The Other House

by DJ Webb

It is interesting to see some parallels between the government of England under the English Commonwealth in the 1650s and the revolutionary constitutional settlement being gradually established in recent years. One thing I have just noticed is the parallel with the second chamber of Parliament.

The intention of recent constitutional changes is that the revising chamber should not consist of the landed interest, people who have dominated the country for centuries, but should be cronies, appointed purely on the basis of their support for the constitutional revolution.

Cromwell’s Other House was established in 1656 as a check on the Lower House, as one of the provisions of the Humble Petition. Cromwell refused to adopt the title of king in the draft of the Humble Petition, but accepted the other proposals in May 1656, giving him the title of Lord Protector, providing for Parliaments every three years, and for him to nominated 40-70 members for life, with a quorum of 21.

Interestingly, most of the peers refused to sit in the Other House, apart from one, and Cromwell had difficulty finding enough appointees to accept the positions (a difficulty not encountered today, where senior people are all too eager to angle for life peerages). So the Wikipedia article tells us of the 63 people nominated by Cromwell, only 42 accepted the positions.

The Other House lasted for less than three years, and was finally dissolved in April 1659. The intention of English Common Law, that the Crown, the House of Commons and the House of Lords should balance each other, and each should be constituted according to time-honoured common-law principles, has been badly traduced. I cannot regard those accepting life peerages as honourable people, and I would like to see all legislation since the introduction of “life peerages” called into question in a new constitution setup.

4 responses to “The Other House

  1. Jesus H Christ, why didn’t I think of that? And as Principal Secretary of State for War too, as I shall be? What an absolute bummer and how embarrassing. Ths article articlates properly what my problems are with what the British Political EnemyClass is deliberately doing to the House of Lords.

    Perhaps its name, today, is against it? Perhaps “lords” is a word that is not now understood? It means “Hlaevward” in Saxon or Old English, which is to say: “the one who guards the bread”. Sean will know all about this stuff…. “Lady” is a modern English deposition from “Hlaevdig” which is to say: the one that kneads (digs into) the bread. In slavonic languages, you will find that “chleb” crops uup often when you are talking about wheat.

    Perhaps the “Hlaevwarden” were the fellas that guarded the seed-corn and the flour-buffer-stocks – not many tons then, probably, for a whole nation of up to two or three million people – maybe about three or four thousand tons at a good harvest all done by hand in organic GramscoFabiaNazi-recommended fashion then – with loads and loads of people and some scythes thet might or might not be sharp enough to be effective, and who would care then! – against the socialistNazi grainrobbers? (Not graverobbers: who could bother to care about those buggers then, eh?)

  2. How much to grind and eat, and how much to mill, eh? What a harsh life in must have been then.

  3. Cromwell is an interesting figure – very complex. Even someone (such as me) who is deeply hostile to his rule should remember what a complex figure he was – and how there were many worse people on his side (and worse people opposing him also).

    As for “life peers” – of course Powell made it clear that he would not accept such a position.

    And, whatever his other faults are claimed to be (and some of the claims, such as “racism”, are lies), the late J.E. Powell was an expert on the constitution of the United Kingdom – both in theory and from a practical working point of view of the poltician. “Fighting the long defeat” of the decline and fall of our political culture.

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