§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. P. A. TAYLOR
, in rising to move that the Bill be read on that day month, said: Mr. Speaker, if it were 1338 not the dream of an enthusiast to suppose that there is such a man as an English Republican, no one would feel more than such a man the respect and authority that attaches to the English Monarchy. I have no doubt there is no one in this House more entirely participates in this feeling than the right hon. Gentleman himself, yet it seems to me he is for ever bringing something before the House and the world which has a tendency to derogate from that respect. The Prime Minister brought a Message the other day to the House from Her Majesty, that she rejoiced in the approaching marriage of her second son, under circumstances most favourable to the happiness, and so forth. The people prepared to rejoice in the rejoicings of Her Majesty; but then the Prime Minister had his bitter potion to administer; the people must rejoice with tears, having to pay more taxes. Now, Sir, I have never been a professed enthusiast for Monarchy in the abstract; but I confess there is something to me repugnant and inappropriate in the fact that this ancient Monarchy is for ever being dragged before the already sufficiently oppressed taxpayers, in the character of the daughter of the horse-leech, for ever crying—"Give, give." And, Sir, in my opinion, this position of the right hon. Gentleman is entirely a mistaken one. There is no class in this country, I believe, who are desirous of dealing with the Crown in a niggardly or parsimonious spirit. I believe there is but one desire among all classes of the population, and that is that the Queen should be treated liberally in her Civil List. But what they do desire is, that this should be clone upon some intelligible principle, and that they should be able to understand to what extent it is to be carried out—how far that principle is to be made to extend. In a word, the people of this country do not like to be alternately goaded and cajoled, and in either case to be left in utter darkness. The Solicitor General, speaking the other day on the Crown Private Estates Bill, drew a distinction—and a very fine one—between concealment and non-disclosure. I will take either expression, and I will say either concealment or nondisclosure in regard to the accumulations of the Crown and its pecuniary relations with the people, if not a crime, is what is sometimes considered worse than a 1339 crime—a blunder. The right hon. Gentleman has been peculiarly unfortunate, for within the last fortnight he has brought into the House, and carried, the Crown Private Estates Act, upon which I must say a few words, as it has an apparent relation to the matter now in hand. That Bill was very tough reading for a layman. I found it more than ordinarily confused and difficult to comprehend, and I do not think the House understood it better, for we had one interpretration from the Prime Minister, and another from the Solicitor General, while the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Mr. James) did not make it more intelligible and distinct. But it became sufficiently apparent that the idea and principle recognized there was, that the occupant of the Throne can hold and accumulate wealth, for himself or herself, and can give or bequeath it in the form of realty or personalty, just as though it were the property of an individual. We have passed that Act, and now the right hon. Gentleman comes to the House and asks for an allowance for one of the sons of the Queen, and bases the demand on the old principle and on the old form. I do not know whether the words used are the same now; but they used to be that the Crown asked Her faithful Commons for a provision for Her son, on the specific grounds that by law She is prevented from providing for him herself. Charles James Fox, on the debate on the Civil List of the Duke of York, in 1792, in which debate he took a warm interest and gave a hearty support to the Crown, laid down this principle—With respect to provision for princes of the blood, the first question, when application was made to Parliament would naturally be—Is the Civil List inadequate to the purposes of fully maintaining and supporting them?"—[Parliamentary History, xxix. 1003.]Now, I think the right hon. Gentleman should let the House and the country distinctly understand what are his views on this matter. Does he hold with the old constitutional doctrine—that the Crown is not entitled to accumulate and bequeath—at any rate, landed possessions? The hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Mr. James) spoke of those who hold that opinion as antideluvian people—behind the spirit of the age. Yet, not so very long since, Sir George Lewis, a high constitutional authority, put this in as strong and powerful 1340 language as the English language is capable of. He said—It has been deemed a matter of policy in this country to strip and denude the Sovereign of all hereditary property, and to render him during his life entirely dependent upon the bounty of Parliament.Does the right hon. Gentleman hold with that theory, or does he not? If he holds with the theory that the Crown can hold property, he is bound to show us the necessity of this grant he brings forward, and bound to lay before us an account of the property the Crown has to dispose of; but, if he does not hold with that principle, we want to understand what is the meaning of the Crown Estates Act which the right hon. Gentleman has just passed. The Solicitor General said the other day in relation to the Civil List—Hon. Members said that if on a future occasion the House should be about to settle the Civil List, and the Crown should be in possession of large landed estates, it might affect the settlement. Certainly it might; but before the House of Commons settled the Civil List it would ask for a statement of what this property consisted of. Had the House never heard of