HL Deb 20 December 1837 vol 39 cc1370-2



"First,—Because it is inconsistent with every sound principle of legislation to make provision for so important a branch of the public expenditure as the civil list, by an arrangement which is to last for the life of the reigning Sovereign, inasmuch as through a period of time most justly desired and reasonably expected to be of long duration, the whole circumstances may vary to which the terms of the arrangement must be adapted, and the sum now allotted may be found either too small or too large for the appointed purpose.

"Secondly,—Because such variations are more especially likely to happen through the changes which may take place in the relative value of money, and all articles of consumption, by the fluctuating supply of the precious metals, the increased powers of machinery, the improved skill in other respects brought to bear upon manufactures, the progress of agricultural improvement, and, above all, the improvement of our legislation upon the importation of foreign corn, which would at once lower the price of all commodities, and give an entirely different real value to the nominal sum now allotted, as necessary for the expenditure of the court during the period of the Sovereign's natural life, upon an assumption, altogether gratuitous, that prices will undergo no change.

"Thirdly,—Because the arrangement is also framed upon an assumption, if possible still more gratuitous, that the habits of society will remain fixed, and that one generation after another will pass away without effecting any change in the opinions and tastes which must always form the standard of the establishment required to support the Royal dignity at any given time; while, if the object of the arrangement be to fix these opinions and tastes in their present frame, or in one more antiquated, and to arrest their future course, it must be confessed that no attempt can be conceived more visionary and chimerical.

"Fourthly,—Because all experience has shown that the civil list arrangement is only held binding upon one of the parties to it—namely, the country—being always departed from as often as it is found inconvenient for the Crown, and uniformly used to preclude all revision of its principles or details as often as these are found disadvantageous to the country.

"Fifthly,—Because the last time that a civil list was settled upon a royal life of long probable duration, to wit, in 1760, before nine years had elapsed, Parliament was called upon to re-consider the arrangement, and about half a million was paid to defray the arrears of the royal establishment—and in eight years more about six hundred thousand pounds were again required to supply a like deficiency, not to mention various other similar applications during the remainder of the same reign: all of which clearly shows, that what is constantly treated as a compact between prince and people, when the interests of the latter are concerned, is as invariably deemed to impose no obligation whatever on the former party when his interest requires the compact to be disregarded.

"Sixthly,—Because that which experience has proved to have been unwise and improvident nearly eighty years ago, ought to be still more jealously regarded at the present day by those whom the Constitution has appointed to be as well the guardians of the people as the Councillors of the prince; for the public debt has, during that long interval of time, been increased nearly tenfold—the peace establishment been more than quadrupled—and the sums raised from the country are above five times as large, and weigh upon its industry and resources with a pressure against which even its increased population, capital, and skill, can with the greatest difficulty maintain a struggle.

"Seventhly,—Because the course, obviously recommended by every rational view of the subject, would have been to pass the bill for a limited number of years, when the whole matter might again have come under the consideration of Parliament; and this would not have been so great a departure from ancient usage as has been made upon former occasions, and even in the reign of Charles 2nd, when the devotion of all men to the throne, and the dread of change, appeared to have reached their greatest height.

"Eighthly,—Because the unexampled haste with which this measure has been carried through both Houses, has prevented the information from being in possession of either which it was absolutely necessary to have before it could be at all known what the revenue of the Crown will be after the grant is made. In particular, we are entirely ignorant of the sums actually derived from the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, and only are aware that those revenues are very considerable; that they are managed at a heavy cost; and that as the law now stands, and as this bill leaves it, the larger portion of them may be anticipated at any time, by way of fine, to the immediate profit of the reigning Sovereign, and the impoverishment of the future heir-apparent, for whose Support they are believed to have been given, but whose expenses being always defrayed in by far the greater proportion by the country, the revenues in question ought to be placed under the management of responsible functionaries, and administered for the public benefit.

"Ninthly,—Because the like haste has been shown in passing this bill's provision, regarding pensions, before the Committee now engaged in considering that subject has made any report; and when it is impossible to foretel how far its inquiries may bear upon the policy of the proposed arrangement.

"Tenthly,—Because ample time might have been afforded for considering the whole of this important measure, and for passing it into a law, with all the requisite information before us, in such a matured form, and at such an early period, as might have testified the respect justly due to the Sovereign as well as the duty we owe to the people, if the Parliament had been assembled at such a period as the other interests of the Empire seemed plainly to require; more especially if, as early as it has been summoned in past times when the work of war was in hand, and required supplies of men and money, it had now been called together for the more blessed labours of peace and conciliation, to retrace the steps of oppressive injustice, to save the remote dominions of the Queen from the horrors of civil warfare, and to spare the mother country the hard necessity of bearing a part in such a conflict.

(Signed) "BROUGHAM."