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concurred with him. He thought, at all events, that the house should resolve that these duties ought to find their way into the exchequer—that they ought to be applied in aid of the public expenditure, and not reserved as a part of the prerogative of the crown; but as this proposition implied an unnecessary and unjustifiable encroachment on the prerogative, he was not supported in his attempt to disturb it. He finally maintained, that the abuses in the application of this revenue called for parliamentary interference; but as he was unable to specify any such abuse, his motion for a committee was negatived. The questions connected with the civil list naturally excited very great interest; and it is not wonderful that every effort was made to ascertain the nature and amount of the expenditure. A motion was accordingly made by Mr Eden for a select committee, to enquire into the charges on the civil list; and as ministers had nothing to conceal, they readily agreed to the proposal. A circumstance deserving of notice occurred in the course of the discussion. The charge on account of foreign embassies constitutes a very considerable branch of the aggregate charge upon the civil-list revenue ; and in the accounts presented to the house, in consequence of the motion, large sums were stated for the mission of Mr Arbuthnot to the Porte, and of the Marquis Wellesley to Spain. It was strongly insinuated that many errors had crept into these accounts ; but a short explanation was found sufficient to remove every suspicion. Mr Arbuthnot was present in his place as a member of the house to answer for himself; and Mr Richard Wellesley was prepared to explain every thing on the part of his brother. So minute and satisfactory were the explanations given by these gentlemen; so clear of
all suspicion did the accounts of the embassies appear on the closest scrutiny; nay, so deeply was the P. indebted, in a pecuniary point of view, to those who had served it with zeal and ability, that men of all parties assented to the justice of the charge made upon the civil list on account of these distinguished persons. A message from the Prince Regent was sent down to the House of Commons, recommending that a suitable provision should be made for the prin; cesses.—By acts passed in the 18th and 39th of his present majesty's reign, the king was empowered to make a grant
(contingently in the event of his ma"
jesty's demise) of 30,000l. as an annuity to the four princesses who we. in life when the acts were passed. If the number of the annuitants should be reduced to three, each of them wa” to have 10,000l. a-year; if to two 20,000l. a-year was to be divided be. tween them; and if to one, the Sur" vivor was to have 12,000l. a-year. Such was the provision which parliament had enabled the king to make for the princesses in the event of his majesty’s demise; but the melancho" ly circumstances which had recently occurred seemed to place their royá highnesses in the same condition *. the demise of the crown had actually taken place. The princesses had hitherto fived in family with their royal parents; but as they might now des. a change in this respect, and mig t even prefer to live separately from each other, it became necessary * make suitable provisions for o: It was proposed by the Chancello." the Exchequer, that to each of the four princesses the sum of 9000: P. annum should be granted, exclusively of the grant of 4000l. from the Co. list,--a sum which, as it was pay” during pleasure, could not with *. tainty be relied upon. He prop"
also, that upon the death of one of the princesses, the survivors should receive the sum of 10,000l. per annum each ; on the death of a second, that the two survivors should continue to receive 10,000l. each; and on the death of a third, that the sole survivor should receive 12,000l. per annum. By this arrangement, it was intended that the former resolutions of the legislature, with regard to their royal highnesses, should be carried into effect, making allowance for the change of circumstances occasioned by a fall in the value of money. To a proposal, apparently so reasonable, various objections were offered. Mr Creevey was greatly alarmed by the proposition for charging this allowance to the princesses on the consolidated fund; and although he admitted that there was a large surplus of that fund, and that the public creditor was of course most amply secured, for the present at least, yet was he alarmed lest the fund might ultimately become inadequate to answer the demands which might be made on it. This view of the case was somewhat extravagant, and few of Mr Creevey’s own friends ventured to support him in it; but he had another cause of complaint, which appeared better founded. He asked, Why this provision for the princesses had not been proposed when the house was engaged in a general settlement of the civil list revenue 2 and added, that by bringing forward measures in detail for the support of the royal family, ministers were enabled to conceal the real state of the expenditure from the country. Mr Whitbread took different ground in his opposition to the measure. He contended, that the 10,000l. which had so lately been granted to the queen, had been voted by the House of Commons on the supposition that the prin“esses were still to continue to live in
family with their royal parents. But, in this view of the case, he had misunderstood the late arrangements; for it had been expressly stated, that the additional grant was to be voted to the queen, solely on account of the
expense to which she might be put by
the melancholy situation of the king. He thought that the allowances to the princesses might very well be paid out of the immense fund which had so lately been voted to the Prince Regent; although, when making this statement to the house and to the country, Mr Whitbread could not have forgotten, that the civil list, as transferred to his royal highness, was less by 50,000l. than that which had been enjoyed by the king.—Mr Tierney thought, that as there was no reason to believe that the princesses would not continue to live together, the proposed grant was extravagant; although he admitted, that if they should determine to live separately, the provision would be no more than reasonable. Mr Tierney thus in effect declared, that such a provision only ought to be made for the princesses as should confine them to a manner of life which they might find disagreeable or inconvenient.