CHAPTER V
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS AND THE KING'S SERVANTS

BETWEEN 1660 and 1832 the King's choice of servants and the electorate's choice of the House of Commons were two distinct processes. The relationship between the Commons and the King's servants was therefore primarily an extension of the relationship between the Commons and the King: the Commons could not hope to influence or control the King's measures unless they could in some degree influence or control his choice of men. They did not in the period 1660 to 1832 succeed in doing this, except in so far as the King found it expedient that his ministers should on the whole be acceptable to the House of Commons. This indirect limitation on his choice, which was present throughout the whole period, was, for most of it, partly offset by the existence of patronage sufficient to assist the ministers of the King's choice both in managing the Commons and in ensuring that general elections strengthened their own position in the House. The decline of patronage after 1784 weakened and finally destroyed this advantage, but it did not destroy the theory that ministers were the King's, nor did it turn them into designates of the Commons. In theory, indeed, the House of Commons was still chosen to suit ministers previously chosen by the King not only in the years of declining influence from 1784 to 1832 but for at least a generation after 1832. The only change in the early nineteenth century was that ministers began to be expected to resign after a defeat in the House of Commons, not merely because

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