§ The House having resolved itself into a Committee on the King's Message for a Provision for the Puke and Duchess of Clarence, and the said Message having been read,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose, and addressed the Committee as follows:— Sir; whenever parliament has been called upon on former occasions, to consider what provision ought to be made for the due maintenance of the station and dignity of different members of the royal family, the consideration of the degree of proximity which any individual of that family might have to the throne, has always been one of the most important
elements of that consideration. In the case of his late royal highness the duke of York, that principle was acted upon, even before he came to be so near the throne as he was at the time of his decease; for, during the life of his late majesty, indeed during the life of the princess Charlotte of Wales, the allowance he enjoyed from parliament was greater, in consequence of his proximity to the throne, than that which was assigned to the younger branches of the royal family. It will, perhaps, be as well for me here to state, what the income assigned to the duke and duchess of York, under these circumstances, amounted to. In the first place, his late royal highness derived 26,000l. per annum from the consolidated fund. In addition to this, there was a pension on the Irish pension list, of 7,000l. per annum, making together the sum of 33,000l. The duchess had, for her own support, an annual income of 4,000l., which, added to the 33,000l. enjoyed by the duke, made 37,000l. And it was thought, upon numerous occasions, when brought under the consideration of the House, that taking into view the relation which their royal highnesses bore to the throne, it was an allowance not more than sufficient for them to maintain the station in life which they were called upon to fill.—I will now state to the House, the income of his royal highness the duke of Clarence. That prince has a charge upon the consolidated fund of 26,500l. per annum, but he is without any allowance whatever for the duchess. The whole of his royal highness's allowance is, therefore, only 26,500l.: this is somewhat more than is assigned to the other junior branches of the royal family. It was considered but right that his royal highness should have 2,500l. beyond the other junior branches of the royal family, for a reason which I shall presently stale. Sir, the income he now enjoys was assigned to him by various acts of parliament. The first act to which I shall allude, was passed at an early period of the late king's reign. It was to take effect after his death, and assigned to all the younger princes a sum of 60,000l. per annum, which was to be divided between them in equal portions, with benefit of survivorship, until the sum enjoyed by the survivors should have reached 15,000l. per annum each, The six younger princes, since that act came into operation, have enjoyed 10,000l. per
annum in consequence. This act was passed about the year 1778. On the death of the duke of Kent, the right of survivorship raised the sum of 10,000l. enjoyed by the younger princes, to 12,000l. It was under that law, then, that his royal highness the duke of Clarence receives 12,000l. a-year. In 1806 another act was passed, giving 6,000l. per annum additional to the younger princes of the royal family. This raised the amount of his royal highness's income to 18,000l. By another act, the date of which I do not now exactly call to mind, a further allowance of 2,500l. was made; but this ceased at the death of his late majesty. It was renewed in 1820. This made his royal highness's income 20,500l. When his royal highness married, a proposition was made to increase his allowance on that account. An increase of 10,000l. was, therefore, proposed to the House; but it was thought too much, and upon discussion was reduced to 6,000l. Under all the circumstances, his royal highness felt that it would be more becoming in him to decline to accept the reduced grant. He, accordingly, did decline it; and that grant, therefore, was never carried into effect. In 1822, I think it was, that the proposition was renewed of allowing him 6,000l. additional; as had already been done in the cases of the duke of Cambridge and another of his royal brothers. The House, I believe, almost unanimously consented; and this raised his royal highness's income to 26,500l. the sum I have already alluded to. It may be well for me here to state, that, in 1820, until the civil list could be settled, which did not take place until some months after the demise of his late majesty, the allowances to the different princes of the royal family were charged upon the hereditary revenues, which occasioned some confusion in the accounts of that year; but in June an act was passed to regulate their payment. It was, at the same time, re-enacted, that the portion of the duke of Clarence, and the other younger princes' income, which had ceased by the death of his late majesty, should be continued. That act secured the same benefit of survivorship which had before existed. The effect of that was, by the death of the late duke of York, to put his royal highness the duke of Clarence, into the possession of 3,000l. per annum beyond what he enjoyed previous to that event.
