§ Message from the Queen [Prince Albert Victor of Wales and Princess Louise Victoria of Wales] [2nd July].
§ Order for going into Committee read.
§ * THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a very few observations, and in doing so I hope that I may not be betrayed into any topic which will raise controversy to a greater extent than has been already indicated by the Amendment which has been put on the Paper by the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). It is my desire, and the desire of the Government, that in dealing with this important question we should endeavour, as far as possible, to do so outside the region of Party, and with a due regard to the great interests of the country which are involved in it. There is another observation which I wish to make, and it is this—that if by any accident I should bring the name of the Sovereign into the Debate it must be understood that the responsibility rests on the Ministers for anything that is done in the name of the Sovereign. It must be understood that Her Majesty's Ministers are responsible for the advice which they give to the Crown, and that it is they, and they alone, who are responsible, and who must bear the consequences of any failure on their part to give good advice. The Motion which I have now to make includes something more than the simple consideration of Her Majesty's Gracious Message. It will be in the recollection of the House that it was felt to be desirable that the Message from the Throne should be referred to a Committee to consider the practice of this House with regard to provision for members of the Royal Family, and to report to the House on the principles which in that respect it would be expedient to adopt in the future. The Committee have taken, I think, unusual pains to acquaint themselves with the practice of the House in the past. The recommendation of the Committee goes beyond the recommendation of provision for the family and children of the Queen. 1271 Reference to former practice, and to the principles which may be adopted in future, takes us back to precedents extending throughout the reign of George III. and George IV. and William IV., and these precedents were found to be in active operation when Her Majesty ascended the Throne. These precedents must be taken as greatly influencing the action of Parliament in 1837, when it settled the Civil List of Her Majesty. There is evidence that they were taken into consideration then and in subsequent proceedings in this House, when Messages were brought down from the Throne asking for provision for the members of the Royal Family. But when we recite former precedents, we do so in order that we may interpret the Civil List Act—the Act which has been considered as making provision for the honour and dignity of the Crown, without, in the judgment of Her Majesty's Ministers, making provision for the children of the Sovereign, or of the children of the Heir to the Throne. These precedents are the interpretation of the Act of 1837 and of the previous Act of 1831. But the principles on which the provision shall be made for members of the Royal Family in future rests with the wisdom of Parliament in the future, when it deals with the Civil List Act again on the demise of the Sovereign, whenever that should happen—and I am sure I express the general and unanimous feeling of this House that it is our most anxious hope that that occasion may be long delayed. The principles on which we are acting must be determined by the virtual compact between the Crown and the people made under the existing Civil List. The Report which has been presented to the House shows that the annuities charged upon the Consolidated Fund in 1837 for the support of members of the Royal Family amounted to £277,000, after allowing for the surrender of the amount which the King of the Belgians did not then draw. They now amount to £152,000. This at least shows that there has been a due regard paid to the interests of the country, while the provision which has been made for the members of the Royal Family has been moderate and in reason. The Debates which took place in 1837 showed no departure from the precedents. The language of Mr. Spring Rice, the Chancellor of the 1272 Exchequer of the day, was that it was necessary, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government of that time, to make adequate provision to prevent the Crown from incurring debt. I am always reluctant to ask the House to listen to extracts; but this is a question of so much importance that I venture to ask the House to listen to the words which Mr. Spring Rice used on that occasion. He said:—We wish to make such arrangement as will carry us through this reign—which I hope will be as long as happy—without constant appeals to Parliament, without contraction of debt. Inasmuch as that reign may he long, it behoves us to consider it with care and to weigh well the steps we are about to take, because I admit that when that step is once taken I, for one, should be ready to plead that arrangement in bar of any proposal to reconsider the Civil List. But the Committee should remember that we are fixing a Civil List for a reign which all hope will be long, and therefore it ought to be fixed on principles which will not lead to debt on the part of the Sovereign, or to future applications to Parliament for aid to the Civil List. Looking forward to a protracted reign, I consider that it is the wisest and the best economy on the part of Parliament to make such arrangements in the outset as will prevent the possibility of debt.The possibility of debt, the avoidance of debt, was the note which rang through the speech of Mr. Spring Rico; it was the note which rang through the whole of the Debate; and that note had reference to the demands which had been made to Parliament repeatedly during the reign of George III. for sums of money to pay debts which had been incurred on the Civil List. I have only to refer to the knowledge and experience of every Member of this House when I say that we are proud of the fact that no application whatever has been made to Parliament for the payment of a debt on the Civil List during Her Majesty's reign; and that this arrangement, made in 1837 to prevent the possibility of that debt, has been thoroughly and wisely carried out on the part of the Crown. Throughout the whole of these Debates there has been no suggestion that it was the duty of the Sovereign to make provision for the Royal Family, nor at any period up to the present has there been such a suggestion in the Debates of Parliament, or from any authoritative source. I am prepared to say that there is no indication that any Minister of the Crown 1273 during Her Majesty's reign has at any time felt it to be his duty to make representation to the Sovereign that it was the duty of the Sovereign to make provision out of the resources of the Civil List for the members of the Royal Family. There is not an indication of any character from beginning to end of the Debates which have occurred during the whole of this reign that would lead to such a suggestion; but, on the contrary, the assertion of responsible Ministers has invariably taken the opposite direction. I will not refer to the observations which have fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), when it has been his duty in the course of the present reign—and, as the right hon. Gentleman said the other evening, it has perhaps been his duty more frequently than any other Minister in the present century—to move for these Grants. I do not refer to him in support of the view which I maintain, because I am perfectly certain that he would be quite ready to accept the doctrine which I laid down—that up to the present time it has never been urged that it was the duty of the Sovereign or of the Prince of Wales to make provision for their own families; and, further, I maintain that in the settlement of the Civil List, and in the provision which has been made from time to time for members of the Royal Family, that reservation has been distinctly in the mind of Parliament and Ministers. There is one very singular Debate which took place in 1843, and that year was only six years after the accession of Her Majesty to the Throne. Sir Robert Peel was then moving for the provision for the Princess Augusta of Cambridge, the daughter of a younger son of George III. In meeting the objection of the hon. Member for Montrose, Mr. Hume, who began his speech by saying—I will refer to the preceding precedents, and I will ask whether you have any authority from these preceding precedents to make this grant?Sir Robert Peel said—I was very glad to hear the hon. Gentleman make that appeal, for if he does attach weight to precedent he will be bound to give his vote in favour of my Motion. I will first take the Princesses of the Royal Family, daughters of George III., the Duchess of Gloucester, and the Princess Sophia. In each of these cases the provision was £16,000 per annum.1274 I think Sir Robert Peel was wrong, and that it was only £14,000—And in the case of a Princess more remotely allied to the Sovereign than the Princess Augusta, Princess Sophia of Gloucester, the provision was £7,000. In this instance the provision is only £3,000.I mention this in order to show that in 1843 the Sovereign not only had no notice or indication of any change in the intentions of Parliament with regard to the provision necessary to be made for the members of the Royal Family, but that for six years after the year of her accession the practice of Parliament in the past was renewed and confirmed; and there was every reason to believe that the contract of 1837 would therefore be carried out on the principles on which previous contracts had been carried out by Parliament. The Government had to consider the question. There was a Committee appointed to which the whole subject was referred; and it must be allowed by those who would do justice to the responsibility of Ministers that it was their plain duty to uphold what they believed to be the Parliamentary credit and the rights of the Crown. Neither did we think it right and just to negative or withdraw any of the claims of Her Majesty; but Her Majesty has in her own discretion directed that they shall not be pressed on the consideration of Parliament, so far as the younger sons and daughters are concerned. Therefore, at the present moment the Government have before them the practical question of what provision should be made for the children of the Prince of Wales, and especially with regard to Prince Albert Victor and Princess Louise. I have no doubt I shall be told that the Government have not adhered to their original proposals. If that is a ground for complaint against the Government, I am perfectly prepared to bear whatever consequences may attach to the Government for that departure in appearance from the original proposals. I confess to an earnest desire in dealing with a question of this kind to avoid, as far as possible, all controversy. Some think it is the highest form of political life; but in dealing with this question I do desire to attract, as far as possible, the support and the cordial concurrence of those who ordinarily differ from us in political matters. It would be a deep 1275 cause of sorrow to me if, by any fault of mine or of the Government, we entered into an embittered controversy on questions which I believe to be of vital moment to the interests of this country. If blame is to be attached to the Government for endeavouring to avoid dragging the sacred institutions of the country into the political arena—if blame is to be attached to the Government for endeavouring to meet in this question those who are ordinarily their political opponents—I am quite prepared to accept the blame and the responsibility. What are the facts of the case? We thought it fair to indicate to the Committee the general principles on which, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, it was right to proceed; and we indicated a scheme. I can understand that the opponents of all Grants would oppose that scheme or any other. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was candid and clear in the course he took. He does not consider that any scheme or proposal made by the Government would be acceptable or ought to be accepted by the House. I confess that I am unable to realise the position of those who demur to a Grant which they admit to be reasonable. That is the view which I, for my own part, entertain on this matter; but hon. Gentlemen have, of course, the right to entertain their own opinions. Now, let us come to the consideration of the question as it affects this particular Grant. The settlement as regards the Prince of Wales was made in 1863. If hon. Gentlemen turn to Hansard they will find that Lord Palmerston in that year proposed that £40,000 should be granted for the separate use of the Prince, and £10,000 for the use of the Princess of Wales, the Duchy of Cornwall being calculated to produce £60,000 a year. At that time the Duchy of Cornwall did not quite produce that sum; but the estimate which Lord Palmerston formed on that occasion has been nearly realised, a little more or a little less, during the interval which has elapsed between 1863 and 1889. I maintain that it was never contemplated, when this provision was made, that the Prince of Wales should be called upon to make provision for his family out of this income. In the course of the Debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day said that it 1276 was obviously impossible for the Princess to pay out of her jointure for the education of her children. No application has been made to the House for the cost of the education of her children; and it has only become necessary now when Prince Albert Victor becomes qualified to undertake the duties which belong to his high station, and which render it necessary that an establishment should be found for him. As to the general view of the Government with respect to the provision which should be made, I see it stated that if that view had been carried out £49,000 a year would have been chargeable on the Consolidated Fund. That is true, supposing all the children of the Prince of Wales had come at once into the possession of the maximum amount which the Government suggested should be granted to them; but there is no probability of their coming into the enjoyment of that sum immediately. The view urged on the Government of preventing the necessity of repeated applications to Parliament is an exceedingly wise one; and the suggestion which fell from the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, that a single Grant should be made to the Prince of Wales for the benefit of his family, to be applied in certain sums and under certain conditions, was thought to be an exceedingly useful one. We accordingly adopted that principle, and the figure which appeared in the first instance in the Report of £40,000 is expressive of the liability which would come upon the country under the conditions we referred to. No doubt I shall be exposed to some blame by my hon. Friends behind me when I, on the part of the Government, did not contest the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the figure should be reduced from £40,000 to £36,000. I regard a question of this kind as of so great importance that I was bound to some extent to conciliate the support of those who possessed greater experience in the past, and more responsibility with regard to questions of this kind; and, therefore, I think I acted wisely in allowing my own judgment to give way to the desire of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not think myself that the sum should have been less than £40,000; but I value the concurrence and the experience of the right hon. Gentleman in 1277 a question of this kind as of even greater importance to the Prince of Wales and the Royal Family than the difference between £40,000 and £36,000. I say frankly, therefore, that on those grounds I concurred, and the Committee concurred, in the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman. But how is this question to be met? The hon. Member for Northampton proposes that the responsibility for making the provision should be thrown on the Sovereign, upon whose income it has never been suggested in any degree whatever that such a charge should be made. It is actually proposed by the hon. Member that this charge should be placed on the Sovereign, whose strict discharge of every Constitutional duty, whose personal observance of every condition which a Constitutional Sovereign can discharge to the benefit of her people, in a reign which has been remarkable for a great extension of the political liberties of the people, and still more for the progress and prosperity of the country—it is proposed by the hon. Member to tell the Sovereign that precedent and practice have no binding force, and that it is usual to make provision for the children of the Prince of Wales out of the Civil List. The Civil List is an Act of Settlement for the reign; it is a compact between Parliament and the Sovereign for her lifetime; and yet it is suggested that it should be compulsorily revised after the Sovereign has reigned for 52 years. I do not believe that the country has the slightest desire to follow the hon. Gentleman. I do not believe that there is any section of the people who grudge to Royalty the moderate amount of money which is necessary to maintain its dignity. I believe, relatively to the ancient revenues of the Crown, and still more to the resources of the country and its incomes, the amount now asked is moderate and even small, meaning, as it does, a fraction of 1d. on the Income Tax. Putting aside for a moment the loyalty and the affection entertained by the vast majority of the people, I am convinced that if examination is made into the system of government under which we live, if comparisons are made with the systems of government in any other civilised country, it will be found that our system is economical, while it 1278 provides for the country a stability which is invaluable, and a Chief and a Head who has obtained the respect and the affection not only of the people of this country, but of all English-speaking peoples. I move, Sir, that you now leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ * MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
It seems to me, Sir, that the truth of the statement contained in the right hon. Gentleman's peroration as to the cost of systems of government in other countries is somewhat doubtful, considering that the President of the United States receives only £10,000, while Her Majesty and Her Majesty's Family cost about £700,000. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman at the outset that I have not the slightest intention of dragging "the sacred institutions of the country into the arena of politics." But I think the House has a right to complain of the action of the right hon. Gentleman. It is like the charge of Balaclava; it is very noble but it is not consistent with the ordinary practice of the House. Whenever the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues get into a mess the First Lord of the Treasury generally rises and says, "I alone am responsible; receive me as a scapegoat." One would suppose that the right hon. Gentleman was offering his head. What, in the name of goodness, is the House to do? We cannot punish the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman speaks as the Representative of the Government, and when the right hon. Gentleman cannot get out of any mistake he endeavours to do so by offering the House his head. We have no intention of accepting the offer; but the Government is responsible, as a whole, for every word spoken and every act done by the right hon. Gentleman himself. I think it is desirable that the House should precisely understand the position in which we stand. A fortnight ago a Message was sent by Her Majesty to the House asking it to make provision for two of the children of the Prince of Wales. At that time the Government were under a promise to appoint a Select Committee to look into the general question of all future Royal 1279 Grants. But this Committee had been put off on what I cannot help calling, not only dilatory, but evasive pleas. It was, however, felt to be impossible to consent to any Grants without referring the whole question to a Committee, especially after the promises that had been made. Therefore, two points were referred to the Select Committee which was appointed—one, to report upon any general system that was to be adopted in regard to future Royal Grants; and, secondly, to report upon Her Majesty's Message to the House in respect of the two particular Grants asked for in Her Majesty's Message. The Committee sat several times, and exhaustively entered into the whole question of precedents and principle. The result was that a Report with Appendices has been presented, and of which the House is in possession, which states the views of the Committee, together with the different statistics on which they base their opinions. It cannot be said, therefore, in any sense that the House has not considered the Message of Her Majesty. The House referred it to a Committee, and the Committee has reported to the House, and the Report is now before us. It seems to me that the position I take up is the logical outcome of the opinion that no further Grants, under any circumstances, ought to be made. The proposal before the House is that you leave the Chair, Sir, in order that the House may go into Committee, and pass the Resolution in Committee, which is technically necessary, before a Money Bill can be introduced. If it were not for that necessity the right hon. Gentleman would say, "You have had your Report; you have had time to look into it, and we will now bring in a Bill." I have seen it stated that to oppose the Motion "that the Speaker do leave the Chair" is to show some sort of act of discourtesy to Her Majesty—that it is practically to say that the House will not consider the Message. My reply is that the House has considered the Message, and that, practically, if the Motion of the First Lord of the Treasury be carried it will not be to consider the Message, but to take specific action upon it. I think the course I am pursuing is most courteous ["Oh!"]—yes, most courteous—in view of the fact that I am prepared to 1280 oppose these Grants. The Amendment shadowed out by a right hon. Friend of mine is to the effect that the Grants should be refused because the principle has not been laid down in the Report that, in future, no Grants of a like character shall be given. Personally, I should be in an embarrassment if such an Amendment were proposed. I am not prepared to say I should have assented to these Grants if there had been any finality laid down in the Report. I want the finality qui et nunc. I want to start with finality—not to end with it. The action of the Government, on the other hand, has been worse than discourteous—it has been simply indecent in regard to this matter. They came with a Message from the Crown, and they chaffered and bargained over it in Committee in a way that tended more than anything proposed on the Opposition side to lower the respect which ought to be entertained by all in this House for Her Majesty. My action, I claim, on the other hand, has been perfectly frank, open, honest, and definite. I consider that Her Majesty and Her Majesty's Family have sufficient funds, and that if there are not sufficient funds, then I indicate in my Amendment sources from which they may be obtained without any appeal to the taxpayer. In order to show this, I must call attention to what took place in the Committee, and to the Report of the Committee. Her Majesty's Ministers made certain proposals to the Committee. Those proposals were that the elder son of the Prince of Wales should receive at once £15,000, and an additional £10,000 when married; that the second son of the Prince of Wales should receive at once £8,000, and £5,000 when married; and that the elder daughter of the Prince of Wales, now about to be married, should receive an annuity of £3,000, and that an annuity of the same amount should be granted to the younger daughters of the Prince of Wales, when married. Not only were the children of Her Majesty to be provided for, but provision was to be made for the unborn grandchildren of the Queen. It was proposed that we should consent to the principle that a proper maintenance should be given to the children of the younger sons of the Sovereign, and that we should also make a condition that the younger sons 1281 should insure their lives in order to make an adequate provision for their children. That means, of course, that Parliament is to make adequate provision plus an amount for insurance. This claim, however, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, was not persevered in. A suggestion of a compromise was made from the Liberal side of the Committee. The Government accepted the suggestion on the ground, as was said, that there might be a moral unanimity, and the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt) at once stated that unanimity would not be secured by any such compromise; I suppose we were looked upon as somewhat negligeable quantities and irresponsible persons, and that without us this moral unanimity might be obtained. Practically, the Report, in its final form, amounts to this—it gives Grants to the children, it recognises the claims of the younger children of the Sovereign; at the same time it notes that Her Majesty waives those claims during her reign. Now the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) was in favour of a grant being given. The idea at first was that a quid pro quo should be secured— that the Government on their part should assent to a declaration on the part of the Committee that the younger children of the Sovereign have no sort of right to their children being provided for out of the public funds. This quid pro quo fell through, and so far as the Report goes is non-existent. Notwithstanding that the quid pro quo was not obtained, the Member for Mid Lothian is still in favour of a certain amount of money being granted to the Prince of Wales for his children. I do not complain of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman's supporters will recognise that he occupies in this matter a somewhat peculiar and exceptional position. I am inclined to think, indeed, that the country ought to be exceedingly thankful to the right hon. Gentleman. The first plan was to give £49,000 to the children of the Prince of Wales.
