HC Deb 22 May 1857 vol 145 cc720-48

Order for Committee read.


having moved that the House should go into Committee to take into consideration the Royal Message on this subject.


Sir, I am reluctant to interpose at the present moment, but I believe that the opinions I am about to express are those which are held by a large body of my countrymen, and for that reason, and that alone, I believe that they will be listened to with attention by this House. I do not think that anything I can offer will carry any weight with it, but as my opinion will be backed out of doors, I have no doubt the House will give me its attention for a few moments. Sir, I feel that I have on the present occasion a divided duty. I have a duty to perform to the Sovereign and a duty to the people. The Sovereign of these realms has so won the affections of her people that in her case they sink the monarch in the woman, and the respect and deference which we owe to Her authority as the Sovereign are, if I may so say, swallowed up in the affection for the woman. In all the relations of life—as daughter, wife, and mother—Her Majesty has set an example to Her people which, socially, is of immense importance, and on that account I am quite sure it will be our anxious desire, as it will be our very greatest pleasure, to meet her wishes. As this is the first of Her Majesty's children who has left Her parental home, and as it is therefore the first occasion on which Her Majesty has come to this House to ask for aid and assistance in setting that child forth in the world as a daughter of England should be set forth, we must all feel an intense desire to meet the wishes of the Sovereign. But, Sir, while doing this, we must not forget that we have another duty to perform, and that, although we are the subjects of the Queen, we are also the representatives of the people. We must not forget that while we endeavour—as I am sure we all shall endeavour, to meet Her wishes, we have also to consider the interests of the people; and, therefore, that while we are generous, we must endeavour also to be just—generous to the; Sovereign, but just to the people. But, Sir, what I wish to state is with respect to the mode in which we should endeavour to meet the wishes of the Sovereign. We have been told in the gracious Message which Her Majesty has sent, that she has selected a husband for her eldest daughter; and she calls upon the House to aid and assist her, and so to provide for that daughter as to do honour to the people of England, whose daughter she is, and at the same time to secure the comfort of her child. It must be the wish of the House to meet that sentiment as it deserves, but it is due to the people of this country to recollect that when we are providing for the wants—and that is a strong term—for the wants of the child of the Sovereign, we ought not to press too heavily upon the people we represent. We must recollect that the Princess Royal is only the first of a large family, and that we are now considering a step which will be brought forward as a precedent, and what we do for the Princess Royal we shall be expected to do for the other Princes and Princesses. Now, Sir, we must also recollect that the Royal Lady who is about now to be married to the Prince of Prussia has chosen for her husband no humble, no obscure individual, no private person, but the heir to a great name and a great lineage. She is about to be married to one, who in the ordinary course of life will become one of the great Sovereigns of Europe. She is, therefore, allying herself to a great Power, and we do not intend, I suppose, so to provide for her as that she shall be considered a Royal Queen, who is about to be married, but to provide for her happiness as the wife of the Royal Prince of Prussia. But while we so endeavour to provide for her happiness, we have to consider what are the best means of so doing; and the only reason that induces me to rise and address the House is, the consideration of what has occurred on a previous and similar occasion. On the marriage of the Princess Royal of England, the daughter of George III., the House of Commons of England determined to apportion for her dowry a round sum of £80,000. They determined by this means at once and for ever to discharge this obligation. I know, Sir, that circumstances at that time allowed the then Sovereign to apply to Ireland; I know that an application was made to the Parliament of Ireland, and that they took a different course, and voted to the Princess Royal an annuity of £5,000 a year, thus imposing upon the people of Ireland the obligation of paying an annuity of £5,000, however long that lady might live. In order to express the feelings which, I believe, is held by a great body of my fellow-countrymen, I beg to tell the noble Lord that the course which the Parliament of England then took meets, as I believe, the feelings of the people of England at the present moment. What is desired, is, that we would generously, and as befits the people of England, provide for the daughter of England, but that we should make that provision at once by the payment of a certain sum suitable for the dowry of the wife of a Prince of Prussia. It is hoped that there will be no attempt to follow the example of the Parliament of Ireland and to fix the people of England with the payment of an annuity. I have, therefore, ventured humbly and inefficiently to suggest to the noble Lord that he should on the present occasion propose to the Parliament of England the payment of a round sum certain. Let it be a generous sum, but let us not be hampered by an annuity, and let us at once and for ever discharge our obligations. Sir, we must never forget that this Royal Lady is about to be allied to one of the great Powers of Europe. With that Power—may God avert it!—we may be at war. In my own time that has been an event within men's expectations. I cannot forget how, under dynastic feelings, England has recently been treated by Prussia, and, although I have every feeling of respect and deference to my Sovereign, and every desire to meet Her wishes and enable Her to set her daughter forth in happiness, I cannot forget how my country has been treated by that House to which the Princess Royal is about to ally herself. Sir, this being the case, and receiving this as a warning, I say to the House of Commons, do not hamper this country or yourselves by an annuity to be paid every year. Send this Lady forth as a daughter of England ought to be sent forth. Let her have everything that her necessities and her happiness require; let it be done generously, but let it be done once and for ever.


I entreat the House not to enter by anticipation into a discussion upon a proposition which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is prepared to submit to the consideration of the House at the proper moment. I make every allowance for the earnestness of the opinions of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I submit to the House that it is neither consistent with the respect that is due to the Crown nor to the efficiency of our proceedings to discuss a matter which is not yet laid before the House. My right hon. Friend will state the proposal we intend to make, and the reasons upon which it is founded, and when the House knows what we propose, it will then be the fit time to discuss the subject.

House in Committee, Mr. FITZROY in the chair.

