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rally to the support of his threatened rights. Once a reform becomes a right, the Englishman becomes its champion. The Government have nothing to fear from such a challenge. But those who have watched Lord Lansdowne's cautious tactics may be quite certain that he will never commit the colossal blunder of risking the existence of the House of Lords upon so perilous an issue.
The Liberal Government, therefore, may at present be confidently said to be still able to advance safely along lines of financial reform. As long as that great power remains with them they would be risking their trust in challenging a dissolution. The country rightly expects them to exhaust their powers before they ask for more. And what great powers these are ! Social insurance, land reform, equality of chances for poor and rich-all these things lie as mighty purposes towards which a Liberal Cabinet can, by this financial road alone, move without obstruction or defeat. The Budget of last year gave us but a first taste of what bold finance can do to set right the affairs of this country.
But there is one absolute condition if this policy is to be pursued successfully. A great Budget along these lines will take up the whole of the energies of the House of Commons. The application of the guillotine closure on any drastic scale to a great policy of finance reform would be highly undesirable. The only way, indeed, in which finance reform could be seriously thwarted would be by the conflicting claims of other measures which would occupy the time of the House without any chance of being placed on the statute book. Every time that the House of Lords successfully throws out a measure sent up to them by a Liberal Government they gain in power and courage. Success breeds audacity, and out of such defeats comes weakness to the House of Commons. There must be an end to these beatings of the air.
This is not the place to specify particular measures. But if our third course is to be pursued, then one large, general, governing principle becomes increasingly clear. No great measure must occupy the time of the House of Commons if it is certain of defeat at the hands of the House of Lords. There are a large number of measures to which this rule does not apply—measures like last Session's Housing Bill, or, possibly, a Poor Law Bill. There are measures which stand on the shadowy line between the contentious and noncontentious-measures like the Irish Land Purchase Bill, which stands at present among those handed over from last Session. It will be for the Cabinet to decide in detail which of those Bills can be consistently proceeded with. But, speaking broadly, the Cabinet will doubtless remember that it is only by a general ' Self-denying Ordinance' that this policy can be made acceptable to the various advocates of particular measures. To pick out one measure and place it in front of all the others would be to create a sense of
injustice which would irritate and divide the forces behind the Government. The rank and file will understand a general agreement to postpone all great contentious measures. The Welsh party, for instance, will, in regard to Welsh Disestablishment, probably acquiesce in a policy which governs other measures of the same grade. But, if Welsh Disestablishment is to be held back, they will naturally revolt against any attempt to push forward large measures of reform that affect other parts of the country, and whose promotion would necessarily and inevitably prejudice the cause of Welsh Disestablishment by pushing it into a second place.
The only wise policy, therefore, is to concentrate for the present on Finance legislation. When that line of advance is exhausted, then will be the time to return, with increased power and prestige, to the great contested measures of the last two years. Then will be the time to gather together the threads of all these great proposals that have been rejected by the House of Lords and to send them up afresh on the eve of the inevitable General Election. But then, again, it will be useless to do that unless some penalty be attached to the second act of rejection. To use Mr. Winston Churchill's famous phrase, there must be a touch of ginger ’ in the dose. There must be a sting at the tail.
For if the Government are to fight out the question of the House of Lords, the country will naturally expect that they should have a defined policy. At present the country have before them, as the nearest approach to a Liberal policy, the famous Bannerman resolution of the House of Commons. But since the passing of that resolution a new Cabinet has come into power and a new Prime Minister. It will not be enough for the Government to rely on that resolution. They must frame a Bill. A necessary addition to the policy sketched in these pages is that the Government should produce before the General Election a Lords' Veto Bill. The shadowy proposals of the Bannerman resolution must be given statutory form. That Bill must be sent up to the House of Lords and discussed by that body, and it is on the issue between the two Houses that the country must decide.
What that decision will be it would be entirely premature to speculate. It may be that the British mind, with a timidity that sometimes characterises it at crises, will decide to fall back for a time to the government of the feudal period. Times of progress are sometimes strangely intermingled with phases of reaction, and it is not absolutely inconceivable that these islands may actually choose to be governed by the House of Lords. But precedents contradict that expectation. The one great occasion on which this country has been asked to decide definitely between Lords and Commons was when, on an old unreformed suffrage, nearly eighty years ago, they were asked to vote for or against the first Reform Bill. If the rotten boroughs did not
save the House of Lords on that occasion what will save them now? A shrewd observer must notice that not even the Lords themselves show faith in themselves. The recently issued Report of the Lords Reform Committee admits the need of drastic change. If that is the view of the House of Lords, what will be the view of members returned to the House of Commons on that issue? Does Lord Lansdowne seriously think that ' Down with the House of Commons !' will be a popular cry for the Unionist Party ? He is far too shrewd a man for that. He probably foresees that out of a General Election on this issue two parties would emerge with only one point of agreement, and that would be the radical reform of the House of Lords.