such inquiry being made into the revenues derived from the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster?This was the view put forward when the object was to find an argument for the Crown Estates Act; but as soon as we have to do with a grant such as is asked for to-day, the Government steadily refuse all information on the subject. In the same debate the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) observed—It was only during the present reign that they had learnt look with any feeling of kindness on the economy and good husbandry of the Civil List. … It was for the interest of the country in every sense that there should be thrift and good husbandry in the Civil List.No doubt, the people do desire economy and good husbandry in the management of the funds which they generously give for the benefit and the comfort of the Crown, and they do desire that they should not be spent lavishly. But what they object to is, the habit of concealment on all these matters. If there were frank openness and freedom as to what are the pecuniary relations between the Crown and the House, these difficulties would never arise. But it has been openly declared and hardly denied, while all inquiry has been steadfastly refused, that the grants in the Civil List for specific expenses based upon the actual expenditure of the last reign, amounting to upwards of £300,000 a-year, have 1341 been largely economized; that the money has not been expended; that the honour and dignity of the Crown did not therefore demand these large amounts; but that the savings are not applied in diminution of taxation—a species of thrift which would indeed be for the interest of the country—but that large sums are, by the connivance of the Treasury, systematically placed to the credit of the Privy Purse. I do not know whether it is true or not. I should like to believe that there is not a word of truth in it; but with this concealment is it wonderful that it should be believed that the result is an enormous aggregation of the Privy Purse? It must be common to most of us to hear it whispered, with every appearance of belief, that enormous accumulations have, in fact, been made by such savings from the Civil List. I mentioned, in giving Notice of opposition to this Vote on Tuesday, that this demand was absolutely unprecedented, and this I will now proceed to prove. My assertion is, that there is no instance,—take the last century—in which a demand for money has been made upon the marriage of any Royal Prince, apart from the question of its importance to the country in regard to the succession to the Throne. Now, I do not know whether it is necessary to enter into the question of the possible succession to the Throne in this case. But this point was only just alluded to, and had any importance attached to it, the House would hardly have been content with the off-handed way in which the Prime Minister answered the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) and the hon. Member for North-east Lancashire (Mr. Holt), as to the religion of the Bride that is to be. I should entirely agree that it was an impertinence to ask that question; but what reason could the right hon. Gentleman have for saying, that it was no use to ask it, unless he means to repeal the Act of Settlement. It is really just as easy to ask the Grand Duchess whether she is a member of the Greek Church, as to ask her whether she is a Papist. But there is not, in fact, any idea that this marriage affects the immediate succession to the Throne. As to another assertion which may be made—that it is distinctly for the political interests of this country that an alliance should be made between us and Russia—I will allude only very briefly. The 1342 time when political interests were supposed to be forwarded by marriage alliances has passed away. When I remember the time of the Crimean War, and the lame and impotent conclusions by which we gave up those things which we once thought worth fighting for, and which we believed we had justly obtained, I believe it is true that we lose more by diplomacy than we gain by force of arms. Without sinister vaticinations, I am not at all sure whether the interests of this country will be advanced by an alliance with the Colossus of the East. His aims and purposes are rather at variance, than in harmony with ours. I come now to one of the grounds on which I oppose this grant, and that is that it is unprecedented. The first instance to which I shall refer is in 1792, when provision was moved for the Duke of York, specifically on the ground that it was highly desirable that there should be a direct heir to the throne, and the heir had shown no apparent desire for marriage. The position of affairs is so well described in the words of Sir Matthew W. Ridley, in 1815, that with the permission of the House, I will quote them. He says, speaking on the question of the allowance to the Duke of Cumberland—Nothing came near to this question as a precedent, except the marriage of the Duke of York, which only bore to it a very remote analogy. On making a provision for the Duke of York, a view was had to the probability of the succession of his marriage, as the Prince of Wales entertained at that time no idea of marrying. But a material change had since occurred." [In the birth of the Princess Charlotte.] "With respect, however, to the marriage of the Duke of Cumberland, it was not one which ought to be looked at in a national point of view, or which rendered it necessary on this ground for Parliament to step in to vote a grant for increasing the income of the parties."