MR. TRELAWNY moved—
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire to what extent the public are entitled to claim an interest, present or prospective, in the management of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, respecting which returns are annually presented to the House, and whether there is not reason to hope, from those returns, as well as other circumstances, that an improvement in the management of those estates in particular, by the suppression of antiquated and superfluous offices, and the diminution of the salaries of officials, would greatly increase the joint net income of the two duchies.
The hon. Gentleman said, that the last time he had made a Motion on this subject, the noble Lord at the head of the Government had met him by saying, that he (Mr. Trelawny) had admitted that the affairs of these duchies had been much better managed of late than they had been before; but it did not follow from that admission that they might not be still better managed; and, from the returns which had been presented, it appeared that a very large saving might be effected. He had been misunderstood by those who supposed that it was his object to sell the property of these duchies, and appropriate the proceeds to the public service, though he should not have wanted a precedent for such a recommendation, as it was proposed by Mr. Burke, in his speech on economical reform. His only wish was to enrich the Duke of Cornwall by an amount of 50,000l a year; and he believed that this sum could be saved by a better system of management, which at the same time would benefit the public generally, and particularly the public in the western parts of the country. Any solicitor would tell hon. Members that it was impossible to find an estate in any other part of the country so ill and so arbitrarily managed as the estates of the duchy of Cornwall. It was a fact well known to all gentlemen who were conversant with the tenure of land, and the state of property, in the duchy of Cornwall, that over any estate in that duchy, which had paid but three-pence in the nature of a quit rent or acknowledgment of any kind, 300 or 400 or
even 500 years ago, the duchy had often enforced its power of dispossessing the present holder. It was true that by a Bill passed not many Sessions since, this term was restrained within 125 years; but even that limitation only showed the arbitrary and oppressive character of the right thus exercised. He held in his hand a variety of returns of the several items of the revenue and expenditure of both the duchies for the years 1837 and 1848. Without troubling the House by recapitulating them, he would recur only to a few, from whence it appeared that against an aggregate revenue of 50,395l., the aggregate of expenditure was 20,816l, including the salaries of a receiver-general, an auditor, a chancellor, bailiffs, clerks, counsel, an attorney-general, &c. It was in these useless and highly-paid offices that the revenues were dissipated: 40,915l. were raised in one year in the duchy of Lancaster; but a vast amount of the sum in like manner was distributed among such a variety of officials and law officers with sounding names, and chief officers and other bearers, that the affair appeared to him absolutely childish altogether. It was like playing at a king and his ministers. The returns for 1847 showed some little improvement on those of 1836–7. There was certainly an improved management and an economised expenditure exhibited in them as compared with their predecessors. But his object was to submit the whole of these accounts to a Committee of the House, in whose hands a judicious and profitable management of these properties could not fail to be devised. He was satisfied that at a time when the exigencies of the public service were forcing the adoption of retrenchment and economy in every department—when Parliament had so recently induced the Government to reform, and reduce the Navy and other estimates—it would be deemed by hon. Members highly inexpedient that the estates of the Prince, who was Duke of Cornwall and Lancaster, and heir to the Throne, should be managed in the wasteful and unproductive manner he had more particularly pointed out upon a former occasion. He knew it might be urged as an objection to his Motion by the Members of Her Majesty's Government, that the House had no right to investigate these accounts at all—that the lands and estates on which the revenues in question were raised, were the private property of the Duke of Cornwall. His reply to that
question would be a very simple one. If (he would say) you deny the right of Parliament to exercise any supervision over, or institute any inquiry into, these matters, on what principle do you annually publish those accounts? The fact of publication supposed as well as invited such inquiry. Every hon. Gentleman then present must know, moreover, how difficult, not to say impossible, it was to manage, himself, his own estate to any advantage or profit. On what principle could it be contended that the estate of the Duke of Cornwall or the Duke of Lancaster was exempted from a similar liability when left to such an irresponsible sort of management as that by which it was now administered? The hon. Gentleman having read a passage from a tract by Mr. Burke, written eighty years ago, contended, on that authority, that any trusts of a public or official nature exercised out of the control and supervision of Parliament, were calculated only to expose those to whom they were delegated to unnecessary temptation, and argued that the principle was clearly applicable to the present case. He concluded by moving the appointment of a Committee in the terms above stated.
