HC Deb 28 June 1815 vol 31 cc1021-33
Lord Castlereagh

having moved that the House should resolve itself into a committee to consider the Prince Regent's Message respecting the marriage of the duke of Cumberland, said, that in submitting to the Committee the motion which he should have the honour of proposing, he should not feel it necessary to trouble the House with many observations; for he could not conceive, under all the circumstances of the case, any grounds upon which it was likely to be opposed. He was aware, indeed, that in the present slate of the country, any proposition for throwing an additional burden upon it, might be received with extreme jealousy and reluctance; yet, consistently with the principle upon which Parliament had acted in similar cases, be could not imagine any wise ground of opposition. When any branch of the Royal Family married with the full consent of the Crown, which in this case had been obtained, he apprehended it had always been the course pursued by Parliament to make an, adequate provision for such branch, so as to enable it to support the expenses incident to that situation, and to secure a reasonable provision for the Princess who might happen to be the consort, in the event of surviving her husband. The principle on which that had always been done was one so simple and obvious, that if no prejudice prevailed, it would naturally suggest itself; for the House was aware, that the provision granted to the younger branches of the Royal Family, was calculated with a view to their having merely to support an establishment as unmarried individuals. With respect to the amount of provision already made by Parliament for those younger branches, the House knew that it amounted only to 18,000l. a year, subject to the deductions for the Income Tax. It was evident, however, that if that sum was thought to be a liberal allowance for those illustrious individuals in their unmarried state, it could not be considered as an adequate one for maintaining with due splendour and dignity their rank and character when married. What he intended to propose, therefore, was that the sum of 6,000l. per annum should be granted to their royal highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland, for their joint lives, and in the event of the Duchess of Cumberland surviving her husband, that she should enjoy the 6,000l. as her dowry during the term of her natural life. He trusted the question was one so simple in itself that it did not require the support of argument, because it rested upon a recognized principle, that the grant was necessary from the situation in which the illustrious Duke was placed. If some arrangement of that kind was not made, his income would not be adequate to his condition as a son of the King of Great Britain, and whose children might one day inherit the crown of England. He trusted the House would feel that the grant which he had proposed was taken upon as moderate a scale as possible; and he hoped it would be received in that spirit of attachment to the reigning Family which Parliament had always manifested upon similar occasions. The noble lord then moved,

"That it is the opinion of this committee, that his Majesty be enabled to grant a yearly sum of money out of the consolidated fund, not exceeding in the whole the sum of 6000l. to take place and be computed from the 5th day of July, 1815, towards providing for the establishment of their royal highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland, and to be settled on her royal highness the Duchess of Cumberland, in case her royal highness should survive his royal highness the Duke of Cumberland."

Mr. Whitshed Keene

said, that no man was more attached to a limited monarchy than himself, or more sensible of all the advantages enjoyed by those who lived under one; and in consequence of that attachment be was always ready to contribute whatever was really necessary for supporting the dignity of all the branches of that family by which limited monarchy in this country was upheld. He must say, however, that this did not appear to him an application to which Parliament ought to accede. The duke of Cumberland already possessed 18,000l. a year; and that income, added to some peculiar privileges which he enjoyed, afforded him more means of liberal expenditure than 22 or 23,000l. a year would to any other; and especially if the Royal Duke should reside abroad, it would be equal to 30,000l. a year. He confessed that when he considered the number of claims which existed upon the liberality and bounty of this country, when be remembered how much misery had been created by the late glorious victory, and which the benevolence of Parliament might help to alleviate, he should feel more pleasure in voting four times the proposed sum for any of these purposes, than in granting the present one to the duke of Cumberland. He felt every respect for the branches of the Royal family, and wished to see their dignity properly supported; but he really could not concur in this vole, for the reasons he had stated. The hon. member then adverted to the superior merits of the duke of Wellington as compared with those of the duke of Cumberland, and contended, that if the country had any money to spare, it should rather be given to augment his allowance, and to relieve the sufferings of his brave army and their relations.

