§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
rose, according to Notice, to move that there be 252 laid before the House certain Returns relating to the Civil List, when—
rose and said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to a Question of Privilege. I hold in my hand a copy of the oath to be taken by every hon. Member of this House. It is in the following terms:—I do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, her heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.Now, on the 21st of November last the hon. Member for Chelsea is reported to have said that he would make no concealment of the fact that he was a Republican. He is reported as speaking exactly to the same effect in several newspapers. The Question that I have put to you, Mr. Speaker, as a point of Order, is whether these two statements are not irreconcilable; and whether, if the statement of the hon. Baronet is not explained and repudiated, he will not have been guilty of an infringement of the solemn declaration taken at the Table of the House? I am fortified in my reasons for asking the question by the fact that every item of the Returns which the hon. Baronet wishes to move for can be found in the Library of this House, and are within the reach of every hon. Member. The Motion of the hon. Baronet, therefore, as it seems to me, can only be regarded as a colourable method of repeating, under the authority of the House, the statements to which I have referred. [Loud cries of "Hear, hear!"]—
I therefore ask you, Sir, whether it would not be for the honour of the House, and within its power, before hearing the hon. Member for Chelsea, if you ask him whether he repudiates or acknowledges the accuracy of the statements which he is reported to have made on the 21st of November?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The noble Lord has called my attention to the Oath of Allegiance taken by the Members of this House. I apprehend that it is no part of my duty to say what is consistent or what is not consistent with that oath. 253 Looking at the terms of the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea, I see in them no violation of the Rules of this House.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE,
who, on rising to address the House, was received with much confusion, said *: Sir, I fear that after the somewhat exciting episode of the last few minutes the observations which I am about to offer to the House in support of the Motion which I have placed on the Paper will appear somewhat tame and disappointing. The question which I have to submit to the consideration of the House is a large one, and one, in my opinion, of importance, or I should not have placed my Notice on the Paper. It is not a question which would, in accordance with the Rules of the House, enable me to discuss the oath of allegiance—which, however, I shall be prepared to discuss on a fitting opportunity, if that opportunity is afforded me by any hon. Member—I have on the present occasion to appeal to that consideration which the House is always willing to extend to those who, in the name of the taxpayers of this country, raise questions involving investigation into obscure branches of the national expenditure: and I appeal with the more confidence to that consideration because I believe the House never fails to extend it to those who happen to be the advocates of unpopular opinions.
Sir, the first point that has to be established is the right of the House of Commons to inquire, whether by means of a Committee, or by presenting an Address for Papers, into the expenditure and savings on the Civil List account. Now, in April, 1780, Mr. Dunning, afterwards Chancellor of the Exchequer, moved the following Resolution, which was agreed to by the House of Commons:—That, in the opinion of this Committee, it is competent to this House to examine into and to correct abuses in the expenditure of the Civil List revenues, whenever it shall seem expedient to the wisdom of the House so to do.It may, of course, be contended that inasmuch as the salaries of the Judges and Ambassadors were at that time laid upon the Civil List, the House of Commons may fairly have claimed then over the Civil List a control which does not belong to it now. On the other hand, it must be remembered that Mr. Dunning's 254 first Resolution had been—"That the influence of the Crown ought to be diminished," and it is plain that the point at issue was not what might be called the public charges so much as that of the Crown charges proper. This view is confirmed by the fact that among the items upon which Mr. Burke, who was acting along with Mr. Dunning, divided the House, were those for the salaries of the Masters of the Buckhounds and of the Foxhounds, while another was the charge for the Yeomen of the Guard. Now, in the debate which occurred about the same time, on Mr. Burke's measure of economical reform, the main argument of those who spoke against him was one which has been heard often since that time—namely, that unless you first bring forward proof of some abuse, the House has no right—that is, no constitutional power—to meddle with the Civil List except at the beginning of a reign. But, on the other hand, whether I succeed or do not succeed in establishing precedents showing a general right to inquire into the Civil List expenditure during a reign, I at all events may assume, judging from what was said on both sides by both parties, during the debates on Mr. Burke's Bill, that we are justified in inquiring, if we can show that actual abuses do exist. Now, I know that the term "abuses" may mean many things, and it would not be hard to show that in the arguments which I have quoted, the word may fairly be used as popularly it would be used for those long-continued absurdities of extravagance in connection with the Civil List which have come down to us from all time. I shall, however, before I sit down, bring forward I believe cases of abuse connected with the Civil Listaccounts which should suffice, when taken along with the discontent that prevails at the existence of costly sinecures, to cause any patriotic Government to concur willingly and almost joyfully in that inquiry which we propose. I might quote some of the most illustrious men that have ever sat in this House in defence of the general right to inquire—for instance, Mr. Pox, who said that—The pretence that the House was bound not to interfere in the expenditure of the King's Civil List was a new and damnable doctrine, and infamous to a degree."Although," he added on another occasion— 255The money was given for the use of the Crown, the House was competent to see if it was properly expended.Also, Lord Chatham, who, on the 14th of March, 1770, said—The minute and particular expenses of the Civil List are as open to Parliamentary examination and inquiry as any other grant of the people to any other purpose. The Preamble of the Civil List Acts proves this, and none but children, novices, or ignorants, will ever act without proper regard to it.Besides, however, the right of the House to inquire if abuse be proved, and besides the general right to inquire, as to which many precedents are to be shown, there is also the view, which I, for one am prepared to maintain, that looking to the steady progress which has been made by the principle of Parliamentary control over the various branches of the national expenditure, there would be no harm in creating a precedent upon this point. On the contrary, I believe that we can no longer afford, in face of the hostility of a large minority of the voters in all the boroughs in the country to fresh grants for those purposes, to ask for those grants, without at the same time stating the facts as to the disposition of the sums already granted in the clearest way to the country and the House. To show, however, the need that exists for our not resting content with Ministerial explanations of the precedents as they appear to Ministerial eyes, I must point out that even the inquiry which takes place at the beginning of each reign, and which is now relied upon as giving security for economy to the nation—that even this small measure of prudence was not yielded without a fight. The Duke of Wellington was beaten on this question, and resigned on it. It was a concession extorted by the Whigs from the Tories, at the beginning only of the last reign, but now both sides speak of it, as a sort of heaven-sent arrangement, sufficient for all time, and in the highest degree satisfactory to every individual in the land. For my part, I should be prepared to contend, that even had this inquiry been graciously yielded at the first, had it been conceded by the Crown on the advice of Ministers, acting by their own wish, and without pressure yet had it not even in that case been so perfect a method of securing economy in the public service, as other modes of inquiry that easily might be devised. 256 The beginning of a reign! Why of all bad times for inquiry, it is the worst. One good reason for not holding inquiry at the beginning of a reign, was that once pointed out by Lord Ellenborough, who rightly said, that there was no authority to compel the servants of a deceased King to produce accounts. Another reason for inquiring at any time except the beginning of a reign is, that the pensions cease at the beginning of a reign. Now the pensions are of doubtful expediency, and form a most fit object for inquiry. But, if you wait till the beginning of a reign you cannot couch them, because men very properly try out, that it would be cruel to rob the existing holders. The need for such inquiry is shown at once, by the fact, that in 1845 Sir Robert Peel granted £1,000 a-year to a lady, afterwards wife of a Lord Chancellor, and who at her death left a very considerable fortune, although the money is given to be granted in small sums for distinguished services in the country, or personal service to the Crown. There is, as to pensions, a general agreement that they are of questionable expediency. The Committee, at the beginning of the reign, were almost equally divided as to their retention. There is reason for us to decide beforehand, and we need inquiry before deciding. I said that the beginning of a reign is of all bad times for inquiry, the worst. When all the country is agog with the interest which always manifests itself at such a time, and which is a form of the delight with which people always count upon the goodness of great personages, whose true dispositions are yet unknown; this is the moment which the Minister selects to come down to the House, and with the inevitable praise of those inevitable virtues, which at the moment he ascends the Throne every monarch is reputed to possess—to obtain a Committee of partymen, with one or two economical Radicals of the most loyal type; a Committee, which sits for a few days, abolishes a Lord of the Bedchamber, in order to show its zeal for economy; inquires the price of oats, makes a note of the rise in hay, and ultimately fixes the total sum, very much where it had stood before, and at very much the same amount at which it would have stood had the Court been left to fix it for itself, and had the Committee never sat at all. The Coro- 257 nation takes place, the cannons fire, the hats fly up; but in a few months voices are heard, once more asking why it is that the administration of the Household should be exempt from the working of those modern principles of scientific administration, which have remorsely been applied to all other branches of the public service. As for the inquiry at the beginning of a reign, I cannot better show what it is worth, than by quoting the words of a Member of the Committee of 1837—He was bound to say that in the Select Committee he was perfectly helpless. He had no means of ascertaining what were the proper sums required for the maintenance of the dignity of the Crown.Thus much for the desirability of a Parliamentary inquiry into this subject at times other than the beginning of a reign. But apart from the desirability of such inquiry, I spoke just now of precedents. There are precedents without number for Parliamentary inquiry into the Royal Household. They date from the earliest times; but not to weary the House by quoting early precedents, which are in this matter of no real importance, I will come at once to modern times. In 1780, during the debate on Mr. Burke's Bill, Field Marshal Conway—a man of great authority in the country at that time—said—Even the propriety of interfering, not only in the selling of the private property of the Crown, but in the appropriation of the money arising from the sales of that property, is a principle admitted in this House, and approved by Lord North.I believe that there is no doubt that this statement expresses the constitutional view; but see how much it involves. It means, inquiry by the House of Commons, and more than inquiry, extending into the general savings, and the expenditure of the savings accumulated by the Royal Family out of public grants, and it rests upon that which is also, I think, a constitutional axiom, that in a limited, monarchy, for the reigning family to become possessed of a large private fortune, is a constitutional danger of the first magnitude. This view has been acted upon in late times by the House of Commons; and the Pavilion at Brighton, although bought with his private money by George IV., when Regent, was sold as Royal or Crown property, and was dealt with by an Act of Parliament. The fact that even the savings invested by the King in the funds are exempt 258 from taxation, would seem to show that they are subject to be dealt with by Parliament, as being the property of the Crown, and not the private property of the individual who happens to wear it. If these savings in the funds are wholly beyond our ken, if they are thoroughly and absolutely private in their nature, I fail to see upon what constitutional grounds they are to be exempted from taxation. I know that as to one tax, the income tax, we are informed that the Queen pays it; and in speaking some time ago at Chelsea, I expressed the deep regret I felt that I should have used, during the Recess, words which implied that she did not. But, at the same time, for the purposes of this argument, the matter would not even be covered by the fact of a payment being made, because the exemption exists—it is in an Act of Parliament—it is sweeping in its terms. Lord Monteagle, when Comptroller, refused in the plainest terms to pay the tax for the Queen. Any King could avail himself of it at any moment without coming to this House, and without any public statement of the fact. I repeat, that if Parliament hold these funds to be private in their nature, and beyond the reach of inquiry by us, there never would have been introduced into the Income Tax Act this clause—Are exempted the stock or dividends belonging to Her Majesty, in whatever name the same may stand in the books of the Bank of England.I repeat that there are, at all events, good precedents for inquiry. On 14th April, 1815, Mr. Tierney obtained a Committee to inquire into the causes of excesses of the Civil List. But I prefer to rely upon the precedent of the Motion of Mr. Burke. Now, in the debate upon that Motion, the objection that those matters ought not to be meddled with except at the beginning of a reign, was repeatedly urged upon the House. It was said that Mr. Burke proposed "a resumption on the Crown." Mr. Townsend, answering that objection, used these words. He said—Resumptions on the Crown are strictly conformable, not only to the inherent right and authority of the House, but also to the example of precedent and custom.Mr. Pitt, in the same debate, also took up this point, and said—It had been attempted to show that it was improper to resume a Parliamentary grant, and it had often been said that they had not a right to do so. It would be needless to attempt an answer 259 to such a doctrine—it contained its refutation in its weakness.That was what Mr. Pitt said of "resumptions on the Crown;" but what we propose in the present case is, not resumption, but inquiry. Did we, however, propose a resumption, it would not be a resuption like that proposed in 1780—a resumption which would have, as that had, by the admission of its authors, the effect of pinching the Crown in its expenditure; but a resumption, which, while it would benefit the people, would hurt neither the King nor any single subject of the realm. We can show that there are sinecures connected with the Court; that there are unnecessary offices, not being sinecures; that a Committee has recommended their abolition; that some of them have been abolished, but that no information has been given as to which these are; and that some are, in spite of the recommendations, notoriously retained. From these sinecures, and from these burdensome and useless offices, the tenant of the Crown derives no advantage. Were the sinecures to be abolished, the Crown would not suffer, but would rather gain, and even the holders of the sinecures would not be harmed, for with the usual generosity of Parliament we should protect existing interests.
