HC Deb 23 February 1863 vol 169 cc644-51

Order for Second Reading read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, in the debate upon the Resolutions on which the Bill was founded, he took occasion to state how much he regretted that the accounts upon which the Resolutions were based were not before the House. He still regretted that that information was not supplied, because he held it to be a sound principle that, whenever a grant of money out of the Consolidated Fund was proposed, it was the duty of the Government to enable every Member of that House to understand why they were called upon to vote the money required. It was a singular mode of transacting business that in the account of the proceedings of that House, upon the same night, a Vote for the expenditure of a considerable sum out of the Consolidated Fund should stand No. 40, and the information on the subject, which was placed on the table in about an hour after, should stand as No. 52. This was an awkward position in which to place Members; for whether the Vote was right or wrong, they were called upon to sanction it, without being able to explain to their constituents the reason for doing so. On a former night he took the liberty of saying that, on his marriage, Frederick Prince of Wales had £50,000 a year out of the Civil List of George II. This was perfectly true—he found that in the 10 Geo. II. the 8th section enacted, that as His Majesty had determined to grant that sum out of the Civil List to the Prince of Wales, the annuity should be free of land tax and other charges. Thus they knew as a fact that the original allowance of Frederick Prince of Wales was £50,000 a year, and not £100,000, though it was true that at a later period the allowance was increased. Since the present proposition was made, they had had the opportunity of reading the evidence on which it was founded, and it was obvious, whether £40,000, £50,000, or £60,000 were voted out of the Consolidated Fund, everything depended on the state of the revenues during the minority of the Prince of Wales. Having looked at the document presented to the House, he felt bound to say that he had never read one more creditable or more honourable to all concerned. The trustees had certainly most faithfully performed their duty; and the result showed, not as stated by the noble Viscount at, the head of the Government, a net revenue of £60,000, but of something more, though perhaps not to any great extent; for he should be prepared to show that the revenue of the Duchy was £50,000 a year at present, with an accumulation of £600,000. However, the broad question was, whether the proposition submitted to the House was a reasonable one, and he had suspected from the first that it would prove to be so; and now, having considered the document which he had referred to, he came to the conclusion that the proposition was fair and reasonable. It was therefore with great pleasure that he gave his cordial assent to the Bill, and he expressed a hope that the Prince of Wales and Princess of Wales would long live to enjoy the income assigned to them.


said, that in the statement of the revenues of the Duchy he could not find that the accumulated fund of £600,000 was accounted for.


stated, that after the expenses of managing the Duchy property were defrayed, and the public burdens imposed by Parliament and other necessary deductions were discharged, it had been the duty and the practice of the Council of His Royal Highness to pay over whatever surplus remained partly to the Prince's Treasurer, and partly to Trustees, who had from time to time invested the sums so paid over in the public funds. They then became part of His Royal Highness' Privy Purse, and the Council of the Duchy had nothing further to do with them. On the 9th of November, when the Prince attained his majority, the accumulation amounted to £593,000 in Three per Cents, the cash value of which was at that time £547,750. The monies paid to the Trustees having passed beyond the control of the Council of the Duchy, they considered that it was not within their province, even if they had possessed the necessary information for the purpose, to take cognizance of the disposal of monies so paid over, or investments made for the benefit of the Prince, and which properly belonged to his Privy Purse, when making a report to Her Majesty which had exclusive reference to the administration of the affairs of the Duchy of Cornwall.


said, he had the highest opinion of the character and moral qualities of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, but he felt—and he thought that the House and the country would also feel—that handing over to the Prince the uncontrolled command of the enormous sum arising from accumulations was not expedient or wise.


observed, with respect to the marriage treaty, that it was remarkable for the omission of the word "Protestant" in describing the future Princess of Wales. He felt more confidence in saying that this matter deserved the attention of the House, inasmuch as on the occasion of the marriage of Her Majesty a like omission occurred, which induced the Duke of Wellington to point out in the House of Lords the importance of adhering to a description which was connected with the foundation of the constitution and of the dynasty, and to move an Amendment to the Address to the Queen, which resulted in the word "Protestant" being inserted. [3 Hansard, li. 14.] On the present occasion he had been saved the pain of interrupting the general harmony, because the House had received a statement from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, which was satisfactory to himself. But he had now to notice another difference between the marriage treaty of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the marriage treaty of the Queen and the late Prince Consort. The third article of the latter treaty provided that the sons and daughters of the marriage should be brought up according to the laws of Great Britain and Ireland, and that expression meant plainly enough that they were to be brought up in the Protestant religion. In the marriage contract of the Prince of Wales a similar clause was omitted. Why was it omitted? He was anxious that the silence of the House on this subject should not lead to the supposition that they were indifferent to the preservation of such an important landmark of the Constitution, or were prepared to dispense with any of those Protestant guarantees provided by the Bill of Rights.


said, he wished to know whether the allowances would be paid to the Prince and Princess of Wales without any deductions on account of income tax?


said, he thought the House might be misled by a remark of the hon. Member for Lambeth. It was a mistake to imagine that the Prince of Wales would enjoy a large revenue from the accumulations over and above the £100,000 a year which he would derive from the ordinary revenue of the Duchy and the grant of the House. The £60,000, which was stated as the Prince's present income, was partly made up by returns from the accumulated fund. Indeed, even making allowance for those returns, he did not see how the amount was obtained; and his own impression, therefore, was that the proposition of the Government was rather under the mark. It must be remembered that the Prince's outfit would have to be paid for out of the accumulations, and would not cost much less than £200,000. His Royal Highness had to furnish Marlborough House, and to provide all those things which became the dignity of his position.


said, it was quite open to the hon. Member, if he thought the Prince of Wales hardly used, to propose an increase of the Vote; but there was another way of looking at the matter, and that was to consider the £40,000 of public money. He held that the accumulations ought to be settled on the Duchy; and hon. Members would say, if a similar case occurred in private life, that it would be an unwise thing to give the heir the accumulations instead of settling them on the estate. He still maintained, as on the former occasion, that on the death of the eldest son of the Crown the Duchy of Cornwall reverted to the Crown for life, and did not pass to the next surviving son.


