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His objects in this business were two, one the establishment, the other the provision for the debt. In his vote upon the first, he thought it his duty to concur in making a provision liberal and ample. With regard to the second point, he would ask, did the House, by adopting this motion, impose any additional burthens on the public? This instruction was only to enable the House hereafter to proceed upon a certain plan. He did not doubt the disposition of his Royal Highness to discharge his debts, but that was out of his power, and therefore a legislative provision became necessary.
Mr. For said, that his Royal Highness by his communication, had acted in a manner that did him honour; and he trusted he would finish a plan which he had so worthily began. With regard to the motion he confessed he did not know upon what principle opposition was made to it. It was simply the setting apart some of the income of his Royal High
was, whether the whole income should be left to the unlimited disposal of the Prince, or whether the expenditure should be put under regulations, and an appropriation made with a view to the gradual extinction of the debt. He was surprised at one resource, which had been pointed out by some hon. gentlemen, in the affection and benevolence of his royal father. They had repeatedly had occasion to examine the situation of his majesty with respect to the civil list. The civil list was indeed large, but was wholly appropriated to particular services, except the sum allotted for his majesty's privy purse. The idea of such a resource arose out of miserable feeling, which he was surprised any gentleman could entertain. He knew not of the existence of any such sum as that which had been referred to. Besides, he would ask, with that numerous family with which his majesty was blessed, were there no other objects who claimed his royal munificence and attention? The Prince of Wales was the last who mightness, for the purpose of discharging his be supposed to have such a claim; he, from the situation in which he stood, was the peculiar care of the public. Allusion might be made to the revenues which his majesty derived from the electorate of Hanover. But had his majesty no state to support in that quarter? Was he to rob his Hanoverian subjects in order to pay debts contracted in this country by the heir apparent to the British crown? The appeal which had been made on this subject, he could consider as neither fair nor candid, and, as such, he should dismiss it without further observation; declaring on his honour, that his majesty was not in a condition to discharge his Royal Highness's debts.
Mr. Montagu thought it highly fit that parliament should regard itself as a tutor to the Prince, because, speaking politically, he conceived his royal highness the son of the people, and therefore he thought it proper that his affairs should be under the superintendence of parliament. It was possible, if the whole income were to be under his own control, for him to have bad advisers, and he might postpone the liquidation of his debts, and contract
Mr. Powys had no doubt that this communication would conciliate the affection of the House, and of the public, but that circumstance neither would nor ought to alter the principle upon which gentlemen agreed to give aid to his Royal Highness.
debts. It might be said, that the Prince
cause, by that House taking upon itself to make these regulations for the liquidation of the debts, they were taking the first step towards pledging themselves for the payment of them contingently. He did not hesitate to say, that the crown was bound to come forward upon this occasion; because, during the minority of his Royal Highness, the whole of the income of the duchy was received by his majesty.
should be given to understand that the illustrious personage to whom he alluded intended to take some share of the burthen. He trusted also, that the whole of the additional income of his Royal Highness, together with the duchy of Cornwall, would be appropriated solely to the liquidation of the debts. It would take ten years even then to discharge them. But he still adhered to the idea of making a very different disposition of the duchy of Cornwall from what had been proposed by the minister. According to his idea, the public would have a considerable advantage by the sale of the duchy, in a pecuniary sense, as likewise from the diminution of the patronage of the crown, already much too extensive; and it would also place many gentlemen, now interested there, in a situation less dependent than they were at present. And further, it would relieve his Royal Highness from dependence on the crown, and on the minister of the day, a thing in itself extremely desirable as well for the heir apparent of the throne as for the interests of the public; for a prince ought to be an opulent and independent nobleman, before he should become a wise, virtuous, and illustrious monarch; and in proportion to the elevation of his rank, must a state of dependence be painful to his feelings, and dangerous to the public.
Mr. Anstruther did not pretend to say, that parliament had not the power to order the duchy of Cornwall to be sold; but he must observe, that the duchy was not the absolute property of the Prince; for if he were to die to day, the duchy would vest in the duke of York to-morrow, and the House would have as good a right to order the estate of any individual to be sold as this estate. There had been a good deal of misapprehension as to the value of this estate; two-thirds of it were not rent out of land, but a duty on tin, and the other part consisted of a dry unimproveable rent.
