§ Mr. Harvey
considered that this was the most appropriate time for bringing forward the motion of which he had given notice, "That it be an instruction to the Committee that due provision be made in the Civil List Bill for the protection of the right of Parliament to inquire into and to appropriate the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall and the duchy of Lancaster respectively," and in proposing his motion, he must say, that he was greatly surprised this important question was not brought forward under the sanction of her Majesty's Government, for while he was disposed to make every allowance for the heated expressions employed in party conflicts, he could not banish from his mind the solemn declarations made upon this subject by many who were now the supporters of her Majesty's Government. It would be in the recollection of many hon. Members he now addressed, that when the civil list was last brought under the notice of the House by the Government of the Duke of Wellington and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, one of the most distinguished persons then connected with the opposition (perhaps not the nominal leader, but, beyond comparison, the ablest man amongst them, and the more able because of his legal pretensions) declared his conviction that the terms of his Majesty's speech implied the surrender of these revenues to the services of the public, and 1120 he also stated that the resignation ought to be made. It would, too, be recollected that, when the same government was afterwards borne down, the noble Lord who was subsequently the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced to the House his concurrence in the interpretation that had been then given by the noble Lord to the royal message, and also his own concurrence in the propriety of the course itself; and that the government with which he was then recently connected was only deterred from making the revenues of these duchies applicable to the public service because he found, from a conference with his royal master, that such was not his Majesty's intention. His object, then, in bringing forward this subject was to test the sincerity of hon. Gentlemen, now that they had the power, and that they were unfettered by any such communication. It would test, too, those who considered that economy was to be effected by a reform in Parliament, and how far they were disposed to set at rest a question which had frequently been agitated, but for which the period of its settlement had only then arrived. The Members who took the trouble of looking over the debates of that House for the last quarter of a century would find that the revenues of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster had been the subject of frequent notice and animadversion. Attempts had been made to bring the nature and extent of them before Parliament, and attempts had also been made to render them public property. Some denied the right of Parliament to have any cognizance of them; but far the greater number relied upon the inaptitude of the period for discussing it, always admitting that the nature and extent of this important property should most properly be brought under the cognisance of Parliament on the demise of the Crown. If, then, they lost the present opportunity, all other chance was at an end, because the civil list would, in a few days, be closed; they would then have fixed the grant for a life, in all human probability, surviving the life of any individual whom he then addressed. There was, then, no resting-place for men who revelled in expediency to take their" stand. Hon. Members might say, that they would be prepared to grant a Committee hereafter to inquire into the property, to ascertain its amount, and to suggest an improved and economical arrangement of it. All 1121 this might be very well for the illustrious individual who filled the throne, and it might be gratifying to them to know that by such means there had been made a great accession to her wealth; but as far as the extended questions of economy and reform were concerned, unless they were prepared to make the inquiry now, and in connection with this Bill, all real advantage to the community would be at an end. This, and no other, was the identical time in which the question ought to be tried. He did not consider that the fitting time to enter into the ancient history of this property, and it was unnecessary for him to do so in moving for a Committee, when he was fortified by the opinions of others, more valuable than any of his own, which could be drawn from historical statements. He had the gravest authority for saying, that this was a public property—an authority to which the Government must bow, as the individual who delivered it was selected by them to hold the highest equitable jurisdiction in the country. That individual had been selected partly because of his powers in that House, and partly, he supposed, because of his great knowledge of the law—that individual, Lord Brougham, had, in his place in that House, and within seven short days of his sitting on the Woolsack, stated that he considered these revenues to be public property. But, in order that they might not be led away by the dry sentiments of lawyers, he had also to refer to the opinion of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Althorp, who, while declaring his concurrence in the opinion expressed by Lord Brougham, stated his intention to make his own opinions subservient to the wishes of his royal master. When, then, he had the grave authority of lawyers and of laymen, why trouble the House with any legal disquisition on the subject? It was plain, that it was the duty of the House to tell the people what was the real extent of the property which the Crown of England possessed by virtue of its tenure. The report of the Civil List Committee had been laid upon the table of the House, and he owned that he was not a little surprised at its meagre and unsatisfactory character. He should like to be informed if the revenues of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster in any manner had engrossed their attention? The purpose of that Committee was to 1122 make an ample provision for the splendour and dignity of the Crown. The provision made by them was about to be embodied into law—it amounted to 385,000l. Was it considered, that the revenues of those duchies were to be essential to such an object? It seemed to him, that the Committee had revelled in the very riot of royalty. They had conceded not only what the predecessor of her Majesty had enjoyed, but, in order to make a round sum, and not to be inconvenienced with small figures, they had thrown in a makeweight of 8,000l. a-year. They had done more. It appeared, that the expenditure of the late King, bearing in mind that he had many peculiar adjuncts which her Majesty was free from, was less by some thousands a-year than what he received. That excess, which was carried into the privy purse of his late Majesty, was 15,000l. a-year. This, then, with the additional 8,000l., was given to her Majesty. In addition to these, was her Majesty to be in possession of the revenues of the duchies, exaggerated in amount, if they pleased to say so, but still indisputably great. He believed, taking into account the fines recovered, and allowing even for the extravagance in the management of the revenues, that they amounted at the least to 50,000l. per annum—were they, he asked, to go into the secret coffers of the Crown? Gentlemen might speak of economy and reform, but what he wished of them was, to let it be known whether, in addition to a privy purse of 60,000l., in addition to 10,000l. or 12,000l. for charities, in addition to a proved excess between the receipts and expenditure of her predecessors, and in addition to 8,000l. to make the whole a round sum—in addition to all these were Gentlemen who were economists and reformers, was the House, prepared to say that the whole of these revenues, one year with another, nothing short of 50,000l., was to be thrown into the lap of the monarch to be expended or to be treasured up as her Majesty thought fit? If it was to be so, let it be understood by the country, and let them hear no more of the danger of secret service money. Here was property of the Crown which was not to be under the cognizance of Parliament. If these immense revenues, which, under improved management and more economical arrangements, might probably be made to come to double the 1123 amount; if they were to be expended as extravagance or avarice might suggest, then let it be understood. But he might be told that his fears were groundless, because it was in the contemplation of Government to institute an inquiry into the property, and to place it on such a footing as should give the Parliament a cognizance of its amount. Why this would be of very little value, if they were to inquire into the nature and extent of the revenues with a view to their improvement, if at the same time they were placed at the irresponsible disposal of the monarch. It might be very gratifying to the illustrious individual who received the benefit of the inquiry, but as far as the property went to the aid of the public it would be none at all. It was the more important that the House should extend its superintendence to this property, and render it available to the public service, for this reason—because it was not at all improbable, it was, indeed, a contingency not by any means of remote probability, that within a very few years they might be called upon to take off their hats for a royal message announcing a happy event. They would be called upon to make a liberal and munificent provision for the happy circumstance of preserving the uninterrupted succession of the House of Hanover, and for this purpose they would be invited to grant fifty or a hundred thousand a-year to the heir apparent. Was it not, then, desirable that this property, which was allowedly the income of the Prince of Wales when they had one, should be put into a proper train of management, in order to provide for that apparent and desirable event? If the Queen was to have this money—if the income of 50,000l was to form part of the royal revenue in the contemplation of the Committee—if it formed a part of the judicious expenditure of which they heard so much—if it partook of the happy circumstance of being constantly under the control of a maternal system of economy, he would like to hear it suggested in what way the deficiency would be made up when the royal infant presented itself and claimed the money, thus taking away from the royal mother the disposition of it, a disposition which was confessedly essential to the comfort, and splendour, and dignity of the Crown. The chasm must be filled up by another grant, or else some interference ought at the present moment to be 1124 interposed, for the purpose of guarding this property from this species of misapplication. On looking over the report he could not help smiling, and at the same time feeling something like indignation, at this attempt to practise upon the credulity of Parliament and of mankind in general. In the report of 1830 it had been made matter of great regret that the Committee had been restrained from entering into more extended inquiry by bringing before it persons and documents in order to satisfy their own delicate scruples and the just expectations of the country. The Committee regretted it deeply, and at the time sincerely, that they had not been armed with power to send for and examine papers, persons, and records. Would it not occur to any person that, when inconvenience was thus felt from narrowing the report, arising partly at the time from the inexperience of the Government, scarcely seven days in their seats, and for whom, therefore, there was abundant excuse for their not being sufficiently informed of the rules and regulations of the House—would it not occur to any persons that those who were the authors of the report of the Committee of 1830, a report which breathed such lamentations about their want of power, would have guarded against the recurrence of the same inconvenience by clothing a future Committee with those powers? And yet it appeared that the Members of that former Committee, the authors of that report, came to a new Parliament with loud lamentations that they could not follow out the inquiry as far as their duty and inclination would lead them, because they were not armed with powers to send for papers, persons, and records. And why were they not thus armed? Who framed the words of the motion for the Committee. Why did they not add the words, "And that the Committee have power to send for papers, persons, and records?" The consequence was, that they had