HC Deb 11 June 1857 vol 145 cc1568-87

rose to call the attention of the House to the accounts of the Duchy of Lancaster presented to Parliament in pursuance of the Act 1 & 2 Vict. c. 101, and to move an Address for a Return of all Manors and Estates now belonging to the Crown in right of the Duchy of Lancaster; of all Sales, Grants, and Enfranchisements which have taken place since 1838; of the purchases and exchanges of Land which have been made since the same period, and the date and terms of all existing Leases of the Lands, Mines, and Rents of the said Duchy, The hon. Gentleman said, that his Motion was totally disconnected from that of any other hon. Member's with reference to the Duchy of Lancaster. His Motion referred to a subject in which he had taken a great interest for many years. So far back as the year 1854 he had moved for certain returns with reference to the question, when he was met by a right hon. Gentleman below him, with a declaration that the Motion referred so much to what concerned private rights and private property, that he might as well ask for returns with respect to the rental of any hon. Gentleman in that House. Indeed, having since thought a good deal over the subject, he had come to the conclusion that this was a doctrine put forward by the Government as it suited their convenience. When Parliament wanted anything of the Duchy, the property was always private; but when the Duchy wanted anything of Parliament, it was invariably public. It appeared, however, that Parliament had dealt with this property from time to time. He found, on looking into the history of the Duchy, that the first Duke of Lancaster, Henry IV., on his ascent to the throne, believing his position rather slippery, was obliged to come to Parliament to ask for a severance of these estates from the Crown lands. Henry V. followed the same course, and added to the Duchy the property of his mother, which was considerable. Things went on in that way up to the time of Edward IV., but he having no sympathy with the House of Lancaster, sequestered the estates, and added them to the revenue of the Crown. However, Henry VII. once more came to Parliament and severed the Duchy from the Crown. Singularly enough, Oliver Cromwell was the last who dealt with the revenues of the Duchy, for owing to the death of Charles I., the estates became national property. In his latter days, Oliver Cromwell, having an eye to making a promotion for some of his family, had once more severed the Duchy from the national property. Charles II. had not attempted to alter the settlement, and so things had remained down to the present day, with the distinction, that scarcely a reign passed in which the House of Commons had not limited the estates of the Duchy. He would show what Parliament had done with reference to the Duchy. And first let him call the attention of the House to a Bill that had been introduced by persons no less distinguished than Lord John Cavendish, Burke, and Fox, which might show the feeling of the then House of Commons and be a guide to the present House. This was a Bill— For uniting to the Crown the Duchy and County Palatine of Lancaster, for the suppression of unnecessary offices, now belonging thereto; for the ascertainment and security of tenant and other rights, and for the sale of all rents, lands, tenements, and hereditaments, and forests, within the said Duchy and County Palatine, or either of them, and for applying the produce thereof to the public service. This took place in the reign of George III. and in an unreformed Parliament. He would quote one more authority. A distinguished orator of that House, who afterwards became Lord Chancellor, used these expressions in 1837:— It never surely can be contended that the revenues of the two Duchies are private property, or anything like private property. I should like to hear such a proposition advanced in this age. I should like to see the man endued with courage to maintain it. I should like to see the man, whether on the Ministerial or Opposition benches, gifted with the confidence which must he exhibited by him, who would affirm that Cornwall and Lancaster are private and personal property, and not public funds vested in the Sovereign, only as such; enjoyed as Sovereign, and in right of the Crown alone; held as public property for the benefit of the State, and as a parcel of the national possessions."—[3 Hansard, xxxix. 1356.] These were the opinions of Lord Brougham, who, he rejoiced, had returned to this country in health and strength, and would, he hoped, advocate views similar to those that he had previously expressed. The next stage in the history of this property was the passing of an Act requiring the accounts of the Duchy to be laid on the table every year. This clearly showed that the House intended it to be regarded as public property, and that its affairs should be subjected, if necessary, to the criticism and interference of Parliament. It might appear a fruitless and even a quixotic undertaking for an humble private Member like himself to suggest reforms in such a venerable institution. Still, knowing what he did of the state of the property of the Duchy in different counties in England, of the forests of Needwood and Pickering, and the mines of Staffordshire, he thought that he was bound to state the facts, and to call on the officers of the Duchy to do their duty, not only to the State, but the Sovereign they represented. He approached the subject in no captious or fault-finding spirit. He had the advantage of the Duchy at heart; he desired to see its revenues better managed, and Her Majesty receiving more of them. He wished to expose a mediæval system, and to prune what he could only term a cumbrous Gothic establishment. The accounts on the table proved that the revenues of the Duchy scarcely more than nominally belonged to the Royal Lady who claimed them. The burden upon the estate was almost as great as the return derived from it, its income being nearly all eaten up by idle or useless functionaries. In a