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PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT IN ENGLAND

VOLUME I.



PRINTED BV
9POTTISWOODK AND CO., NEW -STREET PQUAKE

LONDON



ON

PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT

IN

ENGLAND

ITS ORIGIN, DEVELOPMENT, AND PRACTICAL OPERATION



BY

ALPHEUS TODD, LL.D., C.M.G.

LIBRARIAN' OF PARLIAMENT FOE THE DOMINION OP CANADA

AUTHOR OF ' PRACTICE AND PRIVILEGES OF THE TWO HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT"
'PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT IN THE COLONIES' ETC.



SECOND EDITION

BY HIS SON



IN TWO VOLUMES VOL. I.



LONDON
LONGMANS, GKEEN, AND CO,

1887



All riyhts reserves



V,



EDITOE'S PEEFACE.



IN presenting a second edition of Dr. Todd's work to
the public, a word of explanation, and brief mention of
the author's career, may not be inappropriate.

In the month of January, 1884, the author was
contemplating the expediency of issuing a new edition
of this work, when his sudden death removed him
from an active and laborious life, over fifty years of
which was spent in the public service. The whole of
his official life, from the date of his appointment, when
he was but a mere lad, was spent in the Parliamentary
Library, which in those days was but a nucleus of
the fine collection that now stands a monument to the
memory of his labours. His predilection for parlia-
mentary studies developed at a remarkably early age,
so that he found himself a constitutional adviser to the
uninitiated members of the Upper and Lower Legis-
latures, who in those days of the dawn of constitutional
government in Canada were one might almost say
groping in darkness ; for as yet no author had ven-
tured on any treatise bearing on the practice and
development of parliamentary government by which
they might have been guided. This early training
enabled the author, when but twenty years of age, to
be the pioneer in the field with his first effort : ' The



VI EDITORS PREFACE.

Practice and Privileges of the Two Houses of Parlia-
ment,' a work that was cited as an authority only the
other day in the British House of Commons.

The motives which prompted the author to compile
and publish the present work are amply stated in his
preface.

Finally, in 1880, the author completed a design,
long entertained, of supplying a want that he felt was
much needed in the colonies, viz., the application of
parliamentary government to colonial institutions, as
illustrated in his ' Parliamentary Government in the
Colonies.' The work deals largely with questions that
have arisen out of the working of the new constitution
conferred upon Canada in the confederation of the
various provinces in 1867.

After the death of the author I took in hand, as
time would permit, the preparation of the second
edition of this work, and found that considerable altera-
tions had been made in the text, as well as a large
accumulation of additional matter in manuscript added.
Beyond making a greater division, with some alteration
in the arrangement, of the chapters, and embodying
many of the more important notes in the text, my task
has been confined to its necessary preparation for the
press.

For the reasons stated in the author's preface to
the second volume, the first chapter of that volume has
been introduced as the second of Vol. I.

It may be observed by the reader that in some
instances there is a repetition of subject ; it must be
borne in mind that the author has aimed at treating
each subject in its entirety whether as a matter of



EDITOR'S PREFACE. vii

prerogative, of parliamentary right, or of procedure,
each in its own aspect. The same precedent, there-
fore, will be sometimes found illustrating the doctrine
from these various standpoints.

In conclusion, I would call the attention of the
reader to the eminently practical character of the
work. The author has not contented himself merely
with expounding the law and practice of the consti-
tution, but he has richly illustrated his text throughout
with precedents gleaned from Hansard, Sessional Papers
of the Lords and Commons, Eeports of Committees and
Commissions, &c., &c., and all writers of eminence who
have written on parliamentary history thereby ren-
dering the work most important to the student or en-
quirer as a complete bibliography of parliamentary
literature.

A. H. T.

OTTAWA February 1887.



PREFACE.



AN ATTEMPT by a resident in a distant colony to
expound the system of Parliamentary Government, as
administered in the mother country, may call for some
explanation. I venture, therefore, to prefix to my
work a few personal remarks.

More than twenty-five years ago, when in the service
of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, as an assis-
tant in the Provincial Library, I was induced to com-
pile a Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the use of
the Legislature. The valuable treatise of Sir Erskine
May, on the ' Usage of Parliament,' had not then ap-
peared ; and no work then published was sufficiently
elementary and comprehensive to be of any service to
our colonial legislators in the performance of their
parliamentary duties. My little volume, although the
crude and imperfect production of a very young man,
was received with much favour by the Canadian Parlia-
ment. At the first meeting of the Legislature of United
Canada, in 1841, the book was formally adopted for
the use of members, and the cost of its production
defrayed out of the public funds.