another meagre production which told them nothing, but that they would have precisely the same establishments with the same extravagance and amount which had characterised former reigns. But, then, they were told that the grants to former monarchs was the same as the present, and that they were not adding to the present expenditure in any matter now on the list. What was the constant course taken 1125 by the hon. Gentlemen when in opposition? Were they not eternally talking about the extravagance of the civil list? Were they not constantly reminding their opponent how much that list required investigation? Did hon. Gentlemen fancy that the people paid no attention to them and to what they said? Did they suppose that the people looked upon those statements as idle words, meaning nothing, or did they imagine that the memory of the people was so fragile in its recollection as not to remember anything beyond the last week? He would call to their recollection what took place in 1816, when the civil list of the Prince Regent was established. Could hon. Members who had either heard them personally, or who had read the debates of that period, forget the cutting sarcasms of George Tierney, when he assailed Lord Castlereagh, and ridiculed the office of Lord Chamberlain, of Lord Treasurer, and of the knights and women and men of the Stole? And what was the answer of Lord Castlereagh to this ridicule of the establishment of the Sovereign? He said, "I grant the establishment is extravagant, but then look at the expense of the time; look at the high price of every thing; it is necessary to adapt the establishment of the Royal Household to the circumstances of the times." If, in 1816, they were to justify a large grant, on the ground that all articles of consumption were at a high war price, was it not a reason now, when they were surrounded with every kind of economical reform, when they had competition and its consequences, for looking into the grant with a view to see whether it could not be a little reduced? Besides, let them look at the improved lights that had been shed upon Government of late. Had they not commissioners upon economical reform, exploring the country, and making experiments upon the gastric organs of men, and, in a spirit of refined and generous philanthropy, endeavouring to ascertain, by experiments on their stomachs how much was requisite to maintain a strong, healthy, rural labourer, and proclaiming that a man of immense muscular power, of great strength, and of six feet of elevation, could be sustained in health and strength upon six shillings a week? This was the standard of economy they were seeking to introduce into the country, and yet this Committee ran riot in extravagance and took no notice in 1837 of 1126 those things which were made the subject of well-merited censure and bitter ridicule in 1816. Was it to go forth to the world that these statements were the mere mockery of party contest, and that those who in 1816 made these statements, meant nothing more than an endeavour to excite and stir up hostility to their political opponents? Whoever would take the trouble to look through the present Bill would find no change for the better, but a considerable change for the worse. Let it not, then, go forth to the world that they proposed a civil list for her Majesty less than that which was granted to her Royal uncle. It ought to be borne in mind, though their attention had not been previously called to it, and at all events it was not in the Report of the Committee, that the late King, was called to the throne under very different circumstances, and was surrounded by claimants on his paternal attention which did not belong and could not belong to the present illustrious individual. Why should there be any delicacy in the investigation? In the Report of the former Committee it was stated that the Committee felt disinclined to enter into the subject of the expenses of the Royal household because it was considered that it would be unpleasant to the feelings of the Royal individual who then filled the throne, because it was well known that the individuals who then composed what was considered the royal or domestic household were familiar to him. He was himself an inmate of the palace for years; he could not pace its halls, or walk its anti-chambers, or cross its parks, or show himself, but he saw some aged servant of his royal father or brother, with whom when a child he was familiar, and whose removal or diminished income would be to him a matter of personal anxiety. But it was not so with the Queen. She could have no sympathies of this sort, and. he was satisfied that the first feeling of her heart must be to have her establishment put on a correct foundation which would be justified on inquiry. Instead of that, this Committee, which had been shut up with closed doors for six or seven days, occasionally soothing their monotonous labours by fruitless divisions, came to that House and actually proposed a grant greater than that which had been granted to William the 4th. It was important that the people should not be misled by contrasted figures, at the same time that 1127 they were not apprised of the circumstances that created the difference. It was true that the amount proposed to be granted to the Queen was less than the sum proposed to be granted to her royal predecessor; but, in point of fact, it was greater, because the grant to the King embraced the grant of 50,000l. a-year to the Queen. That of course was now disposed of in another way. The country got 50,000l. a-year by having a Queen; but they lost 50,000l. a-year by having a Queen Dowager. Then 75,000l. was taken from the royal grant, inasmuch as nothing was allotted for pensions; and when he looked at these two sums, and deducted the 50,000l. and the 75,000l. for which the pension list was charged, he found that the sum actually proposed to be granted to the Queen was more by 2,000l. than that which had been granted to her royal predecessor. He was well aware that he might as well be talking to the wind. He was as satisfied as he was of his own being, that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had come down to the House, and said, "he was about to move in obedience to a Royal Message—in consequence of what appeared to him to be a very singular form of language—the nearer proximity of the Duchess of Kent to the throne, a proposition which he was gratified to be enabled to make in consequence of the large exuberance of feeling, in which the House and the country participated, that if he consulted the feeling and the pulse of the country, that if he measured it by the height of the sentiment of affection and regard towards the Royal Duchess, he would not know where to limit his proposition, but that inasmuch as he found that 100,000l. a-year had been granted to the widow of the late King, he could not for a moment doubt that the House would think that if the widow of the late King had 100,000l. the mother of the Queen ought to have the same sum." And he (Mr. Harvey) had no more doubt than he had of his own existence that such a proposition would be received with precisely the same acclamations as the grant of 30,000l. was received with, except that Gentlemen opposite would be still louder in the condemnation of the unbecoming conduct of her Majesty's Ministers in not telling them in good time that they meant to propose 100,000l., so that they might appear in crowds to congratulate the Duchess on the liberal but not too bounti- 1128 ful supply. If he consulted his own sentiments on this occasion, he should sit down in silence and partake of that general mass of peculiar benevolence which consisted in being particularly liberal with the resources of the country. He thought it idle to take separate discussions on distinct parts of this subject, as, whilst he thanked the House for the kindness with which they had listened to him, he could not expect the House to listen to a repetition of his opinions on the same subject. He had nothing to say with regard to the grant of 30,000l. He was ready to admit that it was relatively moderate, he saw no reason why, if a Queen Dowager had 100,000l. and two palaces, one of which had been put into a proper condition at the expense of 25,000l., and that, too, after they had had an estimate of the repair to be paid for by the Prince Leopold, not exceeding 4,000l., but when it was looked over by a more favourable eye they found that the repairs would cost 25,000l. He did not therefore see why the mother of the Queen, standing as she did in a situation which brought her in connection with the throne, should not have 30,000l, whilst another individual, who was comparatively thrown into noble obscurity, should have 100,000l. But it seemed to him that this 30,000l., had been voted in a manner which was in no way commendable, because it had been made a pretext or foundation for the grant, that the country would lose nothing. Now, he thought that the arguments that had been urged were neither generous nor becoming, nor was it a proper way to deal with the subject. The law officers of the Crown recited the Act of Parliament which had been passed in 1831, when 10,000l., additional, was granted to the income of the Duchess of Kent. He thought, however, it might be fancied to be a hard legal interpretation of the words of that act, that no man could read it and say that it bore the interpretation attempted to be put upon it. It was due to the public to show exactly how the matter stood. There had been already three grants to the Duchess of Kent, and the one now proposed made the fourth. The first was when the Duchess of Kent formed an alliance with the Duke of Kent, and the country made what was considered at the time a provision by way of dower, to be paid in an event which had since taken place. The Ministers of that day were 1129 not economists, the Parliament of that day was not a reformed Parliament; they sat down to consider what they thought would be an appropriate provision for the widow of the Duke of Kent in the event of her becoming such, and the sum fixed upon was 6,000l. Were they now to turn round when the event had been realised, and say, that the grant was too little, that the 6,000l. which had been granted as a proper and adequate provision was too little? In the process of time the Duchess had a child, and 6,000l. a-year further was granted for the maintenance and education of that child. Would any one tell him that he should continue to pay the schoolmistress when he took the child away? The 6,000l. was granted expressly for the maintenance and education of that child, and when the child became an adult, and the ruler of the nation, that 6,000l. should in common sense cease. But the allowance was still thought too small; and then came what was called the Grey grant of 10,000l., more, at a period when the princess entered upon public life. It was provided in the act granting this sum that 4,000l. of it should be paid to the Duchess of Kent as long as she lived, and the remaining 6,000l. as long as the Princess lived, and the lawyers said that this meant that the Duchess of Kent should have the 6,000l. as long as the Princess lived, and that she might sell it if she pleased; and even though she should die, the grant would continue for the life of the Princess. If they looked at the Act of Parliament, they would see at once that not only was this an overstretching and unbecoming interpretation, but that it could not be so interpreted. What said the act? It said that the receipt of the Duchess of Kent, or any person whom she should appoint, should be a sufficient and full discharge. How did they propose to get the receipt of the Duchess of Kent if she were dead? The words of the Act clearly meant this, that the Duchess of Kent should have 4,000l., as long as she lived, and that she would have the remaining 6,000l., as long as the Princess required maintenance and education. This was the common sense of the thing. But then, in stepped the profound lawyers of the Crown and the Government, and they said that the Duchess of Kent had a right to sell or dispose in any manner of this 6,000l., as long as the child lived. But then they said they meant to destroy that 1130 right, and to effect a saving in this way. They said put down 8,000l., as long as the Duchess of Kent lived, and then put down 6,000l., for the life of a young lady of nineteen. And then ask what was the value of 8,000l., for the life of a lady of about fifty compared with the value of 6,000l., for the life of a young lady; and therefore, though they were giving 8,000l. more in point of fact on the most simple calculations of political economy, they were making a saving. This was the most extraordinary