recent debate great stress was laid on the fact that the Sovereign was in the receipt of the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster; but if hon. Gentlemen believed that Her Majesty reaped the benefit of this property, they did her very great injustice, because, while this valuable estate, scattered over twenty counties of England, together with the woods of Pickering and Needwood, and the coal-fields of Stafford-shire, undoubtedly yielded a large revenue, that revenue, as far as Her Majesty was concerned, was chiefly a revenue on paper, and never entered the privy purse. No one was more truly beloved and esteemed in that House than the Chancellor of this Duchy; and if his office were abolished, he (Mr. Wise) should be glad to see the talents of its occupant employed in some position worthier of them, whether as a Minister of Justice, or as a Secretary of State. He therefore begged the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baines) to understand that he entirely excluded him from the observations he was about to make. He would commence with the revenue and expenditure of the Duchy within the present reign. During the last nineteen years the total income had been £722,960, of which the privy purse had received but £251,000. Thus, the out-goings were £471,960; or, in other words, the average income was £38,000 per annum, of which the privy purse received but £13,000. Last year the accounts presented a somewhat more favourable appearance, because the revenues were £41,048, of which the privy purse derived £20,000; but the expenditure, even in 1856, was out of all proportion to what any ordinary proprietor would expect upon his own property. In fact, these accounts developed a system which, in 1780, Mr. Burke characterized as exhibiting "the apparatus of a kingdom for the management of a few private estates, and the formality and charge of the Exchequer of Great Britain for collecting the rents of a country squire." The establishment consisted of sixty persons, receiving salaries amounting to £8527 a year. There was the Chancellor of the Duchy, with a salary of £2,000 a year. That office had been in existence since the time of Henry IV., when the Palatinate was erected into a little kingdom; when the Chancellor had to hear appeals and had to perform very different functions from those devolving on him now. Indeed, in 1809, Mr. Perceval, who was First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, also held the office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and this showed that the duties of the latter office were not very onerous. Then there was a Vice Chancellor, with £600 a year. He was told that the Vice Chancellor discharged duties which were beneficial to the people of Lancashire; that he heard equity cases in the county, and so saved expense to the people of Lancashire. If that was so he should be sorry to abolish the office, but still he thought it was undesirable to keep up these separate and special jurisdictions in particular counties. Then there was the Receiver General, with a salary of £878 a year. As he (Mr. Wise) knew that he had little or nothing to do, as the rents and profits of the Duchy were all paid into the bank of Messrs. Coutts and Co., who acted practically as receiver general of the estate, he thought that office was quite unnecessary, it being, in fact, a nice little sinecure. Then there was an audi- tor, at £200 a year, and a clerk, registrar, and secretary, at a salary of £1,342 a year; but of him he made no complaint, as, in point of fact, he did all the work, and, probably, he was the officer who ought to be retained to discharge all the duty. Then there were four clerks in his office, with salaries amounting in the aggregate to £1,310 a year; a solicitor, with £300 a year; a surveyor, with £500, and who had numerous deputies under him. Then there were two Attorney Generals, one for the County Palatine and another for the Duchy of Lancaster. There were fifteen receivers and twenty-three stewards. He would not enter into all the "difficult trifles and laborious fooleries" connected with these various offices; but the other charges upon the estate were—donations, £1,613 a year; law charges, £335; surveying, £540; annuities, £903; and sundries—a most convenient item—£1,873. The law expenses of the Duchy in the last nineteen years had been £20,870. There were one acting and two retired Auditors, whose salaries were £200 and £400 a year respectively. It might be said that the nature of the property required this vast establishment, and no doubt it was to some extent true, inasmuch as property lay in several counties, in one of which the rent receivable was 6s. 8d., in another £1, in another £72, and in another £78, and so on; so that if surveyors and receivers travelled about to collect these important items, it must be a heavy charge. Constant applications were made from the clergy of the several counties for subscriptions to their churches, schools, and other charities; and in many instances the sum paid in donations exceeded the whole amount of the income. He now came to the woods of the Duchy. He resided not far from one, and was acquainted with its recesses; but he had not been able to dive into the mysterious recesses of the Duchy itself. Taking an average of fourteen years, the timber of the Forest of Need-wood (as we understood) had been sold for £11,893, the labour of cutting, &c., being £9,959. The balance left, after payment of the expenses, was therefore very small. The case of the Forest of Pickering, in Yorkshire, was very similar. The produce of the Pickering Forest, in Yorkshire, on an average of eleven years, was £7,511; the cost for labour being £4,814. He confessed, however, that when he looked into the general accounts of the nation he was not surprised at all this; for he found that in the department of Woods and Forests in 1856, the produce of the property was £77,118, while the expenses of the department amounted to £39,335. At Windsor the proportion was remarkable, for