CHAPTER IV CONNECTIONS BETWEEN KING AND COMMONS, 1716-1832

(i) TIME AND THEORY

O NE of the most obvious modern connections between the House of Commons and the King's ministers is that of time. They normally begin and end life together: a general election is the immediate prelude to the formation of a cabinet which is determined by the result of the election, for the election designates a prime minister and he chooses his colleagues from among the chief members of the party which has obtained a majority at the election. This time- connection did not become normal until after the second Reform Act. Between 1716 and 1783 neither this nor any other time-connection existed: the choice of ministers by the King, and of the House of Commons by the electorate, remained (as of course they were before 1716) separate events, taking place at different times. In theory they were not connected at all; in practice they were connected only in so far as the King and the ministers he had chosen were able to influence the result of the next general election. This ensured that a general election benefited the ministers under whose auspices it was held, but it did not ensure that the House elected remained favourable to those ministers; if it did not, then the King might change some of his ministers to suit the House of Commons, but he would not normally change the House to suit his ministers. Inevitably, therefore, ministers depended for their strength less on general elections than on their ability to retain the

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