The Chancellor of the Exchequer presented various papers relative to the Civil List. On the motion of the right hon. Gentleman, the following extract from the Queen's Speech was then read by the clerk at the table:—
The demise of the Crown renders it necessary that a new provision should be made for the civil list. I place unreservedly at your disposal those hereditary revenues which were transferred to the public by my immediate predecessor, and I have commanded that such papers as may be necessary for the full examination of this subject shall be prepared and laid before you. Desirous that the expenditure in this as in every other department of the Government should be kept within due limits, I feel confident that you will gladly make adequate provision for the support of the honour and dignity of the Crown.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
then said, while I most earnestly solicit the attention of the House to the statement I am about to make, I must also say, that although I never felt more conscious of my own imperfect ability to propose so important a question to the House, yet, however imperfect may be the mode in which I make my statement, I never felt a greater confidence than at present that the motion itself will be favourably received. I may rely, I am convinced, on the support of all parties in the House in consideration of the subject I bring under its attention, because, however strongly opposed on political subjects, I am convinced that there is but one feeling in the House as to the duty and the necessity of making adequate provision for the honour and dignity of the Crown—but one anxiety on the part of all classes to do all that is just and right towards our young and gracious Queen. Therefore, whatever may be the imperfections in my mode of explaining the proposition I am now about to make—whatever there may be in my arguments open to objection—yet, 138 with respect to the proposition itself, I am satisfied that it will be received with the best feelings by Gentlemen on all sides of the House. It is my intention to propose that the subject be referred to a Select Committee. I take this course, not only because it is in conformity with that which we took in 1830, when we were in opposition, but because I think it is the course best fitted to bring this question to a satisfactory conclusion. Gentlemen will recollect that in the year 1830, upon the demise of George 4th, when the proposition was made for the grant of a civil list to the late sovereign, the proposition was met by those who now sit on this side of the House, but who were then in opposition, with the proposal to refer the subject to a Select Committee. If I did not take that course upon the present occasion, I might, perhaps, justly be taunted, as we have sometimes been taunted, perhaps, not so justly, for taking a different line as a member of the Government from that which I supported when in opposition. But whether I might or might not be exposed to that taunt, if I did not believe that the mode in which I propose to deal with this question was that which would most conduce to the satisfactory discharge of my duty, I should expose myself to the imputation of inconsistency more willingly than to that of having been betrayed into a course of conduct that might prejudice in any degree the settlement of the civil list on the accession of our Sovereign. I am sure I need not press upon the attention of the House the importance of this question, no less to the public than to the Crown. Upon a former occasion when it was discussed, incidentally, I did not take a part in the debate, for I felt that the time was not distant when it would be my more appropriate duty to enter upon it at some length; it was then suggested, that peculiar caution was necessary, by reason of the age of the Sovereign, and the anticipation in which all her people join, and none more heartily than the House of Commons, that the reign which is about to begin may not only be prosperous but long. It is on this very account, Sir, that we wish to make such arrangements as will carry us through this reign, which I hope will be as long as happy, without constant appeals to Parliament, without contraction of debt, and without those circumstances which have led in former times to so much jealousy and. suspicion upon the part of the people, and which have not been without their influence in producing 139 results prejudicial to royalty. It is because I anticipate and desire, in common with all, that the reign of her Majesty may be long, that I think it peculiarly incumbent on us to take steps for making the civil list arrangements as satisfactory as possible. But, then, inasmuch as that reign may be long, it behoves us to consider it with care, and to weigh well the steps we are about to take, because I admit, that when that step is once taken, I for one should be ready to plead that arrangement in bar of any proposal to reconsider the civil list, unless the Crown was placed in a position absolutely to require it. I shall not trouble the House with going at any length into the history of the civil list. The House is perfectly aware, and every Gentleman who has paid attention to the subject must he aware, that the arrangements relative to the civil list have been various from the reign of Charles 2nd to the present time; that at one period the hereditary revenues were supported by an additional grant from the House, and the surplus of that grant, whatever it might be, was appropriated to the purposes for which it was intended; but at another period a supplementary grant was given, and in the event of there being a surplus in the income so secured to the Sovereign, that surplus was not to be applied otherwise than by the direction of Parliament. In the reign of George 3rd, the first approach to what I consider a satisfactory arrangement of the civil list was made. In that reign the Sovereign surrendered the whole of his ordinary hereditary revenues, and received in exchange from Parliament a settled civil list. The revenues excepted consisted of the casual revenues, such as the droits of the Crown, and those derivable from the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. There was afterwards an alteration as to this source of revenue in the reign of George 4th; but, generally speaking, the arrangement I have just described was not effected until the commencement of the reign of William 4th; at that period an alteration took place with regard to the hereditary revenues, and also to the management of the civil list. By the arrangement made at the commencement of the last reign, his Majesty surrendered not only what had been surrendered by his predecessors, but also the casual revenues, such as the droits and the Gibraltar revenues. Now, I know it was stated at that time, that these revenues did not amount 140 to any very considerable sum, and I think, therefore, that I may be allowed, in passing, to state to the House that the value of the surrender made by his Majesty William 4th, amounted during his reign to a sum of 70,000l., which was paid over to the public service, and forms part of the public revenue. But it was not alone in this circumstance to which I have adverted that the civil list of William 4th differed from those of his immediate predecessors, for, at that time, a much greater and more salutary change was introduced, for by the arrangement made in the reign of his late Majesty, as proposed to this House by my noble Friend (Lord Spencer), for the first time the principle was laid down, that the civil list of the Crown should be limited to those matters in which the honour and dignity of the Crown were more essentially concerned, and that it should be separated from all charges for the public services of the country. It was said at the time, and it formed one of the arguments against such an arrangement, that that change could not he made without considerable inconvenience, and some danger to the character and dignity of the Crown itself. It was said, and figures of speech were used on the occasion, that to surround the civil list of the Crown with all the attributes of the administration of justice—and even with those, Sir, which are attached to your office—was to surround it with so many safeguards and supports. But when I consider the former state of the civil list, I am led to believe that those parties were placed upon it, not for the purpose of giving a protection to the Crown, but that they should derive protection from appearing to hold their offices or appointments under the name and character of the Sovereign, that their incomes being on the civil list might be much less subject to observation, and to Parliamentary interference and control than they otherwise would be. Is there any Gentleman here present who is not ready to admit that we approach the settlement of the civil list of her Majesty under circumstances more favourable to the real interests of the Crown—circumstances that must lead us to a more satisfactory conclusion, by considering it in its present state instead of as it stood in former reigns? I know that it will deprive many hon. Members of the opportunity of introducing into the debate a number of facetious observations. I know, that on former discussions of the civil list, the House used to be taken away from the main object of debate 141 to notice a few accidental and incongruous matters introduced into it; but if we lose any thing in the facetiousness of the debate, or in the opportunities which it may afford to Members of displaying arguments and witticisms, we gain much in the forwarding of that which is our main object—to make a provision for the Sovereign of these realms which may be proportional to the necessities of the case, at the same time, that we are not extravagant nor regardless of our obligations to the people. Do we not approach the subject more conveniently, and have we not a better mode of conducting it in the reformed state, than in the state of anomaly in which it used formerly to be presented? Nor is this all. I have to state to hon. Gentlemen, that the new arrangement, in the last reign, was not a mere exhibition of a barren principle, but that it led to useful and practical results. I have to lay before the House documents which will show the amount of reduction which has been practically the result of the improved mode of regulating the civil list in the last reign. The account which I hold in my hand is somewhat complicated, but I will state the results, and I think hon. Gentlemen will understand that the reduction has been considerable. In the reign of George 4th and his predecessors, that portion of the civil list having reference to the personal charge of the Sovereign amounted, in the first instance, to the sum of 1,156,000l. This sum included the civil list for England and Ireland, the Scotch hereditary revenue, and the 4½ per cent duties. This was the amount charged on the Consolidated Fund, but there were other items to be taken into the account, derivable from other sources. The civil list, therefore, at that period, must not be taken at the amount charged on the Consolidated Fund, namely, 1,156,000l., but, by adding certain charges and deducting others, which will be seen correctly stated in the account, as producing an actual cost to the public of 1,193,905l. I will now proceed to show at what expense the same service was performed at the death of his late Majesty, and that which was previously charged to the public. The expense, as I have just stated, at the demise of the previous Sovereign was 1,193,905l., but at the death of the late King, it was only 1,095,994l., which shows a saving of nearly 100,000l. a-year. This charge at the close of the reign of William the 4th was composed of the following items:— 142
The greater portion of this saving could not have been satisfactorily accomplished, if the whole of the charges had been in the civil list that were formerly placed on it. It is true, I must add a small amount of increase under a few heads of 2,374l., thus making the entire saving to the country amount to 97,839l. There is, therefore, an actual decrease within the interval I have adverted to in the last reign of very near 10 per cent on the whole expenditure of the Crown. Now, this alteration has been effected, and still the civil list has been equal to its expenditure, and abundantly sufficient. It has been effective, as the House will recollect, without the creation on the part of his late Majesty of a debt of any sort whatever, or the necessity of resorting to his people for any extraordinary payments for the support of the honour and dignity of the Crown. The support of the Crown having been efficiently provided for, both in the one case and in the other, I say that the principle on which the reduction has been made is consistent with sound principle, and has led to economy. His late Majesty was enabled to carry on his expenditure without the contraction of debt of any sort; and I may be allowed to say in passing, that his late Majesty was not protected from debt by any narrow mode of life, or by the adoption of any course unworthy the high station he held in the country, or by denying to his heart and principles the exercise of the most beneficent and enlarged charity, or the most unbounded hospitality; but he was protected from debt, because the income which he was allowed from Parliament was adequate, and because it was administered with a wise economy. I have already stated, that it is my intention to propose, in the present instance, the adoption of that course which was pursued on the last occasion, viz., that of moving, that the whole subject should be referred to a Select Committee; but before I do so, and as supplementary to the remarks I have already made, and as essentially necessary to enable the House to determine 143 what income they will allot to their Sovereign, I wish to call their attention to two facts—one is the amount of the casual revenue which in former reigns, and under another system, was placed at the disposal of the Crown; and the other is, the amount of Parliamentary grants which, on former occasions, was necessary in order to pay off the debts of the civil list; because, if you compare former civil lists with latter civil lists, you must take into account the extraordinary interposition of the Legislature which it became necessary to make. In the reign of George 3rd, the House will learn, not without surprise to those hon. Gentlemen who have not looked into the subject, that the amount of droits received, and at the disposal of the Crown, was 12,705,461l. This was the gross amount, and was composed of the following items:
Civil List £510,000 Charges on the Consolidated Fund 438,550 Supplies 128,065 Land Revenue 13,032 4½ per cent duties 6,347 Total 1,095,994 Saving £100,213
It is true, that out of this enormous sum, arising from the droits of the Crown, the following payments were made in aid of the public service during the reign of George the 3rd:—
Droits of the Admiralty £9,562,000 4½ per cent. Duties 2,116,000 Gibraltar 124,000 Surplus Scotch Civil List 207,000 Escheats from Subjects 214,000 Escheats from Aliens 108,000 Sale of Lands, French West India Islands 106,000 Revenues of Minorca, Martinique, &c. &c. 150,000 Quit Rents in Colonies 104,000
So that the Sovereign voluntarily contributed 2,600,000l. towards the national necessities. And it is also right to state, that the expenses of captors, and the payment to those concerned in taking prizes, amounted to 5,372,834l. But deducting this 5,000,000l. and the 2,600,000l. from the 12,000,000l., the House will see that an enormous amount of casual revenue was then appropriated to the Crown.
Navy £900,000 Ordnance 100,000 To the Annual Supplies of the Year 700,000 To the Consolidated Fund 900,000 Total £2,600,000
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
Certainly. There was also a further sum received and applicable from these droits 144 during the reign of George the 3rd. Of this amount derived from the droits of the Crown, 326,000l. was applied to the Civil List by George the 4th, and by further additions afterwards, it amounted to more than 400,000l. This sum was applied, not during the time that George the 4th was Regent, but after he became Sovereign. But the House ought to recollect, that under former civil lists, many applications were necessarily made to Parliament for the payment of debts contracted. During the twelve years of the reign of Queen Anne, two applications were made to Parliament for the payments of the debts on the civil list, in addition to the sum annually paid on account of it—one was 700,000l., and the other was 500,000l. In the thirteen years of the reign of George the 1st, the debt paid in addition to a civil list of the same amount as that of Queen Anne, was 1,000,000l. During the thirty-three years reign of George the 2nd, the civil list was fixed at 800,000l. per annum, and it was provided that if the duties granted to produce it did not in any one year produce 800,000l., the deficiency was to be made good. If the produce exceeded 800,000l., the excess went to the Crown. In addition to the duties so granted at the commencement of the reign, there was paid, in 1746, on account of the debt on the civil list, 456,000l. This sum was granted because, up to 1746, the duties had not produced the 800,000l. a-year. It appears, however, that from 1750 to 1760, the duties produced on an average 824,000l. per annum. During the sixty years of the reign of George the 3rd, the sum of 3,398,000l. was granted for the discharge of the civil list debts. For the first seventeen years of the reign, the civil list was 800,000l.; for the next twenty-seven years, it was 900,000l.; the next eight years, it was 960,000l.; and then to the close of the reign, it was 1,030,000l. In addition to this, the following sums were granted to pay the debts on the civil list: —
145 During the course of the reign, there was a further sum of 413,000l., which was derived from the fees on suppressed offices, thus making altogether a total of 3,811,000l. Sir, it is scarcely necessary to call the attention of the House to the important difference that exists between the state of things I have now pointed out, and the state of things which happily existed during the late reign. Of all the difficulties and dangers to the House and to the Crown, none are more to be guarded against than so arranging the civil list as to leave any probability of the Crown contracting debts, which imposes upon it the necessity of coming to Parliament to discharge them. We ought not, then, to proceed without great caution as to the steps we are about to take; and we should also take care, that the amount we now vote should not be less than may be permanently necessary. I do not propose a Committee on the civil list with the view of avoiding any kind of responsibility that properly belongs to me. Sir, I should feel unworthy of the confidence of this House, and of her Majesty, if I was not prepared to state, upon my own responsibility, what I consider the civil list ought to be. It will be the object of the Committee to ascertain whether the proposition I shall make, is a just one: or whether it requires revision. Therefore, among the papers I propose to lay before the Committee will be the scheme of the civil list which I shall propose. It will be considered that the Queen, in some respects, stands distinguished from all her immediate predecessors of the house of Hanover. I believe in no case, since the accession of the house of Hanover, has there been an instance in which the Sovereign succeeding to the throne of England, did not inherit very considerable personal property from his predecessor. Sir, that was the case with respect to William the 4th, it was the case with George the 4th; it was also the case of George the 2nd; for in every one of these cases there was personal property conveyed from the deceased Sovereign to the Sovereign who succeeded. In the present instance, her Majesty succeeds to no such personal property whatever. Her Majesty inherits nothing of an analogous character. Her dependence is consequently upon her hereditary revenues, or upon the revenues which Parliament may assign in lieu of them. But there is another distinction—there is no one of her Majesty's royal predecessors who did not succeed also to 146 the revenues of Hanover, as well as to the revenues of England. My noble Friend has stated, he did not conceive that the public interests of England would suffer by the severance of the crown of Hanover from the crown of this country. I perfectly concur in that opinion; and I do not think there is one of her Majesty's subjects—I do not think there is any Gentleman here who will suppose that the interests of England, either in its foreign or its domestic relations, are likely to be prejudiced by the severance of the crown of Hanover. But though that may not be the case, still we must take into account, in the civil list, that that severance deprives her Majesty of resources which her predecessors had at their command. Another distinction to be made in the present settlement of the civil list is, that her Majesty's establishment, as reigning Queen, must be of a different character from that of a King or of a Queen Consort. It must be an establishment partaking of the nature of both. It must be partly an establishment of ladies and partly of gentlemen; therefore, in going through the arrangements I am about to propose, I shall endeavour, as far as I can, to enable the House to make comparisons between such establishments, and then leave the House to draw from those comparisons that conclusion which is likely to befit an establishment for her Majesty. The first class of the civil list granted to his late Majesty, consisted of the privy purse of 110,000l.—60,000l. for the use of the king, and 50,000l. for the use of the queen. I should therefore propose, that the first class of the present civil list should stand at 60,000l., excluding the 50,000l. which were voted before for the use of the Queen Consort. I do not suppose Gentlemen will, for a moment, seek to diminish the amount of privy purse which, for upwards of sixty years, has been appropriated to the use of the Sovereign. The next class is the class of salaries of the great officers of the household. It will be in the recollection of the House, that on the occasion of the reference of this subject to a Committee up stairs in 1830–31, certain reductions were recommended of the salaries of the great officers of the Crown. They did not amount to any very considerable sum. I believe they amounted to 10,000l. This is a comparatively small sum; but they were considered to be important in point of principle. After a deliberate discussion, and upon the best view that could be taken 147 of the subject by the Government of the day, it was not considered expedient to carry those reductions into effect, and the total sum was voted. Sir, I shall not go back to the arguments that were used on that occasion, but I think the present affords a fitting opportunity of re-considering the salaries of these great officers of state. Sir, I was a member of that Committee, and the recommendations which were then given with respect to the salaries of the great officers of state, were recommendations which, at that period, met with ray assent, although it was not considered expedient to carry them into effect on that occasion. But I have now to announce to the House, that with respect to those reductions in the salaries of the higher officers of state, the Lord Chamberlain, the Master of the Horse, the Lord Steward, it is my intention to propose a reduction in the amount of those salaries to the full extent of that formerly recommended by the Committee up stairs. Sir, we have had angry discussions in the House on this subject, both at that time and since; but I hope those Gentlemen who differed from me on that occasion, and who endeavoured to persuade us to carry the recommendations of the Committee into effect, will now be satisfied with the course adopted. There are other reductions which we propose to make in respect to some of the lesser officers of state, in reference to whom we shall accomplish nearly the same object, though not in the same way. In their case we propose a reduction by numbers instead of in the amount of their salaries. As to the great officers of state, we propose to make a reduction of 1,085l. in the salary of the Lord Chamberlain; 436l. in the salary of the Lord Steward; 850l. in the salary of the Master of the Horse. The office of the groom of the stole is to be abolished. A reduction in the salaries of the lords in waiting will be made to the aggregate extent of 2,808l.; and these with reductions in the salaries of the master of the robes and some minor officers, will make a total of 9,820l. Sir, I may now be required to inform the House what is the proposed increase of the establishment necessary for a lady. In a very few words I will inform the House what we propose that should be. The female establishment in attendance upon her Majesty, as it will be proposed before the Committee, will cost 8,900l. a year. The Government, in considering what the civil list should be for the female Sovereign, have not followed 148 the most immediate precedent before them—I mean that of Queen Anne, our last female Sovereign, who had of course a female establishment upon her civil list; the salaries charged upon that list being greater than Government has thought proper to suggest for the consideration of the Committee on the present occasion. For instance, the Duchess of Marlborough, who was at the head of Queen Anne's establishment, enjoyed several offices which in these days would be thought strangely unsuited to a lady. She was keeper of the privy purse, groom of the stole—[Loud laughter]—and first lady of the bedchamber. As privy purse and groom of the stole she had 2,000l. a year, while the ladies of the bedchamber had 1,000l. each—the women of the bedchamber being paid 500l. each. We propose that in place of 1,000l. the ladies of the bedchamber should have 500l. a year, and the bedchamber women, instead of 500l., 300l. The salaries, in fact, are to be upon the same scale as they were in the household of the Queen Dowager. I trust the House will see that we have manifested every desire to put the royal establishment upon as satisfactory and economical a footing as possible. The next head of expenditure is the expenses of the royal household. The details of this expenditure during the last reign will be laid before the Committee, who will thereby have full opportunity of seeing what the expenditure has been, and an average taken from them will enable us to judge what it is necessary to set aside for an adequate provision in this respect, as a provision to supersede the necessity of any debts being contracted by the Crown. The fourth class of expenditure is a small one, namely, for charities, and special, and secret service, and this amounts to 23,200l. This we shall propose as before. The class of pensions is the fifth on the list, and for this during the late reign the annual sum of 75,000l. was allotted. I do not anticipate that with respect to the four first classes there will be any practical difference of opinion in the House, at least if I may judge from the manner in which they were received on former occasions. But I do know, Sir, upon the subject of the pension list there will probably be much more opposition. I do not disguise that from myself, for I wish to deal with the matter fairly. This matter of the pension list undoubtedly has been much discussed; I shall therefore endeavour to be as brief as possible while bringing under the attention 149 of the House its actual state. Prior to the act of Mr. Burke there was no limit whatever to the amount of pensions which might be granted but the discretion of the Monarch and the amount of the civil list itself. Unlimited it was in amount, it was equally so in point of principle. In the preamble of Mr. Burke's Act undoubtedly there is reference to limitation both as to amount and as to principle. I believe 95,000l. was the sum to which it brought down the amount; but still the Irish pension list was for many years subject to no such limitation. There existed also a vague and indefinite power of charging pensions upon the Scotch hereditary revenues, and there was also a power of charging them upon the 4½ per Cents. Sir, in the year 1820 the amount of pensions payable was 203,058l.; in 1830 this amount was reduced to 180,944l. On the former discussion on this subject, my noble Friend, Lord Spencer, proposed to limit the amount of the pension list to 75,000l. a-year; that is to say, pensions were to be allowed to expire till the total amount was reduced to 75,000l.; but by an arrangement made at the time, putting certain classes of pensions on the Consolidated Fund, while other classes remained on the civil list, many of the pensions which have since expired have been given to the Consolidated Fund, and the Sovereign has had the power of filling up vacancies in respect of those which occurred in the civil list. Now, Sir, the present amount of pensions is 149,802l.; that is to say, there has been a diminution in the amount of pensions, since the last settlement of the civil list, of a very considerable sum, not less than 26,000l. a year. The saving effected between 1820 and the present time is not less than 50,000l. a year, and supposing the law to continue in its present state, the pensions, which were in the year 1820 203,000l., will soon be reduced to the sum of 75,000l. This, Sir, is not all that was done in the last reign. Undoubtedly during that period a very great diminution in the amount of pensions took place. But the objection felt by the House and the country was not only to the amount of the pensions, but to the principles on which they were granted. I do not think that if the House and