§ The House having resolved itself into a committee of the whole House for the purpose of taking into consideration the Report of the Select Committee on the Royal Establishment at Windsor, [see p. 457],
said, that he should state very shortly the proceedings which he should propose to the committee to adopt as the most convenient under all the circumstances of the case. He apprehended that it would be most conformable to parliamentary usage and practice, as well as most convenient to the committee, to describe in the present stage of the business the nature of the resolutions which it was his intention to propose. The effect of that would be, to create a discussion of those points respecting which a difference of opinion was entertained, before introducing any measure to the House. He should best fulfil his duty by bringing the whole subject of the report of the select committee now before the committee of the whole House. Those points of the report, which were substantive in themselves, had been embodied into distinct resolutions, which he should submit to the committee of the House, and he should afterwards bring-in a bill on those resolutions which should be approved of by the committee. He should now state the nature of the resolutions which he had it in view to propose. The first related to the Windsor Establishment general. Instead of 100,000l. 553 he proposed that the sum of 50,000l. should in future be granted. The second went to make a provision for the servants of her late majesty to the amount recommended by the select committee. The third went to pay out of the civil list 10,000l. per annum to the duke of York, as custos of the king's person, being the sum paid to her late majesty. The object of the fourth resolution was, to make a limited change in the enactments of the act of 1812, respecting the mode of superannuating the king's servants, as the new transaction would throw a great number of them out of employment. The last resolution would only involve exchequer regulations concerning the issue of the 50,000l. per annum for the Windsor establishment, and 58,000l. for the other objects which had been enumerated. He would follow the order of the resolutions as strictly as he could, calling the attention of the House to the propositions which they involved.
The first resolution, which in fact contained the sum and substance of the whole measure, stated the provision which the select committee considered suitable, under all the circumstances of the case, for the care and maintenance of his majesty. The labours of the select committee had abridged very much what it would have otherwise been his duty to submit to the committee of the whole House, because he would have been obliged to bring the subject before the committee of the whole House in a degree of detail, which would have made his task quite hopeless, if he had charged himself with what the labour of the committee had now relieved him from. The committee had also relieved him from the necessity of entering at any length into a course of argument to persuade the committee of the whole House that the sum here proposed was a fit and proper sum. It was impossible to urge a more favourable recommendation than the opinion of the committee, that 50,000l. was a suitable and proper sum to be assigned for the support of his majesty. He only stated the views of his colleagues who sat with him in the select committee, when he observed that there was no difference of opinion among them, on the point of that being a sum fit and proper in itself under all the circumstances of the case. He believed indeed that there were few members of the committee who would not be satisfied if their own private affairs were 554 conducted on the Same principles of economy which regulated the proposed Windsor establishment. The only difference which prevailed in the select committee related to one point, which could not be considered of any great importance (although he allowed that no question which involved any expenditure of the public money was insignificant), namely, whether the proper number of equerries for attendance on his majesty's person was four or six? He did not mean to enter into the merits of the question, much less to propose any thing inconsistent with the judgment of the select committee. He should merely state, that Mr. Burke's bill had reduced the number of equerries to four; and that after considerable experience under that bill, the appointment of two additional equerries did take place. Though he did not urge this in opposition to the judgment of the select committee, yet it certainly formed some excuse for his majesty's government in the proposition which they made. With respect to the amount of the sum necessary for the support of the Windsor establishment, he believed the right hon. gentleman opposite himself, who thought 50,000l. a larger sum than necessary, before looking into the details of the subject, on receiving proper explanations, came at last to entertain a very different opinion from that with which he entered into the select committee. For, when they deducted from the 50,000l. the sum necessary to keep up the palace, which was not less than one-third of the whole, and another one-third for the servants, who were employed in different gradations, in attendance on the person of his majesty, the real expenses of the establishment would not be found to exceed the sum of 16,000l. a year. When the committee considered that this establishment involved a proper reception for the officers who were in daily attendance on his majesty, he trusted they would agree with the select committee, that the establishment could not possibly be conducted in a more economical manner. He trusted he had opened to the House every thing which it was necessary for him to slate on the subject of this resolution.
He should now direct their attention to the second resolution, namely, the making of suitable provision for the servants of her late majesty. When he had opened this subject originally to the House, he 555 had stated the precedents by which he was guided in the scale of remuneration which he proposed to the servants of her majesty. He was naturally led, in the discharge of his duty, to turn to those cases which bore a certain degree of resemblance to the present. It was not only satisfactory in measures discretionary and not arbitrary in their principle, to know what had been the practice of former times; but there was also a strong equity in proceeding according to the rule which was observed in those times, because it was impossible not to presume that those individuals, who were servants of her majesty, did not go into her majesty's service merely for the sake of their salaries, but that they looked to the practice of former times in the case of the event of her majesty's decease, and calculated on the eventual salary which would then accrue to them. It did appear to the select committee, on looking into this subject, and when they considered that the emoluments of the servants of her majesty were not much beyond the standard of those of other ranks, that it was particularly necessary to make some provision for them on an event like that which had taken place. There was another point also which entitled them to consideration. There was a strong indisposition in families to receive any persons who had belonged to the royal household, from an apprehension that they must have contracted habits which it would be difficult to reconcile with a lower situation. Thus their prospects in life were materially affected; and there were strong and clear grounds for granting them a provision. The precedents in the case were those of the princess dowager of Wales, queen Caroline and queen Mary. But even on the supposition that those precedents could not be brought into the view of parliament—and that the opinion of parliament on any former occasion could not be quoted on the present,—still when they looked at the equity of the case, he conceived they were strongly called on to make some provision for the several servants of her majesty on their entering into retirement. The select committee thought that it was just and expedient and right that a remuneration ought to be given to the inferior servants of her late majesty, and especially to the female attendants, in conformity to the precedents to which he had alluded; but they thought that with respect to the 556 state officers of her late majesty, those precedents were not obligatory. Having therefore examined into the claims of her majesty's servants, they made a deduction from the 24 or 25,000l. the total amount of the salaries, of those which were paid to persons of a more elevated rank in life, amounting to between 6 and 7,000l. a year, thus reducing the sum to between 18 and 19,000l. a year. His majesty's government, therefore, did not feel themselves authorized to propose a larger sum than between 18 and 19,000l. a year to the servants of her majesty; and he trusted the committee would feel, that in the line which had here been drawn, they had shown a strict regard to economy. It was to be recollected, that this sum was much smaller than what had been granted to the servants of the princess dowager of Wales, queen Caroline, and about the same as the amount granted to the servants of queen Mary, notwithstanding the difference in the value of money which had since taken place.
Having explained the circumstances on which he had been induced to recommend the second resolution, he now wished to call the attention of the Committee to the third resolution; and as he was desirous to render the subject more intelligible, with the third resolution he would connect the question, respecting which notice had been given by the right hon. gentleman opposite, of a motion for making the sum for the custody of the king's person a burthen on the privy purse. He foresaw that the one question would necessarily involve the other. Now, with respect to the notice which the right hon. gentleman had given, certainly the right hon. gentleman concurred in opinion with him, when he expressed it as the determination of his majesty's ministers strictly to follow the precedent of the regency acts of 1811 and 1812. If the principle of those acts were recognised, there could be no alteration made in the person of the duke of York in the emolument given to the custos as there was none in the power, and responsibility of the office. The right hon. gentleman proposed that the custos should be paid out of the privy purse, and not from a public fund. This proposal was a change of the whole state of the question, and asserted that the custos was distinct from the rest of the establishment at Windsor, and went to touch that fund as a public fund which the law had tied up as the sacred properly of his majesty. He 557 hoped he should satisfy the committee that in every view the right hon. gentleman could take of the question, whether, it was considered on the ground of law or of equity, the privy purse was a private fund, and ought not to be touched at all. He thought he might be allowed to assert that nothing but principle could induce him to take the sense of the committee on this question. He thought he might fairly say this, when the only difference between him and the right hon. gentleman was, as to the fund on which this sum of 10,000l. should be cast. He had the satisfaction to think that on the basis they were both agreed, namely, that the right hon. gentleman did not contend that it would be proper to throw on the custos of the person of the sovereign, whether that custos was the duke of York, or any other person, an office so delicate, so responsible, so eminently a public trust, without accompanying it with a proper remuneration—that it would not be proper to rank such an officer with one of the domestics or medical attendants. He did not apprehend that in any quarter there was any intention or wish to reduce the allowance for the care of his majesty's person, or to deny that adequate provision ought to be made for the person to whom that trust was committed. The only difference between them was, that the right hon. gentleman wished to throw on the privy purse that which had formerly been charged on the civil list. It was impossible for him to conceal from himself the difficulty with which any grant from parliament was attended, particularly in the state in which the country latterly stood, and the danger and odium which followed the proposing any such grant to any member of the royal family, or any public servant. It was unfortunately too much the taste of the times to attribute improper motives to members of the royal family. If therefore he had applied for the purpose in question to any fund, not of a public nature, he should have relieved government from the odium which was sure to attend any proposition of the present nature. There never was an occasion on which there was less temptation to a minister to depart from the safe course prescribed by the right hon. gentleman, and nothing therefore but a strong sense of public duty could have induced him (lord Castlereagh) to take the course which he now took. He contended that the privy purse was not a fund with which parliament could inter- 558 fere, unless they were disposed to overleap all the boundaries of law and equity. He trusted the committee would therefore believe him when he stated, that in the task he had undertaken, he was instigated by a sense of duty, and nothing else. If he had not adopted that course, and had closed with the right hon. gentleman, he might have obtained his object with much more ease and less odium. All difficulties would then have vanished, and nothing would have remained but the consciousness of having taken an illegal and unjustifiable step. If this were a case of private service, the privy purse could not be tied up more than any individual's property. But it was a public duty if not, he should at once agree with the right hon. gentleman; but since it undeniably was a public duty he would show that to provide for it out of the privy purse would be unjust, illegal, and unconstitutional. It was immaterial to him, whether the privy purse was limited to any specific sum. He should be prepared to show that they could not make this sum a charge on the privy purse, without violating every principle of law and equity, and interfering with private property. The fund was if possible still more sacred in his majesty's present condition. As in the ordinary case of a lunatic, it was for the lord chancellor to say what charges were to be made on the private estate of that lunatic, so parliament, in the present case, ought to be guided by the same principles of equity, and ought not to throw any charge on the privy purse with which private property could not be justly charged. But he was prepared even to maintain another proposition, that parliament could not on principles of justice, law and equity, bring against this fund all those descriptions of charges which might be imposed on the estates of private individuals. He did not know if he made himself understood—he meant to say that the privy purse was as much private property as any private individual's property; and yet, that it was not in this case liable to the burthens to which other private property would be liable. If he could convince the House that they could not encroach on this fund without flying in the face of the principles of the acts of 1811, and 1812, he trusted they would now consider it as sacred. Whatever were the merits or demerits of the Acts of 1811 and 1812—if they were vicious in principle and detail, instead of being, as he believed sound 559 and equitable—if this precedent were wholly wanting, while the laws respecting private property were unviolated, parliament was incompetent to overstep the boundaries of private property in this case. When he said incompetent, he was aware that the law of parliament over-rode every thing in the country, but he meant that according to the precedents and usages which had prevailed, parliament was incompetent to do this. Parliament had always considered themselves bound to observe, the principles of justice law and property towards the highest as much as towards the lowest authority of the state. Now, with respect to law, that fund was, to all intents and purposes, private property. His hon. and learned friends beside him would afterwards argue this more satisfactorily than he could do. But he would say that the privy purse was private property, in every point of view. If the privy purse was private property, the surplus of the privy purse was private property, because it had been saved from the privy purse. He did not mean to say, that if the question had arisen anterior to the acts of the 39th and 40th of the king, a serious consideration might not have been opened, whether the 60,000l. given to the privy purse, and the proceeds of the duchy of Lancaster,—though these funds were entirely distinguished from the other branches of his majesty's revenue, and were given to the direct enjoyment of the sovereign, without the necessity, without any control whatever, but still he did not mean to say that if the question had been raised, though the generosity of parliament would never have allowed of such a question; but if the question had been raised when the person who was king ceased to discharge the functions of royalty, parliament might not have dealt with the privy purse as with the civil list, and have made such arrangement respecting it as they thought fit. Bat from the moment the acts of the 39th and 40th of the king passed, that power had passed from parliament. That act Separated the individual capacity of the king from his corporate capacity as supreme head of the nation. It was an act of indulgence, if not of strict justice, to suffer his majesty in the midst of the cares imposed on him by his high functions, to show his kindness and affection like, other men, and to have by possibility property, over which he might dispose at pleasure. He could only before hold 560 property in his corporate Capacity, but it was thought that this restriction was unnecessary, and that he might be allowed to have subordinate objects to those of the sovereignty; that he might be allowed to have the means of gratification by obliging his friends and rewarding those who had claims on his bounty. On that principle parliament enabled his majesty to dispose of his property by will or otherwise; and parliament did not leave in disguise, what were the sources from which that property was obtained. His majesty not only received power to dispose by will of that property, but parliament acted retrospectively, as to any wills or dispositions of that property made before the period of that law; and by that law it was distinctly pointed out what were the sources of the private property of the king which were not to be considered as clashing with the property of the Crown—namely, the surplus of the privy purse, the proceeds of the duchy of Lancaster, and the purchases made from savings out of those funds.
