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adopted, and ought to be so without delay. king himself at that period, as well as the But a doubt was entertained on the sub-parliament, considered the right of the ject. In 1783, when the duke of York prince of Wales to the revenues of the came of age, there was much difference duchy of Cornwall to be clear and unof opinion on the subject of the title of questionable. This, indeed, was obvious his royal highness, as now insisted on; by that king coming himself in person to and it was matter of surprise that the his parliament when the prince was only claims, as they were now stated, had so two years of age, to take some of it away, long escaped the vigilance of so many but still more from the petition of right able men as had their attention so parti- decided two years afterwards, when the cularly called to this subject. He did not entire revenues were restored. This was think he should be justified, under the a full recognition of the right, by parliapresent circumstances, in recommending ment, and by a monarch whose interest to the House the adoption of this motion and disposition to the contrary had been There was one general objection, that of so manifest; and this decision, without a its blending two objects, in themselves whisper to the contrary, remained un. naturally distinct, the question of right touched to the present hour. It was true, and the question of account. But his that when Charles Ist was prince of leading objection was this, that wherever Wales, it became a question, whether he there was a wrong in this country, there was so entitled, but his title was only must be some redress. Such a point, in doubted upon the legal construction of his opinion, ought not to be entertained filius primogenitus. - In the present inin that House. If it had appeared in stance there was but one point for consiproof, that no application for redress could deration; viz. whether these parliamentary be made elsewhere, or had been made proceedings and other documents were elsewhere in vain, it would then be time sufficiently satisfactory, or whether & enough to apply to that House ; but in doubt remained for the decision of anothe present posture of this case, he must ther tribunal. For his own part, he oppose this motion, as one which did not thought them absolutely conclusive, and come under the legitimate functions of consequently a sufficient foundation for that House. Nothing but absolute neces- the determination of the House without sity could justify its adoption. He was further controversy.
He then went unwilling to negative such a proposition through the history of livery of seisin as as this, because it might be made a ques dependent upon tenure until abolished by tion elsewhere ; but he could not support the 12th of Charles 1st, and said, that no it, and would conclude with moving, prince of Wales had had livery of the “ That the other orders of the day be duchy of Cornwall.—George And, when now read.”
prince of Wales, had no livery of seisin ; Mr. Erskine rose to support the motion, his present majesty had none, and the and maintained that the length of time present prince of Wales had none. The that had elapsed from the origin of the claim, therefore, was not a doubtful one grant to the present period, was no answer to be settled by a legal decision, but one to the claim, and if the law was clear, that had been recognized for ages, and the House would be so far from being confirmed by repeated acts of parliament. out of its course in entertaining the mo- Indeed, the only reason for asking the tion, that it would be in the direct dis- aid of the House of Commons was, becharge of its duty to the public. The cause, though a petition of right had for only proper way of ascertaining the law a long time been prepared, difficulties had upon the subject would be by referring it occurred in its progress; the best endeato a committee; and if upon the report, vours had been employed, but no certain the matter appeared to be doubtful, it advance had been hitherto made towards would be then time enough for the House a decision.-With regard to the account, to say so, by declining to proceed any he would say nothing, except that it was farther. Mr. Erskine then took an his- on all hands agreed, if the right were torical review of the statutes and other found to be with the prince, that his royal records, from the time of the grant of highness had not, in any period of his Edward 3rd, to the Black Prince down life, been the smallest burthen to the wards; all of which, he said, were in public. favour of the right, and that it appeared The Master of the Rolls observed, that from the statute of Henry 6th, that the the proposition of his learned friend had been submitted to the House with every in the duchy of Cornwall. His learned possible advantage which could arise from friend had contended, that the claim of luminous statement, or a display of the his royal highness was a legal claim, soundest judgment and discretion. How. by which nothing else could, with any ever he felt himself under the necessity of propriety, be meant, than a claim founded opposing the proposition, it was impos- on principles of law. If this, then, was sible not to feel respect for the motives the case, what had the House to do with by which it had been suggested, and he the discussion ? Was it by a committee was ready at once to allow that the anxiety of the House that the rights of property of his royal highness for the discussion were to be tried ? He wished his learned of his claims, arose much more from a friend to state, what was the kind of juriswish that the real state of the account be- diction which they were to exercise on twixt him and the public might be ascer- this point. In the first place, the existtained, than with any hope of immediate ence of the right was fully asserted, and advantage. Still, however, the proposi- then a committee of the House was to be tion was one which called upon the House converted into a court of judicature