Obituary: Lord Houghton of Sowerby

One of Douglas Houghton's most far-sighted ideas was the proposal he put forward during the Select Committee on the Civil List 1970-71, writes Paul Richards [further to the obituary by Tam Dalyell, 3 May]. The Select Committee, established by Harold Wilson, included Willie Hamilton and Joan Lest-or, and was established to solve the problem of the Civil List failing to keep up with inflation.

Even in those more deferen-tial times, the tabloids complain-ed about the "Queen's pay rise". Houghton's solution, driven by his strong loyalty to the Crown, was to establish a "Department of the Crown" instead of the Royal Household, and bring the annual expenditure of the monarchy before the House of Commons for an annual vote.

The Houghton Plan became for a short while Labour Party policy, and was narrowly defeated at the Select Committee by one vote. If Houghton's plan for reform of the monarchy's finances, to make them more transparent and accountable, had been implemented, many of the problems faced by the Royal Family in later years might have been averted.