13 MAY 1882, Page 23

Reform in Parliament. By W. M. Torrens, M.P. (W. H.

Allen and Co.)—Mr. Torrens' great device for facilitating the action of Parliament is "Grand Committees." He would reform in other respects its antiquated methods of procedure ; but he is opposed, as he has shown since publishing this book, to the more vigorous measures which the Government has proposed. The critical function of the House is, in his view, more, or at least not less important than the legislative ; and he compares the persistency with which a minority of economists, after the Peace of 1815, fought against financial abuses with the negligence with which the Estimates are now passed. Bat is it not a fact that the intolerable abuse of this same critical function postpones the consideration of these Estimates till, from the

sheer necessity of not bringing the machine to a stand-still, they have

to be voted almost en bloc Mr. Torrens is a great believer in the rights of private Members. He even thinks that, in the matter of questions, the chief offenders are not the persons who put them without considering their relevancy or importance, but the officials who answer them, not with the object of giving information, but to get some distinction for power of sarcasm or acuteness. But then Mr. Torrens clings to faiths which other people have long since abandoned. He talks, for instance, of the great change in the government of India after the Mutiny in this way :—" In 1858, the grasping spirit of Whitehall conceived the project of buying out the chartered executive of Leadenhall Street, and engrossing thenceforth all the power, patronage, and pay of the Double Government of Asia." Surely, there is a gross incapacity of political judgment in a writer who sees in this great change, compelled, if ever change was, by the coarse of events, nothing but official greed of patronage.