to start from the age when a young man might then legally wed, and this would of course depend on the jurisdiction concerned. The first Lampson Baronet was a citizen of the United States until the age of 43 and during that time, I suspect, he was subject to the jurisdictions of at least two of its component sovereign States (as well as perhaps of one of the provinces of Canada), while the second and third holders also spent much of their time outside the United Kingdom. That is not all. It occurs to me that perhaps it is as well that we are not concerned here with a Scottish honour, otherwise the vigil would have had to start not at the legal age of marriage but at the onset of puberty. As your Lordships will be aware, not only are Scottish males more virile than others, but under Scots law a subsequent marriage has always legitimised all previous illegitimate births for all purposes, including the succession to titles of honour.

To summarise, my Lords, judging from my own experience, it seems that the College of Arms is rather other-worldly and unrealistic in its approach to some practical problems, and for that reason I believe it desirable that it should now conform in some limited degree—I do not know what is the degree, but the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, told us what his ideas on that subject are—to the accepted norms of management and public accountability. For that reason I believe that this Bill should be given a Second Reading.

5.47 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships will be relieved to hear that Garter showed not the slightest interest in my poor old grandfather and in consequence I shall occupy only two or three minutes of your Lordships' time on this Bill. But before doing so, I, like the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, must declare an interest in that I am Chairman of an Heraldic Trust designed to encourage heraldic design, the Wrythe Heraldic Trust, named after John Wrythe who was the first Garter about 500 years ago. I should like to oongratulate the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, on achieving two considerable victories this afternoon. First, he has made it unnecessary for us to pass judgment on his Bill because he has already achieved almost everything of importance that he wants. And secondly, he has aroused considerable interest in a subject in which I, naturally, am interested but which does not occasion much excitement outside.

The two parts of his Bill which really matter concern the subject of fees. I have listened to the whole of this debate and I am sure the Heralds will have listened carefully, too, and will be assiduous in their attempt to see that all the mists of uncertainty are blown away and that in the future everything that should be known about fees is in fact known. I am certain that will happen. I am certain also that those bona fide scholars who wish to inquire into matters on which the Heralds can help them will be given all possible help in the future; and if a legitimate fee is to be charged for complicated work, then it should indeed be charged. I know enough of the work of the College, of Garter, and indeed of the Earl Marshal to add my words of tribute to the great work they have done, some of it literally unheralded; and I am certain that this debate will enable them to give even greater service in the future.

One point has been touched upon which is not directly germane to the Bill and that is the rather vulgar question of earnings from invisible exports. I am just finishing a ten-year stint as President of the London Tourist Board and it has been most noticeable during that period how the number of genuine inquiries from all over the world concerning heraldic and genealogical matters has increased beyond recognition. Your Lordships may remember a little function called "Fanfare for Europe" in January with which I was not unconnected. We staged an exhibition in Leeds, illustrating the heraldic connections between this country and the other countries of the Common Market. We were told that was far too academic and would attract no interest. On the contrary, it attracted an enormous interest and we are still getting questions from all over Europe of the most obstruse kind which we are naturally passing on to the College of Heralds, showing that heraldry is by no means a dead or archaic interest but a very lively one indeed. And what better place to debate it than in your Lordships' House, with so much evidence all around of the Heralds and historic art.

So I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, on introducing this Bill. I am sure he will agree with me that there is no need for him to put it to a Division, because he has achieved all the admirable things he seeks to do in his Bill and has succeeded in arousing an enhanced interest in the art and the science of heraldry. This is needed because too often a certain amount of prejudice seems to creep into those who deal with the matter without knowing what they are talking about. Have your Lordships noticed, for instance, that in certain of the gossip columns whenever a Peer is mentioned his motto is always given after his name, not always to his advantage? If a certain noble Lord should have the misfortune to be found by the police travelling up the wrong side of a motorway at 100 miles per hour in the small hours of the morning, we can be absolutely certain that his motto will prove to be "Safe and sure". And if one of your Lordships should equally have the misfortune to feature for the fourth time in some particularly murky divorce case, then indeed your motto is bound to be "Faithful unto death". Lord Teviot's motto is "Sero sed serio"—"Late but in Earnest", if I have translated it correctly. As this matter has not been debated in a Bill before your Lordships for 109 years I think his motto is well chosen. But I would also commend to him, if I might, with all diffidence, my own motto: "Courage, patience"; because if he desires to take his Bill to a Division he will need both of those in abundance.

5.53 p.m.


My Lords, it was not originally my intention to take part in the debate, but I have been interested in it as it has developed. My first, not quite meeting with but cognisance of the presence of Garter King of Arms, and therefore the College of Heralds—I had, of course, known of the Earl Marshal since long before, because, with some years between us, I also became a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture and he had left Minutes all over the placewas the receipt of a letter which came after I had had a letter from the Queen, and Garter King of Arms cast doubt upon the legitimacy of the letter from the Queen, because the Queen had told me she had been graciously pleased to make of me a Peer. It took a little bit of explaining to my family, but we can cut that. But Garter King of Arms said that he had heard from the Queen that I was to be a Peer Designate and that he would be very pleased to see me and legitimise me as a Peer; but since this was the end of July, he normally retired to his fastness in East Anglia for the heat of the summer and would not be coming back until about September, and if I did not mind, could I stay in this air of limbo to which he consigned me until he got back? He then wrote me another note, if I remember aright, and said that he had heard that a number of us had been made designates, and if a suitable number of us could agree to get together on an appropriate day he would cause himself to be put to the trouble of returning from his fastness in East Anglia to legitimise all of us.