This raised his income to 29,500l.; the law, at the same time, preventing the possibility of any further increase by right of survivorship, as that 3,000l. made the sum of 15,000l., which was the limit the law had set to the operation of that right. I have thus explained to the committee the amount of his royal highness's income; but nothing, as I before stated, is allowed for her royal highness the duchess. I therefore propose to submit to the consideration of the committee, the propriety of placing their royal highnesses on the same footing, with respect to income, with that enjoyed by the duke of York. There are certain differences between them, which I beg leave to state. The late duke of York, in addition to his income of 33,000l., had an allowance, as I before mentioned, of 4,000l., on account of her royal highness the duchess. I shall, therefore, propose to add 3,000l. to the income of 29,500l. already enjoyed by his royal highness the duke of Clarence, which will raise his allowance to 32,500l. I shall further propose, that an annuity of 6,000l. per annum, be granted to the duchess during her husband's life-time. [A member called out, that that was, altogether, more than the duke of York had had.] That is true; but, in looking at this matter, it is necessary to take into consideration the difference between the professional emoluments of the one and of the other. It has always been considered, that the duke of Clarence, in the profession he embraced, was placed in a less favourable position than his royal brothers who entered the army. It was on this consideration, that the 2,500l. I alluded to before was granted him, over and above the allowance made to the other junior princes. Upon these grounds it is, that I propose the grant. When matters of this kind are considered in this House, it is not considered necessary, and very properly, nor would it be consistent with dignity, to enter into any account of the personal merits of the royal individual, whose claims we may have under consideration. Grants of this kind are not made to the individual as an individual, but on account of his public station, and nearness to the throne. It is that which makes it the duty of this country to be liberal in its allowances to the members of the royal family. I therefore decline to rest the question upon claims of a personal nature; but I think I may say, with-
out departing from respect or delicacy, that her royal highness the duchess of Clarence, a stranger among us, is as eminent for the graces of her mind as for her virtues, and that, although not a British-born lady, is yet one of that long list, who have done honour to this country, by the graces and amiability of their disposition and propriety of their conduct. I hope, Sir, I shall not be considered to have transgressed, in having said so much. I do not consider it necessary to trouble the House at greater length; but one observation, and I have done. It was not known to his royal highness that this proposition was to be made, until the message had received his majesty's signature, and a copy of it was sent him. If the House should think proper to assent to the proposition, no doubt his royal highness will receive its decision with due gratitude; but this I am bound to say, that the part of it which his royal highness has regarded with the greatest pleasure, is that which goes to place the duchess, whose virtues and excellence he must necessarily have the best means of appreciating, in an independent and honourable situation. I move, Sir,
1. "That His Majesty be enabled to grant a yearly sum of money out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, not exceeding in the whole the sum of 3,000l., to his royal highness the duke of Clarence, for the further support and maintenance of his royal highness.
2. "That His Majesty be enabled to grant a yearly sum of money out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, not exceeding in the whole the sum of 6,000l. to her royal highness the duchess of Clarence, for the further support and maintenance of her royal highness.
§ Lord Althorp
regretted deeply that his majesty should have been advised to send down a message like the present to the House. If it could be shown, that in consequence of his change of situation, his royal highness the duke of Clarence would really be put to additional expenses, no doubt it was fit that he should be enabled to meet them; but, although he fully concurred with the chancellor of the Exchequer, that the personal virtues of the illustrious individuals concerned in questions of this description ought to form no feature in the deliberation of the 522 House; and though he went further, and was ready to admit that, the private conduct of the duke of Clarence, as it appeared before the country, had been marked by a degree of economy and domestic management, which, to the full as much as any of his royal brothers, entitled him to the attention of parliament; yet he did not think that any case for the grant had been made out, and he was sorry, for the sake of his royal highness personally, and for the sake of the royal family altogether, that, under the circumstances of the country, it had been demanded. With distress and ruin running through every part of the kingdom, and with a revenue deficient four millions in the course of the last year, some good ground indeed ought to be shown for asking for any addition to the burthens of the people. The right hon. gentleman had said, that it was the constant custom of parliament to give to the heir presumptive to the throne a grant beyond that allowed to the other members of his family; but he had not adduced a single proof in support of that statement. The right hon. gentleman had quoted the income of the duke of York when he was not the heir presumptive; but he had not shown that a single shilling was added to it when he fell into that situation; therefore there was no precedent for the grant made out at all. But, even if a precedent could have been found, he thought it would have been more to the honour of the royal family, if, in a moment of distress like the present, the demand had not been brought forward. He regretted that the message had been sent down, and that his view of what was his duty to the country compelled him to make these observations; but, feeling as he did, he had no choice but to oppose the motion.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that that grant was only applicable in case of the duke's death.
§ Mr. Hume
