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which industrial economics do not warrant. We don't want a House of Commons composed of “ blacklegs," or of persons who do not properly appreciate the voluntary institutions that have done, and are doing, so much to assist in the development of Britain.
There is still another side to this "blackleg” question. The workman being worthy of his hire, in Parliament and out of it, those plutocrats who magnanimously offer their services for nothing will be treated as Parliamentary "blacklegs”; and, if this is not desirable, some pretended friends of democracy must be careful in the future to demand not merely payment of members, but payment of all members : to do otherwise means to give those who possess capital a mean advantage over those who do not possess it.
Payment of members of Parliament is demanded, then, by workmen for the following chief reasons :
First, because Parliament is now monopolised by the wealthy, who do not adequately cater for the interests of the entire community.
Secondly, so long as the control of Parliament, and therefore of the country, is left in the hands of these wealthy men, there is no hope that the democracy will receive attention, except by forcing it from the occupants of place and power ;, which process is only to be approved of when a more dignified method is not available.
Thirdly, the labourer is worthy of his hire if he discharges his duties aright, and should therefore be paid for such services by the community he serves. The community in this case being the nation, the expenses should be paid from the national exchequer.
Ere long a demand will be made for payment of Town and County Councillors, and others called upon to fill public offices on behalf of the community. In this latter case, the community would be limited to the locality, because the duties are so confined, and then payment. should come from the localities. This might necessitate a revision of the number of persons to be elected, in some instances, where it is unnecessarily large ; but the principle of clearing out the vulgar misuse of our public institutions by the owners of property applies here as much as in the case of Parliament. All well-wishers of the “ general expansion of our humanity"_to quote Arnold againwill try to hasten this democratising of our national and local governing machinery. The broader the base upon which our country rests the more stable it will be ; for the term democracy should be sufficient to cover every legitimate section of the community. England's future rests mainly with the toilers; if they develop, England will develop; if they degenerate the country must degenerate. Much has been done of late to bear testimony to the vigour and capacity of the workers of the British Isles. One necessary incident in their continuous development will be the democratising of Parliament, and one essential to this is the payment of members.
IS IT A CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE?
NE would think, from the way in which this subject is discussed,
that the authors of the People's Charter and the framers of the Newcastle Programme had suggested a daring innovation upon our methods of popular government; that the payment of members of the House of Commons was foreign to our Constitution; and that such a practice could only result in turning our legislators into professional politicians. The recent debates which have taken place in Parliament upon this question have by no means helped to dispel the erroneous impressions current concerning it; and with a view to throwing some of the light of history upon the proposal to pay our representatives, I have collected what information I can on the payment of what old writers call “Members' Wages.”
In the first place, nothing is better established than that the knights of the shire (county members) and burgesses (borough members) had a common law right to receive their expenses from the commonalty they represented in Parliament. In the second place, our records show that for three hundred years they one and all demanded this payment. And, thirdly, we can date the period of Parliamentary corruption and the growth of rotten boroughs from the time when the practice of claiming this payment became obsolete at the end of the seventeenth century. We shall not be far wrong in saying that the first flagrant instance of a bribe to the electors at large was when one of the contending candidates intimated in his address that he would not, if elected, demand payment from his constituents.
Lord Chancellor Campbell ascribes to Master William de Grenefield (Chancellor to Edward I. from Sept. 1302 to Dec. 1304) the invention of the writ by which members obtained their wages; but after searching through the Parliament writs I find an instance at least forty years earlier. In 1265 met Simon de Montfort's famous assembly, which we may call the first representative English Parliament, for to it for the first time were summoned knights and burgesses to be elected from every shire and borough. This Parliament met at Westminster on Jan. 20 and sat for thirty-two days. On Feb. 25 I find the following writ or order from the king, addressed to the Sheriff of York, under the king's seal. It is in Latin and headed, “De Expensis Militum Civium Burgensium” (Touching the Expenses of Knights and Burgesses), it recites, “ Whereas these same (i.c., the members for Yorkshire) made longer tarry than they wotted of, and thereby incurred no small expense .
we charge thee, inasmuch as they find themselves a little too much burdened by their costs, to see that they have their reasonable expenses in coming to the saide Parliament, in tarrying there, and in returning to their own place, and cause them to be levied on the same commonalty.” From this writ it is to be noted that the summoners of our first representative Parliament fully recognised the fact that members deserved wages for their time and trouble during the sessions; that the wages were to be the “reasonable expenses incurred, and that travelling expenses were to be allowed for the journey from York to Westminster and back, a journey that in those times took some eight days. It is also to be observed that each place was to bear the expense of its own member, a point to which I shall advert later. A member then got his wages in the following manner: As soon as Parliament was prorogued he went to the Chancellor's office and satisfied him of his attendance and the length of his journey. The Chancellor then handed the member a writ, addressed to the sheriff, which the member took home with him and duly delivered on his arrival. The sheriff then levied a rate on the constituents. The amount a borough member at that time usually received was two shillings a day, which would represent a pound according to the present purchasing power of money ; a county member (why I do not know) received four shillings per diem.
