HC Deb 21 November 1902 vol 115 cc198-216

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [10th November], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Question again proposed.

*(4.20.) MR. CALDWELL () Lanarkshire, Mid

This Bill deals, as its title sets forth, with the Osborne Estate, one of the private estates of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria, which under her Will is vested in His Majesty the King for his life, with remainder to the Prince of Wales for his life, with remainder to his first and other sons, according to seniority, in tail general, with divers remainders over, and with an ultimate remainder to His Majesty the King, his heirs and assigns for ever.

The Bill sets out that His Majesty has, with the concurrence of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, signified His gracious pleasure that, on the occasion of his Coronation, the Osborne Estate should be handed over so as to become part of the public property of the Sovereign, and that provision should be made for the use of Osborne House and grounds as a memorial to Her late Majesty Queen Victoria in the manner set forth in the Bill. The Osborne Estate was the personal and private property of the late Queen, and was possessed and transmissible by her as fully and freely, and subject to the laws of England in all material respects as if it were the private property of any of Her Majesty's subjects. However laudable may be, and obviously are, the intentions of the King in varying the will of the late Queen, yet, according to the law of England, the variation is such as it is not within the title and power of His Majesty, even with the concurrence of the Prince of Wales, to effect. According to the preamble of the Bill (which is all the information vouchsafed to this House), the King and the Prince of Wales are but tenants in succession for life; and by the laws of this country they have no more legal rights than is accorded to any of His Majesty's subjects who are similarly vested in property as tenants for life. The first tenant in tail is the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, who is a minor, and cannot of course give consent; and his consent is not alleged in the Bill. Parliament is, therefore, asked to supply the want of title, by giving statutory sanction to the transfer of Osborne Estate proposed in the Bill; upon the footing, as we all knew, that Acts of Parliament can cure all defects of title, and sanction anything, even to disinheritance. So far as the wishes of the King are concerned, I feel sure that it would be the desire of every Member of this House to comply with His Majesty's wishes, as far as they could conscientiously do so. But, in this particular case, there are other wishes and interests which this House is equally bound to consider before giving its sanction to this Bill. There are the patrimonial interests of the tenants of tail—the children of the Prince of Wales—which are affected by this Bill, one of the results of the passing of which will be to deprive the Prince of Wales's sons of an inheritance bequeathed to them in tail by their great-grandmother. Then, last, but not least, there are the wishes of the late Queen, as conveyed by her last Will and Testament, regarding the disposal of property which was her own to give and bequeath in whatever terms she pleased; and which, for reasons which were best known to herself, she in the most solemn manner, by her last Will and Testament, bequeathed to be enjoyed as the private estates of the Sovereign. On the Second Reading of this Bill I will not press further the claims of these children of the Prince of Wales. Their interests, if so desired, can be met in Committee by an Amendment limiting the operation of the Bill to the lifetime of His Majesty and the Prince of Wales. But, besides that, what Parliament may do today, Parliament may undo tomorrow; and if any of the tenants in tail who may become King be desirous of resuming Osborne as private estate, in terms of the late Queen's Will, he may, if he so desires, approach the Parliament of the day and ask to be restored against an Act of Parliament to which he was not, and could not be, a consenting party. The main question this House—the last House of Commons elected during the life of her late Majesty—has to consider, is the effect of this Bill on Her Majesty's last wishes. From the terms of the Will itself, it is obvious that the late Queen availed herself of the utmost liberty given to her by law to tic up the estate, by giving two life interests in succession of persons living, and by beginning with the children of the Prince of Wales as the first tenants in tail. That was as far as, in the circumstances, her late Majesty could, under the laws of England, the up with certainty the Osborne estate.

The Prince of Wales having children alive in her late Majesty's lifetime, no doubt she would picture in her own mind that one day one of these children might come to possess and enjoy Osborne estate as one of the private residences and estates of the Crown, in supplement of whatever Parliament might give to would continue to be a royal residence reign. Again, it was and is a matter of notoriety in this country, that it was the express wish of the late Queen's wishes, this House is somewhat at a disadvantage in far as regards Osborne estate. Notwithstanding the life-rents given to the King and the Prince of Wales, it was within the power of her late Majesty to appoint a Protector (not necessarily either of the life-renters), who, during the existence of the life-rent, might give or withhold his consent to any deed by the tenant in tail intended to bar the entail. Whether her late Majesty appointed a Protector, or relied solely on the guarding of the entail by the life-renters, this House is not informed.

I protest against this withholding of information. So long as none of the heirs of the late Queen approach this House asking its intervention, this House has nothing to do with Her Majesty's Will. But when Parliament is asked to consent to the breaking of Her Majesty's Will, this House is entitled, before giving its consent, to the fullest information with regard to that Will. But as showing the wishes of her late Majesty as regards the disposal of her private estates, even more striking than the mere terms of the deed itself is the great solicitude which Her Majesty took with regard to the state of the legislation on the subject of Crown private estates, which underwent considerable change during her reign, and all aimed at securing these estates as private property outside of the hereditary estate of the Crown. To go back for a moment to the legislation which preceded the Victorian age. A great authority, Mr. Allen, in his book on the royal prerogative, states that, 1000 years ago, the king of England, like other people, could own and dispose of land as private property. He could also—but only with the assent of his Council—make grants to private persons of the lands which belonged to the people. Gradually, however, this conception changed, and in the last stage the distinction between the private patrimony of the King and the public property of the State was at length obliterated. It became a maxim of English law that all estates possessed by the King—even in his private capacity—belonged to him in right of his Crown, and descended with it to his successor. By the adoption of this principle the king was restrained from making bequests of landed property by Will, but he still retained the power to give away the Crown lands in his lifetime. By an erroneous conception of his right to these lands he was allowed to dispose of them by Patent without the advice and consent of his Great Council. During this period, the Crown lands got dissipated, and led to very great abuses. This state of things was remedied by the Civil List Act of Queen Anne, whereby, in exchange for the Civil List, all private estates of Sovereigns were swept into, and became Crown lands. The Crown was prohibited from holding private property in land, and was also prevented from all alienations of Crown lands The provisions and restrictions of the Act of Anne were further applied by I George III., cap. 1, and 34 George III. cap. 75.

It was not until 1800 that the series of Acts begin dealing with the true private estates of the Sovereign. They are enabling Acts, permitting the King to escape from the disabilities of has common law and statutory provisions and enabling him to acquire, own and dispose of landed property in his own personal right. By 39 and 40 George III., cap. 88, passed in 1880—first and leading although not the last Statute—a distinction was introduced by Statute between the estates held by the Crown, as the Crown, and estates held by the Sovereign in his or her personal capacity. It was enacted that all estates which had been, or which might thereafter be, purchased by His Majesty, his heirs or successors out of any monies issued and applied for the use of the Privy Purse, or with any other monies not appropriated and enjoyed as the private patrimony of the Sovereign, free from the restrictions of the Act of Anne. There were further set free from the same restrictions estates which had come or might come to the Sovereign, his heirs or successors by gift of devise or by descent or otherwise from any of their ancestors or any other person not being kings and queens of this Realm. The reason for this last exemption obviously is that if gifts or succession from kings and queens were not exempted, then pretty well the whole of the Crown property might have fallen under of the Sovereign. The next Statute, 4 George IV., cap. 18, passed 1823, extended the private estates of the Sovereign, his heirs and successors, to lands whether freehold, copyhold or leasehold. held directly or through the intervention of trustees before accession to the throne, and which before such accession they might have legally granted, sold or delivered.