§ Motion made, and question proposed.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that when, on a former day, he had addressed to the House those considerations upon which he was of opinion that the Motion of the hon. Member (Mr. Trelawny) was one that ought not to be complied with, he had not stated with sufficient clearness, he feared, the principal reasons which had impressed him with that conviction. He meant to have then stated that, on the last settlement of the civil list, it was competent to the Crown to have surrendered, upon any arrangement that might have been deemed satisfactory, the revenues of one of these duchies. But Parliament, at that time, did not think fit to adopt such a proposition; and he had no doubt that this might have been so with regard to the duchy of Lancaster; but the duchy of Cornwall was not an analogous case, for the lands of that duchy became the private property of the Prince of Wales at the moment of his birth. It was clear, therefore, that the Crown could not make any arrangement with respect to those revenues which would be prejudicial to the rights and interests of the Prince of Wales in his character of Duke of Cornwall. Now, in point of fact, he was prepared to say, that whatever im- 1151 putation of defective management might formerly have applied to the administration of the revenues of these duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, that management had of late years very considerably improved, and was at the present moment, he believed, on the whole satisfactory; whilst those occasional acts of vexation or injustice which were alleged to have been committed under the system pursued in former years, had now ceased to exist. When the hon. Gentleman brought forward a similar proposition, on a former occasion, he did not clearly state what the precise object was that he then contemplated; and certainly that object had been on the present occasion not less vaguely expressed. At one time the hon. Gentleman seemed to state his object to be this, namely, to show that the management of these revenues might be very materially improved, and their amount increased, under a different system of administration; but at another, his object appeared rather to obtain a Committee that should recommend the appropriation of these revenues of the duchies to the public service. And now he came forward to show that so large a sum might be saved out of a more economical management of these revenues as would save the country a considerable portion of the charge which it might expect at a future period to be called upon to meet for the future allowance of the Prince of Wales. But he (Lord J. Russell) must submit that, without the direct consent of the Crown, these revenues could not be at all interfered with; and that that House would never sanction an attempt at such interference in the absence of that sanction. The hon. Gentleman had alleged that a great number of cases of extreme hardship had occurred by reason of the defective management of these revenues, and that therefore the Committee of Investigation for which he had moved, ought to be granted to him. It would, however, be surely very unjust, on general charges of this nature, to refuse to the Crown the right of managing its own estates, or to take from the Duke of Cornwall the same authority over his. And, again, if the House were not prepared to go the whole length of the hon. Gentleman's proposal, which would extend, in fact, to take away either the property or the control of it from its owner, he could not see the expediency of going into a Committee at all to investigate the question how far the expenses of the management of this property 1152 or the alteration of these revenues might be economised. The safer plan, therefore, would be not to grant the Committee. He believed, as to the annual production of these accounts on which the hon. Gentleman had attempted to raise an argument in favour of his Motion, that the real object with which they had been ordered by a former Government was, that their periodical production might operate as a very salutary check on the management in question. That was the understanding on which this plan of publication was first adopted; but it was never meant to convey that sort of right of control over these revenues which the hon. Gentleman had assumed in his speech. If those revenues are private property, as the hon. Gentleman admits they are, I can see no reason why we should interfere, especially as the hon. Gentleman produces no proof of mismanagement of the revenues but a speech of Mr. Burke. Now, though those remarks of Mr. Burke might have been justified in 1780, I think the hon. Gentleman overrates his observations if he thinks that that fact is sufficient to justify the appointment of a Committee in 1849. The hon. Gentleman has not given any proof that the abuses which existed in 1780 exist in 1849, and therefore I cannot see the reason for his Motion. The salaries stated to be given to the officers of the duchies may seem to be very large in proportion to those given by private gentlemen to parties holding similar offices on small properties, but I do not know that they are so as compared with large properties. Indeed, I believe some agents upon large properties get quite as much, if not more, than these officers. I know an instance in my own family where one gentleman, for merely giving his advice on legal affairs, got 2,000l. a year; and I believe other persons are paid as well on other estates. The titles of persons holding office under the Crown may be more high-sounding; but I much doubt whether the sums they receive are larger if as large. Without the consent of the Crown, it could not be submitted to the interposition of that House; and assuredly the Crown would not be a party to any arrangements that could have the effect of damaging the interests and the rights of the Duke of Cornwall. By the law of the land these duchies are the property of the Crown, and, according to the practice and usage of Parliament, they cannot be taken away without the consent of the Crown. The hon. Gentleman has 1153 made out no case for that consent being asked, and has in fact given no proof of the existence of any abuses in 1848, with the exception of the speech of Mr. Burke, delivered in 1780, and he hoped the House would not assent to the Committee.