At any rate the Liberal party would have nothing to fear. They would have raised a great issue. They would have a great policy to hand on. Even if they had to spend a few years in opposition they would have a great cause to fight for-nothing less than the cause of the people's House. And when once their present powers of good are exhausted it will surely be more seemly and satisfactory for the Liberal party to be in the position of powerful and honest critics of government than to sit on idly in the seats of the mighty, the scorn and mock of all who care for the substance more than the shadow, and for the dust of the conflict more than the calm of possession.
THE LOST EMPIRE OF ENGLAND (?)
A FORMER Archbishop of York,' when considering the public life of his day, noted two dangerous tendencies. The first was that power was falling into the hands of the uneducated. The second was that the party leaders, instead of addressing themselves more and more attentively to the task of seeing that the electorate was well-informed, were growing, on the contrary, more and more indolent. Any phrase that flattered the uninstructed was preferred to the task of government and genuine leadership. The particular phrase that roused the Archbishop's ire was ' Vox populi vox Dei,' and he concluded his vigorous denunciation by inquiring ‘Was the voice of the people the voice of God when they shouted “Crucify Him, crucify Him”?
, ? Was it the voice of God when they shouted, “Not this man, but Barabbas"?
This is absolutely the last word on the subject. The Archbishop detested Laodiceans. He denounced Agnosticism as 'cowardly.' He was incapable of believing that any man worth calling a man could not make
up his mind. To soft-headed suggestions for abolishing war he would reply that no State founded on the principles of the Sermon on the Mount could possibly last for a fortnight. He did not believe in making people sober by Act of Parliament; he would rather see England free than sober.' His instructions to young men were :
Eschew dreams: master the facts of life within the sphere in which you are summoned to act.'
The phrase 'Vox populi vox Dei' offended him as a Churchman by its irreverent presumption. It offended him as a statesman by reason of its compressing as large a number of errors into as few words as possible. Moreover it was a catchword, which he disliked as much as did the late Sir James Paget. In brief, he concluded-given a weak Government, and an ignorant people in a passion, and anything may happen : on this particular occasion the most frightful tragedy in history. But, whatever happens on other occasions, we
William Connor Magee (1821-1891), Bishop of Peterborough and Archbishop of York. A great ecclesiastic, a great statesman, a consummate man of the world, incontestably the greatest Irishman of the century. The present generation appears to have forgotten his existence.
may be sure of one thing, viz. that popular violence will never further popular interest.
At the present moment we are face to face with this situation ; we have a weak Government in England and a huge discontented population. Take the case of Old Age Pensions. Was there ever such a case of a man asking for bread and receiving a stone? The British working man, ruined by Radical legislation, asks for work, and is told that he must exist somehow, on nothing, till he is seventy years of age, when he will draw 58. a week out of somebody else's pocket. It is too cruelly cynical for words. The poor man wants 258. a week to-day. The only way to get it for him is to keep the work in the country, and this the Radicals refuse to do, although they have the impudence to call themselves friends of the people; they are, on the contrary, the bitterest foes of the people.
It is not as widely understood as it ought to be how persistently the Radicals have attacked their country's interests. They began by ruining the land of England in the name of cheap food. Then the manufactures began to fail; the Radicals approved of this, saying that we could get cheaper goods abroad. Finally, as a result of attacking both land and manufactures, we find our sons and daughters starving on the streets. What matter? say the Radicals. Cannot we get cheaper children from abroad! We can—and we do.
-. But what sort of children, food and goods? This gospel of cheapness has brought us to the verge of ruin. Naturally-for we are not a cheap race.
Such are their achievements. Their policy consists of varieties of the cult of the jumping cat. 'Vox populi vox Dei' has been watered down to suit the intellect of an enfeebled generation, and now appears as 'seeking a mandate,' 'feeling the pulse of the nation,' 'insisting that the will of the people shall prevail '-and in fact doing everything that a statesman ought not to do, and leaving undone everything that he ought to do. Another phrase is ‘Trust the people, which means ' Trust the people to do the work that I am paid to do'; in short Trust the people to save me trouble. There is a vast fund of common sense in the British working man. When the late Prime Minister started a campaign with the battle-cry ‘The will of the people shall prevail '-by which he meant that the House of Lords ought to be abolished-he met with a disconcerting reception. The House of Lords is the last bulwark of English liberty; and the people know it. In this case the mass of the voters showed sound political instinct. They dislike braggarts and they dislike chatterboxes; and as the House of Commons does nothing but brag and chatter, it is falling into well-earned discredit. The House of Lords, on the other hand, neither brags nor chatters, and it understands public affairs far better than the House of Commons. Its prestige consequently increases daily.
It is unnecessary to labour this point; what is too often over