§ * MR. LABOUCHERE
A good deal would have come in immediately, but the ultimate sum to be given was £49,000. Thanks to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian that figure was reduced 1282 to £40,000, and again, on the right hon. Gentleman's Motion, to £36,000. The right hon. Gentleman also induced the Government to make a declaration waiving the claim of Her Majesty to any Grants during Her Majesty's reign to her grandchildren. The House may estimate that these Grants would have amounted to an annuity of about £20,000 per annum, and, therefore, although I respectfully disagree with the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian in this matter, it ought not to be forgotten that by his presence and moral ascendency he has saved the country an annuity of £33,000 per annum. Nor do I complain of the action of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley). My right hon. Friend was opposed upon principle to all Grants; but he felt himself in the Committee much like a traveller who had to traverse a road infested by brigands. He was ready to pay a certain amount of blackmail in order to secure future immunity from the attacks of these brigands. But when my right hon. Friend came to the conclusion that he did not get security for this immunity, he naturally was not prepared to pay the blackmail; therefore, I have not the slightest doubt that my right hon. Friend will vote in favour of the Amendment which I intend to move. I understand that by the decision of the Committee the Prince of Wales will be in the position of a trustee; that he will merely receive the £36,000 with one hand and pass it over to his children with the other. That is a distinction without a difference. The Prince is put in as a middleman, and to all intents and purposes the Grant is to the children of the Prince of Wales. My hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth and myself in the Committee said from the beginning that we were opposed to all further Grants to any of the grandchildren of the Queen. We were not prepared to pay any species of blackmail in order to avoid future payments. We felt that the Queen has no claim, legal or moral, direct or indirect, for coming on the taxpayer for the maintenance of her grandchildren. This view we embodied in a Report, and in moving this Amendment I practically ask the House to agree that, under no circumstances, ought any fur- 1283 ther Grants to be given to any junior members of the Royal Family. With regard to the Civil List, in Clause 6 of the Report of the Committee the word "surrender" is used, because in the Committee we got into a discussion as to the arrangement or bargain by which Her Majesty surrendered her life interest in the Crown Lands against the specific amount of the Civil List. I and my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth absolutely and totally deny that Her Majesty has any sort of title whatever to the Crown Lands, except any such title as can be found to have been slipped in by the draftsman in two Bills—the first of King William IV. and the first of the Queen. We have been told that these Crown Lands were surrendered against the Civil List. As a matter of fact, if it be true that they were surrendered, and if there was any title to surrender, not only were they surrendered, but a large amount of hereditary revenue also. When the Civil List Act of William and Mary was passed the Resolution set forth:—As a just sense of acknowledgment of what great things His Majesty has done for this kingdom a sum not exceeding £700,000 be granted to His Majesty during his life for the support of the Civil List.There was no claim to Crown Lands or hereditary revenues, and no sort of surrender. There was no statement of claim, and no surrender in the Civil List Acts of Queen Anne, George I., or George II. The first time it occurred was in the Civil List Act of George III., and then only in the Preamble. In the Act of George IV. it occurred again in the Preamble; and then, from the fact of the draftsman not having been well looked after, a sort of surrender was slipped into the body of the Act of William IV. and into the Act of the first of Her Majesty. As to the £700,000 to William and Mary, the Civil List Act was not then, as we now understand it, for the maintenance alone of the dignity and honour of the Crown and of the Household of Her Majesty, but for the civil government of the country; and that is why it was so much more than Her Majesty at present receives. Lord Brougham, speaking in the House of Lords in 1837, with all the authority of an ex-Lord Chancellor and an eminent lawyer, said, on the Civil List Act of Her Majesty: — 1284I should like to see the man amongst your I Lordships, whether on the Ministerial or Opposition Benches, gifted with the confidence which must be exhibited by him who would affirm that the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster are private and personal property, and not public funds, vested in the Crown alone, and held as public property for the benefit of the State and as a parcel of the national domains. These revenues are just as much private property bestowed on former Monarchs for public purposes as the sum we are now adding to them.But I have always thought that the question whether these Crown Lands and Hereditary Revenues were surrendered or not is, comparatively speaking, unimportant; because when Her Majesty came to the Throne, and when the Committee considered what amount it was desirable to settle on Her Majesty, they did not for one moment take into account what were the annual proceeds of the Crown Lands, or what were the Hereditary Revenues; there was no balancing one against the other; they took the bills of William IV., and tried to find out what was sufficient for the maintenance of the honour and dignity of the Crown, and the maintenance of the Household, and that sum they voted. As a matter of fact, the sum they voted was very greatly in excess of the Crown Lands at that time. The Crown Lands have increased since then; but even now, if we are to talk about a bargain, the best thing we could possibly do in the future would be to make no bargain, but to say to the Crown, take the Crown Lands, including the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, maintain the honour and dignity of the Crown, maintain the household, maintain the Royal family, pay for the Civil Government of the country, and free us from any obligation.
§ * MR. LABOUCHERE
The noble Lord says we should make worse of it. That observation obliges me to go into figures. The Crown Lands we may take at £400,000 a year; the Duchy of Lancaster produces £30,000, the Duchy of Cornwall £60,000, making a total of £510,000 per annum. Then we pay £385,000 a year to Her Majesty, £60,000 to the Prince and Princess of Wales, £82,000 to the junior members of the Royal Family, and we are going to pay an additional £36,000. We also 1285 pay £20,000 a year to the family of the late Duke of Cambridge. Those sums alone come to more than £510,000 a year, without alluding to the cost of the Civil Government.
LORD E. CHUECHILL
Does the hon. Gentleman allow for what I may call the unearned increment of the Crown Lands?
* MR. LABOUOHEBE
I am so stupid that I cannot quite follow the noble Lord. At any rate, I think the bargain would be a good one. The noble Lord and I, however, cannot settle the question. Up to the reign of George III. Parliament did not vote a single shilling to either children or grandchildren of the Monarch. A lump sum was given to the Monarch for the maintenance of his family and his household and the civil government of the country. If the Monarch found that sum too small, he asked for more. There were frequent applications for more during the reigns of George I. and George II The ground always was that the Crown was already in debt, and that the amount granted was not sufficient to enable him to maintain the honour and dignity of the Crown and the civil government and his family. It was perfectly true that Grants were made, not only to the children, but also to the grandchildren of George III.; but I do not look with any particular respect to the reign of George III. In the Appendices of the Report of the Committee it is stated that a Duke of Mecklenburg Strelitz—I confess I never heard of him until his name appeared in the Report —received an annuity because he was a nephew of the wife of George III.; therefore if we are to go back upon precedents, I would ask the House to bear in mind this remarkable precedent. When some dirty job in the past was to be done, the practice generally was to throw the cost on Ireland, and accordingly in this instance to Ireland was allotted the honour of supplying this gentleman with an annuity because he happened to be a nephew of Queen Caroline. I ask my hon. Friends from Ireland to note the fact that they had the pleasure, during the reign of George III and long afterwards, of paying an annuity from Irish funds to this person because he happened to be the nephew of Queen Caroline. On Her Majesty's succession to 1286 the Throne a Select Committee was appointed to look into the whole question of the Civil List. It took the bills of William IV., in order to form an estitimate of what ought to be allowed. It did not consider for one moment what was the amount of the Hereditary Revenues of the Crown or what was the income of the Crown Lands, and a Bill was prepared on the Report of this Committee. I would also remind the House of this fact —that this Bill was brought in by the Liberals as the Liberals were in power. The Conservatives are not in the habit of asking for economies in these matters. I think we should have had a better Bill if the Conservatives had been in; they would, perhaps, have proposed a larger amount than £385,000; but the Liberals would have performed their proper function of cutting down considerably the amounts agreed to in the Bill. Now the Bill divides the amount of £385,000 into six classes. We will put aside one class, that of pensions, because that has nothing really to do with the matter. I put it then that, practically, there are five classes. Now I contend, and I always have contended, that, if there is an excess in one of these classes and no deficit in another of the classes, then at the end of the year the excess ought to remain undrawn in the Treasury. The Treasury, however, has taken an entirely opposite view: it has held that whenever there is an excess in any one Department that excess should go into Her Majesty's Privy Purse, which means, to all intents and purposes, her banking account. Let me read the clause in the Act which deals with this matter—Provided always and be it enacted, That if any saving or surplus shall arise in any Quarter in respect of any Money appropriated for defraying the Charges of any particular Class, so as that the sum appropriated thereto shall he more than sufficient for the full and complete Payment of the Charges to the Account and Credit and be applied for the Purposes of the Class in which it shall have arisen, until the Thirty-first day of December in every Year; and whenever any such Saving or Surplus remaining at the end of the Year shall have arisen in any of the Classes of the Civil List, then it shall he lawful for the Lord High Treasurer, or Commissioners of the Treasury for the Time being, or any Three or more of them, to direct the same 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 1287 List Revenues, in such Manner as may, under the Circumstances, appear to be most expedient.Surely if it had been intended that the excess, if any, should go into the Privy Purse the clause would have said so in specific terms. I am not complaining of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury acting contrary to my view, because it has been done since the commencement of the reign. If the House will again look at the Civil List they will find that Articles 2 and 3 really cover the salaries and expenses of the Household, and all the expenditure necessary for the honour and dignity of the Throne. Besides this, Class 4 provides £13,200 per annum for any charities Her Majesty may consider it her duty to grant. Further, there is an unappropriated balance of £8,040 in case anything more should be wanted. Let it also be remembered that whereas in former reigns the Sovereigns maintained palaces, yachts, and gardens, the nation under the present arrangement takes over the maintenance of palaces and gardens, and the building and maintenance of yachts. When all this had been arranged, £60,000 was granted to the Privy Purse, and in addition for Her Majesty's private uses the Duchy of Lancaster was left to her, which then produced £12,000 per annum. Consequently it was deemed at that time by those who framed and passed the Civil List that for Her Majesty's private uses £72,000 per annum was amply and fully sufficient. But at present the revenues from the Duchy of Lancaster amount to £50,000 per annum, and therefore Her Majesty's free personal revenue amounts now to £110,000. That is not all. Her Majesty has received during her reign from unexpended balances £824,000 of Classes 2–3, which is at the rate of £16,000 per annum, and we may presume that this is still being paid over to the Privy Purse. All this—what shall I call it?—pia money, received from the Privy Purse, the Duchy of Lancaster, and the unexpended balances, amounts to £126,000 per annum. But that is not all. It is admitted, I think, that there have been considerable savings, and we may reasonably suppose a considerable amount is invested in interest bearing 1288 investments. It was suggested in the Committee—and I may refer to this as no answer was given me on the point by the right hon. Gentleman—that in all probability, in addition to what savings Her'Majesty may now have, she has given large sums out of parental affection to her children. We are asked to provide for her grandchildren, but if her children have received, in addition to the Grants we have made them, large sums from the savings of the Privy Purse, we shall be paying twice over. The present position of Her Majesty is this. She receives, as I have said, for her Privy expenditure this £126,000, besides interest on any existing savings; it is admitted that she does not expend the amount of the income of her Privy Purse and the Duchy of Lancaster, and she has an income which amounts in excess of her requirements. Besides, she has large invested properties, owing to the fact that the amounts placed at her disposal by the House have been in excess of her requirements in previous years, and she is the possessor of Balmoral, Osborne, and Claremont, which are exceedingly valuable estates, and which might on her demise be sold for the benefit of her children, or grandchildren. We also know that, as a matter of fact, she does live in comparative retirement. I am not complaining of it. We also are aware that all the children of Her Majesty have been amply provided for, and that therefore there is no necessity of saving for them. From the facts, therefore, before us, and without prying into this and that private expenditure of Her Majesty, I assert that no necessity has been made out for an additional grant of annuities to Her Majesty's grandchildren. It is admitted that the income voted by Parliament to Her Majesty, together with what she derives from the Duchy of Lancaster, actually and positively leaves a handsome margin, out of which the grandchildren might be provided for. Where is the money Her Majesty has put by to go to? Of course it will go to her grandchildren in the natural course of things, and it will go to them in excess of any amounts which they may derive from their parents, owing to the handsome annuities we have given them, which enable the parents either to accumulate savings, or to make provision for their children by insuring their lives. But 1289 Ministers, I gather, hold that it is not necessary to prove necessity; that there exists an obligation. How do they prove it? Does the right hon. Gentleman show us a specific contract? No. Where is the bond? It is non-existent. The right hon. Gentleman proves the obligation in an indirect fashion. He says there were precedents in the reign of George III. for the grandchildren being provided for, and also one precedent of the grandchildren of George III. being provided for in the present reign, and that no notice has been given by resolution or by the Minister of the Crown to Her Majesty that those precedents would not be maintained. How could such a resolution be given? We are a practical body of men, and we know something of what takes place in this House. Can anybody imagine a Minister coming down to the House and of his own free motion proposing such a resolution? If any Minister had proposed making any declaration on the subject when there was no occasion for it, would not his colleagues have told him to leave the matter alone? No Minister of the Crown in his senses would think of courting discussion on the Civil List by any abstract resolution of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman read several passages from the speeches of Ministers when proposing Royal Grants, but I could see no specific declaration in them that the grandchildren of Her Majesty were to be provided for. Though it is true that there has been no specific declaration that grandchildren shall not be provided for, there has, on the other hand, been no declaration in the present reign that they shall, and in the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who has proposed more Royal Grants than any other Minister, there is no trace of any direct or indirect declaration that- in any way it was intended to give a grant to the children of Her Majesty's children. But if the thing is to be determined by precedent, then we must take the precedents of the reigns of the four Georges. All these Monarchs outran the constable, and asked Parliament to pay their debts. Parliament invariably did so, and if the precedents hold good in regard to Her Majesty's grandchildren, they should 1290 also be followed in case of debts. If the right hon. Gentleman came down to the House and said Her Majesty had incurred a vast number of debts, we should, on this doctrine of precedent, be bound to pay them, because there were precedents that we had paid the debts of former Sovereigns, and her Majesty has not been fixed with notice that such precedent would not be followed in her own case. If it be said that Her Majesty is not obliged to save for her family because she was not fixed with notice to do so, the practical answer is that Her Majesty has saved, that Her Majesty has recognised her obligation as head of the family and has acted upon it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has used the extraordinary argument that it would be ungracious to refuse what is asked, because Her Majesty has waived her claim to any provision for the children of her younger children; but Her Majesty did not at first do this. Her Majesty at first asked for provision to be made for the children of the sons, undertaking that, if the State did make that provision, she would take upon herself the provision for the children of her daughters. Be there a claim or not, I maintain that no claim ought to be made for any of her grandchildren, because there are in existence the means of providing for them, and if further means were to be provided, the country would be paying twice over. But I go further, and affirm that the extreme limit of our obligation is to provide for the children of the Sovereign; and a little reflection will show the necessity for such a limit. George III. had 13 children, and if each of his children had had as many, it is an interesting little sum to ascertain the number of descendants that would have to be provided for now. I am told that in Persia the number of relatives of the Shah of Persia provided for by the State amounts to 40,000, notwithstanding the peculiar means at the disposal of the Monarch to prevent his family increasing too much. There must be some limit, and I contend for the line of limit being drawn at the children of the Sovereign, for myself I would not vote in favour of even the younger children of the Sovereign being provided for, and I have opposed two or three Grants made by former Parliaments to younger children of the Sovereign, 1291 to whom we have paid in hard cash something like £180,000, in addition to annuities. As to the children of the Heir to the Throne, while I contend that the Sovereign and head of the Family has sufficient means to provide for them, I further contend that the Prince and Princess of Wales can provide for them. The Prince and Princess of Wales have £50,000 a year charged on the Consolidated Fund. In 1863 the Revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall amounted to £46,000 a year, they now amount to £61,900; and from these two sources, therefore, the income of the Prince and Princess is £112,000. Besides this the Prince receives £1,500 from a sinecure as the colonel of some regiment. When the Prince came of age he had about £600,000 of accumulations from the Revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall. It is true Sandringham was bought out of this money; hut I do not suppose it was all absorbed. Besides that there are a great number of palaces spread all over the country and maintained by the nation; and any of these not actually occupied by Her Majesty would have been at the disposal of the Prince of Wales. Therefore the country ought not to be called upon to pay additional money because the Prince and his advisers chose to buy an estate in Norfolk. Some people talk in a grand sort of way about money. I have never had the spending of £110,000, but I should think that a good deal of spending was to be got out of it. I should say that with that income the Prince of Wales could maintain the state and dignity of a great nobleman and at the same time provide for his children. Remember he has a town house kept up for him, and he pays no rent for his country house. The country would be astonished if the children of a nobleman went about saying their father had only £110,000 a year and consequently could not afford to give them any money. It is urged that the Prince of Wales fulfils many functions that would ordinarily be discharged by the Sovereign; but that is a family arrangement, and only affects the distribution of existing funds, the Civil List having been based on the assumption that these functions would be discharged by Her Majesty. It must be remembered that the Revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster have increased £38,000 a 1292 year, and Lord Melbourne must have contemplated that increase as a provision for contingencies when the Civil List was fixed. The revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall have also increased by £15,000 a year since the income of the Prince and Princess of Wales was fixed at £50,000. Lord Palmerston estimated the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall at £60,000, although up to then they had not averaged £40,000. His doing so was equivalent to saying that the children of the Prince and Princess were to be provided for out of them. The Resolution I submit goes beyond mere refusal, which might be ungracious, for it indicates sources from which money may be obtained, should there be any necessity, which assert there is not, for additional sums to be provided. The Committee of 1837 reported upon the salaries which had been paid to officers of State during the reign of William IV., and certain changes and reductions were made. Now, without the passing of a Bill, further reductions could be made if the intention of Her Majesty to make them provoked no protest from the House of Commons. In Class II. there are a number of salaries that might be saved; they are paid mainly to noblemen who are "removables." We can imagine the number of letters received by a Prime Minister on his accession to office from needy and greedy noblemen asking for one or other of these salaries. These salaries are thrown amongst the Peers like a fox among a pack of hounds; they scramble for them, and practically do nothing for them. They are, I believe, in addition to the salaries, allowed to have a Royal carriage, with men in red standing at their back. I have not the slightest objection to that, so long as we are not called upon to pay more money for Her Majesty's children, because she has to pay these noblemen salaries, riding about in a carriage with a man in red livery on the box. Let us look at the list. The Lord Chamberlain has £2,000, the Lord Steward £2,000, the Master of the Horse £2,500—why should there be this difference?