HC Deb 11 December 1837 vol 39 cc945-8

The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved that the House resolve itself into a Committee on the Civil List Acts.

Mr. Hume

begged leave to ask what course the right hon. Gentleman intended to take on going into Committee? He was anxious that the House should not be pledged to any particular line, as the report had been only that morning placed in the hands of Members.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, it was quite true, as the hon. Gentleman had stated, that the report had only been placed in the hands of Members that day, but every possible effort had been made to give it publicity and circulation. He was about to propose resolutions carrying into effect its recommendations, with the view of introducing a Bill, in the future stages of which opportunities would be afforded of discussing every point that might be raised. In the present state of business, and when they were close on the holidays, he trusted the hon. Member would offer no opposition to the resolutions. He should move them without offering any observations, but he would pledge himself to the House, that the order of the day should be brought on at an early and con- venient time, and that every facility should hereafter be afforded for discussing the question. The Bill, to which the resolutions were preliminary, would take a considerable time to go through all its stages, though he should endeavour to proceed with it as rapidly as was consistent with his wish that it should be fully discussed. He should propose to report the resolutions to-morrow, to introduce the Bill and to discuss it in Committee on Friday. This would allow Gentlemen time to consider the report, and they would then have an opportunity of making any observations they chose to offer.

Mr. Harvey

said, be understood the right hon. Gentleman proposed to defer any discussion on the subject till Friday. It would be convenient to him to know that on that occasion he (Mr. Harvey) would press for a definitive answer from Government as to their intention in reference to the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster. He would also ask in what way they proposed to deal with that very considerable source of income, hitherto in the enjoyment of the Crown, arising from the estates of persons dying intestate without heirs?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, as the last was a very complicated question, perhaps the hon. Member would put it in writing. He (Mr. Rice) would endeavour to get an answer from the Lords of the Treasury, which he trusted would prove satisfactory; if it were not so, the hon. Member might repeat the question on a future day.

House in Committee.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved, that for the support of her Majesty's household, and for maintaining the honour and dignity of the Crown, there be granted to her Majesty during her life a net revenue of 385,000l., together with an additional revenue of 10,000l. for her Majesty's household servants; that the payment should commence from the day of the demise of his late Majesty; that it should be charged upon the consolidated fund, and that, in addition to such annual sum, a sum be granted in the way of pensions upon the civil list to the extent of 1,200l., and,—"That all the hereditary revenues of the Crown in England, Scotland, and Ireland, as well as the droits of Admiralty, droits of the Crown, four and a-half per cent. duties, and all the other branches of the casual revenues arising out of the United Kingdom, or the foreign possessions of her Majesty, which at the period of the demise of his late Majesty were subject to the Crown of Great Britain should, during the lifetime of her present Majesty, be carried to the consolidated fund."

Mr. Hume

had not heard anything in the resolution respecting Cornwall or Lancaster. He wished to know whether the revenues of those two duchies were to be surrendered?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

Certainly not. He had never for one moment considered that they were to be surrendered, and they did not pass under the title of revenues of the Crown.

Mr. Hume

had great objection to the exclusion of these revenues. On a former occasion, when a Bill passed the House containing the same words, a noble and learned Lord, then a Member of that House, said they had been taken by surprise, and the right hon. Gentleman himself, if he recollected rightly, contended that the revenues of the duchies came within the meaning of the resolution. He should say nothing more on the subject, as he now found they were excluded, but he had one observation to make. He hoped that the time had now arrived when the droits of the Admiralty would be abolished, since a more barefaced robbery had never been committed on a highway than the levying of these droits of Admiralty on the sea. From 1790 till the end of the war, individual property to the value of 12,000,000l. sterling had been seized without a declaration of war, the owners of which had no knowledge that a state of war existed, and could not be prepared for it. The United States made a proposition to the Governments of Europe, that as private property in towns taken by an enemy was always held sacred, private property in ships passing from place to place should be protected. Some of the smaller states had agreed to act on it, and he thought it a question well deserving the serious consideration of the House. He hoped that in the course of the Session measures would be taken by some hon. Member to relieve the country from the disgrace and opprobrium attaching to the present system. Like most other ill-gotten gains, the money had produced little benefit, for it had been lavished at the pleasure of the Minister of the day. It was quite unworthy of that House to permit the public service to be carried on by such means, and though he was aware that the chance of war was extremely slight in the present aspect of Europe, this was the very time for Parliament to prevent the possibility of adding to its horrors by such a system of spoliation. The Danish claims formed part of the consequences of that system, but he trusted that a law would be speedily passed to put an end to it.

Resolutions agreed to.

House resumed, resolutions reported.