reverie that had ever found harbour in the head of the most profound calculator. His object was to let the country really know what the question was, and how it stood. He might be allowed to state that they would in all probability never have an opportunity of discussing this matter again. Some year or two hence, when a little more distress prevailed, and royalty was less rampant, they would be reminded, at least some of the hon. Gentlemen near him would be reminded of the readiness with which they had conceded this grant; they would be answer with it, and asked why they did not say something against it at the time? What would be the answer? they would say, "Oh! we would have opposed it, but the House was so impatient, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so singularly winning and seductive, that we could not resist him; but if ever there is another civil list we will act very differently, and as some of us have a fair chance of surviving a young lady of nineteen, only give us credit for our good intentions for the future." He, however, did not mean to act in that way. That should not be imputed to him, and in order that it should not, he would take the liberty of making one or two observations about this 30,000l. Was the Duchess of Kent to have this sum under all circumstances? [An hon. Member: Yes.] The hon. Member said "yes," perhaps he would like to have it paid in his own paper. But he asked the guardians of the British purse whether this 30,000l. was to be paid under all circumstances? He had heard a toast frequently given of late at public dinners, and received with great applause, namely, "The health of the royal family now in England." This was always received with bursts of applause, and something was said about the King of Hanover, and against a person living at Hanover being allowed to extract a large sum of money 1131 from Britons, to wring it out of the industry of this country, from the hard labour of the manufacturing classes. Now, what he meant to say was this. If any man received a large sum of money from the country, and went to another country to spend it, the feeling was, as in the case of the King of Hanover, that the grant ought to be withdrawn, or, at least, part of it. He would ask, were there no circumstances that might arise, no change or chance which would induce the Duchess of Kent to cease to live in this country? Might there be no circumstances when those feelings, of which so much was said, as tending to captivate even the most ancient heart,—might not circumstances arise when some one would participate in those feelings? Might not her royal highness form new alliances, which would place her in a different situation in society? These were considerations which ought not to escape them. But he would revert to the subject of his motion. [Hear, hear.] The Chancellor of the Exchequer cried, "hear, hear." That, was as much as to say, "You should do as I do: you should confine yourself to the question, and make short speeches." He was coming to his motion on which he intended to take the sense of the House. The words of the motion were these:— "That it be an instruction to the Committee that provision be made in the civil list for the protection of the right of Parliament to inquire into and appropriate the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall respectively." He had endeavoured to bring the subject under the attention of the House. He had confined himself as much as possible to the less repulsive parts of the subject; and he hoped that if what he had said was not acceptable to the House, at least he had not said anything that was offensive.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that there were many matters adverted to in the hon. and learned Member's speech, connected not only with his present motion but with the subject of the civil list, and the annuity proposed to be granted to the Duchess of Kent, which, at another time, would have called for some observations from him; but he should endeavour, notwithstanding the provocation given by the hon. and learned Gentleman, to postpone any discussion on the subjects until the House had them properly brought before it, and he would reply merely to that portion of the hon. and 1132 learned Gentleman's arguments which related to his two substantive propositions. The hon. and learned Gentleman must not think that he undervalued his observations; he only thought that this was not the most fitting opportunity to reply to them. In making his present proposition, the hon. and learned Member seemed to suppose that the revenues of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster were included in the revenues which were placed at the disposal of the House in the Speech from the Throne at the commencement of the Session. If it were not so, the hon. and learned Gentleman must be well aware that the consent of the Crown would be necessary to enable them to entertain his proposition, and without that consent it was irregular and unparliamentary to discuss it. The hon. and learned Gentleman could not complain of being taken by surprise, with reference to the real meaning of the Queen's Speech. On two distinct occasions he had expressed that meaning to the House. The hon. and learned Member had referred to the King's Speech in 1830, and had stated that, on that occasion, a noble Lord, who was then a great ornament of that House, had interpreted the words contained in that Speech to mean, that the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster were included in the surrender made by the Crown. It was not for him to defend the line of argument used on that occasion, but it had no reference to the Queen's Address from the Throne on the present night. The interpretation put on the Speech of William 4th was expressed in the Civil-list Act of William 4th, and in that Act those duchies, so far from being surrendered, were reserved in the full possession of the Crown. And what did the Message from the Crown communicate to the House? It stated that the same hereditary revenues which were surrendered by William 4th were surrendered by the present Queen. Her Majesty gave up the hereditary revenues which had been surrendered by the Civil-list Act of William the 4th, but this did not include the revenues of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, and consequently they were not surrendered at present, and, without the consent of the Crown, the House was not in a position to discuss this proposition. That explanation could scarcely have the effect of taking the hon. and learned. Member for Southwark, or any other hon. Member by surprise. He had stated at the commencement of the Session, and 1133 during the progress of the civil list in the last debate, what the intention of Government was with regard to these two duchies. The statement he had made was, that it was not intended to include in the civil list any arrangement for the surrender of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, and that statement had been made matter of observation on both sides of the House. Therefore hon. Gentlemen in the House, and the people out of it, were perfectly aware of the nature of the proposition he intended to submit to the House. But he had made a further statement which had been cheered by many hon. Members, and, he believed, by the hon. and learned Member himself. He had stated, that great objections were made to the present system of management, and to the mystery of the Administration; and, he added, that it was the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill or Bills into Parliament to provide first for a better administration of the property of the duchies, and also to provide for rendering annually to Parliament an account of the revenue of the duchies, so that a branch of administration which was so long a mystery should be brought specially under the notice of Parliament, communicating to the public the amount of money received and receivable, and the system under which the property was administered. To that declaration he entirely adhered. There was no Gentleman acquainted with the duchies of Cornwall or Lancaster who was not aware that the laws which regulated both were obscure and very complicated. It was a very easy thing to say—put these duchies under a simpler and better system of management; but the change would be attended with great difficulty. As an instance, he would take one matter connected with the duchy of Cornwall. The question of the tin duties had been brought under his consideration by various gentlemen connected either by property or representation with the duchy. He hoped, most sincerely, in the progress of the Session, to be able to make a satisfactory proposition on this subject. From the communications which he had had on both sides, he was perfectly well aware that this was a very difficult subject to approach, and the difficulty became greater to one who was bound to consult the interests of all. There were many difficulties to be overcome in the consideration of the present question. But lest possibly any hon. Gentleman should again complain of being taken by 1134 surprise, he would, on the present occasion, state, that in the proposed measure, it never was the intention of Government, on the contrary, it was the reverse of their intention, that these revenues should be surrendered by the Crown. He would not follow the hon. and learned Member through his details. The House would recollect that the duchy of Cornwall was held profitably by the. Crown only as long as there was not a Prince of Wales. If there should be a Prince of Wales, under the law of the land the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall became vested in him as Duke of Cornwall. It would not, therefore, be immediately necessary to come to Parliament for any revenue for the support of the Prince of Wales. The revenues of the duchy of Cornwall were appropriated by law for that purpose, they would form a fund accumulating towards the support, and to provide for the wants of the Prince of Wales, being applicable, when a prince was born, to his maintenance. He would say one word as to the statement regarding the Civil-list Committee. He begged the attention of the House for a moment. The representations of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark were calculated to mystify the House, and he would, therefore, call their attention to the real facts. The hon. and learned Member said, that the Committee of] 830 had, through the inexperience of the Government, neglected to clothe themselves with power to send for papers, persons, and records. The hon. and learned Gentleman wanted to have it inferred, that the Committee expressed deep regret that they had not been furnished with adequate powers on the occasion, and yet that the present Government, that is, the same individuals who moved the former Committee, had fallen into the same mistake, and that the inquiry, therefore, was defective and insufficient. Now, it was no such thing. The facts were entirely contrary to the hon. and learned Gentleman's recollection of them. Sir Henry Parnell moved for the Committee — he moved it while in opposition. On the 12th of November, 1830, Sir Henry Parnell moved, that the Committee should have power to examine the accounts laid before the House, but that they should not have the power to call witnesses. Mr. Banks said, that he did not wish to have enlarged powers, but he wished to have full explanation; and Lord Althorp said, that "it was stated that they could come to no satisfactory conclusion, unless the Committee had leave to 1135 send for papers, persons, and records. Such a permission would, he knew, he a very great increase of power; but could no information be afforded if this power was refused? He admitted, that a great degree of delicacy ought to be observed with respect to certain heads of the civil list. For his own part, he felt no desire to examine closely into them; on the contrary, he wished not to have such power." After the Report of the Committee, Lord Althorp stated, that the Committee had not the power to examine witnesses or records, nor to go into matters inconsistent with the dignity of the Crown; but added, that questions had been asked of him (Lord Althorp), and that so far he considered himself responsible. It thus appeared that the course taken in 1830 was taken advisedly, and that it was precisely the same with that pursued in the present reign. In conclusion, he would urge the House to confine its attention to the subject immediately before them, at the same time pledging himself to give his best attention to the Duchy revenues, in order to introduce a better system of management wherever it was practicable.
