§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Viscount SANDON
I should like to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department one question in connection with this Clause. I understand that this intends to introduce in the Royal title the words "Great Britain, Ireland and of British Dominions beyond the Seas." The question I would ask is that, in so far as the greater includes the less, why is it necessary, seeing that Southern Ireland is a Dominion, to mention that Dominion specifically. If we include Ireland, then Canada, Australia and all the other Dominions should also be mentioned. I quite appreciate that Northern Ireland would have to be specified, as she is not a Dominion. Personally I should have been agreeable to omitting even "Great Britain," and to using the inclusive term of "King of the British Empire,' which is far simpler but, in any case, I cannot see why the general term "Ireland" should be used.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)
Technically, my hon. Friend is correct. The South of Ireland does not need mentioning any more than any other Dominion. It is equally correct to say that while the South of Ireland is included in the King's Dominions beyond the Seas, Northern Ireland is not included, and, on the whole, in order to prevent any feeling, shall I say, between one part of Ireland and the other part, we chose, after very careful consideration at the Imperial Conference, to treat it geographically, and put in "Great Britain, Ireland"—not as a political entity, but as a geographical entity— "and of British Dominions beyond the Seas." That, of course, saves anybody's feelings, and, as I think my Noble Friend will realise, although he is technically correct, expresses the position the King 1880 does occupy as King over all the Dominions.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Sir JOHN MARRIOTT
Possibly the Committee will recollect that, in the Debate on the Second Reading, I had an opportunity of stating why, not only from the point of view of constitutional jurists, but also from the point of view of accurate political phraseology, I regarded this Bill, to put it at the lowest, with a good deal of misgiving. The Amendment which I am now submitting touches, as the Committee will perceive, only one point, which some may think not a particularly important point. But if they take that view, and if His Majesty's Government take that view, I am going very respectfully to disagree with them, and I will give the Committee very shortly my reasons for the view which I take. When I first glanced through the provisions of this short Bill, the expression "Great Seal of the Realm" rather grated unfamiliarly on my ears. The phrase "Great Seal of the Realm" seemed to me, to say the least, an unusual phrase—unusual in constitutional law. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in the speech which he addressed to the House on Second Reading, justified the use of this unusual phrase by reference, as the Committee will remember, to two very different kinds of documents. On the other hand, he made a reference to what he described, quite correctly, as "the Statutes of the Order of the Bath." Of course, I need not remind the Committee that that is not a public Statute in the ordinary sense of the word. It is not a public Statute of the Realm or of the United Kingdom or of anything else. Those Statutes of the Bath, as I understand them, arc simply Regulations issued under Letters Patent. My right hon. Friend will correct roe if I am wrong, but I presume, when he spoke the other day, he was referring to the Statute which was issued by Her late Majesty Queen Victoria in the year 1847. Am I correct in thinking that was the Statute to which my right hen. Friend referred?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Perhaps I ought to say that I may have misled my hon. Friend when I spoke of "the Statutes of the Order of the Bath." The document I really meant was the Royal 1881 Proclamation of King George I enacting the Statute of the Bath. I have that here, and I intended to refer to it in my reply.
