§ Mr. Goulburn
rose for the purpose of making a few observations on the Bill before the House. Whatever objection he might have to the Bill in its present form, it did not arise from the provision made for her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent; but the point he had in view, and which he was anxious to impress on the House, was, that in all money Bills especially, they should be extremely careful not to depart from the line of precedent which guarded the public against improper conduct either on the part of individual Members or on the part of the Government of the country. It was not merely matter of form, but was also matter of substance. The principle on which the House acted with respect to money grants was well known to be this, that no money grant could be made to the Crown until that grant had been considered in a Committee of the whole House. That was the first principle of all money grants, and it stood on a just ground, that there might be ah ample opportunity of previous discussion. The second principle, which was one immediately arising out of the first, was, that whenever bills should be brought in, there should be no power in that bill of augmenting the provision that had been previously made in the resolution, otherwise they would have the power of defeating the original [rule, which was to have the amplest discussion on the whole grant in a Committee of that House. If the House bore that in mind, and looked at the printed bill, they would see that the bill was a direct violation of the rules and orders of the House. The resolution the House passed on a previous evening was 1191 that her Majesty be enabled to grant an additional yearly sum, not exceeding 8,000l., out of the Consolidated Fund, for a more adequate provision for her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent. On looking at the bill, to see how the resolution had been carried into effect, he found it was stated that "her Majesty should be empowered to grant by letters patent to her Royal Highness, for the term of her natural life, a certain annual payment or annuity of 30,000l., of lawful money of Great Britain." Now it was obvious to any one that upon the face of the bill there could be no possible discovery of any connection between the grant of 30,000l., in the body of the bill, and the vote in committee of sapply of 8,000l.
§ Mr. Goulburn
—Yes, that was stated: but those were not the terms in which the vote ought to have been made. The House would bear in mind the second principle he had laid down, namely, that there was to be no augmentation in the payment that was not stated in the previous vote. He was prepared to show that, even admitting the whole force of the word "additional," on which it appeared the Chancellor of the Exchequer intended to insist, there was in this 30,000l. an additional grant, for which no provision had ever been made by Parliament. The next sum to which her Royal Highness was entitled was a sum of 6,000l. given to her Royal Highness by an Act passed in 1825, and, as his argument with respect to the discrepancy between the bill and the resolution rested upon that and the subsequent Act, it would be sufficient for him to deal with it as applicable to that act, and not trouble himself or the House with the other. The Act which gave her Royal Highness 6,000l., was an act to enable his Majesty to grant that sum annually to her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, for the purpose of enabling her to provide for the support and education of the Princess Alexandrina Victoria. The preamble stated, that it was expedient to make an additional provision for her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria; and it was granted in such a way that in the body of the bill no person could suppose that it was extended beyond the support and education of her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria, nor was there one word to imply that it was granted for her Royal Highness's life. There was not one word to intimate that it had been 1192 given for the life of the Princess Victoria; but it was expressly stated that it was given for her support and education. Let them construe the Act, therefore, as they would, it could not be extended beyond the life of the Princess Victoria. He, (Mr. Goulburn) believed, that when her Royal Highness became Queen that sum necessarily ceased, because her relation to the Throne necessarily superseded any provision for education, which was the object of the Act—and, therefore, his own opinion was, that the act referred only to her support and education, and that when these causes ceased to operate the grant necessarily dropped. He confessed, therefore, that it was with some surprise he heard that the principle was contested; but he would take it in a more extended sense, and he would say, what no one could deny, that the money which had been granted for the support and education of the Princess Victoria could not endure after she had expired; and that if it were contended that the grant had been given during the life of the Princess Victoria whenever she died they were bound necessarily to put an end to it. Even if the former principle which he had laid down had been denied no one could deny that the death of the Queen would put an end altogether to the grant. He thought his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would admit that fact. [The Chancellor of the Exchequer: No, no.] He was anxious to hear by what argument the