The fact was, therefore, that there was a distinct recognition of the privy purse as private property by the 89th and 40th of the king, and from that moment it could be considered in no other light than private property. And that the savings from the privy purse were in all strictness private property vested in the person of his majesty, was proved by the view taken of that subject by parliament every succeeding year. But had any doubts whatever remained, as to the light in which the privy purse was to be considered, those doubts would have been set at rest in 1811 and 1812, when by the 51st and 52nd of the king, parliament dealt with the privy purse as private property, and with all the scrupulous delicacy with which they decided respecting private property. In 1811 it might have been thought that the king's malady would be of short duration; but in 1812 there was no reason to hope, that it would be of short duration, and then parliament decided that the amount of the privy purse should be 60,000l., and tied it up for the sole disposal of his majesty, as his private property. He would not now go into all the minute charges thrown on it. The right hon. gentleman must allow, that no charge which was not of a private nature was fixed on it. He was justified in asserting that, according to all justice and equity, the fund ought not to be exposed to charges 561 of a public or even of a doubtful character; and he therefore contended that parliament could not throw the allowance to the duke of York on this fund except they dissented from true constitutional principles, and flew in the face of all law, precedent, and argument. When he (lord Castlereagh) originally opened the subject to the House be had considered two or three charges as so entirely of a private nature and the wishes of his majesty, that he had been induced to think they might be defrayed out of the privy purse. But he had since abandoned the idea, lest he should throw the least shadow of doubt on the total inviolability of that fund. There was but one opinion in the House and the country, that the sovereign should be surrounded with all marks of veneration. It was only necessary for him to name such a proposition in order to revolt the feelings of the Committee, that they were to look to the sacred person of the sovereign as a private individual; there was something so monstrous in the idea of viewing as a private individual, the sovereign surrounded as he was by all those circumstances which marked the veneration in which he was held; and which, even now when his recovery was hopeless, were no less sanctioned by the constitution and by principle than they were by the affection and loyalty of his subjects. There was no doubt in the case of private persons, that a court of equity would provide for the maintenance of a person labouring under that malady out of his estate. But was that the part parliament would wish to be pursued by the king? The sovereign of this country had a large sum belonging to him as sovereign, without the grant of parliament. The practice at the commencement of all new reigns had formerly been, to grant certain duties in addition to other allowances to the king. If all such duties and allowances were now possessed by the Crown, they would produce about two millions; but, in order to meet the wishes of the people, the sovereign had devolved those duties to the civil list, which had been raised from time to time. Except his charities and his private donations, all his majesty's functions were public functions, conducted on public grounds and by public officers. In the cases of other persons it was not so. Every person employed by his majesty was a public functionary: he was recognised as a public functionary, and the expenses were always defrayed 562 from public funds. He did not enter into a comparison of the present measures with the act of 1811 and 1812. On the contrary, there was a considerable restriction in the present measures of the charges of that act, agreeably to the changes of time and the situation of his majesty. But the right of private property was now as sacred as in 1812, and it would not be considered less sacred because our sovereign was in his present afflicted situation. What was the precedent of 1812, but the appropriating of 100,000l. for all expenses of the establishment at Windsor? With respect to the office of custos, as to which the right hon. gentleman made a, distinction, he put it to the feelings and good sense of the committee whether any alteration ought to take place in the mode of remunerating the individual filling that office. He would ask whether there was any office more unequivocally of a public nature than that of the custos of the king's person? In these times his majesty was, encircled in the affection of his subjects; but if they looked back to the page of history, he would ask what office could be more important, or require greater authority and discretion in the person, who filled it? If he were asked what was the officer in whom the confidence of the people should be most firmly placed, he would say, that person who was to stand as the shield of the constitution and the country against the ambition of any individual wishing to accelerate another reign. Was he to be told that because such, a danger did not now exist, that officer ought to dwindle into the character of a nurse. He trusted that if members meant to oppose the resolution, they would do it in a manly manner. He trusted they would not give trimming votes on a question of this nature, but pause before deciding that the custos of the king was to be a mere domestic servant. The acts of the 51st and 52nd of the king (the second of them with a slight variation of which he would afterwards speak) considered the privy purse as the private and personal property of the king, and after providing that the expense of medical attendance should be defrayed out of it, vested it in trustees to accumulate in the same manner as the property recognised under the 39th and 40th of the king. It was not to be considered now as a fund simply belonging to his majesty, because it was possible that in pursuance of the powers, vested in him for that purpose by parliament, his 563 majesty might have divested himself of all his rights in it. The committee might at that moment be arguing respecting funds which belonged to the king neither in his royal nor in his individual capacity, but which might be vested either in members of his majesty's own family or in any other person in the country. It might be that his majesty had, previous to his illness, devised that fund, of which the right hon. gentleman now wished parliament to assume the disposal, to the person whom his majesty might appoint his residuary legatee. His majesty might have granted a vested interest in those very funds. Therefore, in truth, the question was, whether the House had the power to take the surplus of the privy purse, or to throw on it the charges of the custos, without violating the first principles of private property.
If he had succeeded in conveying to the House any thing like the impression on his own mind—if the character of the funds in question was such as he had described it—if the argument of its being private property was applicable to the case, he was sure that parliament would never be persuaded to take any step in so clear a case, and that they would never consent to a measure which would violate all the principles on which property was protected. And he would wish to put it to the committee, whether, when in the height of his power, they gave his majesty the power of disposing of this property—a power which he but possessed in common with the meanest of his subjects, namely, that of giving away, in such manner as he pleased, those sums which might be saved from private income; he would put it to the House, whether, if they gave this right to his majesty when in the zenith of his power, would the Commons of England—that House, which was commencing its career, and which was now to make itself a character with the nation—would that House, which was now about to come to a decision which would produce the first and strongest impression of its character—would they do that to their helpless monarch, which, if done to a private individual, would be considered a monstrous and unjustifiable violation of private property—and would they do it to their unhappy monarch in his weakness and his sickness? Would they concur in the spoliation of their monarch? Would they stain the annals of the nation by acting on a principle which no parliament had 564 ever so far compromised their character as to act upon it? Was this the first time that parliament had been solicited to Violate the right of private property? Was this the first time that it had been suggested to the House as convenient to lay hold of funds which were unprotected private property? And had such propositions ever been entertained—ever been listened to by the Mouse? If, amidst all the dangers and emergencies, and pressure of the late war, the House had resisted the proposal which had been made to seize the property of our enemies vested in the public funds of the country—if the House had even refused to tax that property, notwithstanding all the endeavours to persuade them of the justice and equity of imposing such a tax as the fair price for the protection of the property—if the Commons of England had the integrity to decline any such measure, would they now lay a heavy hand on the small remnant of the private property of his majesty? Indeed, he could hardly think it possible that the right hon. gentleman would be bold enough to propose such a thing to the House. Certainly he did give that right hon. gentleman credit for too much good sense, too much English spirit, too high a regard to public principle, and too great a respect for public feeling to expect that he would bring before the committee the intended proposition—a proposition that would, if carried, he believes in his concience, consign their names to infamy in the estimation of the country. But if the right hon. gentleman had nerve enough to bring forward his proposition, and to press it to a division, he trusted that the committee would have such feeling on the legal and constitutional part of the question, at to meet it with a firm resolution to preserve the principle of legislative faith, and with that noble sentiment which their ancestors on a former occasion had recorded on the statute book—"Nolumus leges Angliæ mutari."
The noble lord was then proceeding to move the first resolution, but after a short pause rose again, and said, that he should have neglected a principal part of his duty on this occasion, if he had omitted calling their attention to the situation in which the royal duke was placed who was to be supposed as chiefly concerned in the decision, of the committee. On this subject he was authorized to declare to the House the sentiments of his royal high- 565 ness. He was sure the House would feel that these was no want of respect towards them on the part of his royal highness. On a subject which roust so much affect the feelings of his royal highness, his majesty's ministers had thought it their duty to communicate with his royal highness upon it, and he was now bound to apprize the House of the result of that communication, so far as respected his personal feelings. His royal highness had authorized him to state, that nothing could be more painful to him than that any question should be brought before the House which connected his name with a money vote; that if he had only consulted his own feelings, and had not been satisfied that the question was one essentially connected with the trust which had devolved upon him under such distressing circumstances, and if he had not been convinced of the necessity of having the question finally submitted to the judgment of the House, nothing could have reconciled his royal highness to the pain of such a discussion. But if the House should think fit, under all circumstances, to continue this allowance which they had thought it proper to grant to his late mother, his royal highness authorised him to say, that no consideration could induce him to accept of any sum out of the privy purse of his Majesty. As to the functions which had devolved on him with all the melancholy circumstances attending it, he would in any event be happy to discharge the duties which his situation rendered necessary towards his royal father and his country. In the decision of the question his royal highness was very anxious that every thing affecting himself personally should be laid out of view. But as to taking any part of the money out of the private property of his father, he desired it to be stated, that it was a measure to which, directly or indirectly, he would never consent.—The noble lord concluded by moving the first Resolution; viz. 1. "That in lieu of the sum of 100,000l. directed to be issued and paid by an act made in the 52nd year of the reign of his present majesty, the annual sum of 50,000l. shall be issued and paid out of the civil list revenues, and which shall be paid in like manner, and he applied to the same uses and purposes, as are directed by the said act with respect to the said sum of 100,000l."