—and the Master of the Buckhounds £1,700; while eight Lords-in-Waiting divide £5,616. These Lords-in-Waiting are not wanted at 1293 Balmoral or Osborne, and only one or two of them are required to attend when the Queen is at Windsor. The House, therefore, can realise how exceedingly little the Queen gets out of this £5,616. Then there are eight Grooms-in-Waiting—I do not know what they do—at £2,685, and besides these, there are four Equerries at £3,000 per annum. Altogether these sums made up a total of £19,501. Now I would sweep all this away. In the times of the German Empire there were electors of the Empire who fulfilled these sort of functions. They were not paid, but they were proud of being Chamberlains and Cupbearers, and I am sure that, such is the loyalty of the nobility to the Sovereign, many of our noblemen would be proud to fill, and would glory in filling, these offices without salary. But if there is any difficulty in getting noblemen, we could easily get gentlemen who would be willing to do it. For instance, there is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) That right hon. Member has told us that ho has joined the gentlemen of England, and if no nobleman can be found to fulfil these functions gratis, this new recruit to the gentleman of England would, no doubt, be perfectly willing to don the livery and fulfil the duties attached to it I will now take other illustrations from Class 2. There is a Gentleman-at-Arms at £1,200 per annum. He is not a soldier, but a nobleman and an amateur; he commands the Gentlemen-at-Arms, who only go out on official occasions, and who receive £5,139. As if that were not enough, the Yeomen received £7,100 per annum. In addition to this, we have a pack of hounds, kept to run after a tame stag, costing about £15,000 per annum, and a nobleman receives £1,700 per annum for being the master of these dogs. Looking down the list I also find the Ranger of Windsor Castle £500, and the Governor of Windsor Castle £1,293 per annum. And who are the occupants of these sinecures? They are two German Princelets. I have also suggested in my Amendment that further retrenchment might be made without inconveniencing the Sovereign. The basis of the present estimate of expenditure is the expenditure under 1294 King William IV., and we have in one of the appendices the amount of the household bills of King William IV. during his six years' reign. During those six years liveries cost £36,799; carriages, £20,508; horses, £26,000; hunt bills, £27,273; sundry and other expenses, £26,000. Obviously, there must have been a good deal of waste. Anyhow, it is clear that all this is not necessary. I also find in the Lord Steward's department, butter, bacon, cheese, and eggs are put down at £26,000; milk and cream, £8,875; poultry, £18,158; fruit and confectionery, £8,693; washing table linen, £17,400; fish, £9,496. [Ministerial cries of "Oh, oh."] Hon. Members opposite seem to imply that that has nothing to do with the question. ["Hear, hear."] I am not prying into Her Majesty's private affairs, but I have put down an Amendment which I am submitting to the House, to the effect that retrenchments may be made that will cover any additional charges falling upon Her Majesty. I must ask hon. Gentlemen opposite not to come here with all that abundant ignorance which they show on these questions. These matters were not placed before the present Select Committee, but a Committee in 1837 reported on these facts, and these facts were given in their Report. There is no prying in the matter—they are open to all who like to read them. The next items are—liqueurs, £9,583; ale and beer, £14,623; and wine, £35,888. I merely quote these things to show what was the basis of the Civil List, and I say there must be enormous waste if these articles at present cost so much money. Their cost has gone down since 1837 by 50 per cent. The right hon. Member for the Sleaford Division (Mr. Chaplin) will bear me out when I say that, owing to the appreciation of gold, a sovereign now goes one-and-a-half times as far as it used to go. Lord Brougham, in his protest which was placed on the minutes of the House of Lords when the Civil List was passed, said that the Civil List was framed on a fallacious assumption that the habits of society would remain fixed and unchanged. I contend that the habits and opinions of society have changed. Education has increased, and in proportion as education does 1295 increase, all the tinsel and gilding of Royalty is regarded by the people with increased contempt, and as a relic and survival of savagedom. Loyalty amongst reasonable men is nothing but a decent respect for the living symbol and emblem of the laws which they themselves have made. True loyalty is not promoted by maintaining a quantity of noblemen at high salaries, or by spending £36,000 on the gilt of servants' coats, or by keeping up a pack of buckhounds and paying a nobleman £1,700 to galop after them. I recognise the obligations that we are under to maintain the total amount of the Civil List as it now stands. I have no wish to disturb it. I consider we are bound absolutely during the lifetime of the Queen to pay £385,000 per annum to Her Majesty, together with the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster. But when we are asked to increase the burdens on the taxpayer for the benefit of the Royal Family, it is only reasonable that we should see whether there is not a margin already existing on the amount we give to the Head of the Family; and if there is not, whether we cannot relieve Her Majesty of any of those obligations which may be properly done away with without any interference with the honour and dignity of the Crown or with the comfort of the Queen. I regret that I am not able to give a favourable reply to the Message of Her Majesty. I have always greatly admired Her Majesty. I shall not be accused of flattery to Royalty when I say I respect the present Sovereign, both on account of her personal qualities and of the good example she has set throughout her reign, and because she is the best Constitutional Sovereign who has ever sat either on the Throne of England or of that of any other Kingdom. I regret also to find myself on this matter in opposition to the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. The Tory Press, simply because there is some difference of opinion amongst us on this question, asserts that the Liberal Party is utterly rent in pieces. I suspect the wish is father to the thought. We know that we have a majority in the country. [Ministerial laughter.] Well, I had hoped that the recent election at Marylebone had opened the eyes of Gentlemen opposite to the state of public opinion. We 1296 know that we have a majority in the country, if hon. Gentlemen opposite do not know it. We know, too, that we are in a minority in this House, but we know also that we are a united minority. On all the great issues that are likely to be decided at the next General Election the Liberal Party is one, because we have purged our ranks of waverers and weak-kneed adherents. Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not understand that Liberals always differ on minor matters. But we are always able to reconcile those differences on minor matters with unity of action on matters of vital importance. We are a disciplined army of free men. We are not slaves; we are not sheep to be driven into a pen by a sheep-dog without a bleat. We claim a right to bleat, but when it is a question of replacing the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench in the posts now occupied by Her Majesty's Ministers, let not hon. Gentleman opposite lay the flattering unction to their souls that there will be any sort of dislocation or of vital disagreement on our side of the House. We are not so ungrateful and silly as to throw off our allegiance to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, because we happen to differ from him on the important—but in comparison with other great questions the unimportant—question of whether the Prince of Wales is to receive £30,000 or £40,000 more per annum. We recognize the right hon. Gentleman's great services and are proud of being led by him. We mean to have him as a Leader as long as he will lead us, and we feel perfectly certain that with him at our head we shall march to assured victory. I have felt it to be my duty to make these observations out of kindness to hon. Gentlemen opposite, because I do not wish them to fall into a fool's paradise. With regard to the Motion before the House, I greatly regret that I am obliged to oppose the Gracious Message of the Sovereign. No complaint can be made against me or my hon. Friends for doing so, because we have heretofore opposed Grants to children of the Sovereign, and it would be ridiculous after having done so to allow Grants to grandchildren to pass without opposition. I only ask those to vote for my Amendment who agree with me in thinking that enough has 1297 already been given to Her Majesty's family, and who are clearly and deliberately determined, so far as concerns their votes, not to give one farthing more either for the younger grandchildren of the Sovereign or for the children of the Prince of Wales. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words—
An humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, respectfully setting forth that, in the opinion of this House, the funds now at the disposal of Her Majesty and of the other Members of her family are adequate, without further demands upon the taxpayers, to enable suitable provision to be made for Her Majesty's grandchildren, and that such provision might, if it be desired, be increased, with the approval of Her Majesty, by the withdrawal of many salaries in Glass 2 of the Civil List, and by other economies in Glasses 2 and 3, and this without trenching upon the honour and dignity of the Crown, and without inconvenience to Her Majesty," —(Mr. Labouchere,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ * MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
I wish I could share the hopeful views expressed by my hon. Friend as to the union of the Liberal Party. I am not without some fear, however, that the result of these Debates may be to create if not a difference here, at any rate such a difference in the country as may grievously affect that union which he seems so much to desire. The Resolution which I have to second is couched in terms of Parliamentary mildness, but so far as I am concerned, and I think so far as many Gentlemen on this side are concerned, it signifies not only strenuous, but sustained opposition to any further Royal Grants. The proposition we make is that already the Grants bestowed are sufficient and more than sufficient for the object in view. We are placing ourselves in antagonism to, or rather in competition with, two other proposals which have been made, the one by Ministers and the other by the Committee. The proposal of the Ministers is contained in the Appendices to the Report, but already it is as dead as George I.; it cannot be resuscitated; it only remains embalmed in the appendices as an illustration of how far 1298 Ministers may go in their complacence to Royalty and their neglectfulness of the people. Of the Resolution or proposal of the Committee it is not, I suppose, competent for me to speak in detail now, inasmuch as when we get into Committee the details of it will be before us. But, Sir, I may be permitted to make this remark that the original proposal which was brought down to the House was a proposal, as we understood it, for £18,000 per annum, and £18,000 only. The first result of the Committee meeting has been to double the sum which it was proposed we should give. I would much have preferred that there should be no Committee, and that we should have been content with the original Message, hopefully trusting that if we had only been committed to £18,000 a year, a less complacent Parliament than this would have prevented any increase. I think I may venture to make another remark. The Committee's report largely deals with precedent. I confess that I have not the slighest regard for precedent as precedent, and I am mainly concerned in finding out whether a thing is right and just and fair. I have noticed since I came to this House that if a precedent suits a Minister, when making any proposal, he thinks it is confirmation as strong as Holy Writ, but that if a precedent does not suit him he puts it aside as of little importance. Personally, I regard things as good or bad in themselves. As to the precedents, the First Lord of the Treasury placed before us, I say with "Portia" in the Merchant of Venice.It must not be'Twill be recorded for a precedent;And many an error, by the same example,Will rush into the State: it cannot be.We, in this quarter of the House, felt, when the Committee was appointed, that it was appointed to achieve one particular object. We see how admirably it has fulfilled the purpose of its being. It was the product, if I may say so without offence, not of one but of two old Parliamentary hands, and, being so, effected the result as we see it. Again, we have heard that in this Committee there have been all sorts of considerations about finality, and I confess that as soon as the Resolution proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Northhampton (Mr. Labouchere) was defeated 1299 my interest in the proceedings of the Committee entirely passed away. The conclusion was arrived at that there should be a Grant, and we who hold that there should be no Grant naturally ceased to take interest in the proceedings of' the Committee. We are well aware the Committee has reported in favour of a Grant. We are well aware that this House is going to register the decision of the Committee [Ministerial cheers]. Yes, but from the House of Lords we venture to appeal to the country at large, being perfectly sure that the opinion of the public—I do not speak of the workmen merely, nor do I speak of the fashionable people of the West End, but of the great intermediate body of the people, the shopkeepers, the hard working men who toil at desks, the merchants, the middle classes of the country; all classes of sober and decent people—will appose any addition to the Royal Grants. I will make a confession to hon. Gentlemen opposite. One of them said to me yesterday, "How strange it is that you should have so much objection to so small a matter; you-must admit that to a nation like this, £18,000 or £36,000 a year out of an expenditure of £80,000,000 or £90,000,000 is a small matter." I admit frankly it is an extremely small matter in itself. I have seen how in this House we have voted away six, and ten, and twenty millions sterling, and neither here nor in the country has much notice been taken of the matter. Every now and then we see ironclads which cost a million sterling lost, some think through the incompetence of some of the people concerned and very little-is said of the matter, and yet I assert, and I think hon. Gentlemen will find it to be the case, that over the country at large there is an intense feeling against so comparatively trifling; a question as this £36,000 a year. [MR. SYDNEYGEDGE: No!] An hon. Member says "No!" and I do not know who it is, or what constituency he represents; but I challenge him to go down to his constituency, and I will go with him to any public meeting. [Cries of "Stockport!"]. Yes, to Stockport of all places I am willing to go. I challenge him to call a public meeting in Stockport where all the town can go ["Not a ticket meeting"]—no, not a ticket meeting, but an open meeting, and I will go there, 1300 and he and I shall be alone together [laughter]; he and I will stand on the platform together—he with his greater age, larger experience, and probably greater ability—against me alone—one speech against one speech—and then we will take a vote, and he will find what Stockport thinks. I will tell the House very briefly how it comes that persons like myself, and persons who think with me, feel such an intense objection, I had almost said hatred, to an extension of these Royal Grants. But will you allow me, first of all, to clear out of the way one or two imputations constantly made against us in this part of the House?, The right hon Gentleman referred to loyalty and said he hoped the House would show itself loyal. Does he really believe that because Members of this House object to these Grants, they are, therefore, disloyal? A Minister or a Member of Parliament or an ordinary person who speaks the truth to the King is probably much more faithful and loyal a subject than courtiers willing to fawn and flatter or a Minister ready to carry out any of his behests. I have heard Republicanism mentioned. Well, Republicans there are, and in this House, too; I am not sure that there are not Republicans on that Bench. Republicans there are in the country not a few; but does anyone believe that Republicans, who honestly hold their opinions, are men without sense and reason? Do they think that there are men in this country who hold that, a Republic is necessarily good because it is a Republic, or that a Monarchy cannot be made for all practical purposes—useful and advantageous—provided its abuses are abolished? Republicans may honestly hold their convictions, and still hold that, given an ancient and well-ordered State with Monarchical institutions, the trouble, cost, and possibly bloodshed of making a change would never be compensated for by any advantages that may accrue; and, therefore, though I should never be ashamed to avow any convictions I possess, I stand here as a practical English politician, loyal to the law and to the Chief of the State who represents the law, and I will not have it charged against me without protest that when I object to an additional Grant to Her Majesty or Her Majesty's Family, I can only be supposed 1301 to do so because I am disloyal. Then it has been charged against some of us that we common persons object to this Royal arrangement, because we are full of envy at the Royal Family occupying the position they do. An imputation like that is rather worthy of an insane asylum than of the House of Commons. Why should men be envious of Royal persons? We feel that, apart from all distinctions of Tank, "A man's a man for a' that." We think that an English gentleman is the equal of all the Kings and Lords in the world; we think, also, that there is no particular objection to these relics of the past remaining a little longer on the earth if it is convenient to the majority. We recognise their position, but we think that above rank is character and manhood. Then it has been said that this opposition of ours is, in some degree, mean and shabby. Holding the views I do, I for one hold that kingly state, where it exists, should be maintained with suitable dignity, and even splendour. When a King was King in ancient days, bravest in war and wisest in peace, he was accounted first amongst his people, and that he should then have the best things his people could give him was well and proper. Now, a King is merely a Constitutional symbol; but even a Constitutional symbol should be properly decked; and therefore I have never been unwilling that as long as it pleases the English people to have a Head of the State who is Royal, so long should they give to that Royal person a competent, detent, and honourable support. It is not, therefore, shabbiness which leads us to object to this proposed Grant, but our allegation is that already there is sufficient granted by the State for the purpose. Lord Brougham, in discussing the proposal for a similar Grant in 1837, said—It is absolutely necessary to know how much the Sovereign has independently of our gift. The measure of our gift is to be the necessities of the Crown. The question being how much should be added to the Royal income, in order to make the sum total as much as is required, we are desired to answer that question without being told what the income is which is to be increased.Lord Brougham here puts the case thus—that before you give more to the Crown Parliament had a right to ask what was the present revenue of the Crown. We 1302 have asked that same question this afternoon. The Report of the Committee and the Appendix presented to us, interesting as it is, is most misleading in some particulars. It purports to set out for the benefit of the House and the country the savings of Her Majesty. But when challenged by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs, although the right hon. Gentleman said that £824,000 had been saved from the Civil List, he added that that sum did not represent all the savings of Her Majesty, but that Her Majesty had ether and very considerable savings.
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
I did not say anything of the sort. I said that I declined to say whether the savings made over to the Privy Purse were either more or less than the sum mentioned.
* MR. STOEEY
I will take the answer of the right hon. Gentleman and deal with it from my own point of view. But putting these savings at £824,000, are they Her Majesty's or are they ours? I think myself that if it had been known every time that an application was made by Her Majesty for the support of her children that year by year she had received and accumulated savings from the Civil List, that would have been considered an important element in the matter. But owing to the way in which the Civil List account has been treated, not presented to the House of Commons or audited to show the balance, as other accounts are, the House of Commons has not until now learnt that large sums have been annually saved. I ask, then, the country and the House to consider whether these savings are the Queen's or ours? And I put the question for this reason: I have heard of the compact between the Crown and country as to the Civil List, and I have taken the trouble to read the Act of Parliament, which orders that £385,000 should be paid to an account, under the control of the Lords of the Treasury, year by year and quarter by quarter; and as sums are needed for specific purposes, they are to paid by them as Trustees of the fund. They are to pay quarter by quarter the necessary amount, and if in any single class there has been a deficiency and in others a surplus, the surplus at the end of the year may go to make up for the deficiency. There the orders, of the Act of Parliament stop. There is no order, there is no power 1303 conferred on the Trustees to pay out any surplus that remains to Her Majesty's private purse. My hon. Friend said that ever since the Civil List was passed the view had always been taken that this money belonged to the Queen. But at page 41 of the Appendix to the Report he will find this curious fact—that although in the first year, when all things were in disorder and the Queen had just come to the Throne, all the money was paid out; yet in 1838, the savings in Class 6—the unappropriated class—were £5,894 9s. 11d. That exact sum was paid into a reserve account not given to the Queen at all, but put into a reserve fund and retained by the Lords of the Treasury. Next year a further sum was saved (£4,055 19s. 4d.) in the same class, and that exact sum was similarly paid into a reserve fund at the Treasury. So that in two years the sums unappropriated and not spent were kept by the Lords of the Treasury as a reserve fund. Next year, very curiously, the accounts for the year 1841 are not forthcoming, and no details for that year can be given. It was in that year, I believe, that a stronger and more capable financial hand was laid on the affairs of the Queen, and under the manipulation of that stronger financial genius it was discovered, and Ministers gave way to the supposition that this surplus should not be carried forward and held as a reserve fund, but be handed over to the private purse of the Queen. Never since 1841, when the accounts were lost, has the exact sum saved on Class 6 been paid into the reserve fund, although for several years sums were so paid. What I assert is that the reserve fund was meant by Ministers, until the Prince Consort appeared on the scene, to be a fund to which all the savings of the Civil List were to be paid at the Treasury to provide for such future contingencies as the Sovereign getting into debt, or having children to provide for. If these savings had, as I contend they should have been, been paid into the Treasury, we should have had to-day an accumulated fund of nearly £400,000, which would have amply sufficed to provide for any children or grandchildren of the Crown. The right hon. Gentleman, being asked whether these are all the savings 1304 of the Crow n, replied very curtly for him, "I decline to say whether the Queen has more savings, or less than £800,000." Well, but I venture to say that he is bound to inform the House of the whole facts of the case when we are asked to make this Grant. He and his friends shelter themselves under the plea that they are the servants of the Crown. They are the servants of the people first. If I may put it bluntly, it is the people who pay their salaries, who give them the votes and put them in the positions they hold; and it is therefore quite improper that when we ask,' in the very language of Lord Brougham 50 years ago, as to the present position of the Crown, we should be met curtly by the statement that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us nothing of the kind. Then we must assume it. He cannot prevent people both inside and outside of this House from assuming it, and, happily, we are not without information as to the position of the Crown. My hon. Friend said that the Queen had Balmoral and Osborne and Claremont. Well, but there are persons who know that Her Majesty has much more private property than this. I am, myself, one who hold with the Constitutional Whigs of the Revolution that no greater mistake was ever made than in passing the Act which enables the Crown to hold private property. The Whigs of the Revolution knew that Sovereigns have spent large fortunes in bribery and corruption. They, therefore, declared that the Sovereign should be dependent upon Parliament and the country. In an evil moment the measure was passed enabling the Crown to acquire and bequeath private property. I deplore it. I do not know that much harm has been done under the present Sovereign, but I can conceive a state of things in the future under which a rich King may corrupt public opinion by his riches, and thus buy the liberties of his country when he cannot attempt by force of arms to overcome them. Therefore I object entirely to the Crown having any private funds at all. The Queen has private funds, and, Sir, I propose to ask in the most polite fashion in the world, but still with the absolute determination to ask the question and to get an answer if I can, whether the present position of Her Majesty is not as 1305 follows: that she has at the present moment saved and invested upwards of three million sterling. ["Oh!"] The hon. Member gives one of those peculiar laughs of derision which seek to hide facts. But I do not ask for derision, but for an answer. I assert that the Queen has at the present moment three millions at least saved. ["No."] If that is so, let the right hon. Gentleman say so.
