HC Deb 29 June 1821 vol 5 cc1450-5

On the order of the day being read for going into a Committee on the Duke of Clarence's Annuity Bill,

Mr. Creevey

thought that ministers were not treating the House as they ought on the present occasion. They had been hunting down bills both day and night during the whole session, and now, at its Conclusion, they proposed a measure which ought to have been introduced sufficiently early to enable gentlemen to give it a due consideration. His next objection was, that the whole proceeding was perfectly unconstitutional. It was not against any positive law, it certainly was against the understood usage of parliament, to connect this bill with something which took place two parliaments ago. All that could be said by the royal duke was, that if he could induce parliament to be so foolish as to grant him this money, he had the consent of the Crown in his favour. He contended that a message from the Crown ought to have been laid before the House before the bill was introduced, He objected also to parliament being made the instrument of favouritism, either by the Crown or the ministers. They ought not to allow themselves to show favour to one branch of the royal family, while another branch was neglected. He had heard it said, that her majesty was to have a sum of money allowed her as an outfit. This, however, was forgotten, and it was an outrage on parliament to make it the instrument of favouring this royal duke, while the Queen was allowed to be sacrificed. The Queen had as good a right as the duke of Clarence to the consideration of parliament. Her majesty had, with a magnanimity which did her great honour, refused to accept more than 35,000. a year, though 50,000. was offered to her. This was seven years ago, and her majesty had just as good a right to apply for her arrears, as the duke of Clarence had for his. Was it right to call on the people to give this money to the duke of Clarence, after having taken a large sum to defray the expense of the trial of her majesty?—a trial which the people considered unjust and iniquitous. It was too hard, after that expense, to ask a large sum of money for that royal personage, who had acted so conspicuous a part in that fatal measure. He wished the House to recollect the words of a noble marquis (Titchfield) when speaking of that trial on a former evening. Those words ought to be engraved in letters of gold, for the purpose of showing the royal family how much they degraded and disgraced themselves by such public prosecutions. He had been an eye-witness of what took place on that fatal trial, and he never should forget the ferocious manner in which the royal personage who came now to—[Order, order!].

The Marquis of Londonderry

put it to the Chair whether the words "ferocious manner" ought to be used in speaking of the royal family.

The Speaker

was sure the hon. member would see the impropriety of using such expressions.

Mr. Creevey

said, he spoke of his royal highness merely in the capacity of a suitor to that House for money. He had heard the duke of Clarence signify his "content," in the case of the Queen, in a manner which he never could have expected, considering that the illustrious person was his own cousin—his sister-in-law—a princess of the house of Brunswick—and the Queen of England. The tone, and manner, and temper in which his royal highness pronounced his sentence, had made an impression on him that he should never forget. It was such as he never expected to have seen or heard in any civilized society [cries of Order!].

The Speaker

said, that he was sure no gentleman would more warmly contend for the freedom of debate in that House than the hon. member. He no doubt, would consider the freedom of that House infringed on, if any person in any other place commented on any thing that might pass within the walls of that House.

Mr. Creevey

said, he would go no farther in his comments, but would turn to another subject—that of the coronation; and he could not help observing, though he admitted, with the noble lord opposite, that it was a solemn compact between the king and his people, that somehow or other, it was not so regarded by the people. How else could he account for the questions put by almost all who spoke upon the subject, as to whether it was really to take place? How, he asked, could such questions be accounted for, except upon the supposition that the people thought the present was not the proper occasion for such a ceremony? Nay, there were not wanting persons who looked upon this solemn ceremony as part of the persecution against the Queen: understanding it was not intended that her majesty should be crowned with her royal consort. He was not sufficiently skilled in the law on this subject, to know Whether her majesty had a right to be crowned or not; but it was difficult to see upon what ground her majesty, as a member of the royal family, could be excluded from at least being present on the occasion. He thought that every step which could be taken ought to be adopted for the purpose of restoring that harmony which ought to exist between the royal family and the country.

Mr. Bankes

, jun., said, that there was no analogy between the case of the Queen and that of the duke of Clarence. Her majesty had refused a part of the grant offered her by parliament, because she considered it was too much, and his royal highness had not accepted what he considered too little for the due maintenance of his rank in the country. At the time he had so refused it, he could not have been certain whether the illustrious princess to whom he was now united would have consented to settle in this country.