—[1 Hansard, xxxi. 1024.]That grant was refused. The whole case changed within the next few years. The whole nation mourned with an intensity—as I have been told by those who preceded me—before unheard of, the death of the Princess Charlotte. The position of affairs is described in Martineau's History of England during the 30 years' peace—Some rather remarkable proceedings took place in the course of the Session in relation to the Royal Family, no fewer than four members of which were married in the early part of this year. 1st Elizabeth, 3rd danghter;—in this case the two Houses of Parliament were asked only to offer their congratulations to the Regent, 1343 the Queen, and the new-married couple. As the bride had completed her 48th year, her marriage could not be expected to contribute anything towards continuing the line of the old King, who now, notwithstanding his 15 sons and daughters, twelve of whom were still alive, was left without any descendant beyond the 1st generation.April 13th—a few days later—Messages were sent to both Houses from the Regent stating that treaties of marriage had been drawn up for the Duke of Clarence and Duke of Cambridge, and which went on to say that—After the afflicting calamity which the Prince Regent and the nation have sustained in the loss of his Royal Highness's beloved and only child, the Princess Charlotte, his Royal Highness is fully persuaded that the House of Commons will feel how essential it is to the best interests of the country that his Royal Highness should be enabled to make a suitable provision for such of his royal brothers as shall have contracted marriage with the consent of the Crown."—[1 Hansard, xxxviii. 1.] [Asked £10,000 for Clarence, and £6,000 for Cumberland, Cambridge, and Kent if he should marry. The £10,000 was reduced to £6,000 with loud shouts of approbation; the £6,000 for Cambridge was carried by 177 against 95, and the Duke of Cumberland's negatived.]Of the proposed Vote of £6,000 a-year for the Duke of Kent the same historian says—Of all these Royal marriages this was the one which the heart of the country went most along with; the Duke of Kent had attached himself to the popular party, and the relationship of the lady to Prince Leopold and the lamented Princess Charlotte, was of itself sufficient to awaken a strong interest in her favour. If the nation might have had its wish, it would have been from the first that that should happen which has actually fallen out, that to the issue of this marriage the inheritance of the Crown should descend. Yet even the grant of the additional £6,000 a-year to the Duke of Kent was stoutly opposed in the Commons; 51 Members, among whom were Lord Althorn Mr. Coke of Norfolk, Lord Folkston, Mr. Lambton, and Mr. Tierney voting against it.All these extracts bear upon the point that it was essential there should be Heirs to the Throne. I will further, with your permission, read a few extracts from the reports of that time, and I may say in reading over those reports that, although I have always been a zealous Parliamentary Reformer, yet I have felt a degree of shame that the debates of the unreformed Parliament showed a manly independence and absence of sycophancy and flattery which a reformed Parliament might do well to imitate—Lord CASTLEREAGH said—"Of the twelve children of his majesty, seven were sons, and five 1344 daughters. But not one of them had a child to present a hope of direct inheritance of the throne…… To excite some of the members of the royal family to marriage, was now an object of much importance to the country. A single marriage would not satisfy the anxiety of the people."—[Ibid. 79–80.]Mr. CANNING—With respect to his royal highness the duke of Clarence, he could assure the House that his royal highness would not have thought of contracting this marriage,…if it had not been pressed upon him as an act of public duty."—[Ibid. 107.]Mr. BROUGHAM—He was justified in saying, that while the House would not hesitate to vote some allowance to those members of the royal family whom it was desirable to see married, and who would not be enabled otherwise to contract marriages, so they were bound by their duty to their constituents to refuse grants to those to whom they were not necessary.…… If the noble lord, therefore, could not assert that without this allowance his Royal Highness's private and public income would not enable him to marry, he should give the motion his negative altogether…… It was also understood that her majesty had very considerable property. … It seemed to be natural, that those who had large incomes, and property saved by a wise practice of economy, should furnish at least a part of the assistance wanted."—[Ibid. 122–3.]Mr. TIERNEY: If the noble lord would say that the proposed marriage could not take place unless this grant were acceded to, he would immediately vote for it—if not, he felt that he must vote against it."—[Ibid. 136.]Mr. PLUNKETT: The application of the noble lord rested on the abstract principle, independent of time or circumstances—that on the marriage of any individual connected with the Crown, his income should, of necessity, be increased. Where precedents were to be found for such a system, he knew not; and he was sure that nothing in reason or in justice could be discovered to sanction it."—[Ibid. 137.]Mr. Curwen (on Duke of Kent)—He did not know that he had ever acceded to any pledge, by which he was bound, in all cases, to make a provision for every branch of the royal family, when a marriage was about to take place.… Had not the illustrious duke parents? Was not her majesty in possession of a very considerable sum, derived from the privy purse?"