That in order to prevent the necessity for repeated applications to Parliament on behalf of the Royal Family, and to establish the principle that the provision for children should hereafter be made out of Grants adequate for that purpose which have been assigned to their parents, it is expedient to grant to Her Majesty, out of the Consolidated Fund, an annual sum, not exceeding £36,000, to continue until six months after the demise of Her Majesty, and to be applied for the benefit of the children of His Royal Highness Albert Edward Prince of Wales.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I do not intend to trespass for many minutes on the time of the House, but there were statements made last night by the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir H. James), and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which require one word of reply from me. In the rather long speech with which I felt it my duty to trouble the House, I stated some points of law and fact which seemed to me beyond the possibility of contradiction. Of course, I do not venture to put my opinion upon legal matters against that of so high an authority as the right hon. Member for Bury. But there was an explicit contradiction given to me by the right hon. Gentleman last night. Answering a phrase of mine that, William III. surrendered nothing when he came to this country, because he had nothing to surrender, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the moment the Convention invited William to accept the Crown, and William did so accept it, the whole of the Hereditary Revenues and Crown Lands passed to that Monarch just as they had been held by 1720 William's predecessor. Upon the matter of law I will not take up the time of the House, but as to the question of right, I must trouble the House with a reference to the Journals. It is quite clear from the Journals of the House that these Crown Lands were granted to William III. by an express Vote of the House of Commons. And what is more remarkable, the Journals and the Statute Book show that the Parliament vacated, at the very period spoken of by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, grants of land made since February 13, 1668, by Charles II. and James II. What is still more important, in the Act 1 Anne, which restricted the right of the Sovereign to make Grants, an expression is used in the fifth section, to the effect that the necessary expenses of supporting the Crown had been formerly defrayed on Land Revenues, but that these revenues had been impaired by the Grants of different Sovereigns. The Crown Lands are in no sense an endowment belonging to the person of the Crown, but a part of the Civil Revenues of the country, and there is no pretence whatever of personal property in them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has also said in the case of George I. and George II., of whom I also said that they surrendered nothing, that they kept and used these revenues. But there was a specific Grant by the Vote of the House of Commons, entered in the Journals of the House in each case endorsed by Act of Parliament before the possession of "keeping and using" for life as part of the Civil Revenues of the country came to either of these two Monarchs. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) has doubted the accuracy of my figures, and I also understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed a similar doubt; but neither of those right hon. Gentlemen has ventured to challenge the accuracy of the figures, although it should have been easy to do so, supposing I had made a mistake. It is true that the House has been placed in possession of a fantastic balance sheet by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord R. Churchill); but I do not think it is quite fair on the part of the Government and their supporters to attribute inaccuracy as to figure, fact, and law, and yet refrain 1721 from putting matters straight when it was so very easy to do so. I further take this opportunity of protesting, even in the absence of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, against language used by that right hon. Gentleman the previous evening, which seemed to me insulting in the highest degree. As one of the Members for Northampton I have been charged by the right hon. Member with occupying the same position in relation to English politics that Nihilists occupy in relation to Russian politics. I could understand such language being used outside the House by reckless men, and I might even be disposed to regard such an observation with amusement if it came from the jocular lips of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington, as no one believes his denunciations to be serious. When the noble Lord talks blood and thunder we know that he means it kindly and that there is nothing behind; but I take leave to say to the right hon. Member for West Birmingham that his charge is as far from the truth as it is possible to be, and I am content to leave my Parliamentary conduct to the judgment of the House.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
There was an honourable understanding in this part of the House that if we were allowed ample time to state our views in the early stage of this matter the formal stages of the Bill would not be violently opposed. Not only have there been two nights allotted to the discussion of the Amendment which emanated from below the Gangway, but there has also been one night during which the Front Opposition Bench have been able to develop its own peculiar views on the subject. I would, therefore, although my view of the matter is as strong as it ever was, content myself by simply saying "No" to the Motion, reserving to myself the right when the Bill is before the House to resist it on every occasion on which I have the opportunity.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Courtney, Mr. William Henry Smith, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Matthews, and Mr. Jackson.