The Address in answer to the Queen's Message having been read by the Clerk at the table,


then rose and said: In rising to request the Committee to redeem the pledge which it has already given in its Address to Her Majesty, and to take into consideration Her Gracious Message respecting the marriage of the Princess Royal, I trust that I need not say one word to them to entreat hon. Members not to suffer their judgment in any way to be anticipated by the remarks which they have just heard from the hon. and learned Gentleman, but to enter into the examination of the question with unbiassed minds, and to form their opinion upon the facts and arguments which it will be my duty to submit to them. Before I proceed to state the proposition which I shall presently place in the Chairman's hands, I beg the Committee to allow me to explain to them the nature of the arrangement under which the Sovereign and the Royal Family are provided for, in respect to their maintenance and their pecuniary means, under our constitutional laws and regulations. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) said that this was an occasion on which we ought to be just before we are generous. Now, in the proposition which I have to submit to the House I shall not appeal merely to their generosity. What I have to put before them will address itself to their sense of justice. It is well-known to the Committee that in former days the Crown of this country possessed large hereditary estates and revenues, and that the entire expenses of the Sovereign and his family were defrayed out of those revenues, which were regarded as the inherent property of the Crown. By a succession of constitutional compacts those hereditary revenues have been surrendered to Parliament, which at the same time engaged to make an adequate provision for the dignity and the honour of the Crown, and for the maintenance of the Royal Family. During the last century the surrender of those revenues was partial, but since the reign of William IV. that surrender has been entire. It has been deemed a matter of policy in this country wholly to strip and denude the Sovereign of all hereditary property, and to render him during his life entirely dependent upon the bounty of Parliament. We see that in foreign States possessing free insitutions this constitutional jealousy has not been observed. It is well known that after the expulsion of Charles X. from his throne, and the succession of Louis Philippe, the latter was not called upon to surrender the large possessions which he inherited as the head of the House of Orleans, but retained them as King of France, and, indeed, retained them for some time after he had ceased to be the Sovereign of that country. A similar arrangement exists in the kingdom with which the Princess Royal is about to contract a matrimonial alliance—I mean Prussia. Although the kingdom of Prussia possesses constitutional forms, and is governed by a Parliament associated with the King, nevertheless the Royal family has a hereditary provision which renders it independent of the votes of the Prussian Parliament, In England a different course has been followed, dictated by a constitutional jealousy of the overweening power of the Crown. The Crown has been deprived of its hereditary revenues. But in consequence of that deprivation there arises on the part of Parliament a corresponding obligation to make a sufficient provision for the maintenance and the dignity of the Crown and Royal Family. Therefore, on occasions of this kind, when it is the duty of the Executive Government to appeal to this House to make provision for those wants of the Crown which have not been included in the settlement of the Civil List, an obligation arises not merely of generosity find bounty on the part of this House, but one of strict justice, owing to the arrangement which has been made with respect to the hereditary revenues of the Crown. With the view of showing the position of Her present Majesty in regard to her income and expenditure, I will state to the Committee the arrangements of the present Civil List, and then contrast them with the Civil List of King George III., with which it appears to me most naturally to come into comparison; for this reason, that Her Majesty has a numerous family growing up and to be provided for. The same was the case with King George III., but it was not the case with any of the Sovereigns intermediate between King George III. and Her present Majesty. Now, the Committee ought to be informed that the comparison of the Civil List of King George III. with that of Her present Majesty is not a perfectly simple question, inasmuch as the Civil List of King George III. was founded on principles different from those on which the Civil List of the present reign was constructed. Agreeably to the arrangement by which not only the personal expenses of the Sovereign, but also various branches of the civil government were charged upon the hereditary revenues of the Crown, the Civil List of King George III. included several important heads of expense not comprised in the present Civil List—such expenses, for instance, as the salaries of the Judges and those of the diplomatic Agents abroad. Therefore, in order to make the comparison fair, it is necessary to extract those items only of the Civil List of King George III. which correspond with the Civil List of the present reign. I have made that extract, and it is as follows:—