We come now to the Statutes in the reign of Queen Victoria, which, taken in conjunction with the Will of the late Queen as regards Osborne Estate, show the great solicitude of Her Majesty that her private estates should be preserved with the Crown Lands, as is proposed by this Bill. The Statute 1 and 2 Vict., cap. 95, Section 4, passed in 1838, extended Section 7 of the Statute of Queen Anne to Ireland and Scotland and to all parts of the United Kingdom. As Her Majesty had valuable private estates in Scotland, and as doubts were raised as to whether the Statute 1 and 2 Vict., cap. 95, so passed, had not extended the Statute of Queen Anne to the private estates of Her Majesty, the Crown Private Estates Act, 1862, was passed, as its title sets forth— To remove doubts concerning, and to amend the law relating to, the private estates of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors. This Statute was evidently prepared with very great care, and it contains within itself a complete code of laws relating to the private estates of the Sovereign. In Section 1—the interpretation of terms—the private estates of Her Majesty are defined to mean— All real or heritable property and estate of whatever tenure, whether in England, Ireland, or Scotland, or any other part of Her Majesty's dominions, which had been or should thereafter be purchased or acquired by Her Majesty or her heirs and successors out of monies issued and applied for the use of the Privy Purse, or with any other monies not appropriated to any public service, and any lands of whatever tenure which had come, or might come, to her or them by gift, or devise or disposition of, or by descent, inheritance or succession or otherwise from any of her or their ancestors or any person not being king or queen of this realm, and any lands, of whatever tenure, whether in England, Ireland, or Scotland, or any other part of Her Majesty's dominions which did or shall belong to Her Majesty, her heirs and successors, or held in trust for them, at the time of accession, and which before such accession they might have legally granted, sold, given,, disposed, or conveyed. These were practically the terms of the Act of George III. of 1800 as extended by 4 George IV., c. 18 and 1 and 2 Vict., cap. 95, but contained new words specially relating to Scotland—the words dispone and convey. Section 2 of the Act, 1862, goes on to say that none of the provisions and restrictions of the Act of Queen Anne or of 1 George III., cap. 1, or 34 George III., cap. 75, shall extend to the private estates of the Sovereign. By Section 3, leasehold estates (other than in Scotland) are to be vested in trustees. Section 4 deals with estates situate in Scotland. Section 5 deals with testamentary dispositions of the private estates of the Sovereign other than in Scotland, and so applies to the Osborne Estate. It enacts that the private estates of Her Majesty may be disposed of by Her Majesty in manner provided by the 4th Section of 39 and 40 Geo. III., cap. 88—that is the Act of 1800. Provided always that a Will or other testamentary disposition by Her Majesty of and concerning such private estates shall not require publication. The Will is to be valid if signed by the testatrix, or by some other person in her presence and by her direction in the presence of two witnesses. Then follows a proviso that every such Will, whether made under the powers of the Act, 1800 or 1862, shall, as regards the property therein, be construed to speak and take effect as if it had been executed immediately before the death of the testatrix, unless a contrary intention shall appear by the Will. Section 7 to the Act, 1862, applies to Crown Private Estates the provisions of Section 5 of 39 and 40 Geo. III., cap. 88, which provides that if no disposition of such estates is made by the Sovereign, or if the disposition does not exhaust the whole estate then the same or the balance is to descend as if that Act had not been passed—the effect of which would be to carry it to the Crown property. As showing Her Majesty's solicitude regarding her private estates, and that they should be treated in all respects as the private estates of any of her subjects, Section 8 prescribes that the private estates of the Sovereign shall be subject to all such taxes, rates, duties, assessments and impositions, parliamentary and parochial, as the same would have been subject to if they had been the property of any subject of the realm; and all such rates and taxes shall, so long as such private estates shall be vested in Her Majesty, her heirs or successors, be ascertained, rated, assessed, or imposed thereon in the same manner and form in all respects as if the same estates were the absolute and beneficial estate of any of Her Majesty's subjects. By Section 9, payment is to be made out of the Privy Purse of Her Majesty [to save proceedings against the estate.]

Although the Act of 1862 was framed with very great care and was an Act to remove doubts concerning the law relating to Crown private estates, yet so solicitous was Her late Majesty regarding her private estates, if left to one who might succeed her as King, that another Act was passed in 1873, 36 & 37 Vict., cap. 61—to explain and amend the Crown Private Estates Act, 1862, and to remove doubts as to whether any such private estates left to one who may be or become King or Queen of this realm, will be, or, after accession, continue to be, held as private estates. It will have been observed that the previous Acts only allowed to be treated as private estates, gifts or descent where the donor or ancestor was not a King or Queen of this realm. Section 1 of the Act of 1873 enacts that all the provisions of the Act of 1862 concerning the private estates of Her Majesty shall apply to all gifts, devises, or dispositions made by Her Majesty, her heirs or successors to any person who may become King or Queen of this realm, unless in the instrument an intention shall be expressed that such estates shall not be or after the accession of any person entitled thereto to the Crown of this realm, continue to be, held as such private estate.

