Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION XI.: COLLATERAL ADVANTAGES, REFERABLE TO THE SITUATIONS OF ELECTORS, PLACEMEN, LORDS, &c. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 3
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SECTION XI.: COLLATERAL ADVANTAGES, REFERABLE TO THE SITUATIONS OF ELECTORS, PLACEMEN, LORDS, &c. - 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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COLLATERAL ADVANTAGES, REFERABLE TO THE SITUATIONS OF ELECTORS, PLACEMEN, LORDS, &c.
Question 38. These that have been mentioned,—are they all the advantages resulting, or all the uses derivable, from the means above proposed to be employed, for securing the several elements of aptitude on the part of members?
Answer. Far from it. Various collateral advantages may be seen resulting, in case of the employing of these means.
Question 39. What are the classes of persons, by or through whom these collateral advantages would be received?
Answer. They are various: and in particular, five descriptions of persons may be mentioned in this view; viz.—
1. Parliamentary electors, by whom, under whatsoever denomination, viz. by their votes, members of the House of Commons would be seated.
2. Members of the House of Lords.
3. King’s men, whether in or out of the House; that is to say, the persons occupying, under the king, the principal public offices.
4. The higher classes of the people, taken at large.
5. The lower classes of the people, taken at large.
Question 40. In what particular ways does the employment of these means promise to be serviceable, in the instance of these several descriptions of persons?
Answer 1. To parliamentary electors, as such, it promises increase of appropriate intellectual aptitude;—2. To king’s men in the House, and to their respective subordinates in or out of the House, increase of appropriate aptitude in all the several points of aptitude, viz. probity, intellectual aptitude, and active talent;—3. To members of the House of Lords, increase of intellectual aptitude, and at the same time increased security for probity;—4. To the higher classes at large, increase of probity and intellectual aptitude;—5. To the lower classes at large, increase of comfort, viz. by increase of kindness and courtesy towards them, on the part of the higher classes;—and on their own part, increase of appropriate intellectual aptitude from the habit of appropriate discussion.
Question 41. What are the several parts of the plan by which those several advantages promise to be produced?
Answer 1. That which seats placemen in the House from the several departments, with every right but that of voting;—2. That which provides for the correct and complete taking down, and immediate and regular publication, of all speeches made in the House;—3. And that which gives uniformly extended numbers to the voters in the several electoral districts,—liberty to all their votes,—and regularly frequent recurrence to the elections.
Question 42. In the case of electors, in what way do the promised collateral advantages promise to take place, and from what means?
Answer. From the correct and complete publication of all speeches made in the House, the electors would, as well as the member, be gainers, by so much as each man pleased—as many of them as pleased—in the article of intellectual aptitude—appropriate intellectual aptitude.
Of the probity of his representative, so far as indicated by his attendance,—and, in case of his attendance, of his probity and intellectual aptitude, in so far as indicated by his vote,—and, in case of his speaking, of his probity, intellectual aptitude, and active talent, so far as indicated by his speeches,—every elector that pleased would, on every occasion on which he pleased, possess the most complete and correct evidence that the nature of the case admitted of.
Question 43. In the case of placemen,—in what shapes, and by what means, do the promised collateral advantages promise to take place?
Answer. By the tendency which such a situation would have to raise to a maximum, in their respective breasts, the several endowments, or elements of aptitude above mentioned, relation being had to the business of their respective offices.
The beneficial influence of the arrangement would not confine itself to the case of those superordinates in office, who, in virtue of it, would be seated in the House: it would extend to their respective subordinates out of the House.
Take first the case of the superordinates,—seated in the House, and by official duty, and the proposed attendance-tables, rendered constant in their attendance there.
1. Probity, appropriate probity, will, in their instance, have for its aid the continual scrutiny, actual or impending, to which they will remain subject—subject, with full power of giving, to themselves and to one another, whatsoever support can be afforded by speeches—that is, by evidence and by argument,—but without that power of self-support, deserved or undeserved, which a confederated body of men—linked together by one common interest, and that a sinister one,—afford to themselves and one another by their votes: men who, while they are co-partners and co-defendants by their offices, are fellow-judges over each other by their votes.
2. To intellectual aptitude,—appropriate intellectual aptitude,—on the part of official persons of the same descriptions, the arrangement promises increase;—viz. by rendering it to them matter of increased necessity, to obtain and retain correct and complete information, respecting the whole mass of business habitually transacted in their respective offices; lest,—by want of correctness, completeness, or promptness, in the answers given by them to questions put to them in the House, from time to time, in relation to such business,—any deficiency on their part, in point of appropriate official intellectual aptitude, should stand exposed.
Take next the case of the several subordinates, not having seats in the House.
Probity—appropriate probity: increase in this endowment will in their instance have, as will be seen, for its immediate cause, the increase of both endowments, viz. probity and intellectual aptitude, as above, on the part of their respective superordinates, having seats in the House.