Per annum.
Privy purse £60,000
Household bills 236,000
Ditto salaries 121,000
Ditto other salaries 16,905
Royal bounty, &c. 13,531
Total 447,436"
Thus £447,436 per annum was nearly the corresponding charge for the Civil List of King George III., as contrasted with that of the present reign. With the permission of the House I will make a short quotation from the Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone, in which he expresses his opinion upon the Civil List of King George III. And the Committee will see on this comparison whether the Civil List of Her Majesty may or may not be deemed moderate. This passage was written near the beginning of the reign of King George III., and it conveys the opinion of a very competent authority on that arrangement. Sir William Blackstone, in vol. 1, page 335, says:— And though complaints have sometimes been made of the increase of the Civil List, yet, if we consider the sums that have been formerly granted, the limited extent under which it is now established, the revenues and prerogatives given up in lieu of it by the Crown, the numerous branches of the present Royal Family, and (above all) the diminution of the value of money compared with what it was worth in the last century, we must acknowledge these complaints to be void of any rational foundation, and that it is impossible to support that dignity which a King of Great Britain should maintain with an income in any degree less than what is now established by Parliament. This was the judgment of one who may be taken as a competent witness on the moderateness of the Civil List of King George III. Let me now compare with that Civil List the items of her present Majesty's Civil List. The Civil List of the Queen is as follows:—
"1st class, Privy purse £60,000
2d class, Salaries 131,260
3d class, Household expenses 172,500
4th class, Royal bounty, &c. 13,200
5th class, Pensions
6th class, Unappropriated 8,040
Total 385,000
The present salaries are £10,000 more than the allowance in the reign of George III. But then the Committee must bear in mind this fact, that at that time there was an extensive system of perquisites, gratuities, and fees paid to members of the Royal Household, and even I believe to the servants of that Household. Therefore, taking into consideration that system, the allowance for salaries was even greater than it is now. The total amount of the present Civil List is £385,000, as compared with £447,000, the amount of the Civil List of George III. Now, having stated the comparative amount of those two Civil Lists, I will, with the permission of the Committee, next call their attention to certain other facts which are material to the question before us. In the first place, King George III. did not surrender the whole of his hereditary revenues. Therefore, in addition to the allowance made for the Civil List he had certain hereditary revenues, out of which a portion of his expenses were defrayed. It appears that not less a sum than £12,705,461 was placed at the disposal of the Crown from the hereditary revenues during the reign of George III. Of this sum £2,600,000 was applied to the public service, and £3,372,834 was appropriated in payment of prize money during the war, leaving a sum of not less than £6,732,627 applicable to the expenses of the Sovereign. The Committee will therefore observe, that in addition to the Civil List provided by Parliament and payable from Parliamentary funds to King George III., he received in the course of his reign a sum of about six millions and a half, the whole of which has been surrendered by Her present Majesty, and no portion of which is receivable by her family. In addition to this, George III. received, during the minority of the Prince of Wales, the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall. A different course has been pursued during the reign of Her Majesty; the whole of the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall have been set apart for his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and a portion of them has been applied to the expenses of his education and maintenance, but the whole of the surplus has been in vested for his future benefit. That source of revenue, therefore, which was enjoyed by His Majesty King George III. has not in any respect accrued to our present Queen. But, in addition to this source of revenue which King George III. possessed, but which Her Majesty does not possess, there was at the same time carried on by the King and the Royal family a system of incurring debts to a large extent, which this House was called upon to pay—a system from which the reign of Her Majesty has been altogether exempt. The Civil List at that period was treated as a very elastic fund, considerable debts were incurred in various branches from year to year, and at certain periods the Executive Government came down to Parliament and proposed votes in Committee of Supply to pay off the debts of the Civil List. It is true those debts included the expense's of the civil government as well as the personal expenses of the Sovereign. There might be, for instance, some extraordinary payments for diplomatic purposes or other similar objects, and these would be voted in a general sum, together with the payments for the personal expenses of the Sovereign. It is therefore impossible, on merely looking at the votes for the excesses of the Civil List at that period, to define, without examination, what portion of them were for the personal debts of the Sovereign; but a considerable portion of them were undoubtedly voted for that object. I will trouble the Committee with merely a short statement of the amount of debts on the Civil List paid during the reign of George III. I think they will be surprised at the large amounts that were thus defrayed, and the frequent appeals which must have been made to the liberality of Parliament for what was in fact an increase, to a great extent, of the allowance to the Sovereign fixed by the Civil List. They were as follows:—
In 1769 £513,500
1777 618,300
1784 60,000
1786 210,000
1802 990,000
1804 591,000
1805 10,400
1814 118,800
1816 185,000
Making altogether for votes granted by this House for excesses in the Civil List in the reign of George III. not less than £3,297,000. But I do not mean to say that the whole or even half that sum was for the maintenance of the Royal Family. I have already stated that some parts were applied to purposes connected with the State; but a considerable portion of it was, in fact, an augmentation of the expenses of the Sovereign as fixed by the Civil List. In addition to the sums which I have stated, George III, received certain indirect benefits from the cessation of charges for annuities to members of the Royal Family which had been fixed upon the Civil List. In addition to the allowance made to King George III. on his accession, the following allowances were added to the Civil List—namely, the Princess Dowager of Wales, £50,000 a year; the Duke of Cumberland, £15,000 a year; and the Princess Amelia, £12,000 a year, making altogether £77,000 a year. On the cessation of these annuities from natural causes the Civil List was, in fact, relieved to that extent. There were also other charges of a similar nature for the younger branches of the Royal Family, which, by a similar cessation, benefited the privy purse of the King, or at all events the Civil List, to the extent of £36,000 a year. Therefore the result of what I have stated is, that George III. during his life received from the un-surrendered branches of the hereditary revenues £6,732,627, and from special grants, £3,297,000, making altogether £10,029,627. A considerable portion, no doubt, of the hereditary revenues was applied to the expenses of the civil government charged on the Civil List; but I am unable to state the precise portion. Nevertheless, another considerable portion was in aid of those branches of the Civil List which were destined for the maintenance and benefit of the Sovereign. The Civil List also benefited by the cessation of annuities to the extent of £113,000 a year, as I have already mentioned. Besides the greater magnitude of the Civil List, which I have already explained, there were other allowances which George III. possessed, and by the non-possession of which Her present Majesty is placed in a less favourable position. The annuity to Queen Charlotte, the Queen Consort, was originally fixed at £58,000 a year, but at the commencement of the malady by which George III. was afflicted, it was increased by £10,000, making altogether £68,000 a year; whereas, the annuity of the present Consort, Prince Albert, is only £30,000 a year. Allowances were likewise made for the maintenance of the children of George III. from an early age. No such allowance has hitherto been asked for on behalf of Her Majesty. There were allowances made for the education and maintenances of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, from an early period, and also for other members of the Royal Family. At a later time ample provision was made by Parliament by successive arrangements for the maintenance and education of the Princess Charlotte by grants to the Prince Regent, whereas nothing has been asked for the education of the daughters of the Queen. In 1801 the Civil List debts for the support of the Princess Charlotte were £21,967, and they were voted in 1802. On the 4th of June, 1801, the Prince of Wales was allowed out of the Civil List £6,000 a year for the Princess Charlotte when she was five years old, and that was continued until her marriage with Prince Leopold. By the 145th chapter of the 46th year of the reign of George III. a further sum of £7,000 was allowed to the Princess Charlotte. In 1813 further annual sums, varying from £1,400 to £1,800, were paid to the Princess out of the Civil List. In 1801 a sum of £28,635 had been incurred on account of the younger branches of the Royal family. These examples prove that at that time we were in the habit of making allowances for the maintenance and education of younger branches of the Royal family even from an early age, but of such allowances we have hitherto had no instance in Her Majesty's reign. Her present Majesty has been subjected to large expenses of a public nature, which could scarcely have entered into the consideration of Parliament when the Civil List was arranged, with regard to which, however, she