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The Crown Lands. 217
Civil List was at the same time relieved from a number of public charges, such as judicial salaries, and the salaries and pensions of the diplomatic service.1 The Act provided that the hereditary revenues were, with a few exceptions, to be carried to the Consolidated Fund, —a Fund originally created by the Act of the 27th Geo. III. cap. 47, by which various duties and taxes were to be 'carried to and constitute a Fund to be 'called the Consolidated Fund.' It may be noticed here that Mr. Gladstone, in his comments on Mr. Martin's 'Life of the Prince Consort,' has incidentally thrown some doubt on the permanent validity of any such settlement of the hereditary revenues of the Crown. The passage may be here cited, though the point raised is at present too purely problematical to need further discussion.
'There is, indeed, one genuine Crown right which 'has been somewhat disparaged of late years, and that 'is its title to the Crown Lands. By degrees, it be'came the custom for the Sovereign, on accession, to 'surrender the life-interest in these properties to the 'State, in return for a life-income called the Civil List. 'But this transaction in no way affected the legal right 'of the next heir to resume the lands on the expiry of 'the arrangement. It is undeniable that members of 'Oppositions, and the blamable connivances of party, 'have of late years, in various instances, obtained by • pressure from the Governments of the day arrange'ments which touch the reversionary interest. The 'question is too complex and many-sided for exposition 'here; but it may be said with truth, first, that the 'State has dealt liberally as a tenant under a life-lease 'with the estates given to its control; and, secondly, 'that the subject is in a constitutional view a small 'one.'1
1 1 Will. IV. cap. 25.
This may, however, be a convenient place to notice that the legal position of the Sovereign towards the Crown estates, as contrasted with his position towards what are known as his private estates, has very recently been matter of Parliamentary discussion and legislation. An Act, called the Crown Private Estates Act, was passed in the year 1862, and a supplementary Act, for the purpose of explaining and amending the former one, in 1873, which had for their general purpose the relieving of the Sovereign from some disabilities which might in law be held to attach to his dealings with his private property, in the same way as they did attach to his dealings with the Crown estates. On the first of these Acts being read a second time in the House of Lords, on July 4, 1862, the Lord Chancellor explained that, down to Queen Anne's time, the Sovereign had unlimited power of disposition in reference to Crown lands; but in the first year of that reign an Act was passed limiting the power of the Crown to granting leases for thirty years or for three lives. The operation of that Statute, however, was confined to England. An Act of the 39th and 40th of George III. gave full powers to the Crown to deal with estates acquired by means of the private property of the Sovereign; and by an Act of the 1st and 2nd of the present reign, the restricting provisions of the Statute of Anne were extended to estates of the Crown in Scotland and Ireland. Acciden
1 Gleanings of Past Yean, by the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, Tol. i.p. 82. iST'J.
Private Estates of the Crown. 219
tally, it happened that the extended capacity conferred by the Act of George IIL'a 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.1 "When, on June 30, 1873, the Lord Chancellor moved the second reading of the explanatory and amending Act,2 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 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 '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.
'Hamard, vol. clxvii. 1412. Also 25 and 26 Vict. cap. 37. : Hamard, vol. ccxvi. 1550.
Crown Lands in tJie Colonies. 2'21
No wills of real estate required probate; they might always be kept secret, if separate from wills disposing of personalty.1
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 Fund.
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 385,000?.
1 HanGard, Toi. ccxvii. 619.