Mr. Lambton said, that the subject was more of a national than a personal nature. Upon what grounds were large supplies and subsidies voted in the course of the war, but from a motive of national advantage? Upon the same grounds, gentlemen should not hesitate to vote for the extinction of his Royal Highness's debts. How was it consistent to vote the Princess a dower of 50,000l. a year, and with the same breath make her suffer from the imprudence of the Prince previous to his marriage? It was stated, that the Prince would one day or other be extricated; but this reminded him of the old adage "While the grass grows the steed starves."
Mr. Bouverie said, that as the House had once already paid the debts of his Royal Highness, and that under the pledge that no such embarrassment should again happen, they could not, consistently, vote away the public money for such a purpose.
Mr. W. Smith opposed the motion, because the House had a right to know the amount and nature of the debts before they were called upon to pay them.
Mr. Francis said, he was very desirous that the principles on which he had already voted, and those on which he meant to vote that night, should be exactly understood. When the question was put to him on a former occasion, what establishment he would vote for, upon a general view of the provision fit for the heir apparent, combined with the situation of the country, and abstractedly from any conMr. Bastard opposed the principle of sideration whatsoever of his Royal Highparliament interfering at all with the debts ness's debts and incumbrances; the anof the Prince. He thought the precedent a swer he gave it by his vote was, that dangerous one, and that it would have been 100,000l. was sufficient. But he did not better to have left it to the Prince, to ap- mean by that vote to preclude all consiportion what part of his income he pleased deration whatever of the debts. The to the payment of his debts. House had determined in favour of the higher establishment. The question, therefore, now before him was, whether he would or would not concur with a proposition made by his Royal Highness himself, to apply a considerable portion of [H]
Mr. Whitbread said, he did not agree with those who contended that this motion would not tend to increase the burthens of the people; on the contrary, it seemed to him to tend to that object, be[VOL. XXXII.]
the sum they had already voted, and which, whether so applied or not, would be equally a burthen on the people, to the discharge of his debts, or whether that whole income should be left without any obligation upon it, and finally, perhaps, be spent without having contributed materially to that very service, on account of which, in the minds of many gentlemen, the higher establishment had been consented to. This being strictly the state of the question he did not see how he could conscientiously refuse his assent to the proposition as it stood.
Sir John Call argued for an immediate disharge of the debt. The best and least burthensome way of providing for it, he conceived to be the sale of the duchy of Cornwall.
Mr. Wilberforce thought that some inquiry ought to be made, as to the manner in which the debts had been contracted, because it might be productive of some advantage.
Sir W. Dolben would vote for the instruction, because formerly the House had only the assurance of the minister upon the subject, but the message of that day expressed, that his Royal Highness himself was desirous to avoid future embarrassment, and upon this assurance he had great reliance. He saw no reason the country had to look to his majesty for the payment of any part of the debts.
Mr. Bankes said, he conceived the voting of any sum for the establishment of the Prince, as totally distinct from voting money to pay his debts, which he thought the House ought not to be called upon todo, after the Message of 1787. The payment of debts must always be unpleasant to that House. He did not approve of measures that went only to check such things, and thought that the only way to prevent them in future was, by not paying the debts now incurred.
Mr. Sumner opposed that part of the motion which appropriated any part of the income to the Prince for the payment of his debts. The two questions were not fairly before the House, and ought not to be blended. He therefore moved an amendment, by leaving out the words "and also, for appropriating a proportion of the Prince's annual income, towards the gradual discharge of the incumbrances to which his Royal Highness is now subject."
Mr. Grey seconded the amendment, because he thought it tended to simplify the
motion. He declared himself entirely against the payment of the debts in any way, as a question that ought not to be entertained by the House. He was against pledging the House or the public in any way, that might eventually or contingently lead to fixing a burthen upon them to pay those debts, with which he thought they had nothing to do.
