HC Deb 21 February 1833 vol 15 cc1077-9
Mr. Hall

rose, he said, to call the attention of the House to a financial statement which arose out of the settlement that had been made upon Prince Leopold, upon his marriage with the late Princess Charlotte. He held in his hand a copy of a letter which Prince Leopold had written to the noble Earl at the head of the Admin- istration, and in which the prince had directed that certain sums should be disbursed out of the pension he received from this country, and that, after such disbursements the balance should be paid into the Exchequer for the benefit of the public. The prince had directed payments to be made, the amount of which it was impossible for him (Mr. Hall) to determine, but they certainly, in appearance, formed but a small part of the gross amount of the pension or annuity. His highness had directed that there should be paid out of his annuity certain sums to his servants, a certain amount of public subscriptions to charities to which his serene highness and the Princess Charlotte had subscribed, that the expenses of keeping up Claremont should be defrayed, and that, after these disbursements, all the balance of the annuity should be refunded to the public. A year and a half had elapsed, and it was to be supposed that a large surplus had been received into the Exchequer. The object of his motion was, to ascertain if any sum had been paid in since July, 1831, and what was the amount. He would not take up any more of the time of the House, but would move for an account of all sums of money which had been paid into the Exchequer out of the annuity granted to Prince Leopold, now king of the Belgians, since the 18th July, 1831.

Lord Althorp

said, that it was evident, by the letter which the hon. Member had read, that his Majesty the king of the Belgians had directed that all his outstanding debts in England, with the keeping up of Claremont and certain other expenses, should be defrayed before the balance of his annuity should be paid into the Exchequer. He (Lord Althorp) was not aware upon what grounds it had been calculated that the debts amounted to only 10,000l.; but he knew that they turned out to be much greater than anybody expected, and this he must observe was very often the case, in calculations of debts. He could only say, that up to the present time, the debts of his Royal Highness were not discharged. The trustees whom the king of the Belgians had appointed, had found that there were such heavy charges upon the annuity that they declined undertaking the trust, as they were not aware how much they might make themselves liable to, or what responsibilities they might incur. Now that the trustees saw that the debts were nearly discharged, they consented to act, and he believed that the intentions of the king of the Belgians as to paying the money into the Exchequer, would soon come into operation. Under all these circumstances, he hoped that the hon. member for Monmouth would not press his Motion to a division.

Mr. Hall

declared, that he was not aware of this extraordinary state of the prince's debts, but, after the noble Lord's observations, he would withdraw his Motion.

Mr. Robinson

said, that he recollected that when the Prince Leopold had left this country, a great boast had been made of his merit, in relinquishing his annuity, and the public had a right to expect to derive some benefit from a relinquishment thus boasted of; but it now turned out that as yet no benefit whatever had been derived by the people of England. The public could not conceive, that with such an excessively liberal income, the prince could have got so deeply involved in debt, that in a year and a half his encumbrances and arrears had not been paid off. He wished to know, whether, even now, the king of the Belgians did not continue to derive some of his income from this country? He would maintain that the grant of the annuity was dissolved immediately the prince accepted the Belgian throne, and became an alien to England, with opposite interests and connexions.

Motion withdrawn.