The Earl of Lauderdale
rose, in pursuance of notice, observing that the case he had to state was so plain and clear that there was no necessity for taking up much of their lordships' time. It had been the uniform practice of parliament, for a great number of years, that all the votes of supply passed by the House of Commons, during the session, should be included in an appropriation bill, which came up to that House for its assent in the usual way, and it was the undoubted right of their lordships thus to exercise a legislative power with regard to the supplies voted by the other House. In the present instance that practice had, without any necessity, been departed from, and he thought it was incumbent upon their lordships to assert their undoubted rights, and to pass some resolution disapproving of such a proceeding— a proceeding which was certainly contrary to the constitution, and which was so decided in 1784, when the House of Commons passed a resolution, declaring it a high crime and misdemeanor for any officer of the Crown to apply money in any branch of the public service without the authority of an act of parliament. But in this case there were not only the votes of sums of money for the public service, but the House of Commons had actually voted a sum of money to pay annuities under the civil list act, which expired on the demise of his majesty; and they had thus assumed a power, of their own authority, to suspend the operation of the law which declared that these annuities should not be paid. This particularly applied to the case of the annual sum granted to the princess of Wales. Were ministers aware to what extent these votes went? Was it not the effect of them to continue to the king the income granted to his majesty as prince of Wales, as well as the amount of the civil list, whilst a portion of the hereditary revenues also fell to the Crown? Respecting the latter there was no account, and ministers themselves did not seem to be aware of the extent to which the votes 1632 went. It was in vain for the noble earl opposite to recur to the precedents of 1784 and 1807: in these cases parliament was dissolved by the act of the Crown without any previous communication of its intentions, but in the present case there was a previous communication of the intention of the Crown to dissolve the parliament, which rendered the present case perfectly unprecedented. If the House of Commons could then, in one instance, assume the power of voting the public money without the concurrence of their lordships, what was to prevent them from setting aside the privileges of their lordships' House? It surely was incumbent upon the noble lords opposite to take care that no such precedent was established, for if the universal suffrage and annual parliament men could unhappily gain the ascendancy, there could be no doubt that the first step of a House of Commons so constituted would be to set aside the legislative privileges of that House, and here would be a precedent established to assist them. He concluded by moving the following resolutions:—
"Resolved—That it appears from the votes of the House of Commons now on the table of this House, that the Commons' House of Parliament have voted the following resolutions:—1. That a sum, not exceeding 2,000,000l., be granted to his majesty to pay off and discharge Irish treasury bills, charged upon the aids or supplies of 1820, outstanding and unprovided for. 2. That a sum, not exceeding 50,000l., be granted to his majesty, upon account, to enable his majesty to provide for such expenses of a civil nature, as do not form a part of the ordinary charges of the civil list for the year 1820. 3. That there be granted to his majesty the sum of 200,000l., towards satisfying such annuities, pensions, or other payments, as would have been payable out of the consolidated fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, or out of the civil list, in case the demise of his late majesty had not taken place, before the 5th day of April, 1820. 4 That a sum, upon account, not exceeding 200,000l. nett, be granted to his majesty towards defraying the charge of army services in Ireland for the year 1820. 5. That a sum, upon account, not exceeding 600,000l., be granted to his majesty towards defraying the charge of army services at home and abroad, except in Ireland, for the year 1820."
1633 "Resolved — That the Commons' House of Parliament, informed by his majesty's message of the intended dissolution of parliament, have, in these resolutions, attempted to appropriate money to be paid for services subsequent to the dissolution, which can only legally be effected by an act of parliament appropriating the supplies voted; and that they have farther, in a most unprecedented manner, assumed the power of providing For, and authorising the payment of certain pensions and annuities, subsequent to the dissolution of parliament, which by law are declared to be at an end.
"Resolved—That, under these circumstances, we feel it our duty to declare, that though we regard these proceedings as derogatory to the privileges of this House and of parliament, yet we are induced, by a sense of the state in which public business is now placed, to forbear from any immediate proceedings, and to declare, that we will concur in indemnifying those who may pay money, or otherwise act under these resolution, which we must nevertheless deprecate, as threatening the subversion of the best and wisest principles of the constitution of our country.''