.—Well, the money, at all events, had been granted; but he would not go into that. Could the House, he would only ask, satisfy itself that it was doing its duty in the present state of the country, in voting a grant of 9,000l. a year to the duke of Clarence, in addition 523 to the 3,000l. which his royal highness had already got by the death of the late duke of York? The income which the duke of Clarence enjoyed from his appointments would make his revenue not less than 40,000l. a year. Could it tend to the honour of the Crown, or make the people satisfied with the system of monarchy, if that system, under such circumstances, was to be supported at such an expense? If the chancellor of the Exchequer looked at the paper which he ought to have in his possession, he would find, that the civil list of this country amounted to 1,557,000l., great part of which was purely applicable to the maintenance of royalty. The civil list of Scotland furnished 200,000l. more; a large proportion of which was available for the same purpose. The pensions on the last year list, paid to members of the royal family (including the allowance to the prince of Saxe Coburg) amounted to no less than 234,500l. Now, in addition to this, we were called upon to vote 9,000l. a year more to the duke of Clarence, making the amount 243,500l. Let the House listen to the cries for economy and reduction, which were proceeding from all parts of the country. No other assembly in the world would turn a deaf ear, as the House was doing, to the prayers of the people. A member of the government, the hon. Secretary for the Colonies, had alluded, only a night past, to a petition from the town of Blackburn. That petition he had presented; and the title of it was, "The Petition of the Starving Weavers of Lancashire." Thousands of workmen were out of employ in that town: men, women, and children had died, or were perishing, of actual hunger. Their prayer to the House was, that something might be done, which would provide them with sufficient food of the vilest kind, only to support nature: and the answer was, a motion for an additional grant of 9,000l. a year to the duke of Clarence! Calls of the same description with those from Blackburn were coming from Manchester, from Glasgow, from almost all our manufacturing towns. There was a deficiency in the last, year's revenue of more than 5,000,000l.; and yet the House, was told, that we had an effective finking fund of 5,000,000l., and was called upon to vote more money away! No man in the House was bettor aware than himself of the humane and charita- 524 ble disposition of the duke of Clarence. He knew that to various public institutions, his royal highness had devoted much of his particular attention. He believed, too, that his present majesty had the character of being as humane as the other branches of his family; and if that was the fact, he was utterly unable to believe that ministers had truly laid before him the state of the country. He could not believe that his majesty, with the knowledge of the real state of so many thousands of his subjects, would have sent down such a message as the present to the House. If the truth could be known, he believed it would be found that the message was not that of the king, but of the ministers who sat opposite, and who had advised his majesty to take this course, that they might worship the rising sun, and give an example of their prompt obedience to the power that was likely to be; as had been done in the case of the allowance to the prince of Saxe Coburg on his marriage—a case of the most profligate inattention, on the part of both sides of the House, to the interests of the country. At this moment, too, an application of this kind came with peculiar ill grace, for only a few days had elapsed since, in pursuance of the king's letter, the aid of the church was called in, to institute collections for the relief of the distressed manufacturers; a step which he lamented, because nothing was more derogatory to the kingly dignity, than that his majesty should have been advised to ask alms of his people, to save their fellow-creatures from starvation. All who felt as he did for the honour and dignity of the Crown, must, have lamented that, the state professed itself unable, by any other means, to procure relief for the famishing poor. It was most humiliating and painful to have lately seen the beadles and parish officers passing from door to door, and for what?—to beg alms, by virtue of the king's letter, for the starving and distressed manufacturers. Was it, then, he would ask, consistent with that measure which avowed the inability of the government to afford any public pittance in the cause of suffering humanity, to come forward with such an application as this? What amount of subscription had the king's letter produced? What pittance was furnished by that only means which the government had advised his majesty to resort to, for the relief of starving 525 Englishmen? Had it produced as much as was now called for, merely to give one year's addition to an already princely income? Had it produced half the 9,000l. a year now demanded? Under such circumstances as these, he would not hesitate to say, that the ministers who had advised his majesty to recommend these begging applications from door to door, ought not to have ventured, within a very few weeks, to have acted so much in contradiction to such a recommendation. If, in the present situation of the country, the parliament could find any money to spare, let them give it to those who had a prior claim on their sympathy: let them give it for bread to their fellow countrymen, who were dying for want of it; and let them refrain from becoming parties to rendering the royal family odious in the eyes of the people over whom they were destined to reign. This was, forsooth, a pretty time to call for an addition of 9,000l. a-year to an income which was already 29,000l. If they looked even to the principle of these royal grants, they would in vain seek for a precedent for such a motion as this. The million a-year composing the expenditure of what was called the civil list was given to sustain the state and paraphernalia of royalty. What state was the duke of Clarence particularly called upon to assume in his present situation? If there were any man in England of high rank who bore more than another a character for attention to economy in his expenditure, and to a disregard of expensive and showy forms, that person was the duke of Clarence. As a plain and good Englishman, imbued with proper feelings, his royal highness stood above all these considerations. Indeed, the chancellor of the Exchequer had disclaimed putting the merits of; the motion upon personal grounds, and strictly confined it to the claim of rank. Then taking him at his word, he would ask, had not the duke of Clarence at present enough for the rank which he wished to assume? Was he, in fact, in the habit of spending what he already had in the maintenance of rank? If he was not, then more was superfluous. It was uncalled for, and therefore unnecessary. Referring for a moment, to the civil list, he thought that of late years, a large portion of it had been completely wasted: the expenditure had not been properly attended to, so that the 526 ministers ought rather to have been advised to come down to that House, to recommend its reduction, than to call for any addition to the civil list, in the present circumstances of the country. He was amazed at the present proposition. He wondered how it was possible, with such misery apparent all over the country, that any man, bearing the human character, could venture