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On parliamentary government in England : its origin, development, and practical operation (Volume 1) online

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country is passionately determined to have an instant
decision, can justify a minister in taking that course.'
For ' expenditure depends upon policy,' and a policy
must be first agreed upon before the required expendi-
ture can be determined. Under these circumstances
Mr. Disraeli and his friends were unanimously agreed
that it would be prejudicial to the interests of the
country for a Conservative ministry to take office at
this juncture, and that Mr. Gladstone, having vindicated
his honour (which he had pledged by the assurance
that the fate of the ministry was involved in the success
of this Bill) by the act of resignation, might return to
office without the slightest difficulty.

After these explanations the House proceeded with
the Orders of the Day. a The Gladstone ministry re-
sumed office without making any changes in ihepersonnel
of the government, but obviously weaker for what had
occurred. During the remainder of the session they
were obliged to refrain from much attempt at legisla-
tion beyond one or two measures of special importance
which had been previously introduced. Some painful
exhibitions of dissensions between ministers took place
on the floor of the House of Commons, which helped
to discredit the government, and towards the end of
the session they sustained a series of minor but vexa-
tious defeats, a proof that they were able to exercise
but little control over the proceedings of Parliament.
Commencing in August, shortly after the close of the
session, the ministry was gradually reconstructed, Mr.
Gladstone assuming the office of chancellor of the



Hans. D. v. 214, pp. 1914-1945.



250 ANNALS OF THE ADMINISTRATIONS OP ENGLAND.

1873. exchequer in addition to that of first lord of the
treasury, two or three able men were introduced
into political service for the first time, and other
changes made, with a view to increase of strength and
efficiency. Lord Eipon, Mr. Guilders, Mr. Monsell, and
Mr. Baxter retired from office. Mr. Bright re-entered
the cabinet, and Mr. Lowe and Mr. Ayrton left offices
wherein they had become personally unpopular, and
accepted other places in the government. b These
changes, however, did not suffice to restore public
confidence in the government, as was apparent by the
continued losses sustained by the ministerial party at
occasional elections in the autumn and winter of 1873.
Accordingly, on January 24, 1874, Mr. Gladstone sud-
denly and unexpectedly determined upon a dissolution
of Parliament. Never in England did so large a number
of electors record their votes as upon this occasion.
Never was there less bribery, intimidation, or electoral
manoeuvring. For the first time, all the recent legisla-
tive provisions designed to secure the utmost freedom,
purity, and independence of election, were in full opera-
tion. So that the verdict of the constituencies against
the Gladstone ministry was decisive.

A remarkable, although not altogether unprece-
dented, circumstance attended this dissolution of Par-
liament. Parliament had already been convened to
assemble for despatch of business on February 5, when
(as in 1806) an appeal to the constituencies was sud-
denly determined upon. Although possessed of a
nominal majority of 65 in the House of Commons, Mr.
Gladstone, in view of the dispirited state of his party,
and the adverse result of so many casual elections, con-
sidered that the administration were not strong enough
to carry on the government with credit and dignity.
His ministry were unable to resign, because the occur-



b Ann. Reg. 1873, p. 83. c Ed. Rev. v. 139, p. 644.



MR. GLADSTONES FIRST ADMINISTRATION. 251

rences in the spring of 1873, above-mentioned, showed 1874.
that the Parliament contained no party ' ready to take
their place.' Being desirous, moreover, to propose
certain important and beneficial financial questions (viz.
the abolition of the income tax and the readjustment
of taxation), which would require a strong and united
following to submit to the House of Commons, a disso-
lution at the eleventh hour was resolved upon. The
proclamation dissolving Parliament was issued on
January 26, and the elections held early in February.
The result being unmistakably adverse to ministers, they
resigned office on February 17 in order to give imme-
diate effect to the wishes of the electors, and to avoid
the inconvenience to public business which would have
resulted from delay. This course was afterwards ob-
jected to by experienced members of the House of
Commons, on the ground that it was an evasion of the
direct responsibility of ministers to Parliament. Mr.
Gladstone admitted the correctness of this doctrine, as
a general rule, but justified his present course for
certain practical reasons, akin to those expressed by
Mr. Disraeli when, in 1868, he resigned office under
similar circumstances.* 1

However, upon the meeting of Parliament, a private
member (Mr. Smollett) undertook to propose a vote of
censure upon Mr. Gladstone, in the following terms :

That, in the opinion of this House, the advice given to the
crown by her Majesty's late ministers, to dismiss the last Parlia-
ment upon January 26 last, in an abrupt manner, and without any
previous warning, at a time when both Houses had been summoned
to meet for the dispatch of public business, and when no emergency
had arisen for such a step, is censurable ; and, further, that the pre-
cipitate appeal to the constituencies consequent on such dissolution
is opposed to the spirit of the constitution.