has made no claim upon this House, although assistance for similar purposes was granted in former reign. I allude particularly to the visit which Her Majesty paid to the Emperor Louis Napoleon, at Paris—a visit which was purely for public and State purposes, and not for her individual pleasure—(laughter). With great deference to the Committee I repeat that visit was not made merely with a view to the private and personal gratification of the Sovereign, but for the public good, as was well understood at the time, and it was accepted by the Emperor Napoleon as a public, national, and State visit. I can hardly conceive that it is a novel idea to the Committee that the visit of our Sovereign to the Sovereign of a foreign country is not so much for that personal gratification which a private individual enjoys in visits, but rather for a more general and political object. Similar visits were made by His Majesty King George IV. to his electoral dominions of Hanover, and to Scotland and Ireland; but, instead of the expense of those visits being defrayed exclusively from the Civil List, he received in 1821 from the Admiralty droits a sum of £40,000, and in 1822 a sum of £52,970. There is also a large expenditure which in former reigns was defrayed out of the Civil List, or in some cases out of the civil contingencies fund. I allude to the expenses attending the visits of foreign Sovereigns and foreign Princes to this country. In former reigns, too, there were considerable charges on account of the erection of palaces for the Sovereigns, whereas Her Majesty has out of her own purse paid for furniture and repairs at Buckingham Palace one amount of £12,800 and another of —pound;21,300. I beg also to remind the Committee that her Majesty has done that which by law she was not bound to do. It appears, that while on the one hand Her Majesty has voluntarily subjected herself to expense under these heads, the Civil List has, on the other, been diminished by a payment of £6,180 per annum for income-tax in time of peace, and of £15,500 per annum in time of war. The Committee will thus see that while on the one hand the allowance to George III. was much greater than the allowance to Her Majesty, she on the other has undertaken various expenses which George III. was not called on to defray. That being the case, I think I have shown the Committee good grounds for coming to the conclusion that the provision which I shall ask them to make with regard to the Princess Royal is one which appeals not merely to their generosity but also to their sense of justice. Without dwelling on this subject, I would remind the House that Her Majesty has on no occasion since the commencement of her reign made any appeal to this House for the payment of debts, that her household has been carried on with a strict regard to economy, that she has maintained her establishment within the income allowed by Parliament, and that she has to the very letter fulfilled her duty as a constitutional Sovereign, which, in this respect, consists in observing with perfect strictness and integrity the contract made with her at the beginning of her reign as an ample provision for her annual expenses. In making comparisons I may seem to disparage former Sovereigns of this country—this I have no wish to do; but I cannot refrain from call- ing the attention of the Committee to the example which Her Majesty has set, at all events, to all future Sovereigns in the strictness and integrity with which she has discharged that obligation. The Committee are aware that the Civil List arranged at the commencement of the present reign makes no provision for the younger branches of the Royal family, and that it makes no provision for such an event as that now contemplated—viz., the marriage of Her Majesty's eldest daughter. It makes provision only for the duration of the Queen's life—which provision will entirely cease when another Sovereign succeeds to the throne, and the hereditary revenues of the Crown are resumed by him. Therefore, in the event of the House making any provision which shall endure for the life of the Princess Royal, it is necessary that a special grant should be made in her behalf. As the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield has adverted to precedents, I will take the liberty to call the attention of the Committee to two precedents [a laugh] which bear on this case. The first precedent is that of the Princess Royal, daughter of George II. [Great laughter.] I am at a loss to understand why hon. Gentlemen laugh. It may provoke the merriment of the House to call its attention to a precedent of this kind, but if I do not, perhaps I may be taunted with having kept back from the House information which it is desirable it should possess. I am not bound to give hon. Gentlemen information on matters of history, but surely the accession of the House of Hanover is not an event so remote that my allusion to the second monarch of the line should provoke merriment, or that it should be a matter of surprise when I refer to precedents in that reign as not inapplicable to the present case. The Princess Royal, the daughter of George II., formed in 1734 a marriage with the Prince of Orange, which, though hon. Gentlemen seem entirely to have forgotten it, very much interested the nation at that time, and was received with great joy and congratulation. The question, however, to which I wish to direct the attention of the Committee is the provision which was made by Parliament on that occasion. An annuity out of the Civil List of £5,000 per annum was granted for life, and an Act of Parliament—namely, the 7th of Geo. II.—was passed for that purpose. In addition to the annuity so fixed she had a dowry of £80,000, raised by the sale of certain lands in one of the West India islands, and that under the sanction of another Act passed in the 6th of Geo. II. The Princess Royal, the daughter of George III., received a similar provision when she married the Hereditary Prince of Wirtemberg in 1797. She received a dowry of £80,000 and an annuity of £5,000 from the Irish Parliament. On the consolidation of the two Exchequers this annuity came to be paid from the British exchequer, and I may further mention that one-half of the larger portion given to that Princess was settled upon her children. In submitting our proposition with respect to the provision for the marriage of the present Princess Royal we have followed as nearly as possible these two precedents; but, on account of the difference which exists in the circumstances of this marriage, we have altered the proportion which the annuity bears to the marriage portion. If the Government had thought it desirable to agree to the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield to reject altogether the plan of an annuity, they might have proposed a sum which, when invested, would have produced a sufficient annuity for her Royal Highness, and which at her death would have accrued for the benefit of her children. That seems to have been the idea which dictated the proposition of so large a portion as £80,000 in the case of the daughter of George III., on her marriage with the Hereditary Prince of Wirtemberg, but, inasmuch as the person with whom her Royal Highness the present Princess Royal is about to contract an alliance, is the eldest son of the heir presumptive to the throne of Prussia, it may be presumed that a similar provision for children is not desirable, and the Government have thought it more fitting to propose an annuity of £8,000 and a marriage portion of only £40,000. This provision may be regarded in a double point of view, either as a sum voted by Parliament or as a sum providing a certain benefit for Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. In the case of the provision which was made in 1797, the sum of £80,000 was invested in the name of trustees in the English funds, and on account of the low state of Consols at the time—under fifty, I think,—it produced £165,000 stock, the income arising from which was —pound;4,950. Therefore, taking the annuity granted by the Irish Parliament into account, the provision made for the then Princess Royal amounted to nearly £10,000 a year—an income much larger than that which we now propose. I trust that the Committee will, on reflection, agree that this is a reasonable and moderate provision for her Royal Highness. In cases of this sort it is vain to hope for perfect unanimity; some persons may wish to make the annuity smaller and the marriage portion larger, but on the whole I think the proposal which I have made is reasonable and moderate, and I hope the Committee will not diminish the graciousness of its act by minute criticisms upon the proportions which the marriage portion and the annuity bear to each other. Perhaps, before I sit down I may be permitted to call attention to the fact that Prince Frederic William of Prussia, whose alliance with her daughter Her Majesty has sanctioned, is not an alien in blood to the. Royal Family. He is a descendant in the direct male line from a daughter of George I., and is, in truth, within the limitation of the Act of Settlement, inasmuch as he is a descendant of the Electress Sophia, being a Protestant; and the alliance, therefore, which her Royal Highness is about to contract is in complete accordance with the recognised policy of this country, and the principle on which the succession to the Crown of England rests. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will have no hesitation in agreeing to this proposal. The rules of the House make it necessary that I should move the Resolution relating to the annuity in this Committee, and that relating to the marriage portion in Committee of Supply, but that is merely a matter of form, and it will only be necessary, after agreeing to the first Resolution, for the Speaker to take the chair in order to enable us to pass into a Committee of Supply. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the annual sum of eight thousand pounds be granted to Her Majesty, out of the Consolidated Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, the said annuity to be settled on Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, for her life, in such manner as Her Majesty shall think proper, and to commence from the date of the Marriage of Her Royal Highness with His Royal Highness Prince Frederic William of Prussia.


