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been made to the House, under peculiar circumstances,
of the infringement of the standing order by peers or
bishops, but the House has always evinced great reluct-

n See Russell, Eng. Const, ed. 1865, Common Pleas, but the appeal was

pp. xxxi.-xxxvi. ; Disraeli, Hans. D. summarily dismissed by that tribunal

v. 187, p. 1955 ; v. 188, p. 224 ; v. (L. T. Rep. N.S. v. 27, p. 606). At

192, p. 998. And see Smith, Parl. an election of the University of Cam-

Remeuib. 1859, p. 3; Hearn, Govt. bridge in Nov. 1882, two peers at-

of Eng. pp. 515-518. tempted to vote, but their votes were

S. O. H. of Com. Jls. 1883, p. 6. rejected. See L. T. v. 74, p. 83.

p See Hats. Prec. v. 3, p. 72 ; By a later decision, this disability

Anstey's Notes on the Reform Act of was declared to extend to Irish

1867, p. 106. On Oct. 10, 1872, at peers, who are not entitled to be

a revising barrister's Court in the upon the Register of Voters, unless

county of Hereford, the name of the actually sitting as members of the

Marquis of Salisbury was struck off House of Commons. (Lord Reudle-

the list of claimants to vote at the sham v. Tabor, L. T. Rep. N.S. v. 29,

county elections, because he was a p. 679.) In confirmation of these

peer of the realm. Leave was decisions see Ib. v. 30, p. 795 ; May,

granted to appeal to the Court of Parl. Prac. ed. 1883, p. 719.


ance to proceed thereon. q For, in fact, the influence
influence which is exercised by peers is mainly that which right-
elections! 11 fully appertains to them as the guardians and repre-
sentatives of vast hereditary estates ; and there is a
4 legitimate influence which a popular and respected
landlord must always exercise in his neighbourhood.' r
In a monarchical government, property must necessarily
be in the hands of the few ; and ' the law-maker must
be a possessor of property, because the end of all legis-
lation is the security of property.' s

It is said that even in the United States, where a nearly universal
suffrage prevails, the landed interest is so powerful, owing to the
almost universal possession of property, that ' the great mass of the
farmers, when they choose to exert themselves, are able to overrule the
mob of the cities, and decide the policy of the nation.' *

influence The extent to which the influence of property prevails
perty~ m England at the present time is very considerable,
notwithstanding the disfranchisement of so many small
boroughs by successive Reform Bills. This influence is
more or less exerted in every constituency ; but it is
only in the counties and in certain of the smaller
boroughs that it usually affects the result of the elec-
tions. Mr. Gladstone admits that ' the criterion of pro-
perty has assigned to it a considerable sphere of direct
operation through plurality of franchise ' enjoyed by ' a
man of property in different capacities and constitu-
encies,' which, he says, ' no one wishes to disturb.'
Property lias, also, ' a sphere of indirect operation,
larger still.' u The larger manufacturing towns and
cities are generally under the control of the commercial

o See Mir. of Parl. August 6, 1832, p. 425.

p. 3588 ; Hans. D. v. 83, p. 1167 ; v. r Rep. Com c . Parl. Elec. Cora.

95, pp. 1007, 1354; v. 15!), p. 1569; Pap. 1868-9, v. 8, p. 17.

v. 174, pp. 933, 945; v. 186, p, Letter to Mr. Bright, by Henry

1353; v. 190, pp. 801, 1976 ; v. 193, Drummond, M.P., 1858, p. 36.

p. 1382 ; v. 197, p. 1294 ; Mac. Mag. * Goldwin Smith, Mac. Mag. v. 11,

v. 11, p. 476; and Ld. Palmerston's pp. 418, 424.

speech on the Ballot, Hans. D. v. 180, u 19th Gen. v. 2, p. 545.


or manufacturing interests. Nevertheless, it was com-
puted that in 1865 the thirty-one great governing fami-
lies of England supplied ' one clear fourth of the English
House of Commons.' v

