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rule that taxes may be levied only for a public purpose. It was alleged
that the expenditures provided for were for the benefit of private indi-
viduals and were not for a public purpose.

The court held that the purpose for which the proposed expenditures
were to be made must be regarded as public. It comments at length
upon the difiiculty of drawing a distinct line between pubUc purpose
and private purpose in taxation, and declares that in the border line
cases the question frequently resolves itselP into one of opinion as to
wisdom and expediency rather than a question of law in the strict
sense. Courts must be exceedingly cautious not to usurp the func-
tions of the legislature in these cases and must accord deference to the
legislative judgment in all cases of doubt. Public purpose in the law
of taxation is a term which expands with the progress of civilization.
To define it only in terms of custom and usage would mean complete
stagnation in the law. Purposes which were not regarded as public
in years gone by have come to be recognized as proper objects of taxa-
tion now. It cannot be denied that the act in question contemplates
the expenditure of public money for a purpose from which the state
at large will reap substantial benefits. While opinions differ as to the
legal propriety of these expenditures there is not suflScient doubt as to
the public purpose of the proposed taxation to warrant the court in
reversing the legislative determination upon that point.

A brief but vigorous dissenting opinion urged that the statute pro-
vided for the levying of taxes for a private purpose and that the major-
ity opinion declaring the purpose public ** stretched to the breaking
point all fundamental ideas of what is meant by that term." Rel3ring
chiefly upon the well known case of Lowell v. Boston, 111 Mass. 454,
the dissenting justices concluded that no public purpose was served
*'by this attractive bit of paternalistic legislation."

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Universtty of Wisconsin

Changes in British Parliamentary Procedure. One of the most
interesting of the developments arising from the extensive legislative
program which faced the first British ParUament imder the Franchise
Act of 1918 was the drastic amendment in February, 1919, of the rules
of procedure of the house of commons. The address from the throne
stated the necessity and the purposes of the proposed changes, declaring:

"A large number of measures affecting the social and economic well-
being of the nation await your consideration, and it is of the utmost
importance that their provisions should be examined and, if possible,
agreed upon and carried into effect with all expedition. With this
object in view. My Government will invite the consideration of the
House of Commons to certain proposals for the simplification of the
procedure for that House which, it is hoped, will enable delays to be
avoided, and give its members an increasing opportunity of taking an
effective part in the work of legislation."

In the debate upon the address, Mr. Lloyd George foreshadowed the
nature of the government's proposals by saying:

"I am certain that our present methods of examining legislation, of
having 600 men scrutinizing every line, every word, every comma, for
weeks in the presence of the Press, is a futile method of transacting
business. ... As long as the House of Conmions accepts the
main outUne of the measure, it is fatal to business to insist upon every
member of the House taking part in a close scrutiny of every word."

And when the attorney-general presented the plan he declared:

"The object of the proposals is at least threefold. It is, in the first
place, to save the time of the House. It is, secondly, to accelerate the
progress of business, and also it is, by avoiding waste of time and
energy, to improve the real opportunities of criticism and discussion."

The changes which were then outUned included, first, an increase in
the number and importance, and a decrease in the size, of the standing,
or grand, committees; second, a rule regularizing kangaroo closure by


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making the power of selecting amendments for debate a permanent
and no longer a temporary attribute of the authority of the chair;
third, the reference of the estimates, with certain exceptions and imder
certain restrictions, to standing committees; fourth, several less drastic
changes in procedure designed to save time in the passage of bills
through the house. Three days were occupied by the discussion erf
these proposals, and the debate furnishes one of the best expositions
ever given of the theory and practice of the procedure of the house of
commons. In the end most of the government proposals were adopted
as standing orders, although some modifications were made, and the
rule empowering standing committees to consider the estimates was
passed for the session only.

The purpose of the changes in the committee system was frankly set
forth by Mr. Bonar Law as, "getting the bulk of the business done by
committees. And," he added, "that does mean a real revolution in
the procedure of the house of commons.'* In number the committees
were increased from four to six, and in size decreased from 60-80 to
40-60, with the provision that the committee of selection should have
power to add not less than ten nor more than fifteen members to a
standing committee in respect of any bill referred to it, to serve during
the consideration of that bill. The provision that at least ten "ex-
perts'* should be added was the result of a desire in the house to assure
the competency of the committees to handle the important bills now
proposed to be referred to them. It was not, however, applied to the
committee on Scottish bills, which committee was continued, as was
that for the consideration of bills relating exclusively to Wales and
Monmouthshire. The chairmen's panel was increased from 4-8 to
8-12, while the quorum for standing committees was left at twenty.

