HC Deb 18 June 1821 vol 5 cc1204-13

On the order of the day for receiving the report of the committee On this grant,

Mr. Hume

said, that his object was, to have this provision divided into two parts; first, the yearly allowance proposed to be made of 6,000l.; and secondly, the arrears for three years of 18,000l. A considerable discussion had taken place on the subject in 1818; and the impression on both sides of the House then was, that 24,000l. a year was a sufficient allowance to each of the junior branches of the royal family, on their marriage. If the duke of Clarence had not accepted the grant, the others had. Now, it was peculiarly necessary that, in the present state of the country, the House should act upon some system. Grants had of late years been made, for which the income of the country was quite inadequate. When 850,000l. had been granted as a civil list, after pensions formerly paid from that list had been transferred to the consolidated fund, it was the most extravagant civil list ever allowed. He had at that time opposed it, until the whole of the charges formerly borne on it, and those now paid from it, should be considered; but his motions were negatived. The noble marquis had stated, that the 2,500l. given to the duke of Clarence, had been formerly paid from the civil list, and was afterwards transferred to the consolidated fund. Why had this sum been so transferred, when a sum of 7,800l. given to the duke of York was not? The latter sum was now, as from the first, entirely paid out of the Irish civil list? He saw no reason for this distinction; and therefore, if more was to be granted to the duke of Clarence, the 2,500l. to which he alluded ought, to be paid out of the pension list; and if to the 2,500l. now paid from the civil list, they added a farther grant of 3,500l., his royal highness would have 24,000l. If 2,500l. more should be necessary, let it be given from the Irish, Scotch, or English pension lists. If his majesty was disposed to be liberal towards his royal highness, let that liberality be displayed from funds which were under his disposal, and not from the public money, in the present state of the country. As to the arrears, he thought it quite impossible that they could be allowed, He concluded by moving, as an amendment, the following resolution:—"That the sum of 24,000l. a year, exclusive of professional allowances, was considered, in the year 1818, sufficient to support the dignity and honour of their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of Kent and Cambridge, upon their mar- riages, and that no circumstances have occurred to warrant a larger sum to be now granted to his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence: that his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence receives at present the sum of 20 500l. annually from the consolidated fund, exclusive of his professional allowances; and that therefore the sum of 3,500l. is only required in addition to that amount, to make up the sum of 24,000l.:— That, if it should be considered necessary, that his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence should receive 2,500l. a year more than Parliament granted to their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of Kent and Cambridge, on their marriages, it is the opinion of this House, that his Majesty has the means of granting that amount, either from the sum of 95,000l. a year, placed at his disposal for pensions, as part of the English Civil List of 850,000l., or from the sum of 50,000l. placed at his disposal as part of the Irish Civil List of 207,000l. in the same manner as his late Majesty George 3rd, granted from that list, in 1792, the sum of 7,817l. 17s. per annum to his Royal Highness the Duke of York, and which sum his Royal Highness has annually received from that period:—That therefore it is the opinion of this House, that, in the present state of the country, it would be highly improper to add to the burden of the consolidated fund by a larger grant to the Duke of Clarence than 3.500l. a year, in addition to the 20,500l. which he now receives."

The Marquis of Londonderry

said, that this sum of 2,500l. had been a very old grant to the duke of Clarence, and had been originally paid out of the civil, list; but when the House had arranged the civil list, they took away from it ail uncertain allowances; and this sum of 2,500l. among them. The House had judged that it was better to provide for charges that arose from circumstances and relations which were not permanent, otherwise than from the civil list; since, if they were provided for in the civil list, they might be continued for the benefit of other individuals, after the existing occasion for them should have ceased.

Sir Isaac Coffin

said, he would support the grant upon this principle —that he was personally indebted to his royal highness for almost every thing he possessed. He had lived with his royal highness in peace and in war. Since the time of Charles 2nd, there was none of the royal family who had seen so much service as the duke of Clarence. He had set off in 1780, and had soon afterwards smelt powder. He had fought at Cape St Vincent under lord Rodney, and oft his return had, with admiral Digby, captured some of the enemy's ships. He had afterwards gone to America, and served with admiral Hood. There had not been a young man connected with his royal highness in the service who had not become an admiral, or died like Nelson or Collingwood.

Mr. Curwen

said, that every gentleman in the country was obliged to give up a part of his income, and it was not too much to ask the royal family to share in the burthens of the country. He thought the whole proceeding irregular; as it ought to have been preceded by a message from the Crown.