—[Ibid. 727–8.]Now, I say that the whole course of these debates proves the position which I have laid down—that there is no precedent in the last century for the grant upon marriage of an additional allowance to a Royal Prince, unless it could be shown to have some distinct relation to the interests of the people with regard to the succession to the Throne. I say upon this ground the grant to the Duke of Edinburgh fails altogether, for it is not on the ground of any particular advantage to the community that his mar- 1345 riage takes place. But suppose the marriage was an advantage to the country, he has £15,000 a-year already, and at any rate we are bound to know that an increase is necessary, and until the right hon. Gentleman gives us that assurance he is not entitled to ask for an increase of that amount. I say £15,000 a-year is, under any circumstances, in my opinion, ample allowance. At present this country is divided into two great classes, the veriest poor, and a small number of the very rich; putting on one side, for the moment, the middle class. Now, I look upon it as unconstitutional and dangerous for the Prime Minister to be continually intimating to us that the incomes of our Princes should be put on the level of the wealthiest classes in this country. But, Sir, this grant is not as Lord Brougham said, the question of amount—it is a question of principle. I shall not profess to speak for any number of persons outside the House—such assertions are easily made and equally easily denied—but I have some right to speak for 10,000 working men of Leicester, enfranchised by the last Reform Bill, who have sent me here to look after their interests. They are persons who, with the utmost industry and exertion, can do little more than exist, and who certainly do not enjoy many of the luxuries of life; and I am not here to give their sanction—however small the increase to their taxation—to an addition to a rent-roll which even as £15,000 a-year will appear to them something like the wealth of the cave of Aladdin. I do not know what the hon. Members for Scotland are going to do in this matter; but I would ask them whether, when one-third of their population live in houses of one room, this is a time for an increase to a Royal income, which already amounts to £15,000 a-year? But perhaps the most remarkable feature of this proposal is that it is made by an economical Government; by a Government which largely based its claims to the confidence of the people on the ground of their intended economy. I fear that their economy comes to an end when they have practised the principles of what they call political economy. This Government based its claims to the confidence of the people on the ground that they were to study economy. I fear they only study economy when they practise political economy upon some 1346 overworked Post Office official, or some underpaid Civil Service clerk; but when they come to a Zanzibar contract, or a Royal requisition, the lavish looseness of their economy was never exceeded. We get some insight into the elastic nature of the economical principles of the Government in a speech by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Winterbotham) who at Colchester, the other evening, in the course of an admirable address, said—The present quiet he disliked, and preferred a good hot contest. It was in these quiet times that measures of class and personal interests got the upper hand of Parliament. For instance, one strong point of the Liberal programme was the question of economy, and no doubt, great reductions had been made; but in this quiet time they found men representing small personal interests getting up, and through them resolutions were passed pledging men to expenditure which, in the earlier days of the Government, would have been impossible.There was published a few days ago a list of the pensions granted in the last year—a list of England's penurious liberality. Seventeen names! One only need glance at it to see that, they represent an amount of worth and useful work which a nation may well be proud of. Seventeen names, with an average of less than £75 each; such names as Somerville, Waghorn, and Livingstone. To those the right hon. Gentleman adds an eighteenth—H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh for condescending to marry the richest heiress in Europe, £25,000 a-year! In conclusion, I will venture to address one word to the independent Members of this House. Let them judge of the truth of what I have said upon its own merits; do not let them despise it because it comes from one of the humblest Members of this House—one of a small band of so-called extreme men. We are usually governed by party in this House, and in ease of any gross outrage—some enormous extravagance to be carried out—there will be lynx eyes ready to warn this House; but on questions connected with Royal dowries the independent Members are left to their own resources. There is a conspiracy of acquiescence between the two parties in the House. We are told in. the memoirs of Baron Stockmar, that ever since the unfortunate cutting-down of the allowance to the Prince Consort such matters have been arranged be- 1347 tween the two parties. The predecessors of Her Majesty were Tories, and did not profess to be anything else, the Tory party were known as the King's friends, and thus in those days it came to be the natural position, as well as the glory of the great Leaders of the Liberal party, to take their stand between the people and the Crown, and the Crown's claims. When Her present Majesty came to the Throne the state of affairs was altered, I may almost say reversed. Not being a Duke, I may hope to approach a delicate subject without offence. I may say, then, without hurting the feelings of anybody, that the condition of affairs was reversed, and the country saw with astonishment the Tory party, assisted by the Radicals, attacking the Government on the grant proposed for the Prince Consort, and while cutting down his allowance from £50,000 to £30,000, the Ministry did not dare to bring in the Bill—which was naturally graceful towards Her Majesty—for granting precedence to the King Consort. That was more equivocal loyalty than the part I am taking now. It is now acknowledged, to the honour of the Queen, by both parties, that she is of no party, and receives with equal readiness the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the right hon. Gentleman on this side. It is more constitutional, more convenient, and more safe. But it may be doubted whether—to reverse a well-known saying—it is a very good wind that blows no one any ill, and I sometimes think the people's interest in economy has suffered by the change. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire are sure to be in accord on this question, and when they do agree, their unanimity is wonderful. And when the latter Gentleman is absent, the right hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt) gracefully intimates how much more the Tory party would have been ready to give had they been in power. Under such a condition, there is for the independent Member but one task—to protest and subside. In moving that this Bill be read a second time this day month, I make my protest against a measure which, in my opinion, is a discredit to the Government that brings it forward, to the House which sanctions it, and—well—no particular credit to His Royal Highness 1348 who accepts it. He begged to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he begged to second the Amendment. The speech of his hon. Friend, however, had left very little for him to say. He looked upon that charge as entirely unprecedented; and for a House ruled as that House was by precedent, he thought they ought to be very cautious indeed that no act of theirs should constitute a precedent that did not exist before; but in that case he thought the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had deliberately intended to constitute a now precedent; because it would be remembered that in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, in making his proposal, almost the only argument which he adduced in its favour was that he himself led them to expect that. He told them that when he proposed a grant of £15,000 a-year for the Prince, that in the event of the Prince getting married, he should probably move for a further sum; but when some other Princes had had grants moved for them—take, for instance, that for Prince Arthur, the other day—the right hon. Gentleman was quite silent as to any further intention of increasing the provision for him. He had, therefore, led them to conclude, that if Prince Arthur got married tomorrow, there would not be any further provision proposed for him by the right hon. Gentleman; or the right hon. Gentleman intended in that case, to rely on the precedent he was now creating in the case before them. Now, they wore already giving in grants of one kind and another to maintain the members of the Royal Family somewhere about £130,000 or £140,000 in excess of the Civil List, and so long as they were left without any information whatever as to what the surplus was on the five heads of the Civil List, he thought he was entitled to assume that there were a great many abolished offices. They knew that there were some, and they were entitled to assume that there were many abolished offices from which there was an abundant saving made to provide such grants and payments as were asked for. Now, if that was not the fact, the right hon. Gentleman was himself to blame for any conclusion which they came to upon it. He ought not to have refused the information when it was asked for. 1349 If the information should be asked for again, he (Mr. Anderson) sincerely hoped that it would not be again refused. As to the matter of economy and the course pursued by their very economical Government, he should like to remind the House of an incident which occurred a few evenings ago. They had the Secretary of the Treasury attempting to defend an act of very gross injustice towards some of the very humble servants of the Crown, the out-port Customs' officers. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that in the course of 15 years the outport Custom House clerks had had their salaries augmented by no less than 44½ per cent. The right hon. Gentleman was very precise in his figures, and he should be equally so. Here they were proposing in one year to augment the salary of H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh 66⅔ per cent. More than that, the right hon. Gentleman admitted that the outport clerks were doing more work, but His Royal Highness was to do very little more work except to get married. He had very little more to say, but he would like to allude to the details of the Bill, which appeared to him to be erroneous, even from the point of view of those hon. Gentlemen who differed from him on other points. One of those errors was that that grant; along with the former one, might be rescinded when the Royal Prince became naturally a foreign Prince. It was, however, only to be rescinded if Her Majesty wished to do so. It did appear to him that that was placing Her Majesty in a very false position; if she was to insist on its being done, it would be putting her in antagonism with her own son, and it would be far fairer to the country and to the Queen also, that that grant along with the previous one, should pro facto close on the Prince becoming a foreign Prince. He could see no ground for its being continued after that event; and if it were to be continued, it would only give rise to acrimonious debates in that House, which would be highly objectionable and distasteful to Her Majesty, and which he thought ought to be avoided. There was now only one other point. The 3rd clause dealt with the possible widowhood of Her Royal Highness, but the grant given to her of £6,000 in that event was subject to no such contingency as the grant of £10,000 in the 1350 2nd clause. Suppose the Royal Prince became a foreign Prince previous to his death. If, in consequence of that, his grant from that country ceased, his widow would then only be the widow of a foreign Prince; but under the clause, notwithstanding that state of circumstances, she would be entitled to the £6,000 a-year in perpetuity. He thought that the annuity under the 3rd clause should only be given in the event of His Royal Highness dying while he was still only an English Prince. He would not take up the time of the House further than by seconding the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day month."—(Mr. P. A. Taylor.)