Sir M. W. Ridley

said, he would not yield to the noble lord, or to any man in the country, in the esteem and respect which he bore for every branch of the Royal family, nor was any one less inclined than himself to take from them whatever was necessary for the due maintenance of their splendour and domestic comfort; but in speaking his sentiments in that House without reserve, he apprehended he proved himself as great a friend to monarchy, as he should by giving a tacit vote upon, the subject. In his opinion, nothing came near to this question as a precedent except the marriage of the duke of York, which only bore to it a very remote analogy. On making a provision for the duke of York, a view was bad to the probability of the succession of his marriage, as the Prince of Wales entertained at that time no idea of marrying. But a material change had since occurred; and God forbid that the hopes and expectations of the loyal people of this country should not be realised in the princess Charlotte. With respect, however, to the marriage of the duke of Cumberland, it was not one which ought to be looked at in a national point of view, or which rendered it necessary on this ground for Parliament to step in to vote a grant for increasing the income of the parties. If their royal highnesses were to live in a foreign country, he could see no reason for any new grant to increase their allowance; but if they intended to reside, in this country, the matter would certainly be materially changed. As long as this illustrious person might choose to live abroad, there would be no ground for taking 6000l. a year out of the pockets of the people. Certainly if their royal highnesses were to fix their permanent residence in this country, a due degree of splendour and magnificence would be desirable, and thus the grant would be less objectionable. On the whole, however, under the present circumstances of the country, he was not inclined to agree to the Tote. The hon. baronet concluded with correcting a mistake in some reports of a few words which he had said on a preceding evening, and which represented him as having expressed his intention to oppose the motion that was about to be made for an additional vote of credit. He had no such intention, but had merely alluded to his intended opposition to the question now before the House.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

contended, that it was the custom of Parliament, upon the marriage of any branch of the Royal family, to provide the means of supporting the establishment incident to such a condition, with proper dignity and splendour; and indeed the House could not but be aware, that the support of the monarchy itself was intimately connected with enabling the Royal family to maintain that kind of splendour which was naturally expected from it, and which it would be an unwise economy on the part of that House to limit. The question, therefore, was, what sum would be necessary, on the present occasion, to enable his royal highness the duke of Cumberland to support that requisite splendour; and he thought his noble friend had fixed it upon as small a scale as was possible. The hon. baronet who spoke last had laid great stress upon the intelligence he had received, that their royal highnesses intended to reside abroad; but was it for that House to say that they should from necessity reside out of this country—to compel, by its parsimony, a branch of the Royal family so near in the succession to the crown, though certainly not likely to fill it, to banish himself as it were, to a foreign kingdom? Another supposition had been adverted to in the course of the debate, namely, that the proposed grant would interfere with the other supplies for the public service, or acts of becoming liberality; and certainly if he thought that were likely to happen, he should be induced to weigh with the most scrupulous accuracy which of the various cases was most urgent and necessary: but feeling as he did, that that House would not stint any branch of the public service, nor withhold any becoming liberality, he could not but consider the present among those claims that ought to be complied with.

Mr. Whitshed Keene

explained. He was of opinion, that public services of impor- tance were kept back by grants of this description. The vote to the army ought not to have been curtailed; and, he thought it would be better to give the sum now called for, in addition to what had been already granted to them, than to appropriate it to the use for which it was now demanded.

