9 December 1936

14th Parliament · 1st Session

The Senate, on the 4th December, 1936, adjourned till a day and hour to be fixed, and to be notified by the President to each honorable senator. The Senate met at 3 p.m., pursuant to the notification of the President.

The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair, and read prayers.

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Assent to the following bills reported : -

Lands Acquisition Bill 1936.

Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill 1936.

Customs Tariff (No. 2) 1936.

Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Bill (No. 2) 1936.

Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) (No. 2) 1936.

States Grants (Unemployment Relief) Bill 1936.

Commonwealth Public Service Bill 1936.

Financial Relief Bill (No. 3) 1936.

Bills of Exchange Bill 1936.

Trade Marks Bill 1936.

Customs Tariff (No. 3) 1936.

Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Bill (No. 3) 1936.

Sales Tax Amendment Bill 1936.

Trade Agreement (France) Bill 1936.

Customs Tariff (No. 4) 1936.

Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Bill (No. 4) 1936.

Customs Tariff (industries Preservation) Bill 1936.

Papua and New Guinea Bounties Bill 1936.

Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) 1936.

Customs Bill 1936.

Coinage Bill 1936.

Commonwealth Railways Bill 1936.

Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1936.

Petroleum Oil Search Bill (No. 2) 1936.

Colonial Light Dues Collection Bill 1936.

Colonial Light Dues (Rates) Bill 1936.

Commonwealth Public Works Committee Bill 1936.

Air Navigation Bill 1936.

Wine Overseas Marketing Bill 1936.

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British Constitutional Crisis: The Question of the King’s Marriage.

Minister for External Affairs · West ern Australia · UAP

[3.4]. - I move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

I wish to make a statement on behalf of the Government.

Shortly before the Parliament rose the possibilities of a serious constitutional problem relating to the suggested marriage of His Majesty the King became apparent. The position is still uncertain, though we all profoundly hope that a crisis may be averted. In the circumstances, it seemed wise to the Government to recall honorable senators, as it would desire to be in a position to consult Parliament without delay in relation to any course of action which proved to be necessary.

As the matter stands, and pending His Gracious Majesty’s decision, parliamentary discussions could do nothing but harm.

All I need say as to the particular issues involved is that the Commonwealth Government concurs in the decision of the Government of the United Kingdom not to legislate for something in the nature of a morganatic marriage.

In a state of affairs so delicate, so fraught with possibilities of good or ill for the future of all of us, a respectful and sympathetic silence in Parliament is the best contribution we can offer to a happy solution. May God strengthen His Majesty and guide his decision aright.


– We have been asked to assemble here to-day in order that, as an integral part of the Commonwealth Parliament, we may be consulted on a matter of vital importance to Australia and those other dominions which make up the British

Commonwealth of Nations, as well as to the Government of the United Kingdom. With all respect, I submit that the Senate is now entitled to know,, fully and completely, without any reservations whatever, the exact nature of all communications that have passed between the Prime Minister and the Government of the United Kingdom. The Opposition fully recognizes the very difficult and delicate situation which has arisen regarding the matter covered by the statement just made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce). The Opposition also holds very strongly certain definite opinions regarding it. Briefly stated, those opinions are: We shall not be a party to any coercion of the King by Ministers of this Commonwealth or any other dominion in the choice of his wife. The King, on the other hand, must not ask Parliament for any special legislation to suit ‘ his convenience in the choosing of a wife. He must choose his wife from among those ladies who may lawfully be married to him as the law stands at present. In respect of any matter involving legislation, the King must accept the advice of his Ministers of State. Furthermore, in the King’s choice of a wife we would object to the King or to the’ Parliaments arranging to confer upon that lady a lesser status than that of Queen. The King must not be permitted to alter in any way the status of the lady whom he would choose to be his wife; .because he is King, his wife should and must be the Queen. Furthermore, the King must be fully prepared to accept all the natural and logical consequences of his marriage. If there be children of that marriage, they must come in the first line of succession to the British Throne. The Opposition will leave the King unfettered in the choice of his wife. It will not agree that his selection in the matter should be impaired by any influence of any sort. But the King must accept full responsibility to his conscience and to the Empire for the choice that he makes. We shall not interfere with him, but we shall not convenience him, in the choosing of his wife. The Australian Labour party hopes that the present King will remain upon the Throne of England. It desires to remain, as it will remain, loyal to King Edward VIII. We have no wish or desire in any way to embarrass the Government, nor shall we willingly do so. On the other hand, we shall, not silently submit to the Government’s embarrassing either the people of the Commonwealth or the members of His Majesty’s Opposition in this Senate, by any action not sanctioned by the Parliament after the Parliament has’ been placed in possession of all the facts of the case.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 3.10 p.m.

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