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, he was not at all surprised at the two speeches to which the House had just listened; but entirely denied that they would find any general response, either in that House or the country. On the contrary, the nation at large, he believed, took delight in any event which contributed to the happiness of Her Majesty or the other members of the Royal Family, and hailed with pleasure any such occasion as the present of testifying their affection towards them. If the hon. Member who moved the Amendment chose to declare on his own authority this illustrious Princess to be the wealthiest heiress of Europe, he ought to be certain that such was the case. The hon. Gentleman found fault with the Leaders on both sides such the House for acting in unison upon such occasions; but in doing so they represented not a mere fraction of the people but the hearty feeling of the country generally. He hoped the House would agree to the grant by a large majority.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
I feel of course that in the case of the large mass of our labouring fellow countrymen such considerable sums as those which we are now asked to vote may appear unnecessarily great, and may be beyond their conception of what ought to be required even for a Prince. We must, however, look at the matter not merely from that point of view. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Taylor) is, no doubt, entitled to entertain the opinion which he has expressed so very ably and temperately this evening; but 1351 the great body of the House does not agree with him, and I am perfectly convinced that the great body of his fellow countrymen do not share his sentiments. He belongs to a very advanced party. He thinks there is a good time coming—Heaven forbid I should live to see it—when we shall have no Crown, no Peers, no parsons, no partridges, and even no Church. Such are, I believe, the aspirations of my hon. Friend; but such are, I think, not the feelings of the great bulk of Englishmen. They as well as I, I am sure, feel not only in reference to ourselves, but comparing our condition with that of neighbouring nations, that we ought to be very thankful we have a Royal Family, and that the race of that Family is likely to be continued. The very facts which have been brought forward by my hon. Friend indicate to what risks we might be reduced in that respect, for I believe it to be in the highest degree essential to the happiness and prosperity, and even the liberties of this country that we should always have a Constitutional Royal Family. The statesmen of the time to which my hon. Friend has referred contemplated—and must necessarily have contemplated—with alarm that the succession to the House of Brunswick might have failed altogether; and, looking upon the matter in the lowest and most utilitarian point of view—laying aside any question of sentiment, and that feeling of loyalty which, I believe, still burns in the hearts of the great majority of our countrymen—it would, in my opinion, be the greatest possible affliction to the material interests, to the commerce and progress of the nation, that questions of dispute as to the succession to the Throne of these realms should arise, and that we should be subjected to anything like that which we see on the other side of the Bay of Biscay in the Spanish Peninsula. But it is not upon this lower ground that I base my support of the present Bill. We have in this country a Royal Family who sympathize with us in our pursuits and feelings, who enter into our ordinary enjoyments, whom we see day by day, and who endeavour to play a useful part among their countrymen. The particular Prince, the grant to whom we are now discussing, takes his part like an Englishman in discharging the duties of his station. He belongs to a profession 1352 which is most popular among us, he has distinguished himself as an officer in that profession, and is supposed to be one of its ornaments. Are we, then, who represent the taxpayers of this country, to say that we shall debar him or the other Princes of the Royal Family from entering into domestic life? ["No, no!"] Yes, it really comes to that—the Royal Princes of a previous generation to whom my hon. Friend referred, appear to have considered themselves debarred, owing to the arrangements made in their case, from entering into domestic life. We regard that as the happiest side of English life; at least I do for one, so long as the ladies have not that preponderance in the state for which my hon. Friend wishes, but which I say Heaven forbid. But as long as the home and the fireside are the true objects and sources of happiness of English men and women, so long we ought, I think, to do all in our power, within reasonable and moderate bounds, to promote those objects in the case of a Royal Family, which for the best part of two centuries has contributed largely to the prosperity, welfare, happiness, and enjoyment of the people over whom they reign. I will only add that I give my most hearty support to the proposal of the Government.
