Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/152

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133
[CONSTITUTION
PORTUGAL


treasury was deeply indebted, had a capital of £I,500,000, and a monopoly of note issue in continental Portugal, but the notes of the Ultramarine Bank circulated in the colonies. The notes of the Bank of Portugal in circulation amounted in value to about £14,000,000. For an account of the Monte Pio Geral, which is a combined bank, pawnbroking establishment and benefit society, see PAWNBROKING; the deposits in the Monte Pio and the State Savings Bank amounted in 1910 to some £5,228,000. There are also many private banks, including savings banks. Gold is the standard of value, but the actual currency is chiefly Bank of Portugal notes. The values of coin and notes are expressed in multiples of the real (plural reis), a monetary unit which does not actually exist. The milreis, 1000 reis of the par value of 4s. 5d. (or 4-5 milreis to the pound sterling) and the conto of reis (1000 milreis) are used for the calculation of large sums. Gold pieces of IO, 5, 2 and I milreis were coined up to 1891; 10, 5, and 2 testoon (lestdo) pieces, worth respectively 1000, 500 and 200 reis, are coined in silver; testoons of 100 reis and half testoons of 50 reis, in nickel; pieces of 20, IO and 5 reis in bronze. The milreis fluctuates widely in value, the balance of exchange being usually adverse to Portugal; for the purposes of this article the milreis has been taken at par. The British sovereign is legal tender for 4500 reis, but in practice usually commands a premium. The metric system of weights and measures has been officially adopted, but many older standards are used, such as the libro (1-012 lb avoirdupois), alquetre (0.36 imperial bushel), moto (2.78 imp. bushels), almude of Lisbon (3.7 imp. gallons) and almude of Oporto (5.6 imp. gallons).

Finance.—For the five financial years, 1901–1902 to 1905–1906, the average revenue of Portugal was about £13,300,000 and the average expenditure £13,466,000. The chief sources of revenue were customs duties, taxes on land and industries, duties on tobacco and bread stuffs, the Lisbon octroi, receipts from national property, registration and stamps, &c. The heaviest expenditure (nearly £5,000, o0o) was incurred for the service of the consolidated debt; payments for the civil list, cortes, pensions, &c., amounted to more than £2,000,000, and the cost of public works to nearly as large a sum. The ministries of war and marine together spent about £2,500,000 each year. The practice of meeting deficits by loans, together with the great expenditure, after 1853, on public works, especially roads and railways, explains the rapid growth of the national debt in modern times. In 1853 the total public debt, internal and external, amounted to £2,082,680. It exceeded £90,000,000 in 1890, and in 1891–1892 the finances of the kingdom reached a crisis, from which there was no escape except by arranging for a reduction in the amount payable as interest (see History, below). By the law of the 26th of February 1892 30% was deducted from the internal debt payable in currency; by the law of the 20th of April 1893 662/3 % was deducted from the interest on the external debt, due in gold. A law of the 9th of August 1902 provided for the conversion of certain gold debts into three series of consolidated debt, at reduced interest. In 1909 the total outstanding debt amounted to £161,837,430, made up as follows: new external 3% converted in three series, £34,223,465; 41/2 % tobacco loan £7,267,480§ internal 3% (quoted in London) £113,132,979. Internal debt at 3, 4 and 41/2 % was also outstanding to the amount of, £7,213,506.