§ Sir J. MARRIOTT
The Statute to which I am now referring is the Statute of 1847, and it recites the Statute to which my right hon. Friend refers.Whereas our Royal Progenator and Predecessor King George the First," etc.—On looking at this Statute, I find that, on the first page, it refers to the "Great Seal of Great Britain."Whereas our Royal Progenator and Predecessor King George the First, by certain Letters Patent, under the Great Seal of Great Britain.On the very next page, it refers to the "Great Seal of the Realm":those Letters Patent, and had been passed under the Great Seal of the Realm.But on the very same page it refers toThe Great Seal of the United Kingdom aforesaid,reciting, that is to say, in the course of a, couple of pages, three different titles:—The Great Seal of Great Britain,The Great Seal of the Realm,andThe Great Seal of the United Kingdom.Therefore, if my right hon. Friend is relying—I do not suppose he is, but he did mention it in his speech the other day—on that precedent, I would venture to submit to him, and to the Committee, that the language of the Bill that is now before us is just as slipshod, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the South-East Division of Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) said the other day, as some of its predecessors. The Committee will not, I think, fail to observe that something may be forgiven in a Letter Patent which cannot be so easily tolerated in a Public Statute of the Realm. Leaving this so-called Statute of the Order of the Bath, I turn to the other precedent on which my right hon. Friend relied. He recited, and with great effect, the Preamble to the famous Statute of 24 of Henry VIII, Chapter 12, in which it is stated:This Realm of England is an Empire.So far as I know, no one has ever questioned the accuracy or the propriety of that expression.This Realm of England1882 is an expression, of course, very well known to constitutional jurists. The Committee will understand, I think, why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary cited this famous Statute in particular and why he places such reliance on this particular precedent. They will appreciate that when I remind them, as, of course, they know very well, that this Statute of 24 of Henry VIII was the famous Statute in restraint of appeals to Rome. It was the Statute which was passed at the instance of Henry VIII to prevent an appeal to Rome against his divorce from Queen Catherine of Aragon, and I have no doubt that the robust Protestantism of my right hon. Friend, which I greatly respect and humbly attempt to imitate, led him to select this particular precedent. But, after all, I venture to submit that the term "Realm" in the Statute of Henry VIII has no more bearing upon the correct description of the Great Seal than it has upon the geography of Timbuctoo. The whole point of that Statute, quoted as a precedent by my right hon. Friend, was to assert, as of course the Committee are well aware, the historic independence of this Realm of England against the Papacy on the one hand and against the Holy Roman Empire on the other. After all, what is a realm? We are asked to put in this Act of Parliament the phrase:The Great Seal of the Realm.What is a realm etymologically? I had the curiosity to seek enlightment on that point from an authority which the whole Committee will recognise as final and unimpeachable—I mean the Oxford Dictionary. What does the Oxford Dictionary say of a realm? It says:A realm"—and I copied it out for greater accuracy—is a primary zoogeographical division of the earth's surface.Is my right hon. Friend really going to put into an historic Statute, "The Great Seal" of the primary zoogeographical division of the earth's surface? I hope the Committee are going to accept the Amendment which I am proposing, and, if they agree to leave out this primary zoogeographical division, the question arises: what shall we put in its place, or whether we shall put anything in its place? I want to put this point to my right hon. 1883 Friend. If he does not like the alternative which I am now suggesting "The United Kingdom," will he consider, between now and Report stage, the desirability of omitting altogether the words "Of the Realm" and leaving the expression simply as "The Great Seal,' without further designation. I should not like to urge that as an alternative to the suggestion in my Amendment, but I think it would be preferable to the phraseology in the Bill, because I am quite certain that phraseology in the future will lead to ambiguity and confusion, if to nothing worse. May I, in order to justify what I have just said, remind the Committee that the Bill, I will not say has been rendered necessary, but, at any rate, is intended to make or to authorise certain changes in the style and title of the Crown and in the style of Parliament, those changes being consequential upon the passing of an Act, the Irish Free State Constitutional Act of 1922. That was an Act for the abrogation, or, at any rate, the partial abrogation, of the Act of Union, and, therefore, the pertinent precedents, I suggest, are not the Statutes of the Order of the Bath nor even the famous Statute of 24 Henry VIII, but the Act of Union with Scotland and the Act of Union with Ireland. The Act of Union with Scotland, the Act of 5 Queen Anne, Chapter 11, in its 24th Clause, enacts that there shall beFrom and after the Union…one Great Seal for the United Kingdom of Great Britain which shall be different from the Great Seal now used in either Kingdom.Then it goes on in regard to the character of the Seal, the quartering of the arms and the Rank of Precedency of the Lyon, King of Arms of the Kingdom of Scotland and so on, and proceeds:And in all other Matters relating to England as the Great Seal of England is now used and that a Seal in Scotland after the Union be always kept and made use of in all things relating to private Rights or Grants which have usually passed the Great Seal a Scotland.Under this Statute, there was to be a new Great Seal of Great Britain, but for certain purposes the, old Great Seal of Scotland was to continue to be used. That was the position after the passing of the Act of Union with Scotland. I now come to the other precedent, perhaps even more pertinent—I mean the Act of Union with Ireland. That Act, in Sec- 1884 tion 4, provided that Proclamation for elections to the United Kingdom Parliament and certain other writs to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland shall issue—this was the phrase—Under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom,although that Act, like the Act of Union with Scotland, provided for the continued use in Ireland, in certain cases, of the Great Seal of Ireland. I presume that Great Seal of Ireland is still in existence in Dublin. Of course, it was until a few years ago in the custody of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend is in a position to tell the Committee this afternoon in whose custody it is to-day, but I shall be very glad to know. Of course, it still exists, and is still for certain purposes in legal use. Then came the very important Act of 1922, the Irish Free State (Constitutional Provisions) Act, which authorised, in fact required, the creation of another Great Seal, a new Great Seal for Northern Ireland. I would ask the Committee to note that this new Great Seal fur Northern Ireland was not to be used in substitution for the Great Seal of the United Kingdom. That seems to me an extremely important point. It was not to be used in substitution for the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, it was to be used only in substitution for the Great Seal of Ireland for certain purposes.