Besides adding to the number of the grand committees, the new
rules increase their working capacity by allowing them to sit while the
house is in session. Prior to 1919 no such committee could sit while
the house was sitting except in pursuance of a resolution moved by the
member in charge of the bill before the committee and decided without
debate;, nor could any such committee sit before four o'clock without
an order of the house. The new rule, S. O. 47 (1), provides:

"Standing committees may sit during the sitting, and notwithstand-
ing any adjournment, of the house. On a division being called in the
house, the chairman of a standing committee shall suspend the pro-
ceedings in the committee for such time as will, in his opinion, enable
members to vote in the division."

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Further, rule 49 A provides:

'* In order to facilitate the business of standing committees, a motion
may, after two days notice, be made by a minister of the crown at the
commencement of public business, to be decided without amendment
or debate, 'that this house do now adjourn/ provided that if on a
day on which a motion is agreed to under this standing order leave has
been given to move the adjournment of the house for the purpose of
discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, Mr. Speaker,
instead of adjourning the house, shall suspend the sitting until a
quarter past eight of the clock."

The. government declared, however, that it would use the authority
thus granted not regularly, but only as a last resort.

These rules, together with that permitting the reference of the esti-
mates to a standing committee, and the avowed determination of the
government to send "upstairs" all bills but the finance bill, the appro-
priation bill, and small bills of a noncontentious kind indicate a realiza-
tion by all concerned that the legislative capacity of the parliamentary
machine was entirely inadequate for the passage of measures made
imperatively and urgently necessary by post-war conditions. The
delegation of legislative power, the removal of many members from
the house to the committee rooms while the house is in session, and
the consequent rush through the division lobbies of members who have
not heard debated the question upon which they are voting were de-
clared by many members to be changes which would destroy both the
prestige and the self-respect of the house of commons. The govern-
ment's imanswerable reply was that without these changes of procedure
the house could not by any possibiUty put through the program of
social and industrial reform which the situation demanded, and that
its failure to do so with reasonable promptitude would result not only
in a loss of prestige for the house of commons, but in the destruction of
popular belief in representative government as it exists in England.
This argument, of course, was used in connection with all of their

The chief provision made by the new procedure for speeding up bills
in the house itself relates to the selection of amendments for debate,
and is as follows (S. 0. 27A) :

"In respect of any motion or any bill under consideration either in
committee of the whole house or on report, Mr. Speaker, or in com-
mittee, the chairman of ways and means, and the deputy chairman,
shall have power to select the new amendments or clauses to be pro-

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posed, and may, if he thinks fit, call upon any member who has given
notice of an amendment to give such explanation of the object of the
amendment as may enable him to form a judgment upon it."

Under the old rules this power could not be exercised by the chair
except under authority of a special order in each case — an order which
it usually required a considerable amoimt of time to pass. The new
rule obviates such delays, makes unnecessary closure by compartments,
by which whole clauses were voted with no discussion whatsoever, and
provides a reasonable method for the selection of those subjects the
discussion of which is most desirable. A possible drawback is the
addition to the constantly increasing burden which has been laid upon
the speaker during recent years.

Other changes which were made to reduce delay in the passage of
bills through the house may be noted.

S. O. 30 was amended to provide that when the speaker or chairman
deems a division "imnecessarily" claimed he may take the vote of the
house by calling upon members who support and who challenge his
position to rise in their places, '^ unnecessarily" having been inserted
in place of "frivolously or vexatiously" in order to enable the rule to
be applied in a wider range of cases.

S. 0. 31A eliminates superfluous divisions at second and third read-
ings by providing that, " If on an amendment to the question that a bill
be now read a second time or the third time it is decided that the word
'now' or any words proposed to be left out stand as part of the question,
Mr. Speaker shall forthwith declare the bill to be read a second time
or the third time, as the case may be."

S. O. 40A provides that a motion to recommit a bill, if opposed,
shall be discussed under the ten minute rule, only the member who
moves reconmiittal and one other member to be heard.

S. 0. 7A exempts from the eleven o'clock rule proceedings upon the
report of the committee of ways and means, and committees authoriz-
ing the expenditure of money, except the committee of supply.

S. O. 71A provides that when a resolution authorizing the expendi-
ture of money in a certain bill is sanctioned by a committee, and notice
is given, the report stage can be taken at once instead of being deferred
to another day.

S. 0. 71B makes it possible to receive a resolution of the committee
of ways and means authorizing the issue of money out of the consoh-
dated fimd, and to pass this money bill through the report stage and
third reading on the same day. These stages frequently had been

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taken in one day under special order of the house. The new order
makes such procedure the regular one.

