HC Deb 23 January 1821 vol 4 cc26-35
Lord A. Hamilton

gave notice, that he intended upon Friday next to bring forward a motion relative to the omission of the Queen's name in the Liturgy.

Mr. Wetherell

rose for the purpose of making a few observation relative to certain documents, of which he thought the House ought to be in possession, before the motion of the noble lord was taken into consideration. He should, therefore, give notice of a motion for the production of such documents on some day before Friday. He was proceeding to state his reasons for so doing, when he was called to order by.

The Speaker,

who was satisfied that the learned member would excuse him for interruption, but nothing was so irregular as to offer remarks upon that which was only a notice of motion.

Mr. Tierney

said, that it appeared to him that the learned gentleman intended, in consequence of the notice just given for Friday, to give notice of a motion for the production of certain papers previously to that day. He wished, in short, to put the House in possession of such information as would enable it to form a proper judgment on the question which would then be submitted to it.

Lord Castlereagh

admitted that such might be the meaning of the learned gen- tleman; but if it was, it would perhaps be as well to allow him to explain his own meaning. His lordship was proceeding to other remarks upon Mr. Wetherell's declaration, when.

Lord Folkestone

said, it was competent to the learned gentleman, if he thought proper, to move at that instant for the documents he wanted.

Mr. Banket

said, it was not usual for gentlemen to give notices of motions before the King's Speech had been taken into consideration. He did not mean to say, that it was not competent to members to do so, but he thought that, unless under very peculiar circumstances, the respect which was due to his majesty ought to induce the House not to engage in any previous discussions.

The Speaker

observed, that if the learned member would explain his object, he would apologise if he had misunderstood him. He understood the learned member intended to offer some observations upon the notice of the noble lord. That, it appeared to him, would be contrary to the usual forms of the House. It was impossible that any observations could be made leading to a discussion, without going on to a termination of the question. If he mistook the learned member, he begged his pardon; but if he did not, he put it to him and to the House, whether he was not irregular in addressing the House on the notice of the noble lord?

Mr. Wetherell

said, he had been misunderstood. He intended to move for the production of certain papers, which he conceived absolutely necessary to a proper understanding of the noble lord's motion.

Lord Castlereagh

thought the learned member could not make any motion of the kind without notice.

Mr. Wetherell

said, that provided he could attain his object, the mode by which be did so was quite immaterial to him. He was ready to bow to the will of the House. The papers for which he was about to move were, in his opinion, absolutely necessary, in order to come to a proper understanding of the noble lord's motion. However, in deference to the opinion of the House, he was ready to reverse the proceeding, and to give notice for a future day [cries of "no, no, move now,"]. He would then move at once for "Copies. 1. Of all Collects or Litanies in the Public Liturgy of the Church in each reign, from the reign of James I (inclusive) to the present time, in which the name of a Queen Consort has been inserted from time to time: 2. Of the Collects or Litanies contained in the Liturgy annexed to the Statute of 13th and 14th, Ch. 2. c. 4, which relates to the King, Queen, or Royal Family, together with the titles of such Collects or Litanies, noticing therein any blanks in the titles or bodies of such Collects or Litanies: 3. Of the Order in Council of the 12th February 1820, by which Her Majesty's name has been omitted from the Liturgy: 4. Of orders made by the Kings and Queens of England in Council, relative to the insertion, omission, change, or alteration of the names or titles of the King, Queen, or any member of the Royal Family, in the Liturgy of the Church of England, from the commencement of the reign of Henry 8, to the present time." The object which he had in view was to place the House in possession of the facts, before the motion of the noble lord came under consideration. The private research of many gentlemen had doubtless supplied them with all the information necessary to decide upon it; but, consistently with parliamentary usage, no fact, when a motion was made, could be assumed as certain that was not properly authenticated. It could be no secret that many were of opinion that the Queen of England had a right to have her name inserted in the Liturgy of the church by the law of the land and the constitution of the country. To decide the question whether she had or not, he now moved for copies of certain documents, all of which were among the public records of the kingdom. No gentleman could come to a fair and just judgment on the propriety or impropriety, the legality or illegality of the erasion of her majesty's name from the Liturgy, until he had investigated the law and usage of the country upon that head. As the House would not be able to perform its duty to the people, the King, or the Queen, until the papers were laid upon the table, he should now move for the immediate production of the documents, the titles of which he had just read to the House.