Mr. Fox contended, that the House, by agreeing to the instruction moved, were not pledged for one farthing of the debts. He lamented the necessity for setting apart any precise quantum of the Prince's income for the payment of his debts; because that ought to be determined by himself; but the difficulty he felt on that point was obviated by the message which the House had just received.
Mr. Sheridan said, that the only question that ought to be before them, was simply whether the debts were to be paid or no? But by the mode in which it had been brought forward, this direct question might be evaded. The public certainly never would believe that the minister proposed an income of 125,000l. for the Prince, without any reference to the debts; and they ought not to be trifled and quibbled with, by being told at the same time that they were not pledged to pay them; they ought not to be deluded, humbugged, and deceived in that way, but fairly and at once to know whether they were to pay the debts or not. It was not his intention that night to vote either way. He was against giving any instruction to the committee, relative to the payment of the debts; yet he would give it as his positive opinion, that they ought to be paid immediately, for the dignity of the country, and the situation of the Prince. He ought not to be seen rolling about the streets in his state-coach as an insolvent prodigal; but, while he ought to be relieved from his embarrassments, the public should not be burthened with the pressure of a hair. In coming to that House to pay his debts, the Prince had been ill advised. The debts might and ought to be paid. If it was meant to keep monarchy respectable in the eyes of this country, a different conduct should have been pursued. The sum of 2 or 300,000l., was trifling, when compared to the unbecoming situation of an heir apparent to the crown, without independence, and, what was worse, without character.
The question being put, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the question;" the House divided:
So it was resolved in the affirmative. Then the main question being put, the House divided:
So it was resolved in the affirmative.
June 5. Mr. Pitt moved, "That this House will, on Monday next, resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, to consider of providing for the appropriation of an annual sum out of the consolidated fund, for the liquidation of such of the debts, now owing by his royal highness the Prince of Wales, as may remain unpaid, in the event of the decease of his Royal Highness."
the Prince and his creditors, that it might be known what terms would be accepted, 266 if a certain security was given. The right hon. gentleman had intimated his intention to fill up the blank in the committee with the whole additional sum of 65,000l., and the revenue of the duchy of Cornwall. He certainly did not think the sum of 78,000l., a year too large for the purpose of liquidating the debt. But how was the right hon. gentleman to get at the revenue of the duchy of Cornwall, as he understood that the present income of his Royal Highness was conveyed in trust for the benefit of his creditors? It was very unfortunate that the House should be called to impose a contingent burthen upon the public, without either the certainty of relieving the Prince of Wales, or of satisfy ing his just creditors. He was now called upon to perform the last disagreeable task which had fallen to his share in the present discussions. He had not flattered the people, for he had voted for the larger sum; he had not flattered the Prince, for he had pretty plainly explained his sense of the manner in which that sum ought to be appropriated; nor would he, in what he had now to say, flatter that other party, whose immediate favour might be deemed still more important. He sincerely lamented that parliament had received no intimation from his majesty, that in any possible contingency he would take upon himself the charge of the debts. They might then have had the consolation to say that it was a transaction which had been equally unfortunate for all parties; that the public had suffered from the imposition of an additional burthen; that the Prince had suffered from a diminution of splendor; and that his majesty had suffered in common with his family and his people. If the bill went forward, he certainly should vote for the appropriation of the 78,000l., which would extinguish the debt in about nine years. The risk of the public in that case was certainly not great; but why, he asked, should the public be subjected in this instance to any contingent risk? He proposed to move, that in case of the demise of the Prince of Wales, the portion of his debts, which should then remain unpaid, should be defrayed out of the civil list. It might be said, would not so large a defalcation oblige parliament to grant an additional supply to the civil list? To this he would only answer, that it would then remain for parliament to consider whether the state
Sir William Young said, that because he was attached to the royal family he did not wish the debts should be taken notice of at all. The mode of procedure adopted by the right hon. gentleman tended to degrade the Prince of Wales: it put him, as it were, in leading-strings, and held him out as unworthy of confidence.
