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1911, and in amendments to the Parliament Bill proposed in the House of Lords during July, 1911. Lord Rosebery in March, 1910, had spoken of a “strong and efficient” Second Chamber; and Lord Lansdowne in his resolutions of November, 1910, had distinctly built his proposals as to the powers of the House of Lords in general legislation on the foundation of a reconstituted Upper House whose influence would thus inevitably be greater morally whatever might be determined regarding its statutory powers.
With this in mind we can examine Lord Lansdowne's resolutions, which were adopted by the Lords and by the Conservative party just before the general election of December, 1910.3
Lord Lansdowne then proposed that, if a difference between Lords and Commons regarding the passage of a bill continued "in two successive Sessions, and with an interval of not less than one year, and such difference cannot be adjusted by any other means, it shall be settled in a Joint Sitting composed of members of the two Houses." From this method Lord Lansdowne excepted a difference relating “to a matter which is of great gravity, and has not been adequately submitted for the judgment of the people” in order to have recourse not to a joint sitting but to “the electors by Referendum.”4. In this fashion in an historic legislative body the Conservative party advocated for the complicated modern State resort to a device which, however ancient, spelled first of all an indictment of the historical result of representative government in England.
But Lord Lansdowne continued to a further case of a House of Commons bill, for which had been claimed the special privileges of a “money bill.” Such a bill if the joint committee of both Houses should decide that it was neither wholly nor in part “purely financial in character" should "be dealt with forthwith in a joint Sitting of the two Houses."5 Since major measures are usually introduced by the government of the day first in the House of Commons the verdict as to the need of a joint
• On the political situation cf. Ibid. V. pp. 525 et seq. and VI. p. 197. 16 House of Lords Debates, 5 series, c. 838.
sitting, certainly the decision as to recourse to a referendum would in almost any conceivable case rest with the Upper House. The debate ensuing on Lord Lansdowne's proposals cleared some points; but the question as a whole went to the electorate in December, 1910, in a rather vague form, entangled with economic and Irish matters. Though the electorate probably did not then clearly appreciate the significance of the Conservative program the net result of Lord Lansdowne's proposals, which were the best which he could then urge through the House of Lords, would probably have been to strengthen the position of the Upper House and to exert on the executive either actually or potentially an even larger influence than heretofore. So much for the official Conservative suggestion as to the referendum and joint sitting in November, 1910.
With the opening of Parliament after the election Lord Balfour of Burleigh made an independent if somewhat curious suggestion in his Reference to the People Bill of March, 2, 1911.6 On March 29 after three days of discussion the debate was adjourned sine die.? The principle of the referendum which he then advocated was embodied later by Lord Lansdowne in an amendment to the Parliament Bill; but the application of the principle as laid down by Lord Balfour remained as Lord Morley later said "in a state of very suspended animation if, animation is the right word.”'8
We pass therefore to the further development in the House of Lords of the official opposition amendments to the Parliament Bill. These turned largely on the exclusion of certain sorts of legislation from the operation of the Bill. On July 3, the extension of Parliament beyond five years was barred from the facilities proposed by the Bill. But the significant amendment was Lord Lansdowne's on July 4,10 requiring a referendum
• H. L. Bills, 1911. No. 26. Cf. 7 H. L. Deb. 58. cc. 253 et seq. 7 Ibid. c. 760.
89 Ibid. c. 415 (July 13) Unfortunately lack of space prevents at this time any explanation or discussion of the Reference to the People Bill.
• Ibid. cc. 6, 12. On Lord Avebury's motion accepted by the government and the House of Commons on August 8 (29 H. C. Deb. 58. c. 1094).
10 9 H. L. Deb. 58. c. 100.