§ Mr. Tierney
said, that nothing could be more perspicuous or manly than the 566 manner in which the noble lord had stated the subject before the committee, and he should follow the noble lord's example, by dividing into three heads the observations he should offer;—the first, as to what should be the reduced amount of the future Windsor establishment; the second, as to the allowances made to the servants of her late majesty; and the third, which was the greatest, the most constitutional, and the most important question, from what, if from any fund, the sum to be paid to his royal highness the duke of York, as guardian of the king's person, should be taken. In the first place, as to the Windsor establishment, the committee had the report of the select committee for their guide; and the noble lord had very fairly said, that never was any report agreed to more unanimously. He (Mr. T.) had been guided solely by the evidence, he had gone into the committee with an opinion, which he had before expressed in the House, that the sum of 50,000l. was too great for that establishment; but when he had heard it stated, by competent witnesses, that even if his majesty were withdrawn altogether, either by death or by removal to some other of his palaces, the necessary charge of maintaining Windsor Castle alone, would amount to 18 or 20,000l. a year, he could not think that a sum of about 30,000l. a year was too large; and he stated it thus broadly, because he was persuaded, that the country, anxious as it was for economy, would rather reprehend than thank him, if on any minute difference of opinion he had chosen to raise a debate on so delicate a subject. If, perhaps, by investigating all the figures narrowly, a saving of 3 or 4,000l. a year had been brought about, he should still have regretted the debate it would have occasioned. They had had royal debates enough in that House; every one, who loved the monarchy, must regret those which had passed, and he lamented that there was now another forced on them. With respect to the Windsor establishment, then, such was his present conviction; if any gentleman should, however, possess new lights on the subject, he would not be precluded from availing himself of them. He had spoken according to his present view; if any persons could place the subject in a better view, although he believed none could, he was ready to accede to it. In the next place, as to the allowances to her late majesty's servants. He lamented 567 that this subject had been referred to the committee. But perhaps the noble lord, with respect to that as well as to some other matters, could not exactly help himself. Precedents had been produced, but they had nothing to do with the matter. In each of the cases which had been mentioned (those of queen Mary and queen Caroline), the king being alive, and in possession of the civil list, it was in his power to make whatever provisions he chose for the servants of the deceased queen. Those precedents, therefore, had never come under the consideration of parliament, said were therefore no precedents for parliament. He had never passed any time more unpleasantly than in the examination which was imposed on him in the select committee—inquiring into the private affairs of ladies of high rank and character in the country—calculating their incomes—estimating the reductions sustained in them, by the loss of those situations which they held during the life of her late majesty. Though he had not, perhaps, decided to their satisfaction, the decision certainly was not less satisfactory to them then the task of deciding was to him; but he had felt it necessary to be guided in his duty towards the public by some fixed rule. Another question which had come before the committee was, whether the Lords who had offices of state about the queen should have the same allowances as the female attendants? The noble lord had told him, that 25,000l. were necessary for all those pensions and allowances. He asked for precedents, and the noble lord stated the several precedents quite correctly. He objected to extending pensions or allowances beyond servants in menial offices. He was told that he was quite in error upon that point, and that lords were usually pensioned as well as menials. However, the alteration which had taken place in the original proposition on this subject had come, not from the committee, but from the noble lord himself, and was another proof of the noble lord's admirable talent for falling back. At first, the claim of these state officers to allowances was set up, boldly set up, but afterwards the lords and marquises were put aside by the noble lord, as readily as they had been pushed forward, not because any new light had been thrown upon the subject, but because the noble lord found it not convenient to persevere. Those gentlemen who were the sufferers by this 568 transaction, had probably at times thought that an administration, made up of pliant materials, and not bound together by any strong common principles, was very convenient; but they would now find that it was not without its inconveniences; that such ministers were like young elephants, who could be trained to all sorts of tricks; could be made even to take a shilling out of a countryman's pocket, and carry it to their keeper; but who, when they came into battle, had so keen a sense of danger, that they were in the habit of running back and crushing their own friends. Those gentlemen might, perhaps, now wish for a strong and vigorous administration, which would do at all risks what it conceived to be its duty. In the instance of some of the ladies about the person of the queen, it was a question, whether they were not entitled to their allowances as well as to the salaries of their offices; but the rule had been laid down, he thought properly, that the salaries only should be continued to them. There might be a question also as to the length of service which should entitle the servants to their salaries; but the committee had endeavoured to strike out the proper line.
After disposing of the two first points thus shortly, he came to the great constitutional question—out of what fund the guardian of the king's person was to be remunerated? In the eloquent declamation with which the noble lord had concluded, he was told that if he (Mr. Tierney) succeeded in inducing the committee to agree to his proposition, he would heap infamy on a new House of Commons. If that were infamy he should be ready to undertake it. Though he would always perform his duty to the sovereign, nothing should deter him from that duty to the people which he thought perfectly compatible with it; and both he thought were combined in the course he had in contemplation. He could not, at this stage, help remarking, that the royal declaration which they had that night heard, was most ill-advised. If, indeed, the ministers told his Royal Highness that the House of Commons would render itself infamous by agreeing to the vote out of the privy purse, his Royal Highness was likely to think that it would be infamous for him to receive the money from that purse. But with deference to the opinion of the minister, he thought that any sum that parliament thought fit to offer, out of any 569 fund, for the performance of a public duty, the proudest royal duke might be proud to receive. The argument of the noble lord was, that the privy purse was private property. He should look at the construction of the different acts of parliament and prove that that argument was erroneous. In the first place, he should endeavour to show what the privy purse was, for gentlemen talked very fluently of the privy purse, but he doubted if they knew what it was. At the commencement of his majesty's reign, by stat. 1, Geo. 3rd, cap.], it was enacted, that a certain sum should be settled upon his majesty, for the proper maintenance of the royal household, and the due support of the royal dignity; and here he begged to impress upon the committee the consideration, that it was not upon the man, but upon the king, which the settlement was made. This was a difference which they should look at, and bear continually in mind. It was not to be at the absolute disposal and control of his majesty, as the private fortune of an individual might be at his (such individual's) disposal, but was to be applied to certain purposes; and if it was more than sufficient to answer those purposes, the surplus became the property of the public. It was then to the support of the royal household and the maintenance of the royal dignity, that the sum was granted, and not any mention was made of the privy purse. The sum granted by the act mentioned was 800,000l, per annum, to be disposed of as to his majesty might seem proper, under the responsibility of his ministers—that was, that he being allowed that sum, was to take charge of all expenses which might come under the head of civil list, and those ministers were to be consulted as to the particular sum which was to be apportioned for his majesty's private use. Parliament were not at that time, to be consulted; but it was to be left to the discretion of ministers to judge what sum might be necessary for his private use. They were, he again said, and he begged it might not be lost sight of, to apportion the sum on their own responsibility. The ministers, subject to responsibility to parliament, might have advised his majesty to take 600,000l. for that purpose. At first, 48,000l. was set aside for the privy purse, and afterwards, when his majesty's family and the claims on him were much increased, it was extended to 60,000l. But this sum was unknown to the constitution, and not 570 alluded to by parliament till the 39th of the king, which act recited that savings had grown up out of the privy purse and the dutchy of Lancaster, and empowered his majesty to dispose of them by will. The motive which was understood to have led to that act was, the intention on the part of the king to build the palace at Kew, which he destined for her late majesty, and in order to have the power of thus settling that palace on the queen, to build it, not on the royal grounds, but on private property, which he had purchased adjoining to the gardens. The act was purposely intended to enable his majesty to dispose of sums which had been issued out of the privy purse, and were vested in real or personal property. But the privy purse was not there named as a particular limited sum. It might have been 60l. or 60,000l.; it was not, as the noble lord would give the committee to suppose, that a certain fixed annual sum was thus made the peculiar private property of the Crown; but that the savings, whatever they were, vested in real or personal property, might be disposable by will. He allowed that whatever the king had saved up to the period of his illness was private property under that act, and might be disposed of to the noble lord, or to any one else. But what had that to do with the present question? That visitation of God which had fallen upon his majesty, and through him upon the country, had altered the whole question root and branch. He did not wish, and he trusted it would be so understood, to have the 39th or 40th of the king repealed on that subject; all he wanted was, that circumstances being now so completely different, the application of the sums should be in some degree suited to them. He should now consider the manner in which the privy purse was regarded in the 51st and 52nd of the king, and to this part of the subject he begged the particular attention of the committee. At the time of the passing of the first of those acts, as there was a reasonable prospect of his majesty's speedy recovery, the object was, to make such arrangements, that when his majesty recovered he should find every thing about him in the same situation as before his illness. Now, if the privy purse had been, as it was contended to be, the private property of the king, just as sacred and inviolable as the estate of a private gentlemen, why was any separate arrangement made concerning it, different from that concerning 571 the private property in general? Why was it thought necessary to have an act of parliament on the subject? The legislature however judged it necessary to interfere; and by that act, which for the first time mentioned the amount of the privy purse, the sum of 60,000l. was directed to be paid annually to the keeper of his majesty's privy purse, to be by him vested in the public funds in trust for the benefit of his majesty. This act, therefore, passed with a view to the probability of his majesty's recovery, recognized the principle of disposing of this fund. Then came the more melancholy year, when all prospect of his majesty's recovery, instead as being probable, was contemplated as a mere possibility, or, at most, as a thing most remotely probable. It then became the duty of parliament to make an entirely new arrangement. It was then necessary to take a greater view, and to provide for his majesty's affairs by a permanent settlement. To that period he wished to call the attention of the committee; and he would show that what he now proposed was not the infamous measure which the noble lord represented it, but was one which had already been recognized by the three branches of the legislature. By the act then passed (the 52nd of the king) three commissioners were appointed, in whom was vested the entire property given by the act of the 39th and 40th, without reserving to parliament any right to interfere with it. Each of these commissioners was made to take an oath before entering on the duties of the office, binding himself not to disclose any thing as to the property of his majesty, to any person, or on any occasion, excepting only in defence of that property in a court of law. And so imperative was the act as to the secrecy of the commissioners, that if the Speaker were to issue his warrant to them, or any of them, requiring a return of any part of that property, the answer to it must be, that it could not be obeyed. This provision of the act showed that there was a distinction taken by the legislature between one description of his majesty's property and the other. That part of which was secured to him under the act of the 39th and 40th, was treated as sacred, and not amenable to any disposition by parliament. But then the privy purse remained to be regulated for the future; and it was not treated like the property vested in the commissioners. The committee would see how very dif- 572 ferently the privy purse was regarded, both in the 5lst and the 52nd of the king from the property, the result of former accumulations, which was held thus sacred The payments charged on the privy purse at the passing of the 51st of the king, were 15,000l, in yearly payments, and 4,200l. quarterly, making about 32,000l. a year in round numbers. The 52nd of the king looking back to the 51st of the king, ordered repayment to be made from the saving under that act. It had been found that the quarterly payments were calculated on too low a scale, and a deficiency of some thousands which had occurred was ordered to be made good from the former savings. The permanent allowance for quarterly charges was increased to 4,900l. per quarter, which payments were on account of a waste which his majesty had been in the habit of pursuing step by step, and which was continued in the same manner. The annual charge was thus raised to 35,000l. From the commencement of his majesty's illness a heavy charge had been incurred on account of medical attendance, which during the first year had been paid from the droits of Admiralty, or some other source, as it was not expected to form a permanent burthen. At that time the charge was more heavy than at present, because the daily attendance of all the physicians was then thought necessary, whereas at present, a less constant attendance was sufficient. It was not expected that the country could supply this charge by new grants, and it was cast upon parliament to make provision for it. The manner in which parliament did it was this. The act recited that whereas it was expedient to defray the charge of medical aid and advice, and whereas it was "reasonable that those expenses should be paid out of the privy purse." Now, he would ask how any gentleman could say that it was reasonable to burthen the privy purse for one purpose connected with the care of his majesty's person, and infamous to burthen it for another? And not only was it deemed reasonable to burthen the privy purse prospectively for this purpose, but the savings under the 51st of this were made available for it;—the very sums which were directed to be vested in trust for his majesty were taken; back. This was more like an infamous measure than that which he proposed, and it was hard that a minister who had acceded to such a measure as this, should 573 upbraid him (Mr. T.) for following him at an humble distance.
