« VorigeDoorgaan »
it must be assumed, until the contrary is proved, that his supremacy has not been abused. Even so questions may be raised as to the wisdom, expediency, or propriety of his action; but none can be raised as to his prerogative authority, long established by usage, prescription, and precedent.
It has often been represented that this supremacy of the First Lord was first established by an Order in Council passed in 1869, whereby the First Lord was represented as 'responsible to your Majesty and to Parliament for all the business of the Admiralty'; while the other members of the Board were enjoined to act as his assistants in the transaction of the duties,' each of them being responsible to the First Lord for the administration of such business as was assigned to them by the Order in Council. This Order was passed at the instance of Mr Childers, who became First Lord in 1868 and soon made it clear that he entertained very advanced views as to the prerogatives attached to his office. By enjoining the members of the Board to act as the First Lord's assistants,' it unquestionably had the effect, as was doubtless intended, of gravely and very injuriously impairing the authority and influence of the Board; and this effect was shown in the fact that, whereas in 1866 no fewer than 249 Board meetings were held, in 1870, under Mr Childers' régime, only 33 meetings were held. Most of these lasted only a very few minutes, and none lasted so long as half an hour, even when the Estimates for the year were under consideration. In other words, Mr Childers practically abolished the Board and reduced its meetings to a mere empty formality.
This system was found to work exceedingly ill; and it did not long survive the retirement of Mr Childers from office. He ceased to be First Lord in 1871, and was succeeded by Mr (afterwards Lord) Goschen. In 1872 a new Order in Council was passed, whereby the Order of 1869 was rescinded, and the members of the Board were no longer represented as acting merely as the 'assistants' of the First Lord. But, like its predecessor, this new Order recognised the First Lord as 'responsible to Your Majesty and Parliament for all the business of the Admiralty,' and made the other Lords responsible to the First Lord for so much of the business of the department
as might from time to time be assigned to them. In subsequent Orders in Council of various dates-of which one of the most important was that of Aug. 10, 1904-this responsibility and this allocation of business were defined in substantially the same phraseology; and it is now a well-established principle of Admiralty administration that the First Lord is responsible to the Crown and Parliament for all the business of the Admiralty, while his colleagues are responsible to him for such business as he may from time to time assign to them. But it is quite a mistake to suppose that the supremacy of the First Lord was first established by the rather ill-starred Order in Council of 1869. It was first textually formulated by that instrument, but it had been established long before, in fact from time immemorial. On this point there would seem to be no appeal from the authoritative deliverance of the Hartington Commission, which reported in 1890. After defining the effect of the Order in Council of 1872 in the sense above indicated, the Report of that Commission proceeds:
'It is clearly shown, however, by the evidence given by the Civil and Naval Lords before the Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1861, that the administration of the Admiralty rested on the same basis previous to the issue of the Order in Council above referred to. The Order in Council of the 14th of January, 1869, in which the sole responsibility of the First Lord for the administration of the Navy was first officially laid down, merely, therefore, gave formal sanction to what had been the actual practice for many previous years.'
Finally the whole matter may be summed up in the weighty words used by the late Sir William Anson in his classical work on 'The Law and Custom of the Constitution' (Vol. II, Sect. v, p. 192):
The Lords Commissioners are nominally upon an equality. The Patent makes no distinction in their respective positions ; the political chief of the Admiralty is only the Lord whose name stands first in the Commission. But in fact the First Lord is supreme for two reasons. The First Lord has for a very long time been a member of the Cabinet. He therefore speaks to his colleagues with the force of the Cabinet behind him. If the other Lords differ from him at the Board, he
can say that, unless his wishes are carried out, he will not remain a member of the Board. If, as would be probable, the rest of the Cabinet supported the First Lord against his colleagues, the King would be advised to issue fresh Letters Patent, constituting a new Commission of the Admiralty, in which other names would be substituted for those of the dissentient members of the Board.
'Again successive Orders in Council have made the First Lord responsible to the King, and to Parliament, for all the business of the Admiralty, and have, in addition, made the other members of the Board responsible to the First Lord for the business assigned to them.'