gravely to ask for this grant; at any rate, he must express his astonishment that his majesty's ministers, bearing, as he knew they deservedly did, characters for benevolence and humanity, at least such of them as were in that House—[laughter and cries of "hear."] It was certainly rather invidious for him to make exceptions; but when he alluded to the ministers in that House, he could speak more of his own personal knowledge of their characters, and could therefore bear direct testimony in their behalf. Speaking from this experience, he should hardly have thought it possible they could have persuaded themselves to make such a proposition. Made as it was, however, he entreated the House to pause before it sanctioned the claim, and to allow itself time to hear the expression of the public voice upon it. Let the voice of the people guide them this once upon the question, and they would, in the end, find that they had taken the right course in not yielding implicitly to the wish of ministers. He would particularly address himself to the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, and ask him how he could reflect with satisfaction upon this act, when he had before him various supplications from Glasgow alone, where above ten thousand artisans were borne, down by want to the lowest pitch of human misery? How was it possible he could countenance the present application for 9,000l. a year additional to an income of 29,000l. a year, with the cries of tens of thousands of distressed operatives in his ear, who, though dying for want, were nevertheless not betrayed into any disobedience of the laws. He begged pardon for dwelling upon this subject, but he had no hesitation in asserting that if the House yielded to this claim, they would be acting without a clue attention to the interests which they were expressly bound to guard. He hoped they would not consent to please a few, at the expense of the many. Better, far bettor would it be, to see the latter comfortable, than to grant this ad- 527 ditional sum of money; especially when it was distinctly avowed that the royal personage had not called for it. He absolved the duke of Clarence from any participation in the odium of this application. It was the act of the king's ministers, and that House ought not to yield a passive obedience to such personages. It was a question involving the honour of the House, the honour of ministers, and the honour of the royal family. There ought to be time allowed for the consideration of such a subject; and with that view he should move an adjournment of the debate, not for the purpose of committing members to oppose the grant, but merely to enable them to decide upon it after more mature deliberation. He should, therefore, conclude by moving, that the chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
expressed his regret, that the noble lord and the hon. gentleman should have opposed this motion, which he had hoped would have passed unanimously. He could not by any means see what injustice was done the country, by placing the heir presumptive upon the footing of his predecessor. Nothing was, he knew, more unpleasant than to provoke individual comparisons; yet it was almost unavoidable upon such an occasion as this. He would then say, that either the income granted to the late duke of York, thirty years ago, was most extravagant, or there could not be any impropriety in the present claim? Why was 39,000l. a year not deemed an improvident income for the duke of York, if the proposed augmentation for the duke of Clarence were thought unreasonable. How were they to escape from this dilemma? As to the argument about the condition of the country, it was not a liberal way of treating a question of this sort to put the distresses of the country in contrast with the allowance necessary for the due maintenance of the royal family. He sincerely believed that the people would never wish to sec their royal family straitened in circumstances; but, on the contrary, would always prefer to seethe Throne surrounded with dignity and just splendor. The hon. gentleman was wrong in arguing this proposition, as if it were a call upon the country for an additional giant of 9,000l. a year from the public burthens. It was no such thing: the case stood thus. A large saving had just fallen in by the 528 lamented death of the duke of York; and it was merely intended, that this saving should be less by the grant of this particular sum to the duke of Clarence. The people, he was quite sure, deeply regretted that the late calamity had occurred, and would have much preferred to have continued the payment of the duke of York's income, if his valuable life could have been preserved. To the truth of what had been said of the duchess of Clarence, he could speak more particularly from the circumstance of his residing at no great distance from the duke's residence. He could speak positively of the universal opinion which prevailed there, of her royal highness's benevolence, and likewise of the habits of economy to which the duke adhered, as far as was consistent with his high situation. He sincerely hoped that the opposition to this motion would be withdrawn, and that it would be carried unanimously.
§ Mr. Curwen
regretted that this question had been brought forward, for nothing could be more painful to him than to give the vote which his sense of duty called upon him to give. If the country was able to afford this grant, he had no individual objection to it; but when he knew that, from one end of it to the other, the cry of distress was general, he could not, without a violation of duty, hesitate to oppose it, and he was ready to do so at once, for he required no postponement to make up his mind upon it. The circumstances of the country imperatively called for economy, and the refusal of this grant would, he hoped, be the prelude of their performing similar acts of justice to their constituents.
§ Mr. Monck
concurred with his hon. friend, in his expression of pain at being obliged to oppose this motion. He had not heard a single argument from the chancellor of the Exchequer in favour of it. It was in vain to refer to the addition made to the incomes of the royal family in 1806; for that addition was expressly called for, on account of the rise in the price of all the necessaries of life. The act of 1806, therefore, furnished no precedent for such a claim as this. Were the royal family alone to have a reserved interest in the fluctuations of the price of provisions, and were the people never to have a similar chance in their favour? Willing as he was to support the due splendor and dignity of the royal family, 529 he never could consent to such a grant as this. He disliked these attempts to make the monarchy too expensive for the means of the nation, and to provoke comparisons between its cost, and that of the forms of governments in other countries. Like his hon. friend, he preferred the manlier course of meeting the motion with a direct negative, than calling for further time to make up his mind upon the vote which he ought to give.
