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Private Estates of the Crown.


tally, it happened that the extended capacity conferred by the Act of George III.'s reign was omitted from the Statute of Victoria ; and the result was, that private estates of the Sovereign in Scotland or Ireland would not come within the provisions of the Act of George III., but would fall under the restrictions of the Statute of Anne. The Crown was consequently unable to deal with land in Scotland or Ireland acquired by the private property of the Sovereign. The intention of the Act of 1862 was to give to the Sovereign the same right over his private estates in Scotland which the Act of George III. had given in reference to those in England ; and to provide that any such estates held by the Crown should be owned in the same way as if they were held by subjects of the Crown. The only comment made in the House was made by the Marquis of Bath, who objected that the provision of the Bill which subjected the private estates of the Crown to all rates and taxes was unconstitutional. When, on June 30, 1873, the Lord Chancellor moved the second reading of the explanatory and amending Act, he said that its principal object was to make it clear that Her • Majesty or any future Sovereign should have the . power of transmitting her private estates to any • member of the illustrious family that now ruled this

country; and that they should continue private estates • in the event of the person who held them succeeding • to the Crown. On the second reading being moved in the House of Commons on July 21, Mr. Gladstone, then Prime Minister, said that some misapprehension

"Hansard, vol. clxvii. 1412. Also 25 and 26 Vict. cap. 37. ? Hansard, vol. ccxvi. 1550.

had arisen as to the character of the Bill, which did not aim at altering the law, but at removing difficulties which had arisen with regard to its present effect. Mr. Anderson had given notice of an amendment that it is * inexpedient to extend the scope of the Act of the 25th 6 and 26th Victoria, chapter 37, until the secresy at • present attaching exclusively to Crown testaments is • abolished. Mr. Gladstone urged that the question of secresy could be best argued on its own merits, and ought not to confuse the present discussion,—or Mr. Anderson might bring forward his proposal in Committee. If Lord Westbury's opinion were correct (said Mr. Gladstone), the Sovereign might, under the Act of George III. and that of Victoria, bequeath to the Heir of the Crown landed as well as other property; but there were doubts abroad which ought to be set at rest. He did not see any advantage in private landed property lapsing into the mass of the Crown Estates. He held that no danger need be apprehended from an excessive accumulation of property in the hands of the Sovereign. If any such existed, the House had an opportunity of considering the Sovereign's position at the beginning of each reign. Mr. Anderson moved his Amendment, stating that the theory of the Constitution was, that the Crown should depend entirely upon Parliament, and therefore provisions were granted for younger children. The Civil List was supposed to make liberal allowance for maintaining the dignity of the Crown. The Solicitor-General explained that there was no doubt the Queen might now dispose of landed property in favour of the Prince of Wales. The question was, would the Prince, if he became King, be free to alienate such estates? This point the Bill was intended to settle. Crown Lands in the Colonies.

212 I

No wills of real estate required probate ; they might always be kept secret, if separate from wills disposing of personalty.'

The treatment of the topic of the recent legislation respecting the Crown Lands would not be complete without some notice being taken of the Act of 1852 (15 and 16 Vict. cap. 39), which was passed to remove doubts as to the lands and casual revenues of the Crown in the Colonies and foreign possessions of Her Majesty. The Act recites that, from the time of the passing of the Act 1 William IV. cap. 25, the lands of the Crown in the Colonies have been granted and disposed of, and the moneys arising therefrom have been appropriated, by the authority of the Crown and of the Legislatures of the several Colonies, as if the said Act, and another Act (1 Vict. cap. 2), had not been passed, and that doubts have arisen whether such moneys might not be considered “hereditary casual revenues' of the Crown, within the meaning of the said Act; and it enacts that the provisions of the said Acts shall not extend to such moneys, nor to any sale or disposition of such lands, nor to any appropriation of such moneys; and that nothing in the said Acts shall prevent the appropriation of any casual revenues in the Colonies or foreign possessions of the Crown towards public Colonial purposes, provided that the surplus not applied to such public purposes shall be carried to, and form part of, the Consolidated F'und.

The Civil List of her present Majesty was settled on the same principles as that of William IV., but at a rather lower rate ; and amounted to 385,0001.

| Hansard, vol. ccxvii. 619.

In his life of Lord Melbourne, Mr. McCullagh Torrens, referring to the time of the Queen's accession, says that many letters [of Lord Melbourne's] at this * period relate to the details of the Civil List which the

new Parliament would be asked to vote on its reassembling. The First Lord of the Treasury [Lord • Melbourne) sifted every detail thoroughly of the ex• penditure in former reigns, and weighed for himself • the comparative circumstances in past and present • times which required or justified deviation from pre* cedent. Lord Spencer, who was consulted on the • subject as the highest economic authority among the • Whigs, wrote unreservedly recommending that the new establishment should be formed on a generous and ungrudging scale. Engaged himself in applying • principles almost of parsimony to the retrieving of his “ family estates from embarrassment, he saw the political • wisdom of leading the nation to confide at the outset 6 of the new reign in their youthful sovereign, and the * policy as well as propriety of providing such an income as would take away all excuse in future for the con

tracting of Royal debt. Fortified by such authority, 6 and completely master of the history of the subject, • Melbourne made up his mind to propose to Parliament • a provision for Her Majesty considerably larger than • that which had been agreed to in the previous reign. 6 And he prayed Spring Rice [the Chancellor of the • Exchequer] when the Cabinet inet in November (1837] 66 to come prepared to act boldly and liberally, and 66 by no means to fiddle upon small points and about 6 « petty salaries," and so it was done accordingly.''

Memoirs of the Rt. Hon. William, second Viscount Melbourne, By W. M. Torrens, M.P., vol. ii. p. 244.

The Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. 223

The chief variation between the new Civil List and that of Her Majesty's predecessor was, that in lieu of the pension-list of 75,0001., Her Majesty was empowered to grant pensions annually to the extent of 1,2001. The revenues of the Kingdom of Hanover were at this time finally detached from the revenue of the English Crown. But the reigning Sovereign still retains the revenue of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the Prince of Wales that of the Duchy of Cornwall.

Mr. McCullagh Torrens notices, in his life of Lord Melbourne, that a project was prepared at the Treasury, upon the accession of the Queen, for the reform and better management of the Crown estates in Lancashire and Cornwall; but that the Premier, Lord Melbourne, writing on August 30, 1837, expressed his hesitation in the following terms : “The question of the Duchies is a • very material one, and one of great delicacy, and which * appears to me to require to be treated with much 6 caution. It is very material in itself, and as far as

it relates to the administration of the property. • Wherever you meddle with these ancient rights and * jurisdictions, it appears to me that, for the sake of

remedying a few comparatively insignificant abuses, ' you create many new inconveniences, and always • produce considerable discontent. But the general ó question appears to me still more important when

considered with reference to the present House of • Commons, and the tone and temper of the elections.' He then goes on to point out that public opinion does make a progress, but it is not by a steady onward • course’; and that as the effect of the Church-rate measure of the Government had been to raise a strong and effectual Church cry, so they must take care they

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