After the charges of 15,000l. a year and 4,900l. per quarter were defrayed, and the expense of the physicians answered, it was directed that the surplus, "if any" should be vested in the commissioners for the care of the king's private property. "If any," it should be remarked, was the expression; so that parliament then thought that it had taken the whole of this fund. But it might be supposed, that when the surplus was once in the hands of the commissioners, it was sacred No!—so closely did parliament follow this privy purse, of which it conceived that it had the whole dominion, that it was directed that if the expenses of one year should absorb more than the fund of that year supplied, those commissioners sacred as they were, and protected by their oaths, should repay the surplus of former years which had been entrusted to them. He wished to ask an hon. and learned gentleman whom he saw taking notes, whether the act which appointed the commissioners for the care of the king's private property, and which declared that they should have no authority over money which had been used to be issued under the sign manual, and countersigned by the lords of the treasury (which was the description of the privy purse) might not be taken to define the limits of the private property of the king. The other acts which he had referred to only required common sense to interpret them, and showed plainly that parliament had conceived this privy purse to be subject to its entire control. It might be asked, as he were willing to throw these charges on the privy purse, whether he would have the Windsor establishment charged upon it? He should answer, he thought parliament had a right so to charge it; but that it would indicate a want of good taste at least to make such a proposition. It was the duty of parliament, as long as their beloved sovereign lived—as long as the remembrance of his virtues remained, not to deprive him of any thing which could in the slightest degree add to his comfort or convenience; more especially under the calamities of his present situation He and his friend would say to his majesty, if happily his majesty were in a condition to attend to their representations, "We are most ready to supply your majesty with every thing which you can desire. We would not leave any inclination 574 which would tend, for an instant to. alleviate your sufferings or add to your pleasures, ungratified. You shall have all you can wish; but then we implore your majesty not to become a miser—not to hoard up property which we can but badly spare, to be given hereafter to God, knows whom." They would go as far as any hon. members on the opposite side to grant all, not only that might be considered necessary, but even all that gewgaw and state which it was thought his majesty might be pleased with at Windsor; but then they thought that where there were ample private funds the public burthens ought not to be increased by being saddled with the expense. And, to ask a very natural question, to whom was this private property to belong? It was no secret that the king had made no testamentary disposition. It was now out of his power to make one. The property, therefore, left by him went to the Crown. Was it-then reasonable for the sovereign, or would he wish to burthen his people now to make a purse for his successor?—He asked whether it was ever contemplated that the property of the privy purse, which was originally destined for the maintenance of the dignity of the throne, should be subject to the testamentary disposition of the reigning sovereign, whether, for instance, the savings of the privy purse of the king, or those of the savings of the Prince Regent acting in the name and on the behalf of his majesty (for the committee should recollect that the country had now to pay two privy purses) were intended to accumulate, in order to form a fund for the benefit of the successor to the throne? No one, he thought, of any consideration, would give an affirmative answer to those questions, especially where, instead of subjecting the surplus of those savings to, or the payment of a sum deemed necessary to the cure of the royal person, it was proposed to throw the burthen upon that public from whom the privy purse of both the sovereign and the Regent, was derived. He remembered when the act, the 39th of the king, was about to be passed, an hon. friend of his opposed it; and he gave as the grounds of his opposition, reasons which, though not attended to at the time, he (Mr. Tierney) had never since, heard satisfactorily answered. He objected strongly to it, on account of the danger which he proved might arise from the circumstance of allowing the Grown to amass private property, as it would tend to lessen its 575 dependence upon the people. He did not deny that the sum demanded should be given; but what he contended was, that according to the plain construction of the act, according to common justice, it should be out of that fund which had, he might say, been in some measure appropriated for such use. The noble lord had asked, whether in giving the allowance to his royal highness the duke of York, they would treat him as a nurse attending a sick-bed. He (Mr. Tierney) would do no such thing; he would give to his Royal Highness every penny of expense to which as custos personœ, he would be put; but he would give it from that fund from which alone it should be taken; and if his Royal Highness was made to appear in any point of view not accordant with his high character, and well-known attachment to his illustrious parent, it was the noble lord and his colleagues he had to thank for it. The impropriety of casting such a burthen upon the people, was the more obvious when it was considered that the sum to be provided was for the charge of the custos personœ of the king. This was, indeed, a charge to which the privy purse was peculiarly liable, because that purse was originally created for the comfort and convenience of the king, and therefore the custos of the royal person ought to be paid out of it. The noble mover had asked, whether there was any precedent for such an appropriation of private property? and he (Mr. T.) would answer, yes; in a court of equity. For there, in all cases where it was necessary to appoint a committee or custos for the person of a lunatic, the expense attending such appointment was ordered to be defrayed out of the private property of such lunatic. But, in the name of common sense, out of what other fund should such expense be provided? Could the private feelings of the king be ascertained upon this question, he had no doubt whatever that his majesty would decide, that any expense incurred for the care of his royal person should be paid out of his own private property, rather than out of the public purse, especially at a period when that purse was already over burthened with other charges. He indeed assumed, that if there were a surplus of the private property of the king, the noble lord himself would rather have that property saddled with this charge than have it transferred to the public. If what he had advanced was admitted on the other side; if the‡576 principle of his amendment were thus agreed to, he wished to know what it was the House were discussing. His continuing to engage their attention would be wholly unnecessary. The only argument he had to make out was the propriety of taking the sum mentioned from the privy purse. He wished to know from fine noble lord, whether he was right in his understanding or not?—[A voice from the ministerial side of the House, replied "No." That being the case, he should feel it his duty to propose an Amendment to the noble lord's first proposition, namely, that after the words 50,000l., it should be inserted as follows:—"That any surplus arising out of the revenues of the duchy of Lancaster, and the sum of 60,000l. a year granted to the throne as a privy purse, according to the act of the 52nd of the king, should (after payment of the sums already charged thereon) be applied to defray the expense attending the care of his majesty's royal person."
The noble lord, in the course of his speech, had, in a tone of peculiar rant called upon the new parliament to show its disposition to that country which would as the noble lord said, judge of its character by its decision upon this question. He (Mr. T.) would also call upon the new parliament to display its character to the country by its conduct in this instance. There was not, he was sure, an individual in the country who would not be ready to grant even more than he could afford for the comfort of his sovereign, but knowing that disposition, it was the bounden duty of that House to take care that the property of the public should not be wantonly trenched upon. He hoped that duty would be attended to by the new parliament in despite of the threat of infamy so extravagantly thrown out by the noble lord. But if the parliament would do its duty by rejecting this proposition, they could not apprehend any infamy. In such an event, he would leave it to others to find out where the infamy would attach.
But notwithstanding this threat, he would ask, whether the noble lord would not himself have shrunk from this proposition, if he were not impelled to bring it forward by superior necessity? Were the noble lord, indeed, left to his own discretion, he had little doubt that the committee would never have heard a word of this proposition; but the noble lord was urged to incur the responsibility by some authority which be could not conveniently 577 withstand. I fit were proposed to defray the expense of the grant to the custos regis out of the privy purse, as it ought, he was sure that all parties would have been satisfied, and that no dissention would have arisen upon this subject; but on the contrary, the noble lord and his colleagues had thought proper to decide, that the only member of the royal family who had heretofore been spared upon pecuniary questions, should be dragged into discussion is that House, thus contriving that the popularity of the royal family should be placed in jeopardy—that its disinterestedness should be exposed to question—that its reputation should be subjected to suspicion. Such, indeed, was the tendency of the conduct of the noble lord and his colleagues, while the noble lord himself, in such a tone of extravagance expressed his solicitude and reverence for the character of that illustrious personage. But how had the noble lord and his colleagues invariably acted towards the royal family?—Last year they proposed a large outfit for each of the royal dukes, upon his marriage, with an annual revenue of 12,000l. What was the result? A discussion which ought to have been avoided took place, and they (ministers) were afterwards glad to take half the original sum. The outfit was altogether abandoned, and not more than the sum of 6,000l. a year was ultimately granted to any of those illustrious personages. But he would ask, whether the royal family came out of the discussions in which they were involved by ministers upon that occasion, as their real friends must have wished?—Did not their character suffer in public estimation by such debates? It might be all very well for the noble lord and his colleagues. Whatever they might bring upon others, they contrived to keep their places and to stand their ground. But after all these proceedings, did the monarchy stand where it ought?—The members of the royal family were not like persons who might regard character as of little value, compared to the retention of place, for the character of the royal family was essential to the stability of the monarchy, and ought not to be hazarded for any, purpose of temporary convenience or paltry lucre. The ministers, indeed, who placed this illustrious family in such a situation as to provoke the danger of any public censure, incurred a most serious responsibility. The noble lord said that the, duke of York did not wish on his own 578 account personally to have the 10,000l. He perfectly believed this. But yet for all that ministers came to parliament for this sum. They had brought the thing forward, and were resolved to defend it—and if they did defend it, the duke of York would get nothing—that would be the end of it. Let the country look at all the great sums that had been voted to the various members of the royal family since 1811, and when they did so let them say if it was not cruel to place any member of the royal family in such a situation as the duke of York now stood. The Prince Regent had in 1811 a grant of 60,00l. a year for his privy purse, in addition to which 10,000l.a year had since been voted. The king had also a privy purse of 60,000l. a year, with an additional revenue from the duchy of Lancaster, which made up-more than 70,000l. There was thus a private property belonging to the Crown of 140,000l. a year, and surely it was not too much to say, that out of this sum the proposed grant should be defrayed for the care of the king's person. But in addition to the grants which he had stated, there was a large vote to the Prince Regent, as Prince of Wales, out of which 50,000l.a year was set apart for the payment of His Royal Highness's debts; which after all, be it remembered, were discharged by the public, while there was also an allowance of 35,000l. a year for the maintenance of the princess of Wales. And yet with all these vast sums, the noble lord came down to parliament, and said, "Give us 10,000l. more, and if you refuse to give it us, you do that which is infamous." Such was the conduct and such the language of his majesty's ministers. Nothing could now induce him to refrain from taking the sense of the committee upon this question—not only with the view of averting any new burthen from an oppressed people—but actually to prevent their being insulted at the hands of his majesty's ministers. He was speaking with warmth, but warmth was excusable when alluding to such expressions as the noble lord had used. He would no longer detain the committee. He had shown that the privy purse was not that private sort of fund that burthens could not be thrown upon for the care of his majesty's, person; and the only question was, did not the sum to defray the expenses of the custos come under that description? Though the sum in dispute here was small, the question which it involved was one of the utmost 579 importance: it was connected closely with the constitutional law of the country and it came home to the most powerful feelings of a people, who, while labouring under their burthens, were insulted by such expressions as those to which the noble lord had resorted. The right hon. gentleman concluded with proposing his amendment.