expressed his regret at being obliged to concur in the view taken of this question by his noble friend, and the other hon. friends who had preceded him. No man could be more willing than he was, to lend his humble assistance to every measure which was calculated to support, on a just and splendid scale, the state and dignity of the royal family; and if any case of exigency could be made out to justify the present claim, he should have no hesitation to assent to it. But, had ministers attempted to press a case of exigency? No. The question rested plainly on this simple statement—that the melancholy event of the demise of the duke of York had imposed upon the duke of Clarence, as a consequence, the necessity of incurring a greater expenditure, in maintaining his rank, than he had been previously called upon to incur. Where was the proof of this necessity? Where had it been shown, that his royal highness had any estate or dignity necessarily to support as heir presumptive, which he had not equally to maintain in the lifetime of his brother? If it could be shown that his royal highness's present income was insufficient for his proper and becoming scale of living, and that it was fit and reasonable it should be increased now that he had become heir presumptive, then the case would be different; but the chancellor of the Exchequer had made out no such case: he had not even attempted to state it: his claim was therefore groundless, and must he considered as untenable. He had said, indeed, that on former occasions of settling the income of the royal family, regard had been had by parliament to the consideration, whether or not the prince of the blood was in the immediate succession to the throne. That assertion was incorrect; for no such distinction had been marked out on the occasions alluded to. Certainly, none had been taken in 1806, when the 6,000l. additional had been 530 made to the incomes of all the royal princes, except in the instance of the duke of York's larger income, which had been settled long before; and no distinctive allowance had been required for the heir presumptive. Indeed, so far as the duke of York was concerned, the attempt to create a precedent for a higher income for an heir presumptive must totally fail; for, at the time when these allowances were fixed, his royal highness was not the heir presumptive, the then prince of Wales, his elder-brother, occupying that high station; nor was the duke of York so elevated, until after the lamented death of the princess Charlotte, when no claim of larger income was made in his behalf. The increased income of the duke of York was, therefore, not estimated by his rank as heir presumptive, he not being so at the time, but was framed in the year 1792, upon his marriage, and with reference to the scale of his then necessarily increased establishment. The duke of York received his increased allowance in 1792, undoubtedly not because he stood in a different relation, as a member of the royal family, from his younger brothers—not because he was heir presumptive, for he held not that seniority—but solely on account of his marriage settlement. This was capable of demonstration, by a reference to the discussions upon the subject in the year 1792, and also in 1806.—It was, then, he thought, quite clear that there was, in fact, no superior scale of income established, or even recognized by precedent, for an heir presumptive, as contradistinguished from the other younger princes of the royal family. Very different, indeed, was the condition of the heir apparent. In his case there was clearly, legally, and justly, a superior claim; for he was called upon to maintain a higher and a more responsible station. The king and queen, the queen consort, the heir apparent, and princess royal, were severally distinguished by law from all other members of the royal family. It was fit, then, when the law raised them to marked places of superior privilege and dignity, that parliament should give effect to the constitutional principle of such selection, by enabling them suitably to maintain their higher privileges. But no such distinction prevailed as to the heir presumptive. He was not called on to support more state than any other junior 531 branch of the royal family. He was not called on to undergo any extraordinary expenditure to support his rank; and the only question, then, ought to be, was he sufficiently provided for already? It was surely for those who called now, for the first time, for this increase, to make out a case, showing in what the difference consisted in the situation of the heir presumptive from that which he had previously enjoyed as a member of the royal family, and how far it involved an increase of expenditure? Viewing the question, therefore, in this light, it was with great regret that he found himself compelled to call for further time, to inquire more maturely into the new circumstances in which the heir presumptive was supposed to be placed. Something had been said of the manner in which the grant of 1792 had been conferred; and the hon. colonel had urged, that if it were not wrong at the former time, it could not be improper now. All he should say in reply to that argument was this—that very possibly it might have been right in 1792, and yet that it was a precedent which it would be wrong to follow now. He was one of those who thought, that if the times had been as bad in 1792 as they were at present, probably the large grant would not have been voted at all; but, whether it was right or wrong, it was no part of their present business to inquire, for it clearly failed to furnish a precedent. They were now called upon to add 9,000l. a year to the income of a member of the royal family, at a time of unexampled public, distress. The hon. colonel had told them, that this addition would not impose a new burthen upon the country; but it was a fallacy to say they would not save this 9,000l. a year, and therefore to that extent relieve the public burthens, by retaining the benefit of the income which had just fallen in by the death of the duke of York. The hon. colonel asserted, that the country did not look very close at these matters, and was sure they would have preferred continuing to pay the larger income, rather than endure the calamity of his royal highness's death. He concurred with him in this appreciation of the public feeling; and it was just and right if should be so: but, because this saving of income did, in the course of nature, fall in, was it to be squandered at such a crisis as this, when the national finances disclosed a deficit, of so many millions over and above its re- 532 sources—a crisis when distress pervaded all ranks of the community, and imperatively called upon the representatives of the people to save the last shilling they could retain of the public expenditure?—With reference to the illustrious individual for whom this grant, though unasked by him, was intended, he entirely agreed in the respectful sentiments which had been expressed towards him. But this was a question in which, undoubtedly, personal considerations ought not to be mixed. True it was, that the duke and duchess of Clarence had the least possible reason to deprecate the consideration with reference to persons; for they could, at least, upon public and private grounds, from the unanimous and unequivocal testimony borne to their character by those who had the best opportunities from personal intercourse of knowing it, meet the application of any such personal allusion. Nevertheless, he repeated, that he deprecated personal allusion here, for it was foreign to the present question. The House was now called upon to regulate his royal highness's income upon an increased scale, because of his being heir presumptive to the throne. There was no reference either to recognized public station, or private character, but a mere assumption of rank. There was, in fact, no argument whatever to call for the additional grant. It was, therefore, with deep regret, that he felt himself called upon, by a sense of public duty, to oppose the motion, having heard nothing that could justify him in giving it the sanction of his vote.