I took some trouble to find out where his fastness in East Anglia was. It turned out to be almost next door to the Brentwood L.N.E.R. station, so I wrote him a note saying that I thought there was some misunderstanding; the last time I saw the Queen the impression I got was that the Lady thought she had made me a Peer and she did not mention anything about Garter King of Arms; and would not he just like to have a word with her to confirm. So in the end we had what I think was one of the most hilarious exchanges of correspondence. He did come up from his fastness in East Anglia, he did in fact legitimise, as I understand, a number of my colleagues; but I was then busy in my then fastness in Derbyshire, a fastness from which I was shortly afterwards ejected, evicted, cast out. So I could not come down from Derbyshire when he was coming up from East Anglia and I did not therefore get legitimised at the same moment.

Then there was a question about what I should be called. He asked me to go to see him in Old Jewry—whether that has any sort of relevance to this Bill, which has to do with change, I do not know; but however, I pass on quickly. I said my name was George Brown; I thought it should stay George Brown, and could we arrange it so? He then wrote me a pathetic or an appealing letter, describe it as you may, and said that even the Duke—not, of course, the noble Duke we have here, but a rather later made Duke, Prince Philip—when he was created a Duke, came to see Garter. I said, "I'm jolly interested, but there's no reason why I should come to see Garter: I'm not changing my name. I just want to be called George Brown." And so we went on and we went on and we went on, and I letters passed and letters passed. Then at some point in all this ridiculous charade, because I thought I might move up a bit, I asked: "On whose authority? Which Minister?" And I was told, "No Minister." So I said "What about the Prime Minister?". And I was told, "No, not the Prime Minister". "Well, which Minister?" Then somebody whispered that it was the Royal Household. "Is it borne on the Vote?" "No, no, no, no, no." So I then took, as I said earlier in the debate, the noblest advice I could get.

I think that what has not been answered this afternoon is: are we dealing with a public body which has rights enshrined in our laws, or are we dealing with something which got born or invented centuries and centuries ago and is not answerable to anybody? Because finally, when I wanted to get my name established as George-Brown—for no better reason than that I did not want to change my signature—I spoke to some chap (and he shall be nameless, although he is not all that many miles away from here, who said, "Well, I can't do anything because he isn't really responsible to us, you know, but I will give the fellow to whom he is responsible a nudge, and if you get a letter deal with it politely and kindly; don't make him feel upset". Everybody knows that is an admonition not necessary in my case; I deal with everybody in that way. So somebody got a nudge, and I got a letter saying, "It goes very much against the grain, all against my instructions, that you should be called George-Brown, but I agree to it." I then wrote him a polite and kindly little letter saying what a nice fellow he was, but that I thought there was already a Lord Ritchie-Calder, a Lord Francis-Williams and I do not know how many other Lords something-hyphen-something.

Then I started trying to ask again: who is this fellow who gets in our way? I still do not know, and I say it in the presence of the Earl Marshal, has the College of Heralds, has the gentleman who signs himself "Wagner, Garter" any public authority, or has he not? If he has, then Lord Teviot's Bill is most apposite, and it has been most interesting this afternoon, as the debate has gone on, to see how all the defenders of the Establishment have been withdrawing a little, bit by bit, to the point where they are begging him not to take it forward. If the argument is that the College of Heralds and Wagner, Garter is a public servant in some form, is borne on some Vote, is getting some public money in aid, then this Bill is absolutely legitimate, valid; and if it is long overdue, as I thought the previous speaker said, that does not make it any the less necessary now; it only makes it the more necessary. It would also help us in Committee to probe a little further into what these fellows do.

When I had won my battle about what I should be allowed to call myself, there was then the question of whether I wanted this Coat of Arms and so on. I did not myself particularly think so, but the gentleman did, and there was a lot of discussion and correspondence about that. Then I was saved by a Member of your Lordships' House, the noble Earl, Lord Elgin, who read about all this somewhere and said, "I would not give in to that fellow. He starts out with one fee and then he offers you another and then he says we can come down a bit lower". And Lord Elgin said, "I am sure I have seen in the attic of my house a Coat of Arms granted to a predecessor of mine called George Brown". He said, "When I go home this weekend I will have a look and see"; and a few weeks later, sure enough, there arrived, in the original woodwork, a Coat of Arms issued in 1803 to George Brown. Unhappily, he came from Stockport and not from Southwark, but it was near enough. So I did not go on with this thing about whether I paid £250 or £150 or £75. What I did was to get my secretary to clean it—she had to iron it with an ordinary iron to get the creases out—and it is now framed and up in my house. So I have a Coat of Arms, grace à Lord Elgin, but no money in the pocket of Wagner, Garter and his colleagues.

I think the whole thing is in fact ludicrous. I am not a revolutionary; that would be an understatement. I am not a Republican; that also would be an understatement. But I do think it makes this whole place laughable and stupid, and I would rather get rid of it all.



Yes, I would, for myself. We sit here by virtue of what we are pleased to call our credibility, anything you like—our ser- vice, whatever you will. We are not improved by what I regard as all this flummery. But if we are to have it—and here I might carry with me those who said, "Oh!"—then for Heaven's sake! let us have it properly and authoritatively done. It must be by the authority of somebody. It cannot be the Earl Marshal doing it on the Arundel marshes all by himself, or Wagner, Garter doing it in his fastness in East Anglia. It must owe something to somebody. If it is to the Royal Household, it must be carried on that Vote. Let us have it done authoritatively. Let us know what is done. I agree with Lord Teviot. Let us have it all public, clear and on the Record.