to to exercise judicial functions and legal in- decide on its validity. If the case had vestigations; and no disposition, however been doubtful, it was allowed that it ought strong, to display marks of affection to to be referred to a regular court of judibis royal highness, should induce the cature; but he would contend, that if House, consistently with the order of every member were convinced that the their proceedings, to entertain such a dis- right did exist, the House could not accussion. Discussions collateral with the cede to the proposition. If the doctrine general subject now under consideration held on the other side were once admitted, might indeed be introduced, but they and if the House were thus to take upon were wholly unnecessary, and for this rea- itself to decide what rights were clear ; son he would not enter into them on the would there, be asked, be any protection present occasion. On a similar principle, against the grossest infringements on prohe would forbear to give any opinion on perty of every description ?- The House, the claims of his royal higliness, for if it it was said, was never to interfere, except should hereafter be found expedient to when the case submitted to their consiinstitute some legal inquiries, it might deration was perfectly clear; but how perhaps fall to his lot to assist in framing false and dangerous did such a declaration the decision which might be given ; and appear when applied to analogous circumsure he was that he would enter on any stances. Did it not daily happen, that in such investigation without the smallest one court of judicature, a point appeared portion of bias on his mind. True it was, quite clear, which, on being considered that in 1795 he had, when the general by the court of review, seemed altogether subject of his royal highness's affairs were as ambiguous and obscure? Suppose a under consideration, expressed doubts how point were decided a hundred times, and far the claims in question could be legally a litigant chose to think it clear in his fasubstantiated; but it would be recollected vour, would that be any ground for him to that he had, on the same occasion, con- come to the House and demand their de. fessed that he was far from being possess cision ? Did not his learned friend who ed of documents sufficient to found any spoke last in every term submit motions decided opinion. As he had alluded to to a court of judicature, on points which this period, he could not omit pressing almost all the profession allowed were unupon the attention of the House, that at answerably clear? It thus appeared, that period not a single individual, as far then, that the grand argument for the as his recollection extended, had held adoption of the proposition, from the clearsuch high language on the subject of the ness of the prince's claims, was totally fulclaims as that which was now employed. lacious, and therefore any farther objecEven an hon. general who had taken a tion might perhaps be considered as an very active part in the discussion, had act of supererogation. He would, hownot spoken of them in such terms, nor ever, shortly advert to another part of the was a proposition then made by him for argument of his learned friend. He had introducing a clause into the bill then no hesitation in admitting the truth of all framed, instructing the prince's commis- that was said about the prince of Wales sioners to institute suits for the recovery being lord of the duchy of Cornwall at the of debts due to the prince on his revenues moment of his birth; but, unfortunately,
one of the doubts which might be enter- | the civil list or to the public. If any retained, arose at the time when their dis- storation was to be made to his royal cussions ceased. No one doubted the highness, it could only be on the principle truth of this general proposition; it was that the revenues had not been applied to clear from the acts of parliament which the purposes intended. The question, had been quoted. It was not, therefore, therefore, in this view, resolved itself into that he had doubts on this point that he the same thing as to the object of the resisted the appointment of a committee; committee's inquiries. What, besides, but it was the livery at an early age, when was to be the result of the opinion which the prince of Wales was in a state of in- the committee (supposing it to be appointcapacity to exercise any function of life, ed) might form? Was it to bind the prewhich formed the grand subject of doubt. sent king, or was its influence also to exDuring the continuance of this state of tend to future kings? Was it, on the idea incapacity, the whole management of the of its being unfavourable to the prince's revenues necessarily devolved on his ma claims, to deprive his royal highness of jesty, by whom alone every thing respect the privilege of applying for redress to a ing thein was to be directed. Not a single regular court of judicature, or to prevent officer employed in the collection of these future princes of Wales from asserting revenues was subject to any control but their rights; or was it to be of that dethat of the sovereign, nor could carry scription which was to leave it to the opwhat he had collected to any place but to tion of future princes of Wales to try the the Treasury. To the king exclusively fate of another appeal to the House, or to belonged the management of the education a court of judicature? All these consiof the infant prince; and he it was who derations ought to be well weighed before was to determine on the propriety of every the House consented to appoint a com. article of expenditure. The question then mittee. To induce the House to comply came to be, did his majesty exercise these with the proposition, "his learned friend powers subject to control, or were they a (Mr. Erskine) had supposed that the difpart of his prerogative, free from every ficulties of enforcing his royal highness's inquiry? It might be argued by those claims were so formidable that they could who deny that the king