HC Deb 17 September 1886 vol 309 cc920-5

(40.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £14,786, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, for the repayment to the Civil Contingencies Fund of certain Miscellaneous Advances.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

As a loyal subject of Her Majesty, and a great respecter of the Royal Family, I have always thought that one of the greatest mistakes that successive Governments make is to come on Parliament for these small sums. I believe these sums have caused a great deal more irritation to the people of this country than the larger sums that are asked for for Her Majesty and the Royal Family, and the Relatives of Her Majesty who belong to other Royal Families. Now, you will find that when Members of the Royal Family travel in England they either take the ordinary train, or a special train, and pay their fares themselves. A Member of the Royal Family on his way to the Continent, however, pays his own fare down to Dover; but when he arrives at Dover the country is called on to provide a private steam packet for him at a cost of £40. There are generally two packets there with private cabins; and I do not see why Members of the Royal Family should not use those packets precisely as they use the ordinary train. If they like to take a private packet let them pay for it themselves. There has been, for many years, in this House a very strong objection to these payments. If we were only called upon to make them when the Heir to the Throne goes on official business to the Continent we should not object; but we feel that when he goes on his own private business we should not be called upon to pay £40 as the expense of his going there, and £40 as the expense of his coming back. But it is not only His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales whose expenses we have to pay in this way. We have to deal in the same way with the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, the Duke of Cambridge, and other Royal personages. They all take these private packets, and we are called on to pay for them. But that is not all. We have, in the same way, to pay part of the travelling expenses of His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Hesse. Every time he comes here we have to pay £40. Why should we do that? I have no doubt that this illustrious personage is very much respected by his own subjects, and if he comes here we are ready to welcome him and speed the parting guest; but why should we pay for his crossing the Channel? Why should we pay £40 for the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg to come here, and £40 for her to go back? We do more than that in the case of Her Royal or Her Serene Highness, for when she feels inclined to come to England she orders a steam packet at our expense, and when she changes her mind and does not come we are charged demurrage. Then there is the Duchess of Teck, a very popular Princess, but not even the child or the grandchild of the Sovereign, yet we have to pay for her trips to the Continent. We know that we are so fortunate as to possess a very large Royal Family; that there are a very large number of grandchildren to the present Sovereign; and it is rather a serious thing to contemplate the expense we may ultimately be called upon to bear if we have to pay £80 every time one of these grandchildren wishes to go to the Continent. I know what the defence is for this expenditure; I have heard it a hundred times from the Front Bench opposite. I have been told, and I presume I shall hear it again to-night, that the Fleet belongs to Her Majesty, and that Her Majesty has got the right to order a ship of war to come to Dover, or to go to Calais, to convey one of Her Relatives from or to this country whenever she likes. We shall be told that if we do not hire these private steamers Her Majesty will do this. I have far too great a respect for Her Majesty to believe that she would do anything of the sort; but, even if she would do so, at any rate she might as well try it. If Her Majesty were to employ a ship of the Navy, at a large cost, for transporting Members of Her Family across the Channel, we might then have to consider what course we ought to take to save the expenditure.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £14,172, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1887, for the repayment to the Civil Contingencies Fund of certain Miscellaneous Advances."—(Mr. Labouchere.)

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I see an item here upon which I should like some information—namely, for the Right Hon. John Naish, late Lord Chancellor of Ireland, £903. I cannot think that that sum is for repairing his robes; I cannot think his robes want repairing, seeing that he was only five weeks Lord Chancellor before the Liberal Government was overturned. Surely, in five weeks, his robes could not have been damaged to the extent of £903. We have another Irish Lord Chancellor now, and he will probably be in the same position, with regard to this allowance. We have been having Lord Chancellors appointed rather frequently of late, and I should like to know how much of this money is spent if a man only serves five weeks? Even so short an appointment as five weeks entitles a man to an enormous pension ever afterwards. I wish to know whether, if a Lord Chancellor were re-appointed, this item under discussion would be again charged?

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

Apparently this item of £900 is for equipage. I do not know Mr. John Naish personally; but although he received a large allowance for equipage, which of course means carriages and horses, I believe that, so far as the inhabitants of Dublin are aware, he never used even so much as a donkey cart.


The item which is called equipage money is a sum which is payable on the appointment of the Lord Chancellor. It is not paid twice to the same individual; therefore, on the second appointment, the sum will not be paid.


I think that after the statement of the hon. Gentleman further explanation is necessary. It certainly appears from these Estimates that this sum is paid to the Lord Chancellor on his second appointment. We want to know whether that is so or not?

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jackson) will see that £923 1s. 6d. is paid on the appointment of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. This is his second appointment within a year.


The hon. Member (Mr. T. W. Russell) well knows that these Estimates were prepared last year, and I think he will find that the statement I made—[An hon. MEMBER: This is a Supplementary Estimate.] Yes; but it was paid out of the Civil Contingencies Fund. I think the explanation I have given is correct—namely, that the money will not be paid twice. I trust the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) will not press his Motion to a division. He suggests that one of the ships of the Navy might be used for the conveyance of distinguished persons; but I think he knows perfectly well that there is hardly a ship in the Navy that could go into the harbours. Besides, I understand—and this, I think, will commend itself to the hon. Member—that even if one of the ships of the Navy was brought into requisition, the actual cost of the coal used would be more than the sum that is paid for these packets.

MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)

Some of us are not particularly anxious to use either men-of-war, or to pay for special packets, for the conveyance of these distinguished personages across the Channel. If these journeys have to be undertaken, I cannot understand why they should not be paid for by the persons taking them.


Until hon. Gentlemen are prepared to make a considerable change in the Constitution, they must bear in mind that the Navy is the Queen's Navy, and that the ships of the Navy are the Queen's ships; and that, therefore, the Queen is perfectly entitled to use the ships of the Navy for the conveyance of such persons as may be convenient to the Royal pleasure. As a matter of fact, the chartering of these packets is a more economical way of conveying distinguished persons to and from this country than the employment of what it would be within the right of Her Majesty to employ—a large man-of-war or a large yacht.

MR. PICTON (Leicester)

I do not quite understand the argument of the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill). Our Parks are called the Queen's Parks; but I do not understand that Her Majesty can make any special use of them for herself. I protest against the mere use of a ceremonial formula to justify the expenditure of £40 every time an august Family or a Member of an august Family wishes to cross the Channel. The Navy belongs to Her Majesty, as representing and impersonating the nation, and not as her private property. I do not think the reason given by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer for this expenditure is at all a valid one.


I hope my hon. Friend (Mr. Labouchere) will take a division upon this Vote as a protest on behalf of the unfortunate travellers who, when they come down to Dover or Calais, find that the best and most regular boat is engaged for the conveyance of a distinguished person, and that they have to cross the Channel in one of the wretched cargo boats. I remember that not long ago, when one of these wretched cargo steamers was crossing the Channel with passengers, the regular packet having been engaged for the conveyance of a distinguished person, it broke down, and the passengers were eight or nine hours in the Channel at the mercy of the wind and waves.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 48; Noes 126: Majority 78.—(Div. List, No. 43.)

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.