Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION VIII.: MEANS, &c. CONTINUED.—V. ATTENDANCE, PUNCTUAL AND GENERAL, SECURED. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 3
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SECTION VIII.: MEANS, &c. CONTINUED.—V. ATTENDANCE, PUNCTUAL AND GENERAL, SECURED. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 3 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 3.
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MEANS, &c. CONTINUED.—V. ATTENDANCE, PUNCTUAL AND GENERAL, SECURED.
Question 23. Constancy and punctuality of attendance, on the part of each Member, and thence of the whole House,—to which of the ends does it promise to be conducive?
Answer. To all three ends.
Question 24. In what way to probity?
Answer. In sundry ways, as follows, viz.—
1. In relation to this point, whatsoever indication can be afforded, by the correct and complete taking down and publishing a man’s speeches, as above, it is only through the medium of his attendance, and in proportion to the constancy of his attendance,—to wit, in the only place in which they can be spoken,—that any such speeches are, or can be afforded.
2. When, on this head, such is the state of law and custom, as, on each occasion (with the exception of such of the members, whose constant obsequiousness to the will of the arch-tempter,—not to say the C—G—, together with the whole of their support on every occasion, is secured by the dependence of their situations) leaves it altogether at a man’s option whether he will attend or not: in this case, by simply forbearing to attend at the place where, in point of moral duty, his attendance is due, it is, on every occasion, in the power of any man, and every man, to afford to the arch-tempter, and that without either shame or danger, exactly half the support which, without such shame and danger as he could not perhaps have brought himself to expose himself to, he could not have afforded, by attending and voting on that side:—and so in the case of any particular improper and pernicious measure, to which, on the score of any particular sinister interest, whether of a party or altogether private nature, he finds himself exposed to the temptation of showing undue favour: thus, whether it be by leaving unopposed what he ought to have opposed, or by leaving unsupported what he ought to have supported—doing effectually by his absence, exactly half the mischief, which, howsoever desirous, he durst not have done in case of his presence.
Question 25. In what way to intellectual aptitude?
Answer. The more frequent a man’s attendance, the greater his experience; and the greater his experience, the more perfect is that branch of his intellectual aptitude which consists in an acquaintance with the nature of his business, whatsoever it may be.
Question 26. In what way to active talent?
Answer. The more frequent a man’s attendance, the greater will be his experience: and be the business what it may, the greater his experience in the examination and management of it is, the greater will be his expertness at it:—that expertness, which is, at the same time, the effect of active talent, and the cause of it.
Question 27. Considering how thin, except on extraordinary occasions, the attendance is at present, what reasonable expectation can there be of anything like an habitually universal attendance, and by what means can it be secured?
Answer. On the part of a trustee or an agent, whose duty cannot be performed but at a certain place, absentation from that place is a neglect which involves in it every other, and against which forfeiture of the trust is, as soon as it takes place, an effectual as well as gentle remedy. Let but the operation of election recur with the proposed degree of frequency, it brings with it of course this remedy, together with a time of trial, sure to recur at a stated and never long distant period. For insuring the efficacy of this remedy, in the instance of every such member to whom the continuance in his seat is an object of desire,—and thereby for securing in every such instance a degree of constancy and punctuality of attendance, equal at least to what is seen in any of the offices, there can need but one thing more, which is—an equally sure and effectual notification of every such act of transgression, as it takes place.
To this purpose, a regular and authentic publication, of two Tables of the following descriptions, would obviously suffice:—
Table I. Daily-General-Attendance Table: exhibiting, for each day, the name of every member present at any time of the sitting, together with the part taken by each, on each question on which there has been a division.
N. B.—If, to the present tedious, inconvenient, and inadequate mode of division, were substituted the prompt, convenient, adequate, and obvious mode of giving in names, each man giving in his name, for instance, on a card, without stirring from his place, divisions would of course be much more frequent than at present, and the knowledge obtained by the constituent, of the political conduct and character of his representative, proportionally more complete.
Table II. Annual-Individual-Attendance Table: exhibiting, on every day of sitting throughout the year, for the instruction of his constituents, the conduct of each representative, in respect of attendance, vote, and speech: with the grounds of excuse, if any, for each default, in case of non-attendance.