The foregoing discussion has been deliberately conducted on purely academic lines. No attempt has been made to discuss or even to glance at any recent action, whether legitimate or not, attributed to the present First Lord. The facts are not accurately known; and, even if they were, the issues raised by them would be purely personal issues, or, at most, issues of policy and expediency. On such issues, if the facts were known, there might be much to be said, possibly on both sides.
In the concluding part of this article, which will appear in the second half of this number of the 'Quarterly Review,' the 'Distribution of Business' in the Board of Admiralty will be discussed. It is a subject which was much debated a few years ago and it still appears to be imperfectly understood in some quarters. It will be treated separately because it concerns not so much the position and functions of the First Lord as those of the First Sea Lord.
JAMES R. THURSFIELD.
Vol. 222.-No. 442,
Art. 5.-A REVOLT OF ISLAM?
Correspondence respecting events leading to the rupture of relations with Turkey. [Cd. 7628.] London: Wyman,
TURKEY'S dramatic-or melodramatic-entry upon the stage of the European conflict has, as was natural, given rise to some apprehension and many speculations. In the following pages I shall attempt, not a forecast which events might falsify, but an estimate of Turkey's qualifications for the rôle she has undertaken to play; trusting that such an estimate, based upon the past and the present, affords a reasonable index to the probabilities of the future.
The Ottoman Empire has been assigned, by those who control its destinies at this hour, two tasks, which, though closely connected, can best be understood if treated separately. The first is to create a diversion in favour of Germany by a direct attack on two of Germany's enemies, Russia and Great Britain. The Caucasus and Egypt are the fields upon which the Sultan's forces are expected to prove their capacity for making themselves disagreeable to our allies and ourselves. The task is of a purely military nature, and must be judged by a purely military standard. No one who has had the opportunity of studying the Turkish soldier on active service will deny his many valuable qualities-his gallant disdain of death in battle, his dogged tenacity of purpose, his stoical patience under hardships and privations. In all these respects he is a match for any troops he may have to meet. But war, especially war under modern conditions, is not so much a matter of martial virtue, as of organisation; and organisation implies the possession of mental abilities and material resources, in which the Ottoman leaders are conspicuously poor. This poverty has been demonstrated twice within the last few years; first in Tripoli, and then in the Balkan Peninsula. On both occasions lack of brains and money on the part of the commanders nullified all the efforts of their troops. It would be unreasonable to suppose that an Empire which failed so ignominiously in a struggle with States like Bulgaria,
Servia, and Greece, can achieve any very brilliant success when pitted against Russia and Great Britain. It is true that, in the present emergency, the Kaiser is endeavouring to make good his ally's intellectual and financial deficiencies; Prussian officers have been sent to direct the operations of the Ottoman army and navy, and Prussian gold to diminish the emptiness of the Ottoman Treasury. But the supply of both commodities, limited as it is by the Kaiser's nearer necessities, is bound to fall far short of the demand. The opportune addition of two valuable units to the Turkish fleet by the 'sale' of the Goeben' and the 'Breslau' is also an important factor which it would be unwise to ignore. But the importance of this asset, if it cannot be overlooked, can be overrated. The fighting capacity of those vessels, however great it may be, is inexorably limited to the range of their guns, and is further circumscribed by the coal-supply. Naval guns can do little more than bombard coasts, and without an adequate supply of steam-power the best ships cannot keep up their speed. What the Ottoman fleet has already done in the Black Sea marks the extent of its value.
If we turn to the Turkish army, there also we have in its actual performance a measure of its promise. On the Russian frontier the Tsar's troops have already established an ascendancy which, when his strategists consider the moment suitable, will develop into an advance. Temporary checks there may be, and the Turks may well be able to boast of local 'victories'; but repeated disaster in the past has taught them that ultimately a conflict with their mighty neighbour can end in one way only. Enver Pasha may think otherwise; but the cumulative effect of the Turco-Russian wars from the early 18th century to the latter years of the 19th has been to instil into the ordinary Turk's heart a fatalistic faith in Muscovite invincibility. The same moral may be drawn from the operations already witnessed on the Egyptian frontier. Bands of Bedouin free-lances, richer in valour than in discipline or equipment, may raid, and even score some successes; but these sporadic performances by guerrilla hordes cannot have any decisive influence over the war. As to the regular Turkish forces, which alone might endanger our