The next writ De expensis bears date 1300, all the intermediate ones having been lost; it is similar to the one quoted above, but contains in addition these words, “ according ag elsewhere in like case it has become the custom,” which shows that this right of payment for services was now regarded as part of the law of the land. In 1305, King Edward in his address to Parliament bids the members, before they leave Westminster, apply to Sir John de Kirkeby for their writs of payment. It seems during the next few years that the sheriffs became somewhat slack in levying these wages, and that many complaints were made to the king in Chancery : as it was decidedly to the king's interest that the wages should be regularly paid, and members kept in a good temper for voting supplies a further clause is added to the writ (9 Ed. II.) threatening the
sheriffs with divers pains and penalties if they do not see the members speedily satisfied of their expenses. Seven years later (16 Ed. II.) Parliament sat at York, and an Act was passed, De levandis expensis (on the levying of expenses); this made the customary payment of 2s. to borough and 4s. to county members a payment fixed by statute. It is also noticeable that in the writs of this year the members for York get no travelling expenses as they had no distance to go; other members were allowed seven days for their journey, and the Cornwall men twenty days, both coming and going.
A very important writ is one dated 17 Ed. II., for notwithstanding the statute of the previous year fixing the rate of payment, the king, on petition being made in Chancery, issues a writ ordering special inquiry to be made with a view to allowing the petitioner all reasonable expenses; this shows that it rests with the Crown through the Chancellor to increase the amount payable if necessary, and the Act of the previous year must be taken as fixing a minimum. This would be an important point at the present day if any member were to sue out a writ, as he could do, since, owing to the difference in the value of money, 28. or even 4s. per diem, would be but a small pittance. The advantages, too, of the Crown through the judges regulating the scale of payment are obvious; the Crown, on the one hand, does not receive the salary, nor, on the other, does it have to contribute to it, it is therefore an uninterested party, and no such difficulty could arise as was suggested by Lord Elcho in March 1892, when he pointed out that it was contrary to the interests of purity that members should vote their own salaries.
In the seventh year of Edward III. Parliament again met at York, and after sitting for six days it was prorogued from December 12 to January 21 following, " that the knights and burgesses might repair home to their houses to entertain their neighbours and keep hospitality during the Feast of Christ's Nativity, then approacbing": for this laudable object all members were allowed their travelling expenses to their homes and back again.
In 1371 Edward III., after dismissing Parliament, discovered there had been a great mistake made in the assessment of English parishes, so that he only received a tenth of the sum calculated in the estimates. To rectify this mistake he hastily summoned one member from every pair sent by each county and borough, and this assembly voted him the grant required. The king later excused himself for these irregular proceedings, by saying that he did not wish to put the Commons of the realm to the expense of sending members to Westminster a second time, and his excuse was considered by the House a good one, which shows that constituencies were apt to grumble if their representatives cost them too much. Another very delicate question was raised on the death of Henry IV. in 1413: it appeared that Parliament had been summoned to meet and had actually commenced its sittings when, on March 20, Henry expired in the Jerusalem Chamber, and Parliament, of course, became dissolved. Were the members to receive their wages, as no Act had been passed ? It was argued on the one side that their constituents might justly grumble at having to pay ,and getting no legislation in return; on the other, that the members had been put to the trouble of attending, and that the act of God (i.e., the king's death and the consequent dissolution) ought to hurt no one.
In the event the expenses were paid in full. From this period up to the reign of Henry VIII. these writs were continuously issued at the end of each session, and that they were acted on numerous bills exhibited in Chancery testify. The effect of paying members for each day spent at their duties was to shorten the duration of Parliaments and to promote the progress of business, for the man who returned to the electors to recover his expenses without being able to show them something for their money was frequently subjected to a severe heckling on the subject. Many boroughs that were too poor to support a representative petitioned the king to be relieved of this burden, so that something like equal electoral districts were established; while other growing boroughs petitioned that they might be allowed to send a burgess to Westminster, for it was originally part of the king's prerogative to summon members from what boroughs he pleased. It was the practice with some candidates to get sureties from the electors for their expenses before they would stand. This example has recently been followed by Mr. T. J. Healy who stipulated with the electors of North Wexford that he should be paid a quarter in advance. Strange as it may seem to us, it was very difficult in some places to get a member at all, and candidates would not be forthcoming unless, secure of their expenses, they were saved the trouble of suing out the writ and seeing that the sheriff did his work. Some members, though elected, never went to the House at all, and thus saved their constituents the expense, for no one could claim payment except for actual attendance. So hard was it in some counties to get a member at all that I find instances of knights being elected against their will and being compelled by distraint of their goods and chattels to proceed to Parliament. Though, as far as I can gather from the records, no member could claim any allowance for expenses unless he had actually attended in his place, it seems to have become necessary, in the reign of Henry VIII., to emphasise this rule. The 6th Henry VIII. c. 16, was headed as follows: “An Act that no knights of shires nor burgesses depart before the end of Parliament." The penalty is expressed to be “upon payne to every of them so departing or absenting themselves to lose all those summes of money which he or they shall or ought to have had for his or their wages.” A member who wished to go away before the end of the session