Mr. Harhord

said, that he was willing to vote for the 6,000l. a year, but not for the arrears. On the subject of the Queen's case, he thought that an allusion to it was most relevant and necessary.

Mr. Bennet

could not help feeling insuperable objections to the proposed coronation. He could not but grudge the whole expenses of it, not from disrespect to the sovereign, but from a thorough conviction that it was ill-suited to the poverty and distress of the times. It was not fit that the country, sick at heart as it was, should look so gay in the face. The large sum of 100,000l. would be ill spent indeed on such an exhibition. It was not now a solemn service, but a mere show.

The Marquis of Londonderry

said, that the coronation was called a mere show; but he would tell the hen, gentlemen that that august ceremony was performed under the authority of law; that it was an institution ancient and venerable, sanctioned by the usage of ages, and by the spirit of the constitution. Ministers would have neglected their duty to the sovereign if they bad not advised the performance of that ceremony with as little delay as possible. He lamented, as a part of the bit- ter fruits of the transactions of the last year, that lion, members, far from allaying, laboured to aggravate the evils of that period. He was convinced, that hon. members opposite had done much to increase those evils; and the speeches of that night he looked upon as an endeavour to revive throughout the country those feelings of animosity and agitation, which had for some time ceased to exist. Those hon. gentlemen would call upon the country to expend millions in what they called the cause of liberty, but which he would call the cause of general confusion, but they showed the utmost tenderness in the expenditure of 100,000l. on an ancient ceremony which was imposed upon the sovereign by the laws of the land.

Mr. Hume

said, that the noble marquis thought fit to throw very serious imputations upon gentlemen on his side of the House. But he would tell the noble lord, that he and his colleagues were the firebrands that created a flame through the country, when they attempted to crush the Queen of England. But it was too much for the noble lord to call the coronation an august and sacred ceremony. He denied that any ceremony could be august and sacred that was, like this, founded in injustice. If it was proper that the king should be crowned, it was right that the queen should be crowned also; if otherwise, the coronation, instead of being an august and sacred solemnity, would be a partial, wanton, cruel act of injustice. The noble lord and another noble lord stood pledged, that if the Queen should be acquitted she would be in titled to all her rights and privileges as Queen. Yet the noble lord now talked to the House of the august and sacred solemnity of a coronation from which the Queen-consort should be excluded! He believed no administration had ever departed so widely from the principles of Christianity, or wounded so deeply all the feelings and principles that were dearest to the heart of man. Was it not then too much for those who exerted all their power to prevent, to stop, to arrest such wrongs, to be charged by the noble marquis with disturbing, exciting, and inflaming the country? He had early, earnestly, and in every possible stage, resisted the persecution against the Queen, which had more generally and more justly inflamed the country than any act since the Revolutions. He now gave a piece of advice to the noble lord, to be just both to the king and to the Queen, out of respect hot less to the king than to the feelings of the country. Let ministers no longer advise measures respecting her majesty, that were tyrannical and oppressive; but let them advise his majesty to be just towards an individual whom God had placed under his especial care and protection. [Hear, hear!]

Mr. C. F. Palmer

said, he would oppose the grant, because he disapproved of it on principle, and because it was opposed to the sentiments and wishes of the people.

Mr. W. Smith

contended, that there was nothing in the coronation which could bind more firmly the people to the sovereign. Of one thing he was convinced, that if the sovereign, from a wish to save the money of his people, consented to forego this ceremony, he would do more to raise himself in the affection and respect of Englishmen, than by going through any ceremony, though it were ten times more splendid than that which was contemplated.

Mr. Bathurst

said, that a coronation had always taken place on the accession of the sovereign. The coronation oath had been since the Revolution part of the law of the land, and could not be administered but at the coronation.

After a few words from Mr. Hobhouse and lord Milton, the House went into the committee. On the clause which enacts, that the grant shall begin from the 5th April 1818, Mr. Hume moved, that "1821" be substituted. Upon this, the committee divided: For the Amendment, 24; Against it, 54.

List of the Minority.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Martin, J.
Becher, W. W. Monck, J. B.
Benyon, B. Milton, lord
Byng, G. Palmer, C. F.
Brougham, H. Robarts, A. W.
Crawley, S. Robinson, sir G.
Denman, T. Rice, S.
Fane, J. Smith, W.
Fergusson, sir R. Swann, H.
Hume, J. Tremayne, J. H.
Harbord, hon. E. TELLER.
Hobhouse, J. C. Creevey, T.
Lennard, T. B.