Mr. Fox said, that he conceived no such construction could apply to any measures taken to regulate the expenditure of his Royal Highness. When the House voted for Mr. Burke's bill, they had acted in the same spirit. He then conceived that the elevated situation of his majesty gave a right to that House to lay him under the restrictions which they then imposed; because, proud as his situation was, he owned no greater station than that of servant of the people. Before, in the present instance, he consented to burthen the people, he wished to know, whether what he should grant would be effectual for the purpose for which it was demanded. As far as he understood, there was no compulsion upon the creditors to accept of the terms now offered. He did not wish to impose an additional burthen upon the public without some reasonable certainty that it would really be effectual. The whole of the business had been conducted unfortunately. There ought first to have taken place some arrangement between
the civil list was such as called upon them for an additional sum. If the civil list should be lightened of some of the burthens with which it was at present charged, it might then be adequate to undertake the debts; if not, it would be for parliament to consider, what supply it would be proper to grant. Some gentlemen had lamented that the Prince's debts should be mentioned at all in a parliamentary way, after the promise contained in the message of 1787. As to that promise, it might have been made without consideration; but the House in the address recited that promise the Prince knew that, and by accepting the terms, deliberately bound himself. He adverted to the argument that had been urged, that parliament were bound to provide for the debts as having approved of the marriage of his Royal Highness. How much more, then, his majesty, who was an immediate party in the contract? Was he to be supposed the only one who was ignorant of the embarrassments under which his son laboured? Gentlemen should recollect that the marriage was concluded without the knowledge of the House, and would, but for the casual severity of the season, have been consummated before parliament met. Nothing but absolute necessity could induce him to lay any additional burthen on the public. He was perfectly convinced, if his Royal Highness was assisted by the credit of his royal father, that with the annual appropriation of 78,000l., the creditors would be perfectly satisfied with their security.
Mr. Jekyll said, that after the heavy load of taxes already sustained by the people, he would not consent to add the weight of a single hair to their burthens, unless it could be made out that they had no other resource to look to. A temporary alienation of the duchy of Cornwall might produce a considerable sum. To vote 125,000l. for the establishment of the Prince, was not liberality but jus'tice, as every man who considered the relative value of money must be convinced that a less sum could not be sufficient. No reason had yet been given why a resource might not be found in the sale of the Crown lands. With respect to the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall from the birth of the Prince to his attaining the age of twenty one, he conceived that the commissioners to be appointed by the bill must have powers to inquire into debts due to the Prince, as well as into debts due by him, and that it would be their duty
to inquire into this matter, and sue for the recovery of the money if necessary. He wished to see royal resources applied to the relief of royal embarrassments.
The Attorney General expressed himself truly sensible how necessary it was for that House to consider the essential interests of the Prince of Wales: but it would not be to study his fundamental and permanent interests, if they did not at the same time also consult those of the public. Gentlemen seemed to forget that the law of the land would attach upon the income voted to the Prince, for the benefit of his creditors, unless the House interposed. All that they were now called upon to do, was, to provide for a judicious application of that money to the liquidation of the Prince's debts, which otherwise he might be compelled to apply in a more unpleasant and less effectual manner. He was, he owned, a little astonished to hear the learned gentleman talk of the temporary alienation of the duchy of Cornwall, without specifying the limitation of the time. This was loose and incorrect; if he meant the Prince's life estate, he certainly might legally dispose of it; but if the learned gentleman would consult the original charter, he would find that he could not legally dispose of the fee simple; it was simply the property of the Prince of Wales for the time being: a property held in succession, and no principle of justice could warrant the total alienation of it, but suppose it could be alienated for the payment of these debts, they then would be paid by the public, and out of a public fund; for as these revenues were in aid of the income of the Princes of Wales, that income must be increased if they were alienated. The same principle, applied to the sale of the Crown lands; the hereditary revenues of the crown were ne cessary for the support of regal dignity? and if the forests were capable of improvement, so as to yield a large revenue that might be made applicable to the support of the monarchy, it would make it unnecessary for the people to contribute an increase. He doubted whether the revenue of the duchy of Cornwall was to be accounted for during the minority of the Prince of Wales. In every instance, since the first grant of the duchy, the king had maintained the Prince of Wales out of the revenues, till he thought proper to give him the livery of the duchy, which he might do at any age. The revenues of Cornwall might be considered as for