—Mr Ponsonby had still another reason for opposing the grant. His objection was, that the present measure would put the F. in immediate possession of their provisions, while they had formerly obtained nothing more than a contingent right to them to become effectual on the demise of the crown. He forgot that their royal father had already lost the power of executing the intentions of the legislature in their favour; that as to them the demise of the crown had already in effect taken place; that the king's superintending care had been withdrawn from them ; that it depended upon chance whether the provisions originally intended should ever be made effectual; and that the princesses were thus placed in a situation in which it would have been disreputable to the country if it had allowed them to remain. Some members of opposition pleaded against the grant, the abstract and barren principles of economy; as if a pension of 36,000l. a-year to four princesses were too much for such a country as England to bestow—as if another question could possibly have come before parliament to which this principle of economy might not, with more justice, and with far more delicacy, have been applied. But the members of opposition who spoke on this subject, did not confine themselves within the usual limits of debate; they endeavoured to mix with the question before the house other topics with which it had no
very obvious connection; and selected
one upon which they believed that they might with more than ordinary advantage, press both the prince and his ministers. This was the first occasion on which they brought forward the differences subsisting betwixt the Prince and Princess of Wales. Mr Whitbread has uniformly taken a conspicuous part in the discussions connected with this subject; and it may not be improper, therefore, to quote the words with which he introduced it to parliament. “I have heard,” said Mr Whitbread, “that the queen is about to hold a drawing-room, of course no hopes can now exist of his majesty’s recovery ; because if there were any, such a step, I presume, would not be resorted to ; but in case that drawing-room is held, I would wish to know, is there to be any public appearance of the Princess of Wales? This is no private concern; the public have a right to demand why the acknowledged consort of their regent does not appear in public as such. No affectation of delicacy
can be permitted to stand in the way of a nation’s anxiety upon a question of such national importance. If any man can satisfy the public upon this topic, it is the right honourable gentleman, (Mr Perceval.) They know him to have been at one time the zealousadviser and devoted adherent to the Princess of Wales. They believe him to have conscientiously undertaken her defence—to have written her vindication—to have published it. That vindication is said to have involved in it an attack upon her royal consort. It is known to have been an attack upon his royal highness, and the regent’s first minister is known to have been the author of it; and after he had published it, after it had been read by one and by one hundred, it was bought up at an enormous expence; bought up by the private secretary of the right honourable gentleman. I ask him now, Does he retain his former opinions of the unexceptionable conduct of the Princess of Wales 2 I ask him, If he did not lately, in this house, solemnly record his confirmation of that opinion; and if it is now what it was the other night, I call upon him to explain, if he can, his apparent desertion of her just claims to that respect, notice, provision, and consideration due to her 2 These are questions, which, as he values his own consistency, as he values the character and claims of the rincess, and as he respects the prince is master, he is bound to answer.” But the House of Commons did not give way to this mode of proceeding. Men of all parties could perceive that the condition of the Princess of Wales had no immediate connection with the provision to be made for the princesses; for they knew, that less than two months before, (while the regent had not yet declared himself in #. of his minister,) although the legislature was then making ample provision for his royal highness, not a single murmur respecting the state of the princess was heard.—The bill for the provision to
the princesses, which had been framed by the minister, was carried through its different stages, and received the sanction of the legislature.
Debate on the Constitution of the Ecclesiastical Courts.
Bill on this Subject.
In England, where so much freedom of discussion is indulged, both in and out of parliament, and where the people are not influenced by a very superstitious veneration for ancient establishments, it may seem singular that many obvious abuses should still exist, and that the spirit of a wise and temperate reform has not, long ago, reimoved all the grosser evils at least which are inseparable from the institutions of an early age. The causes, however, which have, in many instances, retarded improvement, may be discovered without difficulty. Those who are invested with the higher of fices of government, are, generall
speaking, so much occupied with the discharge of their official duties, and the defence of their conduct against the attacks of their enemies, that it is seldom they have leisure to turn reformers, and F. extensive improvements. The task of reform, therefore, is naturally abandoned to the members of opposition, who do not always come to the discharge of a duty so delicate with the views and feelings
Sir William Scott’s
Measures adopted with reference to the State of the Currency. Lord Holland's Motion re
specting ex officio Informations. Debates on Military Punishments. Mr
#j, Motion for a Reform in Par
which are necessary to ensure success. It is soon discovered, that plans of reform are not always brought forward with a view to any solid advantage which may be derived from them, but from motives less generous and respectable—from a wish to embarrass the administration, and to seize by violence upon the government. Grievances are selected, not with reference to their true magnitude and importance, but with a view to the effect which noisy discussion may have on the party-politics of the day; and even when the subject of ji. is wisely chosen, the manner in which it is urged is commonly but little calculated to raise those who support it in the scale of virtue and patriotism. The ministers, feeling that their conduct is unjustly assailed, and their characters wantonly traduced, are naturally provoked to resist measures by which their enemies may seem to gain an undue advantage over them ; and by an obstimacy, which is rather to be pardoned than approved, are apt to carry their resistance farther than the