It was in the same year, and immediately after the
union of the two Canadas, that 'responsible govern-
ment' was first applied to our colonial Constitution.



X PREFACE.

In carrying out this new, and hitherto untried, scheme
of colonial government, many difficult and complex
questions arose, especially in regard to the relations
which should subsist between the popular chamber
and the ministers of the crown. Upon these ques-
tions, my known addiction to parliamentary studies,
together with my official position as one of the libra-
rians of the Legislative Assembly, caused me to be
frequently consulted. I speedily became aware that
then, as now, no work previously written on the
British Constitution undertook to supply the particular
information required to elucidate the working of
' responsible ' or ' parliamentary ' government. For, all
preceding writers on this subject have confined them-
selves to the presentation of an outside view, or
general outline, of the political system of England.
There is nowhere to be found a practical treatment of
the questions involved in the mutual relations between
the Crown and Parliament, or any adequate account
of the growth, development, and present functions of
the Cabinet Council. In the words of Lord Macaulay,
(History of England, iv. 437), ' No writer has yet
attempted to trace the progress of this institution, an
institution indispensable to the harmonious working of
our other institutions.'

My own researches in this field enabled me to
accumulate a mass of information which has proved of
much utility in the settlement of many points arising
out of responsible government. I was frequently
urged, by persons whose opinions were entitled to
respect, to digest and arrange my collections in a
methodical shape. The fact that the greater part of



PREFACE. XI

my notes had been collected when engaged in the
investigation of questions not of mere local or tempo-
rary significance, but capable of general application,
led me to think that, if the result were embodied in
the form of a treatise on parliamentary government as
administered in Great Britain, it might prove of prac-
tical value both in England and her colonies ; and that
in the constitutional states of continental Europe it
might serve to make more clearly known the peculiar
features of that form of government, which has been
so often admired, but never successfully imitated. I
therefore determined to avail myself of the resources
of the well-stored library under my charge, and
attempt the compilation of a work which, while trench-
ing as little as possible on ground already worthily
occupied by former writers, should aim at supplying
information upon branches of constitutional knowledge
hitherto overlooked.

I proposed at first to prepare, more especially for
colonial use, a manual which should include a disser-
tation upon the peculiar features of ' Responsible
Government ' in the colonies. But I decided, after
much reflection on the subject, to change my plan,
and to confine myself to the exposition of parlia-
mentary government in England. I arrived at this
conclusion, firstly, from a conviction that the safest
guide to the colonies, whose institutions are professedly
modelled upon those of the mother-country, will be
found in a detailed account of the system which
prevails in the parent state ; and, secondly, because
parliamentary government in our colonies is still in its
infancy, and its success is as yet but problematical.



Xll PREFACE.

4 The well-understood wishes of the people as expressed
through their representatives ' has indeed been the
acknowledged maxim of colonial rule ; and, so far as
they are applicable to colonial society, the principles of
the British Constitution have, in the main, been faith-
fully carried out. But it is easy to foresee that some
considerable modifications must at no distant day be
introduced into the fabric of colonial government, to
enable it to resist the encroachments of the tide of
democratic ascendency, which is everywhere uprising,
and threatening to overwhelm ' the powers that be.'
Most of the British colonies still enjoy the advantage of
an immense extent of unoccupied territory, affording
to industrious men of the humblest class the oppor-
tunity of becoming landowners, and of achieving a
degree of comfort and independence which naturally
inclines them to be supporters of law and order.
Nevertheless, from an observation of the working of
our municipal institutions in Canada, and of the char-
acteristics and results of responsible government in
the British dependencies generally, it is evident that
the democratic element is everywhere gaming the
mastery, and is seeking the overthrow of all insti-
tutions that are intended to be a check upon the
popular will.

The great and increasing defect in all parliamentary
governments, whether provincial or imperial, is the
weakness of executive authority. It may be difficult
to concede to the governor of a colony the same
amount of deference and respect which is accorded to
an English sovereign. But any political system which
is based upon the monarchical principle must concede