exercised these be ascertained in no other mode. He powers exclusively by his prerogative, would not say that there were no difficulthat an account of the distribution of the ties in obtaining legal redress, but at prerevenues might be obtained. But how sent he declined giving any opinion. this was to be accomplished, he was at a Whether such a remedy did, or did not loss to conceive. It was obvious, that it exist, was as much a legal question, as a was not here, as in other cases of the in- decision on the validity of the claims. If vestigation of accounts, where the distri- it could be shown that no legal remedy bution of the particular sums in question existed, this might be a fair ground for might be censured as unfit, as unneces- removing particular obstruction, but was sary, or extravagant. Here, he who took no reason for the House taking the decithe account, and he by whom the dis- sion in the first instance into its own hands. bursements were made, was one and the Such interference as this was what the same; and therefore any examination House was every day resorting to; and to which took place was idle and nugatory, raise particular statutes for the purpose of because wholly without effect. The ques. giving a remedy to an evil of very grievous tion, however, which the committee would pressure, was strictly consistent with their have to resolve would be, whether the legislative powers. "If, on application to king was or was not accountable for the the courts of judicature, it should be found disbursement of the revenues ? for that, that his royal highness had no legal remedy, he conceived, was the plain import of the then a question would naturally arise, how words in the motion which empowered far it was proper for the House to interthem to inquire under what authority the fere, for the purpose of removing obstacles different sums had been received or ex- in the way of legal redress. This position pended. It made no difference as to this might be illustrated by numerous analopoint whether bis majesty, the public, or gies. It frequently happened, that certain the civil list, were supposed to have re- legal obstacles stood in the way of a cause ceived the benefit of the revenues; for, if being brought to trial, and by an applicahis majesty was not accountable, neither tian to a court of equity this obstacle was could any responsibility be attached to removed; but in such cases the court came to no decision. It merely removed ob debt owing from the public. If the comstructions to the regular course of law, mittee, on their report, should state that and never went beyond what actual neces the claims of his royal highness were just, sity demanded. The House, he imagined, the House would then be bound to diswere now pretty well in possession of his charge those claims; not by a judicial objections to the appointment of a com- act, but by a legislative enactment. In mittee. He did not oppose it, either be this view, the statement of his learned cause he was convinced that the claims of friend (Mr. Erskine), with regard to the his royal highness were right, or because clearness of his royal highress's rights, he held a contrary opinion; he had already was of the highest importance. He had stated, that on this point, he at present heard every statement of the learned gave no decision. What he specifically mover fully corroborated by his hon. objected to in the appointment of the friend, and the grand position which they committee was, that if the House con- had laid down of the right of the prince sented to entertain the proposition, they of Wales to the revenues of the duchy of would be assuming judicial power, to the Cornwall, from the moment of his birth, exercise of which, on such occasions, they was not denied by those who had spoken were incompetent, either on the princi- on the other side. If this, then, was adples or the practice of the constitution. mitted, all that he contended for was at
Mr. Fox confessed, he understood the once given up. If it was allowed to be question in a light considerably different the fair interpretation of the various acts from that in which it seemed to be viewed of parliament which had been quoted, that by most of those who had delivered their the prince, from the time of his birth, was opinions. If he rightly understood the entitled to enjoy these revenues as much words of the motion, the object of the as if he had arrived to the age of maturity, committee was not only very different why was it that he was not to enjoy the from what the last speaker had supposed, same advantages during his minority, that but from what seemed very generally to
wards were entitled to under common prevail in the House. The motion did circumstances? In one part of the speech not seem to him to contain a single word of the learned gentleman who spoke last, of law, or a point of opinion, but related it was not denied that it was a subject solely to the investigation of facts. The which, at some time or other, ought to be facts which the committee were to be discussed. It was allowed that the case directed to inquire into were, what was was analogous, because guardians were, the nature of the orders by which parti- | in common circumstances, liable to a cular revenues were levied and expended ? strict inquiry into their conduct, while Were they warrants from the Treasury, the revenues admitted to be the unquesor from what other office did they origi- tionable property of the heir apparent, pate? Such was his understanding of the were appropriated without any similar object of the committee; and in this he species of control on the mode of its discould discover nothing of legal difficulty. bursement. If ever a case for legislative He could, therefore, safely vote against interference did exist, this was surely one. passing to the order of the day; for if But he could not so easily admit that the doubts of a legal kind existed, it was revenues of the duchy of Cornwall were proper that they should be removed. subject to no control; and, in support of