Sir, I rise to move an Amendment to that Resolution. I propose that this Committee do make provision for Her Royal Highness by a sum certain, and not by way of an annuity. It appears to me that to make provision by way of annuity will get us into very great difficulty, and that we shall be thereby entering into what our cousins across the water would call the "entangled alliances." If we at once provide for the Royal lady by means of a sum certain, we at once discharge all the obligations we owe to the Sovereign, we provide completely for the happiness of this Royal lady, and we do not subject ourselves to the misfortune of considering this Vote annually, and thus create an annual grievance. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that upon the accession of William IV. all the hereditary revenues of the Crown were given up. But surely that is an error. Every year there is paid into the privy purse out of the Duchy of Lancaster a sum of £20,000; and I recollect perfectly well, from having been a student of Lord Grey's Administration, that previously to that noble Lord's coming into power, and when the Duke of Wellington was Prime Minister, it was proposed to give up all the hereditary revenues of the Crown, and I remember Mr. Brougham complimenting the then Ministry, as well as William IV., upon the magnanimity of such conduct. But I also remember full well that he was obliged to call back his words, for the whole of the hereditary revenues were not given up, as the Duchy of Lancaster was retained; and, therefore, to say that the position of Her present Majesty is different from that of George III. is not quite so correct. Again, take the Duchy of Cornwall. It is true by a certain wise regulation a sum has accumulated for the future provision of the Prince of Wales. I acknowledge that; and I am told that the annual net revenue of the Duchy amounts to £26,000. Therefore, I suppose, when the Prince of Wales comes to his majority he will have a large sum at his command, although a certain amount has been allocated for his education. But surely the doings of George III. are not to be brought before this Parliament as an example. The doings of an unreformed Parliament are not to be brought forward for this Parliament to follow. Anything more preposterous than the doings of George III. and his Parliament cannot be conceived; and so preposterous was conceived to be the mingling up the very heterogeneous materials comprising what is called "the Civil List," that when Lord Grey came into office—my right hon. Friend behind me (Sir J. Graham) will recollect the circumstance—upon the Motion of Sir H Par- nell a Resolution was carried against the Ministry, separating the Civil List, and discarding from it altogether what was not connected with the personal consideration and comfort of the Sovereign; and from that time the Civil List has been conducted upon rational principles. Parliament knows what it has been voting—that it has voted a sum for the personal comfort of the Sovereign, and to meet the social requirements of her station. It should be remembered that every year we pay the Sovereign of this country a sum of very nearly £400,000. For her Consort we have provided; and not only have we given him £30,000 a year, but many lucrative situations. We have generously built for Her Majesty what I will not call a magnificent palace, for I ought to term it an abortion—(that, however, is not our fault)—but which has cost the nation a great sum of money; and measuring the result by the sum it has cost us, it is a great thing for us to have done. I would ask, therefore, is there one thing wanting to Her Majesty's comfort? Has there been one thing wanting to the comfort of her Consort or her Family? Have we not been to her Majesty a generous nation, and has she not deserved that generosity? She has shown herself worthy of the people over whom she rules, but we have shown ourselves worthy of her. I say that we have dealt out with no niggard hand everything required for her comfort and honour. I will not follow the right hon. Gentleman into his talk as to how little she has expended upon her journeys. I will not enter into the question how far those journeys have been for her pleasure or for the profit of the country. I should hope they were combined. But, Sir, looking to the future, I repeat the phrase—we have a large family to provide for. And it is somewhat too inconsiderate that we, who represent the hard-working, hard-handed, and often sorrowing people, should be unmindful of our obligations and be content with casting our eyes upwards and paying all deference and adoration to those in power and position. Sir, as the representatives of the hard-working people of England, we are bound, to be just before we are generous—I never said we were—but while we are generous we are bound also to be just. Therefore I will move, by way of Amendment- To leave out all the words after the word 'that,' for the purpose of inserting these words—in the opinion of this Committee a suitable marriage portion be granted to Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal in lieu of an annuity.'


