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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

Chapter XIV. — The Moral of this History

page 89

Chapter XIV.

The Moral of this History.

Extract from the Journals of the House of Commons, 1649.

Resolved: That the House of Peers in Parliament is useless, dangerous, and ought to be abolished. And that an Act be brought in for that purpose.

Were the country, by large majorities in all four kingdoms, to pronounce in favour of the total abolition of the House of Lords, there can be no doubt the country would be obeyed. The Lords, to do them justice, have always given way to a genuine threat. If they were bidden to go, go they would, without putting anybody to the inconvenience of creating a sufficient number of noblemen to inflict the happy despatch. The majority of Radicals favour this solution as one which, though it may involve delay, is the cleanest job when done.—Augustine Birrell, Portsmouth, 1894.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Loreburn), when Sir Robert Reid, repeatedly put forward the following method of reducing the Peers to submission:—

Here is this perfectly simple plan: A Liberal statesman, when called on by the Queen to form an Administration, is to refuse, except on condition that the Crown consents to make the necessary number of new Peers to enable him to carry his measures. Every member of the party is to refuse to support the Minister unless he insists on this condition. Every Progressive elector in the constituencies is to refuse to vote for any candidate who will not pledge himself to refuse that support. Thus the whole matter is within the immediate power of the constituents themselves. You say to your candidate, "Will you vote against any Minister who has not obtained from his Sovereign the right to make Peers?" You act in accordance with his reply, and the thing is done. That was the method by which the great Reform Bill was passed through the Lords.

How are we to face the situation? Of course, not by a dream of illegality in any form. Nay, more, while we abhor violence, in such a case as this I would even dissuade vehemence, which is quite unnecessary. What we want is determination—calm, solid, quiet, but fixed determination.—Mr. Gladstone, Edinburgh, Sept. 27, 1893.

The House of Lords Must Go.

As to how it can be made to go, without violence or without any straining of the Constitution, read No. 2 of "The Peers or People" Series—" How to Bell the Cat; or, a Short Way with the Lords.

The first fundamental principle is that we must look to the King to

Sack Those Peers Who Have Sacked Themselves

by their habitual contumacious contempt of the King s Writ of Summons in the last Parliament. This will get rid of four hundred of those backwoodsmen who do not put in ten attendances a Session. Then fill up with the pick of the best men of the Empire, either as Life Peers, or, better still, as Lords in Parliament for the duration of that Parliament.
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