the public had been perfectly persuaded that the whole amount even of the larger sum had been bestowed upon objects deserving the royal bounty and national gratitude, I do not believe that the question of amount would have 150 produced half the effect, that the principle upon which those pensions were given has occasioned. The objection raised to the smaller pensions was repeated over and over again to be an objection to the principle of the system of granting those pensions. This was felt by the Government of Earl Grey, and on the 18th of February, 1834, a resolution was moved in this House, and passed, "that it is the bounden duty of the responsible advisers of the Crown to recommend to his Majesty for grants of pensions and rewards only such persons as may have just claims upon the Royal benevolence, either by personal services to the Crown or by services to the public, or who by useful discoveries in science or art merit the consideration of the Sovereign and the patronage of the nation." That, Sir, was the first time that it had been stated on distinct principles on what grounds pensions should be granted. Mr. Burke, indeed, had faintly shadowed it out, but that was the first time that it had been distinctly stated by a resolution of the House of Commons. The consequences of that resolution showed that it was not so much the amount of the pension, as the object to which it was applied, that had been so closely canvassed. I speak in the hearing of those who have applied themselves to the consideration of the matter, and who know perfectly well what the extent of public feeling on the subject has been. I refer myself particularly to the hon. Member for Southwark, who has repeatedly brought the subject before the House; I submit to him if the enunciation of that principle did not tend to soothe and satisfy the public mind on that subject, and if the cause of complaint was not more as regarded the principle than the amount of the pension? I have shown to the House that the principle was so affirmed. Has it been acted upon? I say it has; and if the Committee and the House examine the matter I am confident that the papers produced before that Committee will show that the Government which proposed that resolution has acted upon it. The names are there. Compare the pensions since bestowed with the resolution of the House upon the subject; and censure us if we have not abided by that resolution. Sir, I therefore say, that this is a fit and proper subject of consideration for the Committee, and they shall have the list of those before them to whom pensions have been granted; and I shall be prepared, with respect to every one that we have re- 151 commended to the Crown for pensions, to lay before the Committee the express grounds upon which we have thought it right to grant them. Sir, we shrink from no responsibility. We did not adopt that resolution blindly, or without being disposed to act upon it. We have endeavoured to act on it, and let the Committee investigate what we have done, and let them determine whether our acts have not kept pace with our declarations. Sir, at the same time I must be permitted to say, that with respect to the whole subject of the pension list we have met with a great deal of no very fair play. The greatest efforts have been made to bring the conduct of the Government on this question into disrepute. Accusations which have been brought forward and satisfactorily refuted here, have re-appeared—re-appeared, I do not say in this House, but elsewhere, for the purpose, or at least with the effect, of deluding the public mind. I repeat that this subject has not been fairly discussed. It is very easy to object to names; and it is very easy, also, to say that which is true as applicable to a state of things at one time, which is no longer true as applied to a state of things at another. Now I have seen names most unjustly pointed out, and it has been made matter of reproach to certain Gentlemen that they are on the pension list. I will take, first, the instance of a political opponent. It has been made matter of reproach that Lord Farnborough is in the receipt of a pension; and it is said, what has he done to merit the continuance of a pension? Why, Sir, the slightest possible attention would have shown that Lord Farnborough has not been in the receipt of that pension for many years past. One single question put to me or to any of my noble or hon. colleagues would have elicited that Lord Farnborough, when he came into possession of property which had devolved to him, gave up that pension of his own accord, with ii statement that his circumstances having improved, he felt it due to the public to give up that pension. I have seen another attack of a similar kind made upon another noble Lord, a political opponent (Lord Sidmouth), that he receives a pension. Now it is perfectly notorious that upon coming into property which, devolved on him, that noble Lord at once resigned his pension with a similar patriotic declaration. So much, then, for two pensioners on the other side of the House, and now for two noble Friends of my own political views. 152 First, there is the nobleman who is now Governor-General of India. Within the week it has been asked in the public prints, why does Lord Auckland, the Governor-General of India, continue to receive his pension? Now, the fact is, that my noble Friend, upon his appointment, instantly gave up his pension. Surely before charges of this description are made some little authentic information should be sought as to the facts of the case. Again, my noble Friend, Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Madras, is in a similar way charged with still receiving a pension, whereas the first act he did when he received his appointment was to write and say that he resigned that pension. [Mr. Hume: He was obliged to do so by Act of Parliament.] The hon. Gentleman says the Act compelled him to resign his pension; I am not aware that any Act of Parliament bears that construction; but supposing that the hon. Gentleman is correct in his assertion, that does not alter the case, for the imputation is, that these two parties are still in the receipt of pensions, and this imputation I have shown to be utterly groundless; and whether they cease to receive the pensions in accordance with an Act of Parliament, or by their own act, makes no difference, except that the one would be an act of generosity, while the other is only a matter of necessity. The object of my statement is to show the delusions that are abroad upon this subject. I do not think the Act of Parliament bears the interpretation which the hon. Gentleman puts on it; but this I know, that the resignation of the pension was put into my hands by Lord Elphinstone the very moment he was appointed to the office he now holds. These are matters which ought to be understood by the House and by the country. Again, Sir, particular names are used, and made matters of remark, without one inquiry having been instituted. I will give a very few instances. I have heard questions put, especially with respect to the names of females — for instance, Miss Charlotte Stewart—what has Miss Charlotte Stewart done to deserve a pension? Now, Sir, I take that case as an example. That lady was the infant daughter of one of the very best public servants the country ever had either in a civil or military capacity—I mean the late Colonel Stewart, Assistant Secretary to the Treasury. That gentleman, after going through the whole service of the war, after being wounded and suffering in his health, applied himself to 153 the civil service of his country. He was advanced, not by the Government with which I am connected, but by other Governments; but he served under us; and I believe that my Lord Spencer, I believe my Lord Grey, I believe that every individual Member of his Administration would give their willing and ready testimony to the unrivalled activity, to the indefatigable industry, and to the spotless integrity which distinguished him while in office. Allow me to detain the attention of the House for a moment to this case. This gentleman was entitled to a very high rate of retired allowance. We pressed and urged him to accept the allowance, in order that he might retire for the recovery of his health. He resisted, however, all our entreaties. He said that as long as he was able he would remain in the public service, as he could not bear the idea of receiving the public money without earning it. He remained in the public service till his constitution was entirely broken, and he became incapacitated for work; he died in the public service as completely as a man could have died in the field, and I am bound to say of him, that never did a public servant reap the reward of his fidelity and industry with more justice than did this gentleman. He had a salary of 2,500l. a year, and if it is thought by the hon. Member that he did not deserve it, I should like to know what test he requires, or in what manner he measures the services of public men. Looking to the services given to the public by Colonel Stewart, I say there never was a more becoming reward than the pension that was given to his daughter. Sir, I have heard it said, what has Mr. Morton done to deserve a pension of 250l. a year? I will answer the question in three words, and if my answer is not perfectly satisfactory I shall be greatly surprised. Sir, that gentleman, at great personal inconvenience, long employed his eminent talents in the investigation of a question of the utmost importance to the public, a question most difficult and complicated in its details, the question of terminable annuities, &c., and suceeeded in supplying information which saved to the country no less a sum than 170,000l., which would otherwise have been made away with. If the pension of 250l. a year to this gentleman be not a proper application of the public money, I am at a loss to know what can be a proper application. I could go much further into such details; I could call the attention of the House to many names 154 illustrious in science, in literature, and in the arts, which of recent years have appeared prominently on the civil list. I say, that the principle on which Gentlemen opposite, as well as the present Government, have acted in this respect is most creditable to them and to the Crown. The names of Airy, Faraday, and Somerville, which appear on that list, do the highest honour to all parties. Sir, I propose that this Committee, when appointed, shall have full power of considering whether the resolution referred to and the principles laid down by the civil list Committee on a former occasion have been acted up to. But it may be said this is not enough; this does not come up to the terms of the notice which stands for to-night. Sir, before I state my opinion on this point I wish the House to consider a principle which has been laid down, and been the subject of frequent debate in this House. It is on all sides admitted that Ministers who advise the Crown are responsible for the advice which they give, and, therefore, if they advise that improper persons be put on the civil list, it comes within the province of this House to express its opinion on their advice. That rule, and the rules laid down upon the settlement of the last civil list, offer some security undoubtedly; but they do not, in our opinion, afford an adequate security against the granting improper pensions for the future. In order to afford a perfect security, we think that a few alterations in the system of granting civil list pensions ought to be made. The first is, that what is now merely embodied in a resolution, should be introduced into the civil list Act, and have the force of law. That will make it more difficult to depart from the recognised principles. But that will not be enough of itself. It is true, the Government may be responsible, but Parliament may be kept in the dark on the subject. A Minister may die, and you may have no means of fixing the responsibility. I propose, then, that in future the amount of the civil list pensions granted every year, and the particulars of those pensions, be laid annually on the table of the House of Commons. I affirm the responsibility of the Minister in the first instance; and, to enable Parliament to act on that responsibility, I would make it incumbent on the Minister to give the fullest information to Parliament; so that if a wrong be done, if an abuse creep in, immediate detection may follow, and Parliament, if it please, can interfere. I am 155 prepared, Sir, to anticipate, that some objection may be raised to this proposal. It may be said, that Parliament will become the donors of the pensions instead of the Crown. That is the last thing I think of or wish for. I believe, that if Parliament were to confer these pensions in place of those who are responsible to the Crown, the result would be a more lavish expenditure, more intrigues, and a greater extent of jobbing, interference, caballing, and canvassing than has ever yet been practised. I need not, as an illustration of my view, refer to what has occasionally occurred with reference to the miscellaneous estimates. There have been times when appeals have been made, not to those who are responsible, but to the House, and the House has been too ready to vote one day that which it has repented having voted the day following. I have seen that done in this House. I have seen inconsiderate votes come to by the House, which it has repented next day. If, then, you throw these grants into the hands of the House of Commons, you place it in the hands of that authority which is most likely to abuse it. But, though in my opinion the House of Commons is not well qualified for taking the initiative, it is most valuable as a check, and the check comes too late under the present system. I would, therefore, make it the law, that all pensions granted in the civil list should be laid, as a matter of course, on the table of the House. We tender to the House the fullest inquiry, and I hope we may anticipate the fullest justification of the course which the Government proposes to take. But then comes the motion of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark. As he puts the question, I believe it has never yet undergone discussion.
