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mons; the Lower House is the ruling and the choosing House, and if a Government really possesses that, it thoroughly possesses nine-tenths of what it requires. The support of the Lords is an aid and a luxury; that of the Commons is a strict and indispensable necessary.

These difficulties are particularly raised by questions of foreign policy. On most domestic subjects, either custom or legislation hafe limited the use of the prerogative. The mode of governing the country, according to the existing laws, is mostly worn into a rut, and most Administrations move in it because it is easier to move there than anywhere else. Most political crises the decisive votes, which determine the fate of Government - are generally either on questions of foreign policy or of new laws; and the questions of foreign policy come out generally in this way, that the Government has already done something, and that it is for the one part of the Legislature alone for the House of Commons, and not for the House of Lords to say whether they have or have not forfeited their place by the treaty they have made.

I think every one must admit that this is not an arrangement which seems right on the face of it. Treaties are quite as important as most laws, and to require the elaborate assent of representative assemblies to every word of the law, and not to consult them even as to the essence of the treaty, is prima facie ludicrous. In the older forms of the

English Constitution, this may have been quite right; the power was then really lodged in the Crown, and because Parliament met very seldom, and for other reasons, it was then necessary that, on a multitude of points, the Crown should have much more power than is amply sufficient for it at present. But now the real power is not in the Sovereign, it is in the Prime Minister and in the Cabinet, that is in the hands of a committee appointed by Parliament, and of the chairman of that committee. Now, beforehand, no one would have ventured to suggest that a committee of Parliament on Foreign relations. should be able to commit the country to the greatest international obligations without consulting either Parliament or the country. No other select committee has any comparable power; and considering how carefully we have fettered and limited the powers of all other subordinate authorities, our allowing so much discretionary power on matters peculiarly dangerous and peculiarly delicate to rest in the sole charge of one secret committee is exceedingly strange. No doubt it may be beneficial; many seeming anomalies are so, but at first sight it does not look right.

I confess that I should see no advantage in it if our two Chambers were sufficiently homogeneous and sufficiently harmonious. On the contrary, if those two Chambers were as they ought to be, I should believe it to be a great defect. If the Administration had in both Houses a majority- not a mechanical

majority ready to accept any thing, but a fair and reasonable one, predisposed to think the Government right, but not ready to find it to be so in the face of facts and in opposition to whatever might occur; if a good Government were thus placed, I should think it decidedly better that the agreements of the Administration with foreign powers should be submitted to Parliament. They would then receive that which is best for all arrangements of business, an understanding and sympathizing criticism, but still a criticism. The majority of the Legislature, being well disposed to the Government, would not "find" against it except it had really committed some big and plain mistake. But if the Government had made such a mistake, certainly the majority of the Legislature would find against it. In a country fit for Parliamentary institutions, the partisanship of members of the Legislature never comes in manifest opposition to the plain interest of the nation; if it did, the nation being (as are all nations capable of Parliamentary institutions) constantly attentive to public affairs, would inflict on them the maximum Parliamentary penalty at the next election, and at many future elections. It would break their career. No English majority dare vote for an exceedingly bad treaty; it would rather desert its own leader than insure its own ruin. And an English minority, inheriting a long experience of Parliamentary affairs, would not be exceedingly ready to reject a treaty made with a foreign Government. The leaders of

an English Opposition are very conversant with the schoolboy maxim, "Two can play at that fun." They know that the next time they are in office the same sort of sharp practice may be used against them, and therefore they will not use it. So strong is this predisposition, that not long since a subordinate member of the Opposition declared that the "front benches" of the two sides of the House that is, the leaders of the Government and the leaders of the Opposition

were in constant tacit league to suppress the objections of independent members. And what he said is often quite true. There are often seeming objections which are not real objections, at least, which are, in the particular cases, outweighed by counterconsiderations; and these "independent members having no real responsibility, not being likely to be hurt themselves if they make a mistake, are sure to blurt out, and to want to act upon. But the responsible heads of the party who may have to decide similar things, or even the same things, themselves will not permit it. They refuse, out of interest as well as out of patriotism, to engage the country in a permanent foreign scrape, to secure for themselves and their party a momentary home advantage. Accordingly, a Government which negotiated a treaty would feel that its treaty would be subject certainly to a scrutiny, but still to a candid and a lenient scrutiny; that it would go before judges, of whom the majority were favorable, and among whom the most influential part of the minority were in this case much

opposed to excessive antagonism. And this seems. to be the best position in which negotiators can be placed, namely, that they should be sure to have to account to considerate and fair persons, but not to have to account to inconsiderate and unfair ones.


At present the Government which negotiates a treaty can hardly be said to be accountable to any one. It is sure to be subjected to vague censure. Benjamin Franklin said, "I have never known a peace made, even the most advantageous, that was not censured as inadequate, and the makers condemned as injudicious or corrupt. Blessed are the peace-makers' is, I suppose, to be understood in the other world, for in this they are frequently cursed." And this is very often the view taken now in England of treaties. There being nothing practical in the Opposition nothing likely to hamper them hereafter, the leaders of Opposition are nearly sure to suggest every objection. The thing is done and cannot be undone, and the most natural wish of the Opposition leaders is to prove that if they had been in office, and it therefore had been theirs to do it, they could have done it much better. On the other hand, it is quite possible that there may be no real criticism on a treaty at all; or the treaty has been made by the Government, and as it cannot be unmade by any one, the Opposition may not think it worth while to say much about it. The Government, therefore, is never certain of any criticism; on the contrary, it has a good chance of escaping criticism;

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