Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

did not add a Prerogative cry. "The Church alone is nearly too much for us; Church and Crown would be

so at once. The fault of our Church-rate measure • was, that the grievance to be removed was one almost • entirely of principle. It was in very few places a real • burthen. The same is still more true of the Duchies : • few except their inhabitants know of their existence, • and none feel any inconvenience from them, or would • receive any benefit from their reformation.'' It is perhaps superfluous to add that the reform of these Duchies ultimately came from within, through the energy and prudent management of the late Prince Consort.

With respect to the management of the land revenues of the Crown generally, gross abuses had, from the early days of the reign of George III., been noticed and exposed. Mr. Burke, indeed, suggested a general sale of the Crown Lands; and in consequence of a Commission appointed by an Act of Parliament, in pursuance of a recommendation of Mr. Pitt's in 1786, the management of the estates was so much improved that whereas, for the first twenty-five years of the reign of George III., they produced an average net revenue little exceeding 6,000% a year, they now produce an income of over 400,0001. a year. It still remained, however, to apply a remedy to the abuse by which the revenue of the Crown Lands, as it fell in, was applied to the execution of public works and improvements without any parliamentary check being interposed, and without the Exchequer being punctually repaid the price due to it in compensation of the Civil List. To arrest these evils

| Memoirs of Viscount Melbourne, vol. i. p. 238.

Grant for the Duchess of Kent.

225

an Act was passed in 1851,' by which the Department of Woods and Forests,-constituted by an Act of the year 1810,2 – was separated from the Department of Public Works, with which in 1832 it had by an Act of Parliament been combined. The pension list to which it has been seen that Her Majesty has consented to confine herself is now regulated in conformity with a resolution of the House of Commons of February 18, 1834, which would restrict the grant of pensions to such

persons as bave just claims on the royal beneficence, 'or who, by their personal services to the Crown, by 'the performance of duties to the public, or by their • useful discoveries in science, and attainments in litera* ture and the arts, have merited the gracious considera• tion of their Sovereign, and the gratitude of their 6country.

When, on the Queen's accession, the Government proposed a grant of 30,0001. a year to the Duchess of Kent, Lord Brougham denounced the amount as extravagant; and Mr. Torrens, in his “Life of Lord Melbourne, records the curious incident that Lord Brougham designated the Duchess as the QueenMother.' Lord Melbourne corrected him by interjaculating the Mother of the Queen.' .Stung at being caught

in a blunder, and glad of an excuse for assailing his • courtly foe, Brougham fiercely rejoined, saying, among 6 other things, “ the tongue of my noble friend is so • " well hung, and so well attuned to courtly airs, that I • " cannot compete with him for the prize which he is « « now so eagerly struggling to win. Not being given to

i 14 and 15 Vict. cap. 41. 2 50 Geo. III. cap. 65. * 2 and 3 Will. IV. cap. 1.

6 « glozing and flattering, I may say that the Duchess 666 of Kent (whether to be called Queen-Mother or 656 Mother of the Queen) is nearly connected with the «« Throne; and a plain man like myself, having no 66 motive but to do my duty, may be permitted to "" surmise that any additional provision for her might 666 possibly come from the Civil List which you have «« so lavishly voted.”: Mr. Torrens adds that the Premier repelled this attack by reminding the House of a not unimportant difference between the Queen dowager, and a Princess who had never worn the Crown. • What was meant by attributing to him a tongue well • hung, he could not tell; but one more skilful in egre“gious flattery than that of the noble and learned lord • he had never known.''

It is perhaps worth noticing as a matter of constitutional formality, that on the 6th of June, 1838, Mr. Gillon moved in the House of Commons that an humble • address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that she • would take into her gracious consideration the parlia

mentary allowance hitherto and at present enjoyed by • His Royal Higbness the Duke of Sussex, as compared

with those enjoyed by the other members of the Royal • Family, with a view to recommend some addition to

it. Mr. Gillon stated that the Duke's income was 6,0001. less than that provided for other members of his family similarly circumstanced; and that His Royal Highness was at the head of seventy scientific and literary bodies and charitable institutions. Lord John Russell, Home Secretary in Lord Melbourne's Government, opposed the motion, on the ground that it could

"Life of Lord Melbourne, vol, ii. p. 246.

Grant for the Duke of Connaught.

227

only originate in a message from the Sovereign. Sir Robert Peel took the same view of the question, and, on a division, the previous question was carried by 98 against 48, the motion being therefore lost.

On the marriage of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, the third son of the Queen, in the course of the consideration by the House of Commons of the Royal message with reference to making provision for his establishment, the whole principle and modern practice which regulates the relations of Parliament to the Sovereign in respect of his personal expenditure were incidentally examined and discussed. Inasmuch as the Government of the day,-led in the House of Commons by Sir Stafford Northcote, Chancellor of the Exchequer, —and Mr. Gladstone, who was for some years Prime Minister in the previous Government, which was now in Opposition, were entirely at one on all points susceptible of controversy, there is no doubt that this discussion will supply the materials of the basis upon which all future similar arrangements will be founded, or from which they will proceed as a fresh starting-point. It is therefore worth while to recall the more essential parts of the debate in some detail.

. On the motion that the Speaker leave the chair in • order that the House should, in Committee, consider • the Royal message with reference to the proposed • marriage of His Royal Highness the Duke of Con• naught, Sir Charles Dilke rose to move as an amend

ment, “ That the consideration of Her Majesty's most 666 gracious message be deferred until there be laid be• “ fore this House a return showing the Princes and 66 Princesses of the Blood Royal, being members of 6“ the Royal Family of England, but excluding the 6 « Sovereign for the time being, and Queens consort 66 or dowager, from the accession of His most Gracious • " Majesty King William III. to the present time, • 6 specifying with regard to such of them as succeeded 6“ to the Throne the date of such accession, and with 6 " regard to such of them as contracted marriages with 6“ the consent of the Sovereign for the time being, the « « date of each marriage, and also showing separately,

« with regard to every Prince or Princess, the several • “ applications (if any) made to Parliament for grants «« or confirmation of grants out of the public revenues,

“ and the results of such applications, adding in each «« case a copy of the Royal message by which such ap6 « plication was made.”'

In the course of his speech in reply, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said:

• The House must bear in mind that in all these matters there has been, as has been frequently stated,

something in the nature of a bargain between the « Crown and the Parliament, by which the Crown sur• rendered various hereditary revenues and Crown Lands

to the public service, in exchange receiving the fixed

sums which have been granted; and undoubtedly, • upon comparison of what the Crown might have re

ceived and the amount it did receive, it is not the Crown, but the nation which has been the gainer. • That is shown by an interesting return, known to many members, moved for at the commencement of

the present reign. At that time Sir Robert Inglis « moved for a return showing what would be the result o between 1762 and 1837, and it was found that the "amount of the hereditary revenues which passed to the nation was 116,000,0001., whereas the amount of the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »