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Nevertheless, the opinions of two or a Second Chamber for his new Irish three high authorities may be quoted. constitution, he stated that “The first The whole controversy as to the ad effect of a Second Chamber was to previsability of retaining the Second sent an undoubted and unquestionable Chamber was admirably stated by security against hasty legislation," beLord Beaconsfield over thirty years cause “it interposed a certain period of ago:
time, and gave opportunity for reflec
tion and for full consideration." In For a century, ever since the estab- the following year Lord Rosebery, lishment of the Government of the
speaking on behalf of the Liberal party, United States, all great authorities
affirmed that he was a "Second ChamAmerican, German, French, Italian
ber man” and he added: have agreed in this, that a representative Government is impossible without a second Chamber. . . . However anx
I am not for the uncontrolled Governious foreign countries have been to en
ment of a single Chamber, any more joy this advantage, that anxiety has
than I am for the uncontrolled governonly been equalled by the difficulty
ment of a single man. The temptation which they have found in fulfilling
of absolute power is too great for any their object. How is this second
man or any body of men, and I believe, Chamber to be constituted? By nomi.
though I am speaking from recollection, nees of the sovereign power? What in that so keen and ardent a Radical as fluence can be exercised by a chamber
John Stuart Mill held this opinion too, of nominees? It is a proverb of gen
I am also strongly of opinion that all eral disrespect. Are they to be sup
experience points to having a second plied by popular election? In what chamber of some sort. manner are they to be elected? If by the same constituency as the popular The necessity of a Second Chamber body, what claims have they, under is recognized by all democratic comsuch circumstances, to criticise or to munities, whether under a monarchical control the decisions of that body? If or republican form of rule, and the they are to be elected by a more select
functions, duties, and powers apper
functi body, qualified by a higher franchise, there immediately occurs the objection,
taining to it are determined by the why should the elected majority be
mere fact of its existence. A Second governed by the elected minority? The Chamber exactly reflecting the opinion United States of America were fortu- and expressing the voice of the First hate in finding a solution of this diffi- Chamber would be a gross absurdity. (ulty; but the United States of Amer
To justify its existence, it must exerica has elements to deal with which
cise the function of revision; it must never occurred before, and never probably will occur again, because
ensure that the sober, well-considered they formed their illustrious Senate
wishes of the people prevail; it must from the materials that were offered act as the fly-wheel or governor of the them by the thirty-seven Sovereign legislative machine. This is the funcStates. We, gentlemen, have the tion which Second Chambers discharge House of Lords, an Assembly which
throughout the world, in Republics has historically developed itself in an
such as France and the United States, ancient nation, and periodically adapted itself to the wants and necessities of
and throughout the British Empire, the time.
under a monarchical régime. A Second
Chamber always saying ditto to the Later, Mr. Gladstone, when introduc- First Chamber would exercise no ing his second Home Rule Bill, enunci- check on ill-considered proposals, and ated once more a universal opinion would be merely a ridiculous fly upon when in advocating the institution of the legislative wheel. Mr. Bryce stated the case succinctly when he re- Such is the case under ordinary conmarked during a former House of ditions, but the circumstances are at Lords campaign:
present somewhat extraordinary. At
the last election, 5,632,201 votes were It is said that two Chambers do not polled. Ignoring Irish Nationalist always work harmoniously together. members and uncontested seats, and My observation on that is, that the ob- dividing opinion roughly into supportject of having two Chambers is to se.
ers of the Government and supporters cure not that things shall always work smoothly between them, but that they
of the Opposition, 3,133,486 votes. shall frequently differ, and provide a were cast for the former, and 2,463,606 means of correcting such errors as votes for the latter-giving a majority either may commit.