§ MR. POLE CAREW
was in favour of the appointment of the Committee, because he was desirous of supporting the Crown, and that it should not be placed in the painful position it now was, with regard to the inhabitants of the duchy of Cornwall, in the collection of the revenue, almost literally in pence and halfpence. That was a position in which the Crown ought not to be placed. The noble Lord at the head of the Government said these duchies were private property. Let the Crown give up its privileges connected with them. The Crown ought not to claim royal privileges when it proceeded against an individual, and then, when Parliament asked for a control over the estates, turn round and say it was private property. There was no person connected with Cornwall who was not aware of the injurious operation which the present system of managing these duchies exercised on the rights of tenants and landlords. He had been much astonished to hear the allusion made by the noble Lord to his noble relative. The two cases were not at all analogous. The Duke of Bedford was not likely to come before that House and beg it to make good the deficiencies of his own income; and, if he were to do so, the House would tell him to economise his means, by reducing such allowances as 1,000l. here, 3,000l. there, and 5,000l in another quarter. Now, the Duke of Cornwall was very likely, on the other hand, to be before that House very soon with some such application, and hence it was the interest of Parliament to see that his revenues were economically administered. If the noble Lord would allow the appointment of a Committee, he (Mr. P. Carew) would undertake to show such instances of intolerable oppression on the part of the duchy, that the House would insist on having Parliamentary control over it.
§ MR. HUME
thought the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had not taken a very fair view of the case in comparing the charge of management of the Duke of Bedford's property with that of the Crown. The property in these duchies was not of a private nature, but it was public property, held in trust, and in the proper administration of which the House was deeply inte- 1154 rested. He (Mr. Hume) knew that King William the Fourth sent down a message to that House in which he gave up all the Crown revenues; and it was clearly understood at the time that the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster were to be given up. It was found, however, that this could not he done with respect to the duchy of Cornwall, as the revenue of it was always settled on the eldest son of the Sovereign; but with regard to the duchy of Lancaster, he had always understood that the Ministers gave up that duchy. All, however, that he (Mr. Hume) succeeded in obtaining was a clause inserted in an Act of Parliament, providing that an annual return of the income and expenditure of the duchy should be laid before that House. The gross revenue of the duchy of Lancaster was 40,000l, from which, however, 7,000l. was to be deducted, thus leaving 33,000l; but, after deducting the charge of management and the salaries and allowances of the different officers, the whole amount which went to Her Majesty's privy purse was 12,000l All the rest was completely wasted. When any demand was made on that House for aid and assistance for the maintenance of the Royal Family, it was right that the House should see that the property belonging to the Crown was properly managed. He would ask whether it was possible to find any private party having an estate, the expense of the management of which was such that only 12,000l. a year was received, as by the Crown, out of a revenue of 83,000l? If the House would only appoint a Committee, he was sure that fifteen Members of that House could not be found to sit together and hear the evidence which would be given before them without their being satisfied that a much better management might be adopted for the revenues of the Crown, so that their amount might, within a short time, be tripled. The House was most deeply interested in the proper management of the revenue of the duchy of Cornwall, for some years ago they had repeatedly been called upon to vote immense amounts of money to George IV., when Prince of Wales. It appeared, when he ought to have received an income of from 40,000l. to 50,000l. a year from this duchy, hardly anything was obtained, as nearly all the revenue was consumed in pensions, salaries, and allowances. Some years ago a proceeding took place with regard to Cornwall, which he would only designate as a great cheat on the public. He 1155 was not in the House during the few weeks that the measure to which he alluded passed through it, or he should have strenuously opposed it. There were certain rates or rentals, or royalties, formerly paid on the metal obtained from the Cornish mines, which amounted to 15,000l. a year. The country Gentlemen of Cornwall, who were a numerous body, and who were united, and possessed great power, persuaded Her Majesty's Ministers to take off the charge on the produce of these mines, and put it on the Consolidated Fund. The result was, that at present a charge of 15,000l. a year was paid out of that fund to the trustees of the Prince of Wales. It appeared that Lord Campbell received 2,000l. a year out of the revenues of the duchy of Lancaster; and he (Mr. Hume) did not know what that noble and learned Lord had to do. Oh, he recollected that the noble Lord had to keep the seal of the duchy. There was also an auditor at 400l. a year. He found, besides, the name of George Edward Anson, who was described as axe-bearer and master of the game in Needwood Forest, with a salary of 300l. a year. He should like to know what income was derived from Needwood Forest, that it required an officer with a salary of 300l. to look after it. Perhaps it was like another forest, which he once got inquired into, and which it was found, instead of producing anything, though 500l. a year was paid to the keeper, cost the country 35l. annually. After a ten years' suit before Lord Hope—he thought it was—he believed his right hon. Friend below him (the Lord Advocate) was engaged in the case, and the result was, that nothing could be done. When they looked at such items as these, he considered that a clear case had been made out to call for inquiry. He did not think that Her Majesty's Ministers had acted properly in opposing this Motion, as it did not affect the revenue of the Crown, for all that was intended was, that this property should be administered in the best possible manner. His own belief was, that the real ground of objection to the Motion was the fear that it might interfere with the patronage of Ministers.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
observed, that an inquiry was now being carried on into a matter germane to the present subject. He alluded to the Committee appointed to inquire into the management of the Crown lands, and it was desirable that that Com- 1156 mittee should have been appointed to inquire also into the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. He could not agree with the assumption that Parliament was not entitled to inquire into the affairs of these duchies, as they were administered under regulations embodied in Acts of Parliament, and they were vested in the Crown by Acts of Parliament, and it was to Parliament Government must go if they wished to have any alteration in the administration of the revenues. The officers connected with these duchies had duties to perform besides the management of the revenues for separate courts existed in them for the administration of justice, which were under their control; they also had the power of imposing fees, and they enjoyed peculiar privileges, and possessed other extraordinary powers. When he took all these circumstances into consideration, he was satisfied there was not the slightest ground for Parliament not to insist upon having the fullest inquiry into the subject. He thought the matter of jurisdiction was much more important than the pecuniary considerations involved in the question. He should have thought that Her Majesty's Government would have been glad to assent to such an inquiry as was proposed, with the view to the improved management of this property.