1. As to probity,—be the office what it may, the more correctly, completely, and generally, the business of it is understood, the more difficult will it be for improbity, in any shape, on the part of a subordinate, to profit by any undue protection, which any superordinate in the office might happen to be disposed to give to it: and, the more correct and complete the information is, which the superordinate possesses in relation to the business of his subordinates, the more effectual will be the degree of vigilance, be it what it may, with which it may happen to him to be disposed to look into their conduct in this view.
2. Again, as to intellectual aptitude—appropriate intellectual aptitude,—be the species of information what it may, the more frequently any such superordinate in office is liable to be called upon in the House to furnish it, the more frequently will he thereby be obliged to address himself to this or that subordinate, for information, in relation to such parts of the business as happen to be more immediately within the sphere of action of such subordinate: and the more frequently and suddenly any such subordinate is liable to be thus called upon, the more cogent will be the motives, by which he will find himself urged to obtain and retain the most complete mastery, which it is in his power to possess, of the business in question: lest, in respect of this element of official aptitude, any deficiency should eventually come to be exposed.
3. As to active talent,—appropriate active talent,—by whatsoever means, in these several situations, the arrangement in question promises to be conducive to the increase of appropriate intellectual aptitude,—by the same means, and in the same proportion, it promises to be conducive to this more immediately efficient element of official aptitude.
On the part of official men of both descriptions, it moreover promises to secure, in another way, a more and more ample measure of appropriate active talent, as well as intellectual aptitude;—viz. by keeping out of the respective offices all such unfit persons, as,—either in their own opinion, or in the opinion of those to whom it belongs to judge,—are unable to abide such close, and continually impending, scrutiny.
Question 44. In the present state of things, are not the business and conduct of official men, in the several departments, open in this same way to this same sort of scrutiny?—and, such information as comes to be wanted, is it not continually called for, and obtained from them, in and by the House?
Answer. To a certain degree, yes: but not upon a plan approaching in any degree to the character of a complete and adequate one.
In the superior departments,—such as the treasury,—the several offices of principal secretary of state for home affairs,—of ditto for colonial and foreign affairs,—and of ditto for the conduct of the war,—in the military department, the admiralty, and the ordnance,—it is matter of accident whether the persons responsible in the first instance shall be in the House of Commons, in the House of Lords, or in neither: while, in several of the subordinate departments,—such as the excise and customs, the stamp office, the assessed tax office, the navy office, the victualling office, and others,—so it is that, in pursuance of the partial, insincere, and reluctant system of purification that has been employed,—it has, by positive law, been made impossible for any person, acquainted with any part of the business, to occupy a seat in the only House of Parliament that would otherwise have been accessible to him: as if there were anything either pernicious, or inconvenient, or so much as unusual, in a man’s having a seat in an assembly in which he has not a vote.
Question 45. In the instance of any one of these departments, is there then ever any ultimate deficiency in respect of such information, as, in the judgment of the House, is proper to be collected and brought to view?
Answer. Not much perhaps, if compared with that which is actually called for: but much, if compared with that which ought to be called for, and would be called for, if the means of obtaining and calling for it were thus prompt, easy, and complete,—in the degree in which, on the proposed plan, they would be.
In this or that department that might be mentioned,—the navy-office for instance,—the business of the office is a chaos, inclosed in a dark laybrinth, of which no clear and comprehensive view has ever yet been taken, so much as by any of the persons habitually at work in it.
And, even in the case of such information as, on such points on which it is called for, comes to be actually given, the degree of promptitude, with which it is at present furnished, is apt to fall very short of that with which it might and would be furnished, if the persons, by whom or under whose direction it were to be furnished, were constantly under the eye, and at the command, of the House: and many are the instances, in which that, which does not come promptly, and almost at the moment at which it is called for, might, for any use that is or can be made of it, as well not have come at all.
And though, to answer its proper and intended purposes, it is altogether necessary that the matter of such information should be put in a written form,—yet, to every one to whom jury-trial is known, it is manifest how uninstructive and unsatisfactory a dead mass of written evidence frequently is, in comparison of what it would be, if the import of it were upon occasion explained and elucidated, and the correctness and completeness of it secured, by apposite questions put on the spot by word of mouth, followed by immediate and unpremeditated answers, and with further questions, in case of need, suggested by those answers; and so on till every obscure point were made clear:—exactly in the same way as, for the conducting of his own private business, in the bosom of his own family, every head of a family obtains such information as he happens to stand in need of, from his own children or his own servants.
Question 46. In the case of the House of Lords, by what means do the promised advantages promise to take place?
Answer. By means of that article which provides for the correct and complete taking down, and immediate publishing, of all speeches made in the House of Commons.
Question 47. In what way does it promise to be productive of those advantages?