Mr. Secretary Peel
admitted, that, there was no subject so unpleasant as one like this, which referred to circumstances somewhat of a personal nature, and particularly when they applied to the condition of the royal family. When he was called upon to justify the proposed grant, he felt the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of demonstrating that 9,000l. a year was the sum that ought to be added to the income of the present heir presumptive to the throne. Indeed, if the case admitted of so precise; a calculation, the details were of such a nature, that rather than enter minutely into them for the purpose of demonstration, he would prefer leaving every gentleman who heard him to draw the line of estimate in his own mind, and apply his computation to the amount now called for. The question was, he thought, really this. Was an addition of 3,000l. a 533 year to the income of his royal highness the duke of Clarence, and of 6,000l. a year to his consort, since he had become heir presumptive, a reasonable claim or not? That, and that only, was the consideration into which he had hoped the House would have entered. He admitted that the present was a time when the imposition of any considerable expenditure ought, as much as possible, to be avoided. He likewise admitted, that even the expense of the decent splendor of royalty itself ought to be closely examined, and not be permitted to run into excess; still he would say, that the circumstances of the country were not such as to preclude the adoption of this grant, provided it were reasonably proportioned to the expenditure which the heir presumptive was called upon, from his high station, to incur. He repelled the odious charge which the hon. member for Aberdeen had presumed to cast upon himself and his colleagues, that they were influenced, in bringing forward this proposition, by a desire to curry favour with the personage next in degree to the reigning monarch, and contrasted that unworthy charge with the more candid admission of the hon. and learned gentleman opposite, that the real question had no reference whatever to personal considerations, and that he met it upon a sense of public duty alone. He gave that hon. and learned gentleman full credit for being influenced by such a motive; and, was it too much for him to claim in return for his majesty's ministers, that they had recommended this application—upon their own responsibility, and certainly not advised to do so by the duke of Clarence—from public considerations alone? He could assure the House, that the motion proceeded from better motives than any desire to recommend themselves to the grace and favour of the heir presumptive. He was ready, then, to put the question on the ground called for by the hon. and learned gentleman, and to say, that he honestly believed there would be that amount of additional expenditure, in the establishment of his royal highness the duke of Clarence, consequent upon his being placed in the situation of heir presumptive to the throne. He, likewise believed, that in that very situation, he would ho. exposed to claims of private benevolence, which, upon grounds of public importance, it was desirable he should be in a condition to satisfy; but, it was con- 534 tended, that the precedent of the duke of York's grant, did not apply to this case, because he did not stand, at the time of its arrangement, in the situation of heir presumptive. Perhaps, arguing the point with the precise definition of an abstract question of dry law, that might be true; but, practically, the case was different, and in point of fact, even supposing that the duke of York's larger income did not accrue to him as heir presumptive, the precedent à fortiori applied stronger in favour of the duke of Clarence; for in the former it appeared that, though not standing in the first degree, that income had been deemed necessary to support the royal duke in his marriage establishment. He must beg leave to correct the hon. and learned gentleman in his assertion, that when the duke of York's income was fixed, and even in the subsequent arrangements respecting the establishments of the members of the royal family, the proximity of his late royal highness to the succession to the throne, compared with that of his younger brothers, had not been taken into the consideration. Mr. Pitt had expressly said—" Do not think that this grant is an injustice to, or hardship upon, the rest of the royal family." It was proposed to vote so much to the duke of York, and so much to the duchess, making 33,000l. for the duke, and 4,000l. for the duchess. A judgment upon this question must be formed upon the united considerations of many circumstances which, as he had before observed, it was painful to touch upon. Many of them singly might be of little importance, but he contended, that the aggregate of them were of considerable weight; and, in discussing this subject, he could not dismiss from his mind, that when this 37,000l. was granted to the duke and duchess of York, the duke was in possession of other property arising, it was true, from other sources and from other quarters. The income of the duke of York was nearly 50,000l. a year: it was, he believed, as near as possible, 49,000l. Now, the income of the duke and duchess of Clarence, who stood in precisely the same situation with the duke and duchess of York, would not, in the event of this grant being carried, exceed 38,000l. What, the hon. and learned gentleman had said about the law recognizing only the heir apparent to the throne, and passing over heirs presumptive, was perfectly true. He was quite as well aware of this fact the 535 hon. and learned gentleman was; but why did the law not recognize heirs presumptive, and why had the House invariably considered them? Could there be any other reason, except that their claims to the throne were equally well founded with those of heirs apparent? In this case, were not the claims of the heir presumptive, in all human probability, as well founded as those of any heir apparent could possibly be? As to the case of the princess Charlotte, it must be recollected, that that princess was neither heir apparent nor heir presumptive; and yet her situation induced that House to allow greater resources for the maintenance of her rank and station. He must therefore say, that he did not think this grant of 9,000l. at all too much. If the hon. member for Aberdeen had thought proper to exaggerate all the circumstances connected with this matter, and say that these 9,000l. would furnish bread for many needy and distressed persons, he would answer "So would every other grant." And would there not, in all probability, be found distressed objects, upon whom such sums could be bestowed? Was not the honour and dignity of the Crown to be considered, as well as the distresses of individuals? And yet every grant to the Crown and to the royal family might be met by the hon. gentleman with precisely the same argument. That hon. gentleman had expressed his astonishment, and represented it as disgraceful, that his majesty had, by his advice, called in the aid of charitable individuals to the relief of the distresses of the country. Of the relief thus obtained, that hon. gentleman, by the bye, knew so little, as to call it 6,000l. He believed that nearly 50,000l. had been raised. So far, too, was he from considering that the advice he had given to his majesty reflected any disgrace upon him, or upon the government, that, if the same circumstances Mere unhappily to require the same remedy, he: would not hesitate for a moment, to recommend it. So far, indeed, from considering that the moans which had been thus adopted, either with respect to the distress in Ireland, or the more recent afflictions of this country, were derogatory to the: character of the government, he was prepared to contend, that they bore a very different character. Did not the hon. member know, that if it had been thought, expedient to apply 100,000l., or any other sum, to the distresses of the manufacturing districts, it might have been had most 536 willingly. But he ought at the same time to recollect, that the committee which sat then, and still sat, at the London tavern, were decidedly of opinion, that no such measure ought to be adopted. They deprecated, indeed, any such exertion of the royal prerogative, as likely to become a pernicious precedent; and declared their conviction, that it was much better that the funds should be supplied by private subscription than by public aid. These were the only considerations which had influenced him in the advice he then gave, and in the course he had followed; and he could not but regret, that the hon. member, in the opposition which he thought proper to give to the present motion, had chosen to mix up topics which had no possible connection with the question; and, instead of following the steps of the hon. and learned member and the noble lord, who preceded him, and whose opposition and whose protest were founded upon public grounds, had attached to the question arguments and accusations which bordered very strongly upon invidiousness.
