HC Deb 29 June 1815 vol 31 cc1041-8

The Report of the Committee upon the Prince Regent's Message with regard to an additional grant to the duke of Cumberland in consequence of his marriage with the princess of Salms was brought up and upon the motion that the Resolution in favour of the grant be read a second time,

Mr. R. Gordon

rose, and declared that he could not reconcile it to his sense of duty to allow this motion to pass with a silent vote against it. He was astonished at the observation of the noble lord (Castleregh) who brought forward this motion last night, that he did not apprehend any opposition, while he agreed with the noble lord that it most be painful to hear any reflections upon the character of the individual referred to, or any comments whatever at all likely to depreciate the consequence of the illustrious family to whom that individual belonged. But ministers alone were to blame in dragging the duke of Camberland before that House. If any reflections were thrown out against that individual, it was the fault of ministers in forcing him upon the consideration of that House. After what had notoriously passed with respect to this individual, and his connexion—after the rumours that were afloat upon the subject—he could not by any means concur with the noble lord, that this was not to be regarded as a personal question, and that that House, when called upon to accede to a vote of this nature, had not a right to consider the merits of the individual. On the contrary, he thought it the duty of the House to enter into that consideration, and to inquire whether the duke of Cumberland had, either in his military or senatorial capacity, rendered any services to the country that could entitle him to this additional grant. For it did not follow that any branch of the Royal family should on his marriage obtain an augment had of that allowance which Parliament had already voted to each; and as to the addition voted to the duke of York upon his marriage, he thought the arguments offered in answer to those who adduced that vote as a precedent upon the present, occasion, were quite unanswerable. Upon these grounds the hon. member said he should move, byway of amendment, That the Resolution be read a second time this day three months.—[A cry of "Question, question!" on the Ministerial side.]

Mr. Alderman C. Smith

said, that hail he been present last night, he would have voted for the proposed grant. It was indisputable, in his opinion, that a private individual could not subsist upon less than 300l. a year, and that, an addition of 100l. a year would be necessary to such an individual upon his marriage. Now, the proposed addition to the revenue of the duke of Cumberland upon his royal highness's marriage, being necessary and moderate in an equal proportion, the hon. alderman expressed his resolution to support the original motion.—[The cry of "Question" from the Ministerial side was repeated.]

Mr. W. Smith

expressed a disinclination to trespass upon the time of the House, but observed that he could not refrain from decidedly discountenancing this extraordinary proposition. He apprehended that the marriage of the duke of Cumberland was disagreeable to the Royal family and he understood that it was the intention of this prince not to reside in this country; and if such were his intention, that circumstance certainly furnished an additional argument against the propriety of the proposed grant; nay, he understood, that if that person should bring his new connexion to this country, she would not be received at Court; that such was the I resolution of an illustrious personage; and he wished to ask, whether such was not the fact? If this report were unfounded, he should be glad to have it contradicted; for if it were true, he could see no reason for the proposed additional grant. He was therefore anxious to get at the fact upon this point. A great deal had been said upon this occasion as to the propriety of supporting the splendour of the Royal family; but upon this subject he would repeal what he had before often uttered, namely, that the character and consequence of that family in this country de- pended more upon their conduct than upon any splendour they exhibited—[Hear, hear!]—Therefore if he were called upon to appreciate the merits of this family, he should be disposed to think highest of him who had set aside 12,000l. a year of his revenue for the purpose of discharging debts unfortunately contracted in his youth—[The duke of Kent.] Thus this truly respectable prince consented to subsist upon 6,000l. a year in order to discharge his engagements, and he had no hesitation in saying that such an evidence of integrity was calculated to render this prince infinitely more respectable in England than any degree of splendour his Royal Highness could contrive to maintain.—[Hear, hear!]—But the members of the Royal family had, in fact, no occasion to support any pomp or parade, or to enter into a competition with private individuals with a view to sustain their importance, however becoming it might be for the Sovereign, as the representative of the country at large, to maintain a certain degree of splendour, or however proper it might be to make certain pecuniary allowances to the duke of Wellington and others, raised to the Peerage for their merit, in order to enable them to support the dignity of their station. The members of the Royal family, however, were not to be regarded in the same view—to each of them an allowance was already made by Parliament, and he saw no reason to justify any further addition, especially to the person whose case was under consideration.—[Hear, hear!]—The Marriage Act had, he was aware, subjected the members of the Royal family to certain inconveniencies by obliging them to marry foreigners. The law of the country had, however, imposed this obligation from political motives, and therefore Parliament was bound to consider the case of those individuals; but the marriage which gave rise to the motion before the House was not, in his judgment, entitled to any peculiar consideration—[A cry of "Question, question!" on the Ministerial side.]