thought that it would be most advantageous that some inquiry should take place as to the pecuniary matters involved in the subject, although he confessed he was not well acquainted with this part of the question. He saw, however, the absolute necessity of inquiry since the hon. Member for East Cornwall stated that he was prepared to prove cases of gross oppression and injustice against the persons entrusted with the management of the affairs of one of these duchies. He (Mr. Ricardo) knew, with regard to his own constituents, of a case of tyranny which no private individual would have dared to have perpetrated. The case was this: Some of the mines belonging to the duchy of Lancaster were under the town of Stoke-upon-Trent; and, in consequence of the mode of working them, many of the houses were Undermined and fell down. He believed that between thirty and forty houses had fallen down in that town and its vicinity, and the parties who owned or occupied them could obtain no redress from the authorities of the duchy of Lancaster, and they were refused any compensation for the losses they had sustained. This, 1157 surely, was a fair case for Parliamentary inquiry. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had said that this was private property, into the management of which they had no right to inquire; but he could not convince his constituents that they had not had gross injustice inflicted on them on the part of the Crown. When they saw that the Chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster was a Cabinet Minister, and the property of these duchies mixed up with the Government of the country, they thought they were entitled to a Parliamentary inquiry, with the view of seeing whether they were still to be exposed to such tyranny, without being able to obtain the slightest redress. He did not for a moment anticipate that the Motion for inquiry would have been resisted.
§ SIR G. GREY
wished to say a few words with respect to the particular case just alluded to by his hon. Friend. Application had been made to him (Sir G. Grey), from the constituents of his hon. Friend, and he bad received a deputation from them, when, in reply to their representations, he stated that the question in dispute did not depend upon the property belonging to the Crown. The question was as to whether the person possessing the ownership of the surface of the land, had the right to prevent the owners of mines mining for ore which was under the surface. The parties who built on this land knew—or at least ought to have known—that mines would be worked under the surface of the land on which they had built. This question had been determined in a court of justice. The case might be a hard one, and the law of the land might require alteration; but this had nothing to do with the question before the House. The point referred to by his hon. Friend did not involve any peculiar right of the Crown, for the same right belonged to private individuals the owners of mines.
The EARL of LINCOLN
said, having been alluded to more than once in the course of the debate, and having been for the last eight years connected with the duchy of Cornwall, and for the last two years with the duchy of Lancaster, perhaps the House would allow him to say a few words on this question. The right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Milner Gibson) appeared to think that he had established a ground for inquiry because another inquiry, germane, in his opinion, to this one, was going on in another Committee upstairs with regard to the management of the Crown property by 1158 the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. Surely the hon. Member could hardly have looked at the matter with that acumen which every one knew he possessed, or with that impartiality which usually characterised him, or he would have seen that there was a manifest and strong difference between the two cases. The interest which the public possessed in the Crown property under the management of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests was patent to everybody. The net proceeds of those possessions of the Crown were paid annually into the Exchequer, and, therefore, the interest which the public had in that property being well administered was considerable. But the two duchies stood in quite a distinct position r they were not at all germane to the Crown property in question; for in one of those duchies, the public, as he should presently show, had no interest whatever; and in the other there was indeed a contingent interest, but one of a very remote date indeed. The hon. Gentleman who made the Motion (Mr. Trelawny) complained of the noble Lord at the head of the Government for having, when he brought forward a similar Motion on a former occasion, stated that the hon. Gentleman wished to sell the property of the duchies. Well, but now the hon. Gentleman had had an opportunity of explaining his views, and as far as he (the Earl of Lincoln) could collect, it was precisely as the noble Lord had stated. The hon. Gentleman said that he believed great advantage would arise to the public from the sale of the property of these duchies; and though he did not state on the present occasion that his object was the immediate sale of these properties, yet with great candour and fairness the hon. Gentleman had shown that his object in moving for a Committee was with a view to their ultimate sale. Now, it was essential that he should show to the hon. Gentleman that the public possessed no right of sale in these properties. The hon. Member for Manchester stated that he conceived it was the distinct right of the public to inquire into the management of the duchy properties, because not only did they possess privileges given by Act of Parliament, but that the duchies themselves were managed under Act of Parliament. Now, if that gave a right to the Legislature to interfere, he would beg the hon. Gentleman who claimed such a right of interference to tell him how many private properties there were which might 1159 not be interfered with on the same plea. He would ask the hon. Gentleman what more reason there was for interfering with the management of the duchies—a reason based on the fact that the duchies were regulated by Acts of Parliament—than for interfering with those great properties—he took those instances, because the public had an interest in them, though not of a pecuniary nature, and would long continue to have one—the properties of Strathfield saye and Blenheim. [Mr. MILNER GIBSON: Their royalties are confirmed under the provisions of an Act of Parliament.] Well, he would come to that, and he would show that that supplied no locus standi for the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Tavistock made the same statement; in fact, that was the principal basis of his argument. The right hon. Member for Manchester expressly stated this ground, and so did the hon. Member for Fast Cornwall. [Mr. CAREW: No.] I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I took down his words.