observed, that he felt as any man ought, the disadvantage of immediately succeeding the eminently able individual, who had just addressed the Committee. He would not follow the right hon. gentleman into all the parts of his speech, embracing as it did, observations on all the resolutions before the committee. He was anxious, however, to say a few words in reply; and he offered himself thus early to the notice of the committee, because he was conscious of his own inability to command attention, if he postponed the few observations which he had to make till its patience had been exhausted with the length of the debate. Notwithstanding the display of ingenuity made by the; right hon. gentleman, notwithstanding the closeness with which he had discussed the subject, and the great knowledge he possessed on all such questions as the present, he still retained the opinion with which he came down to the House, namely, that the privy purse could not with propriety be applied to defray the expenses of the custos of the king's person. He was still, of opinion, that the proposition of the right hon. gentleman, so far as regarded its principle, implied an unreasonable and unjustifiable interference with a fund to which parliament ought not to resort: that, so far as regarded the particular case in which the principle was applied, and the use for which the money was to be taken, it was indelicate and ungenerous, and that as far as it involved a violation of private property, and of vested rights, it would authorize the greatest injustice, and lead to the greatest dangers, without being in the least redeemed by the sordid gain that might accrue from the paltry saving. The right hon. gentleman in the course of his speech, had directed his sallies against ministers, for measures unconnected with the present. Into such topics he would not follow him, but allow their defence to be made by others more competent to the undertaking. He would endeavour to discuss the question with moderation and calmness; and in replying to a speech where the right 580 hon. gentleman had promised a spirit and a temper of discussion which he had not steadily maintained, he would attend to his argument, rather than endeavour to imitate his example. He was far from comparing himself with the right hon. gentleman for knowledge or talent; he was conscious of his own immense inferiority, and of his inability to contend with him, unless he derived strength from his cause. "Infelix et impar congressus Achilli." But though thus unequal in power, he did not hesitate to enter the lists, and anticipated success in replying to the arguments of the right hon. gentleman. The right hon. gentleman had truly said, that for the purposes of this argument, it was necessary to define what was called the privy purse; but, in entering into a history of it, he had made statements on which a part of the fallacy of his reasoning depended. The act of the first of the king, which settled the civil list, had been stated by him and truly, as making no allusion to any head of expense, or any fund called the privy purse. The acts of the 39th and 40th of the king had, according to the right hon. gentleman, mentioned the privy purse, but had fixed it at no definite sum. "That sum," said he (Mr. Tierney), "was not mentioned till the 5lst of the king, or the year 1811." Now in these statements there were several misstatements of facts. If it should be made appear that a distinct parliamentary grant was made and recognised before 1811, under the head of privy purse; if that grant was the same as now. namely, 60,000l.; and if after the act of 1811 parliament had again confirmed and determined it, he would ask, would not an interference with it be a violation of private property? Now he would only beg leave to remind the right hon. gentleman and the committee, that there was such an allowance before the act of 1811: that between the 1st of the king or the year 1760, and the 51st or 1811, Mr. Burke's bill regulating the civil list had passed; and in that bill, which received the sanction of law in 1782, a head of expense, under the title of privy purse, was distinctly recognised. That bill directed that estimates should be made out of the different expenses with which the civil list was burthened, and in these estimates was included the sum of 60,000l. for a privy purse. Nay, more, this grant was distinctly admitted by parliament, in the interval between the passing of the act of 581 1782, and the year 1811. In that interval, the king had been subject to the same malady with which he was now afflicted; and a bill was introduced in the 29th of his reign, for the care and custody of his person, which had not indeed passed into a law before his happy recovery, but which had distinctly recognised a privy purse. He might refer to the resolutions brought forward by Mr. Pitt in the House of Commons, on which resolutions that bill was founded, as conclusive evidence on the subject. One of these resolutions, was that the power of the Regent appointed to administer the government, should not extend over the privy purse, or interfere with his majesty's private property, unless with the single exception of renewing leases. This same set of resolutions directed, that 60,000l. should be given annually to the keeper of his majesty's privy purse, to be applied to the uses of his majesty. It stated the heads of some of the charges upon it: the sum of 12,000l. was directed to be given as wages or pensions to the old servants of the king, who were the objects of his bounty; other sums were destined for charitable purposes; and the surplus was ordered to be handed over to commissioners, to be invested in the public funds for the use of his majesty. Thus, before the year 1811, a privy purse was distinctly recognised by the legislature, and the act of that year did nothing but. repeal the provisions of former grants. But the right hon. gentleman had argued, that in the act of the 52d of the king, parliament had interfered with that fund, and consequently had not treated it as private property, which it would be improper to interfere with on the present occasion. He grounded this argument on the fact of the act, which not only directed the pensions and charities with which his majesty himself had burthened the fund, to be paid out of it, but had ordered that the fees of physicians and all the medical expenses should be defrayed from the same source. The right hon. gentleman had quoted the words of the act, which stated that "it was reasonable" the physicians should so be paid; and if it was reasonable that they should be so paid the right hon. gentleman asked why the custos ought not to be paid in the same manner. He would tell the right hon. gentleman that there were two reasons why the medical attendants were paid out of the privy purse rather than out of any other fund, and those reasons did not apply to the custos. In the 582 first place, his majesty was always able, and would always have been willing, to pay his medical attendants, out of his private property. Parliament, in this case, merely acted as the interpreter of his majesty's wishes. And why did not the act of 1811 order the physicians to be paid out of the privy purse, as the act of 1812 did? The reason was plain, on this supposition—at the first period mentioned, hopes were entertained of his majesty's recovery, and the remuneration of his physicians for their attendance on him was left to himself; but in 1812, when the unrestricted regency commenced, the hopes of his recovery were very much diminished; and accordingly, by the act of that year, the privy purse was permanently burdened with the expense of physicians. Thus could it be explained why parliament interfered in 1812 with the privy purse, for the payment of the king's medical attendants, without authorizing a similar interference now, for defraying the expenses of the custos. If the principle was the same in both cases, why did not parliament, in 1812, charge the expenses of the custos on the same fund? Why did not the right hon. gentleman come forward with his proposition then? Why did he not urge then the arguments which the House had heard to-night? Why did not he, and the friends with whom he acted, urge the House then to grant the 10,000l. to the queen, out of the privy purse? They might not have succeeded in persuading parliament to adopt their views then, any more than he hoped they would do now; but they might, at least, have recorded their opinions on the Journals of the House. But what was the course which the gentlemen in opposition then pursued? It would be recollected that Mr. Perceval then proposed a committee to inquire into the civil list, and particularly the disposal of the privy purse. In that committee were included the names of two gentlemen who could never be mentioned in that House without respect; one of them a man of striking eloquence, of great talents, and long distinguished for his opposition to his majesty's ministers; but they refused to act. Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Adam considered the privy purse as so private, so sacred, and so inviolable a fund, that they could not induce themselves to inquire into it [loud cheers]. "If," said Mr. Peel, "what I have heard from the other side be meant as a cheer of derision at the name of Mr. Sheridan, I must say 583 that I could not expect such am expression towards an individual who was one of the most able Supporters the party from which it proceeded ever had the honour to possess, while he was, by universal confession, one of the greatest ornaments of Whom that House and the British empire ever had reason to be proud." Why did the members of opposition, then, not support the necessity of inquiry against the two right hon. gentlemen whom he had mentioned? Why did they then not come forward and expose the errors of their friends? Why did they not boldly advance, and declare, that "so far from considering the privy purse as a sacred fund, clothed with the rights of private property, we shall institute the strictest inquiry into its past disposal, and take the utmost freedom with its future destination: not only the physicians should be paid out of it, but ' it is reasonable' that the expenses of the custos also should be charged upon it." But to show that the custos ought not to be paid out of it, though the physicians might, let the House consider the nature of the office. Was it not one of great dignity and authority? Why, otherwise, appoint a council to the custos, of the highest characters in the country? Nay, of so much importance was that council considered, that it was proposed, in opposition to Mr. Pitt, when the first regency bill was introduced, that the royal dukes should be nominated members of it. Did not this take it out of the character of one of those offices which could be supported by the private funds of his majesty, and make it one of importance in the state? If, then, when parties ran high, it was never proposed to interfere with the privy purse, for a purpose like that now proposed—if the 60,000l. was then a sum considered as peculiarly appropriated to his majesty for his private use—if after he recovered from his former malady, he saw that it had been held sacred, and had been protected from violation, had not his majesty a right to expect that it would always be so; and that he was at full liberty to dispose of it as he pleased, without the possibility of alteration being made in any arrangements that he might sanction with regard to it? And would it be fair, would it be just, to interfere now, to disappoint expectations so reasonably formed, or to alter dispositions made on such prospects of permanency? The right hon. gentleman had gone into an argument, and stated a dis- 584 tinction to which his noble friend had not alluded. The right hon. gentleman had stated that the funds were of two kinds; 60,000l. accruing from the grant of parliament, and 10,000l. from the revenue of the duchy of Lancaster. The amount was thus 70,000l.; but what were the burdens with which it was charged? The payment of medical attendance was 28,000l.; the sums given in pensions, salaries, charities, and under other heads, by his majesty, amounted to 30,000l.; so that here 58,000l., or nearly the whole of the grant of parliament (60,000l.) was disposed of. If these charges absorbed the whole of the 60,000l. granted by parliament, except 2,000l., whence were the 10,000l. to the custos to come? Were his allowances to be imposed upon the revenue of the duchy of Lancaster? But these revenues were not a parliamentary grant; they did not depend upon parliament at all: they had been in the power and at the disposal of the Crown ever since the reign of Edward 4th. They were as clearly private property as the estate of any gentleman was his private property. If, then, that House had always protected private property—if it had always supported vested rights—if even when the grant had taken place in times of trouble and disturbance, it guarded it from violation on account of its prescriptive duration, would it not reject a proposition like that of the right hon. gentleman, as destructive of the wise and just principles on which it had formerly acted? Would it not do so with the more alacrity, when it considered that the privy purse was formerly regarded as so sacred in the most stormy periods of party warfare, that it had never before been attempted to be violated by those most in the habit of opposing ministers? In the first chapter of the first of the king, the act was found regulating the civil list, intituled "An Act for the Support of his Majesty's Household, and of the Honour and Dignity of his Crown." The preamble to that act, which was expressed in beautiful and affecting language, stated the feelings with which his majesty's faithful Commons of those days regarded the provisions proper to be made for their sovereign, and the light in which they viewed his private property. After enumerating certain duties granted for the support of his majesty's household, and the dignity of the Crown, it added, "and whereas your majesty has been graciously pleased to signify your consent to 585 your faithful Commons in parliament assembled, that whenever they should enter upon the consideration of making provision for your household, and the honour and dignity of your Crown, such disposition might be made of your majesty's interest in the hereditary revenues of the Crown, as might best conduce to the utility and satisfaction of the public, thereby giving the most substantial proof of your tender concern for the welfare of your people, and that the same is superior in your royal breast to all other considerations: we your majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Great Britain, in parliament assembled, with hearts full of the warmest duty and gratitude, are desirous that a certain and competent revenue for defraying the expenses of your majesty's civil government, and supporting the dignity of the Crown of Great Britain during your life (which God long preserve), may be settled on your majesty, and that your majesty may be enabled to make an honourable provision for the royal family, as a testimony of unfeigned affection to your sacred person, by whose happy accession to the throne your majesty's subjects have the strongest assurance that the religion, laws, and liberties of this realm will be continued; and that they, your said subjects, and their posterity, may, through the Divine goodness, enjoy every blessing under your majesty's auspicious reign, have, therefore, freely and unanimously resolved to grant unto you our most gracious sovereign lord king George the third, a certain revenue, payable, &c." This was a part of the preamble of the first act passed in his majesty's reign; and should the present act be the last, God forbid that by adopting the proposition of the right hon. gentleman, its preamble should form a contrast to the loyal and affectionate preamble which he had quoted, and should run thus: "Whereas, during your majesty's long reign, we your majesty's faithful Commons have enjoyed, under your majesty, the protection of the religion, laws, and liberties of this realm; and whereas, by several acts, passed during the reign of your majesty, your faithful Commons granted certain revenues for the support of your civil establishment, part of which it has resumed; and whereas, out of these sums so granted, a little still remains at the disposal of your majesty; we your majesty's faithful Commons, in the 59th year of your reign, ap- 586 proach your majesty's sacred person, begging leave to appropriate, that said remaining revenue for other purposes than those for which it was originally granted." Would the House of Commons give ground for a preamble like this? Would they sanction a violation of private property to support a public office? Would they offer to his majesty's Royal son, a grant from a fund which his Royal Highness thought it indelicate to touch, and which he declared he would not receive?
strongly protested against the expressions used in the latter part of the noble lord's speech, respecting the "infamy" that would attach to the circumstance of paying the custos of the king's person out of the privy purse; he denied that there was any think of a sacred character appertaining to the property belonging to the king, and ridiculed the absurdity of supposing that any thing that once entered the king's purse, could never be touched by parliament. Gentlemen might differ on this question, without giving cause for any impeachment of their loyalty. He was surprised, for the first time since the question was originated, to hear the argument of his right hon. friend who had just sat down, and of whose talents and eloquence there could be but one opinion in the committee, going to this—that the 10,000l. was to be considered as private property, and therefore not to be within legislative control. If he was to believe the doctrines of his right hon. friend, all the revenues of the Crown must have formerly been private property. The duchy of Lancaster was not private property, as was seen in this, that the king could not dispose of it. The noble lord had talked a great deal about producing universal alarm in the country by attacking the principle of private property in this proposed abstraction from the privy purse, and he (Mr. Bankes) had not been a little surprised at that observation, because only about a week ago in the committee, as well indeed as in his speech, on introducing to the House the subject of the Windsor establishment, the noble lord had not touched upon, or even hinted at, such an objection. He begged to know why the noble lord, or those who were in office in 1812, had not started it. Yet the proposition on the regency then, was considered a cabinet measure, and the lord chancellor had been consulted as to the law of the question, and had not al- 587 luded to such an obstacle. Did it never occur to them, that the payment of the physicians out of the privy purse was equally an infringement upon a vested right? Then, however, the noble lord indulged in no fears lest the country should be alarmed at the unprecedented invasion. If it were an invasion, which he did not admit, at least it now was precedented, for he could discover no shade of difference between the proposal now made by his right hon. friend and that which parliament had carried into a law in 1812. The two cases were in fact most strictly analogous. The noble lord had used large words and hard words; but the quotation with which he had concluded, "Nolumus leges Angliæ mutari," was singularly inapplicable; for it would be departing from what had been established as law in 1812 to refuse to pay the 10,000l. out of the surplus of the privy purse. His right hon. friend who had just sat down, thought that he urged, a most triumphant argument, when he said, that parliament had never dreamed of taking the 10,000l. from the privy-purse during the life of the queen; but he (Mr. Bankes) could never comprehend why it had not been so deducted, even in 1812. It seemed the only proper fund from which it could be taken; and if it had not then been suggested, perhaps many members were influenced on that point, as well as in respect to the amount, by the veneration they entertained for her majesty, whose domestic virtues had so endeared her to her subjects. The grant of 10,000l. at that time was deemed extravagant by some; and the words of the preamble of the Regency bill were unquestionably absurd, because no one had ever pretended that the sum was given for the purpose there stated. Mr. Perceval had himself stated that if the 10,000l. were not given to the queen as custos, her majesty might perhaps be entitled to put in a claim for jointure, so that the nation was a gainer by the grant. He hoped that the noble lord would not deem him a spoiler of private property, because he voted for the amendment; but he must say, in conclusion, that from what passed only a week ago, he had been fettle prepared to expect that the noble lord would pursue the line of argument lie had that evening adopted.