§ The Speaker
said, that he had some doubts as to the propriety in point of form of the present amendment. The House would recollect that last night a motion for a Bill by an hon. Member was withdrawn because notice was taken that her Majesty's recommendation for taking the subject into consideration had not been previously obtained. From the facts of the question now sought to be introduced before the House, there could be no doubt that the revenues of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall were vested in the Crown; and therefore, if any Member of Parliament would seek to propose any Bill which should interfere with those revenues, he was incompetent to do so without having previously obtained the consent of the Crown. If an hon. Member were incompetent under such circumstances to introduce a Bill on the subject, he thought every hon. Member must be equally incompetent to move an instruction to a Committee on another Bill which should operate indirectly towards the same end.
§ Mr. C. Buller
hoped a mere formal objection on the ground that the consent of the Crown had not been obtained would not be suffered to present an insurmountable barrier to the consideration of 1136 an important national question like the present. The hon. and learned Member was proceeding to make some observations on the merits of the subject, when
§ Viscount Sandon
rose to order. The Chair had expressed an opinion that this was a subject which, under existing circumstances, could not be entertained consistently with the orders of the House; and he had not heard any objections stated against that opinion. He conceived that the hon. and learned Member was incompetent to go on with the discussion of this question.
§ Mr. C. Buller
asked whether the noble Lord really supposed that the Representatives of the people of England could be put off by such a miserable pretence as that? If he was not to be permitted to discuss the subject to-night, he should move as an amendment that the further debate on this motion be adjourned till Monday next. He really thought it rather extraordinary that such a question as this should have to be discussed at the present day.
§ The Speaker
reminded the hon. Member that the motion before the House was an instruction to a Committee. If the House was of opinion that this was a motion which could not be entertained without the consent of the Crown previously obtained, the House should consider whether it was prepared to enter upon the discussion of a question upon which it was not competent to give a decision.
§ The Speaker
replied, that in his opinion, where a proposition had been made which the House could not maintain, that proposition must at once drop.
§ Mr. Hume
asked whether he were to understand that the House could not discuss any question relative to the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall without the consent of the Crown? If that were the doctrine laid down by the Chair, he (Mr. Hume) apprehended that it was quite a new one; for he had been in the House at least half a dozen times when this very subject was discussed.
§ The Speaker
could not answer any question which did not refer to the matter immediately before the House. He had expressed an opinion, that the proposition 1137 last moved was one which could not, under existing circumstances, be maintained by the House. In that opinion the majority of the House appeared to acquiesce, and he did not see any reason to retract it.
§ Mr. Warburton
suggested, as an amendment, that the further consideration of this subject should be adjourned until her Majesty's Ministers had signified the consent of her Majesty to their taking the subject of the revenues of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster into their consideration in connexion with it.
§ The Speaker
said, that the Order of the Day for the House resolving itself into Committee on the Civil List Bill having been read, the question which would naturally follow was, that he (the Speaker) should leave the Chair. In the interim, however, an hon. Member had moved an instruction to the Committee, which was of a nature which he thought could not be entertained by the House. The question now was, whether the House would entertain another motion, of quite a different class, and not connected with the subject matter of the Bill, to intervene between the question that he leave the Chair. He believed it was competent to an hon. Member to move an instruction to the Committee upon the motion for leaving the Chair, but he was not aware that he could move anything else.
§ Mr. Harvey
having moved an amendment which he found, owing to some form of the House, could not be put without the consent of the Crown, should certainly bow to the decision of the Chair and withdraw it. At the same time, as he apprehended that it was quite competent to any Member at this stage of the proceedings to move any motion which he thought proper by way of amendment, he should now move that this debate be adjourned until her Majesty's Ministers had signified that her Majesty had consented to allow the House of Commons to take the consideration of the revenues of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster into account in connexion with the other hereditary revenues of the Crown, and to make such appropriation of them as they might think necessary. He (Mr. Harvey) could not believe that there could exist any desire on the part of her Majesty's Ministers to stifle so important a subject as this at the present moment, because the House should recollect that if it were not dealt with now, it could never in all pos- 1138 sibility be taken up by them again. He should, therefore, take the sense of the House upon the amendment which he had just read.
§ The Speaker
reminded the House of the resolution of the 24th of November, which declared "that upon days appropriated to orders, and a question being put from the Chair that an order of the day be read, no amendment shall be proposed, except that the orders of the day, or that any order set down for the same day, be now read; but that this regulation shall not apply to the case of a Committee of Supply, or a Committee of Ways and Means." He had already stated that the order of the day for going into Committee on the Civil List Bill had been read; since then an instruction had been moved to the Committee, which it was questioned whether the House could entertain. But he thought it was not competent to any Member to make any other motion previous to his leaving the Chair, unless in the form of an instruction to the Committee.
§ The Speaker
said, there was no question before the House, unless the House were prepared to enter upon the discussion of the instruction to the Committee moved by the hon. Member for Southwark. If, on the contrary, this instruction were withdrawn, the question would then be put that he (the Speaker) do now leave the chair.
§ Lord J. Russell
was understood to say, that he thought that if the question that the Speaker do now leave the chair were put, the hon. Member would be competent to move an amendment to that question. From what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman in the chair, and from his own knowledge of the orders of the House, he apprehended that this could be done. He should therefore move that the Speaker "do now leave the chair."
§ Mr. C. Buller
would move that the Speaker should not leave the chair till Monday. Well, that he should never leave the chair.
§ The Speaker
said, it was essential that the House should put its own construction upon its own resolution. The question for the House to decide was whether, consistently with the resolution of the 1139 24th of November, Members might move an amendment to the question that he now leave the chair.
observed, that the resolution had arisen out of a report of a Select Committee which had sat last Session on the subject of the public business of that House, and was intended to meet the inconvenience which had resulted from the practice too frequently adopted by hon. Members of selecting the motion for the reading of an order of the day as an occasion for bringing forward motions of their own totally irrelevant to the subject matter of that order of the day. Such having been the origin of the resolution of the 24th of November, he thought that the present dilemma in the application of it might be got rid of, either by adhering to the spirit of the resolution itself, which intended that the subject matter of the order of the day should not be got rid of by irrelevant amendments, or by proceeding, in strict accordance with the words of the resolution, to the second order of the day.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, that with respect to the form of the amendment by which the question for the Speaker's leaving the chair might be met, he believed that on former occasions it had been usual to move that the Bill be committed that day six months or that day three months, without the introduction of any matter irrelevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
§ Mr. C. Buller
said, it was his intention to move as an amendment that the Bill be committed on Monday. He did not wish to interpose any unnecessary delay in the way of public business, but he wished for the House to have time to ascertain whether her Majesty's consent would be given to it to legislate upon this subject. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had kept his word on this subject, for it was plain from the outset that he never intended to do anything satisfactory in reference to it. The revenues of the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall were part of the revenues of the Crown, and he thought it rather extraordinary that they should be allowed to be retained in their present state, when every other branch of the hereditary revenues of the Crown had been given up, and this, as it appeared, only on account of some barbarous feudal rights which people chose to connect with the subject. The only object which could be had in view 1140 in so doing was to retain to the Crown, or rather to its advisers, the patronage over the numerous little offices and sinecures attached to the revenues. With respect to the duchy of Lancaster he personally knew nothing; but with the offices of the duchy of Cornwall he was better acquainted. The very same species of bad management which had been found to exist in reference to church property existed also in the affairs of the duchy of Cornwall; and so harassed and annoyed were the inhabitants by the vexatious restraints to which they were subjected that nothing but a complete reform of the system could satisfy them. Amongst the foremost of the grievances of which the inhabitants of this locality had to complain was the system of tin duties. He forgot the precise amount of these duties; but that was of no consequence, as it was not the amount but the mode of collecting these dues of which the people complained. There were only four appointed coining towns in the duchy, to one or other of which all the tin had to be taken before it could be disposed of, to pay the duty and be stamped. This produced a great delay, often obstructive to the arrangements of the producer, to say nothing of the expense of transport. The Duke of Cornwall was the only person in the kingdom who was not bound by any term of proscription, and therefore a claim once set up, arising at however distant a period, could never be lost. In one case, that of a large mining property, the only evidence set up was the payment of three-pence to King John, and yet, that being held sufficient to prove that the property had once belonged to a Duke of Cornwall, a claim was established which nothing but an Act of Parliament could take away. But the duchy of Cornwall, besides its prescriptive immunity from statutory limitations, had the additional advantage of being able to do whatever it pleased with the evidence relating to any particular claim, either to withhold it or produce it, as was thought proper. It would be recollected, doubt-less, by the hon. Member for Oxford University, who had participated with him in the delights of the record Committee's labours, that it was there stated that the records of the Duchy of Cornwall were private property, and held as the title deeds of an estate—that was to say, they were private as long as they chose, and public 1141 only when it was thought proper to produce them in court. Now, he asked, whether Parliament would allow such a tenure as this to remain, for which there was not a parallel to be found in all the revenues of the Crown? All that he wanted was to see them share the same fate as the other hereditary revenues of the Crown, to be managed by public officers, and made the subject of compensation in cases where it was thought proper. There was only one point more to which he wished to advert. It had been objected that these revenues did not belong to the Queen, but to the Prince of Wales whenever there might be one. Now this was an objection which certainly did not apply to the Duchy of Lancaster, and therefore he could not imagine under what pretence its revenues at least could not be given up. As to the Duchy of Cornwall, the case, he believed, was very different, for he found that even the great Lord Coke declared that "the grant of the Duchy of Cornwall was a great mystery," and ever since his time the spirit of that declaration had been duly acted upon, and as much mystery had been kept upon the subject of the hereditary revenues of Cornwall as any Prince of Wales, or other equally great personage could desire. He only wished that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would say that the mystery should cease. He trusted an end would be at length put to keeping up a system of jobbing and mystery, and which had existed for so long a time, and which tended to no possible good.