Although somewhat technical, all of these new rules are clearly-
designed to expedite the business of the house, both by simpbf^dng
the normal procedure, and by reducing the opportunities for deliberate

The most striking changes in procedure which the needs of the new
order in England has compelled, however, were those which permit the
discussion of the estimates in standing committee. From 1707 it had
been the rule of the house that money bills should be considered only
in committee of the whole. Because such consideration was supposed
to give the house an opportunity to scrutinize and to criticise the con-
duct of every part of the government when the appropriation for that
part was voted, the provision had long been regarded as one of the
cornerstones of parUamentary supremacy. The proposal to rescind
the rule met with determined resistance. It was declared that the
primary business of Parliament was not legislative but critical, and
that to deprive the house as a whole of its traditional power to criticise
and control the executive through the discussion of the estimates would
destroy its most useful function. The discussion, however, gave rise
to a general admission that the existing system did not in practice
give the house of commons an effective control over the estimates in
their financial aspects; and upon the abandonment by the government
of its proposal to reduce the number of days for the consideration of
supply in the committee of the whole from twenty to twelve the great
innovation was adopted, for the session only. The rules provide:

1. All estimates except Votes A and 1 (personnel and pay) of the
army, navy, and air force estimates shall be referred to a standing
committee instead of to the committee of supply.

2. The estimates shall be allotted to the standing committees by the
speaker, and shall be considered by them under the customary pro-
cedure of the committee of supply.

3. Upon the adoption of a motion made by a minister any specified
estimates or votes shall be withdrawn from the standing committees
and considered in committee of supply.

4. The speaker shall leave the chair forthwith when the orders of
the day for the consideration of any votes other than a vote of credit
in the committee of supply shall be read.

5. A standing committee may report from time to time resolutions
upon which it has agreed, and these shall be proceeded with as though
they had been reported from the committee of supply.

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6. The government shall have authority to fix the rotation in which
votes are to be taken in standing committee, and to determine whether
estimates of bills shall be considered on any particular day.

7. S. 0. 15, regulating the business of supply, shall apply only to
such business in the house or in a committee of the whole; supply shall
no longer be the first order of the day on Thursday; the rule which
required the submission of new estimates not later than two days
before the committee of supply is closed shall have no effect.

8. The committee of selection shall have the power to add not less
than ten nor more than fifteen members to any standing committee to
which estimates are referred, to serve on that committee during the
consideration of any specified estimates.

Viewed in their entirety these modifications of procedure very
evidently are the logical development of tendencies in the evolution of
standing orders which, as Dr. Redlich points out, have governed
changes made in the rules since 1832. They were made to save the
time, or to alter the distribution of the time, of the house, and to
reduce further the possibiUty of obstruction. But although in adopt-
ing them the house made serious efforts to increase its working capac-
ity, it cannot be said to be satisfied with the results of the innovations.
Within a few months it became evident that while the house had not
vastly increased its legislative output by simpUfying its procedure and
dividing itself by six, it had introduced a sjrstem which was giving
rise to other ills, some of them of a disquieting nature. As had been
predicted, the grand committees drew so many members from the
house itself that the discussion of constitutional measures of the utmost
importance was regularly conducted before empty benches. Further-
more , the standing committees in many instances deprived the house
of the control which it had been wont to exercise over the details of
great bills. This had been foreseen; but in practice the house did not
like the change. And the committees themselves, even the committee
to which the estimates were referred, had great diflSculty in regularly
securing quorums. Members complained of being expected to be in
several places -at the same time, and the house generally felt over-
worked and dissatisfied.

These sentiments foimd expression in a debate early in June, 1919,
on the proposal to create a parUamentary body to consider devolution.
In seconding the motion for such a body, Mr. Murray Macdonald
probably expressed the consensus of opinion concerning the situation
when he said that the motion:

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''rested on the opinion that Parliament had more work than it
could adequately perform. . . . Only two alternative remedies
had been suggested. The first was by changes in the rules regulating
business in the house; the second was that embodied in the motion
under consideration. Many changes in procedure had been made, all
with the same object, and they had totally failed to accomplish their

The result was the appointment of the speaker's conference on de-
volution; and it is safe to assume that the recognition that the new
rules have not made, ^id that no rules can make, it possible for Parlia-
ment to perform its present duties satisfactorily, will go far towards
securing favorable consideration for whatever proposals this con-
ference may eventually make.

Ralston Hayden.

University of Michigan.

Swiss Referendum on the League of Nations. The Swiss refer-
endum of May 16 on the League of Nations was the most important
vote of its kind in the history of the republic. All other countries
entering the league thus far have done so by parliamentary and execu-
tive action, that is, through purely representative means. Switzerland
alone referred the question to the direct decision of her electorate. To
Americans her action is of interest, not only because of its thoroughly
democratic character, but also because we are confronting the same
question as the paramount issue of our domestic and foreign politics
at the present time.