The only other thing I want to say is that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, who enjoys, in your Lordships' House and outside it, a certain legal authority and distinction, and is never shy of employing it, and has been known to engage himself in industrial matters, said this afternoon that it was just idle curiosity that led any of us to want to see the accounts. I venture to suggest, my Lords, that this doctrine would go down very badly outside this House. If I suggested that anybody who wanted to see how the Transport Workers' Union were disposing of their money and what they were charging for what, and it ever reached a Bench on which the noble and learned Lord was sitting, I think we should get a pretty short answer if we just said that it was idle curiosity that made people want to see what we do with our members' money. Frankly, I found his intervention a little regrettable, because it just could not be sustained, and it sounded as though the Establishment was really fetching up the Old Guard in order to try to hold the debate.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, if I may, that I think he has won the argument; but, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, I do not therefore invite him to withdraw the Bill. I think he should pursue it. Let us go further into it than we have been able to do, at Committee and subsequent stages. Let us find out what is the role of this extraordinary institution. That they are appointed by the Earl Marshal seems to be clear; but why and how, and for what purposes? Who authorises them to charge? Where does the money they charge go? How is any public money which they receive accounted for? It would be a very good exercise. Although I said that I would never speak in this debate, I have now done so. I support the Second Reading of the Bill, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, will resist all the seductive approaches he has received and will pursue it.


My Lords, I had no intention whatsoever of speaking but I should like to make a point that has not been made. It was the last speaker who really persuaded me to make it. I can do this extremely briefly. My own personal point of view is that I do not have very much interest in genealogy. I remember, and perhaps next week on Monday others will remember, too, that if you go back 20 generations and include the female line you have a million ancestors. So, unless a family has remained in one part of the country for a very long time, one has to say that a lot of this is but a pleasant tradition and a pleasant hobby. It does not stand up to strict logic of importance. I am afraid that many people—and it has been made quite clear from what the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, has just said—do not really appreciate this tradition. I therefore think that we should be making a very grave mistake if we pulled all this out of the cupboard into the public eye. It is doing no harm as it is. It is forming a pleasant tradition, and we should not therefore make it a question of public debate by what I think many people would castigate as Philistine. I am a Philistine, but I should not like those with perhaps not the same sympathy or tradition as I have to make criticism of this and it reaches much further out. So, my Lords, I would say that this Bill should at no cost be given a Second Reading.

6.12 p.m.


My Lords, the passionate solemnity of the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, has rather spoiled what I hoped would have been a satisfactory continuation, at a slightly lower level of ability, of the style of my noble friend Lord George-Brown, because my recollection is that during the saga of his title there was difficulty with the noble Marquess, Lord Sligo, and of course it was thought that the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, might in fact be a son of the noble Marquess. When the matter was referred to the noble Marquess he replied with great kindness, "We are an undistinguished lot. We would regard it as something of an honour to be confused with George Brown"; and in due course the title was settled, though not without some very curious and difficult negotiations.

My Lords, this has been an interesting debate. Some noble Lords have been um certain as to whether to take it with great seriousness; some felt extremely passionate, like the noble Lord, Lord Hewlett, who identified the Heralds with the changing of the Guard and various other active and enjoyable spectacles. We had a very pleasant speech from the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, and it was a very great pleasure to hear from him. Anyone who has had the duty or the obligation to deal with members of the Royal Household and it goes for his success also—will remember the great courtesy, wisdom and kindness with which he dealt with us. It is of great satisfaction to me, not only that he is in your Lordships' House but that he has made a maiden speech to-day.

I am bound to say that I have arrived at a slightly different conclusion from him as to the nature and purpose of this Bill. This is, of course, a Private Member's Bill. There is no question of the Whips being on. Usually Bills that are reasonably respectable get a Second Reading—but not always. I have known less respectable Bills get a Second Reading. But I think it is just worth while considering whether there is—as the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, in a most moderate speech made clear—a point of public interest here, and I am bound to say that I found it a little disturbing that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, not having heard Lord Teviot's speech, proceeded to debate in detail the arguments which he had not heard. I find it a problem as to whether we ought not now, for the benefit of those noble Lords who have advised the House what they should do with this Bill, repeat the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Teviot. But in the circumstances, it may well be that if there is a Division the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, who appears to think that this is a matter of mere curiosity, may feel that it is more fitting for him to abstain.

There have been some rather curious aspects of the debate. I will not say that there has been a well organised attack on Lord Teviot's Bill. Some language with regard to it was rather violent, I thought; nevertheless, there is an anxiety which was focused on the subject as to whether this was a mischievous attack. Indeed, a number of us received letters from, I am tempted to say, Wagner Garter, but I have a high regard for Sir Anthony Wagner, in which he said firmly that this Bill was unquestionably an expression of no confidence in the Earl Marshal. May I repeat that whatever happens about this Bill, whether noble Lords pursue it or not, this is something that had never occurred to me. I have observed the noble Duke on a number of ceremonial occasions. One is deeply impressed by his professionalism and firmness. On one occasion during the State Opening of Parliament, I remember him turning to a more junior figure and saying, "Now is your opportunity to do something useful"; and there is no doubt that he rules whatever he has to do with the greatest firmness and distinction.