The EARL of LINCOLN
continued: He was much obliged to the hon. Member for repeating his observation. He would not forget that argument presently, but he would forgive him for saying that he took down his words, and he understood the hon. Gentleman to state distinctly, as one ground for interference, that the duchy of Cornwall possessed royal privileges. Now, there were estates without end which were in possession of royal privileges; and would they say that the establishment of these royal privileges, such as the navigation of a river or the right of fishing, would give a right of interference as to the management of these estates by a Committee of this House? He was really afraid to enter into the question at too great length; but as this was the second time even during the present short Session of Parliament that the question had been brought before them, perhaps the House would forgive him for considering the question with some little care. In considering the question, he thought it was better that the two duchies should be taken separately, as they stood upon a totally different footing. The hon. Gentleman who made the Mo- 1160 tion had placed it upon three separate grounds. The first was to what extent the public had an interest in these properties. Now, with regard to the first of these properties—the duchy of Cornwall—he would tell the hon. Gentleman that he would distinctly show him that the present interest of the public in the duchy of Cornwall was nil. He thought he could also show him exactly what was the prospective interest of the public, and how little that entitled this House to interfere. How stood the case with regard to the duchy of Cornwall? The tenure was a very peculiar one. It was granted by Edward III. to the Black Prince—it was granted by charter, which was afterwards confirmed by Act of Parliament. The grant ran in this form, that the property should be for ever vested in the Prince of Wales—or perhaps it would be more correct to say, in the Duke of Cornwall, because the Prince of Wales was a creation, whereas the eldest son of the Sovereign became Duke of Cornwall at his birth; and it was to continue vested in him till his death, or accession to the Throne. On his accession to the Throne, if he had a son, the duchy became immediately vested in the son. If he had no son, it became vested in the Sovereign till the birth of a son. The hon. Gentleman admitted that this was a correct statement, and from these few words he would see that the public could have no present interest in the property. As to the prospective interest, it was simply this, that in the event of the Prince of Wales not having a son when he succeeded to the Throne, and consequently the duchy of Cornwall becoming vested in him as Sovereign, it would then be competent for him, and for the Parliament of that time, to include the revenues of the duchy in the arrangements with regard to the civil list. But how could they do that? They could not do it as Crown property—they could not do it as they could the duchy of Lancaster, to which he would come presently, but simply and solely until the time that a son Was born to him. Therefore, the present interest of the public in the property was nothing, and the prospective interest was very little; for what advantage could there be in an arrangement which would have no permanence after the birth of a son to the Save-reign? The hon. Gentleman had laid great stress upon the return with regard to the revenues being annually laid before Parliament. Now, he would tell the 1161 hon. Gentleman how this arose, and if his humble opinion were of any weight, he would say that in the case of the duchy of Cornwall these returns were very unnecessary, so far as the public was concerned. Yet he did not regret that they were presented, because he thought that every publicity as to the administration of the property was advantageous rather than the reverse to the duchy itself. It was done when Lord Monteagle, then Mr. Spring Rice, was Chancellor of the Exchequer; and, looking to the interest—small and remote as it was—which the public had in the property, he thought it right that these returns should be annually presented. But it was never contemplated at the time, nor was it thought of till within these last few years, that by these returns the public had obtained a right of interference. Having stated what that interest was, he would now come to the point which was put clearly and distinctly by the hon. Member for East Cornwall, and which had been hinted at by other Gentlemen. That hon. Member thought the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had made a mistake in comparing this property with that of the Duke of Bedford, because the public had no interest in the management of the estates of the Duke of Bedford, while they had this interest at least in the management of the estates of the Duke of Cornwall, that in the event of these estates being ill-managed during his minority, it was possible, when he came of age, that the Crown might demand a sum of money to make up the deficiency. He admitted the public interest to that extent, and therefore it was he rejoiced that these returns were ordered; but when he came to that part of the question, he thought he should be able to show the hon. Gentleman, and those who complained of the management of the property of the duchy, that in reality the sources of complaint arose not so much from the mismanagement of the revenue, as from cases of individuals who felt themselves aggrieved by the assertion of the rights of the property. But these questions must be settled elsewhere than in that House, for they had no right to deal with the question here, except they could show that the management of the property was hostile to the interest of the public. Now what was the case with regard to the management of this property? He would not go back to ancient times, as the hon. Gentleman had done, to the days of Burke; but when the hon. Gentleman (Mr. 1162 Trelawny) said that if a Committee was granted he would expose some cases of arbitrary management and tyranny, he (the Earl of Lincoln) was inclined to ask the hon. Gentleman