Mr. Lockhart

said, that time had already made an additional grant for the duke of Clarence. Could any gentleman deny that 20,000l. was an income which, at the present time, would, with economy, meet every possible expense? He thought 20,000l. a year under these circumstances equal to a nominal 30,000l. a year arising from a landed estate. He could not assent to any additional grant, and still less to the arrears.

Mr. Monck

saw no reason whatever, in the present state of the country, for such a grant. He would not only oppose the arrears, but the 6,000l. annually.

Mr. Hume

said, he would not press his amendment in the present stage. The report was brought up and read.

On the motion, that it be now read a second time, Mr. Curwen moved, as an amendment, "That it be read a second time on this day three months."

Mr. J. Martin

said, he owed a duty to the royal family, but he owed a duty to the country also; and he thought it a more sacred obligation to consult the privations and distresses of the people, than to vote superfluities to any branch of the royal family.

Mr. Becher

objected to the payment of the arrears, though he was willing to vote for the grant of 6,000l. a year.

Mr. Abercromby

said, that as he was disposed to agree to, the vote for 6,000l. a year, he must vote against the amendment.

Mr. Ricardo

would vote for the 6,000l. a year, because he thought that his royal highness ought to be placed on the same footing with his brothers.

Lord Milton

would agree in the vote which would raise the income of the duke of Clarence to a level with that of his royal brothers, but he would not agree permanently to any one of them, as he thought, within a few months, they must come under the consideration of parliament, from the change in the value of the currency.

The House divided: For the original question, 144; For the Amendment, 18.

List of the Minority.
Becher, W. W. Monk, J. B.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Moore, P.
Bright, H. Palmer, C. F.
Bury, lord Sykes, D.
Creevey, T. Townshend, lord C.
Fergusson, sir R. Whitbread, S. C.
Hobhouse, J. C. Wood, M.
Honywood, W. P. TELLERS.
James, W Curwen, J. C.
Langston, J. H. Martin, J.
Lockhart, J. J.
Mr. Hume

then moved, to leave out "6,000l.," and insert "3,500l." instead thereof. He said, that gentlemen, by supporting his amendment, would save 2,500l. a year to the country, and the Grown had it in its power, out of the civil: list, to make up the deficiency to his royal highness.

Mr. Ellice

thought it would be far better openly to take away from the Crown the power of granting pensions, than by a side-wind to force claimants upon it. He must oppose the amendment.

Mr. Bernal

said, that his hon. friend did not propose to add to the pension list, but declared, that as a guardian of the public interests, he could not further burthen the consolidated fund. He left the Crown to do as it pleased; but he would not farther oppress the country.

Mr. P. Moore

said, the vote came in a crooked, underhand, and unparliamentary manner. It ought to have been brought before the House by a message from the Crown. It was by no means a matter of course to revive an old grant of a former session. Parliament had already provided for the royal family in a liberal and elegant manner.

Mr. Calcraft

said, that the grant of 2,500l. a year had not escaped the attention of the House when they came to the vote of 1818. On that occasion it was recollected, that the younger brothers of his royal highness had professional advantages which he had not. He thought himself pledged to make good the engagement of parliament, and he therefore should vote for the grant.

Mr. Creevey

said, that the amendment went to lessen, by 2,500l, a year, the consolidated fund, already so much burthened. He would vote for it, because the Crown, if it thought necessary, might supply the deficiency.

Mr. Denman

said, that in his opinion the duke of Clarence ought not to receive the arrears, though he ought injuturo to be placed on the same footing with his brothers. He would, however, object to the grant, because there was no message from the Crown on the subject. He had searched the Journals, and could find no trace of any proceeding on the subject: whatever passed then must have passed in the committee. It was, he conceived, impossible for the House to act upon any thing that might have taken place in a former parliament, save as far as the proceedings appeared upon the face of the Journals.

The Speaker

said, that the learned gentleman was mistaken with respect to what had appeared on the face of the Journals. The report was brought up, and after some discussion agreed to. There was another point which it was necessary for him to set right, in order that he might convince the House that he was not guilty of any negligence or breach of his duty, in suffering an innovation on the established rules of parliament. The state of the proceeding was this—a message came down from the Crown, the House said that they would take it into consideration, they did so, a resolution was agreed to, but no bill was brought in. In a subsequent parliament, that resolution was acted on without a fresh message from the Crown, but still at its recommendation. He saw nothing irregular in that course of proceeding, nor was it unprecedented. In 1814, the allowance granted to the princess of Wales, was reduced from 50 to 35,000l. a year, without any fresh message from the Crown; and in the case of the duchess of Cumberland, a sum of 6,000l. a year in ease she should survive the duke.