§ Lord Eliot
remarked that, although he was willing to accede to the hon. Member for Liskeard the credit of having made a clear and perspicuous speech, still he could not help thinking that, if that hon. Member had listened attentively to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he would find that most of the grounds on which he had rested his views had been taken from under his feet. If he understood the speech of that right hon. Gentleman rightly, he took it for granted that measures would be introduced which would prove not more satisfactory to the country at large than to the county of Cornwall. He had the most perfect confidence that the right hon. Gentleman would introduce two Bills which would have the effect of removing, at least, a large portion of the grievances of which the hon. and learned 1142 Member for Liskeard had complained. He thought the whole system ought to be gone into, a better system of managemen and administration provided, and all mystery cleared away. If the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer fulfilled the pledge into which he had entered, he should have his cordial conference.
§ Sir Charles Lemon
thought it right to advert in the first place to the courts of this Duchy. He believed the fact to be, that half the salaries of those employed in these tribunals was paid by the Government. He was inclined to believe, that the reason why no message was brought down from her Majesty, was because she had not been advised to make any, and he should vote for the motion for delay, in order to afford her Majesty and the Government time to arrive at such a conclusion as would be satisfactory to the House and the country. He felt very grateful to his right hon. Friend for the promise which he had made, not only that the accounts of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster should be laid regularly before the House, but also that some new system should be introduced for the better administration of their affairs. But he must confess, that what was now proposed, was not at all satisfactory with reference to the ease and dignity of the Queen, and the satisfaction of her subjects. It was notorious—without wishing to prefer any charge whatever against the Duchy of Cornwall—that its rights and privileges had been very greatly encroached upon in former times, and that the Duchy, for the recovery of its just claims, was compelled to institute prosecutions in a way which was considered a grievance. The consequence was, that a state of warfare existed between it and almost every individual landholder in that part of the country. The engines which were brought to bear in conducting this system of strife and contention, were very properly described by the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, and in point of fact, the whole state of things at the present moment in that district had a doubtful, uncertain, and let him add, an aggressive aspect. He did not think the honour of the Queen was consulted when she was asked to reap a harvest of litigation in what was wrung from her subjects by the process of law, and converted to the purpose of augmenting her revenues. He knew it would be 1143 asserted that this revenue attached to the Crown as one of its jewels, but he thought that the Queen might, without fear of the consequences, surrender this branch of her income, as Sir Harbottle Grimstone, who was Speaker in the year 1660, pronounced the abolition of the Court of Wards by Charles 2nd to amount to a forfeiture of one of the jewels of the Crown. Even supposing that the ornamental properties of this Duchy were retained—its administration, its title, and patronage—there seemed to be no reason why the revenues should not be carried to the general account of the country. This proposition was no new matter. By the 9th and 10th of William 3rd, the Duchy was included in the hereditary revenues surrendered in consideration of a civil list, and from that time to the accession of George 3rd, whenever the Duchy had been in the Crown, its revenues had not been distinguished from the small branches of the hereditary revenues. They had been told, too, that the Duchy of Cornwall was held in trust for the Duke of Cornwall, and that the time might shortly arrive when this title and its properties should be transferred. These two propositions he was inclined to deny. In the first place, it was not held in trust as a fee simple in the Crown, never to go out of it. The title of Duke of Cornwall was created by charter, and depended upon a secondary and incidental interest, and it so happened that from the reign of Edward 3rd. down to the present period it had been held for more than half that time by the Crown as an independent possession. The terms of that charter were peculiar, so much so that there was very great doubt whether the Queen's son could be Duke of Cornwall. That, however, was a matter beyond his cognizance. It was certainly unquestioned that the limitations of the charter were exceedingly peculiar, and that it had been hitherto interpreted literally; so much so that Henry 8th though the eldest living son, was never Duke of Cornwall; nor Charles 1st nor George 2nd nor George 3rd, the language of the charter requiring the Duke of Cornwall to be the eldest son of the King of England. Here arose the question—was this revenue continued in the Crown for the maintenance and education of the infant Prince? If the case were so, there was no distinction between that revenue and the lest of the civil list, which was 1144 a provision for the royal household. If it were not, it was wrongfully continued. He knew that the Prince's debts having to be paid in the year 1795, Sir John Anson, Attorney-General for the Duchy, claimed the arrears which had accrued during the minority, and they were found to amount to no less a sum than 233,000l. The revenues of the Duchy had since that time been considerably increased. If, therefore, they were now allowed to accumulate for the benefit of the Queen's son, the Prince might find himself in possession of such a sum as 600,000l. or 700,000l. Now he thought that there could not be a more unfortunate circumstance for a young Prince than that upon attaining his majority he should be entitled to receive so large a sum as more than half a million of money. He could not conceive a better prescription or device for educating and instructing a spendthrift king. Under these circumstances he thought that common sense pointed out the course to be adopted, namely, that those revenues should be assigned to the purpose of educating the Prince, and if they were so appropriated, he did not see why they should not be considered part of the sum voted for the maintenance of the royal household. This was a view of the question sanctioned by the approval of Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, and many living authorities. The growing produce of the revenues of this country ought not to be destroyed in order to swell the private resources of the Crown. He was perfectly sure that if the course proposed were followed, it would bring her Majesty into dispute with several individuals, being her own subjects; and the time could not be far distant when it would also bring her into contention with that House, in consequence of the increase to her revenues which it would supply.