On the other hand, in such a case there can be no reason for waiting for the beginning of a reign; and there is for immediate action this good reason, and we need no other, that in the interval between any given date and the beginning of another reign fresh interests will year by year be created. To abolish sinecure offices about the Court is to harm no man. It is not proposed to touch offices which affect the comfort of the King, and it is proposed, in abolishing those which are, even from a monarchical point of view unnecessary, to protect the present holders. All that would be done by inquiry would be to make it certain that no fresh interests in sinecures should be created. The real test as to the value to the country of an office is—Would it be created if it did not exist? Now, no one can maintain that in the present age we should create a Governor and Constable of Windsor Castle. The foreign nobleman who holds this appointment receives, I am informed, a salary of £1,200 a-year, and holds also another appointment, besides being a captain in the Navy. The 260 appointment was retained by a majority of 1 vote on the Committee of 1838, Mr. Grote and Mr. Hume being in the minority. If it has been abolished, which I believe is not the case, its abolition will be shown by the Return for which I move. I say that these sinecures should be abolished, because I hold with Mr. Burke—"That all offices which bring more charge than proportional advantage to the State ought to be taken away." With a view, then, to future inquiry as to whether sinecure offices about the Court do not exist which might advisably be abolished, one of the Papers for which I propose to move is a list of all offices of this kind which have been abolished since the Report of the Committee which sat at the beginning of the reign. By comparing this list with the Report of the Committee and the evidence which they took, we should be able to discover what are the sinecures and what the needless offices that are still continued. It is proposed that in the present instance preliminary inquiries should take the form of an Address for those Papers which are needed in order to bring out the existence of those alleged abuses which would justify further inquiry by a Committee of this House. If the Ministry should raise objections to the form of inquiry that I suggest, let them hold their own inquiry; let them follow the precedent of 1782, when a Ministry which had come into office sternly pledged to economy in all branches of the public service, and especially to a reform in the sinecure offices, put the suggestion into the mouth of the King himself, and made the King urge upon the House of Commons that the expenditure upon his Household should be reduced. Now, Ministers sometimes take exception to the form of an inquiry at its earliest, and apparently at a harmless, stage, for fear that possibly it should be drawn into a precedent, and the House must have observed last year that the Prime Minister seems to have acted upon this principle in an answer which he gave to my hon. Friend who sits for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon.) My hon. Friend referred in his Question to this recommendation of the Select Committee of 1837–8—The Committee hope that, with the permission of Her Majesty, such inquiries may be instituted by the Treasury and the Household as that sinecures should be abolished on the termination of existing interests,and he asked— 261Whether the Government would institute inquiries into the present appropriation of the charges on the Civil List, with the view of ascertaining if it be possible to effect more economical arrangements by the abolition or consolidation of superfluous ceremonial offices."—[3 Hansard, ccviii. 156.]Now, the Prime Minister, in answering that Question, said that offices had been abolished, but that the saving by their abolition did not come to the country during the reign; and he raised, in other words and in a fashion very indirect, the old cry that we were proposing a "resumption on the Crown!" He urged, in his answer, that if we were to make a resumption upon the Crown we should expose ourselves to resumptions by the Crown—if I may be permitted a convenient though inaccurate phrase. He said that—Parliament would expose itself to a most dangerous counter-claim on the part of the Sovereign in case the Civil List should be found at any time to be less than sufficient.Now, this statement of the Premier forces me to go for a moment into the question of resumptions by the Crown and on the Crown.
Again, on the 5th June, 1839, a sum of £79,000—taken from the accumulated funds derived from the sale of Crown lands, but which stood waiting to be reinvested—was applied to the building of stables at Windsor. This again was a most important precedent of a resumption, inasmuch as the Crown benefited temporarily at the expense of the public, while, if the Crown view of the Crown lands tenure be correct, the interest of the reversioner was wholly sacrificed. In any case, the so-called bargain was interfered with in the middle of a reign. During the present reign there have been frequent cases in which payments have been charged upon the ordinary Estimates, which in former reigns would have been met by the Civil List itself, or by the hereditary revenues. Sometimes the form of a resumption has been avoided by a dodge—for instance, on 9th August, 1867, a charge of £25,000 for the entertainment of the Sultan was laid upon the country, and it was shown by the right hon. Gentleman who is now First Commissioner of Works, that this was a resumption on an enormous scale in everything but the mere point of form. Considering the surrender that has taken place of the Crown lands at the beginning of the reign—a surrender which was "absolute and without reserve"— 262 I hold that the occupation by nominees of the Crown, without rent and without rates, of lodges, and of rights of pasture in the Parks, is in the nature of a resumption. I confess, indeed, Sir, that after the surrender, the unreserved, surrender, of the Crown lands made by the Civil List Act, I am at a loss to understand the nature of the tenure by which the lodges and residences in the Parks are occupied by great personages, holding "by grace and favour of the King." A Return, not printed, but now on the Table of the House, shows that the Due de Nemours occupies Bushy, that Prince Arthur occupies Greenwich, that Prince Teck occupies the White Lodge, and that there are a dozen similar occupations of lodges for which rent ought to be paid to the public—occupations for which no rent is paid—by persons some of whom pay no rates, and who are stated to occupy "by grace and favour." Now, I am aware that on the 7th July, 1851, it was stated in this House, on behalf of the Crown, that the right to bestow these lodges "as gifts for distinguished services was retained and vested in the Crown." I am at a loss to know where and when this right was retained, and if retained as to distinguished services, I ask whether Prince Teck, Prince Arthur, the Due de Nemours and the ladies, who hold the other lodges, can be said to have performed "distinguished services" towards the Crown? Of smaller instances of resumptions by the Crown there is no lack. Some of the costs of installations of members of the Royal Family, as Knights of various orders, were borne by the Civil List in the last reign. The whole of them now seem to be borne by the public at large. The cost of the passages of members of the Family at sea were borne by the Civil List in the last reign; they are borne by the public now, although I am aware it is contended that this comes of the recommendation of the Committee, that the Privy Purse should be reserved for "merely personal expenses," whatever those may be, just as if these were not expenses merely personal. The Royal yachts were formerly made more use of than they are at present, and although I am aware that it is cheaper to pay the sums we pay for passages than to use Royal yachts or men-of-war, still, on the other hand, I fail to see, if this be so, why four Royal yachts should be kept afloat, at vast expense, though Sir James 263 Graham could defend three, many years ago, when there was no regular packet service, only on the ground that William IV. was a Sailor King. I propose, accordingly, to move for a Return of the services of the Royal yachts during the last 10 years.
The cost of the repair of palaces was charged on Estimates by the advice of a Committee, and is no resumption; but inasmuch as the Committee advised that St. James's Palace should be given up, the arrangements made have not been carried out, and I include the cost of the palaces in the Return for which I move. One reason for including the palaces in the Return is the magnitude of the sums spent upon them. It was stated in this House in 1856 that £165,000 had been expended on Hampton Court Palace since the accession of Her Majesty. A large portion of this expenditure has been upon the stud-houses, although the produce of the studs is sold, and the proceeds go to the department of the Master of the Horse or to the Privy Purse, and not to the public. This was admitted by Sir William Molesworth, in the debate of 16th April, 1855. Lord Monteagle, indeed, on December 15, 1837, had to confess that on the death of the late King, the stud at Hampton Court was sold by his executors as being private property. I notice in a Return now upon the Table of the House, that in reference to the taking of the grass of Hampton Court Park by the deputy of the Master of the Horse,—"the Treasury are considering the terms of this occupation." Well, I can only say that they have been considering it for a whole reign. As for Buckingham Palace, on 1st June, 1849, the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) said that up to that date it had cost the country £763,000.
Year after year we vote sums in Supply for the Marshal of the Ceremonies; for attendances of the Chamberlain upon mysterious duties; for preparations for Royal marriages; for robes, collars, and badges; for visits of foreign Sovereigns to England; for presents; for missions to foreign Sovereigns; for clothing for the Royal trumpeters, and so forth. I may say that the allowances to the trumpeters are triennial and are supposed to be "in lieu of clothing;" but I find, on the one hand, that while the allowances are charged, the clothing is charged too; and on the other, that the 264 triennial periods appear, for the purposes of these trumpeters, to consist of one year only. The "trumpeters," and the "robes, collars, and badges," I admit are not resumptions, because they were charged in former reigns; but most, if not all of these other charges are in the nature of resumptions by the Crown. There is a singular meanness to be noticed in some of the charges upon the Estimates that are connected with the Court. It is a meanness for which not members of the Family, but indiscreet officials are responsible—men who care not whether they risk the popularity of the ruling family provided they can make their accounts look well. For instance, in 1843, £55 was charged in the Estimates for altering the arms of the Prince of Wales, although savings from the Duchy of Cornwall, which afterwards reached the amount of £743,000, were being hoarded at that time in the young Prince's name. Now, these fees for alteration of arms and for installations are not legal, as it would appear from the case of Admiral Codrington, who successfully resisted payment, and stated the fact in the House on 18th April, 1834. If this be so, the nation is made to pay charges which cannot be enforced against individuals if they resist them. [The hon. Baronet then went at length into the case of Claremont (April 9, 1866)—by far the strongest case of a resumption which has occurred during the present reign.]
Having thus begun by justifying our right to inquire, the next point which presents itself for discussion is the consideration of the subjects into which we propose that inquiry should be made. First in importance stand Returns which have reference to the general expenditure upon, and the savings on account of, the Civil List. I propose to move for a statement of the duties of the Auditor, or Deputy-Auditor, of the Civil List, showing the office to which he makes his report, and for copies of his report for each year since the accession of Her Majesty. It is most important that we should have this Auditor's report, for, as was stated by a Member of the Committee in 1837, at the beginning of a reign matters are so hurried as to make a real inquiry impossible. This officer is clearly a public official, existing for public purposes, and his report should be as public as his office. I shall ask, also, for another Return of all directions or 265 warrants issued by the Treasury, under Section 9 of the Civil List Act, specifying the classes from which the savings arose, and the classes to which they were transferred; and for another Return in the nature of an account of the income and expenditure of the Civil List, from the accession of Her Majesty to the present time; and I will proceed to give my reasons for asking that those Returns should be laid before the House. Briefly stated, those reasons are two—first, the great complexity of the Returns we have, and the apparent existence of blunders, and of breaches of Acts of Parliament in connection with the Civil List; secondly, the desirability of our knowing, with the view to considering such further applications as may be made by the Crown to Parliament, whether a great amount in the shape of savings has not gone to swell the Privy Purse during the present reign. The Civil List Act directs that the issues shall be quarterly; that they shall be on Treasury warrants sent in within 30 days of the commencement of the quarter, for a sum not exceeding one-fourth of the estimated annual amount of each class, together with the savings of the preceding quarter. With respect to savings in any class, left beyond a quarter after the 31st December in each year, "it is lawful" for the Treasury to direct the savings to be applied in aid of the charges or expenses of any other class except the fifth, or of any other charge upon the Civil List. In practice, it appears that the quarterly warrants which ought to have been made, in conformity with Section 8 of the Civil List. Act, have never included the savings of the preceding quarter, but have regularly authorized the appropriation of £96,250—that is, one-fourth of £385,000, plus the amount of charge for pensions under Clause 5. We find, however, that up to March 1851, warrants were issued in every year against unappropriated moneys, or against the savings fund; and those appear to have been the directions under Section 9 of the Civil List Act. I find by a letter from Lord Monteagle, the Comptroller General, to Sir Alexander Spearman, of the Treasury, that he took my view, and suggested a change in the existing system, to bring it "more into accordance with the 9th section of the Civil List Act," the Comptroller of the Exchequer suggesting to the Treasury, not that it shall observe the Act, but that it shall 266 bring itself a little more into accordance with it. So far, then, as we can judge from the imperfect accounts which are laid before us, it would seem that the Treasury has steadily offended against Section 8 of the Act, by not stating the savings of each quarter; and that the Treasury have also neglected their duty, under the 9th section, inasmuch as, when the section says that "it shall be lawful" for them, after the 31st December, to direct the application of the savings, it imposes a statutory obligation to do so. Now this they seem not to have done. "Direct," in the case of the Treasury used to be taken to mean direct by warrant, and Lord Monteagle, when Comptroller General, proposed to the Treasury the following definition of a savings warrant:—A savings warrant is that by which the Treasury, at the close of the year, declares certain sums to be savings, under the 9th section, and applicable in aid of deficiencies of other classes, or applicable to any charge on the Civil List.Now warrants for savings do appear in the Exchequer Return, but instead of those warrants appearing annually, they often did not appear for several years.
I now come, with a view to show the irregularities that have occurred in connection with the Civil List, to the system pursued in issuing money on this account. The total of four Treasury warrants represents the limits of what may be charged in any one year. On this authority the Comptroller of the Exchequer used to authorise the Bank to set apart an Exchequer credit in favour of the Paymaster. When set apart the credit was drawn upon so far as was requisite by the Paymaster, who transferred it in lump sums to his "Drawing and Bill Account." From this account it passed by the Paymaster's cheques to the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord Steward, and others. Under this system it is difficult to see how the amount of credits could exceed the amount of warrants; but in the year ending the 31st March, 1843, the credits did exceed the warrants—an excess which would seem to have been illegal. The Act, by directing that the quarterly warrant should be for one quarter's allowance plus the savings of the preceding quarter, evidently meant that a quarterly warrant lost its force at the end of the quarter for which it was drawn, otherwise it would have been unnecessary to 267 add over again a sum which could already have been drawn upon an existing authority. Not only, however, was there an excess in 1843, but also in the years between 1851 and 1856; and until further Returns and explanations are given to Parliament I cannot but believe that £103,000 were, in the years that I have named, illegally issued on the Civil List account. Up to 1843 the accounts showed the amounts of unappropriated moneys. After that year those moneys were merged in the savings fund, which, however, has long since ceased to appear. It would seem that the unappropriated moneys were moneys the issue of which had been authorized by quarterly warrants, but which it had not been found necessary to issue from the Exchequer within the quarter covered by the warrant, and which, consequently, accumulated as a debt to the Civil List. Strictly speaking, unappropriated moneys only went into the savings fund, by a direction under Section 9 of the Civil List Act, but in practice there used to be a laxity in distinguishing between unappropriated money and the savings fund. We possess a Return which shows the balance of Exchequer credits at the beginning of the year; we cannot trust to this as an indication of the savings in the year, for it is possible that the amounts appearing in it are moneys due to tradesmen and others in the last quarter, but not immediately applied for, and left lying at the Bank. When, however, we find that on the last day of the quarter they amounted to a larger sum than the whole allowance for the quarter in Classes II. and III., and when we know that a great deal of the expenditure in those classes is of a daily, weekly, or monthly character, it becomes clear that so enormous a reserve could only exist by virtue of accumulations or savings. Another remarkable irregularity occurs in the year 1838–9, when the warrants reached the enormous sum of £482,000, and exceeded the net expenditure of the Civil List by the sum of £96,249 15s. 10d. which differs by only 4s. 2d. from the sum of £96,250—that is exactly a quarter's allowance. This would appear to have formed the precedent upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer must have acted when he obtained from us five quarter's of income tax in a single year.
I have already stated that up to 1850–1, warrants were given for each 268 payment out of the accumulated savings; but in that year Lord Brougham brought forward the subject in the House of Lords, and from that moment the Returns have disappeared. In 1854, 1855, and 1866, we find every warrant wrong, in spite of Lord Monteagle. The Lords of the Treasury commenced then quietly to pay out the accumulated savings instead of paying them openly by warrant. They seem to have lost their heads over this operation, for in 1855–6 they made a Return of the Civil List £5,000 short of the proper amount. The Civil List in that year ought to have been £401,457 10s. 0d., but it was returned as £396,457 10s. 0d., the error being in the Return of £11,000 and odd pounds, instead of £11,000 and odd pounds on Class V. This error was carried through the accounts, and the balance struck without it having been detected.
