HC Deb 02 July 1821 vol 5 cc1474-8

On the order of the day for the third reading of the Duke of Clarence's Annuity bill,

Mr. Creevey

rose to call the attention of the House, and still more of the public, to the time at which the subject was brought before parliament. When a motion for repealing the Malt tax was carried in that House, the number of members present being 274, the noble marquis declared, that the House was too thin finally to determine on so important a subject; he advised gentlemen not "to halloo before they were out of the wood," and in the end, he actually did convert the majority of 24 for a repeal of the tax, into a majority of 98 for its continuance. Again, when the hon. member for Cumberland succeeded in inducing a House of 254 members to agree to a repeal of the agricultural horse tax, the chancellor of the exchequer said, that it was too small a House, and that he would try his hand again; a resolution, however, from which he had subsequently been diverted. A House of 274, or of 254 members, was too small to discuss a subject in which the interests of the people were at stake; but when the proposition was for the benefit of the Crown, or any of its members, the noble marquis had no objection to a House such as that which he was then addressing—a House, the majority of which was composed of placemen. If ever there was an unanswerable case in favour of any proposition, the present state of the House furnished such a case in favour of the proposition of his hon. friend the member for Shrewsbury, to exclude placemen and pensioners from seats in parliament. At the late period of the session, placemen, always formidable, became still more so. They were as numerous in the House as ever, while other hon. members, fatigued with the laborious duties which they had so long continued to perform, were gone out of town. Then came the noble marquis and his right hon. colleagues, and availed themselves of so advantageous a position of circumstances to get money from the House for some one branch of the royal family. It was highly objectionable to bring forward such a proposition, when it must be decided by such a House as that which he was addressing.

Mr. Becher

declared, that he had never heard a proposition so unprincipled and so extravagant, as the proposition to pay what were called the arrears. To acquiesce in such a proposition, would be to show that the House was indifferent about that economy of which so much had been said, He should vote against the payment of any arrears; but the prospective grant of 6,000l. a-year, seemed to him to rest on different grounds. He was as anxious as any man, that all the branches of the royal family should be maintained in becoming splendor; and in that view he should have supported the measure for conferring this additional income upon his royal highness, but that his hon. friend, the member for Aberdeen had shown that by giving him 3,500l. a-year of additional income, they would place the duke of Clarence on the same footing as the other younger brothers of the royal family.

Mr. Monck

felt himself bound to oppose the grant. In the present situation of the country, the simple consideration for the House was, whether strict necessity or justice required such an expenditure. The only way in which ministers could be made to be economical was by lopping off some of the taxes, and thereby depriving them of the means of being otherwise.

Mr. Brougham

hoped, that as he was not in the House on Saturday, he would be allowed to offer an explanation of the alleged delay which had taken place in asserting her majesty's claim to be crowned. The noble marquis had stated the delay to be about two months from the time that ministers had intimated their own opinion on the subject. To show the inaccuracy of this statement, it would be necessary to refer to dates. On the 21st of May, a question was put by his hon. friend (Mr. Monck) which was answered by the chancellor of the Exchequer; and in the course of the conversation which followed, the noble marquis stated his opinion. Something had been said respecting an authority for her majesty to attend the coronation: but it was clear that there was no necessity for any such authority, as her majesty had a right, as a subject, to attend the ceremony as a spectator. The noble marquis also said, that there was no right so clear as that of the Crown with respect to this subject; and that the coronation of the queen-consort depended upon the grace and favour of the king. He at that time protested against the doctrine of the noble marquis; adding, that he had not made up his own mind on the legal question—and protesting against the doctrine of the noble marquis, lest his silence on that occasion should be construed into assent. This was what had taken place on the 21st of May. It was not the duty of her majesty's law officers to put in her claim immediately upon this. It was their duty to wait her majesty's orders, as they were not her responsible advisers like the ministers of the Crown. Besides, as the coronation had been appointed in the preceding year, and had been postponed, it became proper to wait until there was almost a certainty of its actually taking place. The proclamation appointing the ceremony this year was dated the 9th of June; and inserted in the Gazette on the 12th. The memorial claiming her majesty's right to be crowned was settled at his chambers eleven days afterwards; and upon a subject of such great importance he was not disposed to take any great blame to himself for a delay of eleven days, even had that not (as it had) been partially caused by the indisposition of Dr. Lushington. The holidays had also intervened, and the British Museum was shut, to which plate access was required for the purpose of making some searches connected with the subject. The memorial was sent in on the 25th, and as yet no answer had been returned to it. There were now seventeen days to intervene before the coronation, but there was ample time to alter the arrangements, and yet keep strictly within precedents. There was an instance on record, of a proclamation giving only sixteen days notice of the coronation itself; and another, of an alteration in the arrangements being ordered only two days before the appointed day.

