Political Tactics

By Michael James; Cyprian Blamires et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII.
OF THE PROPOSAL OF MEASURES FOR
ADOPTION.
THERE ought to be in every assembly one individual officially charged with the initiative, that is bound to commence the operations, and to propose the necessary measures. For if no member in particular ought to have a plan respecting the business to be considered, it may happen that there will be no plan,+ and that the assembly will remain in a state of inaction.It is not only necessary that there should be a plan upon each occasion, but there ought to be a train--a connexion, between the projects submitted. It is not enough to provide for the first sitting:+ there ought to be a general plan, embracing all the requisite operations, disposing them in the best order, and leading them onward to their conclusion.This obligatory initiative naturally belongs to those who convoke a political assembly, and who are best acquainted+ with the wants of the state. The general distribution of labour is the duty of the administration: the ministers should propose--the assembly deliberate and resolve.But the right+ of initiation ought not to be the privilege of the executive exclusively:--each member ought equally to possess it. There are three principal grounds for this arrangement:--
1. That the intelligence of the whole assembly may be improved for the general good.+

There is as good a chance for obtaining the best advice from one party as from the other. To limit the fight of proposing, is to renounce everything which might be expected from those who are excluded: it is to institute a monopoly mischievous in every respect, both because it extinguishes the emulation of those whom it reduces to merely a negative part, and because it may retain the greatest talents in a state of inaction. The most intelligent and clever+ men may, under this exclusive system, be enchained by those who are greatly their inferiors in genius and knowledge.

2. That abuses may [be] reformed. If the right of proposing belong only to the administration, those abuses which are favourable to it would+ be perpetual: the assembly would have no direct method of causing them to cease. This arrangement would give to the government a most commodious species of negative as against all measures which were unpleasant to it--a negative without noise and without debate.a
____________________
a
In ancient times, the Scottish parliament was subject, as to the order of its labours, to a committee named by the King: the Lords of Articles alone had the initiative of all measures. They prepared beforehand everything which was to be presented to the Assembly, and consequently had an absolute negative, much more powerful than they could have had after the debate.--Robertson's History of Scotland, Book I. Reign of James V.

-110-

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