Rebuilding Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 167 pages of information about Rebuilding Britain.

[Footnote 10:  The abuse of the power of asking questions in Parliament has become a scandal.  There are a few persistent persons whose desire to embarrass a Government they dislike, in carrying on the War, makes them indifferent to the injury they may do to the national cause.  Some check is necessary.  The right to question Ministers is one of the most important safeguards against improper action by the executive, but the House of Commons is discredited by the manner in which that right has often been exercised of late.  A report of proceedings in question-time constantly brings to mind a scene in “Alice in Wonderland,” and the retort made to the arch-interrogator, “Why do you waste time asking questions to which there is no answer?”]

CHAPTER XVII

RESTORATION OF LAW AND LIBERTY

     What is long suspended is in danger of being totally
     abrogated.
—­EDMUND BURKE.

It is hardly too much to say that English Constitutional Law has been scrapped since the War.  Immediately after the establishment of Peace the first duty will be to restore the old Constitutional Law which has been suspended to meet the new conditions due to the War, and to revive again the old safeguards for the liberty and rights of the subject against arbitrary action by the executive.  The nation has rightly acquiesced in the exercise of powers by the executive during the War in a manner which nothing but the necessity of the time could justify.  Powers to take a person’s property at the will of some executive department without any definite principle or procedure even for assessing compensation ought at once to cease when there is no longer immediate urgency for using such powers to secure the safety of the country.  Powers to deprive persons of their liberty on vague charges, or to try anyone except by ordinary course of law in the regular Courts, should be discontinued.  The Reign of Law must be re-established to control the executive Government as well as the private citizen.  Nothing is more infectious than a habit of substituting arbitrary will for law.  Tyranny breeds anarchy, and anarchy tyranny in regular succession, and “the authority of one man over another not regulated by fixed law or justified by absolute necessity is tyranny.”  With the advent of Peace “Dora must disappear.”

Even before the War there had been a tendency, on the one hand, to substitute administrative action for regular judicial procedure, and, on the other, to allow certain associations to act without regard to law, to injure individuals and infringe their rights without remedy.  That tendency must be checked or liberty will be destroyed.  Law and liberty as well as law and order are correlative terms.  A real control over expenditure must be re-established and made more effective than it was even before the necessities of war in our unprepared condition made the present hand-to-mouth procedure to some extent

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Rebuilding Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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