HC Deb 09 December 1830 vol 1 cc954-6
Lord Althorp,

in moving the second reading of the Regency Bill, expressed his entire approbation of the measure, which appeared to him to be extremely well conceived. He did not consider that there was any infringement of the Constitution. There would be an infringement of the Constitution if a person with the sovereign power was deprived of his prerogative; if the prerogative were fit to be given to the Sovereign, it was also fit to be given to the person acting as Regent. He was glad, therefore, that this Bill appointed no Council of Regency, as had been done by former bills.

Sir C. Wetherell

also gave his entire approbation to the principle of the measure, and observed, that the noble Lord who had introduced it to the other House had gained great honour by the clear and manly speech he made on that occasion; but he could not assent to the supposition that no case could arise in which a Council of Regency would be necessary. He contended, that in the event of the death of the King:, leaving the Queen pregnant, the Crown should immediately descend on the Heir Presumptive. In that respect he approved of the principle of the Bill. He thought that the Act should be declaratory of the law that the Sovereignty should devolve on the Presumptive Heir at once. He should propose to add to the clause declaring that the Crown should so descend, these words:—" Her said royal highness shall be, and be deemed, and taken to be, and is hereby declared to be, the actual Sovereign of these realms, subject to the limitation hereinafter mentioned." There was one other deficiency in the Bill. In the event of the birth of a posthumous child of his present Majesty, the Bill did not provide for the cesser of the Sovereignty of the Princess Victoria. He should, therefore, propose to add these words: "That immediately on the birth of such child, the Sovereign title shall descend to him or her; and it is hereby declared, that the Princess Victoria's right shall cease and determine, and that such child shall be, and shall be deemed and taken to be, and is hereby declared to be, the lawful Sovereign of these realms, in the same manner as if he had succeeded the Princess Victoria in the possession of the Throne of these realms."

Mr. Hughes Hughes

thought there was another omission in the Bill, and that was, that if the power of the Regent ceased there was no distinct provision made for the exercise of the powers of Sovereignty. He should move to supply that defect in the Committee.

Sir E. B. Sugden

remarked, that his hon. and learned friend, who proposed to make that law a declaratory law, forgot that it was impossible to do so unless that and the other House of Parliament first agreed in a resolution that such as that hon. and learned Member wished to make the law was actually now the Law of the land. A declaratory law was only a declaration of a law actually pre-existing, but respecting which there had been some doubts. He was disposed to meet the learned Gentleman (Sir C. Wetherell) fairly and openly in the discussion on the clauses he had mentioned; but he confessed he thought the Bill perfect without them, and that Parliament was competent to deal with the cases alluded to whenever they arose, if they ever did arise at all.

Lord Morpeth

expressed his entire approbation of the Bill. It was the happiness of the people at present to have a Sovereign on the Throne in whom they placed the most perfect confidence; but it was still more for their happiness that the laws of the realm did not trust its safety and security to any thing so unstable as human character.

Mr. Cutlar Ferguson

considered the Bill perfect, and the additional clauses consequently unnecessary. The noble Lord who framed and introduced it deserved the greatest praise for the whole Bill, and he should be sorry to see it undergo any alteration.

The Attorney General

said, that any objection to the clauses might be urged with better effect when they came to consider the details in the committee. In his opinion the Bill at present accomplished what his hon. and learned friend wished.

Mr. Campbell

said, that at present the law was not at all doubtful, and that he, therefore, should object to the clauses proposed by the hon. and learned member for Borough bridge.

Lord John Russell

approved of the principle of the Bill, and hoped it would pass with unanimity.

Bill read a second time, and ordered to be committed to-morrow.