§ Lord John Russell
said, he thought that his hon. Friend, who had just spoken with great force and effect, did not quite understand the proposition which her Majesty's Government were about to make. The hon. Member would lead the House to suppose, in the beginning of his speech, that no advice was given to her Majesty on the subject, and that an interval of a few days ought to be allowed, in order to lay the question before the Queen. Now, so far was this from being the case, that it might be gathered from the statement of his right hon. Friend that the question 1145 had been already submitted, that advice had been humbly tendered to her Majesty, and having been graciously received, Ministers proposed to act on the suggestions which were offered. That advice was, that to all those evils which his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Liskeard (Mr. C. Buller) had pointed out, a sufficient and adequate remedy should be applied. It was stated, that this source of revenue was attended by circumstances which in many instances were inconvenient and vexatious. It was asserted, too, that in point of fact, greater expences were incurred, and a more numerous train of offices kept up than were requisite for the proper management of the Duchy. With respect to these subjects, we have submitted our advice, and we are authorised to introduce Bills to promote the better management of those revenues, in order that the whole of the offices belonging to them should be inquired into and altered, and a greater security for continued better management being afforded by the accounts being laid every year before Parliament, giving a statement with respect to the income and disbursement of these Duchies. He thought, therefore, that so far as the statement of his hon. and learned Friend regarded the evils of the present system, her Majesty's Government had proposed a remedy for all those which he had pointed out. His hon. Friend had a way of his own in proceeding to remove those defects. He must correct them by introducing Bills and undertaking the office of Ministers of the Crown, for effecting that which they assented to and proposed. They had submitted the same proposal which the hon. Member would make for the reform of these establishments, should he, instead of the responsible Ministers of the Crown, introduce measures for accomplishing that object. He should suppose that the hon. Member was ready to bring under the notice of Parliament the reforms which Ministers had already undertaken. He, however, should say, that there were many questions connected with the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster that would require a good deal of time to examine, and considerable research in matter of details and attention to various circumstances in framing a remedy. With respect to the tin dues, the complaint always urged on the part of the people of Cornwall was—that they were subject to 1146 peculiar dues which raised the value of tin on import. He thought the hon. Member for Kilkenny, who, he believed, was about to address the House, would agree with him that a change might be effected, embracing a simpler mode of collection and keeping in view the import duties on tin as compared to the peculiar advantages with respect to other metals which the people of that part of the country enjoyed. He was persuaded that this question should be looked into, with a view not only to prevent the peculiar grievance, but to advance the general interest of the country. Well, then came the point of greatest difference between the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard and the motion which the Ministers meant to submit. The hon. and learned Member proposed that the whole of these revenues should be surrendered by the Crown to the public management, and that an equivalent should be given to the Crown for the loss of this revenue. Now Ministers had to state that on considering this whole matter of the revenues of the Crown they reflected that here was an ancient and accustomed revenue received for centuries in some respect or other by the Crown They then had to determine whether it was for the advantage of the Crown and the public that an ancient revenue of this kind should be commuted for a species of revenue of a different description, it never having been applied to the discharge of the expenses of the country, or to any general liability for the support of the army and navy. Well, then, could they advise the Crown to part altogether with these revenues, in order as the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard said, that it should receive an equivalent from the public? They certainly did not consider it their duty to make that proposition. The hon. and learned Gentleman had stated that he was ready to propose a sufficient equivalent. He did not believe that the House would assent to the proposal, or so ill represent the country as to say; "The present Queen shall have a less revenue than her Royal uncle, or the present is a time when the just and fair income of the Crown ought to be diminished." He was afraid that the revenue proposed to be granted instead of the ancient and accustomed income would be more grudged and given less willingly than that for which it had been substituted, which stood 1147 on a footing of prescription, and which had never been interfered with in the manner which had been laid down. Why if, instead of the present motion, Ministers had come down and given their assent to the surrender of the whole of the revenues, and resolved that every shilling should be placed at the disposal of Parliament, there would be found one Member at least—he meant the Representative of Southwark—to exclaim, "It is very well to make this nominal surrender, but you charge it on the civil list, and thus grant an equivalent for what you profess to take away." No doubt that would have been the langugage of the hon. Member for Southwark and others, and therefore he was confirmed in the opinion that if her Ministers were to advise the Crown to make such a surrender, they would recommend that which had never before been attempted, and which, so far from proving satisfactory, would be met by the announcement— "We were told we should be called on for no equivalent; you have no right to any." And if an absolute increase of the revenues of the Crown were made to the extent of 30,000l., or 40,000l., or 50,000l., it would be represented as an augmentation of her Majesty's income, which had never been received by her predecessors. Then did they not judge right in saying, "While we are ready to reform abuses and have the acquiescence of the Queen in the steps which we mean to take for the better management of the properties of these duchies, and whilst we disclaim all mystery as to the income which the Crown may receive, we are not prepared to make the surrender which is pointed out, particularly when the civil list is not greater than was granted to her Majesty's uncles, and not greater, I am sure, than the people of this country would be willing to pay; for I venture to assert that it is not the opinion of the people of this country that we should show on this occasion a more niggardly disposition towards her present Majesty than that exhibited to her predecessors" He thought Ministers had done right to submit the civil list which they had introduced, and not to make a surrender of those Revenues which, while it should involve a considerable diminution of the fair rights and former property of the Crown, would produce no satisfaction, but lead to opposition for compensation as a new claim, and while that surrender tended to weaken 1148 and impair the splendour of the Crown, it would not prove agreeable to the people.
§ Mr. Hume
was glad that the abuses of the present system by which this duchy was managed, were, at all events, acknowledged. The propositions which the right hon. Gentleman made would be of great advantage; for they would tend to show what the real revenue of this duchy was, not the present income derived from it; for that, he feared, would be found small, owing to the gross mismanagement which had prevailed, but which it might be made to produce. The next improvement to be desired was, that the care of these revenues should not be left to an irresponsible person, but intrusted to that House. Now, here arose a question which was of the greatest importance. The people of England ought to know what were the whole of the revenues which appertained to the Crown, and the revenues of these duchies were never brought before the Civil List Committee. The consequence was, that the Committee recommended a grant which they considered sufficient and adequate to maintain the dignity and honour of the Crown. The sure recommended to be given was 385,000l., in addition to which these duchies, if properly managed, would yield 100,000l.] a year. Now, was that too much or too little? Should the Queen change her mind, or her advisers, would she be bound not to take a larger amount than was now intended to be given? The chance was, that those who succeeded the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would have a different opinion, and it was on that account that he wished to have the abuses which had been pointed out prevented in time, and an ameliorated system adopted. He regretted extremely that her Majesty's Ministers had not advised the Queen openly and fairly to put an end to the abuses which existed, and to trust to the liberality of that House, which, if it saw the opprobrium of the ill-managed system, under which those duchies were placed, put an end to, would not raise a single dissentient voice to the proposition of a liberal compensation. He thought the present motion extremely ill-judged, and not calculated to effect the object which her Majesty's Ministers had in view.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
observed, that, so far from finding fault with the discussion which had been that night 1149 entered into, he was rejoiced to find that there were many and essential points in which those who had spoken entirely agreed with the Government. A reflection had been cast on him as if he had not stated the facts of this case at the very commencement of the Session. The points in which all seemed to concur were, first, that the attention of the Legislature should be called to the import duty on foreign tin; next, that the leasing power which appertained to the duchy of Cornwall should be so amended as to give a protection to property in that county analogous to that which existed with regard to other property. The next point was as to the better management of offices, an object which would be accomplished by having the accounts submitted on proper responsibility, so as to afford an opportunity to correct the abuses which might be proved to exist. His hon. Friend (the Member for Kilkenny) had stated that the question of the retention of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster had never been submitted to the Committee. Why, that question formed the basis of all the discussion on this subject. Supposing that an equivalent was voted for the loss of ancient territorial possessions, it must be drawn from the consolidated fund, and would constitute a charge not very palatable to the community. As to the fears of his hon. Friend that the remedies now proposed would be counteracted by those who might succeed to the present Ministers, he should, so far as he was concerned, give no ground for the apprehension, inasmuch as, after the holidays, he should, in his capacity of Minister of the Crown, introduce the practical measures of which he had given notice. He should certainly introduce these Bills in good faith, and with every disposition to give a, remedy for every one of those cases of abuse which had been stated by hon. Members. With this understanding, he did hope there would be no additional delay in respect to the bill under discussion.
§ Mr. G. F. Young
thought, that the people of England sought, not only in regard of the civil list as well as every other topic, not only for knowledge, but the fruits of knowledge. They wanted some benefit from the reforms which it was announced were to take place. What he wanted to know was, what would be the benefit to the public of investigation into the nature 1150 and management of the duchy revenues if any improved income which might result from it was to pass to the Crown? In his humble opinion, the Crown should depend upon its hereditary revenues entirely, or else throw itself upon a loyal Parliament, with full confidence that a fair provision would be made for the maintenance of its dignity. He thought the transaction was liable to no small suspicion. It was said that the sum of 385,000l. was sufficient to maintain the dignity of the Crown, and that the hereditary revenues were equivalent to that amount. Then why, he asked, should Parliament be called upon to vote that sum? Again, he would be glad to know whether, in the event of an heir apparent appearing to claim the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall, Parliament would be expected to supply the deficiency, which, if the statement of the Government was correct, would then occur in the Queen's income? If the revenues of that duchy were necessary as a portion of the present settlement, it was obvious that the present settlement would be inadequate upon their deduction. This was a matter which he thought called for some explanation.
§ Sir R. Inglis
said, that the hon. Members for Southwark, Liskeard, and Kilkenny seemed to have forgotten one main point of the question—namely, that this was a bargain. Now, supposing that any proprietor having property in different counties consented to surrender property situated in one or more of those counties, upon certain understood or agreed upon conditions, must it follow that that proprietor was to be called upon to surrender the remaining property, which was not included in the agreement at all? The Crown had surrendered a certain portion of its hereditary revenues on certain conditions. Those hereditary revenues which it still enjoyed were admitted to be its private property; and was it common sense or common justice to place the Crown, in respect to its private property, in a condition in which they would not consent to place any other proprietor in the land? Would they attempt to act in this way with respect to the property of the Duke of Devonshire or any other great proprietor? The Chancellor of the Exchequer had endeavoured to conciliate the hon. Member for Southwark; but that Hon. Member was too acute, and well knew that he would not agree in what he 1151 desired. Now, if this was private property, he did not see why they should call for a return of that property to be laid before Parliament. Either it was private property or public property. If it was public property there would be an end to the discussion, and if it was private property, held as other private property, they could not fairly be entitled to interfere in its management. If the Ministers of the Crown held that this was private property, why should they not, in common consistency, come forward and tell the House that they had no more right to interfere with the duchy of Cornwall than with any other private property whatsoever? The hon. Member for South-walk, though he had not attained the object at which he aimed, still gained from the Government an admission which would not have been made by any of their predecessors in office. They consented to make that House a sort of auditors of her Majesty's accounts, and to that extent they were interfering with the management of what, he contended, was the private property of the Crown.