right hon. Gentleman could maintain that her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent was entitled to that grant after the death of the Queen. If, however, on the death of the Queen, as he would suppose, for argument sake, the grant came to an end, then the Duchess of Kent had an annuity granted to her during the life of the Princess Victoria. He begged the House would follow him in his argument upon that point, for he feared he had not made himself very intelligible. What, however, did the Bill do? It gave 30,000l. to the Duchess of Kent for her own life. He had been told that 8,000l. additional was all that the resolution authorised; and as they stated it was so, the Bill ought to have been drawn to grant 8,000l. in addition to the provision previously made for her Royal Highness by Act of Parliament. That would be conformable to the manner in which votes had been made in Committee of Supply in that House; but here it was said that they gave her Royal Highness the grant for the 1193 whole of her life. He had shown them, by reference to the statute of 1835, that the grant of 6,000l. was for the life of the Princess Victoria. Taking it in the most extended sense, 6,000l. which had been granted for the life of the Queen could not be extended into an annuity for the Duchess of Kent; and, although the probability was, that the Queen, being younger in life, might survive her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent; yet an annuity granted for the life of an individual herself was far more valuable than an annuity granted for the life of another; and although it was probable that an annuity for the life of the Duchess of Kent would not be continued so long as one for the life of the Princess Victoria, yet it was more valuable to the individual to have it granted for her own lifetime. That was, therefore, in the Bill a more valuable grant than the one stated in the resolution, and it was therefore a violation of the rules of that House. But if he was right on the other point, and that the grant had been given for the educational support of the Princess Victoria, then he said that he had made out a case to show that the 6,000l. now granted, ought to have been granted in Committee of Supply before it had been introduced into the Bill. He would not apply the argument which he had thus stated to another 6,000l. granted under the same circumstances, to which that argument also applied, though, perhaps, to a less extent. If the tenure upon which an annuity was granted was rendered more valuable than it was at first, the grant was, in fact, actually larger than had at first been voted by the Committee. He felt it his duty to bring this question before the House, for if the Bill had passed in its present shape a precedent would have been created for all succeeding Governments to vary the grants of public money from the sum voted in Committee. This practice had not been followed in preceding reigns, for when the tenure upon which annuities were granted to royal princes was changed, the resolutions of the Committee had distinctly stated the real nature of the grant to be conferred. All that he now asked was, either that the Bill should, like former Bills of the same kind, follow the terms of the resolution of the Committee of Supply, or that a resolution should be come to in Committee, expressly granting to her royal highness the Duchess of Kent 30,000l. per annum for life, in lieu of the allowance now given by Act of Parliament. He there- 1194 fore thought the proper course would be to move a Committee of the whole House to make a grant to her royal highness the Duchess of Kent.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that his right hon. Friend, in bringing the subject before the House, had done what was precisely his duty, and he personally thanked him for calling the attention of the House to it. Whether the right hon. Gentleman was correct in his reasoning, or in the inferences which he drew from the Act, undoubtedly the Bill on the table of the House ought to be conformable to its resolutions, and it was the duty of the House to see that the Bill introduced was precisely coincident with them. He wished to call to the recollection of the House that even if the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman were correct there had been no mystification on his part. He had assumed that her royal highness the Duchess of Kent had an income of 22,000l., and he proposed to make it 30,000l. There, therefore, could be no charge of bad faith on his part, nor did he understand that any imputation had been cast on the Government by the right hon. Gentleman by the course he had taken. He knew that there was a difficulty in procuring the attention of the House to a subject like the present, but he thought it was one worthy of its consideration, and he therefore felt bound to bring it before the House. He thought, however, considering that the facts lay in a minute compass, that he should not feel it necessary to occupy its attention for any length of time. His right hon. Friend had stated rightly, that the Duchess of Kent held her income under three Acts of Parliament. As the Jointure Act was not now in question, he would pass that by. The Act of 1825, in the recital and preamble, declared that it was to provide for the more honourable support and education of the Princess Victoria; but then came the enactment which granted to the Duchess of Kent an annuity of 6,000l.: in the enacting part no reference