Whereupon Mr. Gladstone recapitulated the circum-
stances of the case, which he contended afforded a



d Hans. IX v. 218, pp. 82, 127.



252 ANNALS OF THE ADMINISTRATIONS OF ENGLAND.

1874. complete justification of his conduct, and then withdrew.
After a few words from Sir G. Bowyer the motion was
negatived, without a division. 6

Upon Mr. Gladstone's resignation, her Majesty sent
for Mr. Disraeli, and empowered him to form a ministry.
Being able to rely upon a majority of fifty in the new
House of Commons, Mr. Disraeli had no difficulty in this
task. By February 21 the new cabinet was complete.
It consisted of twelve members only, of whom six had
seats in the House of Lords.

And here it may be remarked that the opening of
this Parliament wherein the Conservative party had
an undoubted majority gave occasion for the distinct
recognition of the admitted expediency of treating the
speakership of the House of Commons as no longer the
prize of the party in power. Mr. Brand, formerly the
' whip ' of the Liberal party, who had been first chosen
as speaker under the Liberal administration, was rein-
stated in office by the votes of a Conservative majority
on the accession of Mr. Disraeli to power in 1874.'



e Hans. D. v. 218, pp. 1101-1129.
r Ib. p. 6. Amos, Fifty Years' Eng. Const, p. 358.



ANNALS OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF ENGLAND.



253





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ANNALS OF THE ADMINISTJRATIONS OF ENGLAND.



Reasons for which Parliament
was dissolved


n account of the near ap-
proach of its natural term
of existence. [The krng
offered Mr. Addington a
dissolution cf Parliament
before his resignation of
office, but the offer was
declined.]


n account of the failure of
the negotiations for peace
with France, and in order
to strengthen the hands
of the government in the
prosecution of the war.
(Parl. D. v. 8, p. 27.)
hough the new ministry
were fully sustained in
the House of Commons,
yet Parliament was dis-


solved, in order to take
the sense of the country
upon the conduct of the
king in changing his ad-
visers. The ministerial


majority was thereby
largely increased.


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ing the state of parties,
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ministry resigned on May 8, 1832,
the king would not consent to create


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n account of the vote
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Commons on March
1857, upon the conducl
affairs in China.


he ministerial Reform ]
having been rejected
the House of Comm
on March 31, 1859, mil
ters resolved to apr


to the country. But
issue they raised at
hustings was upon
general policy of
government, irrespect
of their views on
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258



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lasons for which Parliament
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n account of the termi
tion of the seventh sess
of this Parliament.


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Name of Prime Minist
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VISCOUNT PALMER-

STON . . .
(His second admi


istration)
EARL RUSSELL .
(His second adm


istration)


EARL OP DERBY .
(His third admin:
tration)
BENJAMIN DISRAE
(His first admin:
tration)


W. E. GLADSTONE
(His first admini
tration)








BENJAMIN DISRAE
(afterwards Earl
Beaconsfield) (E
second administi


tion)
W. E. GLADSTONE
(His second admi
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SUPREMACY OF THE SOVEREIGN. 259



CHAPTEE V.

THE SOVEREIGN.

THE supreme executive authority of the state in all Supre-
matters, civil and military, together with jurisdiction the
and supremacy over all causes and persons ecclesiastical soverei e n -
in the realm, belongs to the sovereign of the British
Empire, by virtue of his kingly office ; for he is the
fountain of all state authority, dignity, and honour, and
the source of all political jurisdiction therein.

' This realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in
the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King, having the dig-
nity and Royal Estate of the Imperial Crown of the same.' a Prior to
the union with Ireland, the style and title of the reigning sovereign
was determined by the royal prerogative ; but upon that occasion
Parliament prescribed a change therein. It has accordingly been
necessary for legislation to sanction any further alteration in the
same. b This was done in 1876, by the Royal Titles Act, under which,
by proclamation, the queen is also styled Empress of India. This
title is, as a general rule, to be used only in India. The self-govern-
ing colonies will be permitted to use their own option in the matter.

He is also the head of the Imperial Legislature, which
derives its existence from the crown, and a component
part of every local legislature throughout his dominions.
In all that concerns the outward life of the empire, and



24 Henry VIII. c. 12. And see Ib. p. 461. The Colony of South

39 & 40 Geo. III. c. 67. Australia has intimated, unofficially,

b Ld. Selborne, Hans. D. v. 228, an objection to the use of the new



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