§ Mr. Warburton
contended, that the vesting of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancanster in the Commissioners of Woods and Forests would be of great advantage not only to the local inhabitants but to the country at large; and he did not see how Government could refuse to accede to the proposition when an ample equivalent was given. It was a great hardship that the Nullum Tempus Act should be available for the claims made under these duchies when it was abolished everywhere else, even to the claims of the Church and all other claims of the Crown. If the property in these duchies could be improved, the advantage thus accruing ought to be made available for the public benefit. This principle was the one adopted by Ministers in the bill of last Session. They contended that if by a new arrangement of the possessions of the Church a new or increased property would be made, that increase should go, not to the benefit of the Church, but to that of the public. He did not know how, under the present circumstances, Government could refuse to acknowledge and act upon the same principle with respect to these two duchies.
§ Mr. Baines
did not think the hon. Member for Bridport had made out his argument. If they would refer to the origin of the duchy of Lancaster it would be 1152 clearly seen to be private property, as respected its annexation to the Crown. This annexation took place on the accession of Henry the 4th, and that monarch made a special provision that it should not merge in the Crown, but lie in his successors. Though the present Queen might not have much of the blood of Henry the 4th, she still inherited this duchy from him, and it was a matter of grace and favour in her Majesty to permit this annual Parliamentary inquiry. If the amendment were pressed to a division he would not vote in any way which would violate the right of private property.
§ Mr. Brotherton
thought, that if the public were to have the trouble of improving the duchy revenues, while all the benefit was to go to the Crown, they would be losers instead of gainers, by the transaction. What he should propose was, that in proportion as the rentals of the duchy estates were increased there should be a deduction from the Parliamentary grant.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, that as a new question had been brought before the House he should claim its indulgence for a few moments. In his opinion the hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, had raised the interest of the question. They had heard much lately of "fine old English gentlemen;" for his part he liked, of all things, to hear a fine old English prerogative Member of Parliament. That hon. Baronet had hardily and at once stated that the revenues of these duchies were the private property of the Crown, and that Parliament would have no more right, and just as much, to break open his iron chest and appropriate his money as to claim these revenues. That was intelligible language, and he quite believed him when he said that if he were Minister he would not incur the responsibility of proposing the arrangement suggested by Government. He agreed with the hon. Baronet, Ministers either went too far, or not far enough. They amused themselves with dandling the dwarfish and rickety child of expediency, but it was now full time to give over. Surely it was time after the lapse of seven years to give up playing the wet-nurse with their bantling, and allow it to assume the form and features of human life. They were told that this was a bargain with the Crown. If so, it was a one-sided bargain. They were told that her Majesty was willing to place the property of the Crown at 1153 the disposal of Parliament, and to be henceforward a munificent usufruct for the public treasury, and for this that the House was called upon to make an adequate return and nothing more. Now he would appeal to the commercial Gentlemen in that House—to those who were conversant with pounds, shillings and pence. He would ask them to run over the balance sheet of this account and say whether the return to be made was "adequate and nothing more." There was proposed on the one hand a solid sum to be paid quarterly out of the resources of the country, and without any reduction, and for this princely and munificent allowance what was to be the return? Why, the droits of the Admiralty and the four and a half per cents. Let the House look to the report of the Committee, acting under the view of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in which, of course, not a single farthing of the equivalent for the 385,000l. was omitted. What was the total amount, extending over a period of six years during the reign of the late King? Why, the whole sum was less than 70,000l. He would not stop to ask who it was that drew up the report, but every farthing was crowded into it, with singular dexterity, which was to swell up the sum; yet it appeared from the introduction of the report that it might not amount fully to 70,000l. This bagatelle, spreading over so many years, was to be the equivalent for 38,5,000l. It might be said that he indulged in exaggeration on this point; but he would answer, let Government look at its own report. They would find that the sum actually payable and applicable to the public service from the casual hereditary revenues would amount in the aggregate, to 67,000l. 18s. 8d. and the estimated further sums applicable were 3,483l. 11s. 9d. This was the statement in their own report. They made a boast, in the introduction to the report of a sum of 70,684l. 10s. 5d. Now one not accustomed to analyse these reports with the close and scrutinizing eye which the fulfilment of what was due to the public required, might infer that this was equal to 70,000l. per annum, but on looking over the time through which it extended it would be found not to amount to 12,000l. per annum. But then it would be said this account did not embrace the revenues of the Woods and Forests. On this point it was well to have the docu- 1154 ments before them, as they were necessary to be referred to. He held in his hands the last reports with respect to these revenues, and though the receipts from that source were very considerable, they did not in the year, to which the report referred, amount to 5,000l. to go to the account of the public. Would the House believe, that, after credit given for the rents of parks and other Royal grounds; the expenditure for keeping in order the parks of Windsor, St. James, and others, exceeded the receipts by 34,000l. per annum. When the benefits accruing to the Crown from this bargain were taken into account it was not fair but to give up all in return. In reference to the hon. Member for Kilkenny, whom he was pleased to see enjoying his uninterrupted nap in the midst of the debate—[Laughter during which Mr. Hume lifted up his head"] —he begged pardon, perhaps the hon. Gentleman was only thinking; but that hon. Gentleman had stated, as one of the Committee, that the provision of 385,000l. as a civil list was deemed abundantly ample to support the splendour, the dignity, and the comfort of the Crown. Now he would put a question to the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he would be governed by the answer to it. If the estimate of the civil list was made on the ground that, not being in itself sufficient, her Majesty should derive additional advantages from the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, he would be willing to vote any further sum which might be expected to arise from these sources of revenue to make up what might be supposed necessary to uphold the dignity of the Crown, and fulfil the wishes of her Majesty. He would not ask the right hon. Gentleman to take the ground on which the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford had taken; but he would appeal to him, to consider the opinion of those who thought that the property of the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall could be more judiciously appropriated by the Queen. If the property were as the hon. Baronet opposite considered, of a private character, though her Majesty was so much occupied with the affairs of state, there was no doubt that she possessed enough of hereditary character to watch over her own self-interest and consult her own advantage. But that was not the point at issue. The question was, what was to be the result of the inquiry, and what was to be the realization 1155 of the promises held out by Government upon this subject. There was besides to be considered what would be the result as to this matter in another place. Suppose a majority in the other House should sympathise with the old fashioned notions of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford. How would the Government then act? The present was their only time. No one in that House would oppose his consent to a Royal Message, consigning this property to the control of Parliament. Such was now the sensitive zeal for acceding to the wishes of Royalty, that though protests might be entered, and mournings and lamentations might take place over the onward march of democracy—that text so pregnant with frequent lamentable commentary—after hon. Gentlemen opposite had thus eased their minds, and soothed their consciences, they would end by acquiescence in the Message. This was not the time for Ministers to shrink, nor for the House to hesitate in its duty. When the 385,000l. was granted, what would avail the Government their small majority in that House or their large minority in the other? What would it avail to say, then, that the question would have been canvassed, that inquiry would have been entered into, and that a fair appropriation would have been made? The question was a simple one of compact, but the account as it stood, was a one-sided act, and whether he had with him few or many he would take the sense of the House upon the question. It was said that if the question was not set at rest now, that the stern duties of Christmas would intervene between the Bill and the Royal fiat. Perish the Bill if it interfered with the principles of right and justice. The civil list could be granted next year, but, if the House proceeded with the present proposal, the Act was irretrievable. The arguments which had been used for haste had been before resorted to by Lord Althorp. A smiling assent had been given to the same objection', and it was said, that they could be urged at a future period; but he would tell the House and the country, that unless they interposed now, the matter was hopeless, and that any reliance upon remedying the evil in future was but sheer delusion. The improved management of the property in question would realise little short of 100,000l. per 1156 annum, and, if inquiry was now precluded, upon what ground could they hope to retrieve this property from the Crown without granting a full equivalent? If it were really the property of the Crown, which he denied, why, then, let the Crown enjoy it; but the Crown did not possess one shilling which it did not owe to the people. The Crown could have no possession, either in money or in land, which was not property under the control of Parliament, and though the House might now be induced to act a crouching and subservient part, both old and modern times could assert and authorise this doctrine. It was the doctrine of Burke, it was the doctrine of Fox, and in more modern times it was the doctrine of the President of the Council, who, in the other House, in 1816,repudiated the notion that the Crown could possess any property of its own. Was that House, that reformed House, to repudiate such a doctrine? Were they about to revert to the slavish times of the Charleses and the Jameses? Why should they occupy themselves with discussion on the paltry sum of pensions of 300l. for literary eminence, when they were about to give to the Queen 100,000l. to do with as she pleased? But, forsooth, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that an account of the expenditure would be submitted. Even supposing this, what was to be the exchange for this insight into the social estimate of management, rentals, expences, and fines? Why, they would learn that it was the Royal pleasure to grant 1,000l. to this person, and 1,000l. to that, but they would have no power of chastising or correcting the application of the Royal bounty. It might be applied either to the wants of a faithful servant or the cravings of a suspicious attendant. It was to guard against this, to prevent such a vast sum from being applied either to purposes of corruption or peculation, that its administration should be at the control of the House. He knew that the House, though it might call itself reformed, and express sympathy with the people, was influenced by no such sentiment. If the present Government were on the opposite side of the House, and then such a proposition were made, they would be found its most strenuous opponents. How the right hon. Baronet opposite would be denounced by them if he had made such a proposition! What a theme it would be made that Government should give such 1157 extreme power! What, then, was to be thought of those who, in power countenanced a proceeding which under other circumstances, they would have so loudly denounced. Whilst they boasted of stopping some paltry pensions, they proposed to give to the Queen an immense revenue, which, besides its great annual amount, had still the more fatal effect of conferring immense patronage. Unless the House interfered, it was impossible to say what was the amount of influence which would be thus placed in the hands of the Crown. He would repeat, that if such a proposition were made by those on the other side, every one of the Gentlemen now on the Treasury Benches would be found in opposition to it. It had been said, that if the present Government were displaced, the march of intellect would be greatly impeded. Impeded, indeed! The march of intellect impeded by the removal of a Ministry which proposed to grant such an amount of money and of patronage without any responsibility! The Act would be but a farce if such a property were placed at the disposal of the Sovereign without the control of Parliament. So far from the removal of the present Ministry being fatal to the march of intellect, the calamity was, that the public had not the aid of their powerful opposition when such a proposal was made. He doubted very much whether, if hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power, they would have the hardihood to make such a proposition. He perfectly recollected (and he was sure the right hon. Member for Tamworth, recollecting the effect which the exercise of his temper produced on the occasion, would confirm his statement) when an hon. and learned Gentleman, afterwards Lord High Chancellor, declared it to be the result of his deliberate judgment that these funds ought to be made available, if necessary, for public purposes. Lord Althorp stated also that such was his impression. But what was the use of an impression if that impression were not carried into effect? It had been stated that the reason why it was not so was, that Ministers had misunderstood their royal master. They could have no plea of that kind at the present time. Their late master might have been familiar with these claims, and might have founded calculations upon them; but no such feelings could exist at present. Let it not be said that her Majesty could by possibi- 1158 lity have descended to the consideration of such matters. What could she know of the tin mines in Cornwall, or of the land in Lancaster? He had no doubt whatever that; if her Majesty's Ministers had only hinted to her that these revenues ought to be placed at the disposal of Parliament, she would most readily have complied with the suggestion. He trusted he had sufficiently shown the delusive character of the present proposition. If the Crown conceded these mighty rights as a boon, why not reject the civil list, and let the Crown resort to its own property? Why take advantage of her Majesty's tender years, and induce her to enter into a compact so prejudicial to her? By a paper which had been laid on the table of the House, on the motion of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for the University of Oxford, it was made to appear that the proposed arrangement would be greatly prejudicial to the Crown. He would not enter into particulars to show the delusive character of that paper. The people did not want to obtain any advantages from the Crown; but they ought not to be cheated by a delusion. All they were to obtain for the 385,000l. a year which they were about to grant to her Majesty was 12,000l. arising from the hereditary revenues, and the revenue arising from the Woods and Forests, which in no case could exceed 6,000l. a year; and which was so shackled that it recently amounted to only 5,000l. He had done his duty. He should take the sense of the House on the present proposition; and would adopt any other measures calculated to give her Majesty's Ministers an opportunity of conferring among themselves, and with their royal mistress. However the public mind might at present be hurried away by exaggerated feelings of loyalty. Government would soon find an equally anxious disposition manifested to secure public justice.
§ The House divided on the question that the Speaker do leave the chair:—Ayes 184; Noes 52: Majority 132.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T.D.||Baker, E.|
|Acland T. D.||Baring F. T.|
|A'Court, Captain||Barnard, E.G.|
|Adam, Sir C.||Barrington, Viscount|
|Alsager, Captain||Bateman, J.|
|Anson, Hon. Colonel||Beamish, F. B.|
|Attwood, W.||Bellew, R. M.|
|Attwood, T.||Bentinck, Lord G.|
|Baines, E.||Bernal, R.|
|Blackett, C.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Blair, J.||Henniker, Lord|
|Blennerhassett, A.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Borthwick, P.||Hobhouse, right hon. Sir J.|
|Bridgman, H.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Hodgson, F.|
|Broadley, H.||Hodgson, R.|
|Broadwood, H.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Brownrigg, S.||Holland, R.|
|Bryan, G,||Holmes, W.|
|Bulwer, R. L.||Hope, G. W.|
|Callaghan, D.||Hoskins, K.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||Howard, P. H.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R,||Howick, Viscount|
|Cayley, E. S.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Chaplin, Colonel||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Chapman, A.||Irving, J.|
|Chetwynd, Major||James, Sir W. C.|
|Clive, E. B.||Kirk, P.|
|Courtenay, P.||Knight, H. G.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Labouchere, right hon. H.|
|Craig, W. G.|
|Crawford, W.||Lambton, H.|
|Dalrymple, Sir A.||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Denison, W. J.||Lennox, Lord G.|
|D'Eyncourt, right hon. T. C.||Lockhart, A. M.|
|Lygon, hon. General|
|D'Israeli, B.||Lynch, A. H.|
|Divett, E.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Macleod, R.|
|Duff, J.||Macnamara, Major|
|Dundas, F.||Marton, G.|
|East, J. B.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Eaton, R. J.||Morris, D.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Murray, rt. hon. J. A.|
|Elliot, Lord||Muskett, G. A.|
|Ellice, Captain A.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Ellis, J.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Etwall, R.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Fazakerley, J. N.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Paget, F.|
|Fergusson, right hon. R.C.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Fitzalan, Lord||Palmerston, Viscount|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Parker, J.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Parker, R. T.|
|Fleetwood, P. H.||Pechell, Captain|
|Forbes, W.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Forester, hon. G.||Phillpotts, J.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Polhill, F.|
|Gaskell, Jas. Milnes||Ponsonby, hon. J.|
|Gibson, J.||Price, Sir R.|
|Gibson, T.||Pryme, G.|
|Godson, R.||Ramsbottom, J.|
|Gordon, R.||Ramsay, Lord|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Redington, T. N.|
|Gore, O.||Rice, rt. hon. T.S.|
|Goring, H. D.||Richards, R.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Rickford, W.|
|Greene, T.||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Greenaway, C.||Rose, right hon. Sir G.|
|Grey, Sir G.||Round, C. G,|
|Hallyburton, hon. D. G.||Round, J.|
|Hastie, A.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Sandon, Viscount|
|Sanford, E. A.||Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.|
|Seymour, Lord||Townley, R. G.|
|Sheil, R. L.||Tracy, H. H.|
|Sheppard, T.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Sibthorp, Colonel||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Sinclair, Sir G.||Tufnell, H.|
|Smith, J. A.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Smith, hon. R.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Smith, R. V.||Wall, C. B.|
|Somerset, Lord G.||White, A.|
|Standish, C.||Wilberforce, W.|
|Stanley, E. J.||Wilshere, W.|
|Stewart, J.||Wood, T.|
|Stewart, J.||Worsley, Lord|
|Stuart, Lord J.||Woulfe, Sergeant|
|Strangways, hon. J.||Yates, J. A.|
|Style, Sir C.||Young, J.|
|Sugden, rt. hon. Sir E.||TELLERS.|
|Surrey, Earl of||Steuart, R.|
|Talfourd, Sergeant||Wood, C.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A||Kemble, H.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Langdale, hon. C.|
|Brotherton, J.||Leader, J. T.|
|Buller, C.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Butler, hon. Colonel||Lushington, C.|
|Chalmers, P.||Marshall, W.|
|Chapman, L.||Martin, J.|
|Clay, W.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Codrington, Admiral||Pattison, J.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Philips, M.|
|Dick, Q.||Protheroe, E.|
|Duckworth, S.||Salwey, Colonel|
|Duke, Sir J.||Strutt, E.|
|Duncombe, T.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Easthope, J.||Thornley, T.|
|Fielden, J.||Tollemache, F. J.|
|Finch, F.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Villiers, C. P.|
|Grote, G.||Wakley, T.|
|Hall, B.||Wallace, R.|
|Hawes, B.||Warburton, H.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Whalley, Sir S.|
|Hindley, C.||Williams, W.|
|Horsman, E.||Young, G. F.|
|Jervis, J.||Harvey, D. W.|
|Jervis, S.||Hume, J.|