With a view to an argument to which I shall presently resort, I wish for a few moments to examine into the light thrown by the Exchequer Returns upon the subject of the Civil List savings. The credits given under savings warrants, or warrants against unappropriated moneys, are shown in a Return. A glance at their amounts shows that they are not documents declaring the sum added to the savings fund each year, but are warrants used in the drawing out of a portion of the fund. Now, the moneys, or part of the moneys drawn out by them, may have been applied in aid of other classes of the Civil List. But what other classes wanted aid? None. Moreover, in spite of the drawings under those warrants, the savings fund, year by year, as long as it were shown, continued steadily to grow. If other classes had wanted aid in any year, we should have found in that year that the yearly warrant had been first exhausted. But, excepting in 1843, it never was exhausted; and in the year in which the largest draught was made upon the savings fund—namely, 1847, when £71,000 was drawn—we find that in the ordinary allowance there was a saving of more than £20,000. Under these circumstances, I cannot conceive that the £71,000 would have been required in aid of any class except the Privy Purse.
Now, between March, 1837, and March, 1851, £370,000 had remained as surpluses in the Exchequer, as sums which it had not been found necessary to draw in the ordinary course. Against this 269 fund £274,000 had been drawn out by special warrants, called unappropriated or savings fund warrants, and in one case without any warrant at all, so that in March, 1851, there ought to have remained over £96,000. The growth of the fund was noticeable. For the first few years of the reign the savings were small. In 1844 very considerable reductions of salaries in the Household were begun upon a regular plan, by pensioning off servants at small pensions and appointing others at lower salaries. In 1845 the savings were abnormally large, but in 1846 they stood at about £20,000, and then increased steadily to £33,000, £34,000, £35,000, and £42,000. Here, however, we come to a sudden stop. Lord Brougham called attention to the savings by a Motion in the House of Lords, and Ministers desiring to avoid attracting further attention, ceased to allow accumulations in the Exchequer. Instead of issuing only enough money to meet the requirements, from that time they always issued enough to cover the whole warrant, so that the accumulation of the savings fund, if any, would be in the hands of the Paymaster, and would not appear in the Exchequer Return. Not only did the Treasury from that time cover the warrant in full, but it issued extra credits, to enable the Crown to withdraw £91,000 out of the £96,000 which was in the Exchequer when Lord Brougham made his speech; and to avoid this withdrawal being noticed, they issued no more savings warrants—a proceeding, which, to judge by the terms of Section 9 of the Civil List Act, would seem to have been one of doubtful legality. Matters fast grew worse. The balances, which had all but disappeared immediately upon the withdrawal from publication of the amount of the savings fund, became enormous, rising from £72 and a few shillings, to £43,000 in a jump, and then to £76,000. Moreover, the proportion between the Treasury warrants received by the Bank, the Exchequer credits at the Bank, and the payments by the Bank, was at the same time lost, and all of them began to fluctuate, by jumps of £50,000 at a time. For instance, in 1854–5, the amount of the Treasury warrants was £392,000, while the amount of the Exchequer credits was £456,000. In 1855–6, the amount of the Treasury warrants was £411,000, and the amount of payments by the Bank was £453,000. In 1865–6, 270 the amount of the Exchequer credits and of Treasury warrants was the same—namely, £405,000, while the amount of payments by the Bank was £480,000. These irregularities, and the absolute cessation of Returns giving accurate information on this point, must be, on the one hand, my excuse for having pointed out irregularities in the early years, rather than in the later years of the reign; and, on the other, my ground for asking for Returns which will again place us in the same advantageous position as regards knowledge, in which Parliament stood before the singular withdrawal of information which took place in consequnce of Lord Brougham's Motion.
I wish for a more accurate account of the net savings upon the Civil List account than any we possess at present. I do not think that such a Return can very well be refused to us; because when, in 1863, Mr. Augustus Smith opposed a Vote for travelling expenses of the Royal Family, and asked whether there had not been savings under two heads of the Civil List during the year, which might be applied to defraying those charges, the present Prime Minister, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, said it was quite practicable, upon inquiry, to state to the House the exact position of the different departments of the Civil List. I need hardly add, however, that, upon that occasion no such inquiry was held, and no such statement made. Returns of this kind have been moved for and have often been obtained on former occasions. Lord Brougham was not permitted to have his account in detail for which he moved in 1850; but in 1780 a Resolution was adopted by the House of Commons, that there be laid before that House, within seven days after the first day of every Session, exact accounts of every sum paid in the course of the preceding year, out of the Civil List, to any Member of either House of Parliament, by way of pension, salary, &c. Now, if the House could justly require such a Return as this, it is pretty clear that a more general right of inquiry cannot be denied to exist even during the continuance of the present reign. I have shown, moreover, that Section 9 of the Civil List Act directs the issue of certain documents, which, if issued, are now concealed; but if an Act of Parliament directs a certain course to be followed by officials in matters connected 271 with, public finance, how is the House to know whether the Act has been complied with if the Government refuse to produce the Return? For my part, I think that inquiry is also justified by the extraordinarily obscure character of the Civil List accounts to which I have already referred. Who can state at the present moment the exact expenditure upon the Civil List account itself? Yet it is not only generally desirable that we should know what the expenditure is; but there are special reasons existing in this case. The Civil List Act itself provides that whenever the total charge upon the Civil List on account of five out of the six classes, excluding pensions, shall amount to more than the sum of £400,000, an account, stating the particulars of the exceedings and the cause thereof, shall be submitted to Parliament within 30 days after the same shall have been ascertained. Now, what human being is there who can tell as a certainty whether there have not, in fact, been such excesses? In 1855–6, the payments by the Bank of England upon the Civil List account are shown to havebeen£453,000. In 1865–6, they amounted to £481,000, and if this item of payments by the Bank of England does not mean charges, but means something else, then, even in that case, it is of high importance that the exact meaning of those figures should be explained to the country through this House. It will be seen in what I have said, that by the words of my Return, I propose to ask to what purposes the savings that have been effected upon the Civil List account—savings which we know from the experience of those earlier years, in which they were stated to the House to be considerable, and to be increasing—have been applied? Now, I have been attacked of late for having said that there was reason to believe that the savings upon the Civil List had been added to the Privy Purse, and that such a use of them was an improper diversion of public funds. I have been attacked for having made this statement in the country instead of in the House, and I have been attacked for making it at all. Now, with reference to my having made it in the country, I have this alone to say—that it is a statement which has been made already in the House itself, not in great detail, not with reasons, but still a statement that has been made. On the other hand, it is a statement that was made with ample reasons, with 272 the greatest possible detail, with the utmost care, by Lord Brougham, in the House of Lords, in 1850. Lord Brougham obtained little or no support, and the reason was, that the country was not then interested in the subject. But there can be no subject in which the country is more easily, more naturally, and more justifiably to be interested, than in the disposition of that portion of the taxes which goes towards ceremonial objects. Last year, when the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) brought forward his Motion for the disestablishment of the Church, the answer with which he was met by the Prime Minister was, that the House of Commons was against him, and that "before he sought to convince a majority in the House, he would do well to convince a majority of his countrymen." If that be true of such a matter as the position of religious communities towards the State, surely it is ten times more true, if that be possible, with regard to points which arise in connection with the expenditure of the public taxes. This is not a charge against the present Ministers; because we all of us know that these matter are matters of custom and precedent, and that it would be a most ungracious task, or next door to the impossible, for a Minister to propose to take the Civil List savings to the nation, when previously they had gone to swell the Privy Purse. The way in which the present unfortunate custom has arisen, is one which makes it difficult for a Minister to act in the matter unless he is well backed up by the country and the House of Commons.
The savings even at the beginning of the present reign were insignificant, and there was little danger and little impropriety in allowing them to be taken in this way. It is only now, when they have swollen to a large amount, that political danger in the future may be discerned, as our predecessors would have discerned it in the past. I say that our predecessors would have discerned it, and I may venture to remind the House that the reason why Pitt objected in 1759 to undertaking the conquest of Bengal in the name of the Crown was that the King might thus obtain a source of income independent of Parliament. Sir George Lewis, on 22nd May, 1857, said—It has been deemed a matter of policy in this country wholly to strip and denude the Sovereign 273 of all hereditary property, and to render him during his life entirely dependent upon the bounty of Parliament."—[3 Hansard, cxlv. 724.]Now, as to the charge itself, it is simply this. I ask, as to the diversion of the Civil List savings of the Privy Purse—first, whether it is legal; and, secondly, whether it is politic? I hold that the fact that £8,000 a-year was granted to meet "unforeseen demands," shows that savings were not contemplated by Lord Melbourne in framing the Act. Now, on 16th December, 1837, Mr. Spring Rice, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, admitted that "grants to the Crown must be construed in favour of the grantor." I claim, too, the right to use the Title and Preamble of the Civil List Act to explain its ambiguities. It is an Act to provide "a certain and competent Revenue for defraying the expenses of your Majesty's Household, and supporting the honour and dignity of the Crown during your Majesty's life"—rather a singular Preamble when we find that under the Act it is contended that large savings may be effected and left to the King's relations by a secret will. Upon the point of legality, I want to know why, if the view of Lord Brougham that the practice is contrary to law, be pronounced a mistaken view—why, if you have, as the officials tell us, an absolute power, both in law, in custom, and in equity, to appropriate to the Privy Purse all savings—why did the House of Commons tie up that expenditure under classes by means of the most stringent provisions? Why did not the House vote the money in a lump, as it does in the case of other members of the Royal Family? When you have answered me this question, then and then only will I go on and ask, if legal, is it politic? Or, in other words, why should we allow for the future, even if legally we have allowed for the past, money voted for expenditure but not expended, to go to swell a Privy Purse already fixed, after full inquiry, at a due and fitting amount?