Mr. Protheroe

said, that he could not consistently give a silent vote upon this proposition. He was fully aware of the extreme delicacy of the subject. No one was, he believed, more anxious than himself to observe that delicacy, or more ready to accede to any measure necessary to maintain the dignity, honour, and interest of the Crown; but as he did not think the proposed grant connected in any degree with the maintenance of that dignity, honour, or interest, he felt it his duty to oppose it. The noble mover had expressed surprise that any opposition should be made to this extraordinary vote; but if the noble lord knew any thing of the feelings and sentiments of the people, he could not be surprised to hear some expression of those feelings and sentiment from their representatives in that House. The popularity of the ministers was no doubt deservedly high; but in his opinion they over-rated that popularity, if they supposed that it could serve to reconcile the people to a vote of this nature, and came to a very erroneous conclusion if they supposed, that because millions were cheerfully voted to maintain the public safety and general interest, this exceptionable motion would be acceded to. He would not enter into any invidious comparison between the merits of the proposed grant and that made to the duke of Wellington; but when it was recollected, that upon the proposition of his hon. friend, the member for Liverpool (general Gascoyne), to advance the half-pay of our military officers, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the finances of the country could not afford it, and when it was recollected also that no additional reward was voted for the meritorious services of the Commander-in-chief, he could not suppress the declaration of his astonishment at the motion before the House. That motion was indeed such, that were it brought forward at a period when there was a fuller attendance of members, he had no doubt it would have been decidedly rejected. He was astonished, indeed, after what had passed on the former discussion, that the duke of Cumberland could reconcile it to his feelings to accept of the grant—[Hear, hear!] The majority in favour of the measure had been so small, that it must be evident to his Royal Highness, and to the world, that the sense of the House was against him—[Hear, hear! and loud cries of "Question!" from the Ministerial side.]

Mr. Forbes

expressed his readiness to support the views of the last speaker, if he thought proper to propose (and he hoped the hon. member would) some reward for the meritorious services of the Commander-in-chief. [Hear, hear! on the Ministerial side.] But such a proposition could not disincline him to vote for the present motion. As to the merits of the illustrious person under consideration, he had lived long enough in the world to withhold his belief of more than one-half of what he heard—nay, he doubted even what he saw. [A laugh.] Therefore he doubted what be had heard with regard to the duke of Cumberland. It was notoriously but too easy to propagate scandal, and when by any means a person happened to get a bad name, credence was just as promptly given to any story to his or her prejudice as it was refused with respect to any one who happened to get a good name. His rote, he declared, he should give entirely on public grounds. In, the first place, the duke of Cumberland was the son of the King, and that he thought would not be questioned. [A laugh.] In the second place, he would ask, whether his Royal Highness had not contracted the marriage alluded to with the consent of the Crown? It was doubted, he was aware, whether this consent had been granted before or after the marriage, but the Prince Regent's Message seemed to settle that point; and his next question would be, whether the provision allowed to his Royal Highness, as a bachelor, could be deemed sufficient to maintain his splendour as a married man? But if that provision were so deemed, he must say that too much had been granted to his Royal Highness as a bachelor. The hon. member concluded with stating, that he differed totally from those who sought to bring disgrace upon the object of this proposition, and to reflect upon the Royal family, whose character ought to be sustained for the general good of the country.