Nothing could be more emphatic regarding Her Majesty's intention. But there is even more in this Act of 1873. It extends to the Crown private estates the provisions of Section 3 of 3rd and 4th William IV., cap. 106, passed in 1833, which provides that when any land has been devised by any testator to the heir or to the person who shall be heir of such testator, such heir shall be considered to have acquired the land as a devise and not by descent. Before the passing of the Act of 1833, if any person devised lands to his heir by Will, then, on the death of the testator, the heir took the lands as heir, and not as devisee. It is a well-known principle of construction of statutes that unless an Act of Parliament is made specially to apply to the Crown, the Crown is not affected by it. Hence, as the Act of 1833 did not specially apply to the inheritances of the Crown, they were excluded from its operation. The result was that estates left to the heir of the Crown by the Sovereign would be taken up not as devisee under the will but as heir to the Crown; and thus the lands would fall into the hereditary estate of the Crown, which the statute of Anne could not be alienated. Hence the necessity of Section 2 of the Act of 1873, which preserved the private character of any estate devised by the Queen to the heir of the throne.

It was, therefore, in order to prevent the very thing happening that this Bill proposes to do—namely, the falling of Crown private estates into the hereditary estate of the Crown—that the Acts of 1862 and 1873 were passed. Even this change was not allowed to be passed unchallenged. In the division on the Second Reading, 167 voted for the Bill, and 35 against it—the tellers against being Mr. George Anderson, one of the Members for Glasgow, and Mr. Bouverie, the Member for Kilmarnock Burghs. The minority were opposed to giving any facilities for the acquisition of private property by the Sovereign, holding that it should all be merged in the Crown lands. The opinion of Sir George Lewis was quoted in the debate, who on 22nd May, 1857, said:— It has been deemed a matter of policy in this country wholly to strip and denude the Sovereign of all hereditary property, and to render him during his life entirely dependent upon the bounty of Parliament. In the course of the Debate in 1873, Mr. Gladstone—who was then Prime Minister—incidentally referred to the case of the Osborne estates. He said:— If Osborne were to fall into the mass of Crown Estates—[the effect of this Bill]—it would have to be taken under the charge of the Commissioner of Works—[what this Bill proposes to do]—and this House would be asked for a large sum of money for its maintenance as a Royal residence—[the purpose of this Bill]. It appeared to him that these outlying properties were of secondary importance, of no territorial importance whatever, and that it was for the interest of the public, considered in a pounds, shillings, and pence view of the question, that they should not become part of the Crown estates. Obviously, the whole of the debate would be followed by Her late Majesty with the greatest interest, and would increase her determination to preserve the private character of her estates, with the view of preventing their becoming part of the Crown lands.

Now if we turn for a moment to the Bill itself we shall find that it is not intended to confer a gift, as it were, on the part of the King to the nation. I have already dealt with the King's title. It is important to observe what the Bill does. It transfers Osborne estate and vests it in His Majesty in right of the Crown, and henceforth it is to cease to be a private estate of the Sovereign. Then provision is made for keeping it up by placing it as a charge on the public revenues of the country, and the Crown Lands Act is to apply. While this property is ostensibly handed over and becomes part of the Crown lands, it should be observed that under the pro-restriction. By sub-Section 4 of Section vision of the Bill it is handed over with a 1 it is proposed that the Osborne estate should become a memorial of Her late Majesty. The sub-Section provides— As a memorial to Her late Majesty, the Commissioners of Works (a) Shall, during His Majesty's pleasure, preserve, so far as may be in its present condition, and keep open to the public, in such manner and on such terms as the Commissioners, with the approval of His Majesty, determine, such part of Osborne House as appears to have been in the personal occupation of Her late Majesty; and (b) shall devote the rest of Osborne House and the grounds under their management to be used for the benefit of officers of His Majesty's naval and military forces or their wives, widows or family. And the Commissioners of Works shall allow the said part of the estate coloured yellow (being Barton House and grounds) to be used as a residence for such persons as they may determine with the approval of His Majesty. This is not a gift to the nation. It is really a new trust not to be enjoyed by the nation as a whole, but by a section, "officers of His Majesty's naval and military forces, or their wives, widows, or family." The only thing the nation, as a whole, is to have is the privilege of paying the money for the up-keep of the estate and adapting Osborne House for the occupation by naval and military officers. I think that the matter will require to be very carefully considered in Committee. I take the position that we are dealing here with a property which, but for this Bill, the King and the Prince of Wales have not the power, according to the law of this country, to dispose of, in view of the Will of the late Queen. I think I have shown that Her Majesty was particularly solicitous that her private estates should not be merged in the Crown lands. I do not, of course, intend to move any Amendment now, but I have thought it right to bring this matter before the House. I think also, perhaps, I have given a complexion to the matter which even the King himself had not present to his mind. He probably thought when he was dealing with the estate that it was one over which he had full control. The matter can be dealt with in Committee. The transfer of the estate as the King wishes may be made so far as his life extends, or it may be so far as the lives of the King and the Prince of Wales extend, but I think if Parliament does that it will do everything that is competent at present.


