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The National Flag On The Houses Of Parliament

Volume 15: debated on Tuesday 25 July 1893

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Question Observations

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inquired of the Lord Great Chamberlain if he would ask the Queen to order the National Flag to be flown at the Palace of Westminster when the Royal Standard was not used? He said, it might be urged that this was a matter of little importance; that it made no difference whether a piece of coloured hunting was flown or not from the summit of Her Majesty's Palace at Westminster; but, in the past, sentiment had exercised great influence over the affairs of men, and would probably exercise just as much in the future. It was difficult to exaggerate the amount of sentiment which clung around the folds of the Union Jack. It represented to us the union of the flags of St. George of England, St. Andrew of Scotland, and St. Patrick of Ireland. It represented the majesty and power of the Empire, and recalled heroic deeds performed in defence of Sovereign, country, and national honour. It was the emblem of liberty, freedom, and justice. Wherever the Union Jack flew, oppression, tyranny, and violence would meet with their due punishment, and the oppressed of the earth might feel sure they would always find a refuge beneath its folds. Men had laid down their lives for our National Flag, and men would be found ready to do so again. The Flag was to be found floating over every fortress within the British Empire, over every man-of-war, merchantman, and passenger steamer registered as a British vessel; it was to be seen flying from the Round Tower at Windsor; but, curiously enough, they never saw it on the Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament. The reason of this anomaly was stated to be that Windsor Castle was a fortress, while that was simply a palace; but it was the building in which the great Council of the nation met, and surely the Union Jack ought to be hoisted over the edifice where were framed the laws which governed the Empire. As far as his experience went, there was no other nation but the British which did not hoist their Flag over the National House of Parliament. Her Majesty's Government proposed to establish by law a subordinate Parliament in Ireland, and there was a desire to establish similar Local Bodies in different parts of the Kingdom. If such ideas were to take practical form, there ought surely to be some material emblem of the unity of the Empire and of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, and no emblem could be fitter than the Union Jack, which represented the three great divisions of that United Empire. No political Party could possibly take exception to the hoisting of the Union Jack on the Victoria Tower, as all Parties, including the Irish Parties, had distinctly and loudly expressed their loyalty to the principle of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament at Westminster. Interpellations had already been made on the subject in the other House of Parliament, and he felt confident that if any general opinion were expressed in favour of his proposal by both Houses of Parliament, Her Majesty, who had ever shown herself solicitous to carry out the wishes and desires of her I people and of Parliament, would not withhold her consent, but would gladly do what she could to accede to any request in the matter conveyed in a proper manner through the regular channels.

I shall be very happy to comply with the request made by the noble Earl.