The Marquis of Londonderry

said, he had not intended any reflection on her majesty's legal advisers in their professional character. He had merely contrasted the rapidity with which they had expected an answer, with the slowness of their own movements in making the legal claim. The 21st of May was not the only occasion on which the opinion of his majesty's ministers had been intimated to the Queen. Between that day and the 21st of June, her majesty addressed a letter to the earl of Liverpool, desiring to be informed what arrangements had been made for her convenience, and who were appointed as her attendants on the approaching solemnity. An official answer was returned, stating that it was a right of the down to give or withhold the order for her majesty's coronation, and that his majesty would be advised not to make any order for her majesty's participation in the arrangements. The Queen rejoined insisting on her right, and declaring that she should attend the coronation unless she were absolutely prevented. A respectful but equally peremptory answer was returned to her majesty, repeating the legal right of the Crown, and declaring that the former answer must be understood as amounting to a prohibition of her attendance. These proceedings clearly showed that her majesty was fully aware of the course intended to be taken by the government. There was on Saturday, a significant manner and an accusing tone about the hon. and learned member (Mr. Denman), as if there had been on the part of ministers an absolute denial of justice. Now, with these facts before the House, he would ask, whether it was not rather hard to call ministers over the coals and blame them for the delay? Respecting the hearing of her majesty's law officers before the privy council in support of, the claim, he had to state to the, House, that this had been asked that very morn- ing for the first time. A memorial dated on Saturday last had that morning been received from, her majesty, addressed to the king, and desiring to be heard by her counsel in support of the claim. This however was informally addressed, it being addressed to the king in his sovereign capacity, and not to the king in council. It would have shown a want of respect to her majesty's claim, if, when it had been formally presented, it was not referred to the legal officers of the Crown. Both applications were equally informal; but they had both been attended to. Upon the first, her majesty had been informed that no directions would be given to include her in the arrangements; and with respect to that which had only been received this morning, he had to inform the House that it was immediately laid before his majesty, who had given directions that the Queen should be heard by her lawyers before the privy council—it being first clearly ascertained, that this was no right, but was a grace and favour.

Mr. Denman

certainly thought her majesty's advisers had a right to complain that no answer had been sent to the memorial from Monday to Saturday last. The application itself, he contended, it would have been improper to make until the actual celebration of the solemnity had become morally certain. With respect to the former application, alluded to by the noble marquis, he trusted the noble marquis would pay him and his learned friends the compliment to believe that they had not prepared it; in fact, it had been presented while they were on the circuit, and they of course waited for her majesty's personal instructions on the subject. It had been represented that he had said, that the exclusion of her majesty's name from the Liturgy, was of itself a warning that she would not be crowned. He was not aware that he had ever made any such observation. If he had, it must have been incidentally, as he did not see that the exclusion from the Liturgy, necessarily led to an exclusion from the coronation.

The bill was read a third time. Mr. Bernal then moved to leave out "1818," and insert "1821." The question being put that 1818 stand part of the question, the House divided: Ayes 94. Noes 33.

List of the Minority.
Abercromby, hon. J. Brougham, H.
Birch, Jos. Becher, W. W.
Colburn, R. Mostyn, sir Thos.
Carters, John Milton lord
Calvert, C. Moore, Peter
Creevey, T. Monck, J. B.
Denman, T. Paulett, hon. W.
Denison, W. J. Price, Robt.
Doveton, J. Palmer, C. F.
Fergusson, sir R. Rumbold, C. E.
Fane, John Rice, Spring
Gurney, H. Sefton, earl of
Grattan, Jas. Scarlett, J.
Hobhouse, J. C. Sebright, sir J.
Hamilton, lord A. Whitbread, S.
Harbord, hon. E. TELLERS.
Lushington. Dr. Bernal, R.
Martin, John Bennet hon. H. G.

On the question, That the bill do pass, lord A. Hamilton moved as an amendment, "That a special entry be made in the Journals, that it be not drawn into precedent, that any pecuniary Allowance, or augmentation of Allowance, be granted by this House to the junior branches of the Royal Family, either founded upon the Resolution of a Committee of Supply of a former Parliament, as has been done in in the present case, not only of a former Parliament, but also of a former reign, or without the usual and accustomed forms of a Message, and a recommendation from the Crown upon the subject matter of such grant." The amendment was negatived, and the bill passed.