why he had not stated some of these oases then? [Mr. TRELAWNY: I shall state them next week, when I mean to renew this Motion.] Really in that case he pitied Her Majesty's Government, who had so much important business to transact. A similar Motion to the present was brought forward a week ago; here it was again to-night; and now they had got an intimation that it was to be repeated that day week. He was sorry he was not aware of the hon. Member's intentions earlier, otherwise he would have reserved his speech till then. The hon. Gentleman stated that the management of the property was arbitrary and tyrannical. He had not stated any cases, and therefore he (the Earl of Lincoln) thought it fair to assume that if the hon. Gentleman stated instances, as his more rash friend the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent had done, he would have received as satisfactory an answer as the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had given to the hon. Member (Mr. Ricardo). But he could not undertake to answer cases of tyranny or arbitrary management which were stated only in general terms. As to the mismanagement of these estates, let them see, without going back to former times, what was the state of the matter at present. There was at present a council, consisting of six members; and they certainly found, when they came into office, that the whole property had been grossly mismanaged. It had been treated as a means of extracting as much as possible for the existing possessor, without looking to the benefit of the property. The system that was adopted, and which was originated by the late Viscount Duncannon, was now rigidly persevered in, by which system, the former one, so prejudicial both to landlord and tenant, of granting leases on lives present or prospective, was altogether done away with. Instead of this no fines were now received; and as lives had fallen in, the property was let on leases for a term of years. This system, he had no doubt, would eventually—he would not say in what term of years—place the Prince of Wales in a perfectly independent position as regarded income. The hon. Gentleman had stated that he would undertake to show to the Committee that the revenue of the duchy of Cornwall might be increased 1163 by 50,000l. a year. [Mr. TRELAWNY: I said both duchies.] Well, perhaps the hon. Member would state in his Motion of next week what portion of this he expected from the duchy of Cornwall, and what from the duchy of Lancaster. But he would hint to the hon. Member that it was quite unnecessary to have a Committee for this purpose—it was giving him (Mr. Trelawny) a great deal of trouble. The hon. Gentleman had only to communicate to him (the Earl of Lincoln) or any other Member of the Council, how this 50,000l., or even 20,000l, might be obtained, and provided it could be done with equity and fairness to the landlords and others connected with Cornwall, and to the tenants of the duchy, it would be instantly adopted. Whilst he was upon this subject of leases, he might mention that so rigidly was this system carried out, that even with regard to the minerals, though in that case it was necessary, as every one connected with mining operations knew—to levy fines, yet the fines were carried to the account of the estate, and not to the immediate possessor. The hon. Gentleman would see that everything was done to place the present possessor of the duchy on advantageous terms both as to himself and as to the public. While he admitted there might exist cases of individual hardship, he totally denied the existence of any public grievance. He had now touched on two out of the three points for which the hon. Gentleman wished to have a Committee. The first referred to the extent to which the public were entitled to claim an interest in the duchies; the second referred to an improvement in their management; and the third, to which he now came, was in reference to the suppression of antiquated offices and diminution of the salaries of the officials. Now, as to this last question, he at once admitted that, long since the time of Mr. Burke, the hon. Gentleman might have pointed to gross abuses. But if the hon. Gentleman would but state the case candidly to the House, he would state that in the number and extent of these abuses there had been recently a great diminution; and he would add that no opportunity would be lost of removing those which may remain. In fact, since the birth of the Prince of Wales, every office that could be suppressed had been suppressed. As to the management of the property, the public could claim no interest in the amount of salaries paid by the Prince of Wales, provided the succession were not prejudiced. 1164 But how did the matter stand? There was formerly a Lord Warden, with upwards of 1,000l. a year; that office had been held with that salary by the late Marquess of Hertford. At his death, the duties of Lord Warden being regulated by Act, and being therefore in the condition of requiring a total rearrangement—a rearrangement which would include various other matters were the office to be done away with—his Royal Highness Prince Albert was appointed to the post—but without any salary. During the life of the last Prince of Wales there was also a Chancellor of the Duchy, with a salary of 500l. The present holder of that situation was a gentleman respected and honoured by all who knew him—he meant Mr. Pemberton Leigh, who devoted his legal acumen and habits of business to the management of the duchy without any salary whatever. The hon. Gentleman alluded to a surveyor general and a receiver general; these offices were still held. At the accession of the Prince of Wales, however, the salary of the former was 1,600l. a year. It was now reduced to 1,000l., and the emoluments of the receiver general were similarly curtailed. These offices, however, having been bestowed previously to the accession of Her Majesty, it was not thought right that they should be done away with until the death of the present holders, after which both offices would be abolished. As to the Council, the Members acted without any remuneration whatever. [Mr. HUME