of 669,880 votes in favor of the Gov
ernment. The supporters of the GovHow far the present House of Lords ernment in the country were in the fulfils the duties of a Second Chamber proportion of about six to five. But will be dealt with presently. Let us the Government have a majority of first consider the second question, 273, excluding Nationalists, in the namely, the extent to which the Com- House of Commons; in other words, mons' House of Parliament reflects the supporters of the Government in public opinion, and the legislative pro- the House are in the proportion of posals of the Cabinet reflect the nearly three to one. It is obvious, opinion of the Commons' House of Par- therefore, that Radical opinion in the liament. In order to carry on the busi- country is vastly exaggerated, if it be ness of the country, we are bound to estimated by reference to the Radical assume as a working hypothesis that majority in the House of Commons. the majority in the elected Chamber The composition of that majority represents the views of the constitu- and the conspiring causes of its existencies and indicates their strength; ence must be considered. The Prime and that the measures introduced by Jinister is supported in the House of the Government are in accordance Commons by a majority huge numeriwith the opinion of the majority of the cally, but being of a composite charelected Chamber. But even under or- acter, and even to some extent andinary circumstances such are the in- tagonistic, strategically weak and lackconsistencies and anomalies of our ing in elements of permanence. The electoral system and of our method of party has been returned to power after government by party that it must be a long period of "wandering in the admitted the assumption is sometimes wilderness," during which it was decapable of demonstration, is at other barred from legislative action, but by times capable of disproof, and gener no means from promises of legislation. ally is of an hypothetical character. Partly owing to the swing of the penFacts and experience compel the ad- dulum, partly through the Englishmission that the weight and volume man's sporting desire "to give the of public opinion cannot always be other side a chance," partly because gauged by comparison with the dimen- the Conservative party fell into a sion of majorities in the House of comatose condition, evincing more Commons, and that that branch of the tenacity in clinging to power than foreLegislature sometimes ceases to vi- thought or constructive energy, the brate to popular sentiment and at present Ministry suddenly found itself others mirrors outbursts of popular in office with a load of twenty years' feeling of a very transient character. promises burdening it. With the best
of intentions Liberal leaders must find troduced to remedy a Nonconformist considerable difficulty in meeting all grievance, and Nonconformity openly their promissory notes; and the hold rejoiced when the House of Lords reers are reluctant to renew, being jected the Bill, because the measure probably doubtful as to the permanent as it left the House of Commons difcharacter of the Government majority. fered so widely from that on which They must know that it is held to- they had fixed their hopes. As a gether by threads of varying thickness, further illustration, the extraordinary and at any moment events may occur attitude of the Government towards severing the cord of sympathy which Chinese labor, acquiesced in by their unites this faction or that to the main party, may be taken. The General body of the party. Moreover, as all Election was greatly influenced by the men who have glanced at party politi- grossest misrepresentation on this cal history are well aware, once the point, or, as Mr. Winston Churchill pendulum of popular opinion begins would phrase it, by indulgence in to move against Radicalism in the "terminological inexactitudes.” The ascendency, it gathers momentum Chinese coolies were said to have been rapidly, and therefore there is every enticed to South Africa under false probability that the present majority pretences, to have been immured in in the House of Commons is repre- that country under conditions of slavsentative of the fleeting rather than ery, and to have been subjected to rethe durable feelings of the country strictions of their liberty, to forms of
When events placed the fruits of of- punishment, and varieties of atrocities fice in the hands of the Liberal partyinhuman in their character. The imand the present Cabinet was formed, aginations of the least-educated voters they appear to have been somewhat were inflamed by cartoons of a charunprepared to place in concrete form acter unparalleled in political warfare the constructive or destructive legis in this country. What has happened lation of which they had spoken in the since the Government assumed the abstract so long and so airily upon reins? Chinese labor is still employed platforms up and down the country. in the mines in South Africa; until It is one thing to advocate sweeping within a few weeks past, fresh batches reforms in a stump speech at a public of coolies have been arriving Soon meeting; but it is quite another matter after taking office, the Government anto codify those ideas into workable nounced its determination to leave this Acts of Parliament. In the process of question to the decision of the reprecrystallization the original proposals sentative Government about to be set are apt to undergo many changes, with up in the Transvaal, and the latest the result that the final product bears developments point to a combination only a slight resemblance to the rough between Britisher and Boer to extend matter which has served for platform the system of importation. Public purposes. Illustrations of this unpre- opinion was deeply stirred by the deparedness of the Liberal party for nunciations of Chinese coolie labor legislation may be found in the history during the late General Election, yet of the Education Bill, in the tale of Chinese coolies are still employed in Chinese labor, and in the attitude of the Transvaal, and it seems certain the Liberal party towards the prefer- that they will continue to be employed; ential trade arrangement suggested to and public opinion makes no sign. this country by the self-governing Further examples may be found in the colonies. The Education Bill was in- changed attitude of the Government towards the approaching Colonial Con- ment has ever done in the direction ference, and in the efforts which have of wise reform and in establishing the been made to follow in the footsteps Empire by strengthening the heart of of the late Foreign Secretary at the it. I regret to see them embarking on imminent risk of giving deadly offence a crusade against the House of Lords. to those patriots who, during Mr. Bal. It will fail because the real desire is four's administration, were so insist to deprive the nation of any check ent in their demands that the British upon hasty legislation, and there never fleet should proceed overland to settle was an occasion when the necessity difficulties in the Balkan provinces. for such a check was more self-evident Since the present Government came or could be more easily proved. The into office, we have heard little or noth- House of Commons is not always a ing of the state of affairs in Mace- faithful mirror. It had ceased to be donia, because the troubles in this part so during the closing years of the late of Europe have served their political régime, and the present House, on the purpose, and have automatically fallen election promises of its members, caninto the background.