Lord Castlereagh

thought it would be more convenient to give notice of the motion. The learned member was transgressing the rules and forms of the House. He was moving without notice for documents which nobody understood. If the learned member thought there was any reluctance on his part to produce those do- cuments, he was much mistaken: so far from it, that his only objection was as to the time and manner of making the motion. He put it to the House whether the country was likely to improve from the late reformations which had taken place in the form of making motions in parliament [a laugh]. He was sorry that the influence of a right hon. gentleman on the other side was not exerted, to prevent motions which only tended to excite clamour. For his part, he was not aware in what particular office the information called for by the learned member could be found. He had no means of judging precisely at that moment whether he ought or ought not to concur in the motion. Under those circumstances, he hoped the motion would be for the present withdrawn. If it was good for any thing it would go to postpone the motion which stood for Friday—it would operate as an absolute bar to it. If the motion was not withdrawn he should feel himself under the necessity of moving the previous question.

Mr. Tierney

said, that as far as he understood the noble lord, he had no objection to the hon. and learned member's motion, hut only to the time of making it. It was most extraordinary, that any objection as to time should be made, when the documents moved for were those upon which the exclusion of her majesty's name from the Liturgy had been rounded; but the noble lord had no idea where those documents could be found! If that was the case, he should wish to know where the noble lord had laid his fingers upon them, when the order in council was made for excluding her majesty's name from the Liturgy? Now he would only beg the House, to consider the way in which the question stood. The learned member who made the motion, was not an ally of his (Mr. Tierney's); he was the uniform supporter of ministers. A noble friend of his had given notice of a motion for Friday. The learned member said, that there were certain documents which he wished to have laid before the House, in order to guide his decision upon that motion. He thought he could not form an opinion in the absence of those documents. The noble lord opposite said he had no objection to the production of the documents, but he would not allow them to be produced now. This was as much as to say, "you must first decide upon the question, and afterwards you may have the documents." The noble lord might if he pleased have taken another ground, and objected to any discussion until the King's Speech had been received, and taken into consideration. Instead of doing so, he said, that the question ought not to be agitated at present, as he did not know where to look for the papers. This was a most curious mode of reasoning; it was a most singular objection to the motion. He would not have added another word, were it not for an observation which had been made by the noble lord. The noble lord expressed a wish that he would exercise his influence in preventing certain motions from being made. What did the noble lord mean by this? The noble lord had indeed influence on his side of the House, but did the noble lord think, that he (Mr. T.) could have the impudence, even if he had the inclination, to say to any honourable member that such a motion should or should not be made? The noble lord indeed knew what his influence was on his own side of the House; he could turn round to any of his party and say, "Sir, you hold such a place, and you shall lose it if you do not do so and so." But did the noble lord imagine that he (Mr. T.) could do this? It was the tact and trick of the noble lord to represent the opposition as an army invariably acting under the orders of a general. He disavowed the power and command which the noble lord ascribed to him; if such a power were offered to him he would decline the responsibility attached to it. Ministers, indeed, had it in their power to command—but more of this by and by. All he could say was, that he felt flattered by the attention of any honourable member who consulted him as to whether any particular motion ought or ought not to be made. But he should feel ashamed of himself if he went one step further than simply giving his opinion upon the question. The person so consulting was of course master of his own actions. Another honourable gentleman, who had taken a share in the discussion, had rather surprised him, for he appeared discomposed by, and complained of, the irritation which prevailed whilst he was speaking. Now, he would ask whether there was any thing more likely to promote irritation than the conduct of the noble lord upon this question? It appeared to him that the noble lord had come down to the House smarting with soreness at certain recent events, and had therefore determined to say something to irritate, not caring whether it was upon the King's Speech, or upon any thing else.