§ * MR. STOREY
Then I will give the figures upon which I found my statement. The Queen has got £824,000 out of the Civil List. She received £60,000 out of the Duchy of Cornwall before the Prince of Wales came of age. Does anyone mean to tell me that the £824,000 saved in sums of from £10,000 to £20,000 over fifty years is only £824,000 at this moment? Does the right hon. Gentleman think we are absolutely so ignorant of interest and compound interest and of investments as to suppose that the £824,000 so obtained is only £824,000 now? A glance at page 41 will show the House that more than 30 years ago the Queen had then received between £250,000 and £300,000 of this money. That money has been in her possession for 30 years or more. Does anyone suppose that it has not increased? I have had an actuarial computation made, and I find that at the least this sum of £820,000 in reasonably careful hands, such as we know it has been in, would amount to £1,500,000 at the present time. Then we know that the Queen was fortunate enough to receive a large fortune, singularly infelicitously bequeathed by a gentleman who, I think, might have found a great many persons who needed it more if they did not more deserve it. The Queen has also the accumulations of the late Prince Consort during the 20 years that he was receiving £30,000 a year. If it is distasteful to any Member of the House that I should mention these matters, I have only to say that if the right hon. Gentleman had come to the House, had frankly taken us into his confidence, and had told us roughly what the Queen has, I should have thought it as no longer any part of my duty to be captious or critical, but would have accepted his statement cheerfully. But my duty to 1306 my constituents [Laughter]—yes, and I recognise that duty—would prevent ma from accepting statements—I do not say it offensively to the right hon. Gentleman—which I know, as a matter of fact, are misleading and entirely inadequate. Now, is not the present position of Her Majesty's income this—Her Majesty receives £60,000 from the Privy Purse? Sir, the common people of the country do not understand what that means. If, however, I put it in this way, the people will understand it. The £60,000 is what, in common homes, is called the pocket-money of the matron of the house. Well, but Her Majesty also gets for her beef, for her butchers' bills, and grocers' bills, and other things which are ordinary Household supplies, no less than £172,000 a year. This in common homes is what might be called house-money. Well, over and above that Her Majesty has servants of all kind, who cost £131,000 a year. In common homes, again, housewives know what the servants cost. But over and above this Her Majesty's sons and daughters and relatives receive £158,000 a year. Still more, Her Majesty has houses for which she pays no rent, and the repairs of which the State provides to the tune last year of £86,000. Her Majesty has yachts, also, which cost the State a sum which I shall understate if I put as £20,000 a year. Now, put all these things together—that her houses are found for her, her yachts, her butchers' bills and bakers' bills, and all the needs of her Household—down to the blacking brushes and dusting cloths—are paid for by the State. I do not use these words offensively; I hope it will not be supposed I do. My only object is an attempt to show how every expense of the Household is provided by the State. That being so, I ask whether the Queen does not saveupon the £60,000 of pin-money, out of the Privy purse? What can she do with it if she does not save it? We provide everything. She has this £60,000 and the £50,000from the Duchy of Lancaster and the amount of her savings; and I will venture to tell the House that Her Majesty's net income, with her houses and the whole of her expenses provided, is an income of very nearly a quarter of a million sterling per year. Now, is it a fact that the Queen, having this quarter 1307 of a million of revenue, comes to us and asks for a few thousand pounds to support her grandson. Then there is the Prince of Wales. What are you to say of his position? He has £110,000 a year; he has the interest on the savings which were accumulated for him in his infancy; he has the remuneration of his position in the Army. He does not pay for his own house in London, the State does, and also for the repairs of it. Altogether the Prince of Wales has at the present time an income which cannot be put at less than £135,000 a year. And this is the position of affairs—that the Queen, who has a quarter of a million of net revenue after her household expenses are paid, and the Prince, who has an aggregate income of £135,000 a year, come to us and tell us—a Parliament not merely representing the rich, but largely the poor—that neither the one nor the other nor the two combined can undertake to support their grandchildren, but they must depend upon the loyalty of their faithful subjects. Sir, my loyalty is not of that kind. If by any chance I had been an Adviser of the Crown, I should have said to the Crown "It would be better and juster that you should, in some degree, pinch; that you should have to strain matters if you were put to it, and support the young people yourselves rather than come to a Parliament representing a people thousands and tens of thousands of whom are in penury, and millions of whom from time to time find it hard to get a living." And if I had to speak to the Prince of Wales—I never did— but, if I had to speak to him, I should venture to give to him this counsel. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke the other night, our own Leader, reminded us that, although the Grants to the present Royal Family were large, they were not so large as the Grants of a century ago. Sir, that does not weigh with me. He also reminded us that the cost of living at the present time is greater than it used to be. Sir, that weighs less with me; for precedents of the past in this matter I care nothing. The obsequious Acts of the Parliaments of the last century, full of placemen and of pension hunters, have no authority for me; and when the right hon. Gentleman tells me that 1308 the cost of living has increased, I admit that the canker worm of extravagance, the precursor of decay and ruin of nations, has eaten deeply into London Society; and if I could speak to the Prince of Wales, I should say:—It would better become you by an honourable simplicity of life to attempt to discourage luxury than by asking for further Grants from the State to undertake a race of competitive extravagance with the plutocrats and aristocrats of the time. Sir, I promised I would tell the House how it was that I feel so keenly upon this matter; I said I would endeavour also to display how it was that the public at large think more of this £30,000 a year than they do of 10 millions that you vote away for war. I will now endeavour to state to the House how it is. It is because of the disparities that we observe between your treatment of one class of persons and of another. Now, I hold in my hand the Civil List pensions. We generously permit Her Majesty to spend £1,200 a year, which we provide for the purpose of benefiting poor persons connected with literature, science, &c. I hold in my hand now the List for this year, and what do I find? I find here the names of 10 ladies, and each of them has written against her name that she is in a destitute condition, that her father, or her brother, or her husband, has done some distinguished service to the State, and that she herself is in a destitute condition. Sir, that is the only condition upon which I should grant the pensions and gifts of the State to anyone—distress and desert. What about these ladies? How much do you give them? Of everyone it is said that her family has done some good service for the State, and that she is unfortunate. And a grateful State confers upon them pensions of £20, £50, and £75 a year. Here is one case and "in consideration of the services rendered in the course of science by her late husband, and her inadequate means of support," you can only find for her £100 a year. But for a lady who is going to marry a man with £70,000 a year you can find, simply because she is the granddaughter of the Queen, £3,000, £4,000, or £5,000 a year. It is these considerations that strike the common 1309 people keenly. Let mo give another instance which I came across in Hampshire the other day. I was travelling in the country and I came upon a man who had served the State as a gunner. He was engaged in firing a salute in honour of some Royal personage—an entirely useless and unnecessary and wasteful proceeding—when, owing to some accident, he was blown up. One moment he was at the gun, the next moment he was on the ground a mangled and bleeding man. Most men would have died, but he had a strong constitution and survived. He came home. He had served his country for 10 years; he had been of unimpeachable character; he bad been stricken down while doing his duty. He had one eye only and no arms; he was not able to feed himself or to put on his clothes; he is attended by a faithful wife. What did the country give him? It gives him 3s. 6d. a day—2s. 4d. a day a pension which was granted, and 1s. 3d. or 1s. 2d., which was improperly taken from Greenwich Hospital Funds, out of money contributed by the Mercantile Marine, and given to this poor fellow in Her Majesty's Navy. 3s. 6d. per day, and when it was represented that at his death his wife would be left without support, and it was suggested that continuance should be made to her, the reply to the appeal was extreme regret that there were no funds at disposal for any such purpose. Yes, Sir; for these sons and daughters of literature, and science, and song, for veterans who suffer and bleed, are these miserable pittances, but to the sons and daughters of titled luxury there may be applied the Gospel phrase, "To them that have shall be given, and they shall have abundantly." These enormous disparities shook the minds of the common people of this country. They think it nothing less than shameful, and from my place here I, too, call it shameful and infamous, that those who are poor and needy should be left to perish, while we lavish thousands on these titled persons unnecessarily. Keenly I feel these things. I have sat in this House for eight or nine years, and have myself had occasion to make some trifling application for the poor, and invariably I have been met by some glib official, not necessarily Tory—Tory or Liberal, it is much the 1310 same, for when a Liberal becomes an official, he is another stamp of man—some glib official blandly tell me that he deeply regrets there is no money to be found for the purpose. Well, I ask the House—I do not expect all to agree with me—but I appeal to thoughtful men of the Radical Party—is it not wrong, is it not improper, that until you have used all means to help these poor and needy ones that have a claim upon us, you should give thousands and tens of thousands to persons who already have more than enough? These are moral considerations that influence me strongly against these payments. I have never said one word, and do not say one word, derogatory to Her Majesty, who in her personal character and Constitutional action is equal, if not superior, to any of her predecessors in England. Bear witness to the fact that when Her Majesty stayed in seclusion it was not by Radicals and Liberals that fault was found with her; it was in fashionable circles and among the shopkeepers who fatten on the follies and extravagance of the upper classes that the propriety of Her Majesty's conduct was called in question. But the great body of the sober opinion of the country sympath and with Her Majesty's loss, and were content that she should remain in retirement. We have never said anything derogatory to the Queen or the Prince of Wales. We respect their position, and are content so long as the majority of the people desire to keep them there. We do not bestow lip loyalty; we will not support the Prince of Wales or the Queen when we think them wrong; we will speak the truth to them, and that is what we are endeavouring to do this afternoon. Frankly, I say-that, in my judgment, the means at the disposal of the Queen and the Prince of Wales are ample, and that no further demand can reasonably be made upon the taxpayers of this country. In every legitimate way I shall oppose the proposal of the Government, and endeavour so to educate public opinion that if the Grant is obtained it will be the last Royal Grant that will be asked from the Parliament of England.
§ MR. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
My hon. Friend the senior Member for Northampton, who has moved the Amendment, found it 1311 necessary for his purpose—and I own it appeared to me that the nature of his argument required it—to occupy a very considerable portion of the time of the House. My hon. Friend who seconded the Amendment has also entered at great length into this subject; but I will offer the House at least this consolation—that I do not think there is any call upon me, or that there would be any justification for me, to follow either of those examples. But there is one portion of the speech of my hon. Friend the seconder of the Amendment on which I think I ought to say a word. For a very considerable part of that speech—the whole of the latter part —he has been drawing a contrast, which I should say is highly ad invidiam, between the miserable pittances, or at all events the very small amounts, which are accorded to the needy in humbler circumstances and stations of life, and that expenditure of thousands which is familiar, free, and unbounded in other regions of society. I shall never attempt—my own firm convictions would prevent me from endeavouring— to insinuate that contrasts of that kind do not raise the most serious questions. The seconder of the Amendment says that he stands upon moral considerations. These are moral considerations, and moral considerations of a deep and most important character; but in my opinion they are not so much applicable to the question that we are discussing to-day as they are to the general state of things in a society where enormous wealth exists, where luxury prevails, where vast classes of men, many of those probably sitting in this House, freely spend upon those objects of luxury and upon the real or supposed necessities of their stations those enormous sums which undoubtedly stand in the most painful contrast with what the State can do—I will go further and say with what the State ought to do—with respect to its numerous and humble dependents. But is it fair to turn the whole strength of this contrast upon the Royal Family? The Royal Family have large incomes—you may say they have enormous incomes—and so have other men. The difference, the broad difference, between the Royal Family and the other men of gigantic wealth in this country is mainly this— that the wealth of the Royal Family is in large measure associated with, and 1312 even tied down to, the discharge of public duty, whereas the wealthy men of the country are under practically no responsibility, except the responsibility to their own consciences; and I own I think it is hard, not that these contrasts should be drawn—in our own minds and consciences we cannot draw them too much or too stringently—but that they should be drawn for the purpose of turning the whole public feeling on the subject against a Grant to the Royal Family. I have said these words because I think in justice they are required. I do not suppose that members of Royal families are patterns of what I may call Christian economy; but I want to know how many amongst us can pretend to offer such patterns to the world? How many of the wealthy are there whose expenditure would bear the microscopic examination which we are now invited to apply exclusively to Royalty, whose incomes at least, as I have said, stand in some palpable, some intelligible, some permanent relation to the discharge of public duties, aye, and to public expenditure, less connected, perhaps, with that which immediately falls under the name of moral duties, but still expenditure in which the people at large feel a deep interest, the presence of which they view with satisfaction, and the absence of which they would view with regret? My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment has referred, in terms of which I certainly have no reason to complain, to the substantial differences in the Party on this side of the House, or rather, I may say, among the Parties on this side of the House—for we are happy enough to have three of them—on this subject. I shall not follow him far into that discussion. I can only say I do not believe I shall excite any adverse comments on the other side of the House if I, like him, take a cheerful view of the operations of these differences upon our political relations. We are not so young in politics, in Liberal politics, and we are not so entirely unaware of the freedom of the action of public or private opinion which politics require, as to be alarmed in respect to our great and broad public principles and in respect to the large issues which are at present before the country, because there are undoubtedly on this question considerable divergencies of opinion among the members of 1313 the Liberal Party. I thank my hon. Friend for what he was good enough to say as to the allowance he would make for me as standing in a peculiar position; but at the same time I am bound to say that I do not deny that there is a certain peculiarity of position in one who has had to give responsible judgments upon questions of this class for a period of between 40 and 50 years, for it is 46 years since as a Member of the Cabinet I was first a party to a demand upon Parliament for a Royal Grant. I do not myself perceive that there is anything in the peculiarity of my position which should render my conclusion a conclusion fit to be rejected by reasonable men. I certainly should argue this question upon grounds which appear to me at least to be broad and general. It is for the House and the public to judge, no doubt, whether these grounds are sound or not. They will not require me to enter largely upon the time of the House. I will at once direct myself to the issues that are fairly raised by my hon. Friend. He promised to avoid invidious topics, and I may say he has, upon the whole, in the course of his ingenious and able statement been successful, because every one will admit that the allusion to Ministers who might demand a Royal Grant on this or any future occasion as brigands was entirely a just, a fair, and a moderate use of language.
§ * MR. LABOUCHERE
I did not say that. I was referring to what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
Then I am relieved of any further responsibility of dealing with that point, and I will go straight to the issues raised by the Amendment. They are these. In the first place, that Her Majesty and the other members of her family are possessed of a sufficiency of means to avoid application to Parliament; and, in the second place, that large economies might take place if further funds are needed for the purpose of Royal endowment. I will first say a few words upon the subject of economy, and I beg the House to bear in mind that while it is difficult, as I believe, for a great nobleman of this country—I take a man than whose name none is more honoured, though I differed from him in political opinion, I take the late Duke of Buccleuch—it is 1314 extremely difficult for such a man, especially, as in the case of the late Duke, if he gives much time and care and thought to his public engagements, to enforce in his great establishments real economy and thrift. Sir, it is ten times more difficult for a Sovereign. I will go further, and say it is almost impossible, unless the Sovereign be strongly backed by the action of the Government and unless the Government be strongly backed by the action of the House of Commons. I am sanguine enough to believe with my hon. Friend that there is great room for economy. I, however, must say, and here I fall back on the seconder of the Motion, that I am averse to all economy which would not only affect the dignity, but which would impair the splendour of the Court. In a society constituted as this society is, the Court ought to be a splendid Court; and not only so, but I will go further, and say that a Court amply provided, but not extravagantly provided with means, worked in a genial spirit, and conforming to a high moral standard, is one of the most powerful, one of the most inestimable agencies which, in a country like this, you can bring to bear upon the tone of society, and by means of which you can raise the standard of conduct from class to class throughout the kingdom. I believe, with my hon. Friend, that there is great room for economy, but the difference between us probably would be this—that I estimate the difficulty of enforcing that economy as very great. I do not doubt that you might, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, pick out some salary here and there where reductions might be made. You might be fortunate enough in particular cases—such as political cases, for instance—to get rid of the embarrassing considerations of vested interests. But I own I have very great doubts indeed whether my hon. Friend has estimated aright the complicated nature of the process that would have to be instituted, the firmness that it would require, the time that it would demand, the strength of influence and the weight of authority which must be at its back in order to make it effectual; and I am by no means certain, Sir, that a very small, shallow, and, partial attempt at thrift in the Royal Household—I mean in the form of the public relations of the Sovereign with Parlia- 1315 ment and the country—I am by no means certain that it would be well to attempt such small, partial, and shallow reforms in the Civil List and in the Royal Household, and the whole of the interests connected with them, unless at the very best opportunity. I have very great doubts—I speak simply as a private individual, for it would be most presumptuous for me to speak for anybody else, and most of all even to conjecture what may be the views of Her Majesty—but I own it dwells in my own mind that it is extremely doubtful whether there can be that thorough reconsideration which, in the whole of its most complicated anatomy, the question of regal expenditure demands, except in connection with the settlement of a new Civil List. I own that if it be Her Majesty's impression, of which I have no knowledge whatever, that at an advanced period of life it is doubtful whether it would be wise or fit to attempt to initiate a scheme of that kind, I can not only sympathise with the feeling, but I am not at all indisposed to believe that the judgment formed is a sound judgment. Although I believe that great fruits will be reaped from a bold and systematic prosecution of this subject at the right time, I am by no means clear that that time has actually at this moment arrived. So much with regard to that subject, but there is what I hold to be the main question raised by my hon. Friend. By his Motion he considers that there are sufficient means in the hands of Her Majesty and of the other members of her Family. I do not quite know what interpretation I am to give to the phrase "other members of her Family." The only one who I suppose can possibly be in the view of my hon. Friend besides the Prince of Wales is the Duke of Edinburgh. But it is quite evident that the Duke of Edinburgh does not enter into this question at all, for it will be seen from the earlier form of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government that no claim can at any time be made on his part upon the public in reference to a Royal marriage. Consequently, I shall assume that the persons indicated here by my hon. Friend are Her Majesty and the Prince of Wales. Now, let us consider the case of Her Majesty and of the Prince of Wales. My hon. Friend who has seconded this Motion has shown himself to be possessed of a lively imagi- 1316 nation. He deals in millions, of the existence of which, in an available or a profitable form, I believe no other human being is cognizant. Further, he has shown to his own satisfaction that the private income, or what he calls the pin- money of Her Majesty, amounts to the sum of a quarter of a million a year.
§ * MR. STOREY
I did not say that at all. I said that this sum was £60,000 a year, and that she had in addition, apart from what poor people would call house money, other accumulated sums and interest from the Duchy, which make altogether the sum of a quarter of a million a year.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I think my hon. Friend spoke of what he termed the clear net income of Her Majesty, after all purposes which are commonly comprised in necessary expenditure, such as dwellings, servants, and provisions, have been amply provided for, and that sum he conceives to amount to a quarter of a million per annum. Now, Sir, my estimate of this rather important question is that if he had said half that amount he would have been very much nearer indeed to the mark, and I am sorry that a phrase like that of pin-money should have been introduced. I do not think my hon. Friend can have appreciated equitably the position of the Sovereign in such a matter. Take the system, for instance, of pensions. I will venture to say that there is no establishment in the country in which the system of pensioning is practised as it is in the establishment of the Sovereign, and that not altogether from pure benevolence or choice, but from necessity growing out of the peculiarities of the Royal position, which peculiarities you must take into view if you want to arrive at any sound conclusion. I will not enter now into the details of the subject, but all I will say is this—that what we may call the free income of Her Majesty is subject to a number of calls to which you would find it difficult to discover anything fairly analagous in the expenditure of private persons. I am not here to maintain that Her Majesty has not free available means which seem to be destined by nature, by propriety, and by Her Majesty's own most gracious considerate and prudent choice to the endowment of her family. Her Majesty has been blessed with a very numerous 1317 posterity. Under the circumstances that are now before us the proposal is that of no part of that posterity shall we hear in the second generation except the children of the Prince of Wales. That appears to me to be a most important item to take into our view. I feel no hesitation whatever in accepting the considerate offer of Her Majesty. I do not agree with those portions of the Report of the Committee which would rather, I think, lead to the inference that there was some duty incumbent upon Parliament which Parliament was unwilling to perform. I make no such admission. In my opinion Parliament has always in this matter been very liberal and loyal, and, notwithstanding any little indications of diverging opinions, such I heartily hope and believe it will still continue to be. Her Majesty has been pleased to mention one great item which ought probably to be called the principal item—the large increase that has taken place since the opening of the reign in the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster. I feel that nothing can be more just and legitimate than that Her Majesty's generosity should, with these means in her possession, offer to take upon herself the charge of her grandchildren, and nothing can be more fair or more compatible with our duty, as well to our constituencies as to the Crown, than that we should accept the offer. It is a very serious one. It involves a very large expenditure. I think the seconder of the Amendment stated that the sum of £300,000 or £400,000 would be an ample sum for all the Queen's grandchildren. I must own that, although £300,000, or £400,000 may sound a very large sum of money, I do not admit that it is an adequate sum to make provision—respectable, creditable, honourable, and moderate provision for so numerous a body as, happily, the Queen's grandchildren have now come to be. It is not denied by those who oppose the Amendment that Her Majesty has available means. Her Majesty has made an offer. We propose to act on that offer, and to give to Parliament an exemption from the possibility of proposals for the maintenance of the members of the various branches of the Royal Family. The acceptance of this offer on our part will impose upon Her Majesty a very heavy burden, greatly 1318 exceeding the sum which the hon. Member has mentioned, and may possibly require much prudence, thrift, and forethought on the part of Her Majesty to enable her to bear it without disparagement to all her other Royal duties. Well, Sir, that being the case, I ask myself again whether my hon. Friend really has met the case in his contention that the Prince of Wales ought to be provided with funds to enable him to undertake the care of his children. I presume he would not push that doctrine so far as to make it embrace all the liabilities and expenses that might arise in the event of the Prince's accession to the Throne. The question is whether for the period while the Prince of Wales remains Prince of Wales, it is fair or rational to expect that he should take upon himself the maintenance of his children as they grow up, as they depart from under his roof, as they become the heads of separate establishments, or as they enter into families where, if the families are rich, still, being the grandchildren of the Queen and daughters of the Heir Apparent, they ought not in my judgment to enter absolutely penniless, but if they are poor should have provided for them a moderate income by the State, which would, perhaps, form a very considerable part of their whole available means. My hon. Friend says that the revenue of the Duchy of Cornwall was only £46,000 in 1863 and is now £61,000. Yes, Sir; but my hon. Friend has been favoured by fortune in this respect. It is true it was only £46,000 in 1863, but it was £52,000 in 1862, and £50,000 in the year 1864. It rose regularly and rapidly until it had passed the figure of £60,000 in 1869, and since 1869 there are, I think, only two or three exceptional years in which it has fallen below £60,000. I must point out to my hon. Friend what really took place on that occasion. It is my duty to speak of it, because at the time Lord Palmerston made a proposal in Parliament I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and of course it was my duty to make an estimate of the Prince's revenue. And what did we do? We were, of course, perfectly aware that at the moment the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall were under £60,000. But we stated them at £60,000. Why? Because we were providing for a period 1319 that was likely to be one of considerable length. At the time of the Prince's marriage the Queen herself had hardly entered middle age, and there was every prospect of a lengthened as well as a happy reign. In these circumstances we gave that estimate of the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall which would be a fair and moderate estimate as applied to the general state of the Prince's fortune during the time that he might be expected to continue Duke of Cornwall. It appears to me that was the proper course, and it is undoubtedly the truth that if we had been compelled to estimate the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall at £46,000, which was the revenue of that particular year, we should have been obliged to ask for a larger payment on behalf of the Prince out of the Consolidated Fund. Sir, on the whole that estimate of £60,000 a year has proved to be a remarkably accurate one; a little, but a very little, under the mark; and in these circumstances the point is this—diversely from the case of Her Majesty, who is receiving considerable revenues from the Duchy of Lancaster, which were not in immediate contemplation at the commencement of the reign, the Prince of Wales is receiving almost exactly—at present there is a small tendency to diminish—the very sum which was held out by Parliament as necessary for the maintenance of his dignity as Heir Apparent of this country. Well, Sir, the revenues of the Prince of Wales have remained, I may say, constant, and have corresponded in a remarkable degree with the estimate then made. It will be admitted that circumstances have tended somewhat to throw upon the Prince of Wales an amount of public duty in connection with institutions as well as with ceremonials which was larger than could reasonably have been expected, and in regard to which every call has been honourably and devotedly met from a sense of that public duty. My hon. Friend will see that the argument in the case of the Duchy of Lancaster has no application whatever to the case of the Prince of Wales. But he compares the income of the Prince of Wales with that of a private gentleman. I must say I deprecate that comparison if it is attempted to push it to any degree. The Prince of Wales with £110,000 a year has not 1320 got the same command over the expenditure of that money or the saving of that money as a duke or any inferior personage in society with a corresponding income. That must be borne in mind if you are to deal justly and fairly with a case of this kind. My hon. Friend, however, says that the Prince of Wales had £600,000 in his hands when provision was made for him by Parliament at that time. Sir, that is perfectly true; it is also true that a very large portion of that sum, I think between £200,000 and £300,000, was; laid out in the acquisition of Sandringham. Was not that a 0becoming acquisition? It appears to me it was perfectly becoming, and I am not sure that I might not go a little further, and say it was almost necessary that the Heir Apparent of this country, in the circumstances in which he stood, with no sort of prospect of an early accession to the Throne, should have a place in the country according to the habits of the people of this country, where he could exercise hospitality, where he might follow rural pursuits, and where he might acquire and cherish a love of home and conform to that truly British standard to which we all like to see our Sovereign and Royal personages conform. Let me call the attention of my hon. Friend to a point he has not taken in view. It is true, he said, that the Sovereign of this country has, as she ought to have, great and noble palaces maintained for her use. It is also true that these palaces are splendidly furnished, and that every appliance of life exists in them in abundance, almost in a condition of redundance. But the condition of the Prince of Wales is a totally different one. He had no such succession. I believe it would be correct to say that when the Prince of Wales had provision made for him by Parliament he was scarcely the owner of a silver spoon.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
