HC Deb 18 July 1831 vol 4 cc1407-9
Mr. Briscoe

begged leave to invite the attention of the noble Lord below him to a subject of considerable interest and importance, which, he could assure him, he did not bring forward, on the present occasion, under any feeling of disrespect or disloyalty to the illustrious personage who now filled the Throne of these Realms. Economy, however, was an essential part of the compact between himself and his constituents; and he was, therefore, induced to allude to the expense which the public was to soon about to incur, on account of his Majesty's coronation, which he saw was fixed to take place on the 8th of September next. He might be allowed to express a hope, that it would be conducted on principles very different from those which had regulated the enormous expenditure at the coronation of George the 4th. Whether it should be a solemn ceremony, of national interest and political importance, or a mere empty and ostentatious parade, in his opinion, in a great measure depended on the amount of outlay it would occasion. The present King, he was sure, was a monarch who would content himself with reigning in the hearts and affections of his subjects, without requiring a wasteful prodigality of public money, which the country could ill afford. He thought, under all circumstances, that the House should endeavour to ascertain what would be the expense before they subjected the country to it; and hoped, that the noble Lord would be able at least to inform them, what would be the probable amount of the expenditure, if he could not at present undertake to name the exact sum.

Lord Althorp

stated, in reply, that the coronation was a state form, which had taken place in every reign, and, he believed, in every country in Europe; but in England, since the period of the Revolution, it had been customary for the King to take an oath on the occasion, which rendered it thenceforth a ceremonial of high political importance. He quite agreed with the hon. Member, that extravagance on such an occasion, in the present circumstances of the country, was peculiarly unfitting; and felt happy to be enabled to add, that the Sovereign himself was desirous that the public should not be required to be at any expense upon his account, that was not absolutely necessary. The cost of the former coronation, it was true, had been enormous, but that of the present, he trusted, would not prove one-fifth so extravagant; for the Treasury had already given orders, that no estimate should be issued, which had not previously been submitted to their consideration. He hoped, therefore, that the House would see reason to be satisfied, that the expenditure had been regulated by a due regard for economy, so soon as they should have an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the amount of the estimates, and the extent of the retrenchments. More, how ever, he could not then state for the information of the House, the estimates not having been yet prepared.

Mr. Hunt

said, if the hon. member for Surrey was anxious to have the accounts of the expenses of the last coronation, he would recommend him to move for them.

Mr. Hume

was glad to hear the statement which had just been made by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and hoped, that Ministers would cause these estimates to be laid before the House, and procure the assent of the House to them, before the expense, as on former occasions, should be irretrievably incurred. It was usual, unfortunately for the country, at the celebration of such ceremonies, to issue a considerable brevet commission, which cost not less than 10,000l.increase of pay, independent of the various other expenses which it had been thought so convenient an opportunity to introduce. He trusted, however, that we now lived in better times, and that promotions, with increase of pay, as well as every other idle extravagance, heretofore put in practice, would be dispensed with.

Lord Althorp

replied, that that subject, also, was under the consideration of his Majesty's Government.