Mr. Wetherell

wished to explain the reason why he could not consent to withdraw his motion. He presumed that the noble lord had read over, in February last, the documents which he was now desirous of obtaining. It was in that month that her majesty's name was erased from the Liturgy; and he could not suppose that the privy council would come to a determination on so important a measure without looking into the law and usage of the constitution regarding it. When the noble lord said, that he did not know where to find the documents, did he mean to say, that he had not looked into the litanies of the church to know what were the rights of a Queen Consort before he struck her name out of them? He could not suppose, that when the noble lord hazarded the desperate venture of striking the Queen's name out of the Liturgy in which it had been constantly retained for the long space of two centuries, he was ignorant where to find the records by which the legality or illegality of it was to be defended. Had the noble lord never been at the British Museum? Or was he ignorant that the undoubted, the uniform, and the unbroken usage, from the time of Henry VIII. downwards, was in favour of the Queen's right to have her name continued in the Liturgy? He could not strictly and seriously mean to give a negative to either of these two questions: and one of the principal reasons which induced him to make his present motion without any previous notice was, that he presumed that ministers had carefully investigated each of the required documents. Now, however, they were to be told that they had come too suddenly with the question upon ministers, and that they had been guilty of a paltry parliamentary trick. But the fact was not so: ministers were not taken by surprise. Did the noble lord presume, did the noble lord dare to assert in the face of the Commons of England, that his colleagues erased her majesty's name from the Liturgy, without considering how far they were justified by the laws of the country in doing so? If he meant to say, that they had done it unadvisedly—and unadvisedly he, for one, believed that they had done it—what a censure did he pass upon his coadjutors in office, in saying that they had struck their pens through the name of their Queen without thinking of the justice, of the expediency, or the legality of the act!

Mr. Bathurst

complained, that his noble friend had been entirely misunderstood, and therefore misrepresented by the learned gentleman. Was that learned gentleman so ignorant of parliamentary forms, as not to know the difference between consulting public printed documents, and consulting public documents properly authenticated? The latter were dispersed in different public offices; and therefore, without previous inquiry, it was impossible to say where a man could lay his hands upon them. The right hon. member was proceeding when

Mr. Hume

rose to order. The right hon. gentleman had, since the last meeting of parliament, accepted a place of emolument under the Crown, by which his seat was vacated. He wished to know whether he had been re-elected? If the acceptance of a place worth 5,000l. a-year, under the Crown, did not vacate a seat, he and those around him were totally ignorant of the fact. If the office in question was an office exempted from the operation of the statute, he was also ignorant of that fact. He suggested the consideration of the objection to the right hon. member himself, for his own private benefit and convenience.

Mr. Bathurst

was obliged to the hon. member for reminding him that he was perhaps subjecting himself to a fine of 500l. But before he had given him that hint, he ought to have examined into the validity of his objection. Did the hon. gentleman know how the office which he had now the honour of filling was appointed? The act of parliament under which it existed said not a word about any salary of 5000l. a-year; but it said this, that those commissioners who had seats in parliament should not vacate them provided they received no salary. He was in that situation; at present he received no salary.

Mr. Tierney

was aware that under the act of parliament for managing the affairs of India, there were some commissioners who had no salaries; but there were three who received salaries. Now, he wished to know of the right hon. gentleman whether he was one of the supernumeraries, as they were called, or was the president of the Board of Control! He did not know whether what he had read in the Gazette was correct or not; but there he was described as the president. If he was the president, it was for the House to determine, whether that place was a place of profit and emolument.

Mr. Bathurst

replied, that the salary belonging to that office was in the appointment of the Crown. Now, the Crown had not, as yet, appointed him any salary, as he was already in possession of another office under it.

Mr. Tierney

had to congratulate the House at last on a piece of economy on the part of ministers. One of them held the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster and the' presidency of the Board of Control—and yet only received the emoluments of one office!

Lord Milton

had always understood, that the late sir James Pulteney, whilst secretary at war, had received no salary; but he had never understood, that on accepting that office, he had been excused from vacating his seat in consequence of it. The acceptance of the office vacated the scat quite as much as the acceptance of the salary.