In those circumstances, what ought we to do in relation to the Bill now before the Committee? I am not at all sure that, if the particular Amendment which I am proposing be not accepted, and if His Majesty's Government are not prepared to accept either of the two alternatives which i am suggesting, anything need be done at all. [Laughter.] I will explain to the Committee what I mean. We have got a Great Seal of the United Kingdom now; there is a Great Seal of Scotland, which is used for certain purposes in Scotland, there is also in existence, I presume, a Great Seal of Ireland, about the custody of which the Home Secretary is going to tell us, and there is, or will be in existence a Great Seal of Northern Ireland. That being the case, why not retain in this Bill the phraseology to which we have been accustomed for centuries Why not keep the existing phraseology, and 1885 why not keep the existing Great Seal of England? By doing that, we shall avoid—I speak as a rigid guardian of economy, a zealous apostle of economy—the not inconsiderable expense of making a new Great Seal; and, what is infinitely more important, we shall avoid the confusion, the contradiction and the ambiguity which will almost certainly be created between the person of His Majesty the King in two capacities. Everybody knows that His Majesty the King is at once the head of the Executive in this country and also a component element in the High Court of Parliament. It seems to me that if this Bill passes in the form in which it is proposed to the House, we shall create confusion, contradiction and ambiguity between the executive functions of the Crown—between His Majesty as head of the Executive—and His Most Gracious Majesty as a component part of this High Court of Parliament.
I would like to say one or two words in favour of the Bill as it stands, and against the Amendment. I admit quite frankly that I am not influenced in any way by the extraordinarily able technique of the speech to which we have just listened. I look on this matter from the point of view of trying to get these things into plain, simple terms which any ordinary man can understand. If there be one word which the ordinary man can understand—I am not talking of lawyers, I say ordinary, simple men—it is "Realm." It is thoroughly and typically English. It has a good, wide meaning. One can read an awful lot into it if one has the mind to, and I think the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would be thoroughly well advised to stick to this word, which is really good English—not English based necessarily on the Oxford Dictionary, but thoroughly good English, and a word which every one of us can understand. We were told that it means,A primary zoogeographical division.In dealing with these matters I do not think we need go into that kind of thing, because what we are trying to produce in this Bill is a form of phraseology which is absolutely simple and fairly able to be understood. If we use the amended words "United Kingdom," we are rather liable to create in the minds of many people some small confusion as to what 1886 it is we are talking about. The United Kingdom is not the same as it was five years ago, but the Realm of the country is very much the same as it was then, that is to say, the ordinary people of the country, through Parliament, control their affairs. I do frankly hope that the Minister will not be led away by any of the able speakers who may wish for the other term, but will keep to a term which is simple, which is quite definite, which has an extraordinarily wide meaning—and we want one with a wide meaning—while, at the same time, one that the average person may well understand. I felt it would not he right for us to pass from this Amendment without someone putting quite shortly the point of view of the average man, who, I think, would prefer the simpler and more thoroughly English word.
§ Mr. D. REID
I wish to ask the Home Secretary one question. Has it been kept in mind that there are in existence certain Acts relating to the procedure for affixing the Seal, and that in those Acts the phrase used is "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom"? We were told on the Second Reading of this Bill that after it was passed it would be necessary to strike a new Great Seal. Is it clear that if this Bill, as an Act, calls the new Seal by another name, which I presume will be "The Great Seal of the Realm," that the Acts to which I refer will recognise that to be the Seal referred to? For example, there is the Crown Office Act, 1877, which throughout refers to "The Great Seal," but in the definition Clause, says:Great Seal means the Great Seal of the United Kingdom.Another example is found in the Great Seal Act, 1884, which has no definition Clause but which does use in the body of the Act the phrase "Great Seal of the United Kingdom." Will it be necessary to put into this Bill some words which will define this new Seal as the Seal which is referred to in those Acts?