N. B.—On extraordinary occasions, for party purposes, instances have now and then been known, on which tables, of the nature of the above-mentioned General-Attendance Table, have, without authority, been printed and disseminated by individual hands.
If the security thus afforded were found not sufficient,—punishment, in the pecuniary shape, combinable with reward in the same shape, might, in the most simple and effectual manner, without need of prosecution, or intervention of lawyers and lawyercraft, be employed to strengthen it: employed,—viz. by a law framed upon the principle of that class of laws which are said to execute themselves.
On his election, each member deposits with the clerk a sum of money: say (merely for illustration) £400.
A computation is made of the greatest number of days in the year during which it is probable the House will sit; say, as before, 200. Each day of attendance, on entrance, the member receives back, from the hands of a clerk appointed for that purpose, £2: and, at the end of the year, if the number of days of sitting has fallen short of the computed number, £2 is returned for each day whereby it has so fallen short.
If the aggregate of the sums thus forfeited on each day were divided among the members attendant on that day, the force of reward would thus be added to that of punishment.
Of the many opulent, and thence idle incapables, who at present, while the House is left empty, crowd the list, some would probably, even on the proposed plan of representation, obtain, by means of the illustration shed around them by their opulence, a probationary year, with little or no intention, or at any rate without any persevering habit, of regular attendance. The superfluity of these idle favourites of fortune would, in this way, afford a not altogether unwilling supply to the exigencies of the more assiduous and less opulent. And here would be emolument without corruption: pay, for, and in proportion to, honest service.
In this way, the penalty for non-attendance, with or without the reward for attendance, might, by the light of experience, be increased or reduced at pleasure.
Question 28. The arrangements above proposed,—are they to be considered as being, when taken together, sufficient to insure, on the part of the population of the House, a degree of probity—appropriate probity,—sufficient for all occasions?
Answer. Against so vast and perpetually-increasing a mass of the matter of temptation and corruption, constantly and indispensably lodged in a single hand, no remedy that promises to act as a preservative can safely be considered as superfluous.
Suppose the plan established, and that to its utmost extent, it would still be necessary to watch over the matter of corruption, in whatsoever part of the system it is lodged,—to purge the system of it, where it is useless and needless, by the whole amount of it,—and to restrict the quantity of it, in cases where,—although, in a certain quantity, it may for such and such a specific purpose be found necessary,—yet, in any greater quantity, not being necessary, it is purely and simply mischievous.
Whatsoever is either good in itself, or thought to be so, is capable of being employed in the character of matter of reward: and whatsoever is employed in the character of matter of reward, becomes matter of corruption when applied to a sinister purpose: when applied to a man, in such manner as to direct his endeavours to the doing good to the one or to the few, at the expense of preponderant evil to the many.
Of the matter of reward, with or without title to reward, nothing ever is or can be bestowed by the king, that is not bestowed at the expense of the people.
Title to reward is—adequate service rendered, or in some shape or other about to be rendered, to the public: and of the matter of reward, whatsoever is bestowed without such title, established by such proof of title as the nature of the service is susceptible of, is bestowed as matter of favour: and, besides being bestowed in waste, whatever is bestowed as matter of mere favour operates as matter of corruption, by the expectation of it.
Of the matter of corruption applied to the purpose of corruption,—peerages, bestowed not only without extraordinary public service, but without public service in any shape, or so much as the pretence for it, constitute a conspicuous example.
In the shape of a peerage, the matter of corruption is capable of being employed to the corrupting of those, whose opulence suffices to preserve them from being corrupted by it in any other shape. County members and borough members together,—the occupiers of no inconsiderable part of the whole number of seats, are held by the king in a state of—invisible, perhaps, but not the less corrupt, less constant, or less efficient—dependence. In one House by peerages, in the other by advancements in the peerage, the pretended independence of judges is converted into dependence.
In the reign of George I., a bill for restraining the employment of the matter of corruption in this shape, passed the House of Lords. Since that time, the quantity thus employed has received a prodigious increase. The reign in which the bill was thrown out of the Commons, was the same, in which a set of representatives who had been elected by their constituents for three years, were engaged and enabled to elect themselves for seven years; thus vitiating the constitution by a poison of new invention, under the effects of which it has been labouring and lingering ever since.