He had Marlborough House, no doubt. It was provided for him; but I am not aware that it was furnished. If I remember right, it was a question of the walls of Marl borough House and the maintenance of the fabric. Everything else had to be provided by the Prince. Therefore, my hon. Friend will see that very little 1321 was to be expected from the source to which he alluded. Now, Sir, my hon. Friend who seconded the Motion quoted from Lord Brougham what I may call ail excellent expression—that the measure of the gifts of Parliament ought to be the necessities of the Crown, and, of course, by analogy that applies to the case of the Prince of Wales. It seems to me that is a very sound doctrine. I do not admit any liability of Parliament, apart from the necessities of the Crown, estimated honourably, liberally, and with a due reference to what this country is and what the Sovereign of this country ought to be. I admit no other claim whatever; but I say, on that claim, in my opinion, Her Majesty now graciously offers to assume a heavy burden upon herself, which is as much as we can reasonably ask. And with respect to the Prince of Wales, he has fulfilled the contract, so far as there was a contract—he has fulfilled the expectations which Parliament was entitled to form with respect to his income and expenditure; and it would not be rational on our part to suppose it was possible for him to produce a sum of many thousands a year for the free and separate maintenance of his children. I think, therefore, that as to economy it is a most fruitful and most important subject, and I trust it will receive, whenever the proper time arrives—now it may be—due consideration. It may be right that the preparation of a new Civil List should be anticipated, so far as all these inquiries are concerned. It is a most important subject. But you cannot make it available for the present juncture to any serious extent. With respect even to the possession of funds, I think I have shown that there are none upon which we can attempt to throw the entire burden of what is now demanded from us. Well now. Sir, let me ask the House for one moment before I sit down just to consider how this question stands as a whole. My hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment spoke of it as a question—I do not remember the exact words—which has been reduced within secondary dimensions. Happily, Sir, it has been reduced within secondary dimensions; but there are many stages in a great process, beginning from the reign of George III. Even the reign of George IV., as compared with that of 1322 George III., marks a certain commencement of the action of public opinion, and of an improved handling of this most important subject, in respect of the means to be placed at the disposal of the Sovereign. The reign of William IV. made another and greater advance. The reign of Her Majesty at the commencement again placed Parliament in a much more forward condition, and that one point, the greatest of all, was attained—that Parliament should not be subject from time to time to those most objectionable applications for the discharge of Royal debts. Well, Sir, how do we now stand? Is there no further progress made in the matter as it now comes before us? I do not say we are now going to do everything that is desirable to be done. Very far from it; and even the Report of the Committee, with some points of which I do not agree, contains most important references to this subject of a future juncture. Let us see how we stand. In the first place, I think it will be admitted that the Prince of Wales, and Her Majesty on behalf of the Prince of Wales, have not been precipitate in making this application. The period of coming of age has generally been marked in the case of a Prince as the period for making an application to Parliament. But Prince Albert Victor is, I think, 24 years of age, and his younger brother has likewise for some time been of age. But that is not the only point. In my opinion, the question of the grandchildren of the reigning Sovereign, other than the children of the Heir Apparent, is settled—I think for all time—I admit not by a formal withdrawal. But the right hon. Gentleman has a right to state that, and those who object to his course have a right to urge it against him. I do not enter into that controversy; but I give a most confident opinion, founded upon such observation of public affairs as has ever been within my power, that this claim has as completely disappeared from the region of what may be termed practical politics as if it had been withdrawn by a deed upon parchment, regularly stamped and sealed. Well, Sir, what remains? What remains is that we have to consider the case of the children of the Heir Apparent. The Heir Apparent, as I say, had not the power of producing £30,000 or £20,000 a year for the 1323 purpose of maintaining his children when the day of need arose. But in making provision for them Parliament will be asked to adopt the plan which absolutely secures us during the remainder of this reign from any renewal of these very painful controversies. I think that a very great advantage gained for us and for the public—I will not say for the stability of the Throne, for happily that stability is beyond the reach of the breezes or the gales of opinion which may be set in motion on these particular occasions. But the extinction of the possibility of the renewal of these controversies for the remainder of the reign is another great step in the right direction. Let me do right hon. Gentlemen opposite justice, although I am not wholly satisfied with all parts of the Report. I hope the House will observe the important words in the paragraph last but one. This is the paragraph which contains the practical proposal:—In order to prevent repeated applications to Parliament and to establish the principle that the provision for children should hereafter be made out of Grants adequate for that purpose which have been assigned to their parents.These are not mere words. They are primarily the basis on which the proposal is founded, and what is now asked oh the one hand undeniably secures us from controversy during the remainder of the reign, and on the other hand as undeniably points to the construction of a new Civil List as the occasion when the whole question must be settled in principle and in practice, and likewise indicates that mode of settlement which my hon. Friend, I think, will be the first to recognize as sound and just. I thought it my duty to enter at once into this Debate. Undoubtedly I admit that on every occasion our highest obligation as the Commons of England is to the constituencies which we represent. But I am not ready to adopt the exclusive doctrine of the Seconder of the Motion that we are the servants of (he people, and the servants of the people alone.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I am very glad that I misunderstood my hon. Friend. We are servants of the Crown as well as servants of the people. Having, 1324 as I hope, done my duty to the people, I have been endeavouring, so far as I could, to contribute towards casting this delicate question into a form which in a very short time is, I believe, likely to be perfectly satisfactory. Having done that, I am not ashamed to say that in my old age I rejoice in any opportunity which enables me to testify that, whatever may be thought of my opinions, whatever may be thought of my proposals in general politics, I do not forget the service which I have borne for so many years to the illustrious representative of the British Monarchy.
MR. ILLINGWOETH (Bradford W.)
Although I can take no large exception to the course which the right hon. Gentleman has followed in the Committee upstairs, in his speech tonight, or in the course he has indicated, it is my intention to vote with the hon. Member for Northampton. Session after Session, for the last two or three years, we have asked that a Committee should be conceded which should take into consideration and settle this important matter beforehand. My complaint is that in the propositions laid before the Committee Her Majesty's Government seem to regard themselves as the obsequious servants of the Crown, and to have forgotten their duty to the House of Commons and the people. I do not deny that the duties which the Prince of Wales has been called upon to perform have been admirably discharged, nor do I say that his income is too great for his position. But after making these admissions, I do not think it absolutely necessary that the House of Commons should be asked for an increased grant at this time. My answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is that the income of the Prince of Wales is sufficient to enable him to satisfy any claims which his family have upon him for the present. If Her Majesty delegates to the Prince of Wales a considerable share of her duties, which involve not only personal inconvenience but large pecuniary demands, it may reasonably be expected that she will take care that he does not suffer. The Civil List of the Queen, the large increase of income from the Duchy of Lancaster, and the income from her savings, are amply sufficient, not only for her dignity, but for the duties which the 1325 Prince of Wales has to discharge for her. The people are not to be regarded as serfs in the land of their birth. They have power in their hands, and they ought to consider themselves as a Republic in the form, of a limited Monarchy. In my opinion, it is necessary to ascertain the strength of the votes in this House, and if they are in a minority, at any rate I believe they represent the opinion of a large body of the people out of doors, if not the majority. I am prepared to say that we shall be doing a great service, at this moment, if we ascertain the strength of the feeling of the people in favour of economy in high places. I hope the result will be, whenever Her Majesty's Ministers have again to take into consideration the Civil List, that it will be understood that the desires of the people will not be met unless the Civil List, plus the incomes of the two Duchies, shall be put at a limit which Parliament recognizes as necessary for the maintenance of the Crown. Her Majesty's Government referred to the question of precedents. They wanted to verify their position by what took place in the reign of George III., finding those precedents to a certain extent serviceable. But it is a paramount duty of Her Majesty's Government that they should have regard for the altered circumstances of the time; and I think they should have studied the question from the point of view of the people, and voluntarily have prepared such proposals as would have saved both the Committee, the House, and the country the painful ordeal through which they are now passing. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) urged a very fair comparison between the man of vast private income and Her Majesty on the Throne and the Prince of Wales. We are all aware of the fact. But Her Majesty's Ministers should bear in mind those who have received political power. Whatever arises, the blame must entirely rest with Her Majesty's Government for not having appreciated the position. The Government have been obliged to abandon their position; but if they had been allowed to have their mind and way, the present position of the people of this country would have been altogether disregarded. While the income of Her Majesty is larger than at any previous period of Her Majesty's reign, 1326 no one can doubt that the purchasing power of the Sovereign is increased by 25 per cent. That actually augments Her Majesty's income, and increases her power to provide for members of her family. I do not press this: only when every small item has been taken into account on the one side, I think we are entitled to look to the other side of the account. Those who are identified with the popular policy of this country do not think it is necessary for maintenance of loyalty that we should encourage an excess of the tinsel which surrounds the Court. For my part, I should say that the greater simplicity there is introduced into the daily life of our Royal Family the better it will be. On great State occasions there are necessary demands for splendour; but it should be remembered that it is the luxurious classes who encourage this splendour of the Court; and we believe that those who hold our views on this matter, for which they are reproached, are doing more for the maintenance of a limited Monarchy than those who think and act differently, by allaying the feeling which exists out of doors, and by alleviating the pressure which falls upon the people. It will be urged that this is not an expensive charge upon the people. But there are other and enormous charges which are held to be necessary, and it is our first duty to watch vigilantly any demand that is made upon the Public Exchequer, and to repel, as far as possible, unnecessary burdens upon the people. The fact that the charge of 1d. in the £1 for Royalty is very easily borne by some does not make it easier for others of the people who are poor and dependent. We shall have this subject discussed again. Differences on this side of the House are only as to the form of procedure. But we shall be found discussing this subject on a Resolution which we shall present with an unbroken front and with the whole force of those who, while they will not for one moment wish to be regarded as inferior in loyalty to the Crown, will regard it as their first duty, as Representatives in the House of Commons, to safeguard, as far as possible, the interests and position of the mass of the people.
§ * MR. DIXON-HARTLAND (Middlesex, Uxbridge)
The hon. Member who 1327 has just sat down says there is a great feeling in the country against Royal Grants. I cannot believe that statement correct for one moment. The people of this country, the loyal classes especially, know how much they owe to Her Majesty, and they know that had not Her Majesty performed her duty with Constitutional care that our prosperity would not have been so great as it is to-day. I do not believe there is a niggardly feeling among the people in dealing with the Crown. The Mover of the Amendment was most anxious to show that he was guilty of no discourtesy; but he certainly made some very discourteous remarks when he talked of blackmailing by the Ministers of the Crown for the sake of the Crown. And the Seconder of the Amendment put a most offensive question when he asked whether the savings of the Queen belonged to her or to the country. Why should not Her Majesty's savings belong to her as much as the savings of any other person? In considering this question it ought to be borne in mind that during the reigns of George I. and George II. the Civil List was £ 1,000,000 a year, and in the reigns of George III. and George IV. it was £900,000, and the debts of the latter Sovereign had more than once to be paid. In the reign of William IV. it was £510,000. At present the Civil List is fixed at £385,000, and when it was so fixed the Sovereign resigned the Crown Lands, which are now worth £396,000, so that a clear gain of £l 1,000 a year has thus been effected. It is interesting to note, in connection with this, the proportion of revenue to population. In the time of George I. the population was 9.429,000 and the revenue £13,200,000. In the time of George II. the figures were—population 10,658,000, revenue£ 16,800,000;George III., population 12,560,000, revenue £13,300,000 to £65,840,000; George IV., population 20,984,000, revenue £68,740,000; William IV, 23,918,000 population, revenue £68,740,000; while now the population is 35,241,000 and the revenue £89,802,000. The country has, therefore, advanced in wealth and in power, and it is much easier for it to bear the taxes now imposed than it was for it to bear those imposed in the reign of George III. Now, taking the same periods, we find that per head of the population the 1328 Civil List amounted successively to 2s. 1d., 1s. 10½d., Is. 5d., 10d., 5d., and now 2⅝d., or, deducting the value of the lands surrendered, 1 11/16d., which is the present amount of the taxation per head. The last Member who spoke suggested that a serious burden was thrown on a man with a large family, but even with 20 children it would not cost him 2s. a year. Now, compare our Civil List with that of foreign countries. The Civil Lists of European countries include the following, given in the order of magnitude:—Russia, £2,450,000; Austria, £775,000; Prussia, £610,965; Italy, £614,000; France, £428,880; Spain, £387,632; Saxony, £216,601; Bavaria, £282,345; Great Britain, £152,000; Belgium, £140,000; Sweden, £115,000; and Portugal, £109,000; and in the United States, although the President receives only a little over £10,000 a year, the Civil List, including the payments to Senators and Congressmen, amounts to £428,267, while the Presidential Election is estimated to cost the country £4,000,000, or at the rate of £1,000,000 a year. The proportions borne by the Civil List to the revenue range from 1–36 in Denmark, 1–41 in Russia, 1–43 in Austria, 1–48 in Bavaria, 1–67 in Greece, 1–69 in Sweden, 1–78 in Portugal, 1–88 in Spain, 1–93 in Belgium, 1–115 in Prussia, 1–123 in Italy, 1–153 in Roumania, 1–160 in Holland, 1–283 in Prance, whilst in Great Britain it is as low as 1–590. The cost per head of the population was as follows: Denmark, 8½d.; Greece, 5¾d.; Belgium, 5½d.; Portugal, 5½d.; Spain, 5 1⅓d.; Prussia, 51/16d.; Italy, 5d.; Russia, 5d.; Austria, 4⅝d.; Sweden, &c, 4¼d.; France, 3⅓d.; Holland, 3⅜d.; Roumania, 2d.; United States, 2d.; and England, 1 and 1 1/16d., to which £36,000 would make an addition of nearly ¼d. These facts speak for themselves. I should have been glad if the Government had stood to their original proposals, for the Prince of Wales extorts admiration by the assiduity with which he discharges his public duties. If it were only possible, I believe he would do five times as much work as he now does, and we know that whatever he undertakes always results in great benefit to the work or charity he is promoting. On that account I believe the Grants will be popular in the country. When the dis- 1329 sentients have put their protests on record by one Division, I trust the decision of the majority will not be challenged any further.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S. W.)
The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dixon Hartland) told the House that the lower classes, as he termed them, do not grudge the money which this House will shortly be asked to grant. I think I have at least as good a claim as the hon. Member to speak on behalf of the classes to which he referred, and I traverse his statement. I should like to escort the hon. Member to the East End of London, and, as sure as I am that he spoke with all sincerity, I am sure that at any open meeting there, whether of Liberals or Conservatives, his present ideas on this subject would be very rudely disappointed. Before I go further I should like to resent the charge of disloyalty which has been made out of doors, and, more or less, I thought, suggested by the hon. Member. Sir, if we were to say that those who are bringing forward this Motion are acting in base subserviency to the Crown we should justly incur your censure; but I think it is clear that charges of disloyalty against us are equally improper; they are as offensive as they are unparliamentary, and they are altogether irrelevant to the present discussion. But if the time should ever come when it is necessary to choose between loyalty to the Crown and loyalty to the people, there are those, I believe, in this quarter of the House who will not hesitate for a moment which side to espouse. Now, the hon. Member took exception to the question asked on this side, "Are the savings of which we have heard so much the Queen's savings or ours f" I do not think, with him, that the question is an offensive one, and I will answer it for myself by asserting that the savings are ours, that is to say they are secured by Statute to the people, and ought to have been paid into the Treasury. As this is of some importance, and as the hon. Member is evidently very ignorant on the subject—because he compared these savings to the savings, for instance, which a public official may make out of the salary which is paid to him—let me point out how completely the cases differ. The payments authorised by the Civil List Act are not absolute, 1330 that is to say they are not payable in any event. This is clearly shown by section 8, which provides that "at the beginning of each quarter the Lords of the Treasury are to direct as to each class what sum, not exceeding the statutory maximum, is to be appropriated to that class." If there are any savings, they are carried forward from quarter to quarter to the class to which they belong. In case of savings, what is provided? Why, thatIt shall be lawful for the Commissioners of the Treasury to direct the sum to be applied in aid of the charge of any other class except the fifth. …. in such manner as may under the circumstances appear to be most expedient.I ask any Member of the House, and still more any lawyer in the House, whether, upon a fair construction of those words, savings of any class can be applied to the Privy Purse except in one case? There is one case which I think would be covered by these words. Supposing that the expenses proper to the Privy Purse have been exceeded in the previous 12 months, I think the savings in other classes might be applied to defray the charges upon the Privy Purse. But that is not what has been done. A practice has grown up of putting money into the Privy Purse without any regard to the charges of the previous year upon that fund. I need hardly point out how thoroughly unconstitutional it is to place large unappropriated sums at the disposal of the Sovereign, sums of which an improper and corrupting use might, under conceivable circumstances, be made, sums which we know were used in former reigns to corrupt this House itself. The Leader of the House quoted some remarks which were made in the House by Mr. Spring Rice, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, but there was one paragraph in the speech which the right hon. Gentleman did not quote, but which I think is more relevant to the argument than the passages with which the First Lord of the Treasury favoured the House. Mr. Spring Rice, speaking about the Settlement of the Civil List, said:—As to the standard of 1792, it is impossible that that can be made applicable to the circumstances of the present day. If, however, future savings can be effected, it is just and right that they should be.So that not only have we the clear words 1331 of the Statute, but we have also the intention, expressed in equal clearness, of the Minister who was in charge of the Bill. But not only has the country failed to obtain the savings which I submit ought to have been returned into the Exchequer, but I have also to complain, not of the Crown but of the advisers of the Crown, that charges proper to the Civil List have year by year been brought into the Estimates which this House has to vote. In the Appendix to the Report of the Grants Committee there are details of the Civil List charges for the six year ending 1836, and the House will see that what I may call Household expenses are included in the Civil List under those Returns. But if any hon. Member will turn to the Estimates for the present year he will find that Household expenditure of the Crown figures there. He will find provision made for Palaces in the personal occupation of the Crown, and that for fuel, lighting, water and household articles we have already voted the sum of £1,435. That is distinctly a charge which, by the precedent the Government have themselves presented to us, ought to be defrayed out of the Civil List and not out of sums voted by the House. Now, a little while ago the House was under the spell of the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. It would be little to say that he presented the case of the Government very much better than any Member of the Government has presented it, or probably will present it. We in this quarter of the House admired as much as anyone the great ingenuity and the beautiful diction by which that extraordinary speech was distinguished, but I confess I was not convinced by the speech. What pleased me most of all was the declaration which came towards the end of the speech, that the claim on behalf of the Crown that this House should provide for its grandchildren other than the children of the Heir Apparent has disappeared, and disappeared for ever. But in the early part of the speech I thought the right hon. Gentleman was scarcely fair to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey). The right hon. Gentleman asked "Is it fair to turn the whole strength of the contrast between luxury and penury on the Royal Family?" but I would ask, in turn, whether 1332 that is quite a fair representation of the case put by my hon. Friend? My hon. Friend directed the brunt of his criticism first against the Ministry, and, secondly, against the majority in this House, and was very careful to separate from any unfavourable remark he might make the Queen and the members of the Royal Family. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian said it was not fair to compare the position of the Prince of Wales to that of a private gentleman, and I think there was considerable force in the distinction which was drawn by the right hon. Gentleman. But upon the other hand I desire to point out that when we speak about incomes a distinction upon the other side must be drawn. If you speak of a private gentleman who has an income of £110,000 you speak of his gross income from which a very considerable deduction must be made by way of outgoings to keep up his estate, from which his income is derived. But the Prince of Wales's income is a net income, and therefore I put that into the scale upon the other side as a sort of balance against the distinction which the right hon. Gentleman has made between the position of the Prince of Wales and a private gentleman. And then the right hon. Gentleman said that the Queen had to provide, owing to the circumstances of her position, pensions for old servants. But let me point out that when the Civil List was settled at the beginning of this reign one item which previous Monarchs had not enjoyed was introduced, an unappropriated item of no less than £8,000 per annum, which seems to be specially designed to meet the claims upon which the right hon. Gentleman dilated. I support the Amendment, but I should have liked the hon. Member for Northampton to have stopped somewhere about the middle of it as it appears on the Paper. For my own part, I do not very cordially go along with him through the concluding part of it. I think if you raise the question of abolishing absolutely unnecessary offices the savings you thus effect ought to come back to the Exchequer, and it is a somewhat dangerous policy to suggest that these savings should be diverted into the Privy Purse. If there was any chance of effecting a compromise with right hon. Gentlemen opposite we 1333 might fairly make it part of that compromise, but as there is no chance of that I confess I regret that the hon. Member for Northampton should have added these concluding words to his Amendment. Some objections have been taken—I do not know whether they have found expression in the House, but certainly objections have been taken out of doors—to our raising opposition at this stage of the proceedings. Well, if this were a question of haggling and chafferingbetween£36,000 and £40,000, of course this would not be the proper time to make a stand, but as we in this quarter of the House object to any further Grant at all, it seems to me we are perfectly logical and by no means wanting in due respect for the Crown in making our protest now. I gather from the report of the proceedings in Committee that we shall not receive the support of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton). I think that English Radicals, who have made great sacrifices in order to promote the cause of Home Rule, will regret that on this question, which is to them a very important, if not a vital, one, those hon. Gentlemen should have separated themselves from us. But, although we may regret it, I do not suppose we shall be very much surprised. It is not the first time that a leader of the Irish people has supported extravagant claims put forward on behalf of the British Crown. In 1840, when the proposal to grant an annuity of £50,000 to the Prince Consort was rejected by the overwhelming majority of 104, including the bulk of the Tory Party and the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, Daniel O'Connell voted with the minority. I am not surprised at this, because chivalric devotion to persons and great respect for hereditary rank have been, and still are, more powerful factors with the Irish race than they are with ourselves. I think I may point out, in conclusion, that this is another illustration of the folly of the advisers of the Crown who, through many generations, have adopted every possible means calculated to alienate a people whose national disposition would be to support the Crown even when extravagant and ill-advised claims are put forward on its behalf.