Mr. Tierney

repeated the question put by his hon. friend (Mr. W. Smith), and to which no answer had been returned, namely, whether Her Majesty was not decidedly hostile to the marriage which gave rise to this discussion, and whether, if the duchess of Cumberland should come to this country, she would not be received at Court—whether this fact did not come within the noble lord's own knowledge?

Lord Castlereagh

said, that he should abstain from answering any questions calculated to vilify the Royal family, and that he did not think the right hon. gentleman had any right to put such questions.

Mr. Tierney

felt himself perfectly justified in putting the questions, to which the noble lord objected—it was his right to put such questions, and the duty of the noble lord to answer them for the satisfac- tion of the House. [Some cry of "Spoke, Spoke!" on the Ministerial side.] But Mr. Tierney proceeded, and repeated his questions, whether Her Majesty had not declared that she would not receive the duke of Cumberland's consort at Court, and whether the noble lord was not fully aware of this declaration? Nay, whether Her Majesty had not decidedly disapproved, for some reason or other, of a proposed marriage between the princess of Salms, and the duke of Cambridge? and whether Her Majesty had not thought that a marriage having been broken off with one brother, the lady alluded to was not fit to be the wife of another? The noble lord professed great anxiety to preserve the reputation of the Royal family, but it behoved that House to take care that it did not fall into that disrepute to which it was but too liable if it acceded to a proposition of this nature. In fact, if the House of Commons were not willing to degrade itself by becoming the mere banker of the Court, it would not agree to a grant of the public money in consequence of this marriage, with regard to which the minister dare not call upon it for a vote of approbation. [Hear, hear!] As to the complaint that this discussion had a tendency to reflect upon the character of the Royal family, he denied the justice of the statement. But if the discussion had really such a tendency, those only were to blame who advised this proposition to be brought forward; for upon such a proposition the House was bound to do its duty, and to investigate the merits of the individual to whom the proposition referred. Upon this point, however, the hon. member who spoke last had stated his disinclination to believe more than one-half what he heard; but surely quite enough would be found to justify the rejection of this motion if only half of what was said of either the lady or gentleman referred to were to be believed. [Hear, hear!] But he dared to say that the noble lord, with a majority of 16 or 17 behind him, would be found to discard those considerations, and so no doubt would the object of this vote also, although, as an hon. member had observed, he could not, after what had taken place, accept such a grant consistently with any idea of dignity: for no consideration of dignity was likely to have much influence in that quarter. With respect to the Marriage Act, he concurred, in some measure, with the observations of his hon. Friend (Mr. Smith) What, however, was the object of that Act, but to prevent any member of the Royal family from contracting improper connexions?—and thus came the question, whether the marriage under discussion could be regarded as a proper connexion suitable to the views of the Marriage Act, or whether the object of that Act was not defeated by such a marriage,—whether, in consequence of rumours, insinuations, or something more serious, tier Majesty had determined to refuse her consent to the marriage of this lady with the duke of Cambridge? Those were questions which that House was bound to consider, and which had such an influence upon his mind, that he was resolved to take the sense of the House upon every stage of this measure, in the hope that the House of Commons would be found to do its duty by rejecting the proposition.

Lord Nugent

said, that before the House divided he could not but remind gentlemen of the circumstances under which they were coming to the vote. A question had been put to ministers by his hon. friend (Mr. W. Smith), and repeated by his right hon. friend (Mr. Tierney), to which ministers had not dared to give a reply. No one of His Majesty's ministers had been found to venture to give the House even a hope that one of the illustrious persons, immediately the object of this grant, would, in the case of her coming to reside in England, be admitted to the Court of this country. [Hear!] For his own part, he disapproved of the grant proposed, with reference to the time in which, to the manner in which, and to the person for whom, the grant was proposed. He differed with his hon. friend who stated that he did not admit public rumour to influence his vote. For his own part he voted mainly on evidence which could come before the House only by public rumour—public rumour uncontradicted and unencountered. [Hear, hear!] His right hon. friend had pledged himself to take the sense of the House in every stage of this grant. In the conscientious discharge of his duty, he could not but say, that in every stage of the grant his vote should second that of his right hon. friend.