There can be no doubt that the Swiss people imderstood thoroughly
the fateful nature of the decision they were called upon to make. They
witnessed the great war from within its very midst; in spite of their
neutrality they suffered and are suffering considerably from its con-
sequ^ices; and they have followed every step taken since the armistice
with the deepest interest. A vigorous campaign of education carried
on by the press, by political parties, and by propagandist committees
of every description preceded the referendum vote itself. . With few
exceptions the discussion of the issue was conducted upon a high plane.
Some vague charges were made of the use of Entente gold to influence
the vote, but they were speedily denied and discredited. In spite of
the deepest feeling on both sides, personalities were conspicuously
absent. A minor point of interest may be found in the active and
effective part taken in the campaign by many prominent clerg3anen,
both Protestant and Catholic.

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Acceptance of membership in the league was strongly favored by
the powerful Independent Democratic (Radical) party, the Liberal
Democratic (Protestant Conservative) party,, the recently formed
anti-bolshevist Peasants' party, the Christian Social party, and the
Grutlianer. The Catholic Conservatives were divided, some of their
most eminent leaders, both lay and clerical, being found in opposing
camps. The Socialists who have accepted bolshevist leadership
fought the league with all their accustomed arguments and bitterness.
Curiously enough, the same attitude was taken by a group of the higher
officers of the Swiss army, led by Ulrich Wille, the former general in
chief. Party lines were more or less cut across, however, by racial^
linguistic, reUgious and personal prejudices.

A very marked influence upon the referendum was exerted by the
federal council, all seven members of which not only favored the league
but also campaigned for it vigorously throughout the coimtry . Further,
the federal council on May 7, officially issued a powerful appeal to the
Swiss people urging them to vote affirmatively. This appeal expressed
the deepest conviction that "a decision of the people against the
league would bring with it irreparable damage to the prosperity
of Switzerland, to the unity of the country, and to the respect
which it enjoys abroad. It would involve the gravest danger to our
commerce, our industry, and our agriculture. The League of Nations
will gradually unite all the states of the world. Already it embraces
four-fifths of mankind. The League of Nations aims at the protection
of labor; it assures just consideration to the mutual commerce and
intercourse of its members; it promotes the development of inter-
national law. It opens the way to gradual disarmament and seeks to
settle controversies arising between nations by judicial arbitration and
peaceful mediation. Above everything else it will hinder or make
difficult the beginning of armed conflicts. Switzerland cannot refuse
her cooperation when humanity undertakes by a broadly devised plan
to bring justice and peace to the world."

To partisans and opponents of the league alike the principle of
neutrality, consecrated by the history and imbedded in the constitu-
tion of Switzerland itself, was the central point of the whole contro-
versy. The advice of Bruder Klaus: ** Eidgenosserij mischet euch nicht
in fremde Hdndel" — a Swiss analogue to the. counsel given by Washing-
ton in his Farewell Address — was resurrected from the fifteenth
century and made to do valiant service in advertisements and placards.
Although the council of the League of Nations on February 13 of this

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year f onnally guaranteed the military neutrality and inviolability of
Switzerland, the enemies of the league protested as unneutral the
obligation to take economic measures against possible recalcitrant
states, holding this moreover to be a despicable kind of "hunger war-
fare," certain to lead to military reprisals by the aggrieved state and
probably to the invasion of Switzerland and the seizure of Geneva as
the capital of the league. The military futility of such action deprived
the latter argument of any real force. Regarding neutrality the
appeal of the federal council, referred to above, held that: "Entry into
the League of Nations in no way diminishes our independence, on the
contrary it strengthens it. It involves no denial of our traditional
neutral policy of peace; rather will it permit us to pursue that poUcy
in broader ways."

Although not entering largely into public discussion, there was an
underl3dng fear that rejection of the league might cause grave disaffec-
tion, perhaps even a secessionist movement, in Romance Switzerland.
Opponents of the league made the utmost of the failure of the United
States to ratify, but this was discounted as due almost entirely to par-
tisan and anti- Wilson rancor prior to a presidential election. Very
little was said openly about German influence, but it seems to have
been generally accepted that the Junker and bolshevist elements of
Germany desired the Swiss to reject the league, while all the elements
supporting the present government of that country favored its accept-
ance. Certain it is that Dr. Miiller, German ambassador to Switzer-
land, openly expressed the wish to Federal President Motta that " the
hopes and efforts of the federal council in favor of the entry of Switzer-

Online LibraryWestel Woodbury WilloughbyThe American political science review → online text (page 47 of 77)