The Civil List, as was shown by Mr. Goulburn in this House, greatly exceeds that voted during the last reign, although multitudes of charges were then borne by the Civil List which now are charged upon the ordinary Estimates, while the Privy Purse is supplemented by the Duchy of Lancaster—a property rising daily in value and swelling year by year into the production of a 274 most important Revenue. If legal, is it politic thus to run the risk of a great accumulation of wealth in the hands of the King? For reasons which I will proceed to give, I believe this disposition of the savings to be contrary to the spirit of the Act of Parliament. That it is most impolitic and unwise I am convinced, and I maintain that when the Civil List Act was passed no large surplus was expected to arise. Had any been expected, the Whigs of that day would have taken good care that it should not have gone to swell the Privy Purse. My contention, then, is, that money granted by the House of Commons for one purpose and with one view, has been applied to other purposes—and I will give my reasons for so thinking. But if there should prove to be, I do not say a clear ease, but even such a one as would leave room for doubt, then I argue that no subject can more justly become a matter of debate in the House of the elected representatives of the taxpayers of the nation. That in fixing the expenditure at the beginning of the reign, the House of Commons took nothing into consideration except the probable expenditure is clear from the wording of the Civil List Act itself. As a general rule it is better to give words of one's own that to quote those of others; but upon this subject—on which I speak only on account of the hesitation of those more learned in finance than I can pretend to be, to bring this matter before the House—I cannot resist the temptation that I feel to quote words, most accurate I think in their character, which were used by the Prime Minister last year. Speaking in the House of Commons at the time of a debate upon grants which were then proposed, the right hon. Gentleman said—Gentlemen who study the structure of the Civil List Acts will perceive that Parliament studiously lays down the application of the moneys granted to the Sovereign, and confines them to the special services to which they are destined."—[3 Hansard, cciv. 176.]Again, in the course of last year, he said—I refer to the terms of the Civil List Act. Look at the mode in which the annual income is bestowed upon the Sovereign; it is not bestowed upon the Sovereign in the gross, but it is bestowed after a careful investigation of details, and an exact appreciation of what, in the judgment of Parliament, each of the burdens to which the attention of Parliament is directed will re- 275 quire, in order to maintain the dignity of the Sovereign."—[3 Hansard, ccviii. 573.]I repeat, then, it is certain, that if the Committee which sat at the beginning of the reign had intended that the Treasury should allow money to accumulate, and the balances to go to swell the Privy Purse, they would have proposed that the money should be voted in alump sum. The language of the 8th clause of the Act is very stringent in its delimitation of the classes; and, after tying the money up in this careful way, it insists that even savings shall not be withdrawn at the end of each quarter, but only once a-year, and the language seems to contemplate no savings except savings of a most trifling kind. At the end of the year there is power given to the Commissioners of the Treasury to direct the savings to be applied in aid of the charges upon the Civil List revenues, but there is not one word in regard to allowing income to accumulate. I submit to the House that it is contrary to the spirit of the Civil List Act, even if it be not contrary to its letter, that the savings should be allowed to accumulate or should be handed over without inquiry to those persons through whom take place the disbursements of the Privy Purse. I should feel grave doubt of the wisdom of my attempting to set my humble opinion upon such a point against that of the skilled authorities. I should hesitate before I did so. But this is the opinion of other skilled authorities—it was the opinion of Lord Brougham. It seems to have been the opinion of Lord Russell, for in the debate on the provision for Prince Albert, which took place in 1840, Sir Robert Peel stated that Lord John Russell had, on a former occasion said—"that the Crown could not apply the surplus on one head of the Civil List to the Privy Purse;" and Lord Russell, who was present, took no objection to the words thus attributed to him. As to the opinion of Lord Brougham, it is, I think, of such importance that I will venture to read a few passages of it to the House. His protest against the negativing of his Motion for an inquiry into the subject is a document of the greatest value, and the House will find that if I am wrong upon the point of legality, I at least can claim to have erred in Lord Brougham's company. I quote from the Lords' Journals of the 5th of August, 1850; Lord Brougham dissents from the judg- 276 ment of the majority of the House of Lords upon 10 separate grounds. I had not, when I spoke at Newcastle, seen this protest—indeed, I read it for the first time about a month ago; but his argument is precisely the argument which I had used, and I own that it seems to me unanswerable. Lord Brougham dissents:—1st. Because the Civil List arrangement is framed upon statements laid before Parliament, in the nature of Estimates upon which the grant of income is to be made.2nd. Because those statements contain a minute detail of the expenses for which provision is made, including the salaries of officers, and even the wages of servants; and the grant is made on the supposition by all parties to the arrangement, that such salaries are to be always paid.4th. Because no supposition ever entered the mind of Parliament in making the grant, that large savings were to be effected out of the income granted; and, on the contrary, that accumulation of wealth into the hands of the Sovereign is wholly alien to the spirit of our Constitution, which requires the Monarch to be wholly dependent upon Parliament for the revenue by which his dignity shall be supported.6th. Because, for those reasons, it is the undoubted right of Parliament to obtain information, from time to time, touching the amount of the savings, under the several heads of the Civil List expenditure."7th."—and this is the most important of all for our present circumstance, and to it I call the attention of all those who voted for reducing the grant to Prince Arthur last year—Because the amount of such savings must form an important matter in considering the applications, from time to time made for Parliamentary aid in the establishment of the younger branches of the Royal Family.So much by way of justification, upon this large and grave side of the subject which I have brought before the consideration of the House. It now becomes my duty to go back to certain more general considerations than those with which I have been dealing within the last few minutes, and to inquire into the soundness of certain arguments which are adduced against the production to the House of information. We are often told that the Civil List income is smaller in the present reign than it ever has been in the past, which makes it an ungracious act to inquire into its expenditure; and, again, that the Crown lands are producing far more than they have ever produced before, which makes it still more ungracious to question the expediency of charges which are borne 277 by the public as part of the arrangement under which these lands have been surrendered by the Crown. Now, in the debate which took place on the 27th January, 1840, in this House, Mr. Goulbourn showed that the income of the Civil List during the present reign was in reality £20,000 a-year more than it was during the last. The Civil List under William IV. was £375,000 a-year. The Civil List now is £385,000 a-year, excluding on the one hand the allowance to the Queen Consort in the late reign, and on the other the allowance to the Prince Consort in the present. But then £10,000 a-year, as was shown by Lord Monteagle, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, was saved at the commencement of the present reign by the reduction of the salaries of certain of the great officers of the Household, making an excess of £20,000 a-year in what may be called the available sums. Moreover, in consequence of the report of the Civil List Committee, and the advice given by that Committee that public charges should, as far as possible, be borne on the Estimates, and only those Royal expenses which may be called personal should be borne by the Civil List, large sums have been saved. For instance, the King's Plates cost £2,000 a-year and more from the Civil List of William IV., and now are charged on the Estimates. Stud bills and hunt bills cost William IV. £5,000 a-year, and are now all but extinct, and the travelling expenses of the Court have been greatly reduced since the introduction of railways. I have already mentioned other large charges now borne on the Estimates, but formerly charged in part upon the Civil List. As for the much-talked-of surrender of the hereditary revenues—the droits of Admiralty were worth nothing in time of peace; and, as was shown by Mr. Harvey in a debate which occurred on 19th April, 1836, the 4½ per centum dues, of which a great deal was said, although worth £25,000 a-year, were saddled with pensions which, had they all been paid, would have amounted to £30,000 a-year. But I find also that these duties were described by Lord Shelburne in this House as unjustly raised—as merely laid on by virtue of the Prerogative—as "utterly illegal and unconstitutional." So much for two important branches of these hereditary revenues! But with regard to the whole of them, Lord Shelburne said— 278The hereditary duties at no time belonged to the Crown; they were at the disposition of Parliament; £4,000 a-week out of them was taken by the Parliament of William III. The grants of forfeited estates were resumed under Anne, and applied to the exigencies of State. It was preposterous and fallacious to suppose that the agreement made by his present Majesty was any act of concession in him.Moreover, if Mr. Fox may be quoted as an authority—and for certain it is not easy to refute his arguments—he said on the 29th March, 1802—From the time that Parliament exonerated the Crown from the expenses of levying fleets and armies, from that moment the hereditary revenues became the property of the public. William III. was not even heir to the Crown when he succeeded.So much for the "hereditary revenues." To call attention to their character, I will ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell us how much the hereditary revenues, except Crown lands, produce at the present time? On the other hand, if it be true that there was a distinct arrangement with regard to the Crown lands, which can only be re-considered at the close of the reign, then, no doubt, it would be difficult to cause inquiry to be made into the whole subject, unless we were able to do that which I believe I also have done—namely, prove abuse. But is it the case that there is any such arrangement as to the Crown lands at all? My view of the position of the Crown lands is one which I can produce great authorities to support. It is the fact that for many reigns no King has enjoyed the Crown lands beneficially, and even the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted last year that—There was no chance that any Sovereign would ever again manage for his own benefit the estate of the Crown.The Crown claim to those lands is one which may be said with fairness to be like many others in this country—tolerated only so long as it is not enforced; and if these lands were to be surrendered they would be liable to charges far greater than their value in amount. At the accession of each King, the amount of the Civil List for the future is determined, not upon considerations of what the Crown lands may be expected to Produce, but wholly and solely upon consideration of what is necessary for the dignity of the Crown. There is, I know, a reference to the Crown lands in the Preamble of the Civil List Act, but I 279 contend that this is a reference purely conventional in its nature, and made by way of form. In the really valuable collections of authority—namely, the proceedings of the Committee, and the debates in this House—the granting of the Civil List was never rested on the surrender of the Crown Lands. My contention is, that these lands have long since become, in fact, a purely National estate. Only last Session a Committee which sat upon the question of the Thames Embankment, seems to have taken, by a large majority, this view. Even were my opinion a modern one, I should be prepared to contend that it would be none the less defensible for being comparatively new. But so far back even as the reign of Anne, I find in the Preamble of a statute, 1 Anne, c. 7, these words—Whereas, the necessary expenses of supporting the Crown were formerly defrayed by a land revenue, which hath from time to time been impaired by the grants of former Kings, so that Her Majesty's land revenues at present can afford very little towards the support of her government, nevertheless the land revenues of the Crown may hereafter be increased, and consequently the burden upon the estates of the subjects of this realm may be lessened, in all future provisions to be made for the expenses of the civil government. To the end, therefore, that the land revenues of the Crown may be preserved and increased, be it enacted that every grant or lease which shall be made by Her Majesty, her heirs, or successors, Kings or Queens of this realm, shall be utterly void and of none effect.And then follow the exceptions of short leases, where full rent is taken. I ask, then, who are the heretics—Mr. Howard and Mr. Gore, or, on the other hand, Mr. Hallam, Lord Brougham, and Mr. Allen, the author of the great work on the Royal Prerogative, who take what may be called the modern view? I confess that, for my part, I prefer the opinion of the latter, when I find it backed by the practice of Parliament for years past. I deal only with this subject at this moment because I am forced to do so. There is no necessity for moving for any Returns upon the point, because we have already in our possession ample information in respect to the Crown lands; but in any future inquiry which may be held on the whole subject, it would be necessary to ask whether waste and inconvenience are not caused by the present plan for the management of them, and whether it be not time that we should put an end to the inconvenient fiction of their being now in any special 280 sense the property of the Crown. The disputes which have arisen in reference to the New Forest and to the Thames Embankment, and the enormous percentage of the revenues which is spent in management, are by themselves sufficient justification for urging that inquiry should be directed to this point. Another case for inquiry might well be founded on the fact that Windsor Forest is under the Commissioners of Woods, and that they appeal to us in their reports not to look at it as a property which can be dealt with upon commercial principles at all. If this be so, why not treat it as a great park or garden, and place it under the Commissioner of Works? At this moment the expenditure at Windsor Forest is £22,000 and odd pounds a-year, and the receipts are £4,000 only; and yet this is part of the "hereditary land revenues" of the Crown, "surrendered" by the Crown to the public in consideration of the granting of the Civil List.
We are often told that during the present reign we have never been applied to for payments in respect of debts, and that this fact again makes inquiry ungraceful. Now, what were these debts? The payment of them begun in 1713. This case was one which, although it is the precedent, may be described, and has been described in this House, as a precedent of trickery and fraud. In the reign of George I. provision was twice made for payment of the debts, but they were paid by deductions from the salaries, and without any charge upon the public. In George II.'s reign no payment of debts took place. In 1769 the debt on the Civil List was paid, but the expenses of the King's marriage had been charged upon the Civil List, and were put forward as the cause of debt. Now, this 1769 payment was made on a distinct pledge given that no such demand should be made in future. In spite of this promise, an application was made in 1777, and led to riots. Ultimately, in consequence of this application, the whole Civil List was re-modelled in 1781. In 1784 a few debts were paid, but only in consequence of the loss of certain hereditary revenues through the American War. The precedents of George IV. are not worth much to us happily now, and in the reign of William IV. there was a saving on the Civil List. There are no precedents which would apply in the 281 case of any debts which might now be incurred. The House of Commons paid Civil List debts—when they did pay them—not because they recognized their obligation to meet the extravagance of the Court, but because if the money had not been voted many public servants would have been deprived of their incomes. As was said in Parliament in 1804, "the Judges of the land and the foreign Ministers were in arrear." At that time, as the House will remember, the Civil List was charged with a great number of salaries and public expenses, which is now no longer the case. The House of Commons never paid debts by Votes until it had exhausted every other expedient. In 1782, when George III. applied for aid to extricate the Civil List from debt, he desired, by Message—The advice of the Commons as to the mode of discharging the debt, without laying any new burden on his people,and for this purpose, he proposed a plan of reform and reduction in his establishment. Even in 1786 a promise was made as to the future, and Fox vehemently opposed the payment. In 1795, the Prince of Wales being in debt, the Commons refused to vote a sum to pay the debt. What they did was to increase his income, and to appropriate a portion of it to the payment of his past debts, declaring future debts to be irrecoverable; and in this case there was this special reason for payment—that the Prince had not been permitted to receive the accumulations of the income of the Duchy of Cornwall. In 1802 a debt was paid, after violent opposition from Fox; but even this was a debt wholly incurred under the head of occasional payments, which may be said not now to exist, and there had been a large saving on the other classes of the Civil List. As to the debt of 1814, it was explained by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it arose not in the Household, on which there was a saving, but on political expenses. In the case of 1816, on the 3rd of May, Lord Castlereagh explained—That the accumulation of debt was occasioned, not by the excesses of the Household Department, but by the increased charges on those branches of the Civil List which were connected with the public expenditure."—[1 Hansard, xxxiv. 187.]Without going into every case, I may say that Parliament has never admitted its liability to bear debts on the Civil 282 List, and has never paid such debts without special grounds for so doing, and that they were in general no more than Civil Service Supplementary Estimates.
Now, it is true, that no applications for the payment of debts have been made during the present reign; but repeated applications have been made for dowries to Princesses, and for annuities, under circumstances wholly different from those under which such applications were made in former times. When I find that these annuities have often been voted unanimously by the House, I cannot but regret the extinction of the old Whig traditions, which, while they were kept alive, would have prevented the creation of such evil precedents for the future. In all the older Royal Messages asking for annuities, the King used to be made to say that his application was based upon the consideration—That he was restrained by the laws now in being from making provision for his younger children, and hoped that Parliament will grant an annuity to take effect after his demise.These were the words made use of throughout the reign of George II.; for instance, on 6th July, 1727, on the 8th April, 1734, and on the 3rd May, 1739. I find the very same words made use of by George III., for instance, in his Message of 8th April, 1778. He says—His Majesty being restrained by the laws now in being, from making provision for his younger children out of the hereditary revenues of the Crown.Now, this refers to the Restraining Act, 1 Anne, c. 7, which is practically put an end to by the 39 & 40 Geo. III., c. 88, and the 25 & 26 Vict., c. 37, enabling the Crown to hold private property, and which prevented the making of any permanent provision by the King. It is a remarkable confirmation of this view, that the annuities under the Bill, passed in consequence of the Message which I have quoted, were to take effect only on the King's death. Even the Princess Royal—daughter of George III.—obtained no English annuity upon her marriage, and in the case of the marriage of the daughter of George II. to the Prince of Orange, the settlement made by the King was a purely political payment to a Protestant Prince, as was stated by Ministers, and was never made use of as a precedent. The annuity that was granted to the Princess Royal, 283 daughter of George III., by the Irish Parliament is not a case in point, because the Restraining Acts did not apply to Ireland. The Princesses Mary and Louisa, daughters of George II., obtained no annuities at all, and the younger daughters of George III., so far from having annuities granted them in consideration of their marriage, were bound by Act of Parliament to accept a portion of £40,000 in lieu of annuities, which, if they had remained unmarried, they would have received on their father's demise. Now, as late as the 12th June, 1843, this sound doctrine had not been forgotten by the Ministers of the Crown. Sir Robert Peel on that day spoke as follows:—I find that the general rule adopted and sanctioned by the House of Commons, in respect to provisions made for Princesses of the Royal Family, has been to assume that the parent of the Princess, whether the reigning Sovereign, or any member of the reigning Family, would undertake, during the lifetime of that parent, out of the provision made for him, either from the Civil List granted to the Sovereign, or from the Consolidated Fund granted to any member of the Royal Family by Parliament, to make provision for their daughters."—[3 Hansard, lxix. 1333.]He went on to say that—The principle was to assume that the parent, during his lifetime, would make provision for his daughter, and that Parliament would grant an allowance, its payment being contingent upon the death of such parent."—[Ibid.]The late annuities have sinned against this principle, and entitle us to re-open the whole subject of the arrangement between Parliament and the Crown. Indeed, I should be justified, I think, in saying that there is no precedent whatever for the provisions which have been made for the daughters of the present Queen. The Crown now possesses the power to hold private properties from which provision for daughters can be made. The secrecy of the Royal will, most unwisely granted by the 25 & 26 Vict., c. 37, will, however, prevent our knowing whether the properties so held are sufficient for the charges which might thus be thrown upon them.