In 1769 £513,500 1777 608,300 1784 60,000 1786 210,000 1802 990,000 1804 590,000 1805 10,400 1814 218,800 1816 185,000 £3,398,000
§ Mr. Harvey
handed a paper to the right hon. Gentleman, observing that it contained the terms of his motion as he proposed to make it.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
continued: Before I read the motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I must say I do not think that the course he pursues will be considered quite a convenient one by the House. I do not complain of his conduct, but I must tell him that I came down prepared to argue his notice of motion, and now I am told that another is to be substituted for it as an amendment. The notice which the hon. Member gave, and which now stands on the printed orders, is a distinct proposition. Now there is to be another question, of which I have no pre- 156 vious notice, to be moved as an amendment on my proposition for submitting the estimates of the civil list to a Select Committee. The hon. and learned Member might not mean it uncandidly; but certainly his practice is rather sharp and not altogether fair upon me. It is true, that it is competent to him to make a motion without giving me any notice of it; but, having given notice of his proposition publicly, it is not fair in him to alter it at the eleventh hour without communicating to me previously any notice of his intention. I will read both of the hon. Member's notices, and I hope that he will not think that I am acting unfairly towards him in so doing. The notice on the order-book is to this effect:—"Return of all sinecures and pensions of whatever denomination, and upon whatever fund chargeable. Select Committee to inquire how far such sinecures and pensions ought to be continued, having due regard to the just claims of the parties, and to economy in the public expenditure." Now the proposition is, "and that such Committee cause full examination to be made into the circumstances under which each existing pension was granted, and whether the continuance of the same is justified by public services, or any other special circumstances." Now these two propositions differ very much from each other. The last proposition casts a new duty upon the Committee which I am anxious to form. I seek to obtain a Select Committee for a special duty, whilst the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark would refer to that Committee, a Committee on the civil list, that which had no reference to the civil list at all. For instance, his proposition relates to sinecures, and sinecures there are none upon the civil list. The hon. Member for the city of London, who was chairman of the Committee appointed to inquire into the subject of sinecures, knows well the result of that inquiry. "Examination into the circumstances under which each existing pension was granted!" Sir, if there be an abuse in this respect, I am ready to examine into its existence; but I must ask the hon. and learned Member for Southwark whether, by the words which I have just read, he means the same proposition for which I understood him to argue before—namely, the propriety of examining into all pensions and sinecures of every denomination. Does he mean that the Committee for which I am now moving is to go into an inquiry into all the 157 superannuated allowances, into all the pensions for diplomatic services, into all the pensions for Government services? If such be his meaning, then I tell him that the Committee for which I am moving can come to no conclusion on those points, for it is a Committee on the civil list, and upon nothing else. His proposition evidently is intended to encumber the Committee. Now, my intention is, that that Committee should settle the civil list to be granted to her Majesty with as little delay as possible, and you might as well refer the state of the Consolidated Fund to that Committee as the subjects which the hon. and learned Member proposes. Indeed, such a reference would produce great and almost endless delay. I have now stated my objection to the altered proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark. I will now proceed to deal with the proposition which I find in the book before me. I hold that any Government that recommends the grant of a pension is responsible for it. I hold that such grant may be made the matter of fair inquiry. I hold that that inquiry may be enforced in the House of Commons. I hold that the proper time for enforcing such inquiry is the time of the revision of the civil list. I hold that if there is anything wrong in the granting of these pensions we are responsible for their recommendation, and if that responsibility extend to a period before our time, and anterior to the new settlement of the civil list, a due regard being had to the just claims of the parties, it is a subject of inquiry to which I cannot offer any opposition; and I am ready to say that I will go anew into such an inquiry, saving the just rights of the parties; but under no circumstances would I trench on them. Whether the pensions were rightly given or not rightly given, that is a fit subject for inquiry; that is an inquiry which I cannot refuse to enter upon; therefore I am prepared with respect to that to say, I like the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I also say it is of that magnitude and importance that the Government are willing, in the face of the House and the public, to assume the responsibility of themselves moving the Committee and conducting the inquiry; and I say further, if we do it, we do it strictly on the principles laid down and avowed in the hon. and learned Gentleman's resolutions, namely, subject to the just claims of the parties. I am not one who, in quest of popularity, 158 or for support in this House, or for any purpose of economy, will be a party to a single act of injustice. The rights of the sinecurists are as well secured to them by law as the rights of the pensioners. As regards the sinecurists, we granted a full inquiry into the circumstances on which their claims were founded. The hon. Member for London was in the chair of that Committee; the rights of the parties were regarded; no injustice was done; and I believe no injustice was meditated to any one by any Member of the Committee which examined into the facts. The Committee made their report, and the Government, to the best of their ability, carried the intentions of the Committee into full effect. I am willing, on the part of the Government, now to undertake the fullest inquiry such as that I have just described. We will carry it on in accordance with the comprehensive words used by the hon. and learned Member himself—we will carry on the inquiry in that spirit, and give to the public the full benefit of it. Well, Sir, that is the proposition which I make to the House, that is the proposition which we wish to make to the country. We make it in no spirit of oppression against any class of people; we make it with a determination to protect the just claims and rights of all. But I speak upon the experience of some years, when I say, that the best security to the pension list, and the best security to those who have claims upon it is, that all mystery and concealment regarding it should be put an end to. I take as instances of the correctness of my position the examples which I have already mentioned. Will the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, after the explanation which I have this night given to the House, venture again to attack as improper the grant of pensions to Miss Charlotte Stewart, and to Mr. Morton? Anxious as he professes himself to be for the observance of economy, I take it for granted that he would exercise his economy, subject to the claims of all parties. Here, then, I stand as a witness—here, then, I have given an explanation—here I have successfully defended those cases, which the hon. and learned Member for Southwark seemed to think perfectly indefensible. I have innumerable other cases of the same description which I am equally well prepared to defend, if circumstances render a defence necessary. I believe that the inquiry which I propose will give, not only satisfaction to the public, but also protection to the parties immediately concerned 159 The only question then remaining is this—Will the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, will the House at large, allow this inquiry to be carried on by Ministers, who are responsible to the House and to the country, or will they entrust it to private Members of Parliament, who may carry it on offensively and vexatiously? I consider it important that this inquiry be conducted under the management of her Majesty's Ministers, and for the reasons which I have already stated. But there are other reasons besides those I have mentioned for letting this inquiry be conducted by those who are responsible for the manner in which they conduct it—for instance, information will be given by the parties concerned more readily to us than to private individuals, and, moreover, it will not be said that we have employed the inquisitorial powers of the Committee for offensive and vexatious purposes. Under these circumstances, then, I entertain a confident hope that the Gentlemen of the House of Commons will receive the pledge which I now tender to them as satisfactory upon this remaining class of the civil list. One word as to the time to be fixed for the meeting of these Committees. Undoubtedly I cannot undertake the conduct of the two Committees which I have proposed at one and the same time. But, as the inquiry into the proper mode of providing the civil list cannot by any possibility last long, I am ready to pledge myself, as soon as I have completed that inquiry, to proceed to the other forthwith. I assure the House that it shall not be carried on either in a rancorous spirit of inquisition on the one hand, or as a blind on the other. On the contrary, I pledge myself that the inquiry shall be made in a good, an honest, and an impartial spirit. There are two subjects more to which I desire to call the attention of the House. The first, a very short one, is in respect to the 4½ per cent. duties; the other respects the revenues of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster. I do not know whether there are any hon. Gentlemen present who took an interest on a previous occasion in the latter question. Yes, I perceive there are two. It will be recollected that I begged of them to postpone a motion on the subject, observing, that though I could give them no pledge on the subject, it appeared to me that it would be better reserved for such an opportunity as the present than brought forward at the moment of the demise of the Crown. With regard to the 160 sugar-duties, I beg at once to give notice that we propose, when we bring forward the Bill for the renewal of the sugar duties, to repeal entirely the 4½ per cent. duties. I will not go now into the question, because all I wish to communicate is that which has relation to the proposed arrangement of the civil list; at the same time, I consider it quite right to state that the motion we shall make with respect to the sugar-duties this year will comprehend some alteration in the drawbacks. On the subject of the duchies I have called attention to the fact that her Majesty ascends the Throne without either the income of Hanover or any personal property; therefore, in limiting the civil list in the way suggested, we do not propose to the House the surrender of the duchies. We are prepared, however, to give full publicity as to the system under which those properties are administered. Here, also, much of evil results from the mystery which has heretofore been observed. At present the Duchy of Lancaster is managed under one system, and the Duchy of Cornwall under another. Our intention is to bring the affairs of these duchies, by an annual report, under the cognizance of Parliament. I trust that arrangement will be deemed satisfactory. I thank the House earnestly for the attention with which they have heard the long statement I have found myself compelled to make. I beg the House to recollect that we are now to form a civil list for a Queen; and I beg the House to recollect the predictions which were made as to what would be the conduct of the reformed Parliament with respect to the civil list. It was maintained that the civil list would test the disposition of the Reformers, and that when it came before the reformed Parliament, we should never do our duty to the monarchy, nor justice to the Sovereign. We heard it asserted, that this was a question with respect to which we should never act fairly. I disbelieved that assertion when it was made, but it will be for this House now to disprove it. It is for this House to settle the civil list of their young Sovereign in such a wise, but such a liberal manner, as to avoid the danger of debts being contracted, and the consequent necessity of constant applications to Parliament for money, such as were witnessed in the reigns of George the 3rd and George the 4th. With these observations I move that the papers on the table of the House 161 be referred to a Select Committee of twenty-one.
