18 DECEMBER 1909, Page 12




am glad that two such sturdy and experienced Liberal Unionists as Mr. Henry Hobhouse and Sir Frederick Pollock have declared in their letters to the Spectator of the 4th and the 11th inst. that their principles do not cause them to disregard the extreme importance of the new issue raised by the rejection by the House of Lords of the supplies of the year.

Strange as that action must seem to men who look with respect on the language of statesmen and Constitutional historians, on Parliamentary precedents and modern usage, it is much less on account of the novelty of the Peers' claim, than of the practical consequences that will result from its being made good, that so many of us will be compelled to oppose it to the uttermost.

As Mr. Hobhouse truly says, the claim "upsets the balance of the Constitution." This is no mere claim on behalf of the Lords to equal legislative authority with the House of Commons. It is in fact, if not in theory, a claim to govern,—to decide whether or not the King's Ministers, when supported even by overwhelming majorities of the House of Commons, are to govern the country. It is said that the British elector nowadays does not care about Constitutional questions. I shall be much surprised if he does not still feel the deepest interest in two questions about

which his ancestors certainly cared a good deal, both of which are now raised,—" Who is to govern him?" and "Who is to tax him ? "

I greatly regret that such fundamental questions have been raised, in my opinion so unnecessarily ; but in the long run I feel quite sure how they will be answered.—I am, Sir, &c., ARTHUR D. ELLIOT.

27 Rutland Gate, S.W.

[The views of Mr. Arthur Elliot always claim the respect due to his conspicuous ability and sincerity. We have given in another column our reasons for entirely dissenting from the decision which he has arrived at.—En. Spectator.]