was made to the Princess Victoria; it was a grant to the Duchess of Kent of 6,000l., and it was true that there were no words in the Act giving it to the Duchess of Kent for her life. He would now come to the second Act, of 1831, which was to provide for the better support of her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, and for the better support and education of the Princess Victoria. That Act granted an annuity to the 1195 Duchess of Kent of 10,000l., but it staled that 4,000l. was for the life of the Duchess of Kent, and 6,000l. was for the life of the present Queen, then the Princess Victoria. Now he contended that, with respect to the grant of 4,000l. a-year to the Duchess of Kent as her jointure, there could be no question. The only question that could arise regarded the annuity of 6,000l. a-year, which had been granted in 1831 for the life of the Queen, and the grant that had been made in 1825. He believed, that when he stated the facts the House would agree with him, that no difficulties could arise with respect to these annuities either. He would first address himself to the grant of 6,000l. which was made in 1831; and he held that, with respect to this grant, there could not be a possibility of doubt that it endured for the lifetime of the Queen. Here was a beginning and an end, as clear as anything could be, for the Act declared, without a possibility of doubt, that the annuity should subsist from the time of the grant, and during the life of the Queen. If it were a principle of law, that in doubtful enactments the intention of the Legislature was to be arrived at by the preamble or recital of the Bill, it would be clearly shown by the preamble of that Act, that such was the intention. But there was nothing at all doubtful in the wording of the Act itself, for it declared that the annuity was to commence from the time of the grant, and to endure during the lifetime of her Majesty, and that it was payable to the Duchess of Kent. Now, it could not be contended either that the Queen was not still living, or that the annuity was not payable to the Duchess of Kent. He wished to impress on the House, that the grant was made for the lifetime of the Queen. The question then resolved itself into this—was the Queen still living, or was she not? and if she was still living, whether the annuity granted to the Duchess of Kent was to endure or not? Now, he held, that on every principle that annuity so granted still subsisted. He would take the liberty of referring the House to a precedent which he considered a most important one, as bearing on this question, namely, the annuity granted by statute to the Duke and Duchess of Clarence for their lives. The Duke and Duchess of Clarence ceased to exist when they became king and queen of England, but did the annuity cease? Certainly 1196 not; for it subsisted during the lifetime of the parties. If a new construction were to be put upon the Act of 1831, to the effect that the annuity of the Queen Dowager, under that Act, was terminable upon the death of his late Majesty, the allowance to the Duke and Duchess of Clarence ought, by a parity of reasoning, to have ceased upon the alternate status of those personages, when the Duke of Clarence was raised to the throne. There was a difference between the statute of 1825 and that of 1831. The former did not specifically declare that the grant to the Duchess of Kent was to be for life. If there had been a clause to that effect, the Act would be the same as the statute of 1831, which expressly authorised a grant to the Queen for her life, and letters patent were made out also in those terms. But what else did the statute imply than that the grant was to her for life? Would it be that the grant was to be enjoyed only during the pleasure of the Crown? He was glad to see the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir E. Sugden) taking notes, as he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) should have the advantage of his legal knowledge upon the question. He could not see any ground for doubting that it was a grant for life. But if it were regarded as a grant during pleasure, that construction would defeat the intention of the statute. Or was it, on the other hand, to be taken as a grant for the education of an individual, and to cease when the education of that individual was completed? Nothing was more common between subject and subject than to make a settlement upon a wife for the education of the children; and though one of them should actually die, the grant would continue to the mother. He knew that a grant from the Crown was to be considered on different grounds from a settlement between subject and subject. Amongst private individuals, a grant was to be construed in favour of the "grantee;" but, on the contrary, when the Crown was concerned, the grant must be construed in favour of the "granter." Well, if it were contended, as to the grant in the case of the Duchess of Kent, that (contrary to the law that prevailed in similar cases between subject and subject) the grant should cease on the completion of the education for which it was granted. He begged them to look at the statute, and see what its terms were. Though he hoped he had satisfied the House that (as 1197 he had acted certainly on the best advice) the proceedings upon this subject had been perfectly regular, he should be happy to hear the right hon. Gentleman opposite, for if a mistake had been fallen into, he would most willingly correct it.