Constitution.—Up to October 1910 the government was an hereditary and constitutional monarchy, based on the constitutional charter which was granted by King Pedro IV. on the 29th of April 1826, and was afterwards several times modified; the most important changes were those effected by the acts of the 5th of July 1852, the 24th of July 1885, and the 28th of March and 25th of September 1895. The revolution of the 5th of October 1910 brought the monarchy to an end and substituted republican government for it. The monarchical constitution recognized four powers in the state, the executive, moderating, legislative and judicial. The two first of these were vested in the sovereign, who might be a woman, and who shared the legislative power with two chambers, the Camaro dos Pares or House of Peers, .and the Camera dos Deputados or House of Commons; these were collectively styled the Cortes Geraes, or more briefly the Cortes. The royal veto could not be imposed on legislation passed twice by both houses. The annual session lasted four months, and a general election was necessary at the end of every four years, or immediately after a dissolution. A committee representing both houses adjudicated upon all cases of conflict between Peers and Commons; should it fail to reach a decision, the dispute was referred to the sovereign, whose award was final. Up to 1885 some members sat in the House of Peers by hereditary right, while others were nominated for life. It was then decided that such rights should cease, except in the case of princes of royal blood and members then sitting, and that when all the hereditary peerages had lapsed the house should be composed of the princes of the royal blood, the archbishops and bishops of the continental dioceses, a hundred legislative peers appointed by the king for life, and fifty elected every new parliament by the Commons. In 1895 the number of nominated life peers was reduced to ninety and the elective branch was abolished. Subject to certain limitations and to a property qualification, any person over 40 years of age was eligible to a peerage. The titles and social position of the Portuguese aristocracy were not affected when its political privileges were abolished. In the nomination of life peers, and in certain administrative matters the sovereign was advised by a council of state, whose twelve members were nominated for life and were principally past or present ministers. The sovereign exercised his executive power through a. cabinet which was responsible to the cortes, and consisted of seven members, representing the ministries of (1) the interior, (2) foreign affairs, (3) finance, (4) justice and worship, (5) war, (6) marine and colonies, (7) public works, industry and commerce. The House of Commons was composed of 148 members, representing the 26 electoral divisions of Portugal, the Azores and Madeira, which returned 113 elected members and 35 representatives of minorities, and of 7 members representing the colonies. Peers, naturalized foreigners and certain employees of the state were unable to sit in the House of Commons; members were required to be graduates of one of the highest, secondary or professional schools, or to possess an income of not less than 400 milreis (£88). All members might, in connexion with their official duties, travel free on railways and ships owned by the state; but since 1892 none had received any salary except the colonial members, who were paid 100 milreis (£22) per month during the session, and 50 milreis (£11) per month during the remainder of the year. All male citizens 21 years old who could read and write, or who paid taxes amounting to 500 reis yearly, had the parliamentary franchise, except convicts, beggars, undischarged bankrupts, domestic servants, workmen permanently employed by the state and soldiers or sailors below the rank of commissioned officer. (For changes made under republican rule, see History, § 8.)

Local Government.—Continental Portugal was formerly divided for administrative purposes into six provinces which corresponded to a great extent with the natural geographical divisions of the country and are described in separate articles; the names of these, which are still commonly used, are Entre-Minho-e-Douro (also called Entre-Douro-e-Minho or Minho), Traz-os-Montes, Beira, Estremadura, Alemtejo and Algarve. The province of Douro, another administrative division of less antiquity, comprised the present districts of 'Aveiro and Oporto, or part of Beira and Entrel-Minho-e-Douro. The six ancient provinces were subdivided on the 28th of June 1833 into districts, each named after its chief town, as follows: Entre-Minho-e-Douro into Vianna do Castello, Braga, Oporto; Traz-os-Montes, into Villa Real, Braganza; Beira, into Aveiro, Vizeu, Coimbra, Guarda, Castello Branco; Estremadura, into Leiria, Santarem, Lisbon; Alemtejo, into Portalegre, Evora, Beja; Algarve was renamed Faro. In 1910 the Azores comprised three districts and Madeira formed one. Each district was governed by a commission composed of (1) the civil governor, who was nominated by the central authority and presided over the commission; (2) the administrative auditor; and (3) three members chosen by indirect suffrage. The districts were divided into communes (concelhos), each administered by an elected council, and a mayor nominated by the central authority. The mayor could not preside over the council, which appointed one of its own members to preside and to give effect to its decisions. The communes were subdivided into parishes (freguesias), which were administered by the elected council (junta de parochia) over which the parish priest (prerbitero) presided, and by the regedor, an official who represented the mayor of the commune and was nominated by the civil governor. The central authority had almost complete control over local administration through its representatives, the civil governor, mayors and regedores.

Justice.—In 1910 Portugal was divided into 193 judicial districts (comarcas), in each of which there was a court of first instance. The three courts of appeal (tribunes de rela§ io) sat at Lisbon, Oporto and Ponta Delgada (Azores), and there was a Supreme Court in Lisbon.

Colonies.—At the beginning of the 19th century Portugal possessed a larger colonial empire than any European power except Great Britain and Spain. At the beginning of the 20th century its trans marine possessions had been greatly reduced in size by the loss of Brazil, but were still only surpassed in extent