On the other hand, there is some mystery as to the precise status of the College of Heralds. They appear in the Imperial Calendar next to the Civil Service Pay Research Unit, and it seems to me it will be easy to get help in publishing their accounts. The Earl Marshal himself, who of course is one of the great Officers of State, only appears in relation to the Royal Household as "Her Majesty's representative at Ascot"; and we all remember a famous occasion—I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Wigg is here—and certain events that took place. I assure the House that those of us who are inclined to support the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, are in no way reflecting on the Earl Marshal; and it is, as has been made very clear, nothing to do with the Royal Household or the Monarchy, although I understand that Garter does occupy a somewhat disputed position in relation to the Royal Household. None the less, we all accept that the College and those concerned in it play a most valuable role. Several noble Lords have suggested that they are doing an excellent export trade; indeed, I think it may have been the noble Viscount, Lord Long, who was almost saying that they ought to receive the Queen's Award to Industry for their achievements in this particular area. I have no doubt that with integrity, and professionally, they do a good job, and I am perfectly prepared to accept that they do not make a lot of money of a kind that would in any way be disapproved of by this Government, with their policy on pay and prices and limitations of that kind; but of course we are not in a position to know.

I was extremely interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, had to say on this subject. He gave us a great deal of information, but I am not sure that he gave us all the information we need. This matter has been raised and it must be settled now in the interests of the Heralds themselves, otherwise there will be continuous snide assumptions about the type of rewards they have. As I understand it, they average, in relation to their public service, £2,000 per annum, and the noble Lord threw in the extra fact that in addition they earn certain private fees. It seems to me that this matter can be settled perfectly easily, and if I understood the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, aright, it would be possible to make the full accounts available. I was not sure whether he was talking about the accounts of the trust or the accounts of the College itself. I am also wondering whether the College of Heralds has to pay V.A.T. Perhaps it does not, but it is a service, and admittedly a valuable service, and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, can enlighten us.

In regard to what is reasonable and whether professional people should be investigated, professional bodies, such as the legal and medical professions, set their own standards. They have machinery and scales, and they police themselves. But even that has not prevented lawyers, architects and others from being investigated; I cannot remember whether it was by the Monopolies Commission or by the Prices and Incomes Board. But as I said, those bodies which are rendering a service for which they receive a remuneration, and which operate within professional standards, have their own policing arrangements. Some of them are sanctified by certain statutory powers and the status of certain bodies is in fact determined by law. It is possible to argue that this is really a case of de minimis and that we might leave well alone, but there have been enough stories of a kind to suggest that there is anxiety.

My noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner and the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, discussed the question of supporters. The noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, said that when Life Peers were first created there was a little uncertainty as to whether they got full value for money and whether they should be given a cheaper rate, because their supporters would last only for their lifetime although their Coat of Arms would go on. I am bound to say that I found myself—I refer to no living Herald, and I shall not say which one it was—in something of a bargaining position. I was assured, after being congratulated, that all Peers, and particularly Labour Peers, love Coats of Arms, and since one or two letters of congratulation from certain Labour Peers actually bore coronets I thought that that was possible.

After several minutes, I said, rather plaintively, that like my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner I had a Coat of Arms. I was then asked where it was registered. It so happens that I had a dubious uncle who was once a Herald, who is supposed to have stolen the Irish Crown Jewels, so I knew something about this business, and I answered smartly, "Ulster". He then said, "But you will need supporters." That is a very solemn moment. When you go to the undertaker about a near relative and he asks, "Will you have brass handles on the coffin?", you do not really like to argue about it and appear very mean. But I thought that £100 was rather a lot for putting on two strange figures. I have noticed that noble Lords have chosen interesting figures. My noble friend Lord Snow has two Siamese cats as his supporters.

But before I had finished the price had come down to £30, and I was told that I could have some rather inferior supporters for that sum. The noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, may say that that cannot have happened; that it is a false recollection. I admit that I have actually dined out on it, and as I get older I find that my stories improve, but I have a very clear recollection of that episode and other noble Lords have on occasion had reason to complain. I gather that the noble Lord, Lord Hewlett, was sold a pedigree at the same time. He explained that, in order to have a Coat of Arms which would properly justify him, he was told that he ought to have a pedigree, and I wonder what he paid for it.


My Lords, may I endeavour to answer the noble Lord? I did not pay anything for a pedigree. I just had to prove my legitimacy in order to secure the continuance of my grandfather's Arms. He was a mere Gentleman, and I was a Knight Bachelor. I then had to gain supporters, and I paid much more than £30. But may I ask the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition what he got for his cut-price supporters? He has not told us that.


My Lords, I got nothing, because I never bought them. Even before the inflation got going, I thought £30 was too much. But, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, said, if the noble Lord, Lord Hewlett, had been a Scot he would not have needed to prove his legitimacy.

There is no suggestion that the Heralds should be nationalised. I think we all agree that even if on occasion—because people naturally take themselves rather seriously—they are perhaps a little demanding in their attitude which has occasionally caused offence to certain people, they provide a most valuable service, and I have seen enough of their work to appreciate that it is a very scholarly operation. I do not know how they are appointed, but one would wish them to continue to prosper. If the Heralds were able to survive 100 years ago, when they were required to publish their figures retrospectively to the House of Commons, I cannot see why the very moderate provisions of this Bill cannot be met, particularly in the light of what the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, said is unsatisfactory about Clause 2.

I do not know what the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, intends to do, whether he will perservere with his Bill or withdraw it, but I should like to say what my own judgment is. If he chooses to withdraw it, he can feel that he has had a very satisfactory debate. On the other hand, quite clearly there are a number of strong feelings and it would seem very easy to meet the requirements of this Bill without legislation. I fully accept what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, said, that one does not need to have a Bill if something is worth doing. But I think most of us would think that certainly what is contained in Clauses 1 and 3 is worth doing.