Mr. Bennet

said, that some communication should have been made to Parliament on this subject, long before the Message had been brought down; since it was generally supposed, that an event of this kind had been in contemplation for a considerable period. He was surprised that this proposition should be brought forward now, within a fortnight of the termination of the session, when there were few members in town. But he had remarked, that, when a sum of money was to be moved for, which ought not to be granted, it was always called for at a season like the present, when the House was very thinly attended. He should consider the subject, first, with reference to the situation of the country, and next with relation to the person in whose favour the grant was proposed. In his mind, the present time was very unfit for making an application for an additional sum, although it was not of great magnitude. An hon. gentleman below him had most truly stated, that, if a single shilling could be spared, it ought to be given to those brave men who had so nobly and so successfully fought the battles of their country. This observation was more particularly entitled to attention, when the House recollected the immense sum which the Royal family at present received. The Crown, at this moment, enjoyed a revenue for its own purposes, little short of a million per annum. The expenditure of the year 1814 was upwards of 900,000l. Looking to this circumstance, he, for one, was ready to say, that this additional sum, ought not to be granted. As to the person in whose behalf this proposition was made, he would plainly state, that whatever respect he felt for the rest of the Royal family, that respect did not extend to the duke of Cumberland. [Hear, hear!] His royal highness was, perhaps, the only member of the Royal family that could come to the House and make a request of this nature, which he could stand forward and refuse. He wished to speak of that family generally and collectively in those terms of respect which their high rank called for; but, he would put it to the noble lord, whether the concurrent testimony of every individual in the country did not bear him out in asserting, that, of all the branches of the Royal family, the duke of Cumberland was the one to whom the public feeling would be the least inclined to grant any pecuniary boon? [Hear, hear!] He was quite sure he spoke the truth, when he made this observation. No person could go into society of any kind, without hearing this opinion supported; and he conceived he should not be doing his duty, if he did not state the fact to the House. He should like to ask of the noble lord, whether a marriage between the princess of Salms and another member of the Royal family had not been projected—which intended marriage, in consequence of certain circumstances, had been broken off? He should also wish to inquire, whether the queen of this country had not expressed herself strongly on the subject of the marriage that had recently taken place, observing, that it was not fitting or becoming that a marriage should be entered into by the princess of Salms with the duke of Cumberland, when the proposed union between her and the duke of Cambridge had been broken off? [Hear, hear!] For himself he had no hesitation in saying, that the union was an improper one, however much the parties might be suited to each other from their habits and morals. Such were his opinions upon the subject, and being such, he felt it his duty to avow them. [Hear, hear!]

Sir C. M. Burrell

wished to be informed, whether there was any truth in a statement he had heard, that, at the time of the evacuation of Hanover, the duke of Cumberland, without the authority of the Prince Regent, put himself at the head of the government, which situation he held, until measures were taken to displace him, another illustrious Duke having been sent out for that purpose? This business he wished to have explained. With respect to the time at which the marriage was celebrated, and of which the House were quite ignorant, he hoped the noble lord would give them the necessary information. He should now shortly notice the income of the duke of Cumberland. By the vote of 1806, he was placed in possession of 18,000l. a year, subject to no deduction, but the income-tax—he had a house within toe palace, which, when the allied Sovereigns visited this country, was furnished at the public expense—and a regiment of cavalry, worth 1,600l. per annum. The total of these items would amount to 21 or 22,000l. a year, and, from what he saw in public life, where gentlemen, not possessed of half this income, lived in a very elegant style, he conceived it to be quite sufficient for the illustrious duke. If his illustrious consort brought him any considerable fortune, some settlement would, of course, be expected in return. The duke of York, be understood, received a portion of 100,000l. with his consort, and a settlement, adequate to that sum, was granted. The House, before they proceeded, should be made acquainted with the fortune which the duke of Cumberland received with the princess of Salms. On the present occasion, he did not conceive it proper, situated as the country was, to add any thing to the income of the illustrious duke; and certainly he should vote against the proposition, unless such information was granted, as would fully satisfy his mind that the increase was absolutely necessary.