§ Mr. Bateman
said, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will answer me one question. I wish to know, whether one Thomas Moore is on the pension-list or not? and if he be, whether his pension were granted to him for making ballads for lovesick maidens, or for slandering George the 4th.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
I think, Sir, that the hon. Gentleman might have made a further inquiry, which is, whether the pension to which he refers was given as a reward of great and distinguished talents. I believe that the hon. Gentleman has the honour of belonging to the same country as myself, and I should have hoped that there was no Irishman, however he might differ from the political opinions of Mr. Thomas Moore, who would not have felt that that Gentleman was a credit to the country which gave him birth, and that the name of "one Thomas Moore" was a credit to the pension list. Perhaps the hon. Member will also ask, whether it was for writing his early works, of a very democratic character, that the name of Robert Southey appears on the pension list. I believe, that both gentlemen received their pensions on the same grounds; and I rejoice as heartily at the grant to Mr. Robert Southey as I do at that to Mr. Thomas Moore. They are both individuals of great and distinguished talent; they have both contributed largely to the literary pleasures of the country; and I rejoice that one and the other, whatever their political opinions, have received from opposite Governments the rewards to which they are so justly entitled.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, he could not conceal from himself the peculiar difficulty in which he was placed by the observations that had been made by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer; because, while on the one hand he should be delighted to accede to any arrangement calculated to effect so desirable an object, he, at the same time, felt that a great personal responsibility rested on himself, in consequence of the part he had taken in past times on this interesting subject. He was apprehensive that, in the excessive eagerness of the Government, from a delicate feeling towards their illustrious Mistress to pass the civil list as speedily as possible, the object he contemplated might elude his grasp. He could not forget the successive difficulties which gradually ac- 162 cumulated on them from the commencement of the last reign. At the outset there was no indisposition on behalf of the Government to admit that these pensions ought to undergo the most rigorous investigation, and that it was not only the right but the duty of Parliament to institute it. Circumstances occurred, unhappily as he thought, which interrupted these good intentions, and, in fact, bewildered for a time the minds of hon. Members. The House was led captive by promises and by expectations of advantages, the value of which was not for a moment to be hazarded by any inquiry, however gratifying it would have been under other circumstances. The consequence was, excessive difficulties accumulated, till what was considered as a right became a suspected duty; and, at length, when they claimed the fulfilment of the promises that had been made, they were told that they were endeavouring to violate an Act of Parliament, and even the higher obligations of honour. It was to guard against a similar difficulty arising, and feeling the peculiar duty imposed on himself to prevent it, that he now wished for a full understanding on the subject; at this time there must be no mistake. He confessed that he did not clearly understand the right hon. Gentleman's present proposition. He well remembered that on a former occasion he (Mr. Harvey) assured the House of that which he was now prepared to repeat, that so far from being connected with any party, or from taking the course he did under party influence, he had not spoken to any one to be its seconder. He threw it on the waters of opinion, not doubting it would find a ready support. He had pursued the same course to-night; and yet some hon. Gentleman might doubt the truth of that statement after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman; for they would be justified in thinking that he had asked the right hon. Gentleman to second his motion. It was impossible for him to conceive—it was impossible for any ingenuity less than that of the right hon. Gentleman himself to furnish—arguments better adapted to show the justice of his proposition. But before he proceeded to make any remarks on the main portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, or in support of the amendment which he should move, unless some arrangement should render it unnecessary, he thought it better to address himself to a few of the 163 minor topics which formed a part of the right hon. Gentleman's statement. If the candid admissions which the right hon. Gentleman had made to-night had been thrown out at any popular meeting, composed of active and fretful demagogues heated by inflammatory statements—if at such a meeting it had been stated as a fact, speaking as others did of that strict economy, of that peculiar exactitude of all the moral observances which characterised the long reign of George the 3rd—if it had been said that from one source alone, from some obscure and irresponsible source, the enormous amount of 12,000,000l. had been received, he who ventured on such an assertion would have been rebuked for the violence of his opinions, and his shameless disregard of truth.—It appeared, however, that the 12,000,000l. had been in various ways reduced to 5,000,000l.; but still when he called to mind what large claims were made on the patriotic feelings and on the gratitude of the nation in return for that high example of rigid virtue, that rare and uninterrupted system of economy affected to have been observed in the court of him, who by courtesy was called the good old King—when they found the enormous sum of five millions of money thus obtained and thus squandered, no account even being rendered of it, he feared he should have been open to many ungenerous imputations for such observations. When they were told of the concession her Majesty had been advised to make—and in speaking of her Majesty, he desired to be understood as speaking of her with the respect which was due to her from her loyal and affectionate subjects—but when told of those concessions they must deal with them as they appeared before them—If the droits of the Crown and the Admiralty, and the Four-and-a-half per Cents., and the other customary duties had been surrendered some twenty-five years ago, they would indeed have been in a condition to boast of some substantial advantage from the surrender. But there was great cunning in royalty; it would never forego anything so long as its fangs could cling to it. He did not well understand the nature of this great boon, and for which they were about to give a most extravagant exchange. There was a motion complied with last night, brought forward by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, having for its 164 purpose to show that the Crown was a great loser by the relinquishment of the hereditary revenues. We were to have a balance sheet in illustration of that defalcation. He was anxious to see it; it would be a curiosity, for it would be the first proof that had been given of royal liberality. But without speculating as to the nature of that return, who could say that the House and the people would be in a condition rightly to appreciate it? It might come too late. It was a great pity that the statement was not made when the public might express its sense of the concession to them—this vast and boasted concession. For himself he believed it to be all delusion. Let them look to it, it was true that the territorial revenues at the disposal of the Crown in past time were abundantly large, not only for the purposes of sustaining the royal dignity in the most expensive splendour and without restraint, but they also supplied resources sufficient to carry forth our armies over the continent, of Europe, and to give vigour and triumphs to our fleets over every sea. Whence was it that while all other property had swelled to enormous amounts, the land revenues of the Crown had diminished to the shadow they now were? Look at the present amount of it under the control of the Woods and Forests. Of what did it consist? That there are considerable estates, many ground rents, numerous manors, still under the management of the Board of Woods and Forests, was not to be denied. Till lately, however, such was the dexterity of the management, that the balance sheet had been adverse to the public. But thanks to the vigilance of Parliament, about 40,000l. or 50,000l. per annum, was now brought into the public account. This, then, was the only solid advantage they derived from that concession for which they were invited to be so sincerely grateful. But then they were told of the droits of Admiralty. If the Government were not most fortunately connected with a noble Lord whose vigorous policy enabled them to steer the vessel of the state through continually arising difficulties—if it was not for this happy incident, it might happen that they would have to sustain in a period of peace all the expenses, without reaping any of the glories of war. Were it not for the policy of the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) the droits of the Admiralty might swell to a frightful extent, to such an ex- 165 tent that even Majesty itself might look at them with a jealous eye, and some discerning Minister, eager to gratify royal cupidity, might come down to the House, and say that though in fact the droits of Admiralty had been surrendered to the country when of no value, now that they were rolling in by millions, the Crown ought to share in the plunder—and then would arise a compact by which the Crown and the Cabinet, acting the part of the monkey, in his dealing with the cat, run away with the whole. Let them look at the concession as it stood. The country should not be thus cheated by mock liberality. Was the House prepared?—yes, he saw that a large portion of it was; but were the 158 young Members, who were just entering on their legislative apprenticeship, were they prepared to hear that for years past the amount of those droits thus boastingly surrendered by the Queen through the eloquent mouth of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—was something under 1,218l. Yes, let it be told to all the Courts of Europe that were studying our example in the course of economical legislation, 1,218l. was the amount of the conceded droits. But then her Majesty had surrendered to the nation the Four and a Half per Cents. What were these Four and a Half per Cents? Some young Members might imagine that her Majesty had surrendered the Four and a Half per Cents in Thread needle-street. That, indeed, would be something to talk about. That indeed, would be something to call forth their gratitude. It was, however, no such thing. It was simply this. Some 150 years ago the West India islands had been called upon to raise amongst themselves the means of maintaining their internal government in the erection of houses for the administration of justice, and other appendages of authority. This was proposed to be done by fixing a 4½ per cent tax upon objects of native growth. But in the progress of time it was thought fitting that these colonial possessions, in return for much valuable solicitude constantly shown by mother countries towards their dependant colonies, should send home from time to time the Four and a Half per Cents. It was not to be paid in money; for these colonies were too poor to pay in money, and they therefore paid in kind. The consequence was, that where the island produced sugar, if it produced one hun- 166 dred hogsheads of sugar, the Government was to have four and a half hogsheads of sugar; and where it produced one hundred puncheons of rum, they were to have four and a half puncheons of rum. Eventually it turned out that as the islands grew in importance so did their resources, and eventually it happened that there was something like a surplus. He wished hon. Gentlemen to understand that he was not speaking of a clerical surplus, he was confining his attention to mere matters of revenue. There was a surplus, and it might have been expected that it would have been applied to the relief of the colonies—that there might, in fact, have been a reduction of the exaction. There was a surplus, and the happy thought suggested itself—he wished he could congratulate the present Chancellor of the Exchequer upon the merit of being its author; but the moment there was a surplus, the happy thought suggested itself of charging the surplus with the pensions and annuities of that superfluous portion of the aristocracy who were to be found but not recognised at home; and the consequence was, that year after year the Four and a Half per Cents were loaded with sinecures and pensions, until it turned out that, nearly or quite exhausted, they exceeded the remittances. The result of the whole he believed to be this—he was then speaking from recollection, and must not be understood as speaking of the exact total, but of something like the total, and he believed he was correct in saying that the 4½ per cents. at that hour, and never before then, had yielded a clear benefit to the country of 5,000l. a year. He thought he should be nearer the mark if he said 2,000l. It was then desirable for that House, and, still more, it was desirable to the country, it was desirable to the people—the people who cheered her Majesty, and her Majesty's Ministers, it was of the utmost importance that none of their virtues, that none of their merits should be lost; that, whenever the cabinet went forth with her Majesty into the streets and upon the highways, the people should take off their hats, and cheer for those very ministers who had obtained for them such immense concessions from the Crown at the beginning of the new reign; that, too, the people might say of them, "those are the ministers who, although they have granted a civil list amounting to 510,000l. yet 167 have, by their judicious system of economy, contrived