In the House of Commons, chosen in 1865, the aristocratic Aristo-
element including sons and grandsons of peers and baronets, and cratic^ele-
others connected with the peerage by marriage or descent consisted Ho^g^f
of 326 members, or about one-half of the House. Trade and manu- Commons.
factures were represented by 122, and the railway interest by 179
members. w And by an analysis of the House of Commons, elected in
1868, it appears that, notwithstanding the widely-extended franchise,
' nearly half the House of Commons belong to the landed nobility
and gentry.' x In ' Notes and Queries ' y we have a list of fifty mem-
bers of the Reformed Parliament of 1869, who (so far as can be
ascertained) are the direct lineal descendants of those who sat in the
Long Parliament, in 1640. By the general election in 1874, it was
computed that the aristocratic element in the House of Commons
was reduced to 149 members. 2 But another calculation places this
element at 170 members ; the trade and manufacturing interests at
122 ; the railway and moneyed interests at 129 ; the liquor interests
at 19 ; the legal element at 120 ; the literary and scientific interests
at 85. a [By the general election in 1885, the aristocratic element in
the House of Commons was reduced to 46 members ; and that of
' landowners' to 71 barely a sixth of the entire House. b ED.]

And here it may be well to record the important Nomina-
services which were rendered to the state by the smaller boroughs.
or nomination boroughs before their disfranchisement.
Some of the ablest and most uncompromising advocates
of parliamentary reform have acknowledged an indebted-
ness to these boroughs for the introduction into the
House of Commons of many of its most eminent and
useful members, who could not otherwise have obtained
entrance there ; and for the representation in Parliament
of various classes and interests which would else have
failed to acquire the weight and influence therein to
which they are justly entitled.

v Sanford and Townsend's Gt. * Quar. Rev. v. 126, p. 278n.

Gov. Fam. of Eng. 2 vols. London, * V. 3, 4th S. p. 190.

1865, v. 1, pp. 3-20. z Greg in Con. Rev. v. 23, p. 874w.

w Essays on Reform, 1867, pp. 172, a Fin. Reform Aim. 1877, p. 146.

327-329. b The Spectator, 1885, p. 1692.


For example, the small borough of Arundel, which before the
Reform Act of 1867 had but 174 registered electors, ' represented the
largest constituency in England, because for many years it was the
sole English constituency which returned a Roman Catholic to the
House of Commons.' c Subsequently, in 1870, the Isle of Wight
returned the only Roman Catholic member representing a con-
stituency in England or Wales. d At the general election in 1874
no Roman Catholic was returned for any constituency in England,
Wales, or Scotland. 6

The nomination boroughs served also to redress, in
however irregular a manner, the balance of authority
between the several branches of Parliament, which
would else have been overthrown by the increasing
power of the Lower House. This is emphatically true
of the legitimate authority and influence of the crown
in the House of Commons, which has been heretofore
maintained, under our parliamentary system, chiefly by
means of the control exercised by government over cer-
tain of the smaller constituencies. For, as a general rule,
nearly all our ministers of state, and eminent politicians of
the class out of which ministers are necessarily chosen,
have had recourse to the small boroughs for a seat in
Parliament.* Even when able to command a county
constituency, ministers of the crown have generally
preferred to represent small boroughs, on account of
the comparative immunity thereby obtained from the
incessant demands upon their time and attention on be-
half of their constituents, which are so great a tax upon
members who represent populous constituencies.

Thus, when Mr. Canning was appointed Foreign Secretary, and
leader of the House of Commons, in 1822, he retired from the
representation of Liverpool, and was elected for the borough of Har-

c Hans. D. v. 189, p. 594. sell, Eng. Const, pp. xxxv., xlix. ;

d Ib. v. 201, p. 67. Austin, Plea for the Const, p. 28.

e Lcl. Hougbton in Fort. Rev. Earl Derby, Hans. D. v. 188, p. 1795 :

v. 23, p. 211. Ed. Rev. v. 135, p. 532.

f Grey, Parl. Govt. p. 195 ; Bus-


wich, considering that the duties entailed upon him as member for
that great commercial town were incompatible with the faithful
discharge of his functions as a minister of state.? In like manner,
Sir Robert Peel, Lord Palmerston, Lord Stanley, Sir G. Grey, Sir
Stafford Northcote, and other noted parliamentary leaders, have
almost invariably sat for small boroughs, and have refused to repre-
sent large constituencies. Again, statesmen of the highest eminence
who, through their connection with great governing families, have
obtained seats for counties, have not seldom been obliged to resort to
boroughs in order to retain a seat in Parliament when they have
chanced to incur the displeasure of their numerous electors. For
example, in 1835, Devonshire rejected Lord John Russell, and com-
pelled him to seek a refuge in Stroud ; in 1834 Lord Palmerston was
defeated in Hampshire, and afterwards sat for Tiverton ; in 1852
Sir G. C. Lewis was defeated in Herefordshire, and was obliged to
have recourse to Radnor; in 1847 Macaulay was defeated at Edin-
burgh, and kept out of Parliament for five years. It has been
computed that out of some sixty -three members, in the last House of
Commons, who either held, or were qualified to hold, the highest
administrative offices, by far the greater proportion represented
small constituencies. The more populous boroughs only contributed
one-fifteenth of this governing element. 11