PREFACE. Xlll

to the chief ruler something more than mere cere-
monial functions. It is the tendency of the age in
which we live to relax the bonds of all authority, and
to deprive all rank and station, not directly derived
from the people, of the influence which it has hereto-
fore possessed. The hereditary dignity of the British
Crown itself has, within the last half-century, sustained
considerable loss. In popular estimation in our own
day the prerogatives of royalty are accounted as well-
nigh obsolete ; and whatever may be the degree of
affection expressed towards the occupant of the throne,
the sovereign of England is too often regarded as but
little more than an ornamental appendage to the state,
and her rightful authority either derided or ignored.
These erroneous ideas, it need scarcely be said, are not
shared by any who have participated in the direction
of state affairs. But they are widely diffused, even
amongst educated men. The true position of the sove-
reign in a parliamentary government may not appear
to be capable of exact definition, because much will
always depend upon the personal character of the
reigning monarch. But in the treatment of this diffi-
cult question, I have endeavoured to reflect faithfully
the views of the most experienced statesmen of the
present day ; and while I have elsewhere claimed for
the popular element in our constitution its legitimate
weight and influence, I have here sought to vindicate
for the monarchical element its appropriate sphere ;
being convinced that the functions of the crown are
the more apt to be unappreciated because their most
beneficial operations are those which, whilst strictly
constitutional, are hidden from the public eye.



XIV PREFACE.

In attempting to define the limits between the
authority of the crown and that of the legislature
under parliamentary government, I have never relied
upon my own interpretations, but have always illus-
trated the matter in hand by reference to the best
opinions recorded in the debates of Parliament, or in
evidence before select committees of either House.
Such testimony, for the most part from the lips of
eminent statesmen and politicians of the present gene-
ration, is of the highest value, especially when it
embodies information upon the usages of the consti-
tution which had not previously appeared in print.
It is in the abundant use of such valuable material,
never before incorporated in any similar treatise, that
the chief claim of my work to public attention must
consist.

Notwithstanding these obvious advantages, I am
deeply conscious of its many defects and shortcomings :
and in submitting it to the favourable consideration of
those to whom it is addressed, I can only plead, as an
excuse for its deficiencies, an honest endeavour to
supply a want which must have been often expe-
rienced, by men engaged in public Jife, both at home
and abroad.

ALPIIEUS TODD.



LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT, OTTAWA, CANADA :
December 18G6.



CONTENTS



OF



THE FIRST VOLUME.



CHAPTER I.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION.

PAGE

Definition of English Parliamentary Government 1

Power of the Sovereign under Parliamentary Government ... 2
Ministerial relationship between the Crown and Parliament ... 2
Exercise of the powers of the Crown through ministers ... 3
Constitutional principles established by the Revolution of 1688 . . 3
Government by Prerogative defined, and contrasted with Parliamentary

Government . . . 4

Dormant powers of the Crown and of the House of Lords ... 7
Concentration of political power in the House of Commons under Par-
liamentary Government 8

Introduction of ministers of the Crown into the House of Commons . 9
The necessity of Party Government caused thereby .... 9
The true bases of representation in the House of Commons . . .11

Influence of the Landed Aristocracy therein 11

Use of Nomination Boroughs 13

Effect of their Abolition 16

Difficulties of an efficient Parliamentary Government with a purely
democratic House of Commons . . . . . . . .16

Peculiar excellences of our Representative System . . . .17

The beneficial influence of Public Opinion .17

Necessity for a moderate preponderance of Executive authority in Par-
liament 10

Effect of the Reform Act of 1832 in lessening that authority . . 20
Effect of the Reform Act of 1867 on the Constitution . . . .21

Dangers of enlarging the Franchise 21

Necessity for strengthening the authority of the Executive in a Reformed

House of Commons

Statistics of representation .........

VOL. i. a



XVI CONTENTS OF

PAGE

Earl Grey's plan for conserving and strengthening Executive authority
in connection with further Parliamentary Reform . . . .26

General measures of the Reform Bill of 1867 29

Arguments in favour of strengthening the authority of the Crown in
Parliament 31

Objection to allowing ministers of the Crown to hold seats in the House
of Commons ex-officio ......... 34

Relative position of the two Houses of Parliament in the English poli-
tical system ........... 34

The House of Lords 36

The House of Commons ........ 43

Peculiar advantages of Parliamentary Government . . . .45

Subjects to be considered in the following Treatise . . . .47



CHAPTER II.

THE COUNCILS OF THE CROWN UNDER PREROGATIVE GOVERNMENT.