the produce was £5,744, while the cost was £18,459. Then there was attached to the Duchy of Lancaster a variety of strange and unnecessary offices—for instance, there was the dignified and important office of Axe-bearer, with a salary of £200 a year, which was generally discharged by a peer, and who had certain privileges in the Forest of Needwood with regard to the game. If the game was kept for the pleasure or enjoyment of the Royal Family he (Mr. Wise) should not say a word about the matter, but in fact it was kept up for the amusement of the neighbouring gentry, and the friends of the Axe-bearer. Last year the game cost £496, while the food and management during five years had cost £1,113, not including salaries. He was astonished at there being any charge for game at all. He (Mr. Wise) was something of an antiquarian, and he had read that the tenants of the Pickering estate entered into an agreement to find so many hawks a year for the use of the Crown. But it was a very different thing to tell tenants on a ninety-nine years' lease to find a certain quantity of game; and he had heard that the Needwood tenants, holding leases for ninety-nine years, were obliged to find so many head of game a year. This was a monstrous arrangement, and quite unworthy of the days in which we lived. If game was necessary for the Royal larder, why was there such a charge made for game, when these tenants of Needwood were bound to find game sufficient for the Royal larder. He now came to the next point. There were a great number of charges which he thought were unjustifiable reductions of Her Majesty's Privy Purse. It was notorious that out of the Civil List Her Majesty was obliged to subscribe many hundreds, if not thousands a year for what were called "Queen's Plates;" and, indeed, it should be recollected that when it was said that Parliament voted so much for the Civil List, that it was not for Her Majesty's own comfort or pleasure alone, for her privy purse was only £60,000 a year; and she did not receive a sum of £385,000 voted for the Civil List, most of which was taken to pay salaries, Masters of the Horse, Masters of the Buck-hounds, and so on. And here, again, there was a charge on the revenues of the Duchy of £105 a year for a Plate for the Lancaster races. The next item he should mention was a most absurd one. It was the travelling expenses of the Duchy Seal, £48. It would seem that the Seal came up from Lancaster to London, went and stayed at the Clarendon Hotel, and returned by a special train. He supposed that it was brought up whenever there was a new Chancellor. Another extraordinary charge was for new seals, £432. If he had John of Gaunt's seal he should prefer to use it, but on every accession to the throne there was a new one for the Duchy. Such an extravagant system as this was unjust to the Sovereign and injurious to the State. As it was said that Her Majesty possessed the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster he trusted that he had shown that she had no such thing; but that it was in this way that the revenues of the Duchy were eaten up. He saw no remedy for this state of things but to transfer the revenues of the Duchy to the Consolidated Fund, as had been done with the other hereditary revenues of the Crown, so that they might be collected without the incurring of the enormous expense, In the next place, he would suggest the enfranchisement of the copyholders on the estates of the Duchy. He knew a case in which the revenue of the Duchy derived from a copyhold manor was £50 a year; and he also knew that it could be commuted for a capital sum of £30,000 in less than six months after a notification to that effect from the Chancellor of the Duchy; for the copyholders of the manor were quite willing to pay 720 years' purchase, to be relieved from the tender mercies of the managers of the Duchy estates. He had now concluded this portion of his statement with regard to the Duchy. But he wished to ask a few questions of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which he was about to put in the most friendly spirit. The first question was this: What was the reason that the income of the Duchy of Lancaster was stationary? There had been large sums sold out of the permanent stock and great improvements made on the estates, especially as regarded drainage. He wished to know why it was that while the royalty paid on the mines in 1844 was £1,141, and was now £5,688, the income of the Duchy was so stationary? How was it, then, that there was an increase in the royalty of the mines of £4,000 a year in 1856 as compared with 1844 and still no increase in the income of the Duchy? It might be one explanation of this that there had been bad bargains, and purchases, and exchanges of lands. He was acquainted with the circumstances of some of the recent exchanges, and he could only say he should have been sorry as a landowner to have made such purchases and exchanges; and he would further say that if there was any bad farming in Staffordshire it was on the Duchy estates. There was an estate which might have been advantageously exchanged for some of the Duchy estates, but it had been exchanged for land principally for sporting purposes; the chance of obtaining some good land for the Duchy was lost. There had been another purchase of land, which was a singular one—land which cost £11,308, having been recently added to the Duchy estates. It might have been added at the suggestion of those who lived in Needwood Forest; but he did not think that any one else would have given such a price for it. The next question he wished to put was with regard to the capital account. This was so mysteriously arranged that he could scarcely understand it. He could only refer to the authority of a Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1854, who said that the accounts of the Duchy were not kept on such a system as to afford in a full and intelligible manner such information as ought to be laid before Parliament. If an ex-Chancellor, therefore, found these