Quoting Mr. Goulburn, a few minutes back, I showed that the disposable income of the Civil List was larger in the present than it had been in the last reign. But I did not add, as I might have done, that the receipts from the Duchy of Lancaster, which go straight to the Privy Purse, have enormously 284 increased. The net payment now, after great reductions for management, is never less than £30,000 a-year, and comes sometimes nearly to £35,000 a-year. At the beginning of the reign it yielded only £8,000. One of the Returns for which I propose to move will show the gross income of the Duchy of Lancaster for each year since Her Majesty's accession, and also for each year the amount paid over to the keeper of the Privy Purse. In the debates which occurred on the subject of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1847 and 1850, and again on the 11th June, 1857, it was admitted by the Ministers that Parliament has an absolute right to inquire into this subject. I think that—considering that Sir Robert Peel admitted in this case the right to inquire—I may assume that the separate character of the Crown interest in this Duchy is as absolute a fiction as is the theory of the private interest of the Crown in the Crown lands. The late Lord Derby took a similar view; he said, in the debate of the 26th February, 1847, that there was an annual account presented to Parliament of the management of the Duchy, and that the presentation of this account—Did imply that Parliament exercised some control over the matter—nay, more, the administration of the affairs of the Duchy, including the administration of its financial affairs, was vested in one of the responsible advisers of the Crown, who was generally a Cabinet Minister, and in that capacity responsible to Parliament for the management or mismanagement of the duties confided to him; if there had been any extravagant expenditure upon the establishment—if there had been any waste—if there had been improvidence—that was a subject into which Parliament had a right to inquire, and ought to inquire."—[3 Hansard, xc. 515.]Now, with regard to mismanagement and waste, the accounts themselves presented this year to Parliament show £15,000 a-year to have been spent upon the management of an estate the net revenue of which is £31,000—figures which of themselves seem to justify the general charge, and certainly to justify inquiry. But last year, the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel), speaking in this House in opposition to the dowry of the Princess Louise, used words so strong as to make me marvel that the officers themselves who are responsible for the management of the Duchy of Lancaster, should not of their own motion have proposed an inquiry. The right hon. Baronet said— 285I do not suppose that there is in this country such gross mismanagement as is to be found in the case of the Duchy of Lancaster. Will the House believe that while the revenues of the Duchy amount to £50,000 a-year, only about £25,000 is paid to Her Majesty, while the other £25,000 is expended in the grossest mismanagement."—[3 Hansard, cciv. 368.]Adding a still harder word, which word, but not the statement, he afterwards withdrew. Now, Sir, I speak that which all hon. Members who are connected with Staffordshire well know, when I say that by the imperfect management of the Duchy estates vast fortunes are being made by individuals at the cost of the Crown, and indirectly, as I contend, at the cost of the country. In a debate which took place in 1849, it was shown that there were many sinecure officers connected with the Duchy—for instance, one gentleman who received £1,600 a-year for duties wholly performed by deputy; and many of these offices still remain. I may add that at the time when the Civil List Act for the last reign was introduced, it was generally supposed in the House of Commons that the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster would be given up by the Crown to the State, in the same way as the revenues of the other Crown lands; but at the last moment a different course seems to have been resolved upon. I frankly admit that inquiry in this case ought, in my opinion, to be a preliminary step towards the merging of this estate in the other property of the Crown, and the House will remember that even in the last century a Bill was brought in by Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox for this purpose. Mr. Burke then said that which is still true, namely—that the accounts of the Duchy of Lancaster "exhibited the apparatus of a kingdom in the management of a mere private estate." It has often been said in this House, by great sticklers for the rights of the Crown, that the interest of the Crown in the Duchy of Lancaster is as private as the interest in their properties of the Dukes of Portland or of Bedford. But there is this one great difference—that the Duke of Portland, if he wastes his property, cannot come to this House to make good the deficiency, but the Duke of Lancaster can, and Parliament is therefore directly interested in seeing that his revenues are economically administered. But a better answer is this—If the Duchy of Lancaster be a private estate, why should the Crown retain Crown privi- 286 leges in dealing with it? The Crown ought not to claim Royal privileges when it proceeds against an individual, and then, when Parliament asks for a control over the estates, turn round and say that they are private property. Moreover, the 1 Anne, c. 7, s. 1, enacts that grants of lands from the Crown are void, even grants under the seals of the Duchy and County Palatine of Lancaster, thus putting the Duchy in exactly the same position as the rest of the Crown lands. Moreover, the very fact that Acts had to be passed to enable the Crown to hold private property shows that Lancaster is not the private property of the Crown. My last point is that, by the Civil List Act of George III., the Duchy of Lancaster seems to have been classed with the rest of the land revenues of the Crown.
The Duchy of Cornwall is more immediately and directly under the control of this House than is the Duchy of Lancaster. I propose with regard to it, to move for a similar Return to that which I move for in the case of the Duchy of Lancaster—namely, a Return of the gross amount of its income for each year since the beginning of the reign, and also of the amount paid over in each year for the use of the Prince of Wales. If it needed argument, I might point out that the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock showed, in a debate which took place on the 25th March, 1850, that the original title to the Duchy was Parliamentary, that Returns of its management were annually laid before Parliament, and that the office of the Duchy was a public office, for which at that time no rent was paid. I may add, that the present office was built at a cost of £17,000, charged not upon the revenues of the Duchy, but upon the taxes.
I said just now that Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke introduced a Bill for the merger of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall in the Crown; but Mr. Fox returned to the subject 15 years later, and on the 27th April, 1795, in advocating the immediate sale of the Crown interest in the Duchy of Cornwall, he said—"It had ever been his opinion that a landed estate was the least proper of any for the Crown." And I repeat with regard to it that which I said of the Duchy of Lancaster—namely, that if inquiry be held it ought to be held, I think, with a view at least to merger in the Crown or public lands. I again repeat that 287 the separation is but a mere fiction, for the 1 & 2 Will. IV., continued in this respect by an Act of the present reign, restrains the King and the Prince of Wales from granting leases, other than such as are grantable in the case of the Crown lands. Still more startling, and still more important, is the fact that the Duchy was surrendered along with the Crown lands, by William III. The first claim of the Crown to its peculiar rights in Cornwall seems to have arisen thus: Cornwall is full of tin—silver and gold are Royal metals, tin mines contain silver, and therefore are Royal too. But the extreme antiquity of the rights of the Crown in Cornwall of itself makes them singularly burdensome in their character, and an enormous waste of money may be said to occur in mere contention. The Crown is continually bringing law suits against itself, owing to the twofold, or, I might say, tenfold, nature of the shapes in which it appears. The Crown and the Duchy of Cornwall, for instance, have had frequent disputes; and inasmuch as when there is no Prince of Wales the King himself is Duke of Cornwall, he then has his disputes with himself. There have been lawsuits brought by the King, as King, against the King as Duke of Cornwall, and vice versâ; and large sums of money have been expended in these disputes: Even now it has never been finally settled whether the gold found in Cornwall belongs to the King or to the Duke, and whenever gold mines are opened there, as they have been in Wales, we may expect fresh litigations between these Royal personages. The most amusing reminder of the double character of the Crown interests with which I have met, is in a Parliamentary Return of 1866, in which it says of some treasure trove, that—The treasure being the property of Her Majesty in right of Her Duchy of Lancaster, has been by Her Majesty's command forwarded to the Queen, by whom it has been retained.There is not likely to be made to-day any attempt to contend that the Duchy of Cornwall is the private property of the Prince of Wales; but as it may possibly be even now contended that the Duchy of Lancaster is in some sense the private property of the Crown, I will venture to quote Lord Brougham's words upon the subject, used by him in 1837—words in which even Lord Althorp expressed his concurrence. He said— 288I should like to see the man, whether on the Ministerial or Opposition benches, gifted with the confidence which must be exhibited by him who would affirm that Cornwall and Lancaster are private and personal property, and not public funds rested in the Sovereign only as such; enjoyed by him 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.Having said this much of the Crown lands and of the Duchies, I may go on to state that I forbear, from feelings of delicacy, to touch the subject of the private estates of the Crown. I do so because I am unwilling, following, as I am, precedent on this occasion, to go beyond my precedents, and to move for the first time for Returns of a character which have never been moved for in earlier years. I shall not, therefore, touch this branch of the subject further than to say that I contend that we have a right to inquire both into the management and tenure of the private landed estates of the Crown, and also into the investments of the Crown in the funds; and for two reasons—the one is, that their amount ought to be taken into account by Parliament, on each occasion when it is called upon to vote money for the support of the dignity of the Crown, in order that we may avoid those constitutional dangers which would be caused were a large private fortune to be accumulated by the tenants of the Crown. This is a reason of expediency, but the other is a reason of law. I contend that, with regard to the property in the funds, whether the clause in the Income Tax Act exempting it from taxation be acted upon, or whether it be not, the insertion of that clause in the Act concedes with regard to these properties the principle that they are quasi-public. I may add, that according to Mr. Allen, in his valuable book upon The Royal Prerogative—It has become a maxim of English law, that all lands and tenements possessed by the King belong to him in right of the Crown, and descend with it to his successors, though he had been seized of them in his private capacity before he was King, or had inherited them from ancestors who were never invested with the attributes of Royalty.Those principles, thus laid down by Mr. Allen, and also, I may add, in Coke upon Lyttelton, were acted upon by Parliament in the case of the Pavilion at Brighton. Again, the public interest in the so-called private property of the Crown was admitted by 39 & 40 Geo. III., 289 c. 88. s. 10, which made the King's personal property, so far as it came from the Privy Purse or unappropriated moneys, liable for Civil List debts. The same view was acted upon when George II. compelled Sir Robert Walpole to refund £20,000, which had been entrusted to him by George I. for the benefit of the Countess of Kendal.
Before I sit down, I wish to go for a few minutes into the reasons which exist, in addition to those which I have already given, for raising these subjects both in the country and the House. No hon. Gentleman who reads the papers most read by the least wealthy members of our community—no hon. Gentleman who ever attends a public meeting—can fail to know that there is a wide-spread belief that under cover of the Crown much waste of public moneys still goes on. If hon. Gentlemen go further and inquire for themselves into the truth of these beliefs, they cannot but discover that there is ground for the popular opinion. They will find that great political officials obtain the benefit of the sums appropriated for the maintenance of the Crown. They will learn, for instance—and I quote but one case out of many—that one official, whose duties are performed by deputy, has four Royal carriages, 14 Royal horses, four Royal footmen, five grooms, and some messengers, maintained for his exclusive use, from the Civil List, which the public has supplied. Now, this money, thus absorbed by certain great personages, the country has hitherto paid willingly, supposing it to go to the Queen; but when the public discovers, as it has now begun to discover, that the money voted is thus mis-spent, I doubt whether we shall not have to cope with an almost unanswerable demand for a revision of the expenditure of the Civil List.
It now becomes my duty to apologize to the House for the length to which my observations have almost unavoidably extended. The heads of my case are these—That the House of Commons possesses a right to inquire into the Civil List, even during the continuance of the reign. That inquiry at the beginning of a reign cannot but be unsatisfactory. That public advantage would arise from inquiry now. That abuses exist in connection with the Civil List accounts. That the savings, published until 1850, and concealed after Lord 290 Brougham's Motion, should be made known now with greater reason, inasmuch as the secresy of Royal testaments has unwisely been conferred by an Act passed since that date. That it is impolitic to allow large savings to go to swell the Privy Purse. That while there is reason to believe that a private fortune is being built up about the Crown, on the other hand, unprecedented applications to Parliamentary bounty have been made during the present reign, through Ministers who seem to have misapprehended the altered state of the law. That for these reasons, inquiry is specially desirable. That Returns for which I am about to move are a necessary first step in this inquiry.
I have but one thing left to say, and that is this—that I regret deeply that the subject has not been brought before the House both by a Member more competent to deal with it completely, and also by a Member favourable to the Monarchical form of government. I know that the Motion cannot but suffer prejudice on account of my opinions; and I should not have ventured to have submitted it to the House had the engagements of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, who gave Notice of it last Session, allowed him to persevere in the course he then intended to have taken. I can only beg the House not to allow the Motion to suffer by any unworthiness in the individual who proposes it for their consideration. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving for the Returns of which he had given Notice.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That there be laid before this House, Returns showing the duties of the auditor (or deputy auditor) of the Civil List, to whom he makes his Reports, and a Copy of such Reports for each year since the accession of Her Majesty:
Of the Directions or Warrants issued by the Treasury under section 9 of the Civil List Act, specifying the classes from which the savings arose, and the classes to which they were transferred, for each year since the accession of Her Majesty:
Showing the income and expenditure of the Civil List from the accession of Her Majesty to the present time:
Of all offices held in connection with the Court which have been abolished since the date of the Report of the Committee of 1837–8:
List of all charges formerly borne by the Civil List or hereditary Revenues which have been transferred to the Consolidated Fund or yearly Estimates since the accession of Her Majesty:
Returns showing the amounts charged on Estimates since the commencement of the present
reign for fees on installation, robes, collars, and badges, royal presents, passages or conveyance of 'distinguished personages,' funerals of members of the Royal Family, the coronation, journeys of Her Majesty, building, draining, repairing, furnishing, and fitting up of Palaces, ceremonials connected with the Court, allowances and clothing for trumpeters, fees to watermen, payments to the Marshal of the Ceremonies and to the Lord Chamberlain:
Of the services of the Royal Yachts during the last ten years:
Showing, for each year since the accession of Her Majesty, the gross amount of the income arising from the Duchy of Lancaster, and also the amount in each year paid over to the Keeper of Her Majesty's Privy Purse:
And, showing, for each year since the accession of Her Majesty, the gross amount of the income arising from the Duchy of Cornwall, and also the amount in each year paid over for the use of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)
Sir, I am very desirous, without delay, to state the view which Her Majesty's Government take of the Motion of my hon. Friend. But, before I proceed to discuss that Motion, I must notice some of the statements which have fallen from him, and which appear in some degree not to be embraced in its terms. He complains of insufficient inquiry into the Civil List at the commencement of the present reign, and states that Member after Member of the Committee on that inquiry, rose in his place to find fault with the inadequate means which they possessed for conducting their investigations in a proper manner. Now, Sir, we have made some reference to Parliamentary records, and we have not been able to discover who those Members were who made those complaints. The Report of the Committee makes no such complaints. It speaks of the assistance which the Committee received, in a much greater degree than on former occasions, for the investigation of the subject; and the Committee, on their responsibility, recommended to Parliament an arrangement which should endure for the whole of the life of the Sovereign. But, says the hon. Baronet—"What do these Committees do? They simply fix the Civil List where it was fixed before." The minute inquiries which my hon. Friend made, and of which he has just given us the result in his elaborate speech, make it difficult to suppose that any material facts have escaped his notice. I must, however, say I hope there has been a good deal of carelessness in his investi- 292 gation; because, if the care which he appears to have taken had been uniform, I do not think he would have made the statement to which I have just referred, or some other statements which we have heard from him to-night. At first, the hon. Baronet compared the Civil List of Her Majesty with that of the previous reign, and tells us it has been increased by £10,000. Now, I have not before me any Return to which to refer, except that which was laid before the Committee at the commencement of the present reign, and which states the expenditure of the Civil List during the reign of William IV. The average in the late reign was £435,000.