§ Sir BERTRAM FALLE
We have had a perhaps rather amusing definition of what "Realm" may mean from my right hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott). When all is said and done, what does the English word "Realm" mean? Is it not simply "re-alm," Rename an earlier form of the word royaume? Is it not the old Norman 1887 French word signifying "Kingdom"? If that be so, it seems to me that what we are doing is to change the words "United Kingdom" into "Kingdom." I do not see any disadvantage in that, but at any rate when we do it we ought to know what the word means, and what it implies. The phrase "The Great Seal of the Realm" means "The Great Seal of the Kingdom." Surely there can be no objection to that—beyond the fact that we are dropping the word "United" from the term. "The Great Seal of the Realm" will simply mean the "Great Seal of the Kingdom" over which His Majesty rules I see no objection to the word.
§ Mr. GROTRIAN
Inasmuch as there must be thousands of precedents for the use of the term "Great Seal of the United Kingdom," I hope that the Home Secretary will not launch into this new phraseology "Great Seal of the Realm." My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Torquay Division (Commander Williams) is really stretching things a little far—although he confesses to being no lawyer he is no worse for that, but all the better—when he tries to persuade this House that the man in the street can understand the phrase "Great Seal of the Realm" and cannot understand "Great Seal of the Kingdom of Great Britain" or of "The. United Kingdom." I think he is underrating the intelligence of his fellow-countrymen. I hope the Home Secretary will take no notice whatever of that speech. I wish to support my hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) in the very able argument with which he has supported his Amendment.
§ Sir CHARLES OMAN
I would like to point out that there is at least one good precedent for supporting the Amendment of ray hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott), and that is that on the last occasion when there was a great dropping of an item in the Royal title, the words "United Kingdom" were retained. I am referring, of course, as my hon. Friend will know, to what happened when a King of England dropped a very important part of his title although he was retaining a considerable piece of the territory to which that title referred. The reference is to the dropping by the Parliament of George III of the title "King of 1888 France," which was done after the Peace of Amiens, although it had been part of the Royal title ever since the reign of Edward III, and despite the fact that a perceptible part of the ancient Kingdom of France remained subject to King George, namely, the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark, part of the old French Duchy of Normandy.
§ Sir B. FALLE
May I interrupt my hon. Friend? As we all know, he is a great authority on ail these points, but he ought to be aware that the Norman Islands never were under the sovereignity of the Crown of France.
§ Sir B. FALLE
The islands were never under the sovereignty of France. They did belong to Armorica, but that was never France or part of France till the 15th century.
§ Sir C. OMAN
I beg to differ from my hon. Friend. A great many years before, the Frankish Kingdom was divided into "Neustria" and "Austrasia," but after the time of Charlemagne, those of his descendants who ruled in the west only called themselves "Reges Francorum" not "Reges Neustriae." There not the slightest doubt that Charles the Simple, or any of those other 10th century Kings were what we should now call Kings of France. The term "Neustria" was dead. Nobody ever called himself officially Rex Neustriae, and the Frankish dominions west of the Meuse were now what we can not but call a Kingdom of France. Moreover, nobody pretended that the Duchy of Normandy ceased to be part of the Kingdom of France. The Dukes of Normandy habitually did homage to the French Kings for their Duchy, and therefore for the Norman Isles. Therefore, the Norman Isles were part of the Kingdom of France, and for that reason I feel entitled to support my hon. Friend the Member for York, for the term "United Kingdom" was retained after the change in the old Royal Title.
§ Sir MALCOLM MACNAGHTEN
I think the point which has been raised is one of some importance. If we are going to change the title of the Great Seal and call it "the Great Seal of the Realm" instead of what it has been called since 1707, that is "the Great Seal of the United Kingdom," we must take care that 1889 the statutory provisions relating to the Great Seal shall apply to the Seal under its new name. For this purpose I should like to enforce the argument of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Down (Mr. Reid). With regard to formalities to be observed before the Great Seal can be attached to any document there are strict Statutory provisions and it is only when these provisions have been complied with that the Great Seal can be attached to any document. In those statutes the Great Seal is invariably described as "the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland," and therefore if you are going to change the title of the Seal you must make sure that those statutory provisions apply to it under its changed title.