accounts incomprehensible, how could a comparatively ignorant country gentleman like himself be expected to understand them? The next question he wished to ask was, what was done with the fines levied on renewals of leases and sales? The accounts in that point puzzled him as much as those of any railway company could. Since 1836 the amount of fines levied was £26,731, and the proceeds of sales amounted to £50,365. What had been done with those sums? Were they treated as capital, as they ought to be, in order to make the income of the Duchy as large as possible? The next question he had to put was with regard to the minerals? There had been a great increase in the production of minerals, of coals and ironstone; but there was no statement on that head in the accounts since 1837 and 1838. He could not understand why that omission had been made. Parliament had required the accounts of the Duchy to be laid before them annually, and for the first two years, the amount of the minerals raised, and the amount of the sales was given. Since then nothing of the kind had been stated. In 1837 the Duchy received one-ninth of the clear value of the coal raised and sold at the mines, after deducting the expense of getting the same. In 1838 a reduction to one-twelfth took place. Of course, this made a great difference in the revenue of the Duchy, and he was anxious to know, therefore, why since the years he had mentioned a full statement on this subject had not been published. The accounts were less satisfactory than they were, in this respect; and he hoped his right hon. Friend would give an explanation of the matter. There was only one other question to which he would refer; and that was, whether his right hon. Friend and the other officials of the Duchy had given their serious consideration to what he called the serious question of the demand for compensation for the destruction of their property by the Staffordshire potteries. The copyholders of North Staffordshire had purchased the surface of the land from the Crown, and a question had arisen whether copyholders purchasing the surface of the land were entitled to the foundation, as it was called. The lessees of the Duchy of Lancaster had undermined a town and district in Staffordshire, which contained a population of 30,000 persons. They undermined streets, houses, churches, chapels, to such an extent that; hon. Members who had been at Herculaneum and Pompeii, except for the beautiful climate and the character of the buildings, might fancy from the unroofed houses and the cracked walls and foundations, that they were looking at the places he had mentioned. One manufactory which cost £6,000 had been destroyed, a whole street had sunk into the earth; and a rick had disappeared in one night. A pigsty was sinking, and the sagacious animal which inhabited it saw what was coming, was very uneasy for two or three days, and finally made its escape the night before the building fell. Many of the people were made bankrupts and insolvents by the losses they sustained, and he was sorry to say that some of them became inmates of the workhouse. The copyholders naturally claimed compensation for the destruction of their property. They had purchased the surface of the land, and had built houses on it costing £300 or £400, as the case might be; then the lessees of the mines of the Duchy undermined the ground, and their houses were destroyed. The question was brought before the courts of law, and the Duchy of Lancaster spent £8,000 in the defending their lessees at law, instead of saying to them that the land was granted subject to their keeping up a foundation for the copyholders. He would say that such an arrangement should have been made with the lessees that, if they destroyed the foundation of the surface of the land, they should compensate the copyholders. It was rather hard, after the Duchy had sold the surface of the land, and lessees destroyed the foundation, that the Duchy should have to defend the lessees at law. It was most unjust. He said it was unjust, for four Judges, including the Chief Justice of England, had said it was unjust. The Judges decided that the copyholders had an unalterable right to a foundation for their buildings, but unfortunately they did not add that they were entitled to compensation if it was destroyed. Lord Chief Justice Denman said that the lessees had an immemorial right to carry on their mining operations; but the lessees in the present case were wrong both in law and in practice; because as the Crown had sold the surface of the land they could not deprive the copyholders of the foundation or jeopardize the lives of Her Majesty's subjects. The Duchy ought to say to the lessees, mine away and get as many minerals as possible, but if you destroy the foundation, you must compensate the copyholders. He had now, he thought, said enough on the subject, and bad given some reason for asking for the returns for which he moved. These returns, if granted, would throw some light upon the state of the Duchy property, would enable the accounts to be better understood, and the country would see that this property had been very badly managed. He did hope that the present discussion would tend to some extent, at all events, to the improvement of this property. The noble Lord at the head of the Government would, he trusted, dive into the mysteries of the Duchy, in which case he was sure the noble Lord would find an opportunity of effecting a reform which would be advantageous to the country, beneficial to the Duchy itself as well as to the Crown, and certainly creditable to the Minister who effected it. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving an Address for a return of all manors and estates now belonging to the Crown in right of the Duchy of Lancaster; of all sales, grants, and enfranchisements which have taken place since 1838; of the purchases and exchanges of land which have been made since the same period, and the date and term of all existing leases of the lands, mines, and rents of the said Duchy.