May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will tell the House what will be the financial aspects of the proposals in the Bill?


I do not think any one can complain of the hon. Gentleman opposite for having drawn attention to the circumstances under which this Bill is proposed, and, if I may say so, I compliment the hon. Gentleman on the extraordinary power of research he has exhibited, and the lucid manner in which he has given to the House the result of his researches. But I think it will be unnecessary for me, and the hon. Gentleman will hardly expect me, to enter into all the various points he has raised, and the legal points he has so ably discussed, and to explore with him all the various statutes which have a bearing on the matter, and with regard to which we are not asking the House to come to a decision today. The hon. Gentleman did say something which I feel bound to remark upon for one moment. He rather accused the Government of concealing the contents of Her late Majesty's Will, and of withholding information which might perhaps have led the House to take House to take a different view of the Bill from that which it would otherwise have taken.


Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I had no intention of accusing the Government of deliberately concealing anything.


I am making no accusation against the hon. Gentleman. I only wanted to make it clear that, although we had not had it in our power to give the hon. Gentleman a copy of the will as he asked me to do on a recent occasion, yet the effect of Her late Majesty's Will is, of course, fully described in the preamble of the Bill. We do not for a moment wish to deny that this Bill a variation of the wishes and Will of Her Majesty the late Queen. If it had not been so, it would not have been necessary for us to come to the House for some sections of this Bill. The hon. Gentleman does not deny that so far as the rights which the King, and the Prince of Wales had under Her late Majesty's Will are concerned, they were perfectly at liberty to place these rights at the disposal of Parliament, and, if I might be allowed to say so, I think the country at large will consider that, in doing this, the King and the Prince of Wales have made a munificent and generous gift to the nation. It is not only a gift of very great value at the present time, but a gift which will be, I venture to say, of much greater value in the future; for any one who has acquaintance with the extent and the nature of the land which has been conveyed to the nation will know that there are immense possibilities of development in the future, and that the gift of the King and the Prince of Wales is a most munificent one. With regard to the rights of the young Prince, there is no doubt that what the hon. Gentleman said is true; that he has rights under the Will which he is not in a position himself to dispose of. But, if this gift was to be made in a way in which it could be availed of by the country, it was necessary that all existing rights should be dealt with under the Bill. The hon. Gentleman himself has really given up any question of the rights of the young Prince by saying that these can dealt with in Committee. So far as the King and the Prince of Wales are concerned, in it will be recognised by the country that they are giving up to the country something of very great value. The hon. Gentleman has rather thrown some doubt on that by saying that this estate is not really to be for the enjoyment of the public, but for a select portion of the public. It is perfectly true that so far as the greater portion of Osborne House is concerned, the intentions of His Majesty are expressed in the fourth sub-Section of Clause, I, which reads as follows— That the House will be preserved in its present condition, and kept open. and used for the benefit of officers of His Majesty's Naval and Military forces, or their wives, widows, or families. Well, in order to carry out His Majesty's desires, and in the general interest of the public, and also in the interest of those who, as His Majesty's advisers think, should be specially favoured in this matter, a Committee has been appointed and is now sitting; and although they have not yet finally settled the exact form in which the intention of His Majesty is to be carried out, I hope that their Report will very soon be in my hands. The House will see, I think, from the composition of that Committee, that all composition of that Committee, that all interests are adequately represented upon it. Lord Esher and Sir Dighton Probyn may be taken to represent the official part of the Committee; Sir F. Treves and Sir Francis Laking will be, I think, accepted as representing the medical side of the case; Sir E. Ward, the permanent Secretary to the War Office, represents the Army, Captain Tyrwhitt represents the Navy, Sir E. Hamilton safeguards the Treasury, Sir Schomberg McDonnell represents the Office of Works, and Mr. Horner the Office of Woods. I think that that Committee will be accepted by the House as a representative Committee; and I am quite sure that any recommendations which they may make in regard to the mode in which the wishes of His Majesty are to be carried out will command the confidence of the House. I may say here that that portion of Osborne House in which her late Majesty died will not be open to the public at all, as it is the desire that that portion shall be kept, if I may say so, somewhat more sacred than the other parts of the house. But the grounds will be open to the general public.