§ Mr. Wilmot
considered this in no view a question of economy, but of positive law: the committee were not called upon to decide at how cheap a rate they could 588 contract to keep their king, but whether, in the proposed amendment, it would not be guilty of the violation of a vested right. The dignity and the responsibility of the situation of custos, convinced him that the duke of York could be contemplated in no other light than as a public officer, and consequently that he ought to be paid by the public. Whether 10,000l. a year was or was not too much, was not the question: the point in difference was, whether the country ought to be relieved in the mode proposed, by requiring parliament to dip its hands into the pocket of the sovereign. Notwithstanding the distresses of the times, he by no means considered the 10,000l. as too much for an officer of such vast importance. If even the remuneration had been greater, he would have readily given his consent to it. The hon. member professed his independence; stated that he belonged to no party, but that he thought it his duty to give his vote in favour of the measure. He was a strenuous friend to economy; but while, on the one hand, he was anxious for the relief of the country, he was on the other equally anxious that there should be no violation of the faith of parliament; and he contended that it would be a most dangerous precedent were the legislature to interfere with admitted private right.
, of Galway, begged to be understood as caviling with no unintelligible proposition. What he sought, and what he was determined upon was, to give to the duke of York for the responsible duties which he undertook, not an ambiguous claim on his father's property, but a solid and substantial grant of 10,000l. per annum; because he thought his royal highness deserved it. He offered it on the part of his constituents, and if he took it out of the privy purse, it would not be given in the way which his constituents desired. Was it fit to give away the property of another? Ought ministers to listen to those who told them commit a robbery, and we will lend you our assistance." He would be bound to say, that if the subject were fairly canvassed at Covent-garden hustings, the whole multitude would concur in the justice of the vote. He was not afraid of saying so; he knew that a general election was near, but he was persuaded that he only spoke the national sentiment.
§ Mr. Protheroe
differed entirely from the hon. gentleman who spoke last but one. It was impossible, in considering 589 this question, not to advert to the actual state of the country, and to remember that every possible saving of the national expenditure was a duty. He would willingly have given his support to the noble lard, if he had been convinced that private property would be violated, or private rights invaded, by the amendment. The communication which the noble lord had made from the duke of York was of a most extraordinary nature; it had always been considered a gross breach of privilege in any member to attempt to influence the votes of the House, by employing the name of the sovereign; and surely the threat held out by the duke of York could be held scarcely less a breach of privilege, if indeed it ought not to be viewed in the light of an insult. It had been said, that a king had no friends, and the experience of to-night showed that a prince had no friends. Had the duke of York possessed a single friend, this debate would never have occurred. Most certainly the House and the country had expected a communication of a very opposite nature: till now a conviction had been felt that the duke of York would have looked for his reward in the discharge of his pious filial duties, and that he would have rejected with disdain a pecuniary remuneration to be taken out of the drained pockets of the people. Little, indeed, had it been expected, that his royal highness would have converted his bounden duty as a son into a source of mercenary profit.
§ Mr. Huskisson
declared, that he had listened with the greatest attention and utmost impartiality to all that had been offered on both sides of the House, and he was persuaded that the supporters of the amendment founded their arguments on an erroneous view of the subject. Before he proceeded, he wished to advert to what had fallen from the hon. gentleman who last spoke. He had complained of a breach of privilege; but he had not supported his complaint either by argument or proof. Next, he had said that the duke of York had no friends, because the motion was persisted in. Had not the communication been made, and the claim made, his royal highness might indeed have said that he had no friends. It was his royal highness's duty as a subject and a son, not to accept the grant out of the privy purse. Admitting, for the sake of argument, that the House had overstepped the fit line of private property on previous 590 occasions, it was now the more fit to return; all encroachments made for temporary purposes were to be looked at with jealousy and suspicion. It had been truly said, that the mere money, the 10,000l. was a paltry consideration compared with the great principle that was involved in it. The question was, whether the barriers of private property should he broken down; whether the private personal estate of his majesty should be assailed; whether vested and recognised rights were to be invaded? There were three points on which all men must make up their minds before they arrived at a conclusion—1st, whether the savings of the privy purse were to be considered the private personal property of the king; 2dly, whether the office of custos was one of a public nature; and, 3dly, whether the duke of York, if invested with the office, as a public officer, ought to be paid out of the king's private funds? At the beginning of his majesty's reign no question could have arisen, because the whole of the civil list was at the disposal of the Crown. Parliament had no means of ascertaining either its amount or disposition; but the king resigning this power, had had conferred upon him the privy purse, the savings of which were to be deemed the disposable property of his majesty: it belonged to him and his successors just as much as the property of any private individual. In 1812, by means of a committee appointed under peculiar circumstances, parliament had ascertained that the surplus of the privy purse had been disposed of in various ways, but chiefly upon objects of charity and benevolence; and in the Regency act, it had been directed that the physicians should be paid out of it, for the plainest of all reasons—because the king had constantly done so up to the hour of his visitation. The hon. member for Corff Castle had said a, great deal about the provisions of that bill, but he (Mr. Huskisson) did not recollect that in 1812, that hon. gentleman, whose economising spirit was so well known in the House of Commons, and had been of so much advantage to the country, had stood forward to move for any deductions from the privy purse; he had not then contemplated the necessity of taking the 10,000l. allowed to the queen from the privy purse, though he now so strenuously supported the proposal for that purpose; yet at that period the hon. gentleman was probably as much 591 alive to the necessity of economy as at the present moment. With regard to the office of custos, it was one of the highest duties and of the heaviest responsibility; it was second to none but to that of the regent; and in considering this subject, he entreated the House to recollect, that though a regency had been established, it was but a delegated power, and that the king was still king, and was attended by the love and the regrets of a grateful people. On this account the situation of custos ought not to be looked on as a private office; it was not distinguishable from any other office in the Windsor establishment, excepting by its superiority and general control: in principle, however, it was the same, and it ought to be paid in the same way. It was useless to repeat the arguments so ably urged against those who insisted, that by taking 10,000l. from the privy purse, private rights and property would not be infringed; in fact, they had remained, and would remain, unanswered. However some hon. gentlemen might object to the communication made by his noble friend, it had given him (Mr. Huskisson) great satisfaction: for his own part, he would rather reject the grant altogether, than derive the money from a fund which ought never to be touched; he preferred the minor injustice of not compensating his royal highness at all, than the greater injustice of employing the privy purse in making that compensation. He called upon parliament to protect the honour of the duke of York—to protect its own honour, by acceding to the resolution of his noble friend, without breaking in upon vested rights, and applying to a source to which, for national purposes, no resort ought ever to be had.
§ Mr. Hume
rose amidst loud calls for the question, and was for some minutes inaudible. If, he said, he had any knowledge of the feelings of the illustrious personage so often alluded to, he never could have authorized the statement they had that night heard from the noble lord, namely, that it would be derogatory to his royal highness's honour to undertake the duty of superintending the treatment of the king without his being paid for it [Question, question!].—He was extremely sorry that the House would not extend their patience for a few moments. He himself had listened with great patience to all the gentlemen, and he trusted they would hear him. He was quite sure that*592 his Royal Highness would perform the part of a dutiful son to his afflicted sire, without the incentive of being remunerated for it. What was the British parliament now called on to do? To take 10,000l. a-year from the hard-earnings of the distressed people, in order to put it into the privy purse; for to burthen the public with an expense that ought to be incurrred by the Crown, was putting the people's earnings into the privy purse. It was to this proceeding that the public were looking, as an earnest of what was to be expected from parliament on the score of economy. These might be unpleasant truths, but they ought to be heard. After the declaration made by the noble lord, and the law subtleties in which he dealt, he still looked to the stand made by his right hon. friend, not one of whose arguments had been answered. They were pulling down the pillars of the constitution, in order to strengthen its Corinthian capital. He would repeat it, that they were proceeding to levy 10,000l. a year upon the pockets of the people to put it hereafter into the purse of the prince. Whilst the subject was still before them, he wished them to consider the effect of their decision on the public. He, for one, would never be privy to such an act; and should sit down protesting against a measure so contrary to the public feeling, and so unauthorized by the royal duke.
§ Lord Compton
said, he felt the necessity of an adherence to economy, but still there were measures of economy which the House could not adopt, and he considered the present to be one of those. It was evidently a doubtful point whether the privy purse was not in reality the private property of the Crown; and while only a doubt rested on this point—while the balance might be described as still trembling with fate—he was sure the House would not trench on the sacred rights of sovereignty in the person of a monarch, whom all parties in that House, whatever were their differences, had so long loved and revered. Never, he was confident, would they interpose between their sovereign and a few thousands per annum. He, therefore, for one, was prepared to vote for the proposition of his noble friend. If, indeed, that sovereign were seated at this moment on his throne, exercising his functions, enjoying his ancestorial rule, and capable of calling on his people, it would remain with them, 593 although some hesitation were experienced, to answer the call. Very different was the situation of our afflicted monarch! When, therefore, he reflected on his melancholy state, he considered it happy for the House, that they had found an opportunity of testifying their unabated attachment to the person of their venerable and beloved king.
§ Mr. Mansfield
said, he had no reason to suppose that the House, by neglecting their duty to the people, were at all evincing their loyalty to the venerable and afflicted monarch of the country. He lived among a class of persons who were suffering under the severest pressure of distress, and he could not therefore think, that by voting for the original motion, he would be doing his duty, as he saw no consistency in giving this grant, especially after the repeated declarations made about economy and retrenchment. He had the highest respect for the character and talents of the duke of York, and, at the same time, he felt all that attachment which a subject could feel for the venerable monarch who had so long, so ably, and so faithfully presided over the affairs of this kingdom; but he felt, at the same time, that he had an imperative duty to. perform to his constituents and the public; and it would well become the House to reflect, that they had their duty also to perform to the public, as well as their loyalty to evince to their sovereign and his illustrious son.
said, that the question then before the House was certainly one of the greatest interest. He was perfectly aware, that the eyes of the public were fixed upon the House, on the present occasion. He was not ashamed, however, to say, that he was not to be always bound by the popular opinion, as he anxiously wished to act on candid, liberal principles; but he must say, that on the present occasion, he should unquestionably vote against the measure proposed by ministers, and give his hearty support to the Amendment.
§ Mr. Alderman Waithman
rose amidst loud cries of question, and observed, that if a future occasion should present itself, it was his intention to deliver his sentiments fully on this question. That future opportunity, however, he hoped would not occur, but that the subject would be set at rest by the vote of the committee. He had only one remark to offer at present, and it was this, that he could not suppress the indignation with which he had heard 594 it stated, that the duke of York was ready to take 10,000l. a year, provided the money should come out of the pockets of an impoverished people, but that he would not accept it if taken from the privy purse [Hear, hear!].