There is really a good deal of substance in this point in spite of the jeer of the hon. and gallant Member for Torquay, who has a very poor opinion of lawyers. I would remind the Home Secretary who is the principal executive officer in the administration of the criminal law that under the Forgery Act of 1913 there is a section dealing with counterfeiting of the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. If you change the title of the Seal to that of the "Great Seal of the Realm" will that statute apply to the Seal under its changed name? Ought there not to he some provision that all the existing statutes applicable to the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland shall hereafter be applicable to the "Great Seal of the Realm"?
There is one other point I wish to raise. On the Second Reading of this Bill the Home Secretary said that it would be necessary to have a new seal. I submit, however, that that is really unnecessary. It is, of course, necessary to provide that in the King's Great Seal the King's title should be correctly set out. I think we are all agreed upon that: but the Imperial Conference which was very much pressed for time have omitted to observe that the primary title of the King is a Latin title. If they had looked at any of their coins in their pockets they would have observed that fact. If they had looked up the proclamations proclaiming the King's title in 1801 or 1876 or 1901 they would have found in each of those proclamations the title of the King is set out first in Latin and then in English. There is little doubt that His Majesty will 1890 adopt the English title suggested by the Imperial Conference, namely, "King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas."
It so happens that when King George III assumed his new title after the 'Union of Ireland with Great Britain, he took for his English title that of "King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland," but he took for his Latin title the words "Britanniarum Rex,' which mean King of the Britains—North Britain, South Britain and West Britain. Therefore there is no need to change the Latin title of the King and when the proclamation is issued under this Act setting out the new title of the King it will be possible to retain exactly the same Latin title which George III took when Ireland was united with Great Britain. There is no need to have a new Great Seal at all and if that is so then the Seal which is now in the custody of the Lord Chancellor can be maintained the Latin title on that Seal will correctly represent the new English title which the Imperial Conference have suggested to His Majesty. That rather emphasises the point that the Seal by whatever name it is called remains the same Seal. But if the name of the Seal be changed, it should be made clear that the statutory provisions relating to the, Great Seal will continue to apply to it.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
I am bound to say that I have listened very carefully to the speeches this afternoon and I think a case has been made out by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir M. Macnaghten) and the hon. Member for Down (Mr. Reid) which is unanswerable. It is admitted that there are now four Great Seals. There is the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, the Great Seal of Scotland, the Great Seal of Ireland and the Great Seal of Northern Ireland.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
That is so. It is admitted that the word "Realm" is a general term, whatever the dictionary meaning may be. It is a vague general ward signifying kindgom. It seems to me that when we are dealing with a public document laying down a, new title for His Majesty it ought to be done in an authoritative form. When we take the Statutes referred to by the hon. Member for Down, first of all we had in 1877 an 1891 Act for making provision with respect to the preparation and authentication of commissions and other documents issued from the Office of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery, and in all those documents the phrase used is "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom." When we turn to the other Act of 1884 to simplify the passing of an instrument under the Great Seal that is dealing with the matter we are now considering the phrase is "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom" therefore whatever may be the King's title in the future in order to give it effect we have to authoritatively proclaim it in accordance with the instrument we have now in hand. It seems clear therefore that the name of the Seal under which this proclamation shall be issued having regard to the words of the Statutes to which reference has been made, is the Seal of the United Kingdom. I accordingly urge the Committee to retain this perfectly well understood phrase in the Bill we have before us this afternoon.