That is not what the Bill says.


That is the understanding. The gardens, of course, will be only available to those who are living in the house—the officers of the Army and the Navy, their wives, widows, and families, who may ultimately find refuge there. As to the cost to the public, I may say that it has been estimated that the structural alterations will cost between £5,000 and £6,000, and the up-keep of the house, gardens, and grounds, everything included, will come to between £3,000 and £5,000 a year, according to the manner in which the house is utilised. Then there are the stables. Any one who has had the privilege of seeing the estate of Osborne will know that these stables are an extremely fine range of buildings, and the House will be glad to know that they are to be utilised in a manner which I am sure will be satisfactory to the House and to the public at large. The First Lord of the Admiralty has under his consideration a proposal to station a training ship in Osborne Bay for the use of naval cadets, and the stable buildings will be fitted up as workshops, gymnasia, and drill rooms for the cadets on board this ship. The existing dormitories will be utilised for the naval attendants, who will be required to look after the premises. There is also to be a sanatorium for the use of the naval cadets I feel sure that the House will agree with me, that that is a very useful way in which to utilise the stables.


What about the cost of the naval arrangement?


They will be charged in the Navy Estimates. There is at present an amount, roughly speaking, of £1,000 coming in from rents on the estate, so that the yearly expenditure will be reduced by that amount.


What will the rates be?


I do not know, but I imagine that they will be small. I have explained all the circumstances under which this Bill has been proposed, and I think that the proposals contained in the Bill are of a nature which will be acceptable to the public, and that the House and the country will consider that the King and the Prince of Wales, in making over to the public this most valuable estate, have acted in a most generous manner. I hope in these circumstances that there will be no dispute as to the Second Reading of the Bill, which will have to be referred to a Select Committee.


A stranger instance of the mutability of human affairs has never been presented than this—that within two years of the death of our revered Sovereign, a Minister should stand up and propose to the House, a variation of the wishes and Will of Her late Majesty. Those are his own very words. I think that if three years ago such a suggestion had been made, it would have been scouted, not only by Ministers, the House, and the people of Great Britain, but even by the entire world, as an impossibility. But I desire to ask some information as to the real effect of the changes that are proposed to be made. For instance, we are told that that portion of Osborne House which was in the personal occupation of Her late Majesty is to be kept sacred, and that the public are not to be admitted to it. Well, the phrase, "personal occupation of Her Majesty," has usually been applied to a whole palace, such as Windsor and Buckingham Palace, personally occupied by the Sovereign. What does it mean here? We have not been told what part of Osborne House is regarded as having been in the personal occupation of Her late Majesty. Are the State rooms, and all the rest of the house where the guests were lodged, to be closed to the public?


I have stated that that portion of the House in which the late Queen died will not be open to the public at all. The State aparments, including the large Indian Durbar room, will be open to the public.


I am much obliged for the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. The right hon. Gentleman has described the composition of the Committee which is to consider, so far as I understand, the manner in which the Osborne estate is to be disposed of in order to carry out the provisions of this Bill. That Committee contains officials, medical representatives, naval and military officers, representatives of the Treasury and of the Office of Works; but there is no suggestion, so far as I can see, to put upon it any single representative of the public. Surely the public have some right to be considered in this matter, when we are asked to put down £6,000 at once for structural alterations, and to pay £5,000 a year for maintaining the estate. I should have thought that, on a Committee so large, two members, either of this House or in some other way representing the public, should have been added to the Committee.


Perhaps I ought to have stated that I propose that the Report of that Committee shall be laid before the House before the Bill leaves the House.

*MR. YOXALL () Nottingham, W.

Before the Committee stage?


I hope that may be possible.


I should have preferred that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee rather than to a picked Committee.