not substantiate its claim. The Government cannot fail to re- The origin of the clamor that the alize that such experiences as I have House of Lords must be ended or enumerated damp the enthusiasm of mended is to be found in the fact that the less enlightened of their supporters, Radical leaders fear lest the good and that their legislative performances sense of the people will revolt against are likely to fall far short of the Radical promises when put into con. pledges which were so freely given at crete shape and held in suspense long the polls. The result is that they are enough for the nation to consider them. in a desperate hurry to force through The more reasonable members of the measures to which they are pledged party urge amendment of the House, with as little critical examination as but the larger section are impatient possible, lest they should fail to carry with half measures and claim that this with them the conviction of the coun- check upon ill-considered and partially try, and they are not indisposed to considered legislation should be enshift the blame for their shortcomings tirely swept away, leaving the affairs on to the shoulders of the House of of the Empire, and not merely of the Lords. The Government are forced United Kingdom, at the mercy of the into impetuous action to placate their passing mood of a narrow majority of impetuous supporters in the country, the electors of the United Kingdom. who very naturally object to delay be. The ending of the House of Lords is decause they fully realize that to them sired not in the permanent interest of delay is dangerous.
the community, but in the temporary I have no desire to cavil at the interest of one political party, who present Government. On the contrary, suspect that their theories do not comI wish them well. In their Irisb leg- mend themselves to the mature judgislation they have laid down a pro- ment of the people. gramme which, if they succeed in car- The third count in the indictment rying it out, as I most earnestly hope of the House of Lords is to the effect they may, will, to their horror and dis- that it is permanently and overwhelmmay, hand them down to posterity as ingly Conservative. That is a fact, the most conservative Ministry that and a fact greatly to be regretted; but we have seen in many years. They no remedy suggests itself to me. The will have done more than any Govern- predominance of one of the two great political parties has not always been perate hurry in working revolution; it the case. Parties in the past have appears to have no confidence in itselt been fairly balanced. There have been or in the persistence of its principles; Whig majorities and Tory majorities; and, if it be conceded that the legitibut of late the difference between the mate function of a Second Chamber two branches of the Legislature tends is to give pause to the people for reto become accentuated. It does not flection, it may well be inevitable that follow that the Second Chamber is en- a Second Chamber, however constitirely or principally to blame. For tuted, will find itself perpetually lagmerly, public opinion underwent a ging behind the aspirations and rethorough filtering process in the House quirements of Radical thought. It is of Commons; now, owing to pressure upon this phase of the question that of business and other reasons, it the Government are concentrating reaches the House of Lords in cruder themselves. They are not concerned form. Bills come up half baked. The with reform of the House of Lords. necessity for revision in one Chamber The fact which they “have under conis in proportion to the hurry exhibited sideration with a view to a solution of in the other. If one may venture on the difficulty” is that “unfortunate difforecast, the predominance of one set ferences between the two Houses” of general political opinions is assured have arisen; and, as Lord Ripon has in the House of Lords for some time. explained, the differences arise from As an inevitable consequence, when the fact that, whereas party majorities the branches of the Legislature are of ductuate in the House of Commons, the same political complexion and pull one party has a permanent and overin the same direction, a legislative whelming majority in the House of spring-tide occurs, and the stream Lords. A solution of the difficulty can flows with easy rapidity; when the only be found in one of four ways: forces of the two Houses are exerted (1) The political, social and economic in the opposite directions, a neap tide conceptions of the two parties in the occurs, and the current of legislation country may be brought to something is reduced to very small dimensions. like a common denomination. This Whether this state of things is remedi- solution may, I think, be dismissed; able or not, depends upon the view at any rate, for some time to come. that is entertained as to the charac- (2) A balance of political opinion may ter of modern Radical legislation, and be created in the House of Lords. (3) as to the functions of a Second Cham- A limit of time may be placed upon ber. That a very great change, the suspensory powers of the House whether for better or for worse, has of Lords. (4) The House of Lords may occurred in the conception of Liberal- divest itself of party liverles. ism cannot be denied. For decades It is difficult to see how political opinand centuries Liberalism stood up for ion can be balanced in the Upper individual liberty, and urged the abolic House. So far as I can ascertain, durtion of class privilege; now its rôle ing the last sixty or so years—that is, seems to be to fetter individual liberty, during two generations of men-the and to create class privilege. All creations of Peers under Liberal adSecond Chambers, and probably, above ministrations have numbered 238 as all, our Second Chamber, adapt them against 181 under Conservative adminselves to permanent national changes istrations, out of a total House to-day and requirements, but the tendency of of 606; vet, in spite of this great premodern Liberalism is to be in a des- ponderance of Liberal creations, the