§ SIR ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL (Renfrew, W.)
I would not interpose in the Debate but that I was a Member of the Committee, and I think it is well, after having listened to the speeches in support of and against the Amendment, that attention should be called to the issue that was brought before the Committee. The issue before us was, to put it shortly, whether Grants should be made for the support of the children of the Sovereign. Well, in support of the proposition that they should, many precedents were brought forward. Hon. Members have read these precedents, and know that in every case they support that view. An attempt is now made to treat precedents lightly, but I may ask what does our law almost hang upon but precedents? If precedents are to be cast aside, what guide are we to have for our future direction? It is on precedents we direct ourselves in private and public affairs. On precedents we forecast our income; on precedents we dispose of it; and precedents clearly are in favour of these Grants, such as are now asked for in the Message of Her Majesty. The hon. Gentleman, in his Amendment, proposes that, in consequence of the amount of money Her Most Gracious Majesty is supposed to have saved, we should make no Grant, and also that, if it should be necessary, certain sums should be taken from the Civil List by Parliament. Against precedents the only reason the hon. Member can produce is that, Her Majesty having used such just economies with the sums devoted to her use, then we should back from our agreement and require Her Majesty to support her grandchildren and members of the Royal Family. So convinced was I in Committee that our course was to make these Grants, that I was quite prepared to vote for the first proposal of the Government; but the Government were so anxious to conciliate any opposition that might be offered in Committee, that they accepted the Amendment, and it was not until we found there was an irreconcileable residuum in the Committee that we felt it our duty to stand upon the knowledge given to us in the Papers put before the Committee. Here is a proposal of the hon. Member for Northampton, made at the eleventh hour, after Her Most Gracious Majesty has been for more than 50 years 1335 the Ruler of this country; after all this time—and during this time, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) has told us, he has frequently had to propose Grants for the Royal Family, and at the same time never, under any circumstances, was there a suggestion or hint that it was supposed Her Majesty should provide for her children—after all this time we are to upset the arrangement entered into with the Crown at the commencement of the reign, to break faith with Her Majesty, who on her part has kept faith with Parliament and the country in so admirable a manner that savings have accrued to her after keeping up the dignity of the Crown as no Sovereign has before. I must say the argument of the hon. Member is a very curious one. It is almost impossible—it would be most unfair—for Parliament now to go back on its word. If we turn to the second part of the hon. Member's Resolution, in which he suggests that certain economies might be effected in the Civil List, we must remember that the Civil List was fixed at the time of the accession of Her Majesty, and if Her Most Gracious Majesty had of her own accord dismissed several officers of State so provided, considerable dissatisfaction would have been expressed. It was not possible to make economies by such means, but the economies that were effected were just and honest. Are the charities of the Crown insignificant? Let hon. Members take the trouble to collect the statements of the numerous charitable institutions throughout the country where the name of Her Most Gracious Majesty heads the subscription list with a large figure. It is my belief that feelings of deep loyalty to the Crown now animating all classes have grown through the manner in which Her Majesty has maintained the dignity of her great position. I have some experience of the West of Scotland, and I can speak for the loyalty and devotion of the people there. I have great pleasure in opposing this Amendment. I believe it is not in consonance with the feelings of the people, who wish to see the Crown upheld with all possible dignity and honour, it is entirely opposed to precedent, and it is in direct violation of the compact entered into when Her Majesty began her long and prosperous reign.
§ MR. W. ABRAHAM (Glamorgan, Rhondda)
In answer to the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and who wants to know what precedents we should have for our future action if this Amendment is carried, I should like to say that if the feelings of the vast majority of the working men of the country were acted upon there would be a distinct precedent laid down that no more Grants should be made to the younger children of the Queen or to her grandchildren, and certainly not to her granddaughters. It is not because Her Majesty the Queen has been able to save that this objection to further Grants is raised, but having been able to save an enormous amount of money, she ought to provide for her family like any other noble woman. The popularity of the Prince of Wales has been spoken of, and certainly I should not like to be understood for a moment to say anything disrespectful of the Prince of my country. I hope I shall not be considered disloyal to my country or to the Queen of England. The Welsh people up to now have been considered the most law-abiding and loyal under the Crown, but the House should thoroughly understand that, while they are prepared to agree with the ample provisions already made for our gracious Queen and the Prince of Wales, they think it is quite time to stop and put an end to what may be, if this proposal of the Government is carried, a machine to go like an endless chain to provide not only for Royal grandchildren, but for the great grandchildren of the present grandchildren of the Sovereign, who may go on aggrandizing themselves to the end of the world. As I understand the case, it is this: the Government ask for £36,000 for the Prince of Wales. In my humble opinion their own Committee have failed to show that a farthing of this additional Grant is necessary. The Queen, whose purse has really been saved, and not that of the Prince of Wales, who does the work, has accumulated sums sufficient to endow 100 grandchildren, instead of five. Again, I do not wish to say a word disrespectful of the Queen. A pious and leading journal lately said Her Majesty presents a noble example of a Sovereign and a mother. But how? For over 20 years she has almost en- 1337 tirely neglected the public duties of her Royal position. [Cries of "No"] Then what is the nobility of the example as a mother? Many a poor widow toils incessantly in order to maintain her young family, denying herself perhaps rest and food, so that her children may be decently clothed, and fed, and educated, and prepared for a start in life. Such cases of devotion and self-denial are frequent among the poorer classes of society. Is not this a nobler example than that of a lady in possession of enormous wealth, and well able to support the whole of a numerous family, but who yet permits the burden of their maintenance to be thrown upon the nation? To me the question is simply this, and if I am wrong let me ask pardon. It comes to this. The Queen is the servant of the country, and we make her a large allowance for the discharge of her duties. She does not fulfil those duties. She leaves them to her son and saves an enormous amount out of her income, and then comes upon the nation for more. But since the son does the work he should have the money that the Queen gets. That is the opinion of Wales on this question. [Cries of "No"] That is the opinion of the vast majority of the working men of Wales. ["No" from Mr. KENYON.] My hon. Friend may go on saying "No" till to-morrow morning, but I say "Yes," and I have as much claim to represent the working men of Wales in this House as the hon. Member. I am told that the Prince of Wales receives an income of more than £160,000.
I am told £110,000. Very well. But that does not include the accumulations from the Duchy of Cornwall and the various sums voted for exceptional circumstances. His Royal Highness is a Field Marshal and is Honorary Colonel of several regiments. Someone has calculated that he receives in wages about £3,000 a week, a very good wage I should think. Now what is the work His Royal Highness performs in return for this ample wage? Upon that point I will quote the evidence of the Daily News. Some time ago the Daily News, a Liberal, pious, and respectable authority, said:The Prince of Wales had a hard day's work on Saturday. In the afternoon, besides holding 1338 a levee he unveiled a statue of Sir Rowland Hill at Cornhill, and in the evening he dined with the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House, and afterwards witnessed part of the performance of the Marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden.And that, then, is a hard day's work!
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I hope the hon. Gentleman will observe that tone of decorum and respect that is traditional in this House.
§ MR. ABRAHAM
Sir, I immediately bow to your decision. We are sometimes told that England is a wealthy country, and can afford this expenditure. That England is a wealthy country no one will deny, but that England can afford to do these things I absolutely deny. If this expenditure can be afforded, then these large sums of money are much more needed in other directions than in this. Whilst we find large numbers of people dying from starvation in our midst; whilst we see so many thousands of our countrymen barely able by the most arduous exertions to keep the wolf at bay; while money is wanted for the means of life among the poorer classes of the community, I say it is almost criminal extravagance to ask us to vote this large sum of money in the face of the prevailing poverty and suffering among the working classes of the country, and if it is voted I am afraid that it will be the means of estranging the people of this country from their rulers, and ultimately be the means of weakening the State in this country. That being so, I feel I should not be doing my duty if I did not rise to protest in the name of the toiling thousands of the people against any further sums being granted to the Queen, her children, or her grandchildren.
§ * SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
I do not intend to follow the hon. Member who has just sat down into those strictures upon the public or private conduct of our beloved Sovereign and other members of the Royal Family, which strictures it was perfectly obvious jarred upon the feelings of nearly every Member of the House, not only on this side but on that. I rise, Sir, mainly for the purpose of pointing out that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Pickersgill), who spoke a little earlier in the Debate, very aptly and properly indicated that the Amendment now before the House proposes 1339 alternatives, both of them very remarkable and one incompatible with the other. The hon. Member for Northampton suggests—first, virtually that these Grants should not be made at all, for he suggests the amount required should be met out of the savings of the Sovereign; and in the second place, that if it be necessary these Grants should be made, then let them be made out of savings effected by the abolition of certain offices of State. Well, for my part, I am quite prepared, in common with many Members on both sides of the House, to consider fully, carefully, and respectfully any proposals that may be put before the House for economising public money in the way suggested by the hon. Member for Northampton. But I venture to point out to him and to the House that this is absolutely an improper occasion to make any such suggestion, it is in no way germane to the question now before us. Any proposal of the kind should be raised in Committee on the Estimates, or by a substantive Motion, bnt I maintain such suggestions have nothing whatever to do with the question before the House, and for this reason: either these Grants are necessary and right for the honour and dignity of the Royal Family, and, therefore, for the honour and dignity of this Imperial nation, or they are not. If they are not necessary and right then let the House refuse them, deciding the question on its merits. But if they are necessary and right, then I say this House will merit the just reprobation of the whole nation, and especially, I will venture to say, of the working classes of the nation, if the House refuses these grants. The hon. Member for Sunderland put forward some very strong assertions with regard to what he believes to be the opinion of the working classes of England. Sir, I represent a constituency which contains an overwhelming majority of working men ["No, no!"] During the time I was a candidate I knew this very question raised at many a stormy meeting, being brought forward by gentlemen holding the views professed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sunderland. Questions were put to me on the subject, and I venture to say this in the presence of some hon. Members who have been present at the meetings of which I speak, 1340 that the strong and unmistakeable sense of the whole of the working men of London was clearly on my side when I said that I should vote to maintain these Grants. When the hon. Member talks about going into the constituencies and holding a meeting, I would challenge him to go down into North Kensington or even to the East End or any other part of London and to hold a public meeting, and put before the electors the plain question whether the honour and dignity of the Queen and Royal Family should be maintained or neglected by this House. I know what the answer would be. Therefore, I do hope that those who speak in this House for the working classes of this country will, while it is yet time, consider what the feeling of the working men of the country is in the matter of affection and love for the Queen and the Royal Family, and what is their regard for the honour and dignity of the Royal Family, and will refuse to support the Amendment now before the House.
§ MR. COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
I do not think it could be possible to put the case more clearly than it has been put by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He says that if the country could be convinced that the honour and dignity of the Crown are involved in the proposal now before the House, the country would not hesitate to support it. I do not believe, however, that the country considers that the honour and dignity of the Throne depend upon this Grant of £36,000, and that is why I am here to oppose the Grant. My firm opinion is that the country believes that we have done enough already to promote the honour and dignity of the Crown, and it is because I believe that, and not because I am disloyal, that I take up my present position. I hold that it is not germane to the proposal before the House to discuss the question as to whether we should have a Monarchy or a Republic. Personally, I have no very strong feeling one way or the other. We are all agreed that so long as we have a Monarchy it ought to be supported with dignity. We have nothing to fear from the Monarchy, as I believe that through the medium of a limited Monarchy such as ours we can work out all the reforms we require. If we were starting with a clean bill of health, so to speak—with a clean sheet 1341 of paper—I might have some observations to make as to the best form of Government to adopt; but, situated as we are, and seeing that we can work out reforms here as well as they can work them out in other countries, I am content to pass by the question of our form of government. I oppose this Grant, however, because I believe from the study I have been able to make of history that nothing is so dangerous to the Crown and the honour of the country as an attempt to push absolute power too far. We have never suffered from this evil during the present reign; but we cannot forget that Monarchies have been brought down by the undue exercise of arbitrary power, and that, in point of fact, it was the unwise exercise of such power which brought about the downfall of our own King Charles I. in the 17th century, and of King Louis XVI. of France. Nothing can be more dangerous to our Crown than these petty-fogging demands for more money—than extravagant demands by Parliament upon an already heavily burdened people. This is the danger we have to face at present, and it is an ancient danger. It was pointed out by the Seer Samuel a thousand years before Christ. Pointing out the danger of a Monarchical form of Government, he said—He will take your sons and appoint them for his chariots; he will appoint captains; make them reap his harvests; take your daughters for confectioners, cooks, and bakers; take your fields, vineyards, and olive yards and give them to his servants.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I really think the hon. Gentleman will see that he is not discussing the Report of the Committee.
§ MR. COSSHAM
I am merely pointing out, Sir, that many centuries ago we were warned of some of the extravagances which attend upon Monarchies. It is because I believe that danger to exist at the present time that I now ask the House to pause before voting this additional Grant. Looking through the Debates which have taken place on this subject, I find that in December, 1837, when the Civil List was fixed, and the sum of £385,000 a year was proposed, several hon. Members objected to the amount. I notice that Mr. Hume raised strong objections to the proposals of the Government, declaring that they were cast in a very extravagant scale, and that proposals of 1342 this kind tended to weaken the position of Royalty. Well, what would he have thought if he had known that in addition to the amount then voted £36,000 more would be asked for at this time? It is because I desire to see the Monarchy respected, and because I think that such proposals as the present tend to weaken the sentiment of respect for it, that I now put myself in opposition to the Government. I cannot help reflecting that the House of Commons has already made ample provision for the Crown. That case, it seems to me, has been made out beyond all question. There is a great part of the Grant to the Crown which does not go to the Queen, and for which she should be in no way liable. I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that a great deal of this money goes to a greedy and selfish aristocracy. I see that £200,000 a year of what is voted to the Queen, is absorbed by the aristocracy, which parasite, fixed upon Royalty, tends, in my humble judgment, more than anything in this country, to the development of Republican ideas. My own impression is that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian just now said, in language I could not profess to imitate, that the time would come when the Civil List would have to be reviewed, he pointed in his own mind, though he did not say so, to the time when that Civil List would come up for review in a Parliament less subservient to Royalty and more considerate for the public purse than the present Parliament. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke claimed to represent a large number of the poor of this country. Well, to my mind the great danger we have to face at the present moment is the great number of poor people there are around us who find it almost impossible to make a living. Depend upon it, one of the great causes of Nihilism in Russia and Socialism in Germany is the poverty of the people; and our danger is not in any desire to pull down the Throne, for that desire does not exist, but in the misery of a number of people who can hardly support themselves. When the House of Commons is voting in this way the money of the people, the feeling naturally arises that the Government exists for the benefit of the rich and not of the poor. I would close with a word of warning to Gentlemen 1343 on the other side of the House. There is a question coming to the front before long, and that is the equitable adjustment of the burdens of the people, and every vote given of this kind is bringing the time for the settlement of that question nearer. Those who are so ready to vote these sums do not bear their fair share of the national burdens, and hon. Members may depend upon it that reckless action of the kind we are now asked to take is bringing nearer the time when the demand will have to be faced that property shall bear a larger proportion of taxation than it bears at present. I regret to be obliged to go into the Lobby against the view expressed by the Member for Mid Lothian, but I shall do so because I desire to protect the interests of the poor.
§ * SIR W. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N. W.)
I should like to say a few words on this very important question. I was certainly surprised to hear the remarks which have just fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, because he declared that he is not convinced by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. I do not think he can have listened to that speech, for a more loyal, a more dutiful, and more effective speech in the interests of the Crown than that of the right hon. Gentleman has never been delivered in the House of Commons. I am glad to find, moreover, that even the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) as well as the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) have both expressed their great loyalty to the Crown. That is a thing which has come out to-night more clearly than anything else, and I am only sorry that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down did not adopt the same tone in recognition of the fact that there never was a country which possessed a more loyal and devoted people, or a Sovereign who has paid more attention to those constitutional principles which she promised to observe when she ascended the Throne of this country. Our Queen has observed to the full all the vows she made, and I venture to say there is not a man in the House who can utter a word against the honour and dignity of Her Majesty. I do not think it is right to contrast, as the hon. Member for Sunderland did, the emoluments of the Crown with 1344 particular instances of poverty in the country. Everybody feels, and feels deeply for those who suffer from distress in this country. We all know what a mass of misery exists; and there is no one in the country who would sacrifice more in order to prevent and put a stop to it than Her Majesty; but the question we have to consider on this occasion is whether it is right and proper, under all the circumstances, to make the Grants asked for. No one could have stated the case as to these Grants more effectively than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and I was only sorry that there was any difference between him and the Members of the Government on the Committee. All, at any rate most of us on the Committee, were most anxious—my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury especially—that we should be unanimous in our opinion as to these Grants. In the Committee we thoroughly understood the ground upon which the hon. Member for Northampton and the hon. Member for Morpeth took their stand, for they have both declared that nothing could induce them to support these Grants; but we could not quite follow the line adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) who cavilled at some of the proposals made by the Government. They said that unless we agreed to certain alterations in our Report nothing would induce them to vote for the Grant to the Prince of Wales's family. They said there must be certain conditions laid down, and I ask hon. Members whether they think it was consistent with the duty of those who sat on the Committee, and who agreed with the Report placed on the Table, that they should turn round and alter their Report, even though they sacrified the votes of those two right hon. Gentlemen? I cannot understand the difference between us. They were prepared, under certain conditions, to vote for this increase of expenditure, but they put an embargo on those conditions, and my firm belief is that they were anxious to escape from voting for an increased Grant by the statement they then made. I can only only say that such would never be my attitude. If I thought it right to vote a certain way on a question, I should 1345 vote that way because I considered it just, and should not hamper the vote with any conditions. In this instance I voted for the proposal of the Government because I thought it just and right, and was only sorry to find two distinguished men demanding conditions which the Committee were not able to accept. I also think that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian to reduce the sum of £40,000 to £36,000 was unworthy of his great name and reputation. Much has been said about the enormous sums which Her Majesty has been able to save and about the purchase of Balmoral and Osborne. I only wish it could be stated what the amount is which Her Majesty really has saved, because it would enlighten certain hon. Members upon the subject. I ask hon. Gentlemen whether they do not think it has been to the advantage of the nation that Her Majesty has been able to purchase a residence in Scotland, amongst her Scotch subjects, and the Osborne Estate, where she has a bird's-eye view of that magnificent fleet of which we are so proud. ["Oh" and "Hear, hear."] I hear some hon. Gentlemen say "Oh" and "Hear, hear," and I would merely remark that those who say "Oh" and "Hear, hear" whenever we mention the Navy are not, in my humble judgment, gentlemen who have that respect for the honour and dignity of this great nation which we wish to maintain. ["Order, order."!]