to balance the account by various concessions from the Crown." Happy system of delusive calculation, by which the people are led to perceive that in giving 510,000l. and getting in return something less than 60,000l. they were positive gainers. Having, then, placed the House in possession of the real facts as regarded these matters, he wished to know in what way the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall were to be brought under the cognizance of the House. This point had been dismissed in a very brief manner by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; so briefly that while he was going into the lobby and returning from it this very important point had been disposed of. This was a very grave matter, and the House would consider—for he was sure they were laudably inclined to execute this portion of their duty when disposing of the civil list—he was sure they would agree with him in thinking that it would be very desirable that time should be given for them to understand the nature of those properties. Were they to let it go forth to the public that the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall were under the cognizance of Parliament, with the notion of deriving advantage from the concession, when, in reality, there was none? The right hon. Gentleman had protested against a multiplicity of objects being thrown upon the Committee. He (Mr. Harvey) did not know that the properties of the duchies were to be inquired into by that Committee. He apprehended not; for if it were, no justice could be done to the subject. He, on the contrary, considered that a Committee ought to be exclusively appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the nature, extent, and application of the properties belonging to the duchies. He believed the properties to be enormous in value. He was ready to admit that he had not sufficient information upon the subject to justify the statement he was about to make, but what he asserted he gathered from the statement of hon. Gentlemen who had taken part in these matters in by-gone times. He thought he might without exaggeration state the amount; at all events it was in the power of the Government to vindicate those resources from any statements that might be erroneous. He believed that the properties of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, if they ever became the property of a Gentleman 168 who should be, luckily for himself, called to the upper House, with the style and title of Duke of Lancaster, and with these inherit the property of them, he might, with the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, congratulate himself upon possessing a clear income of 100,000l. a year. That would not be all; the periodical fines would be enormous. Within his own knowledge, there was a Gentleman, a Member of that House, whose ancestors possessed a large property in Kennington held upon a lease for three lives—it so happened that when one of them dropped off, the Gentleman thought that, according to the good old custom, he had only to pay 1,000l. or 1,500l. for putting in a new life; but, according to the economy now practised, he was told he could not have it upon the payment of the customary fine, but must pay for it according to the value of the property. This was like the noble Lord's scheme touching the church property in England, and so far he (Mr. Harvey) had a regard for the system; and the officer of the duchy estimated the fine for one life at 70,000l. which fine was actually paid, and when the other two old lives shall fall it has been intimated that a similar fine will be expected upon each. Here then is one property, one of many like it for which the Crown actually receives nearly a quarter of a million sterling. And he would ask the House, if resources of this kind are to be passed over uninvestigated. There were few persons, he believed, who had any idea of the value of the duchy of Cornwall. He asked the hon. Members for Cornwall if they were aware of it—if they did not know that there were as many manors belonging to the duchy as there were parishes? and although the surface of the county was not remarkable for the produce of corn, it was still to be remembered that it abounded, and was very rich in tin. The Crown was entitled to 4s. for every hundred weight of tin that was raised; and which, he was told, amounted to something between 20,000l. and 30,000l. a-year. When, then, the Chancellor of the Exchequer assured them of the fact that 1,200l. the amount of the droits of the Admiralty, were given up, and when he assured them that other droits were also given up (all exceedingly commendable), and at the same time said that the duchies were to be placed under the control of Parliament, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would 169 add, that the inquiry into them would be carried on in such an efficient way that it would put the country in possession of the character, extent, and real value of those properties. He came now to the more immediate object of his amendment, and in order to obviate the impression which the Chancellor of the Exchequer laboured under, and which he had endeavoured to convey to others, that he (Mr. Harvey) wished to steal a march upon him, by the change of his notice, he should say a few words. His notice for a Committee had been given before any intimation on the subject had come from the right hon. Gentleman himself, and not until he had gathered from the right hon. Gentleman's notice the course that the Government meant to pursue did he deem it to be necessary to alter his notice. But if hon. Members wished it, or they had a little time to spare, and as the season was cool, and as there were 158 new Members to whom this matter might be a novelty—if hon. Gentlemen had not any objection, he would bring on the motion of which he had given notice at any more convenient period. His object was to bring the subject forward in the faire stand the best way. If the right hon. Gentleman would look at his motion as it appeared in print, and that which had been now placed in his hands, they would be found to be the same, and their object the same. He now came to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman with the view of ascertaining whether they agreed in their object. Unless he was mistaken they completely differed. At the same time that he did this, he begged to remark that he was not sorry that they differed; and if it was so, he did not regret it, for, after what had passed, he felt that his object must be attained. However deserted by the Government, he should be strong in Conservative support. He felt convinced that that powerful party would not sit in sullen silence and submit to the sneering rebuke to which they had been exposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had slily, though not in actual words, claimed that approbation of the pensions, granted by the present Government which had been denied to his predecessors. The moment he heard that taunt, he immediately exclaimed that his motion was carried—that the Ministry were in a minority—and to speak according to the Parliamentary terms of past times, "they were out." It was true, 170 that to parry an inconvenient motion made by himself (Mr. Harvey) in 1834, the Government moved and carried an amendment, that thereafter no pension should be granted which was not justified by some public service—some high literary or scientific pretensions. All this was well, and the right hon. Gentleman boasts that he and his friends have not contravened this resolution; and he entered upon a boastful examination of the pensions bestowed by the right hon. Gentlemen—that since they held the key of the pension fund that not one sixpence of it had been misapplied in a manner at variance with that resolution. They said they defied inquiry: and this he proposed, to prove by loud praises of Mr. Airy, and Mrs. Somerville, and Mr. Moore. These said the right hon. Gentleman are all literary characters, and challenge the light of day. Government said that persons might run their eye over the whole fourteen or sixteen pensions they had granted, and let the terms of that resolution be the test of their purity and integrity. This they said, they did, knowing the vigilance that would be exercised over them, at the same time caring nothing for the Tories, and less for the Radicals. They declared, too, that they were prepared to stand or fall by the spirit of that resolution, which, as a cabinet, they had acted upon. There was great skill, but there was also some little artifice in this. Now he (Mr. Harvey) knew nothing about Mr. Airy, he knew nothing about Mrs. Somerville—he knew nothing about Charlotte Stewart. For aught he knew, every other pensioner was as learned and pure as these were said to be. God forbid he should breathe a syllable affecting the character or pretensions of these worthies. He was the friend of them all and could not bear to hear, nor could the Conservatives bear to hear those invidious comparisons. They would join him and insist that the grants of a Wellington were pure as the grants of a Grey, and that purity was the basis of all. All he wanted to do was to apply the test of 1834 to the living list. But then, the right hon. Gentleman said that great injustice might be done; and he took occasion to allude to Lord Farnborough, who for some solid reason or another had bountifully foregone his pension. Some other Lord was also mentioned; and there was also the case of a Mr. Morton, who, for discovering a 171 mistake of 120,000l.,, was rewarded with a pension of 250l. a-year. Now, all this might be very generous in the Lord, and praiseworthy in Mr. Morton: but he was not dealing with cases, but the whole batch, and it would seem by the terms of his amendment, he contemplated nothing unkind to any one, but he sought protection for the people against strongly suspected plunder—let the words of the amendment be duly weighed. He was studious to conciliate all sincere reformers. [Here a delay occurred in looking for Mr. Harvey's resolution, which had been handed up to the treasury bench. It was stated, that it could not be found.] He felt, he said, flattered by its not being forthcoming, as it was the first document that he had ever framed that had been taken care of by a cabinet Minister. The object of that amendment was sincerely to apply an honest test to the Pension List—to do so liberally—not to examine into each case with stern and iron unkindness—not to look into them with that rigid inquiry and cold calculation which, in modern times, was the subject of so much merited obloquy. And his inquiry was to extend over the whole list, not to pick out particular cases either for blame or praise, but to take each living pensioner from 1781, the oldest living, down to the present hour. He was ready to admit, that if as much could be said of all, as could be said of more recent appointments, he should not only be content but really rejoice. But this result must grow out of a searching inquiry, and not from friendly assurances or party exaggerations of individual pretensions. Nothing should lead him to make a remark upon any individual which might induce gentlemen to interpose against inquiry under the impression that any ungenerous test would be applied. Upon former occasions, when he had in every way been baffled by a party who assumed to themselves the name and pretended to be Reformers, he had been compelled, for the purpose of diversifying the subject, to fasten upon some individual cases. He had experienced how inexpedient was that course. It was well for the right hon. Gentleman to make certain persons the object of his laudation; this was a safe and a very pleasant course to follow, but such was not the case with him, who had felt it to be his duty to make others the object of his censure. Now, indeed, it delighted him to dwell 172 upon the latent virtues of this much calumniated list—and in believing that Mrs. Somerville and Miss Stewart were no purer than all the rest—for all were equally pure as Miss Stewart and Mrs. Somerville; but did the world so think. An ungenerous, a censorious, a scandal-loving world was under the impression that upon the pension list there was many a hoary sinner. That there were still there those whose pretensions were to be found in the secrets of the Cabinet or the indecencies of the couch. Many individuals thought so, but he did not think so.