, in seconding the Motion, said he wished to obtain an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baines) that the Duchy would no longer interfere for the protection of the lessees, but would let the copyholders fight it out with those persons. There was the large expenditure of £20,000 in law within a few years. The copyholders of North Staffordshire, who had been so seriously injured, found, when they took proceedings against the lessees, that the Duchy always came to the rescue with their long purse. Within the last few years some of the finest pasture land had been destroyed—he would not say designedly, but it would almost appear so, because such a reckless destruction need not have taken place if the ironstone had been carried a few yards further. There was a case in which a piece of valuable pasture land, surrounded by a quickset hedge, had been covered with ironstone without any notice, the lessee not even asking permission from the copyholder. Another person, the possessor of twenty-eight acres of land in Staffordshire, valued at from 2s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. a yard for building purposes, had his land spoiled and destroyed by a lessee under the Duchy, and he had received compensation at the rate of only £5 per acre. The copyholders of North Staffordshire might defend themselves in a court of law from the lessees; but they dared not encounter the purse of the Duchy, and besides, if they obtained a verdict they received no costs, and when Lord Denman gave judgment in their favour formerly, he was told that the Crown, by a technical manœuvre, totally nullified its effect. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would take the subject into his serious consideration, in order to put a stop to this reckless course of conduct, and he suggested that a Select Committee should be granted to inquire into the whole question.


said, that he must in the first place tender his acknowledgments to his hon. Friend the Member for Stafford for having given him notice of some of the points to which he had adverted that evening, because, as all the circumstances of which his hon. Friend had complained had taken place before he (Mr. Baines) had entered on his present office, it was impossible for him to bring any personal knowledge of his own to bear upon the subject. He had now, however, made careful inquiries into the matter, and he was sure that he should not appeal to the House in vain for a candid hearing while he replied to the imputations which had been cast upon the Duchy at the head of which he was officially placed. He agreed with his hon. Friend that the duty was imperative on him (Mr. Baines), as Chancellor of the Duchy, to do his best to render its property as available for the interests of Her Majesty, to whom it belonged, as possible. That duty he fully acknowledged, and, so far as he had the means, he certainly intended to perform it; but it must have been seen from the speech of his hon. Friend that any attempt of that kind, however earnest and however prompt, could only be attended with very gradual success; because there were many outstanding leases, granted long before he had had anything to do with the Duchy, a variety of stipends and charges upon land, numerous arrangements of one kind or another, grants of patent offices for life, and so on, which could not be disposed of at once, but could only be dealt with from time to time as opportunities arose. Whenever an opportunity should present itself, however, of making a better arrangement, either with regard to any of these patent offices, or to the management of the land by making improved contracts and leases, he should, so long as he had the honour of holding the situation which he then filled, most earnestly avail himself of it, and should always keep that matter earnestly and diligently in view. He would now call the attention of the House to the precise position of the Duchy of Lancaster at the present moment. It was well known that the Duchy of Lancaster originated as long ago as the reign of Edward III. It became a possession of the Crown in the reign of Henry IV., and from that time to the present the government of the Duchy had been distinct from the other possessions of the Crown, and had consisted of the Chancellor and the Council. When the Civil List was settled at the accession of Her present Majesty, the arrangement was made that all the other hereditary revenues of the Crown should be given up to be dealt with by Parliament, but that the two Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall should not be given up. They remained distinct and separate, as they were before, and that was the footing upon which they stood on the Civil List Act of Her present Majesty. That being so, Parliament very properly—in order that the House might have the means of auditing the accounts of the Duchy of Lancaster—passed an Act, the 1& 2 Vict. c. 101, which provided that every year accounts of the expenditure and revenue of the Duchy should be made out in such a form as the Treasury should from time to time require, and that they should be submitted to Parliament; and here he would state with regard to the returns asked for by his hon. Friend, as he understood that they were required in order to throw light upon the accounts, that he should not interpose any obstacle to the presentation of those returns. Now, he thought that the House would agree with him, when they should have heard his statement, that, whatever room there might still be for amendment—and he was far from denying that there was great room—very substantial improvements had taken place in the management of the Duchy of Lancaster since the passing of the Act of the 1& 2 Vict., and he should briefly enumerate some of those improvements. His hon. Friend the Member for Stafford had alluded to the system which at one time existed, to a great extent, of having local receivers all over the country. He (Mr. Baines) was