By Matthew Barrett
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Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Member for North East Somerset, has, in his time in the House, distinguished himself as a defender of traditional British institutions. In the debate that followed the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement on the Civil List, Mr Rees-Mogg defended and celebrated our monarchy.
His key points were:
- We want a monarchy to be proud of: "We have just focused on the cost of the monarchy, but our sovereign represents the greatest institution in our land; it is that bit that makes us British, and we do not want a mean monarchy. We want a proper and well-funded monarchy, not a bicycling monarchy, even if riding the Mayor of London’s bicycles."
- Those who want a "good value monarchy" are wrong: "That makes Her Majesty sound as though she is something to be bought off the top shelf at Tesco, and it really cannot be how we wish to approach our constitution. The Crown is an essential element of that constitution; everything of importance that happens is done in the name of the Crown."
- The Royal Family have a huge tax burden: "The hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) said that he wanted the royal family to be treated as any other family but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis) pointed out, if they were any other family they would not be paying such a high tax rate. Given the 15% provision, Her Majesty will be expected to pay an 85% tax rate, which is more than the 50% tax rate that many of us hope will go over the course of this Parliament."
- The monarchy should not be opened up to scrutiny: "I clearly have not asked for full transparency on the royal tax affairs. Indeed, I would argue for the precise opposite, because I do not think it is particularly sensible to be investigating in close detail how the royal family spend their money."
- MPs are not in a position to criticise: "I recall a line about motes and beams; we have had quite a problem with our own expenditure in this House and I am not sure that we have got things entirely right. Before we start criticising the monarchy and looking over every biscuit that the Queen buys, we should make sure that we have our own house in order."
- The Government's proposals are "canny": "Now the Crown Estate is in substantial surplus and I think that the Chancellor, in his proposals, which in many ways are very good, may be being somewhat canny, because the next sovereign would be able to cancel this arrangement and say, “I should like £200 million a year, thank you very much.” There is no requirement on a new sovereign to agree to hand the Crown Estate over in return for a civil list."
- The Crown Estate belongs to the monarch: "The hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) said that this is taxpayers’ money and not the Crown’s money, but it really is the Crown’s money because, on becoming King, the Prince of Wales or any other sovereign could simply rescind the agreement and claim it back. The Crown Estate is the sovereign’s property, which the sovereign gives to Parliament to help to pay for the costs of the nation; it is not taxpayers’ money that is being handed over."
Mr Rees-Mogg concluded that we need a monarchy befitting our nation:
"As a result of what I have described the Queen is paying a higher rate of tax than anybody else. We should remember that and I hope that the Chancellor will be generous. I would like the 15% provision to be increased because we want to have a glamorous monarchy that befits the status of our nation. We are a great nation, a noble nation and a nation that has had power across the globe in the past. We have one of the finest histories of any country in the world. When I see the coronation coach being pulled through the streets of London, I want to see it being pulled by the finest horses that money can buy and I want to see it gilded with the finest gold that can be bought. I want Her Majesty to have as a jubilee present the finest window that can be funded by Members of Parliament. That is the status of monarchy that we want and I urge the Chancellor to remember that. Even though I know that we are in this time of austerity, that we are all in it together and that the Opposition spent all the money, maxed out the credit card and so on, we should look after Her Majesty."
The full debate can be read here.