Mr. Maxwell

said, that in this case, as in all others in which the younger branches of the royal family were concerned, it was impossible to exclude from consideration those laws by which parliament restricted their marriages, and to forget that by them they had greatly augmented the expense of maintaining them, in ad- dition to all the other consequence which originated in their opposition to the laws of nature. The grant appeared to him to be one to the duchess, for unless the plea of matrimony had been alleged, no such additional provision would have been proposed. That illustrious person he had ever heard mentioned in terms of the highest praise; and he well knew that it was the misapplication, and not the proper application of the public money, which the people disapproved. It was not grants to support the dignity of its royal house which the nation disliked, but grants of public money to corrupt the talents of the country, and turn them against itself; Much as he objected to making any grant in the actual condition of the country, he should vote to place his royal highness in the same circumstances with his brothers. He should, however, give his decided opposition to the arrears.

The question being put, "That 6,000l. stand part of the question," the House divided: Ayes, 167.; Noes, 30.

List of the Minority.
Becher, W. Langston, J. H.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Lockhart, J. J.
Benyon, B. Martin, J.
Bernal, R. Monck, J. B.
Birch, J. Moore, P.
Bury, lord Noel, sir G.
Curwen, J. C. Palmer, C. F.
Denison, W. Ricardo, D.
Denman, T. Rickford, Wm.
Fergusson, sir R. Sykes, D.
Griffiths, J. H. Townshend, lord C.
Guise, sir W. Whitbread, S. C.
Hobhouse, J. C. Wood, M.
Hollywood, W. P. TELLERS.
Haldimand, W. Hume, J.
James, W. Creevey, T.
Mr. Bernal

then proposed another amendment, by leaving out from the words, "5th day of April 1818," and inserting "1821" instead thereof.

The Marquis of Londonderry

thought that the only objection which deserved the name of an argument, arose from its being imputed to him that he had treated this subject merely as a question of arrears—a view of it which he bad always disclaimed. From the first moment when the subject was brought under notice, he had denied that it was a question of arrears, but stated that it was a case in which parliament was to decide what it was fit and proper to give. Parliament, however, had always been in the habit of exercising an equitable discretion with respect to the period from which they should commence their grants. He wished that gentlemen opposite would not confine their liberality to votes for particular individuals. If hon. gentlemen would consider for a moment, they might recollect that there had been grants of a retrospective nature to other members of the royal family. When the last grant to her majesty was under consideration, an hon. gentleman had said, that he would receive no refusal to accept it,—as a reason for not agreeing to the vote, but that he would place the grant in the hands of the Crown, and let the queen take advantage of it when she pleased. According, therefore, to the principle thus laid down, if her majesty had chosen to refuse the grant until the expiration of 20 years, she would have been entitled to all the arrears. This grant to her majesty, it ought to be recollected, was made retrospective to the time of the death of the late king, when her majesty, in point of law, became queen-consort of the realm. When a grant was made to any commander on account of a victory, it was always carried back to the period of the achievement. He thought that the equitable period which parliament should fix in the present instance for the commencement of the grant was the time when parliament first resolved to give his royal highness the money, which he refused only from motives of self-denial. He could assure the House that the refusal of the grant by his royal highness at the time it was originally proposed, proceeded from the most honourable motives. His royal highness thought he could not live in this country on the allowance granted by parliament, without becoming involved in difficulties; and he therefore resolved to reside on the continent. But he could inform the House, that the year which his royal highness passed on the continent was not one of economy, but of increased expenditure. He therefore trusted that the House would consent to let his royal highness have the full benefit of its former grant.

Lord Milton

said, he could not consider the question in any other light than as a grant of arrears, and as such he felt the strongest objection to it. He was also of opinion that the proceedings in this case had not been so regular as they ought to have been. The House at present was without any knowledge of the wishes of the Crown on this subject. They could not with propriety be referred back to a proceeding of a former parliament as a rule for their conduct on this occasion.