would rather have a paid and responsible official.] If the hon. Gentleman would only have a little patience, he would find that the arrangement already existing was perhaps that which he desired. There were six Members of Council and a Secretary—the latter, of course, being paid. The Council was composed of His Royal Highness Prince Albert, of the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, who was an ex officio Member, of the Chancellor of the Duchy, of Mr. George Edward Anson, the keeper of Her Majesty's privy purse, and the treasurer of the Prince of Wales; and then there were two Members, who might be called the private Members of the Council, consisting of Lord Portman and himself (the Earl of Lincoln). Now, even upon the supposition that the present salaries were to be maintained, there were many private properties managed on as expensive a scale; but so completely had the Council felt that they were managing as trustees, that they had fixed the salaries at the minimum, so that he believed, 1165 upon the whole, that no property of the same extent, and under similar disadvantages as regards expense of management, was administered more economically—always excepting the two cases of high salaries which were to be reduced at the death of the present holders. Now, the hon. Gentleman had asked what had become of the revenues of the duchy? He replied that such a question, in his opinion, the hon. Gentleman had no right to put, but he believed he was speaking in strict conformity with the wishes of those who were most interested in the subject, when he said that there was not the slightest desire for any concealment in the matter. The whole not produce of the duchy was invested for the benefit of the holder. The hon. Gentleman wont on to complain of the small increase in the income of the duchy ever since the introduction of the new system, although the system of changing from the receipt of fines to the system of abolishing fines and renewing leases for terms of years, must of necessity render the new plan less profitable for a time than if the old one had boon retained; though eventually the revenue would be both greatly increased and rendered more equal and certain. But he could toll the hon. Gentleman why the balance-sheet had not looked so well during the last two or three years; and he thought that neither the hon. Gentleman nor the hon. Member for East Cornwall alluded to the circumstance. When he (the Earl of Lincoln) was in office, in the Woods and Forests, an Act was passed, called "the Assessionable Manors Commission Act." Previously to the passing of that Act, rights existed attached to the duchy property which pressed heavily upon the inhabitants of Cornwall. It was, therefore, with the view of promoting the mining and other interests of the county, that it was thought advisable to disentangle the rights of the duchy from those of the inhabitants of Cornwall, as it happened that the properties of the latter—the beautiful place of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trelawny) for example—were often very inconveniently interlaced with the property of the duchy. Well, the Act in question had certainly been a great pull upon the purse of the duchy. Indeed, upwards of twenty thousand pounds had been spent in carrying out its provisions; but, eventually, he believed that the measure would be found to prove an excellent arrangement for the property; and he thought that when attacks were made upon the management of the duchy of Cornwall, it ought to 1166 be represented that although there had been abuses, and that although the rights of private individuals had been heretofore injured, yet that these abuses no longer existed, or, if they did, that they were merely remnants of the old system which was being swept away, and that there was every prospect that the property of the Duke of Cornwall would be arranged on terms which would be considered as perfectly fair and amicable by the inhabitants of the duchy. He had trespassed, perhaps, too long upon the House, but he would like to say a word on the duchy of Lancaster. The position of that duchy was not quite satisfactory; but the noble Lord (Lord Campbell) who now held the chancellorship of Lancaster was most anxious to remove every existing abuse, and to place everything on a satisfactory footing. It would not be forgotten that the Crown had manifested an anxious desire that the affairs of the duchy should be arranged in a manner as beneficial as possible; and two years ago, a council was appointed, not to assist Lord Campbell—for he needed no assistance—but under the idea that it was desirable to effect great improvement, which a permanent administrative body could devise. To this Council three or four of the leading Members of either House gave their gratuitous aid. The hon. Gentleman would not forget, with reference to the interest of the public in the duchy, that it stood on quite a different footing from the duchy of Cornwall, and different also from that of the other possessions of the Crown; and that during the life of her present Majesty the public could have no interest in the revenues. Perhaps the footing on which, in the event of a new accession to the Throne, it would be possible to put the Sovereign, could be so managed as to enable the Legislature to effect a readjustment of the civil list; but he would remind the hon. Gentleman opposite that he had made no opposition to the existing arrangement, although he had had it in his power to call the attention of the House to it on the ac-cession of her present Majesty. Now, he had been asked, how much of the gross revenue of the duchy, upwards of 33,000l., went into the privy purse. He would at once admit, that but a very small proportion found its way there, and that there was very considerable room for improvement. Still he believed that no Committee could possibly place the duchy on the footing on which it ought to stand. That object could only be effected by persever- 1167 ance in a good and beneficial system of management. But the hon. Gentleman could not expect, either as to Cornwall or Lancaster, that they could pay either to the public