The Earl of Liverpool
observed, that it had been the invariable practice of parliament since the revolution, for no grant to be made, nor any sum to be levied upon the people, without, the authority of an act of parliament; and this was so strictly adhered to, that in the case of a loan, though the bargain was made between the first lord of the treasury and the chancellor of the exchequer and the contractors, and the first instalment actually paid, still it was paid into the Bank, and not touched by any one till authorized to be drawn out for the public service by an act of parliament. But with respect to votes of supply, the practice had been different; it had been the constant practice for the House of Commons to vote various sums for different branches of the public service, under the authority of which votes alone the money had been applied. It was true that all these votes were included in the Appropriation bill; but the fact was, that frequently, particularly if the session was long, half the money wanted for the different branches of the public service had been expended before that bill was brought up to that House. He could not see any difference of principle, therefore, between the case 1634 he had just stated and that of a dissolution happening in the middle of the usual period of a session, when, after the meeting of the new parliament, an appropriation bill, including all the sums voted, might still be passed. As to the resolution passed in 1784, it proved the direct contrary of what was urged by the noble earl; as it showed that the practice of the House of Commons had been what he had just stated; and it was well known that the object of passing that resolution was to prevent a dissolution which was suspected to be intended by the Crown. But the passing such a resolution proved that the practice had been different to what that resolution referred to. With regard to the Civil List act, it was not correctly stated, that it had expired, as, though the sums named in it ceased to be payable, the regulations in the act were of the nature of permanent regulations, and all that had been done was to vote a sum for current expences for the quarter intervening between the dissolution of the present parliament and the calling of a new one. He did not see the necessity of coming to any resolution upon the subject; but at all events he could not agree to the resolutions of the noble lord, which conveyed a strong censure upon the House of Commons, their lordships having in their address to the throne pledged themselves to concur in any measure for expediting the public business. He was, however, ready to meet the views of the noble lord in some respects by a resolution recognizing the rights of that House, and he therefore moved as an amendment, to leave out the resolutions after the statement of the resolutions of the House of Commons, and to insert, "that this House, from the state of the public business, acquiesce in these resolutions, although no act may be passed to give them effect."
The Marquis of Lansdowne
said, the question was one of the greatest importance, as affecting the constitutional rights of that House; and when it was asserted that their lordships had in their address to the throne agreed to expedite the public business as much as possible, he must tell the noble earl that they had not agreed to abandon their constitutional rights. The cases where the House of Commons acted in the usual manner in their votes, without being informed of there being any intention on the part of the Crown to dissolve them, were totally different from the present instance, where 1635 the information of the intention of the Crown to dissolve the parliament had been given, and where consequently, every arrangement might have been made to ensure a regular course of proceeding. That it had been uniformly the case since the Revolution, for the grants of public money made by the other House to pass under the review of their lordships in order to their being incorporated in an act of the legislature, could not be denied; and the noble earl most erroneously described the Resolution of the House of Commons, in 1784, when he said that it proved the practice of the House to be different. The fact was, that the resolution was merely declaratory of the law of the land. It had been most truly observed by his noble Friend, that for the House of Commons to assume the power of voting the public money without the concurrence of their lordships, was a most injudicious precedent to set, for there could be no doubt, that if those persons who aimed at our institutions and establishments could unhappily obtain the ascendancy, the first step of a House of Commons constituted by them, would be to take away the legislative privileges of their lordships. His noble friend had also observed upon the anomalous proceeding to which recourse had been had with regard to the civil list, it appearing that his majesty would not only, pending the dissolution, have his revenue as king of England, but also that which was granted to him as prince of Wales, and a portion of the hereditary revenues of the Crown.
The Earl of Liverpool
said, the vote on account of the civil list was for a specific sum, 200,000l., and that it did not in the least interfere with the settlement of the civil list by the new parliament. As to the payment of the annuities under the civil list act, it was nothing more than would have been done as a matter of course for the current quarter, had parliament continued sitting.
The Earl of Donoughmore
acquiesced in the amendment, by which he thought quite enough was done to protect the privileges of the House.
§ The amendment was then carried.