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to which the disbelief in laissez faire has stimulated the influence of Socialistic ideals. Still less could he foresee the immense effect which in one form or another is being already produced on the public opinion of the civilized world by the attempt to establish by force of arms the military despotism of Prussia throughout the civilized world. Still, whatever limitations must be placed upon our complete acceptance of Bagehot's constitutional doctrines, owing in the main to the effect of events which have taken place since his "English Constitution” was first published, he has drawn the truest picture anywhere to be found of English Cabinet government as it existed fifty years ago and as it was assumed, not with perfect truth, to work up to almost the end of last year. It is therefore with Cabinet government as described by Bagehot we had best compare the new English Executive of to-day.
THE WAR CABINET OF DECEMBER, 1916
This Cabinet is characterised by the following features:
(1) It consists of only five members. This Cabinet is smaller than any Cabinet known, I believe, to English history since Cabinet government came into existence.
The Cabinet is however a real Cabinet; it is understood to be the real executive which ultimately exercises the final decision as to any executive act, and of course is in a parliamentary sense responsible for the whole action of the executive.
(2) The Cabinet is itself a war committee charged specially with the conduct of the war, though one of its members, namely, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who also undertakes to a great extent the leadership of the House of Commons, is not expected to attend the Cabinet meetings regularly.
(3) The smallness of the Cabinet is combined with the large number of other Ministers who have not seats in the Cabinet. These number at least twenty-eight.'
(4) The result is that the Cabinet, strictly speaking, and as contrasted with the Ministry, does not include most of the holders of the principal offices which have hitherto entitled a Minister to a seat in the Cabinet. Thus the Lord Chancellor, the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary for War, and in fact most of the highest officials, have no seat in the Cabinet. In other words, leading statesmen holding the highest offices, and men of the highest reputation, such as the Lord Chancellor (Lord Finlay), the Foreign Secretary (Mr. Balfour), the Secretary for India (Mr. Chamberlain), and most of the other experienced statesmen making part of the Ministry, are not Cabinet Ministers.
9 If we reckon as Ministers every man who would in the usual course of events cease to be one of the Ministry on the Cabinet going out of office, the other Ministers number sixty-five.
(5) A good number of the Ministry are experts in different lines who have been called to office not because of their reputation in the House of Commons, but because of their known capacity in the discharge of different kinds of business, as to which it is specially desirable that the nation should profit by a man's special training and capacity. Such for example are the President of the Local Government Board (Lord Rhonndda), the Shipping Controller (Sir Joseph Maclay), and Dr. H. A. L. Fisher. All, or nearly all, I am told, of the Ministers who have been invited and induced to join the Ministry on account of their special capacity and talent, though it may happen to be of a non-parliamentary character, if they are not already members of the House of Lords, have or will become members of the House of Commons. But what specially needs to be noted is that access to the present Ministry has been lavishly opened to men who have displayed talent, capacity and character, outside the sphere of parliamentary life.
COMPARISON BETWEEN THE NEW WAR CABINET AND THE CABINET
AS DESCRIBED BY BAGEHOT
(1) The War Cabinet does not contain anything like all the most important officials of the Crown.
(2) The War Cabinet, small though it be in number, contains men who have not risen mainly by their parliamentary talents.
(3) The Ministers who do not belong to the Cabinet hold the greater number of the offices which used to give a title to a seat in the Cabinet. Among the members of the Ministry, though not of the Cabinet, are to be found men of high character and famed for their tried capacity in different lines of business, but who have been unknown to Parliament.
(4) The Cabinet of not more than five persons is ultimately responsible for the government of the country. Ministers outside the Cabinet are really, however great their fame and influence, not responsible for the general government of the country.
The essential difference between the Cabinet of to-day and every Cabinet which has preceded it may be thus summed up:
The new Cabinet does not contain anything like the whole body of high government officials or of the men who at the present moment are the parliamentary leaders of the party which commands a majority in the House of Commons, whilst the Ministers who are part of the Ministry, but are not part of the Cabinet, hold among them most of the high offices which till almost the end of last year entitled their holders to a seat in the Cabinet.
WHAT ARE LIKELY TO BE THE RESULTS OF THE NEW FORM OF
We must here distinguish between the immediate and the ultimate effects of the new form of government.