purse or to the private purse of the Sovereign, anything like a proportionate income to that which a private individual might expect to draw from these great estates. He would tell the hon. Gentleman why; because it consisted of a vast number of minute properties scattered over a great extent of country, and therefore requiring a much more expensive system of management than when the same amount of income was derived from one large unbroken estate; but at the same time he sincerely hoped that the duchy would be hereafter more economically managed than it had been. The hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent had made the only gallant charge that they had witnessed against the present system; but the hon. Gentleman had been so satisfactorily answered already, that if he acted wisely He would not return to the contest again, though he would have an opportunity of doing so next week. But the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), in his reply to the hon. Member, had overlooked one point—namely, that the property which was the subject of the action, had been leased to a private individual in whose name the action was carried on. [Mr. RICARDO: Yes; but the defence is at the expense of the duchy.] There were peculiar circumstances in the case, in consequence of which it was thought that the lessee had an equitable claim, and should not be left to fight an expensive battle with a great number of powerful opponents alone. The duchy felt the same obligation to assist the lessee as any private landlord, or as the hon. Member himself, would have felt and acted upon under similar circumstances, but no more. If the hon. Gentleman thought that the lessee of a mine should not be able to work it without being held liable for any damage that might be done to expensive buildings erected by other parties on the surface, then he should bring in a Bill to alter the law of the land; but while the law stood as it now was, let him not bring the state of that law as a charge against the duchy of Lancaster. He had to apologise for trespassing so long on the time of the House; but looking at all the circumstances—looking to the effect already produced of placing the management of these properties upon an altered footing—not attempting to go further than to deny, which he did totally, that the public or 1168 that House had any right either to sell the property or to take the management of it out of the hands of the present holders—he trusted that a sufficient case had been shown to induce the House to give a decided negative to the Motion.
§ MR. HEYWORTH
bore testimony to the improvement that had taken place in the management of the duchy of Lancaster, although at the same time he thought full room existed for further advancement in the same direction. Some years ago a late Chancellor appointed a gentleman as clerk of the peace for that duchy, who received 1,600l. a year in fees, but who had never been called upon to visit the duchy, all the labour being performed by a deputy, who did not receive half the salary that the nature of his office should entitle him to.
§ MR. TRELAWNY
replied. He thought that no grounds whatever had been made out for refusing this inquiry. If he possessed or was ever likely to possess the beautiful place alluded to by the noble Earl, his interest would be directly opposed to the object of his Motion: his object was not to seize upon the property, but to give the Duke of Cornwall 50,000l a year, by establishing a better system of management, and at the same time to save the pockets of the public, by rendering a less amount necessary when they were called upon hereafter to vote an establishment for his use.
§ Question put. The House divided:—Ayes 27; Noes 74;—Majority 47.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Kershaw, J.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Morris, D.|
|Bass, M. T.||Pearson, C.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Perfect, R.|
|Brotherton, J.||Pilkington, J.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Cobden, R.||Smith, J. B.|
|Cowan, C.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Ellis, J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Fox, W. J.||Thornely, T.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Gwyn, H.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||TELLERS.|
|Hastie, A.||Trelawny, J. T.|
|Heyworth, L.||Hume, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Bernard, Visct.|
|Anderson, A.||Birch, Sir T. B.|
|Baines, M. T.||Blackall, S. W.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Boyle, hon. Col.|
|Baring, T.||Campbell, hon. W. F.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Castlereagh, Visct.|
|Beckett, W.||Chichester, Lord J. L.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Christy, S.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Cobbold, J. C.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Coles, H. B.||Napier, J.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||O'Brien, J.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Duncuft, J.||Parker, J.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Pugh, D.|
|Edwards, H.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Rutherford, A.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Sandars, G.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Shell, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. F.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Hawes, B.||Simeon, J.|
|Henley, J. W.||Smith, J. A.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Smith, M. T.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Hollond, R.||Stafford, A.|
|Hood, Sir A.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Turner, G. J.|
|Lewisham, Visct.||Ward, H. G.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Willcox, B. M.|
|Littleton, hon. E. R.||Wilson, M.|
|Magan, W. H.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Maitland, T.||Wyld, J.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||TELLERS.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Tufnoll, H.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Hill, Lord M.|