happy to inform the House that there was only one of those local receivers left. All the rest had been got rid of in one way or another, and by the new arrangement, making the Receiver General answerable for the whole amount received, a saving of no less than £1,200 a year had been effected under that head alone. The one local receiver who remained held a patent office, and could not be removed from it; but whenever a vacancy should occur, it was not likely: that it would be filled up again. His hon. Friend had also adverted to the salaries paid to the officers of the Duchy, and he admitted that that was a topic deserving serious consideration; but since the passing of the Act to which he had alluded, a material alteration had taken place in that respect. Previously, the Chancellor, and he believed all the officers of the Duchy, had been paid a certain sum in the shape of salary plus another sum made up from fees and emoluments, but that was now altered, and fixed salaries were paid instead. Under the new system, the Chancellor received £2,000 a year, instead of £3,400 or £3,500, which his income had averaged before, and the salaries of the other officers had been reduced in about the same proportion. Thus, not only had a great saving in salaries been effected, but the farther advantage had been gained of getting rid of the fees upon instruments and documents of various descriptions. In another point a great improvement was effected. In 1847, Lord Chief Justice Campbell, who at that time held the office which he (Mr. Baines) had now the honour to hold, determined to make an alteration in the constitution of the Council. This Council was part of the system of government of the Duchy in the time of Edward III., but it was thought advisable to infuse into the Council some new blood, and to obtain the assistance of gentlemen qualified to advise with respect to the sale and letting of lands particularly, and generally with respect to the management of a large territorial domain like the Duchy of Lancaster; and, accordingly, several new Councillors were added at that time. When he stated the names of those whose assistance he had now the honour of having as Councillors, he thought the House would admit that it was impossible to imagine any set of gentlemen better qualified to give advice with respect to the management of such property. The present Councillors were the Duke of Newcastle, Earl Spencer, the Earl of Hardwicke, Lord Portman, Lord Belper, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, and Colonel Phipps. It was impossible to name persons entitled to more respect, and he was happy to say that he had the opportunity of referring to this Council for advice with respect to any matter of importance connected with the management of the domain, and had during the short time he had held the office of Chancellor received most valuable assistance from them. From the time of this alteration there had been introduced very great improvements into the government of the Duchy of Lancaster. Very soon after the appointment of new Councillors by Lord Campbell, a recommendation was made by the Council which involved another improvement of an important kind. They recommended that fines on grants and renewals of leases of land should be abolished as speedily as possible, and since then every effort had been made to carry out the principle. He had already said that any attempt to carry out these improvements could only he prosecuted gradually, but the object was kept steadily in view. A point adverted to by the hon. Member for Stafford, and on which too much stress could not be laid, in reference to the expense attaching to the management of the property of the Duchy, was the very scattered and dispersed character of the possessions of the Duchy. The hon. Member had stated that in some counties the amount of the property was very small, and yet it was necessary to have some person to look after it. When property was scattered in that way a great amount of expense was necessarily involved, and, in consequence, about two years ago an Act of Parliament was passed which made a great alteration in this respect, as it empowered the Chancellor and Council to dispose of outlying properties, and to purchase other properties contiguous to the property already possessed. The object was to consolidate, as it were, the possessions of the Duchy, and this had already been carried out to a considerable extent, and would be hereafter carried much further. He had understood the hon. Member for Stafford to say that the Queen derived hardly any benefit from the Duchy of Lancaster, and that the payments into the Privy Purse were very trifling, and that no increase had taken place in them. He had got a return of the payments into the Privy Purse for the last nineteen years, since the time when a new system of account was introduced, and he would state the result. The House would then be able to judge whether the result of these alterations had been so insignificant as his hon. Friend had mentioned, and also whether strong hopes might not be entertained that by means of the improvements he had already adverted to much greater progress would hereafter be made in the same course. He was happy to say that in the last and preceding years the return had augmented, and there was a prospect of a considerable further increase in the present year. The yearly average of the sums paid into the Privy Purse from the Receiver of the Duchy of Lancaster free of all deductions for the last nineteen years was £13,210. In 1851 the sum paid was £12,000; in 1852, £15,000; in 1853, £15,500; in 1854, £18,000; in 1855, £20,000; and in 1856, £20,000. In the present year he could not say how much more would be paid into the Privy Purse, but there was a prospect of the sum being much greater than in the last few years, and of the increase being progressive in future years, as it did not arise from accidental circumstances. Therefore, it