Answer 1. In case of a bill, or other measure, sent up from the Commons to the Lords’ House,—it promises to be productive of a degree of appropriate intellectual aptitude as yet unexampled, by furnishing the members of that House,—upon whose decision the fate of every proposed law (not to speak of other incidental and miscellaneous measures) depends,—a correct, complete, and authentic representation of the several arguments, by which it has been supported and opposed.
2. In the same way it tends to secure, in the same superior quarter, an increased degree of appropriate probity;—for, when all the several arguments, which, in the case, for example, of a proposed law, have been adduced in favour of it,—when all these arguments have been consigned to determinate words, and those words committed to writing, together with all the arguments that could be found capable of being urged against it on the other side,—in this case, the more satisfactory and cogent the arguments in favour of it appear, the more difficult will it be for any member of the Upper House to find out and set in opposition to it, any arguments that will bear the test of the public eye; or for the whole House, without any warrant afforded on the ground of reason, to venture, howsoever uncongenial it may be to particular interests or favourite prejudices, to reject it.
Question 48. In the case of the higher classes at large, by what means do the promised advantages promise to take place?
Answer. By means of that article which provides for the frequent recurrence of elections,—in conjunction with that which prescribes, in relation to the several seats, an increased and nearly uniform extent to the numbers of the persons sharing in the election franchise.
Question 49. In what way?
Answer. In both ways;—viz. in the way of intellectual aptitude, and in the way of probity.
1. In the way of intellectual aptitude—appropriate intellectual aptitude, it promises to improve the texture of their minds, by bringing within the reach of a much greater number of them than at present, the prospect of a place in the most efficient seat of government: such place being at the same time tenable, not absolutely, but only upon such terms, as, after the first year, will leave to each man little hope of his being continued in it, in any other event than that of his having made manifestation of distinguished active talent, or at least intellectual aptitude: and, by thus giving increase to the number of competitors, giving proportional increase to the exertions made by each, in the hope of manifesting his superiority over the rest.
2. In the way of probity—appropriate probity,—by rendering it the interest of every man—who sets before his eyes any such prospect, at whatsoever period of his life it may be his hope to see it realized—to lay a foundation for such hope, by an uniform and constant course of kindness and courtesy, as well as of justice, towards all persons on whom the success of his exertions may be in any degree dependent: and, in particular, as towards the lower classes, which, of necessity, are everywhere the most populous ones.
In the present state of things,—a borough-holder, or a man of first-rate opulence, who, by weight of metal, is looked upon as able to sink every bark that should dare to steer the same course, commands the seat, without need of paying any such price for it.
Question 50. In the case of the lower classes, by what means do the promised advantages promise to take place?
Answer. By means of the article last above mentioned. It being, to so considerable an additional extent, as above, the interest of the higher classes, to maintain, in their intercourse with the lower classes, an uniform and constant course of justice, kindness, and courtesy,—hence, by each individual of those higher classes, in proportion as his conduct is fashioned by that interest, the feelings of the lower classes will be respected, and their interest consulted, and treated with regard.
Out of the virtue of the higher classes, thus cometh forth the comfort of the lower.
Question 51. These collateral advantages—are they all that can be stated as likely to result from the plan, in case of its being adopted, and in proportion as it is adopted?
Answer. If the question be confined to the plan itself, meaning the arrangements of which it is composed,—then so it is, that to one or other of the above five heads, whatsoever beneficial results can be stated as likely to be produced by the plan, would, it is supposed, be found referable.
But, if the principles, by which these have been suggested, are found to be those which belong to the nature of the case—if, in the list of objects brought to view in the character of ends proper to be aimed at, none are included but such as have a just title to a place in it, and all are included that have any such just title:—let this be supposed, and by means of these principles, the plan will, in this case, be found capable of being applied to an additional and perfectly distinguishable use;—to wit, the serving as a test or touchstone, by which the eligibility of every other plan, that has been, or that can ever be, brought forward, may be tried.
In the persons of members—in the persons of the representatives of the people,—is it conducive—and if so, by which of the several arrangements contained in it, is it conducive—to probity, to intelligence, to active talent?
By all of them put together, is it thus conducive in a sufficient degree?
The same questions, with regard to the several classes of placemen belonging to the executive branch of government.
The same questions, with regard to the Lords—without whose concurrence nothing, in the way of legislation, can, on any occasion, be done.
The same questions, with regard to the several inconveniences attached, in the existing state of things, to elections and election judicature.
Such are the questions, by the application of which the eligibility, absolute and comparative, of any and every other plan, would, it is supposed, be rendered pretty clearly apparent.
Strong and sound may that plan be pronounced, that shall have stood examination upon these interrogatories: self-convicted of insufficiency, the plan that shall have shrunk from the test which they afford.
The arrangements themselves can no farther be of use, than in proportion as they are adopted. But,—although they should not, any one of them, be adopted,—yet the principles on which they are grounded, and by which they were suggested, might still, in this way, be found to be not altogether without their use.