I will take the allowance to the Prince Consort, and then test the statement that there has been an increase of £10,000. £385,000, as far as I can make out, was the allowance to the Queen at the commencement of the present reign, and £30,000 was added on the marriage of the Prince Consort, making £415,000, compared with £435,000—and that the hon. Baronet contends is an augmentation of £10,000 a-year. He says the Civil List Committees do nothing but fix the Civil List very much where it was before. I have gone back from the present to the last reign, and I will now go back from the last to the previous one. The Civil List of William IV., without an allowance for his Queen, appears to have been £385,000. What was the Civil List of George IV.? It was mixed up with a variety of public charges; but, these were separated in the account from that portion which was applied to the maintenance of the Royal Person, Household, and dignity. Now, I find that, while the total Civil List of George IV. amounted to £845,000, the public charges now separated from it were £315,000, leaving £530,000 for those purposes for which the Queen now receives £385,000 a-year. The hon. Baronet relied, doubtless, on the character to which he lays claim as 293 an instructor of the people, and he was bound, in the highest degree, to be strict and accurate in the statements which he made, and not to augment any errors that may be prevalent; yet he did not, during the whole of his speech, advert to the fact which I have just mentioned; but, on the contrary, by implication, denied it, when he told us that the Committees did nothing but fix the Civil List where they found it. The hon. Baronet then went on to refer to sinecure offices; but, as the name is odious, I will point out how irrelevant those matters are to the present subject. He does not pretend that any new sinecure offices have been created in the present reign. He says there were such offices at the commencement of it. So there were; and they came under the review of the Committee, who stated that inquiries should be made by the Treasury into the great departments of the Household, with the view to the gradual reduction and abolition of those offices by means of the savings which were left to accrue out of the profits of the Sovereign. The hon. Baronet had therefore no right to refer to them as matters relevant to his Motion, as if they could be made available, consistently with the honourable adhesion to the contract between the nation and the Crown, for the benefit of the taxpayers of the country. The hon. Gentleman went on to say, in the latter portion of his speech, that the applications for annuities for Princes and Princesses during the present reign, as compared with earlier Sovereigns, were altogether unprecedented, and he makes this and another assertion as to the enormous amount of saving which he said had accrued to the Sovereign as the principal foundations for his Motion. Now, I deny that those applications are unprecedented. My hon. Friend was not very distinct in his allegations on this subject; and here again he was, I think, somewhat careless in the conduct of his inquiries. Does the hon. Baronet mean to contend that the annuities which were granted to Princes and Princesses in the present reign are larger than those granted in the reign of George III? [Sir CHARLES W. DILKE: I did not name any amount, nor did I refer to the annuities of Princes.] The charge was a general charge about annuities, and he repeated it in the form that the applications in the shape of annuities in 294 the present reign were unprecedented. It now appears that his observations did not apply at all to the annuities to Princes—so that we have got rid of much the heavier part of the charge. But let me go further, and see whether the annuities to Princesses in the reign of George III. were not larger than those granted in the present reign. My hon. Friend appears to have followed this mode of investigation—that when he found a portion of the case which told against him—though this is not an argument between pleaders, but a solemn inquiry—he quietly passes over that part of the case. Does he mean, I would ask him, to say that the annuities to Princesses now are higher than in the reign of George III.?
But does the hon. Gentleman mean to say that the Princesses in the reign of George III. did not receive provision on their marriage?
An annuity from the father! That was an annuity from the Civil List. Then one of the main props and pillars of his speech—the unprecedented character of the amounts—resolves itself simply into the annuities given to the Princesses on their marriages being given by Parliament instead of being charged on the Civil List. I will show what is the value of the statement of my hon. Friend, and what sort of thing the Civil List of George III. was. My hon. Friend, in a large portion of his speech, led us into the labyrinth of Exchequer accounts, and I am afraid left rather a confused impression upon the mind of the House. He told us the object of his Motion was to procure a renewal of the information given in 1850 previous to the speech of Lord Brougham; but if that information was not capable of leading an intelligent Member to any more fruitful results than those with which he has presented us in his disquisition upon Exchequer balances, I can only say—unless I and my hon. Friend are wofully behind the general intelligence of the House—I am afraid it is utterly worthless for the purposes of 295 practical discussion. But what I wish to say with regard to this and other parts of the speech of my hon. Friend is this—viewing this Motion as being one of a very high character, not as a Motion merely making an attack on the Government, or as a Motion between parties, but as a Motion by the necessity of inevitable association touching the highest personages in the State—I could not but believe that it was my hon. Friend's object and desire that there should be a thorough investigation of the facts of the case. I wrote to him, therefore, a week ago, requesting him to give some indication of the points he intended to raise, in order that we might be prepared with the necessary information to lay before him and the House. But I am extremely sorry to say that no indication whatever was given by my hon. Friend. No answer was given, except in the terms of the Motion on the Paper; and whether that could at all prepare the Government to follow him through his disquisition on Exchequer balances I must leave the House to determine. Here I come again to one of the main props of his proposition—what he calls "resumptions." Why did he not tell us what "resumptions" he meant—Lodges, Court Stables at Windsor, Passages of Royal Princes, and I know not how many more items? Why did he not give us an opportunity of obtaining the necessary information and giving the necessary explanations? It is impossible to follow him into the details of this case; but I will deal with them generally, and I will tell him they are wholly and absolutely irrelevant. What is the great case he presented? That there was an accumulation of £80,000 of the balance from Crown Lands, and that this was applied for the erection of stables at Windsor. Very likely that is so; but does he mean to say that if that balance had not been so applied it would have been the duty of the State to apply it to any other purpose? No provision was made by the Civil List for that purpose, and if the State applied that £80,000 to the erection of stables, it merely discharged its own duty, and if it had not taken that money for that purpose it might have resorted to some other public fund. The question of Lodges is a matter with respect to which I wish to know whether there is any case to show that the public rights have been 296 invaded by aggression on the part of the Sovereign during the present reign. My hon. Friend did not favour us with any statement to that effect; but he assumed that this charge was not without foundation with respect to Palaces—Claremont, for instance, a residence of the Sovereign, and having no connection with the Civil List—he brought all these things to do duty in the absence of more legitimate materials for the purpose of sustaining an argument with which they had nothing whatever to do. I should wish to say a word as to another point. My hon. Friend appeared in one part of his speech to charge great neglect and disobedience of the law on the part of the Treasury with regard to the provisions of the Civil List Act. Do not let me be supposed to be shielding the Treasury in the case of the present or any former Government. If my hon. Friend thinks fit to bring a distinct charge of disobedience of that statute against the Government, I shall be prepared/on the part of the Government, to give to a Motion of that kind an entirely different reception from that I wish to give to the Motion now before us; because I think any charge of that sort involving a breach of the law on the part of the Government is a matter demanding investigation by the House. But that is not the construction I attach to the Motion of my hon. Friend as it now stands before us. I do not think that was the main bearing of his speech, or the construction to be put upon the Motion before us. Let me then consider what is the bearing of that Motion and of the speech of my hon. Friend. I divide the numerous heads of information contemplated by the Motion of my hon. Friend into two classes. Part of them refer to matters already within the knowledge and possession of Parliament; and the Motion of my hon. Friend has no other effect, except to set official persons to collect and re-produce them in the particular form he has suggested. On these portions of the Motion I wish to give no opinion. If he chooses to ask for these things in the usual and ordinary way in which Members of this House apply for ordinary information, and not involving any novel or high considerations, there will be no indisposition to grant that information. But as I read the Motion, that is not the main portion of the case; and he has not at all disclosed what his 297 main object is. I apprehend it is the second part of the Motion which is the main one—namely, that in which he seeks for information, which is new in substance, by an inquiry into particulars of the Civil List—an inquiry of that kind which we are invited to make with a view to revising the arrangements of the Civil List. His speech cannot be mistaken in that view. In particular, he holds that in consequence of the enormous accretions of the personal wealth of the Sovereign during the present reign, the applications on the behalf of Princes and Princesses are unsuitable to be made to Parliament, and Parliament may exercise its discretion in refusing them. That being the object of my hon. Friend, two questions arise; and the first of them is one to which my hon. Friend has slightly adverted, and although I feel it necessary to touch on it, I shall hope to do so with all practical respect to him and consideration towards him. But, viewing this Motion of my hon. Friend, it is impossible not to bear in mind the mode and circumstances under which the movement of my hon. Friend took its origin. This Motion is inseparably connected with what has preceded it. Now, what did precede it? A speech of my hon. Friend, of which I know nothing except as reported in the newspapers; but I must say, with respect to that speech, it was particularly unfortunate in one respect above all; that it cast aside the dictates—I do not say of loyalty and respect—but of the commonest prudence on this point. I say that if any man, be he. Member of this House or not—any man of education and sense—thinks it his duty to descant on the Civil List before a miscellaneous audience, the very first obligation incumbent on him—an obligation which he should never forget from the beginning to the end of what he says—is this, to produce on the minds of his hearers the recollection that with respect to the arrangements of the Civil List, there is no responsibility whatever, and there can be no discredit whatever, attaching to the Sovereign:—the Government and Parliament alone are responsible for it. I am quite sure that was the intention of my hon. Friend; I am also sure—especially after the mode in which he has spoken of a particular error into which he considers he fell—he will himself admit that he did not on 298 that occasion give a full and sufficient effect to that intention as might be wished. At any rate, his address was so framed as to make the impression on those who—heardand many of those who read it—that the intention of the speech was to bear more directly on the personal economy and character of the Sovereign than is compatible with our Parliamentary Constitution; and if that impression was once formed on the public mind in a matter that makes a direct appeal to details, because it is impossible by any subsequent explanation to correct the evil, my hon. Friend has created this association between that speech and the present Motion which we cannot overlook in dealing with the question now before us. I am bound to touch another subject. In that very same speech in which he appeared to represent the Crown as needlessly and wastefully consuming the earnings of the people, he thought it necessary to liberate his conscience by delivering his opinions in favour of a change—an essential change—in the form of the Government of this country—[Loud cries of "Hear, hear!"]—and thereby, I think with most unhappy imprudence, pointing to a change most repugnant to the minds and views of a great majority of his countrymen, he has contrived to place an ill-omened association with the Motion now before us. And when we come to consider this Motion, we were bound—and the Government were bound—not merely to look at what the Motion contains, but at the whole circumstances of the case, and at the construction which warrantably and naturally would be put on it; and I must confess, after considering these circumstances—taking into view the origin of this movement—I could not but consider—and my Colleagues could not but consider—that if we were to accede to the Motion and grant the inquiry into the particulars of the Civil List, with or without reference to the speech made to-night, we should do much to propagate and sustain a belief in the country that the Motion was granted by the House of Commons with direct reference to the apparent tendency of the speech at Newcastle, and the enunciation of the constitutional changes which he does not disavow. Such an effect on the public mind we are not prepared to take any share in producing, and on that ground alone we could 299 not agree to the Motion of my hon. Friend otherwise than with a negative. But I wish also to refer to another part of the subject. I allude to the policy of granting a Motion of this kind. I am able to travel with my hon. Friend thus far—that I do not question the title of the House of Commons to make an inquiry of this sort. The rights of the House of Commons are so large, that it is very difficult indeed to assign a bound to them in theory; but the House of Commons has accustomed itself to assign bounds to the exercise of its own rights, and the suggestion I wish now to make is—that if it possesses a right such as is assumed by the hon. Baronet, it should not put it into exercise on the present occasion; and I suggest this, not only in consequence of the considerations to which I have already referred, but likewise in consequence of considerations of sound public policy. Of course, I, like my hon. Friend, appear before the House of Commons as the tribunal to which I have to plead. The question is, not what he wishes, and not what I wish, but what the House of Commons ought to do in the exercise of its great and high functions of State. My hon. Friend admits that Lord Brougham, who supported the views he himself now holds with great energy and ability in the year 1850, was not supported by anybody else, although the subject was one upon which the country ought not to be ignorant; but my hon. Friend should draw a distinction between being indifferent to a subject, and holding the opinion that it is one into which it is not expedient to make minutely particular inquiries. I think the principle I mentioned last was the explanation of the reception which Lord Brougham's Motion received; and I believe also that it must be taken as explaining the reception with which the Motion of my hon. Friend is very likely to meet to-night. My hon. Friend has strongly denounced the fact that the Civil List is an arrangement made for the life of the Sovereign; but I contend that we can never rightly deal with this subject, unless that fact is accepted as a fundamental proposition. My hon. Friend has laboured to destroy the clearness and breadth of the distinction that remains between the Civil List as it now stands and as it stood before the last, and especially before the 300 last two reigns. He has referred to the grants made in aid of the Civil List in the time of George III., and says that the grants in question were in the nature of Supplementary Estimates. I shall refer particularly to those grants, because I wish to challenge my hon. Friend's statement as being one of the most wanton errors into which a Member of Parliament ever fell; because, if it means anything, it means that there were two classes of expenses provided for by the Civil List of George III., the one being the salaries of Judges, diplomatists, and so forth, and the other the expenses of Members of the Royal Family. The Civil List was continually in arrear, repeated applications were made to Parliament to pay off the arrears; and my hon. Friend wishes the House to believe that the arrears grew up in consequence of the enormous salaries paid to Judges, diplomatists, &c., and not in consequence of the expenses of the Royal Family. My hon. Friend must know exactly the reverse—["Hear!"]