May I say to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, that the action of the House in passing an Amendment or in giving a Second Reading to a Bill is sometimes very surprising. Even Governments, when they are involved, do something as a result. As noble Lords know, I recently carried an absolutely meaningless Amendment on the Overseas Pensions Bill which was subsequently withdrawn, but the Government decided to pay pensions which their predecessors had promised. I am suggesting that the House would be right—and it is entirely free to do so—if the noble Lord perseveres with this, to give the Bill a Second Reading. I should have thought that thereafter (because there is not time now) it would be absolutely reasonable for the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, and the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, to get together to discuss the requirements of the Bill. I do not think any of us is asking to know the details of individual earnings, although in fact everybody knows the earnings of most people who operate in the public service. None the less, I see no reason why, in an area which is concerned with the public, certain information should not in fact be freely given; and if I understand the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, he is not averse to this information being given.

My Lords, the Bill has not yet achieved its objective because we do not yet know what is possible, but it will be perfectly simple thereafter to meet its purposes without then having to send the Bill to a Select Committee. I personally think that the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, has shown some courage in pursuing, something on which he knew there would be some cross words from certain of his friends—and we have all spoken regardless of Party in this matter. I congratulate him, and I personally hope that the Bill will have a Second Reading. Then we might think again as to whether there need be any further proceedings.

6.32 p.m.


My Lords, I think I should first explain, as indeed I was more or less invited to by my noble friend Lord Teviot, the circumstances in which the Government thought it right to advise Her Majesty the Queen to place Her prerogative, so far as it is affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill, and the significance of Her Majesty's consent which my noble friend Lord St. Aldwyn announced earlier on. When a Bill is introduced in this House which affects the Royal prerogative, the Queen's consent must be signified. This would be done at a very early stage, before the Second Reading, where the Bill is mainly concerned, as this one is, with matters affecting the Royal prerogative itself; otherwise, the Bill cannot be debated at all. The Government advised Her Majesty to place Her prerogative and interest at the disposal of Parliament to allow this debate on the Second Reading. This is the accepted practice, but it in no way implies that the Crown, through its advisers, approves of the provisions of the Bill. It means that the Crown does not intend that lack of that consent should debar Parliament from debating the Bill's provisions. Nor does it mean that Ministers accept the purport of the Bill, either. I think it is just worth making that fact plain.

My Lords, I wish that I could contribute to the marvellous personal stories that have embellished the debate. My trouble is that I am the only speaker this afternoon who comes under the jurisdiction of the nationalised Lord Lyon of Scotland, and I think the only thing of the slightest significance about this is that, as my noble friend Lord Killearn said, the Scots have to pay every time they succeed, for rematriculation. Indeed, not only was I devoid of supporters in the reference books for some time, but I did not have any Coat of Arms at all, because somebody at Hurstpierpoint discovered that I had not matriculated and saw to it that the reference books did not put any Arms in for me. I was infuriated, and eventually I had to pay something like £30 to have the matter put right. Otherwise, I really cannot contribute to how the system works, because I know about only what happens North of the Border. But we have heard much interesting and illuminating comment on the Bill (and indeed off it, if I may respectfully say so) in the course of the afternoon from all sides of the House. Certainly I would respectfully join in the tributes to the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, on his maiden speech, and indeed on the content of it, which I think will have helped us considerably in judging the merits of the measure before us.

I was very glad indeed to hear the tributes of my noble friends Lord Teviot and Lord Mancroft, and of others, to the College of Heralds and to the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk; and these were strongly reinforced by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. I do not think that, after the descriptions given by my noble friends Lord Teviot and Lord Croft and others of what the College does, I need go into the details of that now. If the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, and again the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, wish to find a neat constitutional pigeonhole for the College, they will, I think, be disappointed. I personally am certainly not going to attempt to describe what its status is, save that I am assured that it is genuinely unique; and I do not believe that there is any money carried on the Vote directly for the College, except possibly those small sums that my noble friend Lord Clitheroe mentioned as being paid, on what is presumably a mediæval scale of fees, to the Heralds themselves—£49 and £17, and that sort of figure.

As for the dealings that the Government have with the College, my noble friend Lord Killearn mentioned the Home Office. It is indeed true that under a Royal Warrant of 1910 we deal with Baronetcy matters, but I hasten to assure him that I do not think we really are the villains of the piece because here we look for advice to Garter King at Arms, and certainly my Department, so far as I am aware, has not actually been involved in the extremely complicated matters that my noble friend described to the House. We also have contact with the College over certain types of armorial work, which arises in connection with privileges which can be granted only by a Royal Licence from the Sovereign; and from time to time, like other people, no doubt, we in Government have our disagreements with the College of Heralds. But there is no statutory responsibility, either at the Home Office or anywhere else at the moment, for the way in which the College runs its affairs.


My Lords, I am a little reluctant to interrupt because I have had my penny's-worth, but the noble Viscount says that there are only miniscule monies on a mediæval scale. Even if it were only a farthing, much less £2,000 a year for one, two or three Heralds, if it is public money it has to be borne, surely, on some State Vote. On which Vote is any money which the Heralds receive from the public borne?


My Lords, I just wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, was here during the course of the speech of my noble friend Lord Clitheroe.


Yes, I was.


Perhaps if he would refresh his memory from the OFFICIAL REPORT OF what my noble friend said, I think he will find that the matter is explained.