I am extremely sorry that my hon. Friend (Mr. Taylor) has found it necessary to offer an opposition to this Bill, as it will entail upon me the necessity of detaining the House for a few minutes; because, as he has been compelled by his sense of duty to enter upon a discussion of the question, it would not be right that I should leave the points mentioned by him unnoticed, although I believe, so far as the general sentiments of the vast majority of the House are concerned, they have been expressed with perfect truth by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel North) and my right hon. Friend who sits behind me. In the first place, as to the charges of the two hon. Gentlemen against the Government, I will dispose of them very briefly. My hon. Friend says I have maintained a habit of concealment as to the condition and circumstances of the Royal Family. He gave no particulars of that charge, and I affirm that I have maintained no such habit of concealment. I believe, myself, that, in a reasonable sense, the better the 1353 country understands the circumstances of the Royal Family the better it will be satisfied. But the hon. Gentleman says my doctrine is that the income of the Duke of Edinburgh ought to be raised to the level of that of the richest classes in the country. I appeal to the House whether I laid down any such doctrine. Nothing fell from me that could by any licence of exaggerated construction be twisted into such a doctrine. The hon. Gentleman must know perfectly well that the wealthiest classes in this country—the great manufacturers, merchants, and landowners—have incomes far exceeding that which we ask the House to vote on this occasion; and he must also know—or ought to know—that the incomes of members of the Royal Family are, to a considerable extent pledged, and, I may say, predestined to meet expenses in the nature of establishments, with regard to which the demands of society leave them no option whatever; whereas the wealthy merchant or manufacturer may spend his money exactly as he pleases. Therefore, nothing could be more unjust than the comparison the hon. Member has drawn in that respect. He also twits the Government as to its economy. I suppose he was not here during the discussions on the Supreme Court of Judicature Bill, or he would have known whether, as to the salaries of the Judges of the new Court, we were more yielding than we were in regard to the salaries of clerks. The hon. Gentleman says Mr. Fox asked in the last century, whether the Civil List was adequate for the maintenance of the Royal Princes? and he states that the Liberal leaders of the present day are making demands which would not have been made by Mr. Fox. I can give him a pretty good proof of the state of circumstances in which Mr. Fox spoke of the adequacy of the Civil List. The Civil List was, at that time, of an enormous amount, and was also charged with many public expenses with which it is not now charged, but it was computed to yield a larger sum to pay for the expenditure of the Court than the present Civil List. But what were the circumstances in which Parliament was placed in those golden days to which my hon. Friend referred? Why, Sir, they were these: that although George III. was proverbially economical, and although he was a most honourable and 1354 upright man, yet demands for the payment of his debts on the Civil List were made to Parliament and answered by Parliament in 1769, in 1777, in 1802, in 1804, in 1805, in 1815, and in 1816. The aggregate amount of those demands was £3,297,000. These were the circumstances of the time to which the speech of my hon. Friend, if his reference was worth anything, would tend to carry us back. Then he tells us that the late Sir George Lewis said the policy of this country was to strip the Crown of hereditary property. He did not give us the reference to the passage; but he knows perfectly well that when Sir George Lewis spoke of that he spoke of the Crown estates, and made no allusion to the few hundred acres of land that surround Osborne, or the few thousand acres of moor that surround Balmoral; and my hon. Friend's reference could only have the effect of bewildering the House if it were not too well informed for that to be possible. The hon. Member further says I gave the other clay an off-hand answer to the hon. Members for North-east Lancashire (Mr. Holt) and North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate). At any rate, I gave more of an answer than the House appeared to desire; and I had the most intelligible admonition from the House that it would be better pleased if I gave no answer at all. I gave that reply not because the House required it, but because, perhaps, some people out-of-doors who are not well informed on the subject—probably some of them may be in Leicester—might have misunderstood my silence on that occasion. It would be easy for me, if it were necessary, to give the assurance to the House, which, I think, is really quite needless, as to the intentions of the Crown, which could never be doubted in the case of a British Sovereign, and least of all in the case of Her present Majesty, to observe in letter and in spirit the ancient laws governing the succession to the Throne and the marriages of members of the Royal Family. And if the question had been asked of me, not in the manner in which it was asked, as to the personal habits which the illustrious Princess was to pursue, but with regard to that in which the country might naturally feel an interest—namely, the children with which I hope the union may be blessed—I should have had no 1355 hesitation in saying that the children will be brought up in the Protestant religion as professed by the Duke of Edinburgh. My hon. Friend went on to say it was requisite that the Civil List of this country should be founded on an intelligible principle. Well, I contend that it is founded on an intelligible principle. You must proceed in either of two ways—either you must give the Queen a Civil List with a very large margin, and then you may fairly expect that she will not come to Parliament to make provision for the Royal children; or, if you choose, you may give Her a Civil List carefully adapted to the probable expenditure of the Court, and then you may be prepared to face contingencies. Which of these courses is the most constitutional? I affirm that the course actually pursued is so. It maintains the control of Parliament; it enables Parliament to observe the conduct of the Royal Princes; to back up the parental authority of the Sovereign, and to form its own judgment from time to time as to the course it may be right to adopt. But the doctrine of the hon. Member, if it has