In fact, it is notorious that there has been, of late Local
years, a decided and increasing disposition on the part
of lame boroughs to make choice of local celebrities, of the


or persons of limited reputation, to represent them in
Parliament, in place of electing men possessed of states-
manlike qualities, administrative experience, or intel-
lectual gifts. 1

Owing to the disfranchisement of the smaller boroughs, the in-
fluence of a ' patron,' able to return some friend of his own, or some
leading member of his party, in want of a seat, has been mostly got rid
of. The tendency in boroughs now is to select either a very rich or
a ' local ' candidate, instead of men capable of legislating for the
interests of the whole empire, and as little as possible hampered by
local ties and prejudices.J

e Stapleton, Canning and bis speeches by Mr. Gladstone and Mr.

Times, p. 334. And see Grev, Parl. Disraeli, &c., Hans. D. v. 183 pp

Qovt. p. 121. 488, 874, 904, 1385, 1883, 1904.

h See Fras. Mag. v. 72, p. 153. J Mr. E. H. Knatchbull-Hugessen,

1 See illustrative tables in Ed. M.P., in Mac. Mag. v. 27, p 72
Rev. v. 106, pp. 273-277, and



Effect of
of nomi-

lences of
our repre-

If, therefore, the few remaining small boroughs are
disfranchised, it will become indispensably necessary to
find some other mode of entrance into the House of
Commons for the great statesmen to whom the admi-
nistration of public affairs is or may be entrusted. k

In 1871, Mr. Henry Fawcett, a thoughtful and in-
fluential leader of the Liberal party in the House of
Commons, testified that, since the abolition of nomina-
tion boroughs, ' important opinions are unrepresented,
and considerable sections of the community are virtually
disfranchised,' because ' an extended suffrage gives a pre-
dominant popular feeling a better chance of asserting
itself,' and ' excludes men from the House of Commons
who value independence more than parliamentary
honours. 1 And in 1877, Mr. Gladstone deplored ' the
rapid and constant advance of the money power ' in
attracting the favour of constituencies ; and ' the reduc-
tion, almost to zero, of the chances of entrance into
Parliament for men who have nothing to rely upon but
their talent and their character.' 111

It has been justly observed that ' the history of the
world affords, as yet, no example of the permanent suc-
cess of parliamentary government with a legislature
formed on the strict principles of popular representa-
tion.' 11

( Parliamentary government is a machine of the most exquisite
delicacy.' ' America during the last five years has only repeated to
the world the lesson that had already been taught by France, that, if

k See the protests of Lds. Ellen-
borough and Selkirk on the third
reading of the Reform Bill (1867),
Hans. D. v. 189, p. 953. And see
some thoughtful observations on
' the wholesome organic connection
between university life and public
life,' which, so long as nomination
boroughs existed, made it possible
for young men of ability and ambi-
tion to achieve political distinction
in England at a comparatively early

age, without long purses, or a ' com-
plete surrender of intellectual indivi-
duality,' in the Memoir of Edward,
Ld. Lytton, prefixed to his collected
speeches, by his son, v. 1, pp. ix-xii.
And see Bagehot's paper on the
Reform Act of 1832, in Fort. Rev.
v. 20, p. 673.

1 Fort. Rev. N.S. v. 10, pp. 498,

m 19th Cen. Nov. 1877, p. 555.

n Grey, Parl. Govt. p. 67.


you will have democracy, you must have something like Caesarism to
control it. The feeble and pliable executive of England is wholly
unsuitecl to such an electoral body. A government that yields, and
must yield, to the slightest wish of the House of Commons, is only
possible so long as that House of Commons is the organ of an
educated minority. Such an instrument of government has never
yet, in the history of the world, been worked by a legislature chosen
by the lower class.'