Viewing the question as referring merely a contrary opinion, he referred to the to facts, he begged to consider what these statute passed in the first year of the facts presented which called for the con- prince of Wales's age, in the reign of sideration of the House? It might be Henry 6th, by which, for certain specified said, of what use was it to inquire into purposes, the king was empowered to apfacts if there was no intention of ground- propriate the revenues, and that passed ing on them some subsequent proceed- four years after, by which the former act ing? To this the answer was obvious. was repealed. He was ready to admit The consideration of the subject had come that there existed many useless statutes; before the House from his royal highness but of all the statutes he had ever heard in the character of a public creditor. He of, this last was the most useless, if it did had stated his claims; he had desired the not mean that the king was to be accountHouse to ascertain the quantum of what able to the prince for whatever sums the was due to him ; he had called upon them, revenues afforded. He next alluded to after this investigation, to discharge a the manner in which the claim of prince
Charles was decided; and contended, that the prince's use in riper years. In coming the mode of decision in that case, was one to the history of more modern times, it which, even at the time it took place, was appeared that the sums which had been reunjustifiable; but which, if it were to take ceived in the first years of George 2nd. place under the present circumstances of had been paid over to Frederic prince of this country, and in the present more Wales, for those years which had elapsed, perfect state of the constitution, could not from the time of the accession till he had fail to be regarded as flagrant in the high reached his majority. With all these est degree. When he heard gentlemen cases therefore in view, reflecting on the on the other side so strenuously con- variety of evidence by which his royal tending against the proposed mode of highness's claims were supported, he had deciding on his royal highness's claims, no sort of doubt on his mind on the subject. he was astonished that no learned gentle. But if he had no doubt on the validity of man should venture to hazard an opi- his royal highness's claims, he had still nion on what he conceived to be a legal less even a glimmering of hope that they question. In his own opinion, the would ever be enforced by any other strongest possible argument which could mode of application. As a general probe used against the proposed mode, would position, he not merely admitted, but conbe to point out another mode in which tended for, the necessity of keeping the the prince's claims could be urged in a judicial and legislative powers totally disless exceptionable manner. On this point, tinct and independent of each other; but however, they had chosen to say nothing, he could not allow that, in no circumand had contented themselves with gene- stances, this general rule could be susral objections. The learned gentleman pended. In every country, under every who spoke last had said, that during the form of legislation in the practice of seinfancy of the prince, his majesty was ne- nates or of parliaments, circumstances cessarily the sole director of his affairs, have sometimes occurred where the ends and was subject to no sort of control. of substantial justice required that forms No man was a greater admirer of English should give way, and the legislative body laws than he was; every new opportunity should assume the powers of judicial diswhich presented itself of studying their cussion. Was this, then, one of the cases character served but to increase his admi- which would justify such an interference, ration of the excellence of their spirit, for such an extraordinary exercise of authohe did not mean when he said this to al- rity? The rights of the first subject in lude to particular statutes : but, in com- this country were left in a situation which mon with every other human production, deprived him of the advantages they were they would be allowed to partake of de calculated to afford, and no adequate refects, and one of the most striking of these medy was provided by the constitution. defects was that to which he had alluded. Under similar circumstances there could The want of a provision on this subject be no doubt that every means would be was undoubtedly a subject of regret, and used to give relief to a private individual, was productive of some degree of diffi- and was the heir apparent to be denied culty. Supposing the case of an infant that redress which the legislature was so heir to the crown, while no oath of allegi. ready to afford to the community at ance was framed, perhaps it might be dif- large? The mode of stating the claim of ficult to determine to whom allegiance his royal highness to be on the public was due ; but, if called upon to give an and not on his majesty, he granted was opinion on such a case, gentlemen on the highly decorous, but it by no means al. other side would probably admit, that it tered the substance of the question. His was due to the feeble nfant whose hands majesty had appropriated the revenues were unable to wield the sceptre. In the which were the property of his royal same manner, when he was asked, how highness, not indeed to the support of his the infant prince, who, from the moment privy purse, but in aid of the civil list. of his birth, was allowed to be the posses. To this amount, consequently, the public sor of the revenues of Cornwall, was to had reaped the advantages of this approenjoy what was admitted to be his pro priation. If his royal highness came forperty? He might be at a loss to give a ward to make any claim, he had two parsatisfactory answer; he would not, how ties against him; his majesty, who had ever, feel himself entitled to say that these diverted the revenues to other purposes, revenues were not to be appropriated for and the public, who had reaped the be