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Several hon. Members have given me good advice in regard to this question, and I am told that the case put forward is unanswerable. That puts me in a difficult position, because I have to answer to the best of my ability an unanswerable argument. However, I will try to do it. Beyond the historical question, there is a matter of substance. The Seal is not the Seal of the Kingdom or of Parliament, but it is the Seal of His Majesty the King. Now you are going back to the time when the Seal was much more used than to-day, when every document centred in the King and was authenticated by the King's Seal. There is a very good description given by Matthew Paris, a chronicler of the 13th century, who described it as clavis regni, key of the Realm. I am really going back to the old description of the Seal as the Key of the Realm. That is not the key of the United Kingdom, but something much greater than that. Perhaps I may mention here the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Londonderry. On the question of the Latin title I need hardly say that I do not want to inflict the cost of a new Great Seal upon the country. Whatever description is given to the Great Seal does not make the slightest difference to the question as to whether 1892 there shall be a new seal or not. That depends on the title of the King. Un the last occasion when the actual draft of the Royal Proclamation which I have in my possession was made, it will be noticed that there was an alteration in the Latin description of the King's title. The present title runs Dei Gratia Britanniarum et terrarum transmarinarum …Rex. The intention is to translate the new title by the words Dei Gratia Magnae Britanniae, Hiberniae…Rex. For the word Britanniarum there will be substituted Magnae Britanniae Hiberniae, taking in Ireland as well.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
The word "Britannarium" does include Ireland, and it includes North Britain, South Britain and West Britain. So that not only are we to have the expense of a new Seal, but we are to use two words where up to now one has done.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
First of all, the title in English is one which has been accepted after very careful investigation by lawyers, by others who are not lawyers—historians and others who quite as able as lawyers—and by the Imperial Conference; and I have to get the best translation I can of the English into Latin. I appreciate my hon. and learned Friend's description of the width of the word Britanniarum, but there is no doubt that, in ordinary parlance, "The United Kingdom of Great Britain" would not include Ireland, because it is included in the words "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland." I am assuming for the moment—I do not know—that my hon. and learned Friend's argument as to the use of the Latin word Britanniaruin is correct in Latin, and in that case it would give us a difference in verbiage between the Latin and the English titles, which I am very anxious to avoid.
§ Sir M. MACNAGHTEN
It was used in 1801 for the very purpose of expressing "Great Britain and Ireland."
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
That may be so, but I assure my hon. and learned Friend that I have taken the very utmost care to get a correct translation of the English title. After all, the English title is the one that matters. We are not back in the Middle Ages, when kings wrote their letters in Latin, and when their proclamations were very largely 1893 either in Latin or in ancient Norman-French. We are dealing now with English, and it is merely, if I may say so, a concession to historical research that we are including the Latin title. We have endeavoured to give the best translation that we can of the English title into Latin. If I find it at all possible to advise His Majesty not to have a new Seal, I shall, of course, do so, but the question of a new Seal depends on the new title of the King, and not on the new title of the Seal. The title of the Seal, which we are discussing at the moment, merely contains the best description that we can give of a particular "Key of the Realm," if I may go back to the old 13th century description of it. That is all that we are doing to-day—merely describing the Seal itself.
I think my hon. and learned Friend (Sir M. Macnaghten) told us that since the time of Queen Anne, the time of the Union, the only description of the Seal that had been used was "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom." That, I am afraid, is not strictly correct. I find, all through the Statutes, the descriptions "The Great Seal," "The Seal of the United Kingdom," 'The Great Seal of England," and The Great Seal of Britain," scattered all over the Statutes of the Realm, almost indiscriminately, though it is only fair to admit that the one that is used the greatest number of times is "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom." In the reigns of some Kings or Queens there were some Statutes which used one description and some which used another, according, apparently, to the kind of description which appealed to the mind of the particular person who drafted the Measure in question. I took very careful advice as to whether it would be necessary to alter, or to provide in this Bill for the continuance of, all those Acts, some of which have been referred to by my hon. Friends, in which reference is made to documents executed under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom; and I am advised quite definitely that, as during the last two centuries various Statutes have used various descriptions of the Seal, so there is, and can be at any one time, only one Great Seal of Great Britain, and that the description which may be given to it in any particular Statute makes no 1894 real difference, but that the Statute refers to the existing Seal of the existing King. I do not know whether the Committee remember, but I am sure my hon. and historically learned Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) will remember, that there was a case in history when two Kings—I believe Henry IV and Henry V—used the same Seal; but at some time or other it was discovered that the one King had a beard and the other King had no beard, and, therefore, a fresh Seal had to be struck more in consonance with the physiognomy of the King. There is no law against any monarch using the Seal of his predecessor if he chooses to do so, and that would be the Seal for the time being of the existing King.