—There were certainly individuals who considered that some had found their way there whose pensions were the price of their political apostacy or the easy resignation of their virtue. It was the duty of that House to save these individuals from unjust imputations. After what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had thrown out with respect to the pension list, it became them, it became those young men—it became those 158 young generous youths to step forward and throw the broad shield of their gallantry over individuals made the subject of unjust imputations. If they had any young blood stirring in their veins, they must have the gallantry to come forward and aid the ladies that were thus slandered. Why, he asked, were Mrs. Somerville and Miss Stewart made the express objects of approbation and applause? unless for the express purpose of showing up the Arabellas and Angelinas, and other ladies who ought not to have pensions. The right hon. Gentleman thought that there ought to be inquiry. So thought he, and so did many amongst those near him think; and so would they all think if they were on the opposition side of the House. Every one of them would speak as he did upon this subject, only that they would do it in a better manner. He wished now, however, to call home their scattered thoughts, and to ponder upon what was their serious duty. The present Government had overthrown the last administration upon this very subject. [Loud cries of "No, no."] He knew that it was very convenient to say no, but for what he said there was sufficient foundation. When the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Robert Peel) and the Duke of Wellington, brought forward their civil list in 1830, it was attacked upon various grounds, and by some it was said that the whole amount was enormous and outrageous, and above 173 all, the pension list should be made the subject of rigid investigation. He should sedulously avoid that which was of all things the most unacceptable, the bringing forward speeches which had been made upon former occasions. There was something dry and uninviting in it; but the speeches of eloquent and great men made a lasting impression, and he could not forget, that the right hon. Member for Dundee, then the Member for the Queen's county (Sir H. Parnell) had been the mover upon that occasion. He had no hesitation in saying that that right hon. Gentleman had, in the most pointed manner, declared his conviction that the pension list required a most rigid investigation, and with that view, urged the appointment of a select committee, and after a furious struggle, and successful division, a committee was appointed. It was true the course proposed now was different from that then followed: but the result of the Committee at that time was, that instead of a shilling being saved, there was something like an addition of 10,000l. or 12,000l. Then there came a film over the political eyes of the nation, and the House was hardly in a state to see or judge correctly. It was told in Downing street, and it was whispered among expectants, that if there was an inquiry into the pensions, it would be fatal to the reforming Government. It became, then, a calculation with Reformers, whether they would consent to the passing of an act of apparent injustice, or hazard a measure so much desired by the country—whether they would yield what was their sense of duty, to the consideration of a higher and more permanent obligation. It was then admitted, that it was the right and the duty of that House, at the commencement of every reign, to investigate all these charges; but, for the reason he had stated, the intentions of Gentlemen in this respect were controlled. Notwithstanding the successful opposition that had been made against inquiry, the right to make it had never been denied nor relinquished; he had always hoped the time would come when the inquiry might be unfettered from all apprehensions, and that time had now come. He asked any Gentleman to stand up in his place, and tell him and the world—that world which was looking with eagerness to their discussion, and to their decision—on what ground was inquiry to be withheld into grants which were universally believed to 174 be improper. He knew that there were hon. Gentlemen upon the Other side—he did not concur in their principles, although he respected them for their consistency—who maintained that that House had no right to go into those matters, and who broadly asserted that the Crown had an indisputable control over the hereditary revenues of the country, to make away with the whole of it, either in large lumps or convenient slices, as suited its caprice, its pleasure, or its whim. Those who maintained such opinions ought to belong to the cabinet of Don Carlos, they ought to have lived in the times of Charles or of James, at all events they had no right to live now. They ought to be kept as safe and as sacred as old china, and put up in a corner, where they would be free from the apprehension of danger or of damage. But then there was another class in that House, who tardily conceded the right to inquire, but restricted its exercise to extreme cases, for they contended it was unkind and injurious to scrutinize too closely the acts of royal bounty. Another objection had been made to him in the three successive struggles to make the Pension List subject to revision, which was, that he was concluded by compact and by Act of Parliament. There was, indeed, a compact of which they had heard much, and which he regarded as a stratagem—a fabricated stratagem. It was represented, and successfully, too, that his late Majesty, whose sober virtues, and love of country were loudly extolled after his death, by the noble Secretary for the Home Department, was yet so dogged and obstinate, and so selfish withal, that he would only give his assent to the Reform Bill, upon condition that the Pension List should be allowed to pass, untouched and unrevised. That was the sort of story manufactured for the adherents of the Government, and the result was his defeat. That time had now gone by, and he had no desire to re-open the subject. All that he now desired, was to bring the House to the consideration of this important and interesting question—not unimportant in a pecuniary point of view, but most important as involving great principles—and which question, as far as possible, it was his intention to keep unentangled by party bias and party prejudices. He ventured in the few remarks that he had made the other evening, to appeal to the kind-heartedness of 175 those who heard him. He knew how stubborn were the influences of party, and how binding were the motives of political faction; yet he trusted they inherited an enlarged spirit of generosity, and a sincere love of justice, that would triumph over every minor consideration. He did not believe otherwise of that House, fresh as it was, from the constituent body. For Reformer as he was, he did not believe that the Members of that House were indifferent to the desires of the people, or that the people were indifferent to their deliberations. It was, because so many Members were opposed to an extension of the suffrage, to that valuable portion of the people, who were the source of their wealth, their power, and their greatness: it was upon this account that he called upon them to stand forth, as men and as Christians, to throw aside all the trammels of degrading and emaciating faction, and, in the proud attitude of patriotism, to tell the children of servitude, to those who laboured from morn until eve, to the poor and the unprotected—that the sentiment and the principle which that House cherished, was that of doing equal justice to all, whatever might be the distinction of orders or of rank, or however necessary they considered such differences to the existing form of Government, that to all they desired the same rule to be applied, and that there should be the same law for the cottage as for the palace, and that while no wrong was done to the titled, no insult should be cast upon the peasant. Let them, then, he said, look to their poor—let them behold the labouring classes bending their weary way to the poor-law guardians, to whom not a miserable shilling was spared, wherever there was a connexion on whom they could be made dependent, and from whom a contribution could be wrung. He called upon Members of that House to stand forth and tell the poor that they were their friends; that they were not exclusively solicitous for persons with splendid titles and without sympathy for the lowly and dejected. However, he did not believe that such was the character of that assembly; that such was the course they would pursue. He had his own opinion upon this matter; but when they heard of vested rights—and they were told of vested rights in the pension list—he would ask, what takes place before the Poor-law Commissioners? He appealed 176 to his hon. Friend, almost the only county Member in that House who felt a real sympathy for the poor. It might seem invidious, but he could not help referring to the representative of the county of Kent (Mr. Hodges)—he appealed to and asked that hon. Member whether he did not remember evidence to this effect having been given before the Committee:—A man married a woman who had an illegitimate child at the time she was married; the father of the child had been ordered to pay a certain weekly pittance for its support; this married woman discharged the relations of life decently; the Act of Parliament passed; and the father of the child refused to pay the 18d. per week that he had before paid. The husband resorted to the Poor-law Commissioners to enforce payment, and he was told that under the New Poor-law Act the allowance could not be enforced. Gentlemen who contemplated a marriage settlement, as something relating to estates and funded property, might ridicule the idea of a poor man's settlement, but this 18d. per week, was as much a vested right, under the sanction of law, as any property, however extensive, secured by deed. He had lately been present at a meeting of Poor-law Guardians. He had seen one hundred wretched creatures standing about the doors—who were admitted, one by one. There entered a poor woman, seventy years of age, bearing upon her back the tattered evidence of past respectability. She was asked as to her circumstances, and it appeared that she was the widow of a man once a considerable tradesman in the parish, and who had contributed to various parochial burdens. She was asked if she had any children, and she replied that she had two sons, one a bricklayer and the other a baker, that both were married, and each had children; that they earned about 18s. a-week each, which was little enough to support their own families. What was the answer of the board to this woman? That while she had two children, and they were earning 18s., a-week each, she must look to her sons for support. And when the committee were reminded that she was the widow of a man once in as good circumstances as most of themselves, they gave her 18d. and a loaf, and told her not to mention it to others, fearing the example might become expensive. Was not the same rule of justice to be enforced against 177 the rich as against the poor? In the name, then, of common Christianity he asked them to vindicate their common humanity from this reproach. They daily prayed to their undying God that their deliberations might partake of his heavenly wisdom. He then asked them, in the name of the God they worshipped, when they dealt out that species of justice to the poor, the old, the unprotected, and the helpless, would they yet suffer a list of 1,200 pensioners, 300 of them with titles, and many of them connected with the proudest of the land, to go unquestioned? Were they to do this on the ground that inquiry might be inconvenient, or impose a difficulty upon themselves? He did not urge that ungenerous scrutiny which had been applied to the aged widow; he merely asked, in the utmost delicacy of polished phraseology that some inquiry should be made, whether the same reasons for the continuance of other pensions might not be discovered similar to those so eagerly urged on behalf of Miss Stewart and Mrs. Somerville. If this were the case, let them all live on the national bounty—let them live on the people's industry—let them feed on the unenviable notoriety that they were sustained, by contributions coming from the highly-taxed industry of the labouring poor. Let the proud aristocracy of England run over this memorial of their meanness, and congratulate each other in finding that the enduring patience of the poor, enable them to sustain their titles, by pilfering from the lap of industry. Be it the lot and the glory of that House, to expose the wrong and denounce the fraud. These were the grounds on which he ventured to appeal to the House. He was well aware that when he sat down his words would pass away; but at the same time he might be allowed to flatter himself with that circumstance, that he stood there unconnected with party; he cared not whether the present Ministry were dissolved to-morrow and succeeded by another. He was an advocate for good Government by whomsoever administered, and he required no better test of their disposition than that which the support of his motion implied. Yes! He would make his appeal, his fearless appeal to the proud phalanx which was arrayed before him—to step forth, and throwing indignantly aside the degrading shackles of faction to illustrate by their actions, the purity of their intentions. Let them show 178 to the world, that while they were bound by sacred ties to resist the headlong steps which in their fears might dash them into the fathomless abyss of innovation, yet, that when humanity calls for their aid they are at their appropriate station, and by acts, far more eloquent than words, speaking comfort to the lowly of the land, and whispering to the dejected children of want and sorrow, that in the Conservatives of England, the poor shall find great and generous friends. The hon. and learned Member moved the following amendment:—"That such Committee do cause full examination to be made into the circumstances under which each existing pension was granted, and whether the continuance of the same be justified by any public services or special circumstances."
§ Mr. Hume
was afraid his hon. Friend had misunderstood what had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If his hon. Friend had understood the purport of the right hon. Gentleman's speech he was sure he would not press his amendment. The very object of his hon. Friend's amendment was met by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would satisfy his hon. Friend by repeating his declaration.
§ Colonel Sibthorp seconded the motion.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
felt bound to apologise to the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Southwark, for the inconvenience he had been subjected to in consequent of his lost paper. In reply to the observation of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, he begged again to appeal to the unqualified manner in which the words of his motion conveyed the intention of her Majesty's Government when they moved for a Committee to carry into full and entire effect the object comprehended in the notice which he held in his hand. He believed that, with one exception his notice corresponded with the wishes of the hon. Member for Southwark. He believed that that hon. Member wished to add sinecures. [Mr. Harvey: I do not.] He was glad of it, as he thought that such a suggestion would only have the effect of prolonging the inquiry, without leading to any good result. He would read again his notice of motion; it was for a Select Committee to inquire into each pension, and whether it ought to be continued, having due regard to the just claims of the parties, and to economy in the public ex- 179 penditure. He would only add, that he should feel bound to give every assistance in his power to promote the inquiry.