any effect, comes practically to this—that we are at the commencement of every reign not merely to reckon the amount of the probable expenses of the Privy Purse, and have a Civil List proportioned to that amount, but that we should also throw in a large sum to enable the Sovereign to make provision for her younger children, and thus establish to a great extent the independence of the Crown of Parliament, instead of its dependence upon Parliament. If that dependence is to be established, as I hope it always will be, it requires the exercise of great wisdom and discretion on the part of Parliament to meet that state of things. It would be alike unwise and ungenerous for Parliament—for purposes such as seem to be contemplated by my hon. Friend—to take advantage of that arrangement which binds the Crown to come to Parliament to provide for these occasions when they arise. My hon. Friend has laid down in one part of his speech something like a proposition, with which it is practicable to grapple. He says there is no precedent for a grant on a Royal marriage except with reference to the succession to the Crown. That is in the first place not correct, and in the next place it is not relevant. As to 1356 the case of the Duke of Clarence, the third son of George III., the hon. Gentleman is aware that on that occasion, when he quoted the language of Mr. Canning, which did not fail to amuse the House, the House was willing to vote, and did vote, a sum to be offered on the marriage of the Duke of Clarence, although not so much as he expected; and that, acting ingenuously on the declaration which Mr. Canning made, he allowed the matter to go by. But there is another case—namely, that of the Duke of Cambridge, who was the youngest son of George III., and, in respect to that Prince, who had £21,000 a-year, an additional £6,000 was voted in 1820 on his marriage. Therefore, my hon. Friend is not accurate in stating that these steps have not been taken by Parliament otherwise than in reference to the succession to the Crown—unless, indeed, he deprives his own proposition of all meaning by saying that everything that is given on the marriage of a Royal Prince has reference to the succession to the Crown; and in that case we have a right to claim that our proposal should have the benefit of that principle. But my hon. Friend's proposition is irrelevant. The question is whether the aggregate allowance which is proposed is an unbecoming allowance; is it an extravagant allowance? My hon. Friend speaks of the 10,000 men of Leicester who would oppose the vote. I desire to say that I have more faith in them than he has; and I doubt whether he has correctly represented their opinions. What is the real state of things? £130,000 a-year is now the aggregate of the incomes granted from the taxes of the country to the Royal Family, together with £385,000 for the Civil List. These sums make a trifle more than £500,000 per annum; and I ask, whether, for a country with an annual income of at least £800,000,000, that is, after all, an extravagant sum. And not only that, but, looking at the number of men in the country who count their share of that vast revenue by tens, fifties, and some even by hundreds of thousands, we maintain that, under those circumstances, allowances of this kind must have some relation to the state of society, some reference to the expectations formed from those social relations and ties which it would be very difficult to break, and which it would be mischievous to break 1357 if the thing were possible. I was sorry to find my hon. Friend use against this proposal the argument that it was to be rejected because the Duke of Edinburgh was about to marry the wealthiest heiress of Europe. My hon. Friend was well told by the hon. and gallant Member opposite that if he chooses to declare on his own authority this illustrious Princess to be the wealthiest heiress of Europe, he ought to be certain that such is the case. Does he know it? He does not know it. He has taken up the idle rumours of the street—rumours doubling and trebling anything that we have the least reason to suppose will be possessed by the illustrious Princess. I rejoice to believe—although we are not in possession of accurate particulars—that this Princess is well endowed relatively to the usual rates of such jointures. But, I ask, are we really reduced so low that because a British Prince is going to marry a Princess abroad who has somewhat more than would, perhaps, be commonly found to be possessed in these cases, we are to go, cap in hand, to make that marriage, and to require and pray that there may be deducted from the allowance we are to vote as much as has been added on by the fact of her being a wealthy Princess? Does the hon. Gentleman think he could himself stand up in the face of that 10,000 men and make such a proposal? For my part I reject the idea altogether. I submit to the House that the real question is the reasonableness of this allowance. Is it to be a reasonable allowance in the aggregate? It is politic and it is wise that, with the sanction and approval of Her Majesty, instead of giving the full allowance to the young Princes while they were still bachelors, we should reserve a portion of it until they are married. I say that we are acting on a sound and wise principle. If, on the other hand, it be the judgment of this House, in the circumstances in which we are placed, that £25,000 a-year is an improper and extravagant sum for us to vote for the second son of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, in the century and the society in which we live, and with the expectations which are entertained by a person of that station, then let us vote with my hon. Friend. I believe, on the contrary, that the firm conviction of the House is exactly in the opposite direction; and I entreat hon. 1358 Members to vote by such a majority as will distinctly express the view of the entire Parliament of this country that they will grant to Her Majesty a sum, which we believe to be moderate and just, for I think that if we fell short of it we should fall short of the duty we owe to the Queen and the country.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 162; Noes 18: Majority 144.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
|Bright, J. (Manchester)||Miller, J.|
|Brown, A. H.||Muutz, P. H.|
|Buckley, N.||Potter, T. B.|
|Carter, R. M.||Rylands, P.|
|Dilke, Sir C. W.||Shaw, R.|
|Dixon, G.||Wedderburn, Sir D.|
|Ewing, H. E. Crum-||White, J.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||TELLERS.|
|M'Laren, D.||Anderson, G.|
|Mellor, T. W.||Taylor, P. A.|
Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow, at Two of the clock.