§ Mr. Abercromby
said, that, in his opinion, this proposition ought to be considered on public grounds. The plain and simple question was this: The duke and duchess of Clarence had an income of about 30,000l. a-year; and he was to ask himself, whether, in the present situation of the country, he should be justified in voting an additional grant of 9,000l. a-year. If any reason had been assigned for this increase, he should have been most willing to have listened to it, and if it had been a satisfactory one, to have allowed its full force; but, in the absence of all reason, either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and having a public duty to perform, he should refuse his assent to the proposition. The chancellor of the Exchequer had repeatedly used the expression "proximity to the throne." This expression he could not understand. Was there any reason why the duke of Clarence should enter more into public life now than he had done before? He would say, that if a prince wished to establish himself in the affections of those who would, in all probability, at some future time, become his subjects, he would effect that object in a far better manner by leading a quiet and retired life, and that he might learn a lesson from the consequences which had resulted from other heirs apparent deviating from that line of conduct. 537 A time more unfavourable than the present could not have been pitched on for the introduction of such a measure. He was convinced that he was about to give an honest and conscientious vote, and that by that vote he showed himself a better courtier than the right hon. gentleman opposite; because by that vote he established more strongly the honour and dignity of the Crown. The vote he was about to give would prove him to be a far better courtier than the right hon. gentleman who had introduced this proposition; for it was a vote which, so far from weakening the affections of the country for the monarchy and all connected with it, would strengthen its claims upon the people. As to what had been said about the case of the duke of York, it was impossible to make that case in any manner bear upon the present. The situation of the late duke of York, in 1792, was shortly this; his father was then on the throne; his brother was prince of Wales; and he himself was neither heir apparent nor heir presumptive. If the case of his late royal highness was to furnish the argument upon which the present proposal was to rest—and the House, upon this question, was to be governed by precedent,—that was a precedent which fell short, as regarded the subject matter of the proposed vote: for, if the case of his late royal highness was to be taken as a precedent at all, then the House ought to go one step further in this grant to assimilate it; but that that further step should be taken, no one had any desire. But the truth was, the present case did not at all follow the other. The words "proximity to the Crown" might have found their way into such former grant; but what was the true meaning of the word "proximity" in such a situation, certainly did not now appear. It was a word of so vague a signification, and conveyed to his mind, so indefinite an idea, that, in viewing the present question, he entirely discarded it from his mind. Then, again, as to the case of the princess Charlotte of Wales—that was one, likewise, essentially different from this. Her father was Regent at the time, with every probability of actually succeeding to the throne; and she, herself, stood in the situation of heiress presumptive to the throne. This being so, her case could not be considered an extension of the principle upon which the present grant was asked for. At all events, he was quite satisfied that this additional burthen ought not to 538 be put upon the country in its present distressed state.