Mr. Curwen

said, he should like to know what had been done with the residue of the late king's money, as he saw no reason, if the duke of Clarence were in debt, that his debts should not be paid out of that fund.

Mr. Abercromby

observed, that the measures proposed in parliament with respect to the members of the royal family were generally of an unhappy character; but he knew of no instance in which less judgment had been shown than in the present. He had abstained from voting on many proposals for retrenchment made in the course of the session, because they turned mostly on mere matters of fact, on which he was not competent to decide, and on which, if he decided erroneously, he might do great injustice. But as this was a retrospective measure, he should not hesitate to vote for the amendment.

Mr. Williams

said, he could not subscribe to the argument, that a member of the royal family would be entitled to claim the arrears of a grant which had been refused for 20 years. If the Queen had chosen to retire into a private station, and to remain there for 10 or 20 years, he, for one, would not have consented to let her have the benefit of any grant which was intended for the support of her dignity in public life. Upon the same principle, if the duke of Clarence had refused to maintain the dignity of his station, he could not permit him to receive arrears of a grant which was made to enable him to do so.

Sir J. Graham

said, his royal highness had been anxious in 1818 to receive the money voted, but he was advised not to do so, by those who knew more of such matters than himself. If the House granted the arrears, the country would pay less than it would otherwise have done, by all the interest.

Mr. Denman

thought that the two cases, of her majesty when princess of Wales, and the duchess of Cumberland, were no precedents at all. The House was now called upon to act on the recommendation contained in a resolution of a former parliament. He could not conceive why the noble marquis had chosen to introduce the name of the Queen into this debate, unless for the purpose of forming a splendid contrast. If the House had acted towards her majesty as it was now proposed to act with respect to the duke of Clarence, they would have given her not only the arrears which were due to her from the period of the late king's death, but also the 90,000l. which she had given to the people since 1814. He thought the arrears ought not to be granted to the duke of Clarence; but if they were, it was clear that the same principle which gave his royal highness 18,000l. would give her majesty 90,000l.

Mr. Alderman Wood

thought it fit the country should know, that although ministers had promised to provide her majesty with a house, with carriages, and with a service of plate, yet when she was paid the first instalment of the grant voted by parliament, 4,000l. was deducted for those articles. This was the liberality which ministers had displayed towards her majesty. Her majesty possessed a positive engagement, in the hand-writing of one of the ministers, to provide her with a house. She made choice of several, but none was given her, and she was finally obliged to procure one herself. In consequence of the expenses which her majesty had necessarily incurred, only 12,000l. remained out of 62,000l. which she had received in pursuance of the vote of parliament.

The House divided: For the Amendment, 81; Against it, 131. The original resolution was then agreed to.

List of the Minority.
Abercromby, hon. J. Fleming, John
Baring, H. Gordon, R.
Becher, W. W. Grattan, John
Benyon, B, Griffith, J. W.
Bury, visct. Guise, sir W.
Boughton, sir C. Gurney, H.
Bennett, John Gipps, G.
Butterworth, J. Gaskell, Ben.
Colburne, N. R. Harbord, hon. E.
Curwen, J. C. Hobhouse, J. C.
Creevey, T. Honywood, J. P.
Cooper, R. B. Hume, J.
Cherry, G. H. Haldimand, W,
Crawley, S. James, W.
Doveton, G. Keck, G. A. L.
Denison, W. J. Lennard, T. B.
Denman, T. Lockhart, J. J.
Dundas, T. Lister, B. L.
Drake, W. T. Langston, J. H.
Dugdale, D. S. Macdonald, Jas.
Duncannon, visct. Martin, J.
Ebrington, visct. Milbank, M.
Evans, Wm. Milton, vict.
Ellis, hon. G. A. Monck, J. B.
Fergusson, sir R. C. Moore, P.
Fitzgerald, lord Maxwell, J.
Folkestone, lord Noel, sir G.
Forbes, C. Ord, W.
Fane, John Palmer, C. F.
Ricardo, D. Tavistock, marq of
Robinson, sir G. Townshend, lord C.
Rumbold, C. Webbe, Ed.
Rice, T. S. Wester, C. C.
Rickford, W. Wharton, J.
Smith, G. Whitbread, S.
Smith, S. Wood, alderman
Smith, A. Wells, John
Smith, J. Williams, W.
Smith, W. TELLERS.
Sefton, earl of Bernal, R.
Sykes, D. Bennet, hon. H. G.
Sebright, sir J.