seconded the Amendment. He fully agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, and begged to assure the Committee that he had known no question relating to the expenditure of the public money in which the people of England had taken so deep an interest as they had in this subject. The desire out of doors certainly was, that a round sum, and not an annuity, should be paid to Her Royal Highness. He was anxious to deal liberally with this question, but he should like to be informed whether the Government intended to continue the payment of this annuity of £8,000 to the Princess Royal, after she became Queen of Prussia. Nothing could be more offensive to the people of England than the payment of money raised by taxes levied upon them to the Queen, either of Prussia or of any other foreign country; and it was worthy the consideration of the Government whether this annuity—if an annuity were granted—should not cease when Her Royal Highness became, as she probably would, Queen of Prussia. Was the Queen of Prussia to become a pensioner of England? [Cries of "Divide! divide!"] Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this Committee a suitable marriage portion should be granted to Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, in lieu of any annuity.


The proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman is very difficult to deal with, because he does not state what gross sum he proposes to give, as a dowry, to Her Royal Highness. He has not stated that the proposition of the Government is

Annuities Dropped.
1837. Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria £22,000
1840. Princess Elizabeth 13,000
Princess Augusta 13,000
1843. H.R.H. the Duke of Sussex 21,000
1845. H.R.H. the Princess Sophia of Gloucester 7,000
1848. H.R.H. the Princess Sophia 16,000
1849. Queen Adelaide 100,000
1850. H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge 27,000
1852. H.R.H. the Duke of Cumberland, late King of Hanover 21,000
1857. H.R.H. the Duchess of Gloucester 16,000

an unreasonable one; and if he proposes to give a sum which will produce anything approaching to the annuity suggested by the Government, he must increase the sum to be voted in Committee of Supply to a very large amount. Allow me to say that, although he professes to speak for the poor taxpayer, he would, according to his plan, make a bargain which would be exceedingly disadvantageous to the public. He proposes that a large sum of money should be invested in the hands of trustees who should pay the interest to Her Royal Highness, and that at Her death the principal sum should be divided among Her children as She may appoint. What I propose is, that the larger part of the grant should be in the form of an annuity terminating with the life of Her Royal Highness; and thus, at Her death, a large portion will revert to the nation. We have diminished the proportion which in the case of the two Princesses Royal, the daughters of George II. and George III., the marriage portion bore to the annuity, for the express reason that it appeared to us desirable to increase the part of the grant which would cease with the life of the Princess Royal, and to diminish that which would be granted to Her and Her descendants in perpetuity. With reference to the objection which has been made to granting an annuity, let me for a moment call the attention of the Committee, in the first place, to the fact, that that has been the way in which former Parliaments have provided for the members of the Royal Family; and in the next place, to the great reduction which those annuities have undergone since the accession of Her present Majesty. The annuities granted or increased and those which have dropped during Her Majesty's reign, are shown by the following table:—

Annuities Granted or Increased.
1839. The Duchess of Kent £30,000
1840. Princess Sophia 3,000
Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester 3,000
H.R.H. Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha 30,000
1850. H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge 12,000
H.R.H. the Princess Mary of Cambridge 3,000
H.R.H. the Princess Augusta, now Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz 3,000
The Duchess of Cambridge 6,000
Granted 90,000
Saving 166,000

The Committee must see that if they accede to the proposal now made for granting an annuity of £8,000, the charge on the Consolidated Fund will be slight indeed compared with what it was at Her Majesty's accession to the Throne. In reference to the objection of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck), that in the event of a war with Prussia there would be an impropriety in paying this annuity, I am unwilling to contemplate any such contingency; but I would call the attention of the Committee to the fact, that during the late war with Russia, this nation, true to its financial engagements, continued to discharge the interest of the Russian loan, which was an international obligation very different from that which would exist towards an English Princess. With these explanations, I trust that the Committee will have no difficulty in agreeing to the original Motion.


said, that it appeared to him that before the House settled the dowry of Her Royal Highness, they ought to be informed what settlement the King of Prussia intended to make upon his nephew. That was the practice in matrimonial alliances entered into between private families, and he did not think that a practice so salutary ought to be departed from.


I confess, Sir, this matter which we have now before the Committee appears to me to be sufficiently simple. When Her Majesty came to the Throne the arrangement that was made was not, I conceive, as it has been represented by the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Roebuck), one of extraordinary generosity, but a sum was fixed which it was conceived was a fit and proper sum to support the Royal dignity—a sum which, as a Sovereign coming to the Throne of these realms, she ought to receive to enable Her Majesty to defray in a fitting manner the expenditure of the Throne of England, and to maintain it with that dignity and splendour which becomes the Throne of such a nation. That settlement was made on the just principle, as I think it was, which was established by Lord Grey and Lord Althorp, that instead of having a Civil List, of which part should go for the maintenance of the Royal Household, part for the Judges' salaries, part for the salary of the Speaker of this House, and another part for the salaries of the Diplomatic Service—we should have a Civil List that should contain only those sums that should be granted—first for the Privy Purse of the Sovereign, and next to defray the charges of the offices of the Lord Chamberlain and the Lord Steward, and to maintain the Household of Her Majesty. Those charges were separated which had theretofore, to the confusion of the public accounts, been mixed up with what may be called the personal expenditure of the Sovereign, and the Civil List so settled on Her Majesty was the amount which was considered by Parliament a fit sum for the nation to grant for providing for the personal comfort and for maintaining the personal dignity of the Crown. I do not concur with the hon. and learned Gentleman when he says we have been showing extraordinary generosity in our pecuniary transactions with the Sovereign of this country. Since the settlement to which I have referred was made, we have had no pecuniary transactions with the Sovereign of these realms. Her Majesty has done what she ought to do, and which the nation cheerfully acknowledges, in observing that prudence and economy in the conduct of her Household—in taking care to guard against unnecessary expense, which might have rendered it necessary for her to come to this House to ask us to pay debts which she had thus contracted. She has maintained the splendour and dignity of the Throne, and the dignity of the nation as represented by the Throne, in a fitting manner, without asking Parliament for any increase over the sum originally fixed. That being the state of the case, we have now, after twenty years, an occasion when Her Majesty does apply to Parliament. That occasion is the extraordinary one of her beloved daughter being about to be married. Her Majesty having sanctioned a match in every way suitable for that daughter—a match, I believe, of affection—with the Prince of a Protestant country, a Prince of the Royal House of Prussia, it is necessary that some provision should be made for the Princess on that occasion, and accordingly we have a message sent down from the Crown for that purpose. It appears to me that the best way we can deal with this message is, if there is nothing preposterous or extravagant in the proposal of the advisers of the Crown, to agree to it, and to make that provision which Her Majesty's advisers ask at our hands on Her Majesty's behalf. As far as I am concerned £40,000 as a capital sum paid down, and an annuity of £8,000 a year, appears by no means an extravagant proposal for the eldest daughter of the Queen of England on her marriage with a Prince—it having been always the custom that the eldest daughter should he provided for somewhat more liberally than the younger members of the Royal Family. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposes to give one large sum instead of the annuity as a dowry for Her Royal Highness. I confess that I see no advantage in that proposal. On the contrary, it rather appears to me—I having no great wish to prefer the one mode to the other, except on the ground of public advantage—it appears to me that as the Princess Royal on her marriage will not be placed at once in that affluent position that will give her a very large income, it is desirable that on her first commencing married life she should have such an annuity—such an income provided by Parliament as may befit the nation to which she belongs, and evince the affections which the people of that nation entertain towards their Sovereign, her mother. So far from concurring with the hon. and learned Gentleman that we are not, in agreeing to this proposition, acting for the advantage or in accordance with the wishes of the working classes of the people, I believe there is no class so poor that it is not ready to show its affection to the Sovereign by responding to Her Majesty's appeal, and that will not be willing to evince that affection by making, not an extravagant, but a reasonable provision for her eldest daughter on her marriage. Therefore I shall, for one, take no other course on this occasion but agree to the Motion of the Minister of the Crown. If, instead of making the proposal they have made, they had proposed the payment of a capital sum, giving their reasons why that course should be preferred, I should have listened to those reasons. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given reasons why it is desirable that an annual sum should be given to the Princess Royal, and has, stated very truly that in future years, if she should be blest with a family, there will not be any occasion for a large sum to be settled upon her children, as in the case of the Princess of Wirtemberg. I have not much acquaintance with that distinguished Royal Family with which Her Royal Highness is about to be connected, but I have, the honour of knowing something of prince Frederic William of Prussia, and I can safely say that a Prince more faithful to his word—more eminent for his good quail- ties —I have never met. He is a gallant and distinguished Prince, and I only ask further to be permitted to express a hope that her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, on leaving this country, and that home where she has been brought up in the practice of every domestic virtue, and where the moral example has been as high as is to be found in any class in this kingdom, that in going from thence to the home of the Royal Family of Prussia she will find a home as virtuous and honourable as that she has left, and that her remaining days may be passed in happiness, and the practice of those domestic virtues which she has here acquired.