was wrong to say that the amount paid to the Privy Purse was trifling. Of course allowance must be made for a certain time for existing encumbrances, old leases, patent offices held for life, contracts and engagements already entered into, and which could not be got rid of all at once; but he had every reason to believe that the resources of this great property would develope themselves more and more, and return to Her Majesty a greater and greater revenue. The hon. Member for Stafford had thrown out one or two suggestions which he should not lose sight of, and he promised that if any gentleman would favour him with suggestions for the real improvement of the property, those suggestions would receive from him the most respectful and earnest consideration. He admitted that the present discussion was useful in having brought forth certain suggestions which might be found capable of being carried out. He had already answered many of the questions which the hon. Member for Stafford did him the favour previously to communicate to him, but there were one or two more to which it was necessary that he should advert. With respect to the statement that the income derived by Her Majesty from the Duchy was stationary, he had, he believed, given a satisfactory answer. The hon. Member had also called attention to a purchase of land for the sum of £11,000, from a lady of the name of Anson, and observed that the people in the neighbourhood did not know why that purchase was made. The purchase was made some years ago, but he had inquired into the circumstances, and he found that the rents of the property yielded a larger sum than the money would have yielded if still invested in the funds. With regard to the accounts, the managers of the Duchy property were bound by statute to lay them before Parliament in such form as the Treasury should require, and he never heard before that they did not give full information. There was, however, every readiness to give the fullest information, and he was sure that the Treasury would attend to any suggestions made on that point. He could give no more specific answer with respect to this matter, because the hon. Member did not point out in what respect the accounts were unintelligible. A case of damage much to be regretted, done to the copyholders of the manors of Hanley and Shelton, in consequence of mining operations, had been referred to. That injury had been sustained by them no one could doubt, but the question was, whether the Duchy, in what had been done in this matter, which took place a number of years ago, was blameable. As far as he was informed, it was not blameable. An action had been brought some time back, in the case of "Hilton and Granville," by a copyholder of one of those manors, against the lessee of the mines, for damage done to his property. That case had occupied the attention of the Court for a considerable period, and there was a great deal of conflicting evidence adduced. In that case, the Court were of opinion that a legal custom was not sufficiently established of the right of the lessees of mines to excavate at risk to the property of other persons, and ultimately the case had been brought before the Court in Error, and the case had not yet been decided. He believed himself that the general custom had been, that the copyholders held their land subject to the right of the lessee of the mines to excavate, and that if they erected buildings on ground which it was intended to excavate, they did so at their own risk. It appeared to him that, although no doubt individuals might suffer from such a custom, yet it would be difficult, in a district the working population of which was supported almost entirely by mining operations, to introduce a different system. It was found upon the trial to which he had referred, that the copyholders were served with notices by the lessees of the minerals, to the effect that they had a right to get the minerals, and cautioning them against erecting any building that might be endangered by the excavations. Some copyholders took no heed of these notices, and erected buildings at their own risk. It appeared also from other sources, that when it was evident that land would be excavated, the surface was bought at a reduced price in consequence of that liability. With regard to the litigation that had taken place, the jury had found that such a custom as that to which he had referred, and which threw the risk from mining on the copyholder, did in point of fact exist, and although it was true that the Court of Queen's Bench, under the presidency of Lord Denman, had held that such a custom was bad in law, this was directly opposed to the opinion of Lord Cottenham, and the question had since then gone into a Court of Error, out of which it had never emerged, and the question still remained undecided. But, in 1846, Lord Granville Somerset, the then Chancellor of the Duchy, had expressly stated that he was willing to listen to any proposition for an equitable arrangement not involving an absolute abandonment of the rights of the Duchy. That offer had been repeated more than once by his successors, and to it he (Mr. Baines) was willing to adhere. It was said that the officers of the Duchy had encouraged the lessee in his litigation against the copyholder; but the fact was, that they were under covenants to indemnify him in working the mine; and they therefore thought they were bound to do their best to show that no liability had accrued. He thought he had now shown, with respect to the management of the estates, that there was ample reason to believe that an important progress had been made in the management of these estates, and that further progress might be expected. He had only further to say, that he had no objection to the returns moved for by the hon. Gentleman, for he was anxious that the fullest information should be given as to the management of the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster.