The House of Commons owes its success as an active Peculiar
part of the supreme authority, and its peculiar excel- ^ces of
lences, to ' what are regarded as defects and departures ur f epre-

7 . . . sentative

from principle in our representative system ;' and ' it is system,
chiefly by means of these defects that the ministers of
the crown have been enabled to obtain the authority
they have exercised in the House of Commons. >p Able
to rely upon the support of a certain number of stead-
fast adherents, every administration in turn has hitherto
possessed, in general, sufficient power to conduct the
government of the country consonantly to the best and
most enlightened opinions, even though in opposition to
popular prejudices, or superficial ideas which might
temporarily prevail throughout the kingdom. The
policy of an administration charged with the govern-
ment of the British empire must indeed, of necessity, be
a reflex of the best-informed opinion of the nation. q Control of
But this opinion ' is expressed, not by the clamorous opinion.
chorus of the multitude, but by the measured voices of
all classes, parties, and interests. It is declared by the
press, the exchange, the market, the club, and society
at large. And it is subject to as many checks and
balances as the constitution itself; and represents the
national intelligence rather than the popular will.' r And,
after all, it should be remembered that while public

Quar. Rev. v. 119, p. 279. 543 ; May, Const, Hist. v. 1, p. 430.

P Grey, Parl. Govt. pp. 67, 08. r May, Const, Hist. v. 2, p. 25:3 ;

And see Ld. Dudley's speecli in see also Park's Dogmas, pp. 88, 97 ;

Knight's Hist, of Eng. v. 8, p. 282. and Mr. Walter's observation in

> Macaulay, Hist, Eng. v. 3, p Hans. D. v. 228, p. 497.



opinion, in a free state, must ultimately determine into
whose hands authority shall be entrusted, and what
shall be the general policy of government, it is chiefly
within the walls of Parliament that the contest for power
between the rival candidates for office is conducted ;
and that one of the most important functions of Parlia-
ment is that of being ' an instrument for the instruction
of the nation, and for enabling it to arrive at just and
wise conclusions on matters affecting its welfare.' 3
Creation The custom which has grown up within the present

opinion, generation of members meeting their constituents during
the recess, to address them upon the political topics of
the day, and to invite inquiry and discussion upon the
course taken by their representatives in Parliament, is
' one of the most powerful and beneficial engines for the
creation of a moderate, temperate, tolerant, yet clear
and definite public opinion.'*

' Public opinion determines, in the last resort, to
what hands authority shall be entrusted ; for though
the ministers are the servants of the crown, and are
appointed by the sovereign, yet as the sovereign must
choose ministers who can command the confidence of
Parliament, it is practically the people who decide,
through their representatives, by whom the powers of
government shall be wielded. There is, however, a vast
difference in the effect produced by giving to the people,
instead of the power of nominating their rulers by direct
election, only an indirect control, through their repre-
sentatives, over the selection of the ministers by whose
advice the powers of the crown are exercised.'" Latterly,
however, ministers of the crown have adopted this
method of vindicating their conduct and policy, an

8 Grey, Parl. Govt. pp. 27-37. ' Fort. Rev. v. 4, p. 60.

And see Hans. 1). v. 185, p. 1905, and u Grey, Parl. Govt. p. 25 ; see also

v. 23'5, p. IGoO. Also, some weighty Mill 011 Rep. Govt. p. 96; Fort. Rev.

observations in Bagehot, on the Eng. v. 18. p. 189.
Const, pp. 22, 205 ; and Amos, Fifty
Years of Eng. Const, p. 464.


innovation upon constitutional usage of very question-
able propriety/

How essential, therefore, is it that Parliament should
consist of the most intelligent, educated, and enlightened
men that are to be found in the whole community !

In order that the ministry may be in a position to impor-
devise and recommend to Parliament a policy that shall aTtrons
commend itself to the highest intelligence of the country, govem-
it is indispensable that they should have sufficient
strength in the popular assembly to enable them to
withstand the pressure of temporary political excite-
ment. Prior to the passing of the first Eeform Bill,
there was no impediment of this kind, but thoughtful
politicians foresaw, as an inevitable consequence of that
measure, that parliamentary government would become
more and more difficult and embarrassing. Special Authority
attention was bestowed upon this subject by Mr. J. J. crown in
Park, who at that period filled the chair of English Parha -

D ment

Law and Jurisprudence at King's College, London. In weakened.
a course of lectures on the theory and practice of the
constitution, delivered before that institution, Mr. Park
pointed out with great force and perspicuity the altered
Telative position of 'King, Lords, and Commons,' by the
establishment of parliamentary government, to which
attention has been directed in the preceding pages.
And in a petition to the legislature which he drafted
when the Reform Bill was under consideration, Pro-
fessor Park strongly urged the necessity for making
legislative provision to ensure ' a moderate preponde-
rance of the influence of the crown in the Houses of
Parliament, so as to preserve the government there
carried on from factious intrigue, and daily and
capricious opposition, and to reserve that opposition
for occasions of real misconduct or misjudgment.' w
But in 1832 the Eeform Bill became the law of the

See Hans. D. v. 209, p. 55.