I am sorry, my Lords, but no. The noble Viscount cannot get off with that. The noble Viscount is a Minister. I knew the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, when he was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury. If one had asked him this question then, he would have given a straight answer. It now happens to be the Minister who has to answer. On which Vote is any public money which the Heralds receive—and the Minister confirms that they receive some, although it is small—borne? It is no good the noble Viscount asking Lord Clitheroe. With great respect, my Lords: Ministers are answerable for public money, not Lord Clitheroe. With very great respect, I am not interested in Lord Clitheroe's answer, which he has now passed to the Minister. I am asking the Minister: on which Departmental or other Vote is any public money carried?


My Lords, I am going to give the same reply as the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, gave, because it is the correct reply. He gave it earlier in the debate, and I am merely refreshing the memory of the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, about what has already been told the House by my noble friend Lord Clitheroe. The answer is this: sub-head E.3 of the Miscellaneous Expenses Vote, Class 2. That is what my noble friend Lord Clitheroe said in the course of his speech.


Is the noble Viscount saying that it is true?




Is the noble Viscount taking responsibility for it?


My Lords, I take responsibility for the fact that that is the correct answer. I know that my noble friend Lord Clithroe said this before, and it is correct.


You are the Minister!


My Lords, this is a matter of great Constitutional importance. The Minister—and not the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe—is answerable to this House. There was a time when Lord Clitheroe was answerable to another place, but the Minister is answerable here. He has been asked a straight question: is any part of this money paid to these people borne on a Vote which is voted in by the House of Commons?


My Lords, I hesitate to suggest that I should go through this again, but I shall do so for the noble Lord, Lord Wigg. The answer is "Yes". The answer is that a sum of money, I think constituting £49 a year, is paid to the Garter King at Arms; I think £17 a year is paid to the other Kings and £12 a year is paid to the Pursuivants. This, I will repeat it again, comes under sub-head E3, Miscellaneous Expenses Vote, Class 2. That is the Garter £3,000.


My Lords, the Minister has got it wrong. Will it be within the House—



My Lords, I will not be shouted down. If the Minister does not know—and he now makes a statement which the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, corrects—would it not be as well for the House to adjourn, so that they can have a conference to get it right?


My Lords, I think I will proceed with the speech that I was about to make. What I was saying was that the Home Office has no responsibility for the fees that the College charges or for its internal finances, which at the moment are matters for the noble Duke, the Earl Marshal. The Government honoraria paid to certain College officers (also mentioned by my noble friend Lord Clitheroe) come from Votes within the responsibility of my right honourable friend the Lord Privy Seal. There is the other half of the answer to the questions of the two noble Lords opposite. I know that there has been more than one view about the College of Heralds. People have had their own experiences; but where I think most of us can agree is that the position in the College is not always an easy one. Being a private corporation, as it is, and having to meet its expenses from its income it provides a specialised professional service. But so far as anybody—at any rate anybody I have heard of—is concerned, and this applies particularly to Members of this House under Standing Order No. 5 which has already been referred to, it is an optional service of which people do not have to take any account if they do not wish to.

We have heard how the fees charged over the years have gone up. Complaints about the College are nothing new. There have been these reports in 1869, roughly two years after the Scottish Lyon King at Arms was, as it were, nationalised, in 1903 and in 1928 when there were two Government committees—and my noble friend Lord Teviot, I know, has looked carefully at these. Both inquiries recommended changes in particular practices of the College but not structural changes. In each case after those inquiries the College maintained its unique position. I do not think that any of the comments made to-day by comparison with what was said on those occasions suggest that the position is essentially different now. On the face of it the Bill does not require any structural change, nor do I believe that my noble friend Lord Teviot is asking for one. But in fact, despite the appearance and the intention—and I will comment briefly on this in a minute—there could be rather larger effects from this Bill (and it is the duty of the Minister, whatever other duties I have, to explain the terms of the Bill and its effects) than at first sight appear.

In the first place, the Bill proposes that matters which have previously been regulated under the Prerogative should be regulated by Parliament. This goes to the extent of legislating upon this matter, because previously the whole thing rested on the Prerogative and Parliament never previously interfered. Of course Parliament is entitled to interfere if it thinks fit; but we then have the question (and whatever else the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, said, he did put the question) whether the interference is necessary. As the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, said, one cannot compare it with the Scottish situation where, among other differences, the Lyon Court is a court of law as well as an heraldic court or College as the English one is.

Perhaps one of the misunderstandings that has vitiated and made it rather difficult to look at the true legal effect of the Bill is the use by my noble friend Lord Teviot of the word "Chapter". The trouble is that there is no such person in law as the Chapter, because this is, as he said, rather like a cathedral chapter, a periodic meeting of some of the Heralds, having no legal personality or responsibility either for setting fees, which is the noble Duke's prerogative, or with regard to any accounts. Therefore, whatever happened, we should have to take out of the Bill any references to the Chapter, which are not apt when we are trying to define responsibility for legal requirements.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Viscount? Presumably it would be possible to put in an Amendment to require or to define for the purposes of the Bill that the Chapter was a legal person, would it not?


My Lords, I do not think that there is any difficulty about it; but we must decide who in fact is going to do this. At the moment it is the noble Duke as Earl Marshal under the Prerogative. One could require the Chapter or enable it by Statute to do it and one could enable the College to do it if one wished; but if one enabled the College to do it, it would mean taking it out of the realm of the Prerogative. All I am saying is that we must be certain who does what and what changes under the Bill one wishes to make.