Now we come to the question why I suggest that it is not necessarily desirable to follow the historical precedents of the past, whether it be the Royal Proclamation of George I. creating the Order of the Bath, in which it was called "The Great Seal of the Realm," or whether it be in the Statute of Queen Anne, in which it was called "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom." We are not living to-day in the time of George I, or even of Queen Anne; we now have to face the fact that the position is rather different from what it was, not only in 1800, but 20 years ago. There was a time when the description, "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom," could be quite properly used, as I think it was in the Act of Union, which referred to "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Dominions thereto belonging." The new fact with which we are faced to-day is that there are no "Dominions thereto belonging." The Dominions of the Crown, the great self-governing Dominions are, certainly since this last Imperial Conference, co-equal with the United Kingdom. They do not belong to this Parliament; they are not in any sense subject to the jurisdiction of this Parliament; the one link which binds—
§ Sir J. MARRIOTT indicated dissent.1895
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
It is perfectly clearly true. If my hon. Friend would take the trouble to read the Report of the Imperial Conference—
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
My hon. Friend may have read it sadly. It is no good shutting our eyes to the fact that the Great Seal to-day will be, and is, the Great Seal of the King, who is the King, not merely of the United Kingdom, not merely of Northern Ireland, not merely of Southern Ireland, but of all the Dominions; and the Great Seal from now onwards will be the Great Seal of all those territories which are subject to the dominion of the King.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The significance of the Great Seal has changed with the changes which have taken place in the Constitution of this very remarkable Empire of ours. It does change in an imperceptible way, and I had to find, as I have said—it is not a term of art at all—some kind of description which would include, in the nomenclature of the Great Seal, something which would cover that curious collection of all these great Dominions that are bound together, under the authority of the King, with the Mother Country, the United Kingdom.
§ Sir C. OMAN
Ought we not to distinguish between Dominions like Canada and Australia, and Possessions over which the King has actual dominion, such, for example, as Gibraltar and Ascension? They are not Dominions in the one sense, but they are in the other.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
They are all equally under the realm, or the realm-ship, if I may coin a very awkward word, of the King, and if we give His Majesty the King a Seal to-day, and call it "The Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland," it would be a true description of one particular portion of the Empire, or Commonwealth, or whatever we may call it, and it could properly be used as a description of a Seal which might be used to seal documents connected, let us say, with Northern Ireland. Quite recently, the Seal of the United Kingdom was used for the institution of the Governor of 1896 Northern Ireland, which is, of course, part of the United Kingdom. But, the Great Seal has from time to time been utilised for sealing various documents connected with other parts of the Empire than the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Therefore, I want the Committee to realise that there is, I will not say some argument on my side, but some method in my madness. On the whole, I am surprised that my historical Friends in the House are not pleased with the grand old English description which we have utilised. To call it "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom" is incorrect to-day in nomenclature; we must call it something which indicates the totality of the Imperial power of the Empire. My hon. Friend the Member for York made one suggestion which I think would do, though I do not like it so well, namely, to call it simply "The Great Seal." That suggestion I am quite willing to consider carefully between now and when the Bill reaches another place; but I am bound to confess that, for my own part, I prefer the other form, because I think it is rounder, and expresses really what the Seal connotes, namely, the Imperial character of the whole Empire of the King, wherever it is. The best description I can find in the whole English language is "The Great Seal of the Realm," and I hope that in these circumstances the Committee will support me.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I agree, if I may say so with all respect, with what the Rome Secretary has said as to the necessity for altering the description of the King's titles, in view of recent events; and this Bill is the instrument by which this change in His Majesty's titles will be made. What my right hon. Friend has very properly put before the Committee is what the New Seal has to provide for and what the new title ought to describe. The whole object of this Bill is to lay down the process by which the changes which my right hon. Friend has so admirably described shall he brought about, and the Clause which we are considering says:It shall be lawful for His Most Gracious Majesty, by His Royal Proclamation under the Great Seal of the Realm, issued within six months after the passing of this Act, to make such alteration"—1897 and so on. Therefore, the whole point, as I understand it, that other Members and myself have urged, is that the Seal by which these changes are authorised shall be properly described in the way in which it has been described in the past. All that the Home Secretary had said in his speech—and I think all of us fully sympathise with what he has said—is that the necessity for making the change, and the adoption of the words that he has urged, will be considered in the Proclamation and in the new Seal. All that we are concerned with to-day is that those things shall be legally brought about in the manner prescribed both by Statute and by ancient custom, and it seems to be clear that the proper title for the existing Seal is that which my hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) has suggested, and which the Home Secretary has promised to consider, namely, "The Great Seal," as there is only, as my right hon. Friend very rightly says, one Great Seal at any given time. Or, if it be not called "The Great Seal," let it be called "The Great Seal of the United Kingdom." I take it that all the points which the Home Secretary has so clearly put forward will be considered when the new Great Seal is made, and when the Proclamation of the King's pleasure in connection with his new title is made to the country.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Sir B. FALLE