Lord Castlereagh

could not but regret, very deeply, the turn which the debate had taken. A discussion more painful to individuals, or more injurious to the best interests of the country, could not be conceived, than where a question of provision foe the use of the Royal family was examined through the medium of private feeling. He deprecated the system of calling on ministers to give answers on the subject of anecdotes which they had never heard. Nothing could be more unfair, or more injurious, in a country where political feelings were carried so far, than to perplex ministers by questions of such a nature. With respect to the first question of the hon. baronet he could only answer, that he never heard of the duke of Cumberland's having exercised any power, in. any part of the world, derogatory to the duty which he owed to his Sovereign, Whatever he did in Hanover, was the result of a just and virtuous feeling; and he could not help observing, that the introduction, on this occasion, of such a subject, was a pregnant proof that the way in which gentlemen thought fit to discuss this question was not a just one. With respect to the late period of the session at which this measure was brought forward, he could assure the hon. gentleman that it was not a matter of design, nor indeed, when he looked round upon the House, did he think there was any reason to regret the want of a fall attendance, many ques- tions of deep importance to the country being often disposed of in the presence of much fewer members. No undue delay had been suffered to take place with a view to select the termination of the session for bringing the matter under the consideration of Parliament; for it was not possible, in fact, to bring it forward earlier, as the marriage of the duke of Cumberland had only very recently taken place. ['When, when?' from several members.] He had no hesitation in saying, that it had been solemnized within the last three weeks or a month, and the duke of Cumberland had not been many days in this country before the Message was brought down to the House. It never had been the custom, and he hoped it never would, to submit such a question to Parliament before the marriage was solemnized, from obvious reasons of delicacy and propriety. He hoped he had satisfactorily explained to the Committee that there was no desire on the part of ministers, no pre-concerted design to delay the communication. With respect to what had fallen from an hon. gentleman, he must complain of the cruelty of discussing this question in such a way as to bring the duke of Cumberland into contrast with the duke of Wellington, a person whose services were of a description to which no reward could be adequate. Besides, whatever Parliament had done, or might do, for the duke of Cumberland, it was only for his life, and no provision was made for any descendants which he might have. As to the military emoluments of his Royal Highness, he apprehended if the hon. gentleman possessed the regiment which the duke of Cumberland possessed, in exactly the same way, he would find that so far from its being an augmentation of his income, it would operate rather as an encroachment upon it. In point of fact, the duke of Cumberland had no military income whatever. With respect to the argument that had been grounded upon the presumption of his Royal Highness not living in England, he did not know why it should be taken for granted that he was not to reside in this country; but at all events he apprehended it never had been the practice of Parliament to frame a grant with such provisions as would affect the liberty of residence in the individual to whom the grant was made. With respect to the amount of the sum, it was not one which could be called profuse, but was merely one which the interest and dignity of the country demanded. It had been compared to that granted on the marriage of the duke of York. But the cases were very different: 18,000l. a year had been granted to the duke of York, a portion of which had been settled on the duchess, added to which there was an expectation arising out of the bishoprick of Osnaburgh. He had reason to suppose that the duchess of Cumberland was not possessed of any income; and he was persuaded that it would be very painful to the feelings of the House to leave her to the risk of that indigence in which she must consequently be involved should the duke's life terminate before her own. He trusted that the committee would be guided by the general principle of what it was becoming in Parliament to do on the marriage of a son of the King with the consent of the Crown, the more especially as the sum proposed was so moderate.

Mr. Wynn

observed, that this question was extremely painful to every one, and that the blame of its being so rested not on those who opposed the motion, but on those who had proposed it. His objections to it were founded not only on the vote itself, but oh the mariner in which the subject had been brought forward. The noble lord asserted that the proceeding rested on the precedent of the marriage of the duke of York. He wished the noble lord had brought the subject before Parliament in the way in which the marriage of the duke of York had been brought before them. Were the cases in the slightest degree parallel? The duke of York certainly was married abroad, but the marriage was announced in the Gazette—it was not kept a secret—it was not a marriage of which the Royal family were ashamed—[Hear, hear!]. The marriage of the duke of York was mentioned in the speech from the throne on the opening of the session; his Majesty expressing his confidence that Parliament would make a provision suitable to the circumstances of the case. This was on the 1st of February 1792, and it was not until the 7th of March (six weeks afterwards) that a proposition was made by ministers in consequence. On the marriage of the duke of York Parliament had voted addresses of congratulation to his Majesty, to the Queen, and to their royal highnesses the Duke and Duchess. Would the noble lord now stand forward and move an Address of congratulation to the Queen on the marriage of the duke of Cumberland? [Hear, hear!] Would he venture to offer such an insult to the House and to the country? [Hear, hear!] It was extremely painful to be compelled to use such language; but he repeated, that the blame rested on those with whom the question had originated. The noble lord had talked of precedents. What precedent was there of such a vote to a prince of the blood on his marriage, except the single instance of the duke of York? Had there been any such grant to the duke of Gloucester, or to the duke of Cumberland? And in what way did Mr. Pitt propose the vote respecting the duke of York? Mr. Pitt distinctly stated (he quoted from a report of Mr. Pitt's speech, which he had every reason to believe was correct), that "he did not think the present motion would establish a principle or precedent entitling any other branches of the Royal family to expect the same allowance. In his mind it was necessary that the House should take into consideration the degree of probability that the succession to the Crown might be involved in the transaction, as also that the marriage was one of which the House and the country must highly approve." Unless, therefore, the cases were parallel—unless the marriage of the duke of Cumberland was "such as the House and the country must approve," it was highly unfitting that the House should be required to add to the burthens of their constituents on the present occasion. It was painful to allude, not to the reports, but to the facts which were notorious to all Europe. He put it to the House, whether this was a marriage likely to be serviceable to the political interests of this country? Was it a marriage likely to be serviceable to the interests of the domestic virtues in this country? [Hear, hear!] The noble lord had said that the Duchess had no fortune. Had she no jointure resulting from either of her former marriages—neither from her marriage with Prince Louis of Prussia, nor from her marriage with the Prince of Salms? The Princess of Salms stood in a very different situation from the Princess of Prussia. The marriage of the duke of York with the latter drew more closely the ties of that alliance which was considered so useful to Great Britain. Besides the personal character of the Princess herself, the treaty by which the marriage had been concluded had been laid on the table of the House by his Majesty's command—a treaty containing an express stipulation that such a provision should be made on the marriage. With respect to the proposition now before them, it was notorious that had it been made at an earlier period of the session, it would not have stood any chance of success [Hear, hear!]. He had thought it his duty, however painful, to make the observations with which he had troubled the Committee.