§ Mr. Harvey
begged the House to excuse his anxiety to know if he rightly understood what had been said. Did he understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that, though he considered it inconvenient to incorporate this inquiry with the Committee for which he moved, yet that he would have a Committee having for its object the resolution he had just read? Was he, then, in the first place, to understand that there would be no money voted in reference to these pensions until the inquiry was made and the result known. He was sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not suppose that he imputed to that right hon. Gentleman anything like a desire to avoid the object of that resolution, but that he would appreciate his anxiety to understand the right hon. Gentleman. He wished to see everything done sincerely and correctly. Was he to understand that they would have a report from the Committee, and that the money should not be voted until all those pensions had been examined in the spirit both of liberality and of vigour which was intended?
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
thought that the explanations, he had already given were so clear that no person, unless one who was rather disposed to look at everything proceeding from the Treasury bench with suspicion, could possibly misunderstand him. The hon. Member for Southwark seemed to suspect that his object was to delude the House of Commons in this inquiry, and in the mean time to obtain a confirmation of these pensions, so as to prevent the inquiry from being turned to any practical purpose. He would take for instance, a separate pension in the civil list. Suppose the inquiry should lead to the result that it was reported inexpedient to continue this pension, and that pending the inquiry Government had by other proceedings, taken steps to have this pension granted, and the House of Commons was thus deprived of power and control over such pension, then he would say, that the inquiry would be an utter delusion. The intention was, that these pensions should not be appropriated pending the inquiry. He drew this distinction in order that no difficulties might be thrown in the way of the settlement of the civil list, as that settle- 180 ment need not commit them with respect to any of these pensions. He trusted this explanation would be satisfactory.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, that whilst he had no desire to be understood as relaxing in any degree the impression that he had overweening confidence in the Government, still he must say, that he had a sincere confidence in the purity of the right hon. Gentleman's present intention, and he hoped that the enquiry would be carried out as efficiently, as sincerely, and as certainly, as he wished it to be. Under the circumstances he would withdraw his amendment.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that he would lay all the information in his power before the Committee, but he could not consent to an inquiry into the wages of the menial servants of the royal household.
§ Sir Robert Inglis
was unwilling that the House should proceed to nominate the Committee without his adding a few words to what the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer both did and did not say. He had not heard the right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his observations, state to the House a single word as to the fact, that her Majesty was giving up a very large annual sum to the country, larger than it received. The right hon. Baronet alluded to several former returns which had been made to the House on the subject of the Crown revenues, according to one of which the country appeared to be considerably the gainer; and also referred to several successive reductions which the civil lists for many years past had undergone, by which there had been a gain to the public of upwards of twenty millions of money. With respect to the pension list, there were many persons upon it whose pensions were Parliamentary pensions, and he thought it was not for a Minister of the Crown to deprive the Crown of the right of making whatever distribution it pleased of its own income, especially in those cases in which the pensions had been sanctioned by Parliament. The total amount of all the pensions of the country was but a trifling part of the national expenditure, and scarcely bore the fractional proportion of one halfpenny to the great revenues of the king- 181 dom. He would move, that the papers which had been laid on the table, showing what the Crown had given up, be referred to the Select Committee on the civil list.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that as to the public being benefited to the amount stated by the arrangements entered into, he did not believe one word of it. Indeed, he believed, that the hon. Baronet was peculiar in his opinion on the point. If the hon. Baronet carried his principle to the full extent it would go to this, that James 2nd, who had a revenue of 2,400,000l., held it as an estate with which he might have done whatever he pleased. The true position of the case was this:—The hereditary revenues of the Crown were subject to old hereditary duties, and in proportion to the Sovereign's income was the proportion of the expense which pressed upon him. He would only add, that he should be very unwilling to appear to the House to be so deficient in the performance of his duty as not to have stated what the hon. Baronet had stated, if the statement were correct.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, the House must be aware that, up to the commencement of the late reign, it had been the practice of the Minister of the Crown to present to the whole House, without the intervention of a Committee, the sum which they thought it fit for the House to grant in return for the hereditary revenues of the Crown. On the occasion of the accession of William 4th, it was known that that practice had been departed from, and departed from more with the view to a particular political object, than with any regard to the settlement of the civil list on terms either advantageous to the Crown or convenient to the country. As a Select Committee had been appointed on that occasion, a precedent had been established, from which precedent, whatever might be his own private opinion, he did not think it necessary to call upon the House, on the present occasion, to depart. It was, therefore, not his intention to offer any opposition to the appointment of the Committee, or to enter into a discussion upon the principle involved in it. But there were one or two topics in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, from which he was led to believe that the right hon. Gentleman had not dealt with the case in the spirit of fairness which he should have expected. As he had had the good fortune to be in the service of 182 her Majesty's predecessors, he thought that he should not be accused of any disrespect to her Majesty in venturing to offer one or two observations respecting the Civil-list of those predecessors, in justice to arrangements upon which the right hon. Gentleman had attempted to cast blame. The right hon. Gentleman had adverted to the reign of George 3rd, and stated that a large amount of grants had been made to that monarch, in addition to the Civil-list settled on him, at the commencement of his reign. He had spoken of the gross sum of droits as twelve millions sterling, and of a debt to the amount of 3,800,000l., so creating an impression on the public—though certainly he could not have intended it—that the sum of 15,800,000l. had been enjoyed by George 3rd, in addition to what had been granted to him by Parliament for his Civil-list. The right hon. Gentleman had afterwards, indeed, made a material deduction, when he said that, out of those twelve millions which had accrued to the Crown, nine millions and some odd hundred thousands of pounds had been repaid by the Crown, and applied to other civil purposes than the support of the dignity of the Crown. But what he complained of on the part of his right hon. Friend was this, that while stating the whole amount of these sums as having accrued during the reign of George 3rd, he had not, at the same time, told the House, that during that reign of unexampled length—a reign of sixty years—the whole amount enjoyed by the Crown, over and above the Civil-list voted to him by Parliament, was a sum not exceeding 100,000l. per annum. He knew what an impression statements of large sums in the gross made on the House and on the people; and he was, therefore, anxious that they should understand that the amount which, during sixty years, George the 3rd received in addition to his Civil-list, was no more than 100,000l. per annum. In considering this matter, the House should bear in mind the circumstance, that during the reign of George the 3rd the government of the country was mainly paid for out of the sum voted for the Civil-list—that a vast increase had taken place in the revenue, and a great augmentation had been made to several establishments—and that that said sum of 100,000l. covered the additional expenses incurred thereby—expenses not 183 incurred by the extravagance of the monarch, but by pursuing, with energy and activity, the business of the country. Having served his Majesty George 3rd, though in a humble capacity, he thought it his duty to present to the House what his right hon. Friend would, now that it was brought to his recollection, admit to be the true state of the case. There was another circumstance to which he wished to call his right hon. Friend's attention. His right hon. Friend had adverted to the fact with great satisfaction—a satisfaction in which he (Mr. Goulburn) participated, because the circumstance reflected the greatest honour on William 4th, whose loss they had lately deplored—that, during his reign, no debt accrued on the Civil-list. Such, indeed, was the fact. But his right hon. Friend ought, in justice, to have stated that, during the reign of George 4th also, no debt had accrued on the Civil-list. If William 4th were entitled, as he thought he was, to praise on that account, so, likewise, must George 4th be entitled to it, who, during the period which he occupied the Throne, contrived also to keep up the establishment and dignity of the Crown in such condition as was required from the monarch of this country, and, nevertheless, did not incur any debt, or come to Parliament with additional demands. He had another remark to make. His right hon. Friend had stated, that her present Majesty stood in a situation very different from that of her predecessors, inasmuch as other monarchs had had the advantage of a large personal property devolving on them from their predecessors. Such was not the case in the present reign. That fact might be true with respect to some of her predecessors; but in asserting it with respect to the others, his right hon. Friend had been mistaken. His right hon. Friend would find, he thought, that King William 4th received his personal property from his predecessor jure coronœ—that George 4th having died intestate, his property descended to William 4th in right of the Crown; but if William 4th had received in that capacity a considerable sum, it must not be forgotten, to the honour of his late Majesty, that he, in consideration thereof, forbore to take from the public what a willing public would have conceded. There must, he was sure, be Members in the House, and in the Government, who could inform it that 184 when William 4th was offered an establishment and outfit for the Queen, he distinctly refused the grant, and himself bore the charge, which, judging by antecedent occasions, could not have fallen short of, if it had not exceeded, 50,000l. Again, the right hon. Gentleman had stated what had been the saving which accrued on the Pension-list under the arrangement made in 1830; and had taken to himself credit for the fact, that ill the period which had elapsed there had been on a Pension-list of 164,000l. under the legislative provisions then introduced, a diminution of 26,000l. His right hon. Friend had stated also what was perfectly true in his comparison of the Pension-list in 1820 and 1830, during which period the friends with whom he (Mr. Goulburn) was connected administered the Government of the country; and if he now adverted to those two statements, it was only for the purpose of doing justice to those who had preceded the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, by showing that they had not been neglectful of the interests of the country, so far as the Pension-list was concerned. The Pension-list in 1820 amounted to 203,000l., and in the ten years from 1820 to 1830, when they were not restricted by legislative provisions, as at present, they reduced it from 203,000l. to 164,000l. making a reduction of 39,000l. at a period when the control over the Pension-list was not so fettered by Parliament as at present, and when the power of abuse was more in their hands if they were inclined to exercise it. Thus, comparing the savings of the former Government with those which had been since effected by the hon. Gentlemen opposite, it would be found that their predecessors had not less contributed to relieve the burthens of the country as connected with the Pension list. These were the only points to which he had occasion, at present, to call the attention of the House. It was determined to refer the documents relating to the Civil-list to a Select Committee. When those documents should be returned to the House, and they should have full information as to what was the opinion of the Committee upon the estimates which his right hon. Friend opposite had submitted, he thought that would be the period when the House might fully enter upon the discussion of the question; and it was, therefore, that, on the present occasion, he should forbear 185 from offering more than the few observations with which he had taken the liberty of troubling the House.
§ Amendment negatived original motion agreed to; and Committee of twenty-one Members appointed.