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ask the House what they consider to be the position and the rights and duties of the Sovereign. Are they
of opinion that it is improper that Her Majesty should • be in any way in the receipt of intelligence as to inter
esting and important events that are going on ? Are • they of opinion that she is never to write a private • letter or express an opinion of her own upon any matter • which seems to call for an expression of her sympathy o with those who are in trouble? Is it possible to sup• pose that one who has held and who holds so important " a position as the Queen of England, one who has had • all her experience, one whose right it is, as the hon. • member for Liskeard has said, “to be consulted, to en666 courage, and to warn,” is to be deprived of all means
of information as to the real state of affairs in this country or anywhere else? I maintain that that • position is utterly untenable. We have seen in some • of the language used to-night to what absurd and
ridiculous lengths such pretensions may be pushed. • It appears that Her Majesty may not even be informed as to the details of what occurs in this House or of what happens within her own Cabinet. I really wonder 6 at the views which hon. gentlemen have expressed. I
think I may say, in answer to all these charges, that * the character and the history of the present reign and
the present Sovereign are in themselves a sufficient refutation of them.'
Lord Hartington, the recognised leader of the party in opposition, referring to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's explanation of the facts of this correspondence with the Indian Government, said that it would have prevented a great deal of misapprehension if we had had in the first instance the explanation which has
End of the Debate.
6 been given to-night.' He added, with respect to the alleged correspondence with Sir Bartle Frere,'• I cannot say that, as the facts are before us, there is anything in • them to give rise to any constitutional jealousy on the part of this House.'
SECTION III.—THE MINISTERS OF THE CROWN AND
PARLIAMENT. It is not to be wondered at that no constitutional topic has attracted more attention of late years than that of the true relation between the Ministers of the Crown and Parliament. In the first place, this relation is by its nature of the most subtle kind, and sets at defiance any attempt at legal definition. In the second place, no analogy or precedent for the character of the relation, as it exists in England at the present day, is supplied by the experience of any other country. In other countries the Ministers of the Crown occupy a position either entirely outside the representative Assemblies, as in the United States; or in only casual and desultory connection with them, as under even such free Constitutions as those of France and Italy; or one which is practically adverse to the representative Assemblies, in reference to which the Ministers merely personate the competing and conspicuously jealous attitude of the Crown,-a state of things which seems to be represented in the German Empire. In the third place, the relation as it exists in England at the present moment has been in fact only recently and rapidly developed. It is still, in fact, in process of formation, and may yet have to undergo many a fresh metamorphosis.'
" It is at present rather a matter of customary constitutional practice than of strict legal necessity that the Ministers of the Crown, or even the Members of the Cabinet, should have seats in either House of Parliament. It still sometimes accidentally happens that, owing either to the necessity of a Minister of the Crown vacating his seat (under the Statute of Anne) when appointed to his office, or to the temporary misadventures of a general election, a Minister of the Crown is sometimes without a seat in either House
Relation of Ministers to Parliament. 337
The leading characteristic of the relationship between Ministers and Parliament in England is, that the connection between the personality of the Ministers and the two Houses of Parliament is partly assumed to be, and partly is of necessity, as intimate, as capable of fine adjustments to mutual and changing susceptibilities on both sides, and as flexible, not to say transitory, as constitutional machinery could make it. It is not, of course, true that a relationship of this sort is ever attained, even for a time. The competition of parties in the Houses, the play of individual divergence or eccentricity, the intrinsic difficulty of securing permanent co-operation either within the Ministry, or among its supporters, or among its organised opponents, all tend to render the position of a Ministry towards Parliament in any given time far more flickering and uncertain than the above theory assumes. But there is no doubt that in England,—and that increasingly,-confidence and not distrust, unity and not division of action, cohesion and concentration in performance, even where
even when Parliament is sitting. Sir Hardinge Giffard, Solicitor General in Lord Beaconsfield's Government, was for some months in office before he succeeded in getting a seat. It is curious that there does exist a statutory limitation in the other direction, which, by a strange anomaly, is thrust into the middle of the Act for the Better Government of India' of 1858, which Act contemplated the addition of a fifth principal Secretary of State. In view, apparently, of some jealousy of undue Government influence in the House of Commons which might thereby result, the fourth section of the Act enacts that after the commencement of this Act any four of Her • Majesty's principal Secretaries for the time being, and any four • of the Under Secretaries for the time being to Her Majesty's
principal Secretaries of State, may sit and vote as members of the · House of Commons, but not more than four such principal Secre• taries and not more than four such Under Secretaries shall sit as • members of the House of Commons at the same time.'
following upon long distraction of counsels, represent the ideal attitude of Parliament and the Ministry when concerting together either for legislative or administrative purposes. The Ministry of the day appears in Parliament, on the one hand as personating the Crown in the legitimate exercise of its recognised prerogatives, and on the other hand as the mere agent of Parliament itself, in the discharge of the executive and administrative functions of government cast upon them by law. In respect of this last-named capacity, it is obviously of the greatest advantage that Parliament should have close at hand the personal officials who are charged with carrying on its own work. So much is recognised even in those countries where the least amount of concerted action seems to prevail as between the executive and the legislative authorities. It is rather where the Ministry are charged with exercising in the name of the Sovereign those acts of prerogative which Parliament is incompetent itself to perform directly, that some jealousy, not to say antipathy, may be conceivably introduced in the conduct of relations otherwise essentially harmonious. In this region lie the stirring topics of foreign negotiations, the management of the Army and Navy, public finance, and, in some important respects, Colonial administration. Of course, with regard to such executive acts as the conferring of honours and dignities, nomination to appointments in Church and State, and even the grant of large classes of charters and privileges, it could not be expected that Parliament, with its unwieldy mass of divers elements and complicated modes of action, could beneficently interfere otherwise than by generally approving or disapproving the Ministry of the day, or perhaps formally censuring glaring outrages or