§ Mr. Hart Davis
said, that he had come down to this debate with his mind perfectly open to conviction, and that on the subject of the right hon. gentleman's (Mr. Tierney's) amendment, he had not been pre-determined against any proof that might be offered of the power of the House of Commons legally to take the amount of the proposed grant to the custos of the king's person, from the privy purse; in. this proof, however, the right hon. gentleman had wholly failed. But if this right were now assumed, by the Amendment being carried, he should feel it his duty hereafter to propose, that the late grant to his royal highness prince Leopold, should be taken into consideration, with a view to its being greatly reduced. This grant of 50,000l. per annum, was as large as the king's establishment, and nearly three times as large as that of the junior branches of the royal family. He asked, whether there was any member of that House who, in assenting to this allowance, did not consider it as intended for the widower of their future queen? and he wished to be informed upon what principle it could be argued, that one act of parliament for the protection of property should be held more sacred than another? He desired the House, therefore, to consider what the adoption of the principle of the Amendment must lead to. He, indeed, looked with the greatest jealousy at this proposition of the right hon. gentleman. He was not ashamed of avowing himself a Tory, or rather he gloried in the title; but not as frequently explained in that House. The only difference he knew of between a good Old Whig and Tory was, that the Whig apprehended the more immediate danger to the constitution from the undue influence of the Crown, whereas, the Tory conceived that it was as likely to arise from the encroaching and overbearing license of the people. He was, however, convinced, that both would be found fighting under the same banner, whenever a real attack was made upon the constitution [loud cheers].—Little had been said that night upon the question of most import, namely, the policy of reducing the king's household to so low a scale. For his part, he had much rather have 595 voted it as it existed under the former settlement. It was his opinion, that this was the last saving that should have been resorted to, and that only under an overwhelming necessity. He put it to the House, whether we could be said to be reduced to this necessity, as long as we had a peace establishment of twenty millions? He assured the noble lord, he was sorry to be obliged to say that he had heard him that night not only with pain, but with disgust, whilst he was attempting to prove to the House that he had pared down the royal establishment to the last farthing. He was not insensible (far from it) to the advantage of a saving of 50,000l. per annum, but he could have wished it to have proceeded from a more legitimate source. He thought that the duke of York's refusal to receive a pecuniary compensation from the funds of the privy purse arose from the most delicate feelings of the human mind towards his father and his king. He (Mr. Davis) spoke as the representative of a great city, and in the name of its loyal population, who, he was confident, would have borne any privation rather than that their aged and beloved sovereign should be deprived (possibly in the last year of his life and reign) of those necessary appendages of royalty, which were intimately blended with the best interests of his people, which all his ancestors had enjoyed, which that House had likewise conferred upon him, and which the constitution sanctioned and approved. On the subject of the right hon. gentleman's amendment he felt that it was an unjustifiable attack upon private property, and as such should give it his most hearty dissent.
A Member, whose name we could not learn, expressed much surprise at the language just used by one of the members for the city. For his own part, he scarcely knew how to mention royalty in a House of Commons. He recollected the time when his royal highness the duke of York was the object of as foul an attack as had ever been made upon an individual of exalted rank. At that time he yielded to the sense of the House, and retired with dignity. He was, however, soon recalled to office, and many persons were sorry for the part they had taken against him. If the House should vote for the proposed amendment, they might also see reason to regret such a vote hereafter.
The Solicitor General
observed, that nothing which he had heard during the 596 observations made by the right hon. gentleman opposite could induce him to alter the opinions he had formed on the subject then before the House. The conclusions he had come to, after a very mature deliberation, were, that the adoption of the amendment of the right hon. gentleman, would be nothing less than a complete invasion of the rights of private property, recognized and sanctioned by the parliament as such. It had been contended by gentlemen opposite, that the 52nd of the king bore them out in their support of the right hon. gentleman's amendment; but he should è contra contend, that the spirit of that act made directly against that amendment. The first question to be considered in this case was, if the privy purse and the revenues of the duchy of Lancaster were not private property? In answer, it could first be stated, that there were three solemn enactments on the table, recognizing the privy purse as private property. He was, therefore, not a little astonished to hear it said, that it was only in 1799 or 1800, that the privy purse had been recognised as such. It was impossible that the House could forget the celebrated speech of Mr. Burke on economical reform; when it was stated, in language that would last while England itself existed, that the privy purse was the private property of the king, and that the honour of the House was bound to provide, not only for the support and maintenance of his majesty, but for those funds from which his private benevolence was to flow. But although there existsd no strictly legislative enactments, from what the House could reason, as he had done; yet so much had the privy purse been considered as the private property of the king, that no return of its disbursements was ordered by the parliament, nor any responsible officer appointed for such purpose. If it had been otherwise regarded, surely the same exercise of jealousy would have been observed in that case as in the other branches of the royal revenue, and he was bound to take it as incontrovertible, almost from that fact alone, that the privy purse was the private property of the Crown. Not only was the general impression, as he had stated, but the king himself had acted upon it as his recognised private property; and made some purchases in land and other things, the propriety of which he had never yet heard disputed. If the House agreed to 597 the amendment proposed by the right hon. gentleman, they would grossly violate the law upon the subject. Great stress seemed to have been laid upon the 39th and 40th of the king, by gentlemen opposite; but he begged leave to say, that that act applied respectively, and not in the limited manner to which they thought proper to restrict it. It enacted particularly and distinctly, that all the past and future savings accruing to or in the privy purse, should be at the full and entire disposal of the king. And then, up to the year 1811, it was admitted, that the privy purse had been held sacred. That admission was worth something, because it saved some trouble in referring to old acts, and from 1811 to the present period, it could be easily demonstrated, that no circumstances had occurred, calling for or warranting that construction of the 52nd of the king, which formed the basis of all the reasoning indulged in on the other side. The act of 1811 sanctioned and confirmed to his majesty, in the event of his recovery from a calamity he was sure every member of both sides alike deplored, the full and entire disposal of any saving of the privy purse. If it did not confirm it in express terms, it evidently contemplated such a power; and whether the king had made a will or not, as stated by the right hon. gentleman, did not avail an iota to the arguments used by that right hon. gentleman, and could certainly be no ground on which he could build the hope of carrying his amendment. He would seriously wish, however, to ask the House, if his majesty was to be deprived of the power of rewarding his tried and faithful servants, in the event of his recovery? That recovery might be distant, he would admit; but while the possibility of its occurring existed, the legislature could not honourably, nor consistently despoil him of a right, which, if he had the use of his faculties, they would not think of touching or of questioning. In an appeal to the feelings of the House, he hoped for no success, although there were some topics in the question before him, that could furnish the materials; but a dry legal investigation of acts of parliament was all he felt capable of entering into, and at so late an hour, he feared they would prove not only uninteresting, but fatiguing. The enactments, however, of the 51st of the king, would evidently show that the privy purse was always ap- 598 plicable to the private wants, and subject to the private calls of the Crown. They contained, beside, a distinct recognition of its being private property, and at the uncontrolled disposal of the king. And he could not too often repeat, that if the amendment were carried, as anticipated by the triumphal looks of the hon. and learned gentleman opposite, that it would not only be an infringement of, but an actual repeal of the law. And would the House consent to such an act? Would they invade or destroy the law they were bound in duty to protect? He hoped, for the sake of honour, for the sake of an afflicted king, that they were not. [The hon. and learned gentleman here read some extracts from the act of parliament to which he had alluded, but which as he read them, excited cries of Hear, hear! and "go on" from the opposition benches.] He was little known, if any gentleman could imagine that he would omit to read the whole passage, although gentlemen opposite seemed anxious from their cries of hear! to make it appear as if he had been quoting the text against himself. But such a conduct would be unworthy of any man—a conduct he trusted he never would be found to pursue, even though his own defeat and the triumph of others should be the consequence. But to continue, when parliament had interfered in the year 1811, they looked to the manner in which the king had been accustomed to dispose of the revenues of the privy purse; and when in 1812 the question was again discussed, they proceeded exactly on the same principle. His majesty had set aside a portion of the privy purse, out of which he paid the physicians for their attendance whenever it had been required, exclusive of that public sum, which they received as the physicians of the sovereign. The privy purse was the only fund that enabled him to exercise benevolence, and he again asked the House if they would further add to his calamity, by depriving him at the verge of life, perhaps at the last hour of existence, of those means of rewarding merit, which, when in better health, he had been wont to apply to such generous purposes? The custos of the king should be viewed as the delegate of a great public trust; and he asked if the delegate of a public trust should be remunerated from the property of a private fund? When 10,000l. a-year had been voted to the queen as the custos of the 599 king, no objection was taken as to the impropriety of the burthen falling where, it ought to have fallen—on the public. And he could see no change in the country's general circumstances since that period, as to justify the invasion of private property, and the repeal of that law which was the best and only guarantee of private and public security. An attempt had been made to liken the custos of the king to the committee appointed to superintend the concerns of a private lunatic; but no analogy whatsoever existed between them. In the case of the private individual, his property was bound to his support as well when insane as sane; but in the case of the king it was widely different. The public support of the king was drawn from parliament, and in any change of his condition, the public still were pledged to his support. His dignity and the people's honour alike demanded it. But wherefore apply his private property to the liquidation of a debt the public always felt itself pledged to pay? The privy purse was originally set apart for the purpose of supplying to the sovereign the means of rewarding merit, relieving distress, and performing various other acts of kindness and humanity; but never was, and never could have been intended for the purpose of his maintenance or support. The House should consider, that the king was no longer in a condition to protect his own interests, except through the servants of the Crown, and a proportionate delicacy and caution should be exercised on the occasion. The House on the present question should stand between the people and the king; and if even a doubt existed as to the fact of the privy purse being private property, under all the circumstances of the case, they were called upon to vote in favour of their revered and afflicted monarch. But, satisfied as he was of its being, as indeed admitted on all hands to be, a delicate and important consideration, the peculiar situation of the sovereign called for that demonstration of loyalty and attachment which he trusted the House would that night make. If the king had any creditors at his death, and the fact might be so, however improbable it then appeared, the parliament, it would be found, had already pledged the privy purse to its liquidation. He should not however further trespass on the patience or indulgence of the House. A cry of economy had been raised, and economy 600 well timed and properly applied was most necessary; but when talking of economy, the House should take the utmost care of interfering with the rights or security of private property. The hon. and learned gentleman then entered into a recapitulation of his principal arguments, entered into an able review of the several acts he had previously cited on the subject, and concluded by remarking, that the duty confided to the duke of York was one of such high responsibility, that it had been thought proper to associate others with him; and in case of his majesty's recovery, the immediate resumption of his royal functions was provided for; that the duke's, as a public trust, ought to be rewarded by the public; and, if it was not one of that description, what had parliament to do with it? The duke of York had been chosen, not because he was one of the king's sons, but because he was most confided in by the House He rested, therefore, on the broad principle, that a public duty was not to be remunerated or rewarded out of a private property; and that it behoved that House, and he earnestly besought it to consider, that in acceding to the amendment, it would commit a decided infringement on the private property of the king. [The hon. and learned gentleman sat down amidst loud cheers from the ministerial benches.]