"in a manner to be hereafter provided" for any bill “(a) which affects the existence of the Crown or the Protestant succession thereto; or (b) which establishes a National Parliament or Assembly or a National Council in Ireland, Scotland, Wales or England with legislative powers therein; or (c) which has been referred to the Joint Committee, and which in their opinion raises an issue of great gravity upon which the judgment of the country has not been sufficiently ascertained." The Joint Committee was to determine whether any bill came within the scope of these provisions. This amendment abandoned the earlier notions of a joint sitting of both Houses, preserved the referendum, and struck at the root of the alleged intention of the government to carry an Irish Home Rule measure by means of the facilities provided by the bill without recourse to another general election on the issue of Home Rule. In fact the amendment denied that Irish Home Rule as a serious possibility had been before the electorate in December 1910, and it asserted in general the doctrine of the necessity of a “special mandate” by the electorate for certain classes of bills. Here therefore was a mixture of party politics, constitutional law, and political science. It was carried by a vote of 203 to 46.11
We find this program capped by an amendment of July 6 to provide for this Joint Committee, to which Lord Cromer as stated in the previous article, had already referred doubtful money bills. After all the referendum might be in some respects only a specialized general election; the subjects submitted to its verdict might be similar in importance to many which had previously been the cause of dissolutions and general elections; something might be said regarding the danger of "tacking” in money bills; but there remained the new tribunal which could act with novel and enormous power. Here was the possible refuge of those who had been forced from earlier and historic claims of rejection, revision and delay. To be sure it would be only a temporary refuge. But from that refuge the executive could be threatened, the power of the House of Commons could be assailed and the ancient system of a responsible cabinet
11 H. L. Deb. 58. c. 276.
dependent on a more or less representative legislature could receive shock after shock. An earthquake need not last long to do damage; and in the Joint Committee lay the power to tilt if only a little and for a short time the strata on which modern British government had hitherto chiefly rested.
This addition to the political system had been indicated by Lord Lansdowne; it was now formulated by Lord Cromer and Lord St. Aldwyn.12 How was it to be constituted? For the House of Lords there were the Lord Chancellor, who was a member of the Cabinet, the Chairman of Committees, usually chosen for life tenure of that office and consequently usually a member of the dominant party in the Upper House, and a Lord of Appeal chosen by the other Law Lords. For the House of Commons there were also three, viz:a member selected by the Speaker and presumably of the party in opposition, the Chairman of Ways and Means, originally a party selection at the first session of each Parliament, and the Speaker who might have a second casting vote as chairman of the Joint Committee. These six strong men certainly could command attention. But on analysis if the strain of party allegiance became too great for impartial judgment by most of them the issue would probably finally lie with the Lord of Appeal and the Speaker. Here the casting vote of the Speaker could place the decision as to money bills where the Parliament Bill had already placed it in more direct fashion. Other questions, however, would come before this committee. They were
They were to determine not only the content of a bill but the gravity of an issue, to look away from Westminster and judge the heart of the nation. They must analyze the issues of an election, untangle the "mandates" of the people, and appraise the verdict of the electorate. They might in a large way but suddenly become rapid mapmakers of recent political and social explorations.
Furthermore how and when were they to begin work? The Speaker might take the initiative; he must, if asked by the executive, or by the majority of either House. Thus the minority in either House could depend only on the independent action
13 H. L. Deb. 5s c. 488.
of the Speaker to secure even a meeting of the Joint Committee. In other words a party in opposition and not having a majority in the House of Lords would be obliged to depend on an optional initiative on the part of the Speaker to make even an attempt to prevent enactment of legislation on a subject of gravity which might not have been previously clearly before the electorate. Frankly this would tend to make the Speaker an arbiter as to party claims and policies. On the other hand if the opposition had a majority in the House of Lords the Joint Committee might be called into action regarding any important bill which had passed the Lower House. Thus under these circumstances the burden of responsibility, the power of decision might be forced on the Committee, very possibly on the Speaker, at almost any time and as often as an opposition majority in the Lords might think it necessary or prudent. The upshot might well be a most serious attack on thenon-partisan prerogatives of the Speaker's office, extending in scope and opportunity much beyond anything that had hitherto been suggested.
Throughout these months of 1911 the Parliament Bill was subjected to a searching analysis as a revolutionary program. But it is doubtful if the public considered sufficiently the bearing and scope of the alternative plan and the opposition amendments. We must now hurry to a summary of them. Both as to the composition and powers of the Second Chamber they proposed great changes, in some respects fully as great as those proposed by the Parliament Bill. They aimed at the increase in the moral authority and consequently in the ultimate power of the Upper House; they involved potentially, if not necessarily, by novel and untried schemes of political adjustment, a return under new terms to conditions and relationships which had been definitely though gradually eliminated from the British constitution. In other words the Tory party aimed to restore the Whig oligarchy under new circumstances, to check tendencies which had resulted from the Reform Bill of 1832. That act had shuffled the cards; the second and third Reform Bills of 1867 and 1884 had added new rules and new cards. In 1911