Mr. Bathurst

observed, that the marriage of the duke of York had taken place during the recess, which was the cause of its having been noticed to Parliament at the commencement of the next session. In other instances of the marriage of different branches of the Royal family, the information had been communicated to Parliament by a Message from the Crown, as in the present case. He contended, that Parliament ought not to hesitate to give to a prince of the blood, on his marriage, such an income as he must of necessity require, in order to provide for his new and more expensive establishment. He conceived the introduction of personal observations to be extremely improper in a case that ought to be decided on the general principle which he had already stated.

Lord Castlereagh

adverting to the observations of the hon. and learned gentleman opposite (Mr. Wynn) on the supposed secrecy of the duke of Cumberland's marriage, said, that it was on the contrary a proceeding attended with all possible publicity. The duke and duchess were married in the presence of his Majesty's ministers at Berlin, in the presence of the King of Prussia, and in the presence of several members of the reigning house of Mecklenburg. Nor did he conceive that more publicity would have been given to the marriage in this country by noticing it in the Gazette, than by making the communication which had been made to Parliament upon the subject. With respect to the possible future situation of the Duchess, should the committee not accede to the motion before them, he would just state it. The Court of Berlin had, it was true, been in the habit of granting an appanage to such members of the royal family of Prussia as had been married. But as the King of Prussia made a liberal provision for the children of the marriage between the Duchess and Prince Louis, he had not thought it proper to extend the appanage beyond the prince's life. If, therefore, this grant were not acceded to, the duchess might perhaps at some future period be left without any provision whatever.

The question was then loudly called for, and the committee divided:

For the motion 87
Against it 70
Majority 17

List of the Minority.
Acland, sir T. Lemon, sir W.
Abercrombie, hon. J. Lewis, Thos, F.
Burdett, sir F. Lloyd, sir E.
Byng, G. Latouche, R.
Bankes, H. Mostyn, sir Thos.
Barham, J. F. Martin, H.
Barnard, lord Martin, J.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Methuen, C.
Barnard, Scrope Moore, P.
Burrell, hon. D. Mundy, K. M.
Burrell, sir C. Neville, hon. R.
Burrell W. North, D.
Butterworth, Jos. Nugent, lord
Calcraft, J. Ossulston, lord
Calvert, C. Parnell, sir H.
Calvert, W. Peirse, H.
Campbell, D. Proby, lord
Courtenay, N. Preston, R.
Davenport, D. Protheroe, E.
Egerton, Wm Pym, F.
Fazakerley, J. N. Romilly, sir S.
Fergusson, sir R. Rowley, sir W.
Frankland, W. Sebright, sir J.
Fitzroy, lord J. Shakespear, A.
Gaskell, B. Smith, W.
Grenfell, P. Smith, R.
Gordon, R. Tremayne, J. H.
Gascoyne, I. Tierney, right hon. G.
Hamilton, lord A. Warre, J. A.
Hanbury, Wm. Whitbread, S.
Horner, F. Western, C. C.
Howorth, H. Wilbraham, B.
Jolliffe, H. Wynn, C.
Kemp, Tho. Wynn, C.
Keene, W. TELLER.
Lascelles, lord Sir M. W. Ridley