—or at leat he must have known it, but has forgotten it for the moment. ["Hear, hear!"] The Judges and diplomatists were far from being paid with greater profusion than they are now, and the arrears into which the Civil List fell were due to the constant and unmeasured growth of the expenses which pertained to the Person, the Household, and the dignity of the Sovereign—expenses which are now included in the Civil List. It was, I repeat, upon what now constitutes the Civil List that these arrears arose, and not upon public charges, which remained, generally speaking, within limits which were well understood and very little likely to be transgressed. That being so, let us see the bargain which the country had to make. George III. was a Sovereign with many fine points of character, although he was not, perhaps, the most enlightened Monarch who ever sat upon the throne of this Kingdom. At any rate, he had this great quality to recommend him—he endeared himself to the hearts of his people. George III. came to the Throne in the year 1760. In 1769 Parliament granted to him a sum of £513,000 to discharge the debts of the Civil List; in 1777 he had a further grant for a similar purpose amounting to £618,000; between the 23rd and 26th years of his reign still further similar grants to the 301 amount of £145,000 were made; in the 42nd year of George III. £990,000 was granted to pay arrears of the Civil List; in the 44th year of the reign the annuity under the Civil List was increased to £960,000, and a grant of £391,000 was made to pay arrears; in the 52nd year of George III. the annuity was again increased to £1,030,000; in the 52nd year of the reign £100,000 was granted on the assumption of the Royal authority by the Regent; and in the same year an annuity of £100,000 was made to the King during his indisposition; in the 54th year of the reign £118,000 was granted for the payment of arrears, and a further sum of £100,000 for extraordinary expenses; and in the 55th year of George III. a grant to make good deficiencies amounting to £534,000 was made. That, Sir, is a specimen of the old footing of the Civil List. That was a time, no doubt, when Mr. Dunning and Mr. Burke were well entitled to come down to Parliament and assert not only the right, but the expediency of exercising the right of supervising and controlling expenses such as I have just described. What a contrast to that dismal recital is presented by the experience of this country during the 35 years of the reign of Queen Victoria! I want to know when an engagement was more honourably and loyally fulfilled than was the engagement made by the Crown in the year 1837? Never was the dignity of the Court better maintained than it has been in this country while that arrangement has been in force, and yet no demand has been made by the Sovereign in order that that dignity might be sustained. We have to-night heard from my hon. Friend an unequivocal and undeniable complaint, that with all this splendour and dignity, something like economy has been practised. This bugbear of Royal economy has been set up, and we are to believe that the comparatively trifling sums of £20,000 or £15,000 in a year may have been saved to the Sovereign by the exercise of judicious management; but those sums have swelled up to the height of mountains in the distempered view of my hon. Friend, who seems to think that a few sums of, say, £20,000 each, would constitute the basis of such an independence in the Sovereign as might threaten the authority of Parliament and the institutions of the country. I must say that if 302 we ever have on the throne of this country a Sovereign who unhappily may have a disposition to extravagance, I trust his evil genius will never lead him to read the speech of my hon. Friend. Sir, the whole notions entertained by my hon. Friend about the enormous accumulations by the Crown—whether from the Civil List or from any other source—are utterly visionary and groundless. I do not possess, I am not authorized to give, and I am sure the House of Commons does not wish to receive—I believe that if offered it would indignantly repel it—any minute information on the subject; but I say, and I know the truth of my words—that nothing could be more visionary than the opinions entertained on this point by my hon. Friend. He seems to have a notion that the Privy Purse, somewhat improved by ordinary savings, constitutes so vast an income, that it is quite impossible to make away with it, but that it must inevitably roll up in huge masses of wealth from year to year. But we are little aware of the numerous and varied modes in which it is almost absolutely necessary for Royalty to incur an expenditure which, on the one hand, it cannot deny, and for which, on the other hand, it cannot ask the nation to provide, although it obtains on its account very little credit in the sight of the public. Putting aside public pensions, which form a very large item in the Civil List, what does the House suppose is the amount that has been paid by the Sovereign during the present reign, in what I may call "personal pensions" paid out of the Privy Purse? The total amount of those pensions has been, in round numbers £590,000, of which very large sum no less a proportion than three-fifths consisted of pensions with respect to the granting of which Her Majesty had no voice, for they were granted before her accession to the Throne. If my hon. Friend is alarmed by seeing £15,000 in one year, or £20,000 in another carried to the Privy Purse on account of savings, let him take comfort to his soul in recollecting that about £20,000 a-year, or very near that sum, is just what would have met this one item of special private charge to the Sovereign, for which she receives nothing whatever, and can claim no credit whatever except from the private recipients, it being impossible that the public should be called upon to bear any portion of the burden. 303 I will not go further into this matter, having stated enough to show how it rightly stands. I have very little more to say. I ask the House whether it is well—and I ask it on more grounds than one—that we should re-open, under existing circumstances, the life-bargain with the Sovereign? Is it a becoming acknowledgment for the faithful observance of the contract to which I have referred? Is it, on the other hand, a prudent course to take with respect to the interests of the nation? Who can fail to see, that if in your impatience to lodge a questionable title—indeed, amore than questionable title—to small sums of money; if in your impatience to obtain this boon for the public, you are prepared to break up and set aside our arrangement with the Sovereign—you enable the Sovereign—not this Sovereign, not a coming Sovereign, but the Sovereign at any period and of any century—to plead your own example against you, and to solicit your attention from time to time to representations? Those representations, we know, have led within the last 20 years to constant and incessant applications for the augmentation of almost every other public annuity in the shape of salary. You authorize them and provide them with a plausible plea for coming before you from time to time to urge whatever circumstances they can—special circumstances are never wanting for such a purpose—to show that the annuity provided by the Civil List ought to be augmented. What happens then? You not only have, in my opinion, great risk of waste of public money; but you raise an apprehension of opening a multitude of controversies between the Sovereign and Parliament of the most painful character, and I must say of no good omen to the institutions of the country. It is not merely the benefit of economy—though that is a great benefit—which has been arranged by the admirable change which was made in 1820, 1830, and again in 1837, in putting the Civil List on a better footing. I believe it has saved the nation very large sums of money; but it has also saved the Monarchy, and the nation through the Monarch—the association of interest between the two is so close that it is impossible to separate them—it has saved the country through the Monarchy, the opening of serious sources not only of inconvenience, but of danger. Upon 304 every ground, therefore, without attempting to enter further into details—many of which, after all, have little bearing on and cannot affect the main issue—upon every ground, both of the unhappy circumstances under which this Motion is presented to us and likewise of sound general policy—I may almost venture to add of grateful duty towards a Sovereign who reigns in the hearts of her people, I earnestly trust the House will be disposed, after a discussion which has, perhaps, already been sufficient for the purpose, to meet with a negative voice the Motion of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
rose to address the House, but was received with overpowering shouts of "Divide! Divide!" cries of "Oh! oh!" and other marks of determination to prevent further discussion of the Motion. Amid great confusion—
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
rose to Order, and asked Mr. Speaker, whether the hon. Member for Nottingham was in Order in addressing the House? The hon. Member had seconded the Motion, according to the usual practice, by lifting his hat.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the hon. Member had the right of speaking to the Question, having seconded the Motion without addressing the House.
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
accordingly attempted to proceed; but his address was again overpowered by shouts of "Divide!" and other cries. It would be vain to attempt to record a speech of which no one sentence could be completed or heard. The hon. Member having uttered a few words, his voice was drowned in shouts of disapprobation; upon which the hon. Gentleman paused, and when the storm had somewhat abated, resumed his unfinished sentence—to be again overpowered. Mr. SPEAKER interposed to obtain the hon. Member a hearing; and succeeded in obtaining a temporary abatement of the confusion. Mr. AUBERON HERBERT was then understood to refer to the remarks of the Prime Minister on the speech of Sir Charles Dilke at Newcastle, and expressed his regret that his hon. Friend in delivering that speech had not guarded his language with greater care, and thereby avoided suspicion that he was making any personal reflection on Her Majesty. He knew, indeed, that his hon. Friend had no 305 such intention; and when those persons who raised this supposition reflected how the whole theory and practice of our Constitution separated the Sovereign from all responsibility, they must perceive there was no real ground for such an imputation.
At this point the Members on the Opposition benches, with the exception of a few of the more elderly who usually occupy the front benches, rose and left the House; followed immediately by a considerable number of those on the back benches on the Government side. The Members below the gangway in general retained their seats.
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT,
in comparative silence, proceeded. In any case, he wished to state in the clearest language, that he deeply regretted it should be supposed that in seconding the Motion he for a moment believed that Her Majesty had not, throughout the whole period of her reign, acted in the manner which had so justly endeared her to all her subjects. [Renewed interruptions.] But while he said this, he wished to state, with distinctness and frankness, that he made no secret of his opinions as regarded the form of government which he thought best for this country. He had no hesitation in saying in this House, as he had said out of it, that he considered the Republican form of government a better and a more reasonable form of government than the Monarchical. [Interruptions.] He would return to the remarks which the Prime Minister had made on the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea. As he listened to the Prime Minister's speech he felt the truth of the saying that threatened men live long. When the right hon. Gentleman commenced his speech by denouncing the statements of the hon. Member for Chelsea, he fully expected that he was about to destroy the whole fabric of the hon. Baronet's arguments; but it appeared to him, as the right hon. Gentleman left the great bulk of his hon. Friend's arguments untouched, there was no ground for the complaint of the Prime Minister that the hon. Baronet did not furnish the information desired; the Motion put upon the Paper was full enough and spoke for itself; it was not necessary to supplement that by any further information.
306 Notice taken that 40 Members were not present. Many hon. Members thereon rose and left the House; but the House being counted, and 40 Members being found present—
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
proceeded to contend that the position of the hon. Baronet had not been shaken and that it was matter of great doubt whether the savings on the Civil List account were legal. The Civil List was divided into classes; in the second class there was a very large sum of money, £60,000 a-year, under the name of the Privy Purse, besides the Duchy of Lancaster, which yielded £30,000, which was specially assigned to the private expenses of the Crown.
Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present—
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT,
resuming, adverted to the savings, repeating his doubt as to their legality; and then cited the clause of the Civil List Act, which said that savings were to be applied in aid of the charges or expenses of any other class, except the fifth class, or of any charge or charges upon Her Majesty's Civil List Revenue, in such manner as may, under the circumstances, appear most expedient. It seemed to him that you could scarcely talk of charge or charges on the Privy Purse.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present—
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
again resumed; but the cries of "Divide! Divide!" re-commenced with increased determination. He thought that considerable doubt existed as to the legality of those savings. But the Prime Minister gave them no argument or reason upon that point, but simply passed it by. So much for the first point. Then, secondly, his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea had called attention to the action of the Treasury as regarded that savings fund.
§ At this point—
§ MR. SPEAKER
Strangers must withdraw.
307 Those parts of the House to which Strangers are admitted were accordingly cleared by the officers of the House—
It is understood that during the remainder of Mr. AUBERON HERBERT'S speech, delivered during the exclusion of Strangers, the cries and interruptions were resumed with increased vehemence. These cries proceeded chiefly from Members in the more remote and obscure parts of the House. Amid the general confusion were heard imitations of the crowing of cocks, whereat—
§ MR. DODSON
rose to Order. He said he would not ask whether the state of the House and the scene they were witnessing were for the credit and dignity of the House of Commons; he would merely, as a point of Order, ask whether the sounds that proceeded from near the Chair were not un-Parliamentary and disorderly?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the sounds he had heard—and especially those which had proceeded from Members behind the Chair—were, undoubtedly, gross violations of the Order of the House; and he could not refrain from expressing the pain with which he had witnessed the scene that had just taken place.
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
proceeded to make some observations on what had occurred; but was himself repeatedly called to Order. Mr. HERBERT said he had nearly finished his observations, and that if the House would listen to him five minutes longer, he would undertake to complete what he had to say. The hon. Member was allowed to proceed, with some interruptions, for that space; but, appearing to intend to continue his address, he was stopped by determined cries. The hon. Member said, that these interruptions had cost him a minute and a-half of his stipulated time, and asked the House to allow him that space; whereupon Mr. SPEAKER warmly reproved the hon. Member for his irregular and improper appeal to the House—he ought to address himself to the Chair. Mr. HERBERT, after momentary hesitation, resumed his seat, amid great excitement and confusion.
It is understood that during the exclusion of Strangers (after Mr. AUBERON HERBERT had concluded his address), Mr. MUNDELLA, Mr. NEWDEGATE, and Mr. DILLWYN addressed the House.
§ After some time—308
§ Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Dillwyn.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 23; Noes 261: Majority 238.
§ The division having been taken, the doors of the House were thrown open as usual, and Strangers were re-admitted without objection.
