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have power to nominate and appoint such persons as she shall think proper, to the several offices in His Majesty's household, and to dispose, order, and manage, all other matters and things relating to the care of His Majesty's royal person ; and that, for the better enabling Her Majesty to discharge that important trust, it is also expedient that a council should be appointed to advise and assist Her Majesty in the several matters aforesaid ; and with power, from time to time, as they may see cause, to examine upon oath the physicians and others attending His Majesty's person, touching His Majesty's health, and all matters relative thereto.”
Mr. Wm. Lambe proposed as an amendment to the first resolution, that the words, “subject to such restrictions and limitations as should be provided,” should be omitted. This amendment was supported by Lord Kensington, Mr. Leach, and Mr. Wm. Smith. Mr. Leach, in a very able and elaborate speech, entered into the merits of the question at considerable length. He quoted the precedents in the reigns of Edward III. and Henry VI., and contended that the two Houses did not possess the right to restrict or limit the power of the executive magistrate; that it was a departure from the spirit of the constitution; and an abandonment of that duty which they owed to the people. The amendment was opposed by Mr. Canning, Lord Castlereagh, and Mr. Bragge Bathurst.
The committee then divided : for Mr. Lambe's amendment 200, against it 224 ; Majority in favour of first resolution 24.
On a division upon the second resolution, for restrieting the prerogatives as to granting of peerages, the numbers were, for the second resolution 226, against it 210; Majority for the second resolution, 16.
On a division upon the third resolution, respecting the grant of pensions, &c. the numbers were, for the third resolution 233, against it 214 ; Majority for the third resolution, 19.
The fourth resolution, relative to the disposition of the King's private property, was agreed to without a division. And the discussion upon the fifth resolution, respecting the household establishment, was postponed until the next day, when an amendment was proposed by Lord Gower, to omit that part of the resolution from the words “ Queen's most excellent Majesty,” and to insert, in the room of it, “ together with the sole direction of such portion of His Majesty's household as shall be deemed requisite and suitable for the due attendance on His Majesty's sacred person, and the maintenance of His royal dignity.” In this debate Sir Samuel Romilly, in alluding to the precedent of 1789, commented upon the conduct of Mr. Pitt. He said, was it possible to read the proceedings of the two Houses, in the year 1788, without being convinced, that the object of Mr. Pitt, through the whole course of those proceedings, was merely to retain the power in his own hands as long as he could ; and when he could no longer keep it, to give it up to his successors as much curtailed as possible. He had laid hold of an expression which had fallen inconsiderately from his political antagonist (Mr. Fox) in the course of debate, and which had not been insisted on, and had made it the subject of a resolution, merely that he might gain a triumph to himself. The proceedings in Parliament at that day exhibited a struggle, in which scene Mr. Pitt appeared the principal actor, contending for his own power.
He was not disposed to attach a greater degree of value to this precedent, for what had been said of the high authority of the person from whom it proceeded. He was not a worshipper of the memory of Mr. Pitt, although, as he was now dead, he did not wish to speak against him. He knew how many persons in that House were connected with him by private friendship, and were almost idolaters of his character and talents.
To those gentleman he did not wish to act with incivility, by dispraising him of whom they thought so highly; but he must say, that, notwithstanding the great talents which he undoubtedly possessed, he never could acknowledge his claim to be considered a GREAT MÀN. Before he could give him that character, he must see the instances where the great talents he possessed, and the great influence he had so long enjoyed, had been exercised in improving the condition of any part of His Majesty's subjects.
The House divided: for Lord Gower's amendment 226, against it 213; Majority in favour of Lord Gower's amendment 13.
On this day (the 2nd), Mr. Lushington brought up the report from the committee on the state of the nation. The resolutions were then read ; and, on the first being read, Lord Porchester moved as an amendment, " That the concluding words of the said resolution, subject to such limitations and exceptions as shall hereafter be provided,' be left out.' The amendment was seconded by Sir Thomas Turton. It was opposed by Mr. Yorke, Mr. Ryder, the Master of the Rolls (Sir Wm. Grant), and Mr. Canning, who entered into an eulogium on the memory of Mr. Pitt, and replied to what Sir Samuel Romilly said on the preceding night. In reply to which, Sir Samuel Romilly observed, that he would not attempt to answer the blaze of zeal, which after his (Mr. Canning's) silence on the preceding day, and twenty-four hours' calm consideration, had unexpectedly burst forth. He had not been an inattentive observer of Mr. Pitt's public life; he never disputed that he possessed the most splendid talents'; but he could not forget what opportunities of improving the condition of his fellow-creatures he had lost. If the right honourable gentleman (Mr. Canning) had, in plain and simple language, pointed out the acts of Mr. Pitt's administration, which he (Sir S.) had overlooked; or if he had only told him, to what class of His Majesty's subjects he was to turn, to discover increased happiness and increased comfort, the effects of Mr. Pitt's talents, or to what part of the empire he might look, to “read his history in á naSir, — From what I have heard in the course of this discussion, it appears to me, that the question under consideration has not been fairly stated; that is, has not, in the manner in which it has been argued, been placed upon its real grounds. The question now before you is, not what has usually been done in cases of regency, but what ought to be done in the present emergency, and under the existing circumstances of the times in which we live. The precedents bearing on the case of the appointment of a Regent, have been ably stated and commented upon by an honourable and learned gentleman (Mr. Leach), in a former debate. The distinguished manner in which that honourable and learned gentleman has argued that part of the question, leaves little to be added by those who may follow him. It is clear, from what has fallen from that honourable gentleman, that in every instance of a regency, all the prerogatives of the Crown have been given to the Regent; or, if not given to the Regent, that they were never suffered to continue in suspense; that if not active in the hands of the Regent, they were still in subsistence for the benefit of the people. It is a very unsatisfactory answer to our argument, to say, that all the powers of the executive should not in this instance be given to the Regent, because in some cases certain powers were not given to a regency. The nation has a right to call upon Parliament to give the public the benefit of those prerogatives vested in the Crown for their use, whether they are to be conferred on a sole Regent, or a council of regeney. The public has an interest and a right in these prerogatives of the Crown; and it is, therefore, incumbent upon those who propose restrictions upon any of them, to shew, that they can be withheld with safety. The right honourable secretary has indeed contended, that the prerogatives of the Crown are not necessarily to be at all times in a state of activity, But does the right honourable gentleman mean to say, that the essential and vital prerogatives of the Crown are not necessary to be exercised at a period when the country is in such a state of difficulty and danger? But says the right honourable gentleman, the period of restriction is to be short. How does he know that ? the period proposed is one year. But will France wait for one year ? will America wait for one year ? If you cannot · postpone the activity of your enemy, you should not şuspend the functions of your executive government. You cannot suspend the prerogatives of the Crown, without great danger to the constitution of your monarchy.
