7 SEPTEMBER 1907, Page 13


THE REFORM OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS. LTo Talc EDITOR OF run “ SPECTATOR:9 SIE,—It may very well suit the tactics of the Liberal Party to cripple the House of Lords in the way threatened by the Government, and force it by dint of reiteration to endorse its decrees, but will the English people view without a sense of shame the degradation of an ancient institution which is bound up with the life and history of the nation, and has a great record behind it? If the country is once convinced that all Liberal measures will be blocked by the House of Lords as far as it dares to exert its privileges, what is to prevent its returning a Liberal majority for years to come in order to counteract the bias? There is no sign at present of any swing of the pendulum in a Conservative direction; on the contrary, a movement seems to have begun threatening Liberal and Conservative alike. It is imperative on the Lords to assert their independence of party and to follow the dictates of a pure and impartial patriotism. The first step is to purge the House of unworthy elements, to limit its numbers by the elective process, as in the case of the Scottish nobility, and gradually by a process of infiltration to reinforce its ranks from the number of those who have deserved well of their country. The hereditary principle need not be a bandoned- fortes ereantur fortibms et boa is—andnoblesse obliye is still a current. maxim. But no reform will be of any avail to reinstate the House of Lords in the confidence of the country which leaves it the prey of party and the docile instrument of one particular party in the State. That the Leader of the Opposition should be even imagined to dictate the action of the House is an outrage to all honourable feeling. That there should be even a suspicion of what may be called political simony is intolerable. The House of Lords has a great part to play, but it will fail to do its duty to the Constitution if it is not prepared to initiate a reform of its own body which will more than justify its existence. Let it be no longer a mere obstruction to popular measures, a mere drag on the wheel ; let it start legislation. One of our most pressing needs at the present moment is the popularisation of military training, which is not the same thing as conscription. All who have had to deal with the subject are unanimous in declaring that there is no better cure of the "hooligan," whose combative instincts only require discipline. Is Lord Roberts's unrivalled experience to be lost to the nation P—I am, Sir, &c.,