There was something in the tone of the noble Lord which seemed to imply that I was finding fault with the magnitude of the dowry proposed. Now, Sir, I think that I began by saying that I believed it to be the desire of the House to provide for a daughter of England in a manner befitting her honour and our own; and I stated that this House had never dealt with the Sovereign in a niggard spirit. I think, therefore, that the noble Lord in speaking as though I had entertained and expressed a different wish, was somewhat unfair. All that I propose is that the sum to be given should be given in a different manner. Now, what the Government proposes to give is equivalent to £216,000—["No, no!"] I beg pardon,—but I will rather trust to the official tables than to the authority of the hon. Gentleman who said "no, no!"—twenty-two years' purchase of the annuity added to the capital sum of £40,000 amounts to £216,000. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that the fixed sum must be voted in Committee of Supply, and therefore I am not called upon to make any suggestion with regard to that sum in this Committee. The House is capable of judging what sum is necessary, and I am certain that the provision which it will make, whatever may be the form in which it is made, will be worthy of the House and of Her Royal Highness; but, for my own part, I am persuaded that we should best discharge our duties and consult the honour and comfort of the Royal lady most nearly concerned by acceding to the modification I have proposed, and fixing a certain capital sum. The question is one upon which different opinions may exist; but I do not think that any imputation can rest upon me for the course which I have felt it my duty to pursue.


thought the hon. and learned Gentleman's arguments would he as applicable against a fixed sum as against an annuity. At his time of life he would rather pay an annuity of £8,000 a year than a capital sum down of £170,000. He thought there were many considerations in favour of the annuity combined with a capital sum instead of a larger capital sum only. They could not but recollect that Prussia, though a prosperous kingdom, had within the last few years suffered great convulsions. They could not tell what might again happen in that country, or whether we might not see the Princess back again amongst us. It was within the limits of possibility—but whatever might happen, Parliament would have a certain amount of control over the sum that was paid as an annuity. He did not mean that Parliament would ever withdraw one farthing of it, but it was possible that circumstances might arise, when the control it possessed in voting the money every year might be usefully exercised.


thought the Committee ought not to divide until they understood the question upon which the division was to take place. He should therefore wish to know from the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield whether his objection was to the amount of the sum proposed or merely to the mode in which that sum was to be paid; for he seemed to have no objection to a provision being made. An explanation on this point would guide the votes of many hon. Members.


I have not the slightest hesitation in saying, Sir, that my objection is both to the amount and to the manner in which it is proposed to be paid.


The Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed his opinion that upon a subject like this unanimity could not be expected; but I confess it seems to me to be one of those subjects upon which unanimity, if possible, is most desirable. So long as the question before us was merely as to the form by which the intentions of the Committee were to be carried into effect, the issue appeared to me of a very narrow character, and until the last declaration of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, I was in great hopes that the Committee would have come to a decision without, what I may call on this occasion, the painful ceremony of dividing. But, as I understand now, the hon. and learned Gentleman not only objects to the form, but to the amount of the grant proposed, I could hardly allow the division to take place without troubling you with one or two observations. I have always felt, for my own part, that the Crown of England is placed in a somewhat painful position when obliged to make appeals on this or analogous subjects to the liberality of the House of Commons. But, on the other hand, it becomes us always to remember what is the cause of those appeals, and what is that power in the state which renders them necessary. It is the jealousy of Parliament carried, in my opinion, too far and too rigidly, which has rendered it necessary on every occasion to make those appeals to its aid and assistance, sometimes on matters comparatively insignificant. Remembering that it is the jealousy of Parliament which renders such appeals necessary, it becomes us to consider them in a cordial and generous spirit. Sir, I will not follow the Chancellor of the Exchequer in those ample and minute details which he has offered to the Committee, as to the pecuniary position of George III. Unquestionably there was a broad difference in the relative situations of our present Monarch and of her grandfather. There is no doubt there were sources of supply in the Civil List of George III. which Her Majesty has not had the advantage of. Neither can it be forgotten that, independently of those supplies to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, Her Majesty has lost the revenue derivable from the kingdom of Hanover, which her predecessors enjoyed. It must also be recollected that, during the twenty years of Her happy reign, no appeal whatever has been made to us in consequence of any debts incurred by the Civil List; while there has been, as the noble Lord the Member for the City of London reminded us, a splendid hospitality maintained, which, after all, concerns the honour and the dignity of the country. Nor can I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, that the Civil List, as settled upon the accession of Her Majesty, was a certain sum intended only for the advantage of Her Majesty, and the comfort of the Royal Family. On the contrary, I think that there were other considerations concerned in the settlement of that Civil List than the mere comfort of the Royal Family. There was a high ceremonial and an etiquette of state to be maintained, which concerned the dignity and the honour of the country quite as much as it concerned the convenience and the happiness of Her Majesty, Taking all these matters into consideration—does it not come to this, that we are now merely discussing a point of a trivial character—calculations as to what may be the value of an annuity, or whether it would be desirable that this settlement should be made through the medium of a particular machinery. I think that man must have great confidence in his own opinion if he feels himself justified in taking upon himself the responsibility of laying down as a primary principle the most advantageous way of carrying this settlement into effect, either by a round sum, as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield has termed it, or by the mixed process which has been proposed to us by the Government. If it be generally agreed upon that this is a proper appeal, and that we are all willing to respond to that appeal, and desire that it should be carried into effect—if there be a question in which confidence ought to be placed in the Government—a question in which we should defer to the opinions of those who it is reasonable to suppose must have given to it the most mature consideration, I think it is a question of this nature. That being so, I think it is most desirable, and the most gracious course upon an occasion like the present, that there should be no division upon any point of a trivial character. If the principle of the grant were opposed—if there were any denunciations uttered on the ground of its extravagance—I could easily understand the meaning of an opposition. But, as the principle is one to which a cordial assent has been conceded—and the objections as to amount are of a very ambiguous and doubtful character, I really think we ought to arrive at an amicable and unanimous conclusion; because we must not lose sight of the fact, that if that settlement which Parliament in its wisdom has thought fit to make in regard to the Civil List had not occurred, the Crown could have acted in this matter independently of the House, and Her Majesty would have had everything that was necessary for the maintenance and comfort of the Royal Family immediately at her own command. Inasmuch, however, as the jealousy of Parliament in dealing with the hereditary revenues has brought about this state of affairs, it becomes us, if we feel we have a duty to discharge, always to perform that duty in a spirit of liberality, and of an earnest desire that we should be unanimous when an appeal of this kind is made to us upon the responsibility of the Government. Sir, I will say nothing of the circumstances under which this Royal Marriage is about to take place. It does not become me to speak of a personage so near the Throne as the illustrious Lady who is the immediate subject of this proposition. I believe, however, all will agree that she is one worthy of her family and her country, and that she is calculated to adorn the throne for which she is destined. All who have had the privilege of approaching her hear testimony to the brightness of her mind, and to the sweetness of her disposition. I beg the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield by no means to believe that I am now opposing the principle he has laid down as to the policy of settling this question by a round sum rather than by the Government mode. I admit that it may be a better way of treating a matter of this kind; but that, after all, is a moot question. The hon. and learned Gentleman may feel himself justified in the course he has taken, but I beg him also not to give currency to the notion that the feelings of those Members who strongly support this grant are not those of deep sympathy with the interests of the working classes. Their feelings may be quite as strong on this point as those of the hon. and learned Member himself. If the hon. and learned Gentleman came forward and objected to the Vote on principle, he would certainly be entitled to take up the position that he has lately assumed; but, as I understood the hon. and learned Gentleman, when he opened the discussion of this evening, he expressed his willingness to meet this appeal to the generosity of Parliament. I hope, then, that he will recur, in his better thoughts, to that same feeling which influenced him in the early part of this evening. I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman, then, whether, upon the whole, considering that he concurs so heartily in. the main principle—whether he would not be taking the best and the most gracious course by at once adopting the proposition of the Ministry, which has been made after mature consideration and a knowledge of the circumstances with which we cannot be familiar, and by assenting to that proposition, end our parliamentary connection with an event which, I trust, will bring happiness to the Royal pair concerned, and to two kingdoms.


wished to state his reasons why he should support the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck). He supported that Amendment, first, on pecuniary, and, secondly, and still more, on political grounds. The Princess Royal was about to marry into a foreign house—a German house. After she had once left these shores and had become identified in interest with a foreign house and a foreign dynasty, he decidedly objected to the continuance of such relations with this country as the proposed annuity would establish. Her domestic relations with this country would still continue, but so long as a German Prince was a stipendiary of this country he should view that connection with the greatest jealousy. On these grounds he was in favour of a fixed payment, and was opposed to an annual payment. He did not wish to stand between the House and the division, but would content himself with stating that he should vote for the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield.


said, there was one point which had been lost sight of during the debate which deserved to be borne in mind. The people of this country interfered with the marriages of the Royal Family in a manner that Members of that House would not tolerate in their own case. He referred to the interference which was exercised in declaring whom the members of the Royal Family should marry. As long as this interference was kept up, Parliament was bound to act most liberally to them when marriages did take place.


hoped that his hon. and learned Friend would withdraw his Amendment. It was extremely desirable that upon an occasion like the present the Committee should adopt the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) and pass this Resolution unanimously. He was sure there was not a Member in the Committee who would not cordially respond to what had fallen from ever hon. Gentleman who had addressed the Committee, with reference to the loyalty and duty which they all owed to the Sovereign. The only difference between hon. members was whether they should pay the princess Royal an annuity or a sum down. He was strongly of opinion that, regard being had to the position of this country towards foreign countries, it was desirable, as a question of policy, that the dowry should be paid in one sum; but he did not wish to see the House divide on the subject, and he hoped that his hon. and learned Friend would be induced to withdraw his Amendment, so that the House might come to a unanimous vote in favour of the Resolution.


I do not desire to press my Motion. I have told the Committee what I think it ought to do, and if it will permit me I will now withdraw my Motion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn:—Original Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported on Monday next.

The House resumed.