The Anglo-Saxon polity 49

Position and power of the Saxon Kings 50

The Witenagemot 51

Relations between the Sovereign and his Witan 53

Results of the Norman Conquest 57

Germs of our present Constitution in that of the Saxons . . .53
A Privy Council always associated with the Crown of England . . 59

The King's Councils after the Conquest 60

The Curia Regis or permanent Council ....... 61

Origin of the Law Courts 63

The Great Council of the Nation 64

Origin of our representative system 66

Early Legislative Assemblies 68

The development of constitutional forms under Edward I. . . .69

Growing power of the Commons in Parliament 71

Presence of Privy Councillors therein 75

Independent authority of the Privy Council 76

Responsibility of the King's ministers under Edward II. and Henry IV. 77
Supremacy of Parliament over the Privy Council . . . .79

Administrative functions of the Privy Council . . . . .81
Custody and use of the Seals '.... 82
Resti-aints upon the exercise of the Royal Authority . . . .83

Privy Council under Henry VI 84

,, under the Tudor Sovereigns 86

Ascendency of the Crown under Henry VIII. . . . . .87

Proceedings in Council during this reign ..... 88

Origin of the office of Secretary of State ...... 91

The Star Chamber and other Committees of the Council . . 92

Personal powers of Privy Councillors 93

The Councils of the Crown under Queen Elizabeth and Charles I. . 93
Increasing power of the House of Commons ..... 94



THE FIRST VOLUME. XV11

PAGE

Contest between the Long 1 Parliament and Charles I. . . . .96
The Council of State during the Commonwealth . . . . .98

The Restoration of the Monarchy 102

Downfall of Prerogative Government 102

Review of the Constitution at this period 102



CHAPTER III.

ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OP PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT.

Case of the Partition Treaties 106

Constitutional provisions in the Act of Settlement .... 107

William III. as a constitutional monarch 108

Development of ministerial responsibility under the Hanoverian dynasty 111

Character and conduct of George III 112

His irregular practice of consulting with ' friends,' inbtead of with his
responsible ministers . . . . . . . . .114

His dismissal of the Coalition ministry in 1783 116

Mr. Pitt's first administration ........ 119

Lord Grenville's administration 121

The office of commander-in-chief of the army ..... 122
The Grenville administration disagree with the King on the Roman
Catholic question .......... 123

Political influence of George III. . . 124

Influence of ' the great governing families ' . . . . . . 125

Reign of George IV .126

Case of Queen Caroline 128

Reign of William IV 130

Effects of the Reform Bill of 1832 131

Abrupt dismissal of the Melbourne ministry and short-lived administra-
tion of Sir Robert Peel in 1835 133

Return of Lord Melbourne to office ....... 135

Reign of Queen Victoria 136



CHAPTER IV.

CONSTITUTIONAL ANNALS OF THE SUCCESSIVE ADMINISTRATIONS OF
ENGLAND FROM 1782 TO 1873, GIVING A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE
CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING THEIR APPOINTMENT, RESIGNATION,
OR DISMISSAL, WITH A NOTICE OF THE VARIOUS CONSTITUTIONAL
QUESTIONS, ILLUSTRATIVE OF MINISTERIAL DUTY OR RESPONSI-
BILITY WHICH AROSE WITHIN THAT PERIOD.

Reasons for selecting the year 1782 as a starting-point .... 138

1. Marquis of RocHngham's administration (March, 1782) . . 139

2. Earl of Shelburne's administration (July, 1782) . . .140

3. Duke of Portland's first administration (April, 1783) , .142

a 2



XV111 CONTENTS OF

PAGE

4. Mr. Pitt's first administration (December, 1783) . . . 143

5. Mr. Addington's administration (March, 1801) .... 147

6. Mr. Pitt's second administration (May, 1804) .... 153

7. Lord Grenville's administration (January, 1806) . . . 155

8. Duke of Portland's second administration (March, 1807) . . 157

9. Mr. Perceval's administration (October, 1809) .... 161

10. Earl of Liverpool's administration (June, 1812) . . . 168

11. Mr. Canning's administration (April, 1827) .... 177

12. Lord Goderich's administration (August, 1827). . . . 179

13. Duke of Wellington's administration (August, 1828). . .182

14. Earl Grey's administration (August, 1830) . . . .188

15. Viscount Melbourne's first administration (July, 1834) . . 193

16. Sir R. Peel's first administration (November, 1834) . . . 195

17. Viscount Melbourne's second administration (April, 1835) . 200

18. Sir R. Peel's second administration (September, 1841) . . 212

19. Lord John Russell's first administration (July, 1846) . . 217

20. Earl of Derby's first administration (February, 1852) . .219

21. Earl of Aberdeen's administration (December, 1852) . . . 222

22. Lord Palnierston's first administration (February, 1855) . . 224

23. Earl of Derby's second administration (February, 1 858) . . 228



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