This is a very learned dispuisition, and I must admit that what the Home Secretary has said has met the points very considerably, but I should like to draw attention to one point which my hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) called dangerous, namely, that, apparently because the Imperial Conference has settled that the Dominions in future shall be co-equal with us, therefore the status of the Dominions is going to be altered without the House of Commons having a word to say in the matter. When the Treaty with the Irish Free State was before this House, we were told that we could not alter so much as a, comma. Now, apparently, because the Imperial. Conference comes into the matter, this House is to accept the conclusions of that Conference, and to give the Dominions a new and a full status. I should be very much obliged to my right hon. Friend if he could tell us how he looks upon that matter, be- 1898 cause it appears to me that only the two Houses of Parliament, and His Majesty can put the Dominions in a new position. It appears to me that the Imperial Conference has no power, no right and no authority to set aside any decision to which the Houses of Parliament may come. We might have another Imperial Conference which would put the people of this country into an inferior position to the rest of the Donainions, and that seems to me to be a very dangerous doctrine. I join issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) when he said that Neustria in the main was never Norman. Of course it was when once it was conquered by the Scandinavian people who took it from its rightful owners.
§ Sir B. FALLE
But it was an important part, and it was called Normandy from the Northmen who conquered it. The King of France may have claimed a shadowy suzerainty over Normandy. I would remind my hon. Friend that there ware, a country called the Transvaal over which we claimed suzerainty, but the Boers were not English and when we tried to make use of our suzerainty we found our claim resisted and resisted in such a way that the war ended in the country being placed in the hands of the Boers.
§ Sir B. FALLE
Since the whole matter deals with the question of an amendment to the word "Realm," or Reaume as Murray's dictionary says, "Royaume," which is a Norman-French term, am I not justified in answering my hon. Friend whom you allowed to make his speech and state things which I do not believe are either historically or otherwise facts? For historical facts we must go to the historian. We know Freeman and we know Stubbs, and we know that "Freeman buttered Stubbs and Stubbs buttered Freeman"—
§ Sir B. FALLE
When you have allowed my hon. Friend to make statements, 1899 surely you will not deny the right of another Member to answer him?
§ Sir ALFRED HOPKINSON
I think it is desirable at this stage that we should drop this interesting discussion of medieval history and read the Clause of the Bill itself and know what the object of it really is. The object of this Clause is simply to empower His Majesty to alter his title. How are you going to make the alteration? By what instrument is it to be made? Surely under one now existing and known to the law, namely, the Great Seal, which is called usually in Acts of Parliament and elsewhere the "Great Seal of the United Kingdom." I am a plain man in the street and I do not know what is the meaning of the term "the Great Seal of the Realm.' I do not understand what is meant by the term "realm," and I had the curiosity, since the point was raised, to consult the dictionary as to the meaning of the word. I do not know what a lawyer would say was the meaning of the word "realm," but this is what Murray's Dictionary says. The first definition of realm is a "kingdom," but that does not convey very much. The second definition is "the kingdom of Heaven." Then there is a further definition, in these terms:The sphere, domain or province of some quality, state, or other abstract conception.Finally, Murray tells us:A realm is a primary, zoo-geographical division of the earth's surface.The perplexity of the man in the street as to the meaning of "realm" is not unnatural. The introduction of the new phrase introduces an unnecessary breach of continuity and may lead to confusion. We do not want a new Seal for this, but we may do after the alteration has been made and the new title has been adopted to meet the altered conditions. As the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) has pointed out, the first step under the authority now to be given by Parliament is that the title should be altered, using the instrument known already to the law and regularly used and then to make a new Seal if found necessary or desirable.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I would appeal to my hon. Friends to let this Bill go through. I have already made a promise to my hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) that I would consult the legal advisers of the Crown as to whether we could use the words, "Great Seal." I think the words "the Great Seal of the Realm" are the best, but I am quite willing to consult the Law Officers of the Crown between now and the time when the Bill will go to another place.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to."