Under Clause 1, we now know what the tables of fees are that the House wishes to consider. It is not entirely clear from the description in the Bill and it is not entirely apposite to deal with the fees that my noble friend intends, but we know it is the table of fees in relation to the grant of Arms and Supporters—what is generally known as "grant fees". That is what my noble friend Lord Teviot wants published; and that is all. That, I understand, is what the noble Duke is prepared to make available more widely. It is not right to say that it has never been available, but he is offering to make it more widely available. It was suggested that it should go, if the editors of these books wished it, in something like Whitaker's, Debrett's or Burke's where there is a neutral source of reference. They are published every year and these fees can be updated. Probably a system of this type (if it were to be negotiated between the College and the noble Duke and the editor of one or more of these volumes) would enable everybody who happened to be interested, whether as a recipient of a new honour or because he wished to go into some other matter of reclaiming old Arms, to see where he stood without going so far as to show his hand in the matter at all. It would be an anonymous source to which everybody resorts by going into most public libraries. As I understand it, this is the sort of thing that is being offered this afternoon.


My Lords, why does the noble Viscount think this is necessary? Is it not the ordinary reasonable thing to happen when you go to the College of Arms to ask something, that you be given a list of the scale of charges? Most people would not think it would be in Debrett's or start looking for it there. Would it not be possible, as a matter of form, that when a person goes to the College to ask something he should be handed a current list of the charges?


My Lords, I thought that that already happened.



My Lords, then I am wrong. But if that is all that noble Lords want, so be it. I thought that some of those who indicated their views in the course of the debate suggested that this information should be available outside the College for people to look up without having to come to London. If that is your Lordships' wish—and I am certain that it is something for negotiation and not for me—there have been suggestions of publications in which this matter might be made plain.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Viscount? I think this problem can be solved. On the one hand, it is perfectly true that the Heralds do not want to be in the position of putting a price list round everywhere. They might be thought to be touting for business, and one fully understands their position. But it is possible to have this list automatically made available when people have to go to the College. Secondly, it should be known that there is such a price list. Many people have not known about that until very recently. It should he made available, outside or inside the College. On the other hand, one would not want to make the Heralds distribute a kind of mail order list. I do not think that they would like that.


My Lords, I am not trying to suggest how the College of Heralds should do this. I was merely attempting to summarise some of the statements which have been made in the debate. Since the noble Duke is present and has listened to virtually the whole of the debate, and certainly to this interchange, I think he will he able to judge for himself and have such further consultations as he thinks fit about exactly how this matter should be handled. In principle, as I understand it, I see no difficulty about making this table of fees available, widely or narrowly, according to what people want.


My Lords, as a fellow Scot who is not going to vote either way, may I ask whether I am not correct in thinking that the noble Duke, in an intervention, said that there is a list of charges and there always has been, and at the moment the list is being printed?


Yes, my Lords; that is exactly what the noble Duke said. I thought I was correct in understanding him that a table had always been available or, at any rate, had been available for a long time. I saw the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, shaking his head and it may be that it has to be specifically asked for. But, at any rate, there was one. It has been revised, I understand, from time to time, and the argument really depends on whether it is in a drawer, or somewhere slightly more available, for people to be able to see it without asking for it. As I say, my Lords, the noble Duke is sitting on the Cross-Benches and has heard the discussion and I am sure that he will be able to draw his own conclusions.


My Lords, would the Minister be good enough to say how much is charged if the list is asked for?


My Lords, I do not think that one is charged of it at all. The provision in the second clause of the Bill is something which I think has been resolved in the course of the debate. My noble friend Lord Teviot has explained his own misunderstanding and other noble Lords have touched upon the practicalities of this. It seems that it is now agreed by those who have touched upon this matter that the work is likely to be achieved without the intervention of Statute. One simply hopes that the resources now available to do this will be able to be kept up. There is in the third clause this difficult question of accounts.


My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble Viscount, but the question of records has by no means been resolved. If the noble Viscount is under any sort of misunderstanding, may I say that I said the word "calendar" was out of order and perhaps should be substituted by the word "guide". I shall have a great deal to say on the question of records, but I should like the noble Viscount to be clear in his mind that that question is not resolved, and I think that this is something with which it would be worth while to go ahead.


My Lords, there it is. I misunderstood the situation. My noble friend still wants to legislate on this but in a different sense from what is in the Bill. He still wishes to legislate, and it will be for your Lordships to judge whether this part of the Bill is something you wish to support.

We then come to the question of accounts. Again, we have here the difficulty of who is to be responsible, because the Chapter plainly cannot be, since one would have to re-define the responsible person in order to get hold of the legal personality upon whom to lay the obligation. I do not think Lord Long's point about the accounts of the dollar receipts relates to the accounts with which this clause is meant to deal. As I understand it, the fees received for the kind of grants that appear on the Table of Fees are all that my noble friend Lord Teviot is interested in. These of course are paid into an account and are under the control of the noble Duke. My noble friend Lord Clitheroe has given the figures of income and expenditure and has broken them down between payment on College expenses last year and the residue available for distribution.

There are, of course, other fees payable to the Heralds for their private work. But everybody has, I think, been in agreement that we are not attempting to force a disclosure of those. That has nothing to do with a monopoly or any scale of fees laid down by the Earl Marshal. Nobody has suggested that those fees should be laid before Parliament. It is only those based on the receipt of the fees for grants on the Table of Arms that are here concerned. Whether, as was said by the noble Lord, Lord Helsby, that will be entirely satisfactory to those who wish to get a picture of the College, I do not know. It will mean that part of the income and part of the expenditure is disclosed in some form in public and part is not. Again, it will be for your Lordships to judge whether this is a satisfactory situation and whether it is something with which the House wishes to proceed as a matter of principle; or whether the sort of information which my noble friend Lord Clitheroe has given is satisfactory to show that there is at any rate no abuse, and that no fortune is being made out of this matter.