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Baronet says that hon. Members have no regard for the honour and dignity of the country. I think that is hardly Parliamentary language.
§ * SIR W. BARTTELOT
I did not mean it to be taken in that way, Sir. What I desired to convey was that gentlemen who receive the mention of the Navy as some hon. Gentlemen opposite receive it have not sufficiently at heart the best interests of the country. I do not wish to say anything offensive to anyone, but I maintain that the first necessity of this country is the possession of an effective and efficient Navy. No one is more anxious than I was that we should have a clear understanding as to this money to be voted to the Prince of Wales, and as to what would be the state of the case in the event of the death of the Prince of Wales, but I 1346 have since learnt that in the event of the death of His Royal Highness the Grant is to remain as at present until the end of the present reign. Other arrangements will be made when a new Civil List is arranged. In reference to what has been said as to the enormous sum granted to Her Majesty, I should like to point out that less per head of the population is paid to the Sovereign in this country than is paid to the Sovereign of any other nation of the same size and position; and the Civil List is in comparison certainly lower than that of any other country. Besides, in considering the amount of £385,000 granted to Her Majesty, we must remember that the amount surrendered to the country by Her Majesty on her accession to the Throne was £468,000 a year. On both sides of the House we are as loyal to the Crown, I hope and believe, as it is possible to be, and I am sorry that such an Amendment as that proposed by the hon. Member for Northampton has been brought forward. I am sorry because, though it may not be regarded as anything more, yet it cannot be regarded as other than an act of discourtesy to a Sovereign who has served this country so long and so well, who has been the warmest sympathiser with her subjects, from the highest to the lowest, in all their trials, and from whom so many of us have received such heartfelt encouragement and support in enabling us to bear up against those afflictions. Looking at the position the Prince of Wales has occupied amongst us, at the readiness with which he invariably throws himself into any work which excites the interest of the country, and at the fact that he is never wanting when required to perform any public duty, I think, looking at the circumstances of the case, it would have been but courteous and right to have adopted the recommendations of the Committee, if not unanimously, certainly without the strong, and as I think uncalled for, language which has been used.
§ * MR. BIRRELL (West Fife)
Sir, it is with unaffected reluctance that I rise to address the House for the first time on a question of this kind. I think, though I may be wrong, that, in the matter of a money Grant, I am bound as a Member of Parliament (to use the words of Burke in this very same 1347 connection) to be the express image of the feelings of my constituents. On matters of policy, of principle, or detail in legislation, Members of Parliament have a claim, which I hope will always be maintained, to exercise the widest discretion. But in this matter of money I cannot imagine the circumstances which would justify a popular representative in voting away the money of his constituents against what he honestly believes to be their declared wish. Speaking from a recollection of the recent struggle in which I have been engaged, I have no doubt that any further Royal Grants excite positive aversion in the minds of the people. I do not believe that this feeling of aversion could be changed into a feeling of willingness or acquiescence, except by the proof of one or other of these two propositions—either that these Grants are required in order to maintain the honour and dignity of the Crown, or that by the terms of some express and unmistakable bargain the people are bound to vote these moneys whether they are wanted or not. That being the State of my mind, I turn with the utmost anxiety, for the subject is most distasteful to me, to the Report of the majority of the Committee, in order to see whether I can find in it anything to allay the fever of the public mind, or satisfy them upon that upon which they desire to be satisfied. But I can find nothing of the sort in this Report. I might just as well go down to my constituents and read them one of Blair's lectures as read them this Report because it is not directed to what they have in their minds. If Parliament had not thought fit to restrict the scope of the inquiry, but had allowed the country to know what resources are at the command of Her Majesty, a great deal of the difficulty and dissatisfaction would have been cured. I entirely agree with what has been said about the deep-seated loyalty of the British people. If it had been shown that the means of Her Majesty were nothing like the exaggerated rumours which prevailed, we might have got rid of the dissatisfaction. The scope of the inquiry might be restricted, but you could not restrict the sphere of men's reflections. But inasmuch as these questions have not been answered, Ministers ought not to complain if people assume that the 1348 answers, if any had been made, would have been in accordance with common report. Next I would ask where was the bargain which bound the people to make this Grant? The only bargain was that the Commons would gladly make adequate provision for the support and dignity of the Crown. But it has only to be proved that these Grants are necessary for the support of the honour and dignity of the Crown and its heirs, for the people with joyful and generous acclamation to make them. But if they do not receive the information to which they think themselves entitled, and if no evidence is placed on record that these Grants are really required, the Government must not complain if the people imagine they are not required. If the Crown can be shown to be in any serious necessity, the money would readily be voted; nor would the people be at all disposed to inquire too curiously whether the Crown was to blame for any measure of extravagance. If by a too lavish hospitality, or too splendid a patronage of arts and letters, the Crown had been impoverished, the money would have been voted, nor would its purchasing quality have been impaired by the circumstance that it might have been accompanied by a homily. But it is not so. It has been admitted that the Crown has saved large sums of money from the Civil List. The people are not disposed to reward virtue with large sums of money. They know no motive for saving money except to make provision for those who come after. But for this, the saving of money becomes as vicious as extravagance. Believing, therefore, that by the practice of frugality the Crown has saved large sums of money, the people think that the Crown ought to assume the responsibility of maintaining the grandchildren of Her Majesty. Not being satisfied that the money is actually required to maintain the honour and dignity of the Crown, or that any obligation has arisen from any bargain made with the Crown, I shall feel compelled to go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.
§ * SIR S. NORTHCOTE (Exeter)
If the Report of the Committee of which I was a Member was unsatisfactory, that fact is, I venture to say, due to the circumstance that we were extremely anxious to produce a Report which should not 1349 represent a mere party majority. If any fault ts to be found with the Report, it is to be attributed to the Government having conceded too much. According to the last speaker, if Her Majesty, to put it in plain English, had been more extravagant and had not kept her bargain, the country would have been more disposed to be liberal. I should not have regarded the matter in this light. I am not prepared to say that because Her Majesty has shown strict prudence in the management of her private affairs the House should deal ungenerously with her. I have no quarrel with the hon. Member for Northampton or the hon. Member for Morpeth, but the case is different with regard to the other Members of the Committee. I would appeal to the House to consider how this matter appears to reasonable men. The Government stated that they were prepared to make an agreement with Her Majesty that she should provide for the children of her daughters. That was a concession on their part. They made a further concession that no appeal should be made for the children of younger sons. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian has recognised these concessions on the part of the Crown. Therefore, I may fairly appeal to those Members of the Committee who do not take up the irreconcilable position of the hon. Member for Northampton, that they should make a reasonable concession to the Representatives of the Crown. Considering, therefore, that these claims were absolutely waived, though there was no precedent for such waiver, it was not reasonable to expect that the Government should accept a proposition directly opposite to that which they had laid before the House. I think that when Her Majesty's Government have given way practically all along the line, when they have agreed to a Report in which the claims of the younger children are waived, when they have agreed to a Report embodying recommendations that when the Civil List should be settled, it should be settled on a basis rendering it impossible for similar demands to the present to be made, I do think that some concession might have been made to the feelings of the present reigning House, and that hon. Gentlemen opposite might have joined with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid 1350 Lothian in making provision for the children of the Prince of Wales.
§ MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
I do not rise for the purpose of entering at length into the very large and important issues raised in the earlier part of the discussion, but I think it right, especially after what has fallen from the hon. Baronet who has just sat down, to say what may be said to justify the attitude of which the hon. Baronet has complained. I think we may all congratulate ourselves on the acquisition we have received in my hon. Friend (Mr. Birrell). His speech contains promise of future important contributions to our Debates. I agree with my hon. Friend that this is a most distasteful subject, which none of us would approach if we could avoid it. I also agree with my hon. Friend when he said that a great deal of the fever in the public mind would be abated if Her Majesty's Government had made a rather more frank statement of the resources at the disposal of the Crown. The hon. Baronet is unable to understand how those Members of the Committee who, like myself, went a considerable way with the Government did not accede to the final proposals. What was the position of the four of us who voted finally, with a reluctance that can easily be imagined after the magnificent speech which we have heard to-night, when we parted from our Leader? We were from the beginning hostile to the extension of any Grants to the grandchildren of the Sovereign. We recognised no claims on behalf of the grandchildren and no obligations on the part of Parliament. The Government came forward in the Committee with proposals which the hon. Baronet has smoothly passed over, but they were stupefying proposals even to some hon. Gentlemen on the other side. They involved a contingent annual demand—contingent upon the marriages of the Prince of Wales's children—of nearly £50,000 a year, as well as a possible capital sum of £30,000. More than that, they contemplated a Grant to the children of Her Majesty's younger sons. This proposal was felt to be so impossible that within a few hours the Government withdrew it. The hon. Baronet called it a concession. It was no concession; it was the withdrawal of an impracticable and an impossible proposal. The proposals involved an obli- 1351 gation which we entirely denied, and they committed Parliament to an endless chain of future demands. In spite of the untenable nature of the Government proposals, in spite of the uncertainty in which they remained for three days, we were so convinced of the desirableness of avoiding anything like mischievous friction in the relations between Parliament and the Crown that we persuaded ourselves to assent to a Grant of a moderate amount—I do not call £40,000 or £36,000 a moderate amount, but we persuaded ourselves to consent to the Grant of a moderate amount provided the Government would consent to sweep away from their proposals every shred and vestige of the right and claim of obligation. We never admitted at any stage that there were any imperative circumstances which justified the present demand or imposed upon Parliament any sort of obligation to comply with that demand. What we said was this—"If you will drop all your arguments and pretensions from precedent and from want of notice; if you will cease to assert any claim as a right; if you will close the account, we will agree on our own part, whatever may be thought by our friends—we will assent, in the interest of peace and quietness, to a moderate Grant." The right hon. Gentleman, I see, assents to that as a complete and fair statement of our case. We made it clear from the first, we repeated it at every stage, and that is the purport of what is called the compromise. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway may blame us if they please, but the hon. Baronet opposite, and Gentlemen opposite, cannot blame us. They cannot say that they found us intractable or irreconcilable. I am not sure that I did not for my own part strain my own pledges to my constituents. I rather think I did, but I justified it to myself, and I am prepared to justify it to them, on two grounds. My first ground was that I was anxious to avoid friction that could be avoided. We desired, as much as the right hon. Gentleman desired, unanimity. We desired, as he said in his opening remarks to-night, practical concurrence upon a practical proposal. My second ground was this—and I really do not know why I should be ashamed to own it—that I was anxious to avoid parting company, on what is a matter of secondary import- 1352 ance, with the Leader to whom, on all matters of primary importance, I am and all of us are bound by ties of gratitude. I hope the House will not think I am wrong in stating plainly my position. But what happened? The Government came down with their new and revised version of their proposal, but the obnoxious statement of the case reappeared in an aggravated form. Paragraph 14 of the draft Report begins with this proposal:—In view of the facts above stated, your Committee are of opinion that Her Majesty would have a claim on the liberality of Parliament should she think fit to apply for such Grants as, in accordance with precedent, may become requisite for the support of the Royal Family.That was a re-statement of the very case in an aggravated form to which we objected. Therefore we repeated our remonstrance. We added at this stage compromise to compromise. We even expressed our willingness not to ask for a negation of the Royal claim; we said we should be willing to acquiesce in the mere withdrawal of the affirmation then made. That was the contention we held all along, and it was a contention which the Government had and have done nothing to meet. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian to-night put a very charitable interpretation on the attitude of the Government in putting that clause into the draft. But in the Committee my right hon. Friend was more suspicious of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He then put a less charitable interpretation upon that clause, because he moved an Amendment to which I must invite the attention of the House. It will be observed that the Government contended that Her Majesty had a claim. My right hon. Friend, upon whose authority I am glad to lean, moved this Amendment—In lieu of Clause 14—Your Committee have recited the facts of previous practice in accordance with the order of reference under which they have been appointed. An important question arises whether and how far these facts form a ground of action under the new method which, at a period later than the reign of George III., has been applied to the Civil List, and since the Duchy of Lancaster has added so largely to the means at the disposal of the Sovereign. A further addition to these means might also be expected, in the judgment of your Committee, from possible retrenchments to be made in connection with the Royal Household and otherwise.1353 That was the Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend, and it shows that he was not satisfied with the statement put forth by Her Majesty's Government on that 14th clause. We have objected, as did also the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, to the paragraph about notice. My own view about notice is this—that there was no right to notice, that there was no reason in the nature of things why Parliament should have been expected to give notice, that there was no obligation on Parliament to give notice. What gave sufficient notice to the Crown to make wise and prudent provision was the enormous increase which had taken place in the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster; and, further, the annual transfer of £16,000 or £18,000 which had not been contemplated when the Civil List was settled. We rejected this claim of notice. The Government then relied upon precedents. I submit that every one of those historical facts upon which the Government have relied for the purpose of precedent are prior facts, but they are not precedents. This is a distinction which the House will not smile at, for it is a genuine distinction. The whole of the conditions under which these Grants were made upon which the Government rely as precedents were, when the principles upon which the Civil List was settled, entirely different, and are not in any way calculated to guide us in the present conditions. A wise man said, "We are not going to suffer bad things because our ancestors suffered worse." We of the present generation are called upon to give Grants which upon the merits are not defensible, simply because informer reigns such Grants were made. In this persistence of Her Majesty's Government, what are we to do? They persist in propositions which misrepresent the present facts of the case, and which place the proposed Grants on a wrong and an unreal foundation, and, worse than that, they persist in propositions which leave room for the assertion, direct or indirect, of these claims on future occasions. I would point out in passing, that if the contention which the Government maintain and the position which the hon. Baronet has taken up are sound, they mean nothing less than this—that you have been treating the Sovereign in a mean, hard, and shabby manner.
The hon. Baronet is always ready with cheers, not always of a meaning kind. If these propositions mean anything they mean that those gentlemen are shirking a claim which Her Majesty has for a Grant. I hope the hon. Baronet is satisfied. We hold a distinctly opposite view; we hold that there is no claim, no obligation on Parliament, and that every shilling advanced on behalf of the grandchildren of the Sovereign would have been an act of liberality and grace on the part of this Parliament. Is it clear from any words which have fallen from Her Majesty's Ministers or any declaration made by the right hon. Gentleman to-night or in Committee that no claim for the grandchildren of the Sovereign beyond the family of the Prince of Wales is to be made under any circumstances whatever during the present reign? It is important that there should be a clear answer to that question, because I read in an organ which strongly supports Her Majesty's Government and these Grants language of a very different kind. One of the great organs of opinion last Saturday, after the position of Her Majesty's Government was thoroughly understood by the writer, says: —Contingencies may easily be conceived in which grandchildren of the Queen outside the family of the Prince of Wales might find them, selves in circumstances which would appeal irresistibly to the sympathy and good feeling of the people of England.I am not saying whether such might or might not be the case. Upon that I make no observation. In another organ, which also supports the Government, a more specific illustration is given, and this language is used:—The lapse of the provisions voted by Parliament to the late Duke of Albany puts the country in a position to recognize the claim of his eldest son to stand in his father's place, and were a Parliamentary Grant to be applied for on his behalf we believe that the public at large would view that application without disfavour.Upon that again I make no observation. What I submit is that by the position taken up by Her Majesty's Government the claim is still left alive. I admit it may be temporarily dormant; it may be that they intend it should lie in abeyance for a time; but from their language that claim is still alive and is sure to be revived at the next settlement of the 1355 Civil List. I must remind the House that the Government have asserted thatYour Committee are of opinion that the Queen would have a claim upon the liberality of Parliament should she think fit to apply for such Grants.And they go on to say—With regard to the daughters and younger sons of future Sovereigns your Committee are of opinion that at the proper time arrangements should be made under which no future claim of a similar kind can arise.I admit that; but now I come to my position. Suppose the Government of the Queen's successor were to come down to this House with a proposal for an allowance to the children of the new Sovereign; they would, I submit, have a perfect right, with the full authority of this Committee of 1889—over which I hope by that time the halo of years will have gathered—to insist on including in this allowance a sum in commutation of the claims which Her present Majesty has been pleased to waive, but which, on the authority of the Committee of 1889, have never been extinguished. With every desire to look at this thing as fairly as possible, I do not see any answer to that. If the Queen's successor were to come to Parliament and say, "I must have £485,000 instead of £385,000, because I am expected to make a provision which in 1889 the Crown had a right to claim from Parliament"—I confess if I were in Opposition at that time I do not know what answer I could make to that claim. You say that in the present case the Crown has had no notice, but you are giving notice the other way to the successor of Her Majesty. You are giving notice to look out for fresh demands. On that ground I think we were justified in saying that our condition has not been complied with. It is quite true that an interpretation may be put upon the words which temporarily extinguishes this claim, but it does not extinguish it when next the Civil List comes to be revised. It will only be extinguished by being merged by way of commutation in the general demand for a new settlement, and it will inevitably and justifiably swell the amount of the demand which will then be made. I know what will be said by the hon. and learned Gentleman who is to follow me. He will ask why do we quarrel as to a mere difference of form. But if it 1356 is said that what I am insisting on is a mere barren form of words, why do you insist upon the same barren form? It is as barren for your purpose as ours. We went as far to meet you as we possibly could, and all complaints of our not being willing to come to a practical settlement are unjust and without basis. From the first we regarded these Grants to grandchildren with disfavour, because they were inexpedient in the interests of the Royal Family itself, because they impaired the natural obligation of parents to children, and because of the increase in the private revenues of the Crown over that contemplated in 1837, which we considered ought of itself to have made such a provision entirely unnecessary. You will, perhaps, say: If the position taken up by Her Majesty's Government satisfied my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian, why did it not satisfy you? The answer is quite simple. My right hon. Friend asserts that those claims are right, though the grounds are wrong; we, on the contrary, assert that both the claims and the grounds are wrong; but we were willing to assent to an arrangement in its nature temporary, if it were not placed on grounds which would keep alive future claims. Under those circumstances we were perfectly justified, and are justified now, in reserving our freedom of action. For my own part I shall on Monday, when we are in Committee on the Resolution, move an Amendment, which will be set out quite as fully as the Amendment of my hon. Friend below the Gangway has been, in terms taken from Amendments moved in Committee by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and which will raise the whole question of these Grants in the broadest and fullest form of which they are capable. Now, as to my vote on the Amendment before the House to-night. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton said he assumed that because I had withdrawn from a position taken up before the Committee I should therefore vote for his Amendment. I consider that that Amendment is interposed at an entirely unusual and unprecedented stage in matters of this kind. I believe there has never been an instance of such a course being taken, and I, for my part, have no mind for being a party to receiving a Message from the Throne 1357 with words intimating that that Message ought never to have been sent down to this House. I, for one, will not take up that position. Another reason which induces me to take that course is that my hon. Friend from the first admitted that this Message should be submitted to a Committee. It was his own proposal.
§ * MR. LABOUCHERE
I do not think I ever proposed a Committee. I asked whether it was to be submitted to a Committee, and whether any Grants were going to be made before the Committee, not on the Message, but on the general principle of Grants, had reported.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I did not so understand my hon. Friend's contention, but it is not very material. My own view is that when a Committee has been appointed by the House, whatever it reports, its Members are entitled to have that Report considered and discussed in the manner ordinary on such occasions. It may be said the constituencies will not understand a vote given against my hon. Friend's Amendment. I am never myself very much overawed by assertions as to the impressions which may be formed by people outside. It is perfectly clear that persons like myself, intending to vote againt the Motion of the Government, have a right to have it discussed in the manner and form which are customary, and if people outside do not take the trouble to find out what that vote means I cannot help that. On Monday I will give hon. Members a chance of voting "yes" or "no" on those Grants.
§ * THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (SIR J. GORST,) Chatham
The Debate so far has been pleasing and prosperous for Her Majesty's Government. The noble and magnificent speech of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian answered in the early part of the evening all the case made by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment against the proposition of her Majesty's Government, and since that speech was made nobody has made the slightest attempt to answer it. It was stated by the hon. Member for Bradford who spoke immediately after that speech, that it stated the case of Her Majesty's Government better than any of its Members could state it themselves. I shall not attempt to analyse 1358 the speech of the hon. Member for Bradford. I am quite content, when arguments have been demolished, not to weary the House with tedious repetition, and until some Member of the Party of the hon. Member for Northampton has attempted to grapple with and to answer the arguments of his illustrious Leader, I think Her Majesty's Government will be quite content to leave the matter where it is, and to proceed as rapidly as they can to the business of the House. But, Mr. Speaker, we have got somehow to fill up the time until the end of the evening, and as there is nothing now left to debate of the original Amendment which was submitted early this evening to the consideration of the House, we must invent some new topics, and I do not know that anything more interesting could be put before us than the study of the singular and peculiar attitude of the right hon. Member for Newcastle. As far as I understand his speech, he did not attempt to answer the arguments of the hon. Member for Mid Lothian; but he did not very distinctly tell the House how he was going to vote. He told us he was not going to vote for the Amendment of his new Leader, the Member for Northampton.