he would have much better served the memory of his friend, than by all this laboured accumulation of eloquence. Lord Porchester's amendment was supported by Lord Francis Osborne, Mr. Wm. Wynne, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Ponsonby, and Mr. Grattan, who spoke as follows:
The right honourable gentleman opposite proposes that the regency shall be invested with only a part of the prerogatives of the Crown, and would have us believe that the power of creating peers, of granting places or pensions permanently, is not necessary in this period of war, at least for twelve months. If the right honourable gentlemen can shew that, they must do a great deal. It is an experiment highly exceptionable and eminently dangerous at any time to make it a matter of doubt, whether the vital prerogatives of the Crown be necessary for well conducting the affairs of the nation.
The executive magistrate, whether administering the government in his own name, or in the name of his sovereign, ought to possess, in their fullest extent, all the prerogatives of the Crown. Now, I beg leave to submit, what I conceive to be the duty of this House on this occasion. Our great object is to supply the existing deficiency, by putting into activity and action all the powers of the executive in the hands of the Regent. How far, then, is he to exercise the royal functions? by signing papers ? No. How then ? By exercising a competency of power to the exigency, and calling forth into action all the royal functions requisite for the salvation of the country. You must recollect, that this is a year of war. You must recollect, that this year, in which you are called on to deprive the Regent of the great prerogatives of the Crown, is not merely a year of war, but a year in which you may have to fight for England on British ground. The right honourable gentleman has called upon us to prove, that the prerogatives proposed to be restricted, are necessary to be given to the person who is to represent the sovereign in a period of war; of such a tremendous war. I say, the right honourable gentleman is not entitled to make that call upon us. The gatives are allowed, on all hands, to be at all times necessary for the Crown; and it is incumbent on him, and those who think with him, to show that they are not necessary for the Regent, under the pressure of all the difficulties and dangers with which the country is beset. They are bound to shew, that those powers with which the ancient kings of England were invested, which the constitution recognizes, and which are essentially necessary for the welfare of the realm, may be now safely suspended in this arduous and alarming crisis ; that those prerogatives, which are of the essence of the monarchy, are, in the existing state of things, superfluous and unnecessary.
But the right honourable gentleman who has proposed these resolutions, has himself given up bis principle, when he excepts from his restriction, persons performing great naval or military services. Having giving up a portion of his resrictions, he has nothing now to do, but to give up the
remainder. He has so far broken in upon his original proposition, as to destroy the principle he professes to sustain, and while he wishes to establish his rule by the exceptions, he makes his exceptions the conditions of that rule. The right honourable gentleman, has undoubtedly admitted, that there might be much inconvenience, in extending the restrictions in a time of war, to the case of distinguished naval and military officers. But why should not similar inconvenience be felt from including within its operation the eminent services of meritorious civil officers ? if the principle be right, the exception is wrong; if, on the contrary, the exception be proper, the restriction should be got rid of altogether.. In fact, the most irresistible argument against the restriction, if it be wise or politic, is that it is not carried far enough. Yet, let me ask, whether we should now set about making the experiment, how much of the royal power may with safety be suspended ? how much of the royal prerogatives may be spared ? the proposition of the right honourable gentleman calls upon us to determine, not how much of the powers of the sovereign shall be given to the Regent, but with how little of these powers the Regent, in a period of unexampled difficulty and danger, may be able to do much for the salvation of the country.
Will the House take upon itself, under such circumstances, the heavy responsibility of detaching from the executive magistrate so large a branch of the powers of the government ? Will the right honourable gentleman, and those who think with him, be responsible in their own persons for the consequences
? Let me add too, that it is not a fair way to state the question to say, that it is not necessary that this office, or that pension should be granted, or any particular peerage should be conferred. The real matter for consideration is, whether the prerogative, from which such favours flow, is material to the kingly office ? and if it is, whether it be right that it shall be kept in suspense ? If the Regent shall have no power of granting offices or pensions but during the Regency, or of creating Peers except in special cases, it must be obvious that the ministers, who are the servants of the infirm King, will have a reversionary interest in such grants on the recovery of the King. If these ministers should not be the ministers of the Regent, this. reversionary interest will be a means of strengthening them against his government, and weakening the powers of the executive, at a time when all its vigour and energy are indispensibly necessary. You will give to them, therefore, in prospect, what you take immediately from the Regent, and by stripping the person at the head of the government of the