Page:The House of Lords and the nation.djvu/29

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Limitation of Number Inexpedient.

their fellow Peers who had elected them, would of necessity be far more jealous of maintaining the power of their own order and anxious for its interests, and far less able to take up an independent position in politics, than they are at present, when they can all form and express their own opinions, and adopt their own line of action, without being responsible to other members of their body. They would speak and act in many cases not in accordance with their own convictions, but in accordance with the wishes of the less statesmanlike portion of the peerage whom they had been sent to represent in the House. That this evil has not shown itself in the case of the representative Peers of Scotland and Ireland is due to the fact that representation is confined to their case, and is not the principle which pervades the whole House. But, it may be said, this is an evil which is inseparable from any system of representation, and it already exists in the Lower House. True; and the country doubtless suffers from the extent to which members of the House of Commons often speak and vote in accordance with the mandate which they have received from their constituencies, instead of in accordance with their own convictions and with the weight of the arguments which are brought forward in debate. We shall not soon forget the confession on this point made by Mr. Laing in the Vote of Censure Debate on May 12, 1884, when he said that he, at least, must decline to vote any longer that black was white at the bidding of the Government whips. The evil must be endured in the Lower House, because it is a physical impossibility that the voice of the people can be heard in that House otherwise than by representation; but why introduce it into the Upper House when no necessity exists for the importation into it of the representative system? The fact is, that its absence is one of the best features of our House of Lords as at present constituted.

In discussing democratic forms of government, all political writers distinguish between a pure democracy, where each citizen has a direct voice and vote in administration and legislation, and a representative democracy, where these functions are committed to a limited body, selected for the purpose from time to time by their fellow citizens; and all agree in assigning the palm to the former, where its existence is practicable. Of course, among ourselves it is out of the question. We cannot form either the 5,000,000 electors whom we are to have, nor even the present 3,000,000, into a legis-