§ Mr. Scarlett
hoped to be indulged with the attention of the House while he made a few observations. He did not feel that the argument of his hon. and learned friend, who had just sat down, though it appeared to have convinced himself, and though it had received so much applause from those about him, had added one tittle to the strength of the case, as explained in the speech of the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Peel) who had preceded him. His hon. and learned friend had done little more than give that speech in another form, and he believed, therefore, he should best discharge his duty, by following the argument of the right hon. gentleman, point by point, and though he could not promise to furnish ornament for ornament, he would endeavour to give him reason for reason. Great stress was laid, in the first place, on the principle of Mr. Burke's act: now in his opinion, that act led to a directly opposite conclusion to the one put upon it; for it made it incumbent on the Crown to submit to parliament an estimate of the privy purse, 601 and thereby recognized the public control over what it was now pretended was to be considered merely as private property. Indeed, whatever might have been the law before that period, yet after that act of Mr. Burke, the privy purse must be considered as liable to the investigation and consideration of the House: whether a larger or a smaller sum than was there appointed might be in future necessary, was left perfectly open for future discussion. And yet, in the face of this act, the arguments of the right hon. gentleman seemed intended to prove, not merely that the House was locked up from considering whether 60,000l. might or might not, be a proper rental for the king, but that parliament might not for a moment enter even upon the threshold of such an inquiry. It was too sacred to be touched, or even alluded to! The fallacy of such reasoning was at once exposed by a reference to the act itself; and the 39th and 40th of the king had expressly recognized this principle. Indeed, it would have been most extraordinary, if a different course had been pursued. He would go further and say, that if at that period any person could have predicted that a large portion of the sum granted would become unnecessary, and would form, by its repeated accumulations, a surplus for merely private uses—he would say, that, under such an impression, parliament would not have done its duty to the country if it had not expressly reserved a right of interference. [Hear, hear!]. The main object of the 39th and 40th of the king was, to enable him to dispose of, and distribute such property as he might acquire by purchase or by devise, and, without fixing any precise unalterable sum, to declare that his savings might also be disposed of without the liabilities existing under former statutes. Whether the course thus taken by the House had been constitutional or not—there were many who thought it not so—he would not now inquire; for it had nothing to do with the present question: but he would ask, whether there was any thing in the enactment which showed that the House had abandoned its control over the annual income and application of the privy purse, except as expressly excepted?—He came now to the first act, passed in consequence of his majesty's lamented indisposition. It was at that time confidently stated, that his majesty's malady was of a temporary nature: that his recovery might be expected at no dis- 602 tant period: that it was, therefore, expedient and decorous, that when the king awoke from his painful dream, he might see himself surrounded by familiar faces, and recognize all those objects from which he could derive consolation, or which could add to his comfort or dignity: and that, above all, he might have the pleasure of learning, that all those persons who had been used to taste of that bounty in which his spirit of benevolent sympathy delighted, had not been in the least injured by the temporary suspension of his personal power to serve them. But what did all these provisions mean? Did they not, in their very nature—in their very terms—imply that those who made them had also the power of withholding them? In other words, was there not a distinct right of control, present and future? Suppose the act were to be considered as temporary, then it was obvious that parliament had the right of modifying, or rescinding them when the occasion was past. Suppose the occasion not temporary,—in other words, that the king's malady was fixed and permanent—then it was obvious that parliament must have the power of altering those provisions which had been made in contemplation of a temporary illness. In either case, the right of control was not abandoned, but, on the contrary was recognized as a matter of course. The 52nd of the king also recognized and exercised this right; for it made some alteration in the distribution of this privy fund, and directed, that a certain sum might be paid out of it to physicians and medical attendants. Now what had his right hon. friend (Mr. Tierney) contended for this night? Not as to the amount of physicians fees, or any other fees to be paid out of this fund: he had not entered into such comparatively private particulars, but he had contended, on a broad principle, that the privy purse was not to be considered as locked up from the view and inquiry of parliament. He had not raised any question whether the proposed grant to the duke of York would or would not be a judicious application of the fund; but whether the House had a right to apply it at all. And here he must notice a strange inconsistency in the arguments of those on the other side of the House, who descanted so much on the sacredness of this fund. With one breath they pretended that physicians might be paid out of it, and with the very next they call it inviolable, and inapplicable to all other 603 purposes. Let not such an inconsistency pass for an argument. The question was not, whether the payment of the duke of York would be a proper one, but whether the House had not as much right to apply part of the sum in his case as in the case of the physicians: it was ridiculous to say that the physicians attendant on the king, and acting under the superintendence of parliament, were private persons: they were no more private individuals than the custos himself: indeed, every person now attending on the king was, and must of necessity be a public servant or officer. For the same reason, the privy purse of a king could never be considered private, in the sense in which the property of an individual is considered private. The right hon. gentleman (Mr. Peel) had made what he seemed to consider, a very triumphant argument out of what he (Mr. Scarlett) could not help thinking little better than an arithmetical puzzle. He had asked, as the 60,000l. of the privy purse were nearly absorbed, and nothing remained to the Crown, but the 10,000l. a year from the duchy of Lancaster whether it would not be monstrous that the duke of York should be paid by the duke of Lancaster for taking care of the king? [a laugh.] A little transposition would completely destroy the effect of this antithetical argument or riddle. Suppose the expenses (to the amount of 10,000l.) paid out of the privy purse, were to be paid out of the revenue of the duchy, and thus that after all deductions a surplus should remain of 10,000l. or 12,000l. in the privy purse, applicable, if thought proper, to the payment of the custos, what then would become of this amusing jumble and argumentative play of words about the dukes of York and Lancaster?—But to return to the question of control; would any man say if circumstances had arisen or should arise, which might make it expedient to reduce the amount of the privy purse to 40,000l., that parliament had not the right so to reduce it? And if it had a right to diminish it, surely it had a right to apply it. To be sure, in 1811, when the question came before the House, they did not diminish the income, but they did control it, they did apply it.—He should now address a few words to the ornamental part of the speech of the right hon. gentleman who had descanted with such warmth and such pathos on the preamble of the act of the 1st George 3rd. The right 604 hon. gentleman had done injustice to our ancestors, when he ascribed such exclusive loyalty to the framers of that act. Had the right hon. gentleman read the 1st of Geo. 2nd, as well as the 1st of Geo, 3rd, he would have seen, in the preamble of the former statute, all that loyalty of feeling and beauty of phraseology which so delighted him in the latter. If he could hope to make as great an impression on the House as the right hon. gentleman he would read this neglected preamble; but as he despaired of producing an equal effect, he would refer the right hon. gentleman to it, who would there find the same warm effusions of affectionate sentiment, the same overflowing eloquence of language, so justly dedicated to our present sovereign, had previously decorated the character of his illustrious predecessor. [Cheers!]. He trusted that no one would impute to him the wish of treating this subject with levity or disrespect, or of entertaining any feelings but those of affection and veneration for our afflicted and amiable sovereign. He approached the question with reverence for the character of him, to whom, all unconscious as he was, it chiefly referred. He felt, in common with his hon. and learned friend, the utmost nicety on the point of private property; and he would say, that if he considered the privy purse to be private property, in the usual sense of the word, he would not have offered a word in favour of the amendment: but it was because he knew that the habit of his profession super induced a peculiar nicety in matters of property, that he was determined to watch with jealousy, and guard with caution, against this habitual bias in a great public question. It was because he felt that it would be the most extraordinary of all propositions, that parliament, which in 1811, and 1812, and in the previous years, had, in different ways, dealt with, controlled, and modified this privy fund, should now be precluded from touching it, that he voted for the amendment of his right hon. friend, thereby acknowledging the great principle of parliamentary interference in all matters of great national concern.—One other observation, and he would sit down. It did seem to him somewhat strange, that those who could not shut their eyes to the public distress, should say that there was no alteration in the state of the country since 1811, though it was notorious that the public debt had greatly increased, and that peace held out 605 no prospect of diminished burthens. The noble lord who opened this debate had said indiscreetly—he would not say invidiously for he did not suppose that the noble lord intended any personal reflections; but the noble lord had most unadvisedly said that his proposition could not be rejected without involving in infamy those who rejected it. This was harsh language; but in the face of this formidable denunciation, he still felt it his duty, as far as his means were able, to oppose and reject the present application. The hon. and learned gentleman sat down amid general cheers.
The Solicitor General
, in explanation, said he had never disputed the controlling power of parliament; he had only argued, that the amendment would virtually repeal existing acts.
The Attorney General
spoke at some length, but during the whole of his speech the tumult which prevailed through the House rendered it impossible to catch a word in the gallery. We understood him to contend, that since the year 1782, in every account which had been laid on their table, the House had recognized the privy purse as the private property of the king.
§ Mr. Stuart Wortley
, while he allowed the great talents and ingenuity of the hon. and learned gentleman who had made so able a speech on the other side of the House, contended that his argument was a complete fallacy, and that he had given the go by to the real question. It was never contended, that parliament had not a right to legislate on the privy purse, but that the interference of the House in this matter was, and always should be guarded and cautious, inasmuch as it was the property, not of the Crown, but of the king. Were they now to legislate in the manner proposed, it would be interfering with the acts which made the privy purse private property. It was a fallacy to draw any argument from the mode in which the payment of the physicians was provided for. They could not be viewed in the same light as an officer of the Crown, and he was surprised to hear the hon. and learned gentleman employing such an argument. He was as unwilling as any man could be, to add to the burthens of the country, but he felt that he should be doing an act of gross injustice were he to consent to the amendment proposed by the right hon. gentleman.
§ The Resolution was then agreed to.
|List of the Minority.|
|Abercromby, hon. J.||Fazakerley, N.|
|Allen, J. H.||Fergusson, sir R. C.|
|Althorp, viscount||Fitzgerald, lord W.|
|Anson, hon. G.||Folkestone, visct.|
|Aubrey, sir J.||Frankland, R,|
|Astell, William||Fleming, John|
|Braddyll, Thos.||Gordon, Robert|
|Baring, sir T.||Graham, Sandford|
|Barham, J. F.||Graham, J. R. G.|
|Barnett, James||Grenfell, Pascoe|
|Becher, W. W.||Griffith, J. W.|
|Bernal, Ralph||Guise, sir W.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Gurney, R. H.|
|Benyon, Ben.||Gaskell, Benj.|
|Birch, Joseph||Harcourt, John|
|Brand, hon. T.||Harvey, D. W.|
|Browne, Dom.||Hill, lord A.|
|Brougham, Henry||Honeywood, W. P.|
|Burdett, sir Francis||Howard, hon. W.|
|Burroughs, sir W.||Howard, lord, H.|
|Byng, G.||Howorth, H.|
|Bankes, Hen.||Hughes, W. L.|
|Blandford, marquis||Hume, Joseph|
|Calvert, N.||Hurst, R.|
|Churchill, lord C. S.||Hutchinson, hon. C,|
|Carhampton, earl of||Heygate, alderman|
|Cripps, J.||King, sir J. D.|
|Calcraft, John||Kennedy, T. F.|
|Calvert, Charles||Lamb, hon. W.|
|Carew, R. S.||Latouche, John|
|Carter, John||Lemon, sir W.|
|Cavendish, lord G.||Longman, Geo.|
|Cavendish, Henry||Lloyd, sir E.|
|Clifford, capt.||Lloyd, J. M.|
|Clifton, lord||Lyttelton, hon. W.|
|Coffin, sir J.||Lubbock, sir John|
|Colborne, R. N.||Lowndes, W.|
|Colclough, C.||Macleod, Roderick|
|Coke, T.||Macdonald, James|
|Concannon, L.||Mackintosh, sir J.|
|Curwen, J. C.||Madocks, W. A.|
|Crompton, Samuel||Maitland, J. B.|
|Cumming, G.||Martin, John|
|Davies, T. H.||Methuen, Paul|
|Denman, Thomas||Maxwell, John|
|Denison, W. J.||Milbank, Mark|
|Dickinson, Wm.||Merest, J. D.|
|Douglas, hon. F. S.||Mills, George|
|Duncannon, lord||Mildmay, P. St. J.|
|Dundas, Charles||Monck, sir C.|
|Dundas, hon. L.||Moore, Peter|
|Dundas, hon. G.||Morpeth, lord|
|Dundas, T.||Mansfield, John|
|DeCrespigny, sir W.||Neville, hon. R.|
|Ellison Richard||Newport, sir J.|
|Edwards, John||North, Dudley|
|Evans, William||Nugent, lord|
|Ebrington, viscount||Newman, R. W.|
|Ellice, Edward||Onslow, Arthur|
|Euston, earl of||Ord, Wm.|
|Fane, John||O'Callaghan James|
|Palmer, C. F.||Stuart, lord James|
|Pares, Thos.||Stewart, Wm.|
|Parnell, sir H.||Stanley, lord|
|Peirse, H.||Symonds, T. P.|
|Philips, George||Tavistock, marq. of|
|Philips, Geo. jun.||Taylor, M. A.|
|Phillips, C. M.||Taylor, C. W.|
|Piggott, sir A.||Thorp, alderman|
|Powell, W. E.||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Power, Richard||Tremayne, J. H.|
|Powlett, hon. W.||Tennyson, Charles|
|Price, Richard||Walpole, hon. gen.|
|Price, Robert||Waithman, alderman|
|Protheroe, E.||Webb, Ed.|
|Pryse, P.||Western, C.C.|
|Robertson, A.||Wharton, John|
|Ramsden, J. C.||Wright, J. Atkins|
|Rancliffe lord||Wilberforce, W.|
|Ridley, sir M. W.||Whitbread, Wm.|
|Robarts, A.||Wilkins, W.|
|Robarts, W. T.||Williams, W.|
|Russell, lord W.||Williams, R.|
|Russell, lord G. W.||Wilson, sir Robert|
|Russell, lord John||Wilson, T.|
|Russell, R. G.||Webster, sir G.|
|Rumbold, C. E.||Wellesley, W. P. T. L.|
|Rickford, Wm.||Wynn, C. W.|
|Sinclair, George||Wood, alderman|
|Sefton, earl of||Lambton, J. G.|
|Smith, Wm.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Smith, hon. R.||Foley, Thos.|
|Smith, Geo.||Folkes, sir Martin|
|Smith, James||Plumer, Wm.|
|Spencer, lord R.||Smyth, J. H.|