Park's Lectures on the Dogmas of the Const, p. 147.


The Re- land.* The passing of this measure was of vital neces-
LCt ' sity. The unreformed House of Commons had done
excellent work in its time. But its members were not
adequately impressed with a sense of the growing
wants of the nation, and it had failed to legislate for
the people after the close of the great French war as
their necessities required. A readjustment and enlarge-
ment of the constituent body was therefore imperatively
demanded/ By the Eeform Act the representative
power was taken away from fifty-six boroughs, and
reduced in thirty-one others. The representation of no
shire was either taken away or reduced. But new
members were given to thirty-five counties and to forty-
two boroughs. At the same time, the county franchise
was extended, and a uniform ten pound household fran-
chise substituted for the various borough franchises
then in operation. 2 Thus the representation of the
people was placed upon a wider basis, by the introduction
of the commercial and manufacturing classes which,
ever since the peace of 1815, had been growing in
wealth and importance to a share of political power.
In its immediate results this great measure was just
and beneficial in its operation. At the same time, by
increasing the weight and influence of the House of
Commons in public affairs, while it diminished the
means previously at the disposal of the crown for
exercising a constitutional control over the proceedings
of Parliament, it served to render parliamentary govern-
ment a more onerous undertaking. The preservation
of the English constitution, in its integrity, and the
carrying on of the Queen's Government in connection

x The special reasons which neces- of property holders in general, over

sitated the first Reform Act are well the deliberations of the II. of Com.

stated by Mr. Gladstone, in the 19th and the authority of the executive

Cen. v. 2, p. 341. See also Grey's government therein. Well. Desp. 3rd

Corresp. with William IV. v. 2, p. S. v. 8, pp. 135, 337.

30. And the Duke of AVellington's y See a paper by A. V. Dicey in

Memorandum on Reform which Fort. Rev. v. 33, N.S, p. 11(5, on' the

points out the beneficial effects of Reform Act of 1832 and its critics,

the influence exercised by peers, and * 2 Will. IV. c. 45.


with a reformed House of Commons, has become in-
creasingly difficult since the second Reform Act of 1867. form Act
This measure has taken the control of the representation Jhe ? con-
out of the hands of the upper and middle classes the stitution.
propertied classes and conferred it upon the wage-
receiving classes, thereby transferring electoral supre-
macy from capital to labour ; and by lowering the
average intelligence, education, and foresight of the
electoral body, it has reduced in equal ratio the average
wisdom, capacity, and character of the representatives. a
The highest constitutional authorities, not only in
England but even in the United States, formerly con-
curred in declaring the franchise to be a trust bestowed
on the voter, to be exercised for the benefit of the
nation, and not a personal right. b Since the basis of
representation is no longer a limited constituency acting
on behalf of those who were not represented, but has
been widened so as in theory, though not yet in
practice to include all the householders of the nation,
the franchise should rather be regarded as a political
privilege, to be exercised for the common good,

Some, indeed, contend that the progress of educa-
tion and general enlightenment would avert many, if the fran-

not all, of the evils anticipated from entrusting the
masses with political power. But the experience
afforded by the working of democratic institutions in
Australia,* 1 in America, 6 and in France under the Em-

a See Greg's ' Rocks Ahead ' in Amos, Fifty Years of the Eng. Const.

Con. Rev. May, 1874. And an pt>. 33-63.

article on the dangers of Democracy, d Hans. D. v. 182, pp. 613, 2108;

in West. Rev. v. 50, p. 390. Law Times, Aug. 10, 1867, p. 233.

b Compare an article in the North And see deplorable accounts of the

Am. Rev. v. 101, pp. 111-116, on working of a democratic constitution

' The Democratic View of Demo- in Australia, and especially in the

cracy ' with Russell, Eng. Const, p. Colony of Victoria. West. Rev. v.

xxxi. ; Tremenheere, The Franchise a 33, p. 1. Dangers of Democracy, Ib,

Privilege, and not a Right ; Ld. Pal- p. 480. The statements in this Review

merston on the Ballot, in Hans. D. are supplemented and confirmed by

v. 180, p. 426. letters in 'The Colonies' newspaper,

c See Mr. Gladstone, Hans. D. May 13, 1876, p. 131. See also Fort,

'v. 203, pp. 1030, 1031 ; Mr. Disraeli, Rev. v. 20, N.S. p. 43.

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