I am delighted to hear that if this Bill is to proceed, my noble friend Lord Teviot does not propose to insist upon any involvement on the part of Her Majesty's Government in these accounts. For that I am grateful. In the Home Office we have many things to do and to take on this further task would seem to me, not intolerable, but perhaps unnecessary, since there are precedent; for accounts to be laid on the Table in the Library without any Ministerial intervention at all. So, my Lords, I think I agree with my noble friend Lord Gage. It seems to me that noble Lords who have listened to the debate, and particularly to the explanations and the offers made by my noble friend Lord Clitheroe and the noble Duke in his intervention, may think that the basic matters that my noble friend Lord Teviot wished to achieve have been already achieved by way of concession. Certainly I would concur with those who think that it is a good thing to have aired this subject. A great deal of ground has been covered and the debate has gone much wider than the pure terms of the Bill. I do not object in any way to that, and I doubt whether my noble friend Lord Clitheroe or the noble Duke would object to there being a wide-ranging discussion on this matter. But at the end, my Lords, it will be necessary for the House to decide whether in the words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, it is now necessary to legislate on this subject.


My Lords, I will not detain the House for more than a moment. The Minister has made it quite clear that a sum of approximately £50, which he described as a miscellaneous expense class 2, is borne on the Vote of some Ministry. Therefore some civil servant in Whitehall, as the accounting officer of that Department, must authorise the payment of that money, and the Minister to whom he is responsible is responsible for that expenditure. So it is no good the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, saying that this has nothing to do with the Government. It has everything to do with the Government. Public money is being spent for this purpose and it is accountable to the House of Commons and not to this House. The only reason I have for speaking is that occasionally what we say is read by Members of another place, and I hope that when the Home Office Vote, or whatever Vote upon which this money is borne, comes up for discussion one of the Members of another place will raise the matter, because clearly public money is involved.

7.0 p.m.


My Lords, first I should like to thank your Lordships for what has been a very interesting and lively debate. I think there have been an equal number of speeches for and against the Bill from each side of the House. At one point I thought that I might be in limbo and almost in the Dark Ages. I very much thank the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, for making his maiden speech. I feel it a great honour that such a distinguished noble Lord should make his maiden speech on my Bill. In order to allay any doubts, I should say that I intend to proceed with this Bill. There have been some cogent arguments from various noble Lords asking me to withdraw the Bill and saying that I have achieved what I set out to do. Even if that were so, I would put it in another way. I would suggest that your Lordships should accept the Bill on Second Reading and see where we go from there.

I may say that I have enjoyed recent conversations with the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, and I should like to refer to one or two points in his speech. One is the fact of hybridity, where he said that the College might have to brief counsel in petitioning against the Bill. I would inform the noble Lord that that is not entirely necessary. Members of the College of Arms can appear in person. I myself, in promoting this Bill, could not afford to employ counsel. With respect, I do not think it is any disadvantage. Also, I happen to know that at least one member of the Chapter of the College of Arms is a notable barrister.

The noble Lord mentioned the question of the fee being £76 10s. in the 18th century. That is quite true, and it lasted until 1936. I got this from the Garter Principal King at Arms Heralds of England. In 1936 it went up by only £5 to £81, and in 1946 (I think it was) it went up to £102. Then, on the date of the Heralds of England, which was 1967, the price was still £102. I am not saying that the price of the grant of Arms at £250 is an exaggerated figure. It is probably right. But if you were reading that book in 1967 and saw £102, and then suddenly found a grant of £250, you would begin to wonder. Before I move away from Clause 1, may I say that I am sure we can come to a satisfactory conclusion. Either the Bill is carried or it is not. I should like to see a scale of fees deposited in Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

I should like to move on to the records. This was one of the points in Lord Clifford's speech—and if there has been any aggressive criticism in the debate this afternoon, it has come from him. I must say that I thank him for it, because it enlivens the debate. But one thing I did dislike was when he brought up the fact that the original intention was an attack on the Earl Marshal. It certainly was not that.

On the question of records, I should like to explain first that not all the records contained in the College of Arms are of a genealogical nature. Some of them are of a political nature. They have been left in various collections. Secondly, those of a genealogical nature are very useful, and I should like to say that the officers do use other people's records. They look at incumbent records and parish records, and they expect them to be available in their research. And they are absolutely behind the idea that anybody should be allowed to study the records. It is part of their living. You would not discriminate against people being allowed to read the records. I would suggest—and perhaps this could be written in the Bill—that it could be done on a reader's ticket, as in the Public Record Office, or in the stricter way in which it is done in the British Museum. That could quite easily be done.

I also agree that there has to be supervision of anybody looking at records. It is absolutely essential in any record office for people reading to be supervised. Most people behave well, but if anybody does misbehave the whole record may be lost or destroyed. When it comes to the question of confidentiality, any record office has the right to claim the right for a certain document to be confidential. I am sure the College of Arms has documents of a highly confidential nature which should never be disclosed.

I now come to the question of accounts, and I agree that a certain amount of difficulty has arisen here. But I do not think it is asking very much to have a statement of accounts of the Garter of Arms; and, as I said in my opening remarks, I think it will help. I hope your Lordships will not think I am being a sort of young puppy or tough in labouring this point, but if the public can see the low fees, I am sure it will be a very useful vehicle for people here and from abroad and will support the College on their behalf.

My Lords, I have been quite brief in summing up. I do not think there are any particular points that I wish to mention in noble Lords' speeches. I am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord

Resolved in the negative, and Motion for Second Reading disagreed to accordingly.