§ SIR J. GORST
I will not detain the House long in a discussion of the position of the right hon. Gentleman on the Committee. I am not inclined to quarrel with the description he gave to the House of his perplexities with regard to the Committee and of the extraordinary way in which he voted. It is quite true he was ready to go a certain way with the Government, and I think the explanation he made might be put shorter than he put it to us. He always thought that there was no claim for any additional Grants for any Member of the Royal Family, and no obligation on Parliament; but he was, I admit, willing to vote for claims which did not exist, and to make good obligations he did not admit, upon condition that the Committee would be content to throw over the other members of the Royal Family in favour of the family of the Prince of Wales. He has no doubt objected to the stupefying proposals which were not even made to the Committee by Her Majesty's Government, but which were laid before 1359 the Committee by the First Lord of the Treasury in order that the Committee might be put in possession of the general views of Her Majesty's Government. These proposals which the right hon. Gentleman described as stupefying are, with one exception, identical with those in the Report now before us; and the exception is this—whilethe claim of Her Majesty to the provision for the children of her younger sons out of funds to be provided by Parliament is asserted in the final Report as it is was in the original Resolution, there is no proposal made to act upon that assertion of principle, because Her Majesty has declared through the First Lord of the Treasury that that is a claim she would not press. That is the only particular in which the final Report differs essentially from the proposals of the Government.
§ * SIR J. GORST
If the right hon. Gentleman will have patience, I will deal with the amounts. The immediate proposal made by the Government was a charge of £13,000 a year, an annuity of £10,000 for the eldest son of the Heir Apparent, and an annity of £3,000 for the daughter.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. and learned Gentleman is completely mistaken; there was to be provision for other sons in case of marriage.
§ * SIR J. GORST
The right hon. Gentleman is assuming that the principle laid down was to be immediately acted upon. The only proposal before the Committee was in reference to the two Royal Messages asking for provision for the eldest son of the Prince of Wales and for the daughter about to be married. The result of adopting the original stupefying proposal of Her Majesty's Government would have been an annual charge upon the Consolidated Fund of £13,000 per annum, and a lump sum of £10,000 to be paid once for all upon the marriage of the Princess. The hon. Member for Sunderland thought these original proposals of the Government more economical than those of the final Report, and so the two arguments answer each other. The creation of a Trust Fund of £40,000 a year, which was the proposal ultimately adopted by the Government, was intended to be, according to the best calculation that could be made, the exact 1360 equivalent of the contingent claims which they contemplated in proposing the original Resolution. There was a contingent possibility of our being called upon for three lump sums of £10,000 each, and it was believed that £40,000 to commence at once would be the exact equivalent of all those contingent possibilities which were to be avoided. Therefore, I am right in saying that the final Report did not differ essentially from the orignal attitude of Her Majesty's Government, and that the only change was that produced by the intimation the First Lord of the Treasury was able to make at a subsequent meeting of the Committee—namely, that though we were constrained to admit that the right to an endowment for the children of younger sons did exist, yet Her Majesty was graciously pleased to announce that she did not intend to press these claims upon Parliament. When the light hon. Gentleman talks about £40,000 a year as a concession which he wrung out of Her Majesty's Government he is giving the rein to his imagination, and is supposing himself to have produced upon Her Majesty's Government an effect which not even the terror of his displeasure could have brought about. What I understand the hon. Member to complain of is that the Government refused to stultify themselves. If they only would have allowed him to go to his constituents and friends and say—"Look how I have brought that extravagant Tory Government upon their knees; how I have made them eat their own words, and deny that which they were disposed to assert," he was willing to saddle the poor taxpayers whom he so commiserates with the payment of this sum of £40,000 for which he believes there is no claim whatsoever. I am only mentioning facts which appear upon the proceedings of the Committee, and am not imitating the example of the right hon. Gentleman and betraying the secrets of the prison-house. I had always understood that what passed in Committee was not to be repeated out of doors except so far as it appears on the proceedings of the Committee. On July 19 the First Lord of the Treasury submitted to the Committee a Draft Report which contained the same monstrous stupefying proposals which had so horrified the right hon. Gentleman when they were urged by the First Lord 1361 of the Treasury; but, on July 19, the right hon. Gentleman had an alternative—he had the Report drafted by the hon. Member for Northampton, which was a negation of the right of the Crown to any Grant whatever. What did the hon. Member do? He voted in favour of the stupefying proposals of the Government; he voted against the Report of the hon. Member for Northampton. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head; but a reference to the proceedings of the Committee will show the name of the right hon. Gentleman in the Division which was taken in favour of the Report of the First Lord of the Treasury. I was much astonished at that; but I was more astonished still to find that the right hon. Gentleman, on the 23rd of July, when there had been a Sabbath intervening for reflection and he had had time to study his position, voted against his revered Leader, and in favour of the hon. Member for Northampton, whom, on the 19th of July, he had discarded. I think there may have been communications to Members of the Committee from places other than Windsor Castle. The right hon. Gentleman expressed his fear lest he had, in his original overtures to the Government, strained his pledges to his constituents. If rumour be not incorrect, the right hon. Gentleman, between the 19th of July and the 23rd, had some reason for thinking that other persons in the North of England fancied that he was straining his pledges to his constituents, and some people may think that his altered attitude of the 23rd of July was due to the remonstrances which the sovereign people may have addressed to the right hon. Gentleman. Now, the Government never complained of the attitude of the hon. Member for Northampton. We do not agree with him, but we thoroughly understand him. But we do think we have a right to complain of the right hon. Gentleman, who does not seem to understand us, and whom we certainly have failed to understand. Our contention before the Committee was, I think, as plain as plain could be. I do not repeat it, because after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) I am sure I should only repeat it with less force. But what we contended before 1362 the Committee was, in the first place, that in the arrangement of the Civil List at the commencement of the Queen's reign there was not an express bargain made between Her Majesty and the nation, but there was a regular understood course of procedure which both parties on that occasion implicitly bound themselves to observe. I do not know that this is the particular stage of the proceedings at which to discuss the knotty question as to how far the Crown Lands and the small branches of the Hereditary Revenue were surrendered to the nation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) will, no doubt, in the course of these Debates, give the House his valuable opinion on that matter. I always like to learn from that right hon. Gentleman, and I shall be very glad if he will explain to me, when he enlightens the House on the subject, whether a Parliamentary title is not in this country the best of all titles. I should like to know whether the Statute which enacted that the Crown Lands and Hereditary Revenues should belong to, and be paid and payable to the successor of William IV. did not invest Her Majesty when she came to the Throne with a Parliamentary title to them? With that contempt for law which is now so general among hon. Members opposite they call that Act an error of the draftsman. I have always been accustomed to regard the words of the Statute Book as the most binding law by which the Sovereign or the people can by any possibility be fettered. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to talk about the precedents, and he said they are not really precedents but only "prior facts." What Her Majesty had a right to conclude from the engagement made with her when the Civil List was passed was that the relations between herself and the House of Commons in reference to Royal Grants would be in accordance with "prior facts." What are the prior facts? They were that the endowments and provision for members of the Royal Family were separate from the Civil List. If, indeed, you go back to the reign of George III. you will find a great many provisions for the Royal Family charged on the Civil List. But that was at a time when the arrangement of the Civil List was wholly different from 1363 what it is to-day. And since the reign of William IV. you will find that every provision made for every member of the Royal Family was not made out of the Civil List, but out of something entirely separate from and beyond it—namely, out of the Consolidated Fund and the express vote of Parliament. These are the "prior facts," and they are quite enough to entitle Her Majesty to expect that the course which was pursued towards her predecessors would be pursued towards herself. There is another prior fact which ought to be considered by the House, and which I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has ever properly appreciated—namely, that during the present reign, after the Civil List Act was passed, and after the present arrangement was made between the Sovereign and her people, the grandchildren and children of a younger son of King George III. were endowed with a Parliamentary grant; and on the occasion when that endowment took place no person in this House, not even Mr. Joseph Hume, who opposed the grant, ever ventured to call in question the principle which the right hon. Gentleman has stigmatized as stupefying. It is quite true that Mr. Hume objected to the grant—not to the principle of the grant—everybody admitted the principle—but simply to the amount, and he took a Division in the House and opposed the Bill at several stages because he objected to the proposed amount. The right hon. Gentleman has also misrepresented the attitude of the Government. What the Government stated was that no notice was given or to be found in any Resolution of the House during the present reign, or in any declaration ever made by any Minister, from which Her Majesty ought to have concluded that the "prior facts" of the former reign would not be repeated in the present reign. The ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends has failed to find any such communication. None such has been brought before the House in this Debate, and I venture to say it will not be brought before the House, because there is no such thing in existence. In the absence of any action of that kind, there was no opportunity given to Her Majesty to provide by savings for those obligations which she had a right to suppose had been undertaken by Par- 1364 liament and the country. Now, I appeal to the House whether, with arguments so strong impressing themselves on the mind of the Government, the Government would not have been guilty of a dereliction of duty if they had allowed themselves to be seduced by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was prepared to acquiesce in a simple mutual withdrawal of the claim. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot to tell the House of Commons that he insisted as a sine quâ non that the original Resolutions which were read to the Committee by the First Lord of the Treasury should be put Upon record, and that he also wished it put on record that no notice was taken of them in the final Report of the Committee when the final proposition was advanced. Then he would have come to the House of Commons and said, "We forced the Government to drop their monstrous proposition for the endowment of these grandchildren of the Queen." I do not deny, if that course had been pursued, the right of the Crown, if that right exists, would have been prejudiced by having been put forward and afterwards passed over sub silentio. That was the reason why the right hon. Gentleman's proposal could not be agreed to. But the right hon. Gentleman, after all, is quarrelling about mere words. We were all agreed, with the exception of the hon. Member for Northampton and his friends, whose attitude we all understand. The right hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), and the other distinguished ornaments of the Party opposite, agreed as to the substantive and practical proposal. They agreed the Prince of Wales should have a fund out of which he was to make provision for his children, but they broke away from that agreement because the Government would not formally negative a claim which their right hon. and revered Leader says is now absolutely removed from practical politics. But to defend himself from the accusation of having broken away from the agreement for the sake of a mere quarrel about words, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Morley) has invented a most extraordinary theory as to what may happen on the next settlement of the Civil List, which we all hope may be at a very remote period. I have utterly failed to understand, and I doubt whether anybody in 1365 the House understands, this theory. The right hon. Gentleman is haunted by an idea that by the use of some form of words he can fetter the much wiser Parliament which will be in Session when the next Civil List has to be settled. I cannot understand how any form of words we can use can by possibility abridge the right and discretion of that Parliament, although we have stated in our Report that on the next occasion when these matters have to be considered it should be made impossible for any claim of that kind to arise. Of course, I know that the use of these words will not prevent a future Parliament from exercising its own discretion in the settlement of the next Civil List. If the right hon. Gentleman should be one of those who have to arrange with the Crown for the settlement of the next Civil List, I do not think that the Report of the Committee will be any obstacle in his way, and I do not think that, whatever we may do at present, we can provide for a remote future. I do not know whether the House is disposed to have any regard for authority or advice. But I should have thought if there was one Member of this House in whom the Liberal Party would have placed its confidence it would have been the old Parliamentary hand who addressed the House at the beginning of the evening. We have his authority for saying that the claim on behalf of the younger sons of the Sovereign is now out of practical politics. We have his authority for these very words to which the right hon. Gentleman objects, and on account of which he excuses himself from having broken away from the agreement to which he was inclined to assent; and we have, therefore, a right to say that no such agreement as the right. hon Gentleman asks should be entered into. Although I am not one of the followers of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian; although I do not show my respect for him by praising his magnificent speech and then deserting him upon a most important and critical question, I for one would be inclined, in a matter of this kind, to follow the right hon. Gentleman when he pronounces that we have done what was most calculated to prevent claims of this kind from arising in the future; and, in doing so, I should feel tolerably satisfied that 1366 I had done what was right in the matter I must apologise for having detained the House so long, but I thought it might be useful in clearing the atmosphere of our Debates, which I suppose may go on for many nights to come, if the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman opposite were made perfectly clear and plain to the House. I thought that I was assisting our Debates by helping the right hon. Gentleman to make his own attitude perfectly clear; but as far as the question immediately before the House is concerned, that question is now dead until some Member of the Party of the hon. Member for Northampton wilt grapple with and answer the arguments put forward at the beginning of the evening by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian.
* MR. WHITBEEAD (Bedford)
I did not intend to take part in the Debate, but the remarkable speech we have just heard induces me to say a few words. If the only object of that speech was to fill up time until tomorrow night then, to use the language of time workers, the hon. Gentleman has "put in his time" very satisfactorily, and possibly his own friends may even think he added some overtime. The hon. and learned Gentleman began by boldly asserting that the Government had not given way in any of their positions. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will settle that question with the hon. Baronet behind him, who has told the House that the Opposition was so unreasonable because the Government have given way all along the line. The Resolutions of the Government, which are the exposition of their minds upon the subject of the Royal Grants, were, after all, according to the hon. Gentleman, only pilot balloons sent up to find which way the wind was blowing. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has at last let the cat out of the bag; I always suspected it; I almost felt sure that though we were kept in suspense for 40 hours that the stern refusal of the Government to omit the obnoxious words about the validity of claim arose from their proposals having been pinned to the desk, and from their desire not to stultify themselves by omitting all mention of a claim which, in the first instance, they proposed as a good one. The attitude of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for New- 1367 castle was absolutely and entirely consistent throughout the proceedings of the Committee. The hon. Gentleman taunted my right hon. Friend with having opposed at an early stage of the Committee the Report of the hon. Member for Northampton; but why did we desire to consider the Government proposals first? First, because it was usual and decent to do so; and, secondly, because hope was never till the last moment abandoned that the Government would value an almost unanimous Report of the Committee more highly than the saving of a fancied point of honour, and that they would not for a form of words bring about an unpleasant discussion in the House. Undoubtedly such discussions are unpleasant; they do not add to the dignity of the Crown nor reflect great credit on Parliament. But on what were the Committee asked to report? It was not only on the particular proposals of grants to the children of the Prince of Wales, but the Committee were instructed to inquire into the former practice of the House with respect to the provision for members of the Royal Family, and to report to the House upon the principles which in that respect it was expedient to adopt for the future. Well, we did inquire. We searched records which must be pronounced tolerably musty. What answer had been made to that demand of the House? None at all, unless it is the declaration that the claims of the younger sons of Her Majesty are good and valid. That is the only single assertion we make in this Report that can be taken to indicate the view that should be taken in the future. There is one point which the Government and the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale pressed with great force—namely, the absence of notice to Her Majesty that she would be expected to provide for the children of her children. I felt that this was the strongest point advanced—that the readiness and lavish recklessness with which Parliament has made these Grants in the past gave the Crown reason to expect their continuance. But I and my hon. Friends wished to insist that if the Crown had received no notice before it should receive notice now, and that a final settlement should be made of these 1368 irritating claims. In the Report of the Committee there is this statement—Your Committee cannot find that any notice has ever been given to the Crown, by any Resolution of the House of Commons, or by any declaration on the part of any Government or Minister of the Crown, that the practice which has prevailed with reference to the making provision for the members of the Royal Family has ceased,Has that notice been frankly given now? I do not admit that the hon. Gentleman is entitled to point to the opposite Bench and claim the great and high authority of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian and say that such grants in future are not within the region of practical politics. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is right, and that his prophecy will come true; but is the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian a Minister of the Crown, speaking on behalf of the Government? Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer say clearly and distinctly that he, as a Minister of the Crown, now gives this notice, that in future none of those claims can be admitted? As an Opposition I think we are entitled to a direct answer on that point. I think the House of Commons, having ordered a Committee to report on the principle which should guide it in future, is entitled to a direct answer on the point. We sought in the Committee to come to an understanding with the Government that would justify ourselves to our friends in voting for a provision for the Prince of Wales for his children, to justify us to this extent, that we had at last arrived at a complete financial settlement of this irritating question. The Government set little store on that so long as they have a sufficient majority to back them.
§ * MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
I do not propose to detain the House beyond a very few minutes, and I will not go into the interesting question the hon. Member has raised. I agree it is desirable the Government should make clear what in their view should be the principle to guide our future action, and I hope we shall deal with the question with that good sense and that good feeling that have hitherto prevailed in the relations between this House and the Crown. For my part, I am prepared to follow my Leader, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian; and in what I am 1369 about to say, I think I shall be able to show the House that I shall be justified, both as a Radical and as an economist, in voting for a grant for the Queen's Family, and that to do otherwise would be to penalise and discourage careful and prudent management on the part of our Sovereigns and their advisers; to encourage Monarchs of the type of George IV. and discourage those like Queen Victoria. Fifty years' experience as a merchant, during which I have studied carefully the causes of material prosperity, and of the decline and fall in the character of nations in industry and manliness, have proved to me that with a Monarch like George IV. during the last 50 years we might hardly have escaped the fate of Spain, instead of, as now, finding ourselves a country improving in every class alike—the aristocracy and leisured classes, and the working middle and lower classes—in habits of self-restraint, of industry, prudence, in a sense of public duty, and in the readiness on the part of those who have education, wealth, and leisure to recognize that their surplus is a trust to be used unselfishly, and not to be enjoyed, as an absolute freehold, in idleness, self-indulgence, and luxury. Between 1846 and 1874 wealth has poured into this country in a volume far in excess of what poured into Spain after the conquests in Mexico and Peru, or into any country during a similar period in the history of the world. I have watched the effects of it with something approaching to dread; and, though we cannot boast to have altogether escaped the dangers of such influx in diminished industry and increased luxury and extravagance, we are already recovering ourselves, and the manhood, the industry, and the sense of public duty of Englishmen have stood the test in a way which encourages us to hope that our wealth may not bring about the decline and fall of the vitality and prosperity of the British Empire in the way such increase of wealth has caused the decline and fall of every great Empire we read of which has been subjected to a similar though not as great and sudden influx of wealth and of material prosperity. I have tried to estimate to what causes we owe this, and I am satisfied that we owe it largely to the Queen and Prince Albert, who maintained throughout the dangerous period 1370 the example of a pure, well-conducted, prudently managed household and State, an example that has so far done much to prevent our aristocracy from becoming, as that of Spain did, a fainéant, luxurious, utterly useless body, and the mass of our people from becoming as helpless and idle and unprosperous as the great part of the Spanish nation have been throughout centuries; while Spain itself has sunk to the position of a second or third-rate Power in its influence over the affairs of Europe, owing even its existence and freedom less to its own endeavours than to the lavish expenditure of English blood and English treasure on its behalf. Such an example as the Queen and Prince Albert have set, and which their children now seem disposed to follow, permeates like leaven throughout the country, and has leavened the whole mass. I do not pretend that it has been the only cause. No doubt climate, the character of our people, and the silver line that has protected us and left us in peace to manage our affairs have done much; but, with a Monarch like George IV. on the Throne, I believe they would not have saved us from much demoralization, and would have ended in revolution. We must not forget that other nationalities in their turn have also been energetic and industrious and have yet not been saved from national decay. See how this bears on the question before us. The Queen, by her settlement of the Civil List, was entitled to come to Parliament in case of need for further help. Her predecessors have built palaces, mismanaged their resources, committed all sorts of extravagances, and come to Parliament to pay their debts and increase their resources. The Queen has not done this. On the contrary, she and those with whom she has surrounded herself as advisers and agents have managed so prudently and well that, it is asserted, resources have been laid by, which will assist her in making decent provision for her numerous family. But certainly if it is so, it is no reason that we should punish prudence and frugality when she comes to us to ask us to assist her in making such reasonable provision. We ought to encourage a course of conduct so advantageous to the country, both as an example and in its direct results. As a practical 1371 man, then, as an economist, as bound to consider in all these matters, first and foremost, the interests of the heavily taxed and industrious people of this country, I contend that it is our duty to show our appreciation of such prudence, forethought, and good management on the part of our Sovereign. The Queen has rendered inestimable services to this country as a Constitutional Monarch and in other ways, but I have always felt that no benefit she has conferred on our Empire is greater or as great as that of leading her people, her known opinions and influence and her bright example, to avoid habits of luxury and extravagance, to be pure, well-conducted, and prudent in their family life, and in the use of means, whether great or small, which they may be possessed of. For this I have always felt, and I believe the people will always feel, for the Queen affectionate veneration, gratitude, and loyalty. In the interest, then, of economy and the welfare of the people, I have not the slightest hesitation in voting for the sums asked for by the Government to provide suitable maintenance for the Queen's descendants.
§ Debate adjourned till to-morrow.