When my hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock (Sir John Trelawny) rose, I was in hopes he was going to qualify the very strong statement he made the other evening. I feel bound to take notice of that statement, not because it involved a personal reference to myself, but because it would be a breach of duty on the part of the Government if they had neglected to inform themselves of the facts of the case. I think the hon. Member delivered himself with a confidence which the state of the case does not justify. I am far from undertaking to give the House a full explanation of the law with regard to the inheritance of the Duchy of Cornwall; but it appears to me, according to the information which I have been able to procure, that this is a question much more difficult to pronounce upon than my hon. Friend imagines. One thing, however, is quite clear, and that is that my hon. Friend is wrong in the very positive assertion which he made the other night, and has now repeated, that on every occasion when the Duke of Cornwall, being the eldest son of the King, dies, the Duchy and the revenues of the Duchy revert to the Crown. It is not at all difficult to confute that allegation; but I will not undertake to explain everything which has happened with regard to the succession and non-succession to the Duchy. The various cases do not seem to me to hang together on any very consistent principle; but no conclusion can be drawn from the facts at all agreeing with the statement of my hon. Friend. Thus much, however, is clear—on the death of Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII., in the October following a Commission was issued under the Great Seal, not to determine, but to examine the question; and that Commission found that Henry (afterwards Henry VIII.), the second-begotten son of the King, was Duke of Cornwall. [SIR JOHN TRELAWNY: Look at the charter of the Duchy. The charter of the Duchy is not the supreme authority in the case. The succession is regulated by an Act passed in the reign of Henry V., and also by the course of practice at different periods of our history. The charter itself came under examination at a more recent period than the case I have already cited. On the death of Prince Henry, eldest son of James I., the charter was judicially considered, and the authorities of that day in the Privy Council again came to a conclusion opposite to that of my hon. Friend. The decision is thus given in Collins's ProceedingsIn 1613 the question became the occasion of solemn inquiry before the King, and Lords, and others of the Privy Council, the Master of the Rolls, and the King's Counsel, when it was resolved that the words of limitation possessed the more extended meaning filius primogenitus existens, and that upon the decease of Henry, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, Charles, Duke of York, had, both by reason and precedence, become entitled to the honour, style, and dignity of Duke of Cornwall, which he had and enjoyed accordingly. There, at any rate, are two distinct precedents, and others might be given. I will not now go into the cases of Prince George (afterwards George II.), or of Prince George (afterwards George III.), eldest son of Frederick, Prince of Wales. I think I have said enough to show that the hon. Baronet was not justified in his very strong and positive statement.


said, that he had been at great pains to examine the question, and the celebrated decision of Lord Tenterden supported the view he took.


— Sir, I wish to say a word or two as to the accumulations of the Duchy. As has been stated by my hon. Friend, the total value of the accumulations was £540,000 in money. Of that amount £220,000 has been spent in the purchase of the Norfolk estate, the produce of which is nominally £7,000, but effectively only about £5,000. The cost of the outfit of His Royal Highness is estimated at £100,000. It is calculated that the enlargement of the house at Sandringham, in order to render it suitable to the dignity of the Prince, will involve an outlay of £60,000. Thus we have £380,000 disposed of. Then there are, as is well known, a great number of farms belonging to the Duchy which have been let for "lives," and which are from time to time falling out of lease. The buildings and other appointments upon these farms require considerable repairs, the expense of which will probably amount to from £100,000 to £120,000. These items, therefore, go a good way to absorb the accumulations; and although the money spent in agricultural improvements may render the estates more valuable, there will be no immediate return, and the income will always be liable to certain fluctuations. Therefore my hon. Friend will see that the accumulation of £540,000 will give very little addition to the ordinary revenue of the Duchy. The difference between the ordinary revenue of the Duchy, £46,000, and the £60,000 which is the present income of the Prince of Wales is made up of the rents of the Sandringham estate and some other details. My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley), being the guardian of certain interests, has raised a question as to the treaty of marriage, which it is quite right should be properly attended to. I can assure him that the omission in the treaty, which he has noticed, does not involve any neglect of that fundamental principle of the British constitution, that the Sovereign and the Royal family must be of the Protestant religion. The treaty of the marriage of the Prince of Wales was founded precisely on that which was made on the marriage of Prince George, afterwards George IV., and as there was no mention in the latter of the article alluded to, it was not deemed necessary to insert it in the present treaty. It was in the marriage treaty of the Queen, but I think the hon. Member will admit that there is a leading principle distinguishing that case from this. A husband has a certain degree of domestic control over the education of his children, and where he is a foreigner it may be quite right that there should be a special article upon that subject. Where, however, the husband is the Prince of Wales, it has not been thought necessary to insert such a condition. But the hon. Member may be assured that there is not the smallest chance of the children of the approaching marriage—I hope there will be many—being educated in any other way than in conformity with the laws of the country and the principles of the Protestant faith. I have only to add, in conclusion, that the incomes of all the Royal family, without any exception, are subject to the income tax.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Tomorrow.

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