§ The following report of the conclusion of Mr. AUBERON HERBERT'S speech was communicated to The Times—as believed, on sufficient authority:
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
* went on to say that, according to the Civil List Act, savings could be applied to the charges or expenses of any other class, except Class 5; but were charges or expenses words which applied to the Privy Purse? They did not seem to apply to that class. Moreover, Lord Brougham's opinion, and the Preamble cited by his hon. Friend, and the fact that private expenses were provided for by the Privy Purse and the Duchy of Lancaster—affording together a sum of about £90,000—raised much doubt whether any savings from the other classes were intended to go into the Privy Purse, or to be applied to the private expenditure of the Sovereign, Next as regarded the action of the Treasury. His right hon. Friend had made no answer to the statement of his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend had complained that under the Civil List Act the Lords of the Treasury were to direct the application of the savings arising from any class, and that since 1851 no record whatever had been made of their having done so. Again, as regarded the annuities voted to Princesses, his right hon. Friend had given no answer to the statements made. The statement made referred not to Princes, but to the Princesses, who were younger daughters. There was no annuity voted on their marriage, which took effect during their father's life. The annuity took effect after the Sovereign's death. It was not so with the eldest daughter. That was to say, that when the eldest daughter of George II. married an annuity was granted, partly, as he believed, because she stood next at that time to the succession, partly because it was desired to maintain the Protestantinterestin Europe through the means of Holland. When the eldest daughter of George III. mar- 309 ried, she, as he believed, received her annuity from the Irish Parliament, not from the English. For that there were manifest reasons—the King's power to raise money from the Irish Parliament being greater than it was in the case of the English Parliament. Such, then, being the ease, as he believed, there being no precedent for voting an annuity to take effect before the death of the Sovereign, on the marriage of a younger daughter, and doubtful precedents in the case of an eldest daughter, they could not but feel that, however much sympathy they had with the marriage of Princess Louise, and however much goodwill they bore to her, it would have been impossible for them to have voted as they did, if they had had last year full knowledge of the precedents. He would now give his reasons for seconding the Motion of his hon. Friend. He had already stated his adherence to the Republican form of government, believing that it was better suited to the modern form of society than the Monarchical; but it was not on those grounds that he acted. He was sorry that the two things—the question of Republicanism and the question of reductions in the Civil List—had ever got mixed up together. That was not the true ground on which to rest Republicanism. His motives for supporting his hon. Friend were, first of all, that, in his opinion, there should be no obscurity, no uncertainty, no shadow of a doubt about anything connected with the expenditure of the Civil List or other sums spent for Royal purposes. It should all be as clear as daylight. There should be no place for any suspicions, no room for doubts. Not only did such doubts become a root of bitterness between different parts of the people, but they relaxed the strict moral sense and responsibility of those in all parts of the country who had to administer funds for the public benefit. He also thought that an attempt had been made by appealing to vulgar passions to stifle his hon. Friend's voice. It was said that he was the wrong person to pursue such a course, as his family had received Court favours. A thing to be a favour, must, in his opinion, be asked for, desired, valued. He thought he spoke his hon. Friend's mind as well as his own when he said that this favour was an absurdity and affectation. But whenever a Motion 310 was introduced into the House to do away with the giving of titles, he should recollect those arguments and call them as evidence to show that—in the belief that a title, great or small, ought to influence a man's mind; that, having once accepted it, his opinions were bound and pledged—in this belief lay one of the strong reasons for taking away from Government the power of creating titles, and so attempting to enslave men's minds. But, coming next to a wider consideration—the effect of a large Civil List and a large Court expenditure—he believed that these were hurtful to society. Let them look at London. They had there a greater herd of rich men and women than they had ever had collected at any one time on any one place. Unlike other societies of times past, they had no great interest, no care for art, for literature, or for science. Speaking generally, their one great interest was to live up to a certain standard of display. Now, a Court established on such a scale as that of ours gave a national sanction to such display and expenditure. What was there in a Sovereign different from other people? Why should not her state and position be such as that occupied by a Minister or other private person? If display and expenditure were not good things in themselves, why were they good in the case of a Sovereign? It might be said, that although the President of America was not raised above the ordinary standard of living, as the Sovereign now was with us, yet there was no greater simplicity of life in that country than here. He denied that statement. With the exception of New York, which did not represent the States, life was in every way simpler. However that might be, those who objected to expenditure and display were right in objecting to allow an example to be given by a Court, and people's minds being influenced in what they deemed to be a wrong direction. He would only add that he much regretted the decision of the Government in withholding the Papers asked for. The question was not ended, and would not be; they would foster, instead of allaying suspicions; the result would be the opposite of what they desired, just as the conduct of hon. Members opposite in attempting to stop discussion would do more than any other thing that could have happened to give an impulse to the Republican movement.
311 The following report of Mr. MUNDELLA'S speech was communicated to The Daily News—as believed, on sufficient authority:
§ MR. MUNDELLA
* then rose, and said, that he had witnessed with feelings of the profoundest sorrow the extraordinary scene which during the past hour had been enacted in that House. He had always felt the greatest pride in the deportment of the British House of Commons, inasmuch as it had always been ready to listen patiently to all arguments, however unpalatable they might be to a majority of its Members. Up to this time its proceedings had been characterized by a total absence of such scenes as those which prevailed on the other side of the Channel, and which in France tended to bring representative institutions into discredit. After what had taken place that night he could not speak with the same confidence as before of the impartiality and dignity of the House. His Radicalism was, he hoped, above suspicion, and he had always supported every measure of economical reform; but while dissenting from the Motion of his two hon. Friends who had addressed the House, he could not but feel indignant at the way in which the hon. Member for Nottingham had been treated. The scene which had taken place would make a most unhappy impression on the country. It could not fail to give rise to the suspicion that the House dared not listen to arguments in favour of the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea. The system of persecution, and suppression of the right of free discussion, which had been adopted that evening would tend to raise the Mover and Seconder of the Resolutions before the House to the rank of heroes and martyrs, and give a factitious importance to their propositions. If the speech which they had just heard had been listened to with the calmness and dignity shown towards the hon. Member for Chelsea it would have conveyed its own antidote. The country would have formed the opinion which prevailed in that House as to the feebleness of the arguments adduced in support of the Motion. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, in taking the part they had done that night, were unconsciously making themselves the most formidable allies of Republicanism, and were setting a vicious example to the country as to 312 the mode of conducting public discussions. He was a young Member of the House, and it was with great diffidence that he ventured to remonstrate with the party opposite on the course they had adopted; but he must protest against a practice which he had little thought to witness in the House, and which was opposed to the freedom of debate, the dignity of the House of Commons, and the interests of free discussion throughout the country. As to the main question raised by the Resolutions, he should vote against them not because the subject was not fit to be investigated, nor because any change in the character of our Government, however great or organic, was not a proper subject of discussion, but because he feared that if the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea had never made a speech at Newcastle he would never have moved these Resolutions in the House of Commons. Having made a mistake there, he wished to justify it here. His speech in that House was in tame contrast with his speech at Newcastle. Had the question been raised with a view to economy, then the paltry £10,000 or £20,000 a-year, and the inquiries suggested into the cost of Royal hospitalities, Royal funerals, and Royal trumpeters, would have been seen to be altogether trumpery as compared with the vast schemes of expenditure which had recently been submitted to the House. At 2 o'clock that morning they had been discussing a Bill on a subject affecting hundreds of thousands of the working classes, and inflicting upon them a great moral and pecuniary loss. The mere deductions made from their wages under the truck system were estimated at not less than a £1,000,000 a-year; yet instead of assisting in redressing such grievances as these, hon. Gentlemen had tilted at windmills, and were quarrelling with the petty expenditure connected with the honour and dignity of the Crown. But if economy was not their real object, and if their true aim was to produce great organic changes in the constitution and government of the country, let them frankly say so, and raise a discussion on the direct issue. He, for one, was prepared to follow Democratic principles to their logical result; but what true Radicals aimed at was the freedom, happiness, and good government of the 313 country, and not any mere change of external forms. They found in Republics the abuses, the extravagances, and the curtailment of liberty which were to be deprecated whether they took place under a Monarchical or any other form of government. It could not be denied that while our government was Monarchical in form, it was was freer in fact, and more Republican in essence than that of any other country in the world. [The hon. Member, whose speech had been loudly cheered by the Liberal Benches, and listened to in perfect silence by the Opposition, concluded by entering his protest against a curtailment of the right of free discussion, of which the House had that night afforded an unhappy example.] He believed that the worst enemies of the Monarchy could not have so effectually served the cause of Republicanism as the Conservatives had done by their conduct on that occasion.
§ The Motion for the Adjournment of the House having been negatived—
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) and himself, ever since they were at college together, had been such intimate friends, and had since acted together so intimately in political life, that he thought it would be scarcely fair for him not to say a few sentences in explanation of the course that he intended to adopt in regard to the Motion before the House. He fully agreed in all that had been said as to the right of the House to discuss the Civil List, and if his hon. Friend had brought forward this Motion last year, he would have found no more cordial supporter of it than he (Mr. Fawcett). But to his mind it was utterly impossible to dissociate this Motion from the speeches which his hon. Friend had delivered in the autumn. He knew perfectly well that his hon. Friend had said—and he was sure in all sincerity—that the Motion and the speech were not necessarily connected together; but for his own part, he (Mr. Fawcett) felt convinced that the Motion had arisen out of the speech, and he was still more certain that the two would be inseparably connected together in the mind of the public. Now, he (Mr. Fawcett) claimed as much as his hon. Friend could do the right of free discussion, not only on the Civil List, but even upon the best form 314 of government; and he ventured to tell the Conservative party opposite that if they attempted to stifle free discussion as they had attempted to do that evening—(Loud cries of "Hear hear!" "No, no!")—the Republicans and the extreme Democratic party would at once feel that in those who called themselves Conservatives they had their most effective allies. Having said that, he was bound to add that he disapproved of a great deal of the matter, and that he also disapproved of the spirit, of the speech delivered by his hon. Friend at Newcastle in the course of last autumn. He was quite aware that his hon. Friend was sincere when he said that he did not intend that speech to be a personal attack upon the Queen; but he (Mr. Fawcett) could not conceal from himself this fact—that 99 out of every 100 persons who heard or read it must have felt that the words there made use of—it might be in the heat of the moment—did convey a personal attack upon Her Majesty. All he could say was this—and he had told his hon. Friend so—that if anyone holding a public position had said the same things of him as his hon. Friend had said about the Queen, he should have felt that until he had cleared himself of the implied reproach contained in them, he could scarcely have ventured to meet his fellow-men or to walk about with the feeling that everything was completely honest and straightforward. He accepted completely, of course, the disavowal of his hon. Friend. He was willing to believe that he had only done what they all of them sometimes did—made a mistake, and said some injudicious things. But above all, he felt—when his hon. Friend now laid down the doctrine that it was impossible to attack the Queen, and that you could only attack her through her Ministers—that the Newcastle speech ought to have been delivered in the House of Commons, and not upon a public platform. And he had a still further objection to the tone and spirit of the speech of his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend, and the hon. Member who had seconded his Motion (Mr. A. Herbert), had avowed themselves to be Republicans. Now he thought that the day might come when the republican form of government might be the best for this country; but feeling this, he wished in the most emphatic way possible to protest against 315 the question of Republicanism being raised upon a miserable haggle over a few pounds. If they were going to raise the question, let them properly estimate the great issues involved in a change of the form of government—let it be treated as a great moral and social question—let it be regarded as involving questions of the highest import, and not be degraded to a huckstering and quibbling over the cost of the Queen's Household. He felt, therefore, that the speech of his hon. Friend had done even the cause of Republicanism harm, and that it had misled and would mislead the working classes by making them believe that their poverty was due to what might be called a certain amount of extravagance in the Court. Nothing had more convinced him of the mischief it had done, than the circumstance that a few nights after the speech was delivered a public meeting of the working men of Bristol passed a resolution, setting forth that after the discovery that had been made respecting the expenses of the Court, it was no wonder that there was so much pauperism in the country. Of course, pauperism had nothing, or scarcely anything, to do with such a question as this. He was as anxious about economy as his hon. Friend could be, and would be as glad to see all sinecures abolished; but why? Not because he thought—nor would he tell the people anything to the contrary—that the saving of £100,000 would have any perceptible effect in diminishing pauperism; but because of the political, moral, and social disadvantages attaching to them—because they did harm to those who received and to those who bestowed them. It would be impossible for him to vote for the Motion of his hon. Friend. Had it been brought forward 12 months ago he would have given it his cordial and hearty support; but if he voted for it now he knew the interpretation that would be placed on such a vote; it would be thought that he had joined in the agitation of his hon. Friend. He disapproved of that agitation; he felt that if he voted with his hon. Friend to-night, he would give that agitation some sanction and encouragement; and therefore he could not vote with him, although on some future occasion, and under different circumstances and auspices, he might be as anxious to see the Civil List inquired into as his hon. Friend was.
§ MR. LIDDELL
denied that, as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fawcett) had asserted in the opening of his speech, the Conservative party had tried to stifle discussion that evening. The speech of the hon. Baronet had been listened to with perfect attention; and it was not until an hon. Friend of his own opposite—who was not, so far as he was aware, specially connected with the question—rose, that the interruption referred to by the hon. Member for Brighton began. One word more. He thought that in this as in other cases, the hon. Baronet (Sir Charles Dilke) had been led from one error into another. He committed—as he probably felt by this time—the first great error at Newcastle, and the second in following up that speech by the Motion tonight, as the events of the evening must have taught him. The Seconder had also erred in attempting to brave the House. The fourth and latest error was that of the noble Lord who had called attention to the presence of Strangers in the House. When history looked back upon the proceedings of that evening, it would probably be all regarded as a "Comedy of Errors," and nothing more nor less. He hoped that the whole of them would be soon forgotten, and he had some confidence that the good sense of the country would estimate them at their real value and significance. He believed, at the same time, that the general feeling of the House which they indicated, was also an accurate representation of the state of feeling in the country.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he would not attempt to detain the House by any reply on this occasion; but he desired to refer to one point which had been mentioned by the Prime Minister. He said that his (Sir Charles Dilke's) statement as to the payment of debts during the reigns of George III. and George IV. was a wanton statement, and he characterized it also in other severe terms. Now, he (Sir Charles Dilke) had looked through every precedent in those reigns. He found that, in 1782, when George III. applied for aid to extricate the Civil List from debt, he assured the House by a Message that he desired their advice as to the mode of paying the debt without laying any new burden upon the people, and for that purpose he proposed a plan for a reduction in his own Household establishment. That was the form used also on several other occa- 317 sions under George III. Under the Regency, he found that the debts that had to be discharged were said to have arisen under the head of "Occasional Expenses;" and a similar statement was given on subsequent occasions. In 1802, it was stated that the debt was wholly incurred under the head of "Occasional Payments." Again, in 1814, the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained in the House that the debt rose not upon the Household expenses, in reference to which there was a saving, but upon the political expenses; and he (Sir Charles Dilke) believed that there was no doubt the money voted for the Civil List occasional payments was spent in electoral corruption. In 1818 the debt was occasioned not by expenditure in the Household department, but it rose upon the amount voted occasionally for public expenditure; and so on in all the precedents. Having referred to this one point, he wished also to say upon the whole case, that no portion of the statement upon which he had rested his case had been disproved by the right hon. Gentleman. He begged to re-affirm the whole of the statements that he had made, and he proposed to go to a division upon the Question, however few Members might support him; and he hoped that when his statements should be properly challenged, he should be able to furnish himself with evidence to support them. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had also said that sufficient Notice upon this subject had not been given to the Government; and all he (Sir Charles Dilke) could say in answer was, that he had his Motion for these Returns upon the Paper for a week. They were definite and express Returns, and he thought that that might have been a sufficient direction to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman to cause him to be prepared to reply upon the question.
§ Original Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 2; Noes 276: Majority 274.