The Bill be referred to a Select Committee.


Then there will be a Select Committee of the House on the Bill as well as this executive Committee?


"Executive Committee" is not the proper term to apply to the Committee I have named. It is a Committee which has been appointed with a view to advising as to the best manner in which the King's wishes can be carried out.


Do I understand that this Committee will make its Report, and there end its functions?




It will not be a permanent Committee?


Certainly not.


I am glad to have elicited that information, which is entirely satisfactory. There is one other point. The right hon. Gentleman has explained that there is to be a new cadet training ship anchored in Osborne Bay. If this is to be a new training ship for cadets, is it to be a "Britannia" in little?


I am not in position to explain to the hon. Gentleman, or to the House, exactly what the ship will be, or what it is going to do. I have explained what is to be done with the stables, and in doing so I incidentally stated that it was proposed to station a cadet training ship in Osborne Bay.


It now appears that the Navy is to be put in the stables, and that, in order to justify that, a navel cadets' training-ship is to be put into Osborne Bay at a further expense in the Navy estimates. It is only recently that we have very much enlarged the grounds at Dartmouth and erected magnificent buildings for the naval cadets there. To set up a supplementary establishment at Osborne seems unwise. I believe that it will be extremely difficult to provide at Osborne, notwithstanding the stables, the accommodation which will be absolutely necessary for training cadets. I trust that when the Bill is before the Select Committee further information will be given. There is another point. I followed with great interest the somewhat long, but they excellent, speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark, and I must say that the strongest part of that speech was that in which he complained that the rights of the young Prince were set aside. It is impossible to conceal the fact that this Bill deprives the young Prince of his patrimony. I always understood that this House, and especially the Party to which I belong, was very tender as to the rights of property; and that if there was greater jealousy to be observed in one case than another, it should be in the case of the rights of private property of the Sovereign. The right hon. Gentleman has not defended the deprivation of the rights of the young Prince. He only says that it is necessary that these rights should be dealt with in order that this Bill should be passed. I do not think that that is a sufficient reason for depriving the young rince of his patrimony. I could have wished that some better or more complete justification had been made for it. We must all feel gratitude for the munificence of the King and the Prince of Wales, who have placed their interests at the disposal of the country, but I think the account which the right hon. Gentleman has given of the purposes to which the estate is to be put is incomplete. I can only hope that Osborne House will be preserved and looked upon with veneration as a great memorial of the great Queen whose Will it is now proposed to set aside.


There is no doubt that this is a magnificent gift which His Majesty has made to the country; and I cannot imagine that anyone would object to it, though there are one or two points of detail on which further information is desirable. I think, however, that before the House proceeds with the Bill, which will lay an annual charge on the nation for all time, we should have the Report of the Advisory Committee to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred. We ought to know on what terms the naval and military officers are to be admitted to Osborne House; how many of them there are to be; and what the age of admission and what the process of selection are to be; although, of course, such questions could not be raised in regard to Hampton Court, which is entirely at the disposal of His Majesty.

*SIR JAMES FERGUSSON () Manchester, N. E.

This is an occasion on which we would not be inclined to make use of fulsome expressions about Royalty. I am of an age to be without ambition, but I deprecate the use of language of the kind with which my hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn commenced his speech. Her late Majesty left to her family this magnificent property, purchased out of her private means, and Her Majesty's immediate descendants have desired to turn that property to the use of the nation, and have bestowed it in the manner of which we have heard today. I think we should all wish that the property left to Her Majesty's descendants should be used by them according to their judgment. I do not wish to associate myself with any expression implying that His Majesty is doing otherwise than making a noble and beneficial use of the property settled upon him and his family by his revered mother.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee of Five Members, three to be nominated by the House, and two by the Committee of Selection.

Ordered, that all Petitions against the Bill presented three clear days before the meeting of the Committee be referred to the Committee; that the petitioners praying to be heard by themselves, their Counsel, or Agents be heard against the Bill, and Counsel heard in support of the Bill.

Ordered, that the Committee have power to send for persons, Papers, and records.

Ordered, That Three be the quorum.—Mr. Hayes-Fisher.)

Mr. SPEAKER, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 16th October last, adjourned the House without Question put.

Adjourned at twenty - seven minutes after Five o'clock till Monday next.