§ Mr. Calcraft
observed, that it had been agreed by every gentleman, who had spoken on the subject, that this was a very painful topic. If, however, it had been so painful to every one who had addressed the committee, it was doubly so to himself, because in that discussion, he must reluctantly differ from those with whom he generally agreed. He should, therefore, proceed to state shortly the grounds upon which he concurred in the motion of the chancellor of the Exchequer. And, in the first place, he must declare that he dissented from his hon. and learned friends upon that point, which was a point of opinion only; namely, that a prince of the blood can change his situation from that of a younger branch of the royal family, to that of heir presumptive to the throne, without being involved in a great additional expenditure. He was clearly of opinion that he could not. Into the details of that increased expenditure, he would not now attempt to enter; but, if he conscientiously thought that such increased expense would be incurred by the illustrious person in question, he should not be an honest man, if he did not vote accordingly. But he did think so, and, therefore, he should, most unquestionably, concur in this vote. He had another reason for doing so. He could not dismiss all consideration of precedent on this occasion. He could not but remember, that when the late duke of York, whose death was so universally deplored, stood in the same situation as the duke of Clarence stood in now, he had an infinitely larger income than his royal highness would possess, even with the addition of the grant now in question. Nor could he forget, that the late princess Charlotte—who did not stand at the time in the same near relation to the Crown, but was merely daughter of the regent, with, undoubtedly, the probability of succession to the Throne in her favour—had an income allotted her of 50,000l. per annum. Why, then, not only had that which they were now called upon to do, been done in those other cases already; but he must be allowed to remark, that, in the present instance, it ought to be done. Not only were the reprecedents for the proceeding, but he must contend that they would pass a slight upon the duke of Clarence, under present circumstances, if they did not raise his in- 539 come to somewhat the same scale which they had observed in their grants to other branches of the royal family, in similar situations. In regard to personal considerations applying to his royal highness, but one tone had pervaded the whole debate. No member had suggested any thing which could detract from the general opinion which had been expressed in his favour; all seemed to be agreed, that, so far as regarded personal character, it was impossible to indicate two more deserving and excellent persons than the duke and duchess of Clarence. One word, before he sat down, the general distress of the country. He acknowledged it—he deplored it—and he did hope that, in the course of the session, they would do all in their power to remedy it. But he differed again from his hon. friends, as to what would be the feeling of the country upon this vote. He was convinced that the mass of the people would acknowledge the justice of this grant, even those among them who were in the most lamentable condition. He was sure that when it came before them as a question, whether it was proper to vote an additional 9,000l. a year to the heir presumptive, or to adopt the course recommended by his hon. and learned friends, there was not a man among them who would think the hardship of his own situation aggravated by the passing of such a vote, in point of fact, he thought there was not a man in the empire who would not readily concur in this grant; but if, unfortunately, the distresses of the people should so far pervert their understandings, as to make them indisposed to concur in it, he, for his own part, should feel that he could not do less than support the vote proposed by the right hon. gentleman.
said, he had not the honour of being known to many members of that House, but he believed, that such hon. gentlemen as did know him, would admit that he was the last person who would be likely to court favour or propitiate power, by giving his acquiescence to any measure that he did not think himself conscientiously bound to support. He felt himself, therefore, bound to declare, that he must vote for the present grant, because he was convinced that the situation of his royal highness was materially changed, and that he could no longer remain in his present state of retirement. The simple question was, whether they 540 would leave the immediate heir of the Throne in a situation not even so affluent as some of the nobility, or whether they would enable him to answer the demands which must be made upon him in the condition to which he had been elevated? He was convinced that they ought not to leave his royal highness so; and he was equally convinced, that the vote he was about to give would not prove an unpopular one. It was a public measure, for the support of a public object.
§ Mr. John Martin
said, that the two hon. members who had last addressed the House, appeared to be quite certain that instead of this being an unpopular motion, it would meet with the unqualified approbation of the country. Now, if this were really the case, he should propose that his majesty should send another Letter to the bishops, and direct them to endeavour to raise this 9,000l. by voluntary subscription, in the same manner as the relief for the distressed manufacturers had been procured. For his part he did not sec the popularity or the propriety of the grant, and must, therefore, give it his decided negative.
§ Mr. George Robinson
, although he usually voted with ministers, yet felt himself bound, under the present circumstances of the country, to give his negative to the proposed grant. It was not, in his opinion, one of those exigencies which called upon them to make such a sacrifice; and without entrenching in any manner upon the respect duo to the royal family, he thought the House ought not to impose any additional burthen upon the people.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that several hon. members had asked why he had not negatived the grant, instead of proposing that the discussion of it should be put off. He had adopted the latter course, because he had hoped that if ministers had time for consideration they would withdraw their proposition, and that to have negatived the grant would have appeared something like a reproach to the Crown. The hon. member was proceeding to make some further observations, when he was interrupted by loud cries of "Question." Upon which the House divided—For Mr. Hume's Amendment 65, Against it 167. Majority for the Grant 102.
|List of the Minority.|
|Abercromby, hon. J||Bernal, R.|
|Baring, W. B.||Birch, J.|
|Brougham, H.||Marshall, W.|
|Brougham, J.||Monck, J. B.|
|Carter, S.||Morpeth, visc.|
|Clements, Lord||Old, W.|
|Clive, E. B.||Ponsonby, hon. W. S.|
|Curwen, J. C.||Poyntz, W. S.|
|Ducane, P.||Protheroe, Ed.|
|Duncannon, Visc.||Ramsden, J. C.|
|Duncombe, T.||Robinson, G.|
|Dundas, hon. G.||Robarts, A.|
|Easthope, J.||Rumbold, C.|
|Fazakerley, N.||Sebright, sir J. S.|
|Fergusson, sir R.||Sefton, earl of|
|Fortescue, hon. G.||Sharp, R.|
|Graham, sir J.||Smith, W.|
|Harvey, D. W.||Stewart, J. (Beverley)|
|Howick, visct.||Stuart, Villiers|
|Hume, J.||Sykes, D.|
|Hutchinson, C. H.||Thomson, C.|
|Kennedy, F.||Tufton, hon. H.|
|King, hon. R.||Waithman, Ald.|
|Labouchere, H.||Warburton, H.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Western, C. C.|
|Lester, B. L.||Wilbraham, C.|
|Leycester, R.||Wilson, sir R.|
|Lombe, E.||Winnington, sir T.|
|Maberly, J.||Wood, J. (Preston)|
|Macdonald, sir J.||Wood, J. (Grimsby)|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Wrottesley, sir J.|
|Marshall, J.||Althorp, visc.|