Mr. Bennet

rose to inquire of the hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Forbes), whether he meant to apply personally to him the remark, that he (Mr. Bennet) had brought disgrace upon himself by those comments which he had felt it his duty to make, on a preceding evening, respecting the character of the duke of Cumberland?

Mr. Forbes

said, he was not aware he had said any thing personally disrespectful to the hon. member; but if he had, he certainly did not intend to do so. At the same time he would leave it to the judgment of the House, whether the expressions which the hon. gentleman had used were either proper or parliamentary.

The House then divided, when the numbers were,

For the Amendment 62
For the original Motion 74
Majority in favour of the grant 12

On the question, that a Bill should be brought in founded on the Resolution of the Committee, another division took, place.

For the Motion 75
Against it 62
Majority in favour of the grant 13
List of the Majority.
Addington, rt. hon. H. Mahon, hon. S.
Bloomfield, B. Mellish, W.
Beresford, lord G. Murray, sir J.
Brydges, sir E. Moorsom, R.
Brogden, J. Manners, lord C,
Blake, Valentine Pringle, sir W.
Bradshaw, hon. C. Phipps, general
Bathurst, hon. W. Palmer, of Luggershall
Bathurst, rt. hon. B.
Buller, sir E. Palmerston, visc.
Binning, lord Pakenham, hon. R.H.
Courtenay, T. P. Peel, right hon. R.
Congreve, sir W. Pole, rt. hon. W. W.
Clements, Henry Rose, right hon. G.
Chichester, Arthur Smith, C.
Croker, J. W. Stirling, sir W.
Carew, R. Pole Shiffner, G.
Castlereagh, visc. St. Paul, H.
Daly, J. Shaw, sir J.
Desborough, E. Sheldon, R.
Doveton, Gabriel Sutton, rt. hon. C. M.
Dawkins, James Stuart, hon. A.
Douglas, hon. F. S. Seymour, lord R.
Forbes, Charles Thornton, general
Fergusson, James Thornton, Samuel
Fitzgerald, right hon. W. V. Thynne, lord J.
Teed, John
Graham, sir J. Vansittart, rt. hon. N.
Goulburn, H. Wemyss, general
Grant, Charles Warrender, sir G.
Garrow, sir W. Webster, sir G.
Hammersley, H. Wood, sir M.
Hart, G. V. Wood, T.
Holford, G. P. Wellesley, R.
Hill, sir G. Yorke, sir J.
Long, right hon. C.
Lowther, viscount TELLERS.
Lowther, hon. H. Arbuthnot, rt. hon. C.
Lygon. hon. W. Lushington, S.
List of the Minority.
Abercrombie, hon. J. Lewis, F.
Bankes, H. Martin, H.
Barham, J. Martin, J.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Moore, P.
Barnard, Scrope Mackintosh, sir J.
Burrell, sir C. Neville, hon. R.
Burrell, hon. P. R. North, D.
Burrell, W. Nugent, lord
Butterworth, Jos. Ossulston, lord
Barclay, C. Parnell, sir H.
Babington, T. Proby, lord
Brand, hon. T. Protheroe, E.
Calcraft, J. Pym, F.
Calvert, C. Robinson, A.
Calvert, N. Ramsden, J. C.
Campbell, lord J. Rashleigh, W.
Campbell, D. Shakespear, A.
Cavendish, lord G. Smith, R.
Cavendish, H. Swann, H.
Davenport, D. Shaw, B.
Dundas, hon. L. Tremayne, J. H.
Duncannon, visc. Tierney, right hon. G.
Fawcett, H. Tighe, W.
Fazakerley, J. N. Western, C. C.
Findlay, K. Wilbraham, B.
Grenfell, P. Wynn, C.
Gascoyne, G. I. Wynn, sir W.
Gooch, T. S. Williams, sir R.
Hamilton, lord A. Wilberforce, W.
Horner, F.
Howorth, H. TELLERS.
Hughes, W. L. Gordon, R.
Lemon, sir W. Smith, W.