Mr. Creevey

remarked, that it mattered not whether a member accepting office declined receiving any salary, or thought proper to give it away. The question was, was it an office of profit under government? If so, the member of course vacated his seat. He was of opinion, that the right hon. member had vacated his seat, by accepting the office of president of the Board of Control.

Mr. Bathurst

referred to the act in question, which, he contended, did not include members holding offices without salary. He then proceeded to argue upon the question before the House. His noble friend had no objection to the principle of the motion, but he conceived some delay necessary, in order to procure the documents called for. They were not to be picked up in the streets, nor in the shop of a bookseller, but must be had from the most authentic sources.

Sir James Mackintosh

remarked, that if ministers had not seen the documents now moved for—if they had not entered into that investigation of them into which they ought to have entered, then in reality they could not know whether the examination of them might not be decisive of the illegality of the measure in question. If they had examined them, as they said they had, what need was there of a moment's previous notice? If they were not now possessed of them, it was clear that they were still ignorant upon what grounds the measure rested which they had adopted so inconsiderately eleven months ago.

The Solicitor-General

said, that his! learned friend laboured under a very erroneous impression. He had stated that, because these documents were not in the possession of ministers, ministers had no justifiable grounds for erasing her majesty's name from the Liturgy; but he had been completely misinformed: for he ought to have known that there could be no alteration in the Liturgy without an order of council. He could assure the House that ministers had consulted the documents then moved for.

Mr. Scarlett

said, that the information given to the House by the solicitor-general, differed so much from that given to it. by the noble lord opposite, that the House would find some difficulty in reconciling it. The noble lord said that the Queen's name had been erased from the liturgy after a full examination of all the necessary documents; whilst the solicitor-general, at the same moment that he confessed that they had consulted these documents, disdained to rest upon them, and left the matter to be defended by the order in council. The motion was not pressed by the learned mover, from any intention of anticipating the debate, or from any wish to prolong the discussion. The noble lord had therefore taken a wrong course in meeting it by the previous question. If the principle were acceded to, there might be no objection to some delay in the production of the necessary papers. His noble friend, too, might then be induced to postpone the motion of which he had given notice, to a more distant day, or he might, after considering the reasons urged in favour of such delay, find them unsatisfactory. He himself entertained not the smallest doubt, that if the motion were now acceded to, there would be no difficulty in obtaining all the documents in the course of a single morning.

Mr. Serjeant Onslow

was desirous of stating the considerations which would induce him to vote for the motion of his learned friend. Undoubtedly it was the usual practice of the House to postpone, on the first day of the session, the discussion of every question until after the Speech from the throne had been taken into consideration. This rule, however, was not uniformly observed, nor could it be regarded as imperative. He had known more than one instance in which it had been departed from. He had never known a subject upon which public attention was so steadfastly fixed, and as to which a speedy decision was more desirable. They could not, in the present circumstances, pursue a too guarded course, or defend themselves too effectually against the suspicion of being indifferent to this question. The motion for the previous question was a manner of treating it which he was afraid might be construed into evidence of a disposition to refuse the necessary information; but he must protest most solemnly, that, in giving his support to the motion of his learned friend, he meant to pledge himself no further. Whenever the question to which it was introductory should be agitated, he should regard it as a legal and not a political question. He should view it with the eye of a lawyer, and determine his vote by the best lights which he could derive from constitutional principles and historical research. It did not appear to him to furnish topics for the display of party spirit, but to require a decision conformably to the rules and analogies of law.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

fully concurred in the observation of the learned serjeant—an observation on which every member, he trusted, would feel it his duty to act, namely, that the question to which the present motion referred, should be discussed as one of constitutional law, without reference to party or partiality. But, though he agreed most fully with him in that feeling, he still must consider the present a most improper time for such a motion. An allusion had been made by the learned serjeant to cases in which discussions on questions, independent of privilege, preceded the consideration of a speech from the throne. It was true that such cases did occur; but every member would recollect with what disapprobation these very extraordinary motions had been received by the House.

The previous question being put, "That the question be now put," the House divided: Ayes, 169; Noes, 260: Majority against Mr. Wetherell's motion, 91. Mr. Wetherell then gave notice of his intention to renew his motion tomorrow.