§ Lord John Russell
Will the House allow me to say a few words before the right hon. Gentleman opposite addresses himself to this question? I would remark, that there are two different parts of the question; one is what belongs to the Duchess by law, and what is allowed her by this Bill; and the other which has been raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite is, as to the forms of this House and the mode of proceeding which should be adopted in order to make this Bill conformable to precedents. As to the first question, I think my right hon. Friend's argument—confirmed as it is by the authorities which he stated—is fully sufficient to dispose of it. But with regard to the other question—of the Bill being conformable to the resolutions of the Committee—I think there may be considerable doubt upon it. And I shall be happy to hear the right hon. Gentleman opposite address himself to both parts of the question, for I agree that, in our present proceedings, it would be well to leave no doubt upon the subject, and that what we do should be in exact conformity to former precedents.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
said, it would be in the recollection of the House, that when the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed the resolution for 8,000l., he being perfectly aware of the objections that might arise, but not wishing to state them so as to throw any impediment in the way of what was then going on, got up and suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that he had better take the resolution for 30,000l., including-what the Duchess was already entitled to. He did not blame the right hon. Gentleman for not having adopted his suggestion, and he only mentioned it for the purpose of putting himself right with the House, and to show that his object was not to raise an impediment, but to prevent an obstruction. With these observations, he would come at once to the real question at issue. Now, he must say, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had no right whatever to disqualify himself upon the ground of want of legal knowledge, because he had discussed it with a knowledge of the subject which no Gentleman 1198 could dispute. The two questions of law arose on the two Acts, and the third question was that which the noble Lord had called to his attention—the question upon the forms of the House. As regarded the two Acts, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, they should be put out of the question. Her Royal Highness had, under the Act of 1825, 4,000l. for herself, and 6,000l. for the honourable support and education of the Princess; and she was now, subject to the approbation of the House, entitled to 8,000l.—that made 18,000l., and the question now was, whether the resolution should be for the additional 12,000l. added to the Bill. As regarded the first question relating to the Act of 1825, the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had stated the case of the Duchess of Kent was similar to the case of an annuity granted to a married woman for the support of herself and children; and if they died, the annuity would be vested in herself. Generally speaking, that was so; for this reason, that the intention was so clear nobody could doubt it—he who ran might read. "I give to my wife 5,000l. a-year for her own support, and the bringing up of her children"—what did that imply, but that she was to bring up her children while they required to be brought up? and therefore no such question could arise there. As regarded the particular construction of the Act of 1825, it depended on particular grounds, and he would state to the House generally, what he considered to be the grounds. He begged again to say, that he would state his opinions as if he was talking to any private friend, and not as an individual sitting on the Opposition benches. The rule of law was, that the title of an Act should agree with the preamble; but, generally speaking, the preamble did not contract or govern the enacting part. Taking the statute of 1825 by that rule, they would find the title of the Act agreed with the preamble, and the preamble was, to grant an annuity for the Duchess and the Princess. This was an annuity to the Duchess for the honourable support and maintenance of the Princess. It might be that it was intended for life, but there being an ambiguity, they were entitled to look at the preamble to clear up that ambiguity, and to gather from the preamble what the intention was. Taking the preamble and the enacting part together, and giving it a fair and honest construction according to its meaning, he 1199 should hold that the meaning of it was, to provide an annual sum to the Duchess for the annual support and education of the Princess—during what time? Why, necessarily, during the time the Princess needed it. His own opinion was, not giving it as from the opposition side of the House, that that grant of 6,000l. had virtually, if not legally, and according to the true intent of the Act, ceased, and was no longer in existence. Now, the question as regarded the annuity of 10,000l. under the Act of 1831 was of a different nature, and he believed that presented a dilemma in the way of the right hon. Gentleman as regarded the third point, to which the noble Lord had called the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the construction of the Act of 1825. The annuity might have been wanted beyond the minority of the Princess to pay for her education, and the Act, he had no doubt, was drawn in the most generous and ambiguous terms, in order to let in any case that might occur. As to the Act of 1831, that admitted of no question or dispute about the purpose for which the 6,000l. a-year was to be given. The preamble was to make a condition "for the better support of her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, and the honourable support and education of the Princess." The way in which that Act empowered the Crown to grant the annuity of 10,000l., was 4,000l. a-year for the life of the Duchess, and 6,000l. a-year for the life of the Princess. The 4,000l. a-year was given to the Duchess of Kent for her own support, and therefore for her own life; the 6,000l. being for the education of the Princess, was confined to the life of the Princess, and was not given to the Duchess in her own right. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that the annuity of 6,000l. endured for the life of the Princess. If it did, it would be necessary to go into Committee of the whole House. The right hon. Gentleman had stated very positively his opinion that such was the case; but he (Sir E. Sugden) was decidedly of a contrary opinion. He had no more doubt than he had of his own existence that the annuity would not endure to the personal representative of the Duchess beyond her life. The rule of law was, if it was intended to make a personal gift, it could not go to the personal representative. The grant here said nothing about the executors or administrators of the Duchess; it only said that 6,000l. was for the life of 1200 the Princess Victoria, and the 4,000l. was for the life of the Duchess. Now, he held it to be as clear as any point could be, that, if a personal grant was made to the Duchess for the life of the Princess, and another to the Duchess, that if the latter died, there would be an end to the payment. Then it would be true that a case had taken place that was not provided for by the Act; but if that was so then they must come again to the House. Another point arose upon the Act of 1831, which had been argued by his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, whether the Duchess, during her lifetime would be entitled to the 6,000l. in the event that had happened. In his opinion she would certainly not, according to the equity of the case or the spirit of the Act. The 6,000l. had been given for the education of the Princess, and when that object was rendered unnecessary, the grant would cease. He considered, therefore, that the grant of 6,000l. had ceased with the necessity for which it was voted. He did not consider the case of the late Duke of Clarence to be at all in point. Had the grant to his Royal Highness been for his natural life, no change of station could have terminated it, but, in fact, it was surrendered on his Royal Highness's accession to the Throne. There was another point on which he wished to make an observation—as to the effect of the resolutions of the Committee. Assuming even that, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, the second Act gave the additional annuity to her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent for her life, it was clear that the House must go into Committee to make a new grant; for the life on which the annuity was granted could not be changed without a resolution of that House. It was not a question as to which life was most valuable. Supposing that one was worth a year's, and the other forty years' purchase, the former could not be changed for the latter without a resolution of that House. In point of law he submitted, most undoubtedly in point of equity, and according to a fair construction of the words of the Act of Parliament, the 12,000l. a-year was no longer in the possession of the Duchess for the purposes of expenditure. But it was the general feeling of the House that her Royal Highness should enjoy the whole 30,000l. per annum, as some mark of the nation's gratitude for her careful education of her illustrious daughter. Without offering the least objection, therefore, to that 1201 grant, he merely suggested that a Committee of the whole House should take the question into consideration, for the purpose of making the proceedings conformable to precedent.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
was extremely glad of the proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and without going further he would say the course laid down by him would relieve the House from the danger of misapprehension in a matter of such importance. He would, therefore, adopt the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, and move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, in order to pass a resolution which would be in conformity with its rules. If the right hon. Gentleman saw no objection, he would, in order to give effect to his suggestion, fix the Committee on the Bill for a future day.
Original motion withdrawn; and the House, on the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House, to take into consideration the acts granting annuities to the Duchess of Kent, and her Majesty's late most gracious Message.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
moved, "That the several annuities granted to her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, in pursuance of several acts of the fifty-eighth year of King George the 3rd, the sixth year of King George the 4th, and the first and second year of his late Majesty, King William the 4th, shall cease and determine at such time as may be fixed by any Act to be passed in the present Session of Parliament; and that, in lieu thereof, her Majesty be empowered to grant, out of the consolidated fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, a clear yearly sum of 22,000l. to her said Royal Highness, for her life, which sum, in addition to the yearly sum of 8,000l., already agreed to be granted in the present Session, amounts to the clear yearly sum of 30,000l. for the life of her said Royal Highness."
§ Resolution agreed to. The House resumed.