Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

BILLS IN PARLIAMENT.

345

presenting them, makes a brief speech, especially at the end of the session, recommending that the money which has been liberally supplied by Her Majesty's Faithful Commons shall be judicially and economically applied in meeting the public expenditure. •

When Her Majesty gives her assent to Bills in person, her concurrence is previously communicated to the Clerk Assistant, who reads the titles, on which Her Majesty's assent is signified by a gentle inclination. If it be a Bill of Supply, the Clerk pronounces loudly “le roi, or la reyne remercie ses bons sujets, accepte leur benevolence, et ainsi le veult.To all other Private Bills “le roi" or "la reyne le veult," and on assenting to Private Bills, “ soi fait comme il est desiréf." Acts of Grace and Pardon receive the Royal Assent before being submitted to Parliament. They are then read once in each House, and may be rejected but not amended.

When the royal assent is refused to a Bill, it is communicated by the clerk in the following mild words, le roi'' or la reyne s'avisera ;” but there are few instances on record of the assent being refused to Bills. The last is the refusal of Queen Ann to sanction the Scotch Militia Bill, in 1707.

It is remarkable that we should so long retain NormanFrench terms in the form of the royal assent. The very word “benevolence” reminds us of the extortions of the Stuarts, the Tudors, and their predecessors. During the Protectorate the Commons resolved, in 1656, “ that when the Lord Protector shall pass a Bill, the form of the words shall be, The Lord Protector doth consent.'” In 1706, it was attempted by the Commons to abolish the use of NormanFrench both in Parliament and in the Courts of Law; and that, in Money Bills, the assent of the King should be signified by the words, “ The King thanks his good subjects, accepts their benevolence, and answers "Be it so;'” and in respect to other public Bills, “Be it as it is prayed ;” and in regard to a refusal, “ The King will consider of it.” This Bill, however, did not pass; but in 1731 an Act was passed, that all proceedings in Courts of Justice should be conducted in English. See Hatsell's Precedents, edition of 1818; Blackstone's Commentaries, Book i.; Journals of the Commons, &c.- Editor.

No. 2. THE CIVIL LIST.-(Page 69.)

The Civil List terminates with the life of the Sovereign. Formerly the revenue of the King consisted of the rents of the Crown lands, and from several feudal exactions of an oppressive and arbitrary character. From the death of William Rufus until the reign of William III., we find that all the Sovereigns of England, with the exception of Henry VII. and Queen Elizabeth, were constantly embarrassed by financial poverty. The first of the Tudors levied money by the most arbitrary expedients: this avaricious monarch hoarded his treasure, and was remarkable for the meanness of his establishment and expenditure. Queen Elizabeth was parsimonious, in order that she might be independent of her Parliament. She made, it is true, profuse gifts to some of her favourites ; but otherwise, there was not an item of expenditure, either of a public nature or in the maintenance of her Court, which escaped her personal scrutiny. Yet her economy did not proceed from any tender concern for the pockets of her subjects; for nothing could be more unjust and arbitrary than the patents and monopolies sold by her for money, which, from notions of independence, she preferred to asking supplies from her Parliament. The supplies she received during a long reign of forty-five years did not exceed £2,800,000. Such is the statement of Cecil, Lord Salisbury. Of £450,000 lent by her in his adversity to the King of France, no more than £70,000 was ever repaid. Her last war with Spain cost £1,580,000; and in six months a rebellion in Ireland drained £600,000 from her Treasury. In ten years Ireland cost £3,400,000 above the revenue collected in that kingdom. Her ordinary revenue from Crown lands and other sources yielded less than £500,000. Until within the last thirteen years of her reign, the Customs were farmed at £14,000 per annum ; but in 1590 she raised the farm to £50,000, and compelled Sir Thomas Smith to refund her a portion of his great profits. When we consider her great undertakings, and her successful triumphs with such limited revenues, we cannot but applaud her economy and wisdom. Despotic she was, and her vices were not few: yet, as a monarch, she will ever continue to be admired and honoured by the English nation.

[blocks in formation]

James I. was a mean prince, but profuse in gifts to his favourites. During his whole reign he could never extricate himself from financial difficulties. The unconstitutional exactions of Charles I. originated the resistance which was finally fatal to his authority and to his life. During the Commonwealth and Protectorate, monies were raised by severe exactions and merciless confiscations; but the Long Parliament and Oliver Cromwell maintained both the credit and dignity of Great Britain amidst the nations of the world. Charles II. never attended to financial economy: he robbed merchants and others by shutting up the Exchequer; and although his successor, James II., was economical, his reign was too brief to restore public credit.

After the accession of William III., a Civil List of £680,000 per annum was provided, payable out of certain taxes. £800,000 was in like manner granted to George II. ; and the same amount was, on his accession, voted to George III. out of the general revenue. But nine years afterwards £1,000,000 was granted to pay off a debt which had accumulated on the Civil List; and the permanent grant was increased to £900,000 per annum: notwithstanding which a deficiency again occurred in 1784-86, although Mr. Burke's Bill had abolished many useless offices, and greatly reduced the expenditure.

