Turning to the Budget, Mr. Asquith admitted its far- reaching
character. It looked beyond March 31st next, and sought to provide the sinews of war for the initiation and prosecution of a long and costly social campaign. It had been rejected in a week by the House of Lords, who had provoked a Constitutional crisis by claiming not only to meddle with, but in effect to mould, our national finances. The Government would withstand these revolutionary pre- tensions for all they were worth. Their first duty was to take effective steps to make the recurrence of such a situation impossible. "We shall therefore demand authority from the electorate to translate an ancient unwritten usage into an Act of Parliament, and to place on the statute-book a recognition, explicit and complete, of the settled doctrins of our Constitution that it is beyond the province of the House of Lords to meddle in any way, to any degree, or for any purpose with our national finance." They were not going to ask for the abolition of the Lords or the establish- ment of a single Chamber—Mr. Asquith said that he and large majority of the Liberal Party were Second-Chamber men—but they were going to ask the country for authority by Act of Parliament to abolish the absolute veto and the right of compelling Dissolutions at present possessed by the Lords. "The will of the people as deliberately expressed by their elected representatives must, within the limits of the lifetime of a single Parliament, be made effective."