List of the Minority.
Abercromby, hon. J. Allen, J.H.
Astell, Wm. Haldimand, W.
Belgrave, vise. Hamilton, lord A.
Beaumont, T. W. Hamilton, sir H. D.
Barham, Jos. F. Harbord, hon. E.
Baring, Henry Heathcote, sir G.
Baring, Alex. Heathcote, J. G.
Barrett, J. M. Heron, sir Rob.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Hill, lord A.
Bernal, Ralph Hobhouse, J. C.
Birch, Joseph Hornby, Edmund
Brougham, Henry Honywood, W. P.
Browne, Dom. Hume, Joseph
Bright, Henry Hurst, Robt.
Burdett, sir F. Jervoise, G. P.
Bury, vise. Ring, sir J. D.
Buxton, T. F. Kennedy, J. F.
Butterworth, Jos. Lambton, John G.
Baillie, John Langstone, J. H.
Bennett, John Lennard, T. B.
Blake, sir F. Lemon, sir W.
Boughton, W. E. B. Lloyd, S. M.
Boughey, sir J. F. Lushington, Steph.
Bentinck, lord W. Mackintosh, sir J.
Balfour, J. Macdonald, J.
Calcraft, J. H. Martin, John
Calcraft, John Milton, viset.
Calvert, Charles Monk, J. B.
Calvert, Nic. Moore, Peter
Campbell, hon. J. Moore, Abraham
Carew, R. S. Marjoribanks, S.
Carter, John Marryat, J.
Cavendish, Henry Maberley, John
Clifford, capt. Maberley, W. L.
Clifton, visc. Mahon, hon. S.
Cripps, Joseph Newman, R. W.
Coke, T. W.jun. Newport, rt. hon. sir J.
Coffin, sir I. Nugent, lord
Colburne, N. R. Onslow, Arthur
Concannon, Lucius O'Grady, Standish
Coussmaker, G. O'Callaghan, J.
Curwen, J. C. Ord, Wm.
Creevey, Thos. Ossulston, lord
Chaloner, Rob. Palmer, colonel
Dundas, C. Palmer, C. F.
Davies, T. H. Parnell, sir Henry
Dickinson, W. Pierce, Henry
Duncannon, visc. Phillips, G. R.
Dundas, hon. T. Phillips, George
Denman, Thos. Plumer, Wm.
Denison, Wm. Ponsonby, hon. F. C.
Ebrington, visc. Power, Richd.
Ellice, Edw. Price, Robert
Ellis, hon. G. A. Pryse, Pryse
Farquharson, A. Prittie, hon. F. A.
Ferguson, sir R. C. Pym, Francis
Fitzgerald, rt. hon. M Rice, T. S.
Fitzroy, lord J. Ramsay, sir A.
Fitzroy, lord C. Rickford, Wm.
Folkestone, visc. Ricardo, David
Farrand, Rob. Ridley, sir M. W.
Gaskell, Ben. Robarts, Ab.
Gurney, Hudson Robinson, sir Geo.
Gordon, Robt. Rowley, sir W.
Graham, J. R. G. Rumbold, Charles
Graham, Sandford Russell, lord John
Grenfell, Pascoe Russell, lord Wm.
Griffiths, J. W. Russell, R. G.
Ramsden, J. C. Tavistock, marq. of
Smith, hon. Robt. Taylor, M. A.
Smith, Sam. Tierney, rt. hon. G.
Smith, Geo. Tennyson, C.
Smith, Wm. Warre, J. A.
Sebright, sir John White, Luke
Scourfield, W. H. Western, C. G.
Scott, James Wharton, John
Scarlett, James Whitbread, W. H.
Scudamore, R. P. Whitbread, Sam. C.
Sefton, carl of Wilkins, Walter
Stanley, lord Williams, Wm.
Stuart, lord J. Wilson, sir Robt.
Sykes, Daniel Wood, Matthew
Shelly, sir John Wyvill, M.
Talbot, R. W. TELLERS.
Tynte, C. K. Grant, J. P.
Townshend, lord C. Wetherell, Charles