In 1802, the Commons reported that the Civil List expenditure consisted of £209,988 for the Royal Family: £33,279 salaries of the great Officers of State ; £80,526 Foreign Ministers; £174,697 tradesmen's bills ; £92,424 for the menial servants of the Court; £203,364 miscellaneous payments, &c. Parliament at the same time voted £990,000 for debts due on the Civil List; and in 1804 the Civil List revenue was increased to £960,000. In 1812, the Civil List had increased to £1,080,000, exclusive of a large sum paid for several members of the Royal Family out of the Consolidated Fund.

On the accession of George IV. £255,000 paid out of the Civil List was transferred to the Treasury Department, and £850,000 was fixed as the revenue of the King, estimated as follows:-His Majesty's Privy Purse, £60,000; Lord Chancellor, Judges, Speaker of the House of Commons, £32,956 ; Ambassadors, Ministers, Consuls, &c. £226,950 ;

Royal Household, £209,000; Salaries in Public Departments, £140,700 ; Pensions, £95,000 ; Salaries to Officers of State, £41,306; of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Commissioners of the Treasury, £13,822: Miscellaneous Payments, £26,000. Exclusive of the foregoing Civil List, a grant of the hereditary revenues of Scotland, amounting to about £110,000, and £207,000 for the Civil List of Ireland, were granted to the Crown.

On the accession of William IV., in 1830, a select committee of the House of Commons was moved for and carried, by Sir H. Parnell, who reported that the proper expenses of the Crown should be separated from all other charges. The success of this motion overthrew the administration of the Duke of Wellington; and another report, founded on the Act 1 William IV., c. 25, was made to the House, recommending that the Civil List should be confined to the expenses of his Majesty's Household, for which £510,000 was granted, appropriated as follows:-His Majesty's Privy Purse, £110,000 ; Salaries of his Majesty's Household, £130,000; Expenses of the Royal Household, £171,500; Secret and Special Services, £23,200 ; Pensions, £75,000. The foregoing included the Civil List for Ireland and the hereditary revenues for Scotland: the Droits of the Admi. ralty were ordered to be paid into the Exchequer. By this arrangement £460,000 per annum was transferred from the Civil List to the Consolidated Fund. The revenues of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, although de facto revenues of the Sovereign, were declared to be hereditary revenues, the last being annexed to the Crown, and the former only in the absence of a Prince of Wales.

The Civil List of Queen Victoria was fixed by the 1 Vict. c. 11, sect. 111, at £385,000, to be paid yearly out of the Consolidated Fund, and appropriated as follows :-Her Majesty's Privy Purse, £160,000; Salaries of her Majesty's Household, and Retired Allowances, £131,260; Expenses of her Majesty's Household, £172,500; Royal Bounty and Special Services, £13,200; Pensions, £1,200; Miscellaneous, £8,040. By Schedule V. of that Act, pensions to be granted in one year are limited to £1,200; and a list of all such pensions must be laid annually before Parliament. Although no part of the revenues of the Woods and Forests is now appro

[merged small][ocr errors]

priated to the Civil List, a large revenue might be derived from those lands, were it not for the pernicious system of that department of the administration.- Editor.

[ocr errors]

No. 4. CIVIL AND COMMON LAW.-(Page 82.)

There is no doubt but that much of what was the Common Law during the Saxon period has been introduced into the written or Statute Law: first, in the Magna Charta, and afterwards in various Acts of Parliament since the reigns of Edward I. and of Richard II. Blackstone, as well as Sir Matthew Hale, divided all the laws of England into Lex Scripta, the written law, and Lex non Scripta, or the unwritten law; and the former says, that “ although all laws have some monuments or memorials in writing, yet all of them have not their originals in writing.” In England, and Ireland (where the English laws were first introduced by Sir Edward Poynings), when the Statute laws are silent, recourse is had to the more ancient or Common law, the authorities for which are chiefly Bracton, Glanville, the author of “Fleta," Sir John Fortescue, Lyttleton, and Coke upon Lyttleton. Besides which, the Judges of the Superior Courts are considered the repositories of the Common law; and their decisions, which are called by Bentham “ Judgemade-law,” partake also of equity law, or the law which may be considered as ruling the practice of the Chancery Courts.

Although the origin of the Common law of England is declared by Sir Matthew Hale to be as “undiscoverable as the head of the Nile,” it was no doubt brought to this country originally by the Saxons and Scandinavians, although afterwards augmented and reduced to order by Ina, Alfred the Great, and Edward the Confessor. We have historical evidence, although the Statutes are lost, that some of our Common laws were passed as legislative enactments at an early period, especially during the reign of Richard I.

In Scotland there is, strictly speaking, no Common law; for where the Scottish Statutes are silent, the Civil law is introduced. In Scotland, again, the s were never

« НазадПродовжити »