Human Nature in Politics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 256 pages of information about Human Nature in Politics.



It is obvious, however, that the persons elected under any conceivable system of representation cannot do the whole work of government themselves.

If all elections are held in single member constituencies of a size sufficient to secure a good supply of candidates; if the number of elections is such as to allow the political workers a proper interval for rest and reflection between the campaigns; if each elected body has an area large enough for effective administration, a number of members sufficient for committee work and not too large for debate, and duties sufficiently important to justify the effort and expense of a contest; then one may take about twenty-three thousand as the best number of men and women to be elected by the existing population of the United Kingdom—­or rather less than one to every two thousand of the population.[83]

[83] I arrive at this figure by dividing the United Kingdom into single member parliamentary constituencies, averaging 100,000 in population, which gives a House of Commons of 440—­a more convenient number than the existing 670.  I take the same unit of 100,000 for the average municipal area.  Large towns would contain several parliamentary constituencies, and small towns would, as at present, be separate municipal areas, although only part of a parliamentary constituency.  I allow one local council of 50 on the average to each municipal area.

This proportion depends mainly on facts in the psychology of the electors, which will change very slowly if they change at all.  At present the amount of work to be done in the way of government is rapidly increasing, and seems likely to continue to increase.  If so, the number of elected persons available for each unit of work must tend to decrease.  The number of persons now elected in the United Kingdom (including, for instance, the Parish Councillors of rural parishes, and the Common Council of the City of London) is, of course, larger than my estimate, though it has been greatly diminished by the Acts of 1888, 1894 and 1902.  Owing, however, to the fact that areas and powers are still somewhat uneconomically distributed it represents a smaller actual working power than would be given by the plan which I suggest.

On the other hand, the number of persons (excluding the Army and Navy) given in the Census Returns of 1901 as professionally employed in the central and local government of the United Kingdom was 161,000.  This number has certainly grown since 1901 at an increasing rate, and consists of persons who give on an average at least four times as many hours a week to their work as can be expected from the average elected member.

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Human Nature in Politics from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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