HC Deb 15 June 1843 vol 69 cc1570-4

On the question, that the Order of the Day be read for receiving the report fit the resolution for granting an annuity to the Princess Augusta of Cambridge,

Mr. Hume

complained of the attack which had been made on him last night by the right hon. Baronet for making use of certain expressions. The right hon. Baronet had denied the accuracy of his calculations with respect to the pension granted to the Prince of Mecklenburg Strelitz forty-five years ago, and also with respect to the grant now under consideration. The former pension he repeated had cost the country 335,000l. calculating it at compound interest; and the grant now proposed, supposing it to continue for forty-five years, would amount on the same principle to 503,000l. The right hon. Baronet, however, had asserted, that the sum would not amount to more than one-fifteenth of what he had stated; and as there was this dispute about the fact he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would agree to the return which he had asked for. A calculation of a similar nature, extending to twenty-two pages, had on a former occasion been laid on the Table, and he could not conceive what objection could be made to the return which he asked for.

Sir R. Peel

could not imagine that he had said anything calculated to ruffle the temper of the hon. Gentleman, who in one comprehensive sentence had accused him of intending to throw every possible reflection upon the hon. Member. The hon. Member last night made that sweeping anathema, and was now angry because he had quoted the hon. Member's phrase, " preceding precedents." He did not quote it for the purpose of inducing the House to ridicule the hon. Member, for it was an error into which any hon. Member might have fallen, the hon. Member no doubt meant former precedents. It was very hard to make him responsible for that expression having been laughed at. With respect to the return asked for by the hon. Gentleman, he had not the least objection to give the date of the year when the pension was first granted to the Prince of Mecklenburg Strelitz; but he did not object to the production of any calculation with respect to a particular pension on the arbitrary assumption, that the money with which it had been paid had been borrowed at the rate of 5 per cent, interest. There was a material difference between a calculation made by an accountant, to determine the effect of some great financial plan, and the selection of this one pension by the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member assumed, that the present grant was to continue for forty-five years, and that the money to pay it would be borrowed at 5 per cent.; but this was not a fair assumption. If the grant were to be converted into a capital sum it would not amount to more than one-fifteenth of the amount calculated by the hon. Member; and he (Sir R. Peel) had been positively assured by a Gentleman who had made some inquiry on the subject, that an insurance-office would not give more than 25,000l. or 26,000l. Having made these remarks, he trusted the hon. Member and himself might now part in good humour.

Mr. Hume

said, the right hon. Baronet was quite correct in stating the value to be 26,000l.; but he had overlooked the perpetual interest to be provided for that sum, and the necessity of borrowing money to pay it.

The Order of the Day read, and the report received.

On the question that the resolution be read a second time,

Mr. Hume

said, that having last night given the House an opportunity of expressing its opinion, and having been supported by only fifty-nine Members out of 658, he thought he should best consult the convenience of the House by not continuing his opposition, but by merely recording his opinion against the grant. If the right hon. Gentleman was determined to make a provision for the princess, let him propose a sum of money at once.

Mr. W. Williams

said, the proposition before the House had occasioned a great deal of conversation out of doors, and a great deal of dissatisfaction in the public mind; and he was of opinion, that a committee ought to be appointed to inquire whether the Duke of Cambridge had the means of providing for his children without pensioning them on the country. If the Duke of Cambridge had amassed considerable wealth, it was highly improper for the Government to bring forwarded such a proposition as the present. A few days ago a similar claim had been put forth by a noble Earl for another branch of the royal family, and if the claim of one was admitted there could be no just ground for refusing the other. The hon. Baronet, the Member for the Uni- versity of Oxford, last night made a statement of the most astounding nature— namely, that the hereditary revenues of the Crown, from the year 1761 to 1837, amounted to 117,000,000l., whilst the ! amount received for the purposes of the i civil list was only 69,000,000/. leaving a balance of 47,000,000l. in favour of the Crown. He denied, that these were the hereditary revenues of the Crown. They were taxes granted by Parliament to the; Crown for particular and specific purposes connected with the public service. The hon. Baronet said, that these 117,000,000l. were hereditary revenues of the Crown. What, however, were those items? They were, first, customs, excise, and post-office, which only amounted to about 3,248,000l. He was sure, that the hon. Baronet had never looked into these accounts, or ascertained how these figures were put together, or he would not have made such a statement.

Viscount Dungannon

rose to order. He wished to ask the Speaker whether it were competent for any hon. Member to take up the time of the House by allusions to speeches that had been delivered in a different debate altogether from the present, and such as were totally unconnected with the issue now before them. He wished to know whether the hon. Member for Coventry was now entitled to be heard when he was following such a course?

The Speaker

said, according to the rule of the House, it was no doubt irregular for any hon. Member to allude to any thing that had taken place in a former debate; but there was certainly a degree of latitude allowed to hon. Members when such allusions were connected with the question immediately under discussion. It had not then been the practice to interfere, and the strict rule of the House was only adhered to when the subjects of the debates were of a totally different nature.

Mr. Williams

resumed his observations amid the impatience of the House. He said he hoped, that the hon. Baronet was now satisfied that the statement he had made was most erroneous. He would not have troubled the House, but for the observations of the hon. Baronet.

Sir R. H. Inglis

contended, that in substance his statement was correct. As a sample of the inaccuracy of the hon. Member for Coventry, he would remark upon one statement he had made. The hon. Member said, that the amount de- rived from the customs, the excise, and the post-office, in 1837, was 3,248,800l. That was composed of special items only. The aggregate amount from those items amounted nearly to 32,000,000l. The hon. Member, by his speech, almost designated the royal family as pauper recipients of the public bounty. [Mr. W. Williams: I have never used any such language.] He did not mean to assert, that the hon. Member had used such words, but his language certainly appeared to imply that meaning. He was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman disclaim them, but he appealed to the House if the sub stance of the hon. Gentleman's opposition to this grant was not, that the royal family were asking for what they were not entitled to receive. He thought, that it was most indecorous to introduce the personal character of the Duke of Cambridge into the debate upon this question. He would assert the justice of the claim by the Government in respect to the royal family.

Viscount Dungannon

could not forbear deeply regretting, that when a measure as remarkable for its moderation as for its justice, had been introduced to this House—when it was proposed to make a provision of this kind upon the death of the Duke of Cambridge, for the grand-daughter of one of the best and the greatest Sovereigns that had ever swayed the sceptre of this country, whose memory must live in the respect of every good and enlightened man,—he could not, he repeated, but regret the tone which had been taken by certain hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, who indulged in the most unfair and invidious observations. He should be the last individual among the hon. Members of this House who would ever be found to oppose any grant to the royal family, that was deemed necessary to place them in that situation which they had a right to fill.

Resolution read a second time. Bill to carry it into effect brought in and read a first time.