As to the immediate effects. The new War Cabinet has obviously been created for the carrying on of the war against Germany with the utmost vigour. It is possible, one may even hope that it is likely, that the hopes of the nation will in this respect not be disappointed. Concentration of responsibility upon a few men trusted by the country is calculated in itself to increase the energy of the Government. Many Englishmen believe that already they can perceive new energy and boldness on the part of the new Executive. The one thing which is certain is that even the nominal management of the war by a Cabinet of twenty-two persons is an impossibility. If any one doubts this, the first pages of the First Report of the Dardanelles 10 Commission are sufficient to banish such scepticism. The truth is that the War Cabinet is the admission of the fact, already widely suspected, that a large committee cannot direct the progress of a war, and that the nominal attempt to do so will inevitably throw the management, or mismanagement, into the hands of a much smaller body whose very names, except as members of the Cabinet, are unknown to the public. The experiment of a small war Cabinet is in itself a very important
10 This Report came into my hands only yesterday. I have not yet read the whole of it. The article was in substance written before I received it.
fact. Wise and temperate men have recently been asking, Does not England for the conduct of a great war need a Dictator? The existence of the new Cabinet shows the method by which, without the passing of any Act of Parliament, or any revolutionary change, a virtual dictatorship may be created under the English Constitution.
As to the future and possible effects. It is certain that the existence of the War Cabinet — I had almost said that the circunstances of
the time — demand a re-adjustment of our governmental machinery and also of many of our governmental conventions. 11 There is every reason to believe that the members of the Cabinet, and the very eminent men such as the Lord Chancellor, Mr. Balfour, Mr. Chamberlain, Sir Edward Carson, who stand outside the Cabinet, will loyally and cordially give full support and aid to the Cabinet. Yet certainly some understanding must gradually be formed as to the exact relation between the members of the Ministry and the members of the Cabinet. One is happy to perceive that the Prime Minister acknowledges this necessity, but that he thinks from experience that it can easily be met.12 He is probably right. The mutual goodwill of Ministers whether within or without the Cabinet, and the common patriotism of all British statesmen are the best guarantee that the perplexities of a new form of government will not be allowed to frustrate the success longed for by the nation of a great constitutional experiment.
A. V. Dicey. OXFORD, ENGLAND.
11 It is difficult to see how a Cabinet which also constitutes a war committee will be able to combine the secrecy of Cabinet meetings where no written note of its proceedings is taken, except by the Prime Minister, and that for the information of the King, with the use of a Secretary who, as I understand, has kept a record of what passed at the meetings of former war committees.
12 See speech of the Prime Minister, Parliamentary Debates of 19th Dec., 1916, col. 1334.
LAWYERS have always held a higher place in their own esteem
than in the regard of the general public. One recalls the mediaeval proverb: Nullus causidicus nisi mendax. The same feeling is not seldom exhibited in modern times, as in the will of an English admiral (if my memory is correct) made public some years ago, in which the testator took occasion to put on record the ill conceit which he had of the legal profession. It is not part of my present business to say if, and how far, this reproach is deserved. I prefer to consider a more agreeable theme, namely, the part which lawyers may play in promoting international harmony and in making the world a better place to live in. The subject is closely connected with the topic of legal education, i. e., the best means of training our lawyers to realize the destiny which, if they are worthy of it, the future may hold in store for them.
Among the influences which tend to promote union or disunion between nations, language, religion, government and law all play their part. We may leave it to the political philosopher who like Machiavelli or Montesquieu occupies himself with the causes of the rise and fall of states to explain how these several forces act and react upon one another through the ages, here combining, there disintegrating, always restlessly at work. He would perhaps tell us that difference of law is closely parallel to difference of language. Just as we see communities speaking the same language, but owing allegiance to different sovereignties, or again one sovereignty exercised over communities speaking diverse tongues, so law sometimes transcends, sometimes stops short of, the limits of governmental authority. But language and law seem on the whole to exhibit opposite tendencies. If community of language has been in the modern, even more than in the ancient, world a powerful factor in developing a sense of common nationality, on the other hand difference of language is a strong motive of disintegration. But law exercises a more steady pressure towards union and away from disunion. Differences of law more readily than differences of language yield to the forces which make for unity.