never heard a less satisfactory answer than that which the right hon. Gentleman had given to the speech of his hon. Friend, particularly so far as that portion of it went which referred to that which he considered a case of great oppression, He had spoken of the injury done by the falling in of the surface in Staffordshire as if it was a matter which had occurred some time ago. But at this moment the houses in Hanley and Sherrington were constantly falling in. The lives of the inhabitants were in constant danger, and yet they could get no redress from the Duchy. He had himself been for seventeen years connected with this mining district, and had frequently applied for redress of the grievances which had been inflicted, and he thought that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman that evening would give the House a specimen of the kind of redress which he had to expect. He had been sent from the Duchy to the lessees, then back again from the lessees to the Duchy. Then he was told to apply to the Courts, and the right hon. Gentleman had indeed drawn a pleasant picture of the state of those who went into those courts. It was too bad that it should be gravely proposed that people who had been ruined by the Duchy should then be compelled to fight against the purse of the Duchy. And all this injury was inflicted upon the inhabitants of Staffordshire for the annual sum of £2,700, for that was the whole rent which the Duchy derived from the ironstone, the getting of which occasioned the mischief. He really would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as a Minister of the Crown, administering Crown property he was justified, for the purpose of obtaining a small rent for mines and minerals, in creating all this mischief amongst a population who were the loyal subjects of Her Majesty.


said, that, as a tenant of Her Majesty, he hoped he might be permitted to say a few words. There were few properties in the county of Stafford or elsewhere which were in a worse position than that of Her Majesty as Duchess of Lancaster. He believed that, if the property were sold and the produce invested, the income would be quintupled. He found by the Returns that there was a balance of £80,000 in the hands of the Receiver General. What was the necessity for such a balance? He should observe that Her Majesty reserved the privilege of killing the game on the estate. For his own part, he should say that he would be very glad to see any member of the Royal Family visiting the estate for the purpose of sporting, and he was sure that the gentry of the neighbourhood so honoured would do all in their power to make the sport as agreeable as possible. However, such an honour had never been conferred on the estate within his memory. But let not hon. Members think that those Royal game rights did not give rise to any inconvenience to the tenants. Although the Royal Family did not sport over the estate, Her Majesty required a supply of game, and the Queen's Master of the game had demanded of him, as one of the tenants, an annual supply of four pheasants, eighty partridges, and eighteen hares, for the Royal kitchen. Now, nothing could afford him greater pleasure than to in any way contribute to Her Majesty's comforts, and he should, therefore, have been most happy to send in his quota to the Royal kitchen; but, unfortunately, he lived in a neighbourhood where night poaching was carried on, and he could not comply with the demand of the master of the game. However, on representing these facts to his noble Friend, the officer in question, the latter, after some discussion on the subject, consented that a purveyor should supply the game, and that the bill should be sent to him (Mr. Bass) every Christmas. Accordingly the game was so supplied, and the bill was sent to him every year. He, of course, paid it, with he need not say how much pleasure and satisfaction. The state of things, however, to which he referred might, he thought, more properly have existed in the reign of Henry IV. than at the present day.

Motion agreed to. Address for "Return of all Manors and Estates now belonging to the Crown in right of the Duchy of Lancaster; of all Sales, Grants, and Enfranchisements which have taken place since 1838; of the purchases and exchanges of Land which have been made since the same period, and the date and term of all existing Leases of the Lands, Mines, and Rents of the said Duchy.