A must decide peace plans, not the demands of human need n ^ fevouredpeoples. All men have the private inter ^ hpjness Unless this is done, financiers
fdpoliticrai will again betray them to struggle without
and ponn ^ ofmentaljmora\, and physical
guidance d.u«v* ^
StaThe°stople basic facts of existence can be understood by II Everyone knows the difference between right and trong. This simplicity can "move the world." The facts of life essential to man's existence and his numerous relations and progress cannot be ignored with impunity. Vital truths that conflict with established customs and interests, but which affect the life of a nation and the peace of the world, cannot be suppressed for ever. History shows that these simple truths of life must provide the foundation of the common customs of the world, or they will break violently through the restricting limits and bring disaster to civilisation. With very few exceptions, all international disasters have originated in conflicts between natural individual need, and the prevention of its fulfilment by political, religious, civic, or economic customs.
Unless the masses of the people are united in a demand that their common needs shall provide the deciding factors m all post-war negotiations, nations will send their delegates to the peace council with instructions similar to those which decided the terms of the disastrous peace settlement of the First World War. Conflicting interests will make it impossible for the delegates to differentiate between good and evil in accordance with a common standard of right. Only tte peoples of nations united by their common needs can
Pr?rtethatstandard- Without such a signpost the delegates , be.baffled and befogged by conflicting interests all
clamouring for preference; they will be unable to make
any clear-cut distinction between right and wrong, between
numan need and commercial evil.
^International Law—a New Magna Carta of Humanity
—must be agreed upon by common consent, so that peace
98 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
delegates shall have a clear-cut issue upon which to draw up the terms of peace. Then governments and delegates, with the power of united peoples behind them, can defy the powerful international groups which have hitherto decided the fate of nations. Nations can then get down to the task of making the world safe for humanity. Fears and irritations will then give place to justice and co-operation; poverty in the midst of plenty will become an evil of the past, and the economic cause of aggression and war will be removed by giving all peoples access to the world's goods and services in accordance with their needs.
The simple watchword of the future must be emblazoned throughout the world: THE NEEDS OF HUMAN LIFE MUST DECIDE THE TERMS OF PEACE. This simple demand must be repeated again and again, until the world's rulers recognise that no compromise or excuse can be accepted by the people. Thus and thus only will the prerogative of the peoples' will prevail and civilisation enter a new era of peace, contentment, and progress.
The history of the League of Nations showed that neither verbal promises nor the signing of covenants of international law are sufficient guarantee of obedience. The failure of the League was due to the absence of the means of compelling member nations to keep their moral obligations. This weakness betrayed a corresponding moral and legal failure in the nations' own systems of government, wherein the people have no means of compelling their rulers to obey Common Law.
The weakness of national constitutions can be cured by supreme laws which enable the people by public declaration to check at its inception any violation of common right and justice, whether committed by a government or by a public or private institution. The procedure of public declaration by referendum is described in a later chapter.
If the principles of international justice were also made an integral part of national constitutions, in the form of moral-civic laws defining the object of international policy, the
THE PEACE WE LOST 99
U he empowered to compel their governments and
pe°tS options to act in accordance with the law.
commercial orS , jj dtgain by war and every-
The common P^^^ cangbe provided and inter-SS problems be solved amicably by instructing their Governments to obey the laws of national and Internationa policies, the people will use their power to compel peaceful
We cannot stress too strongly the weakness of agreements and covenants to keep the peace by submitting international questions to an international court, if such agreements and covenants depend merely on verbal or written promises. No national court of justice could dispense justice if citizens were merely pledged by verbal or written promises to keep the peace. In such a circumstance wrongdoers would ignore the courts and the police, as nations have ignored the League of Nations and the threat of force which it had no power to use. We cannot discuss plans for an international police force until we know under what circumstances it will be used, and until the peoples of the world are empowered by law to compel their governments to provide and use such a force when the international covenant is broken. We dare not establish such a force until the people have the power by law to determine that it shall be used to enforce obedience to the covenant, otherwise there would be danger
?f, m*ernat*onal °rnational Powers using it on their own behalf, as they have used the armed forces of nations in the past
We dare not design any plans for a federation of nations, orany form of international institution for maintaining peace,
™11 K °bJectsofsuch institutions have been defined and w»l be controlled by the principles of common right and justice and established by laws in the constitutions of nations, ouch laws must provide a common human purpose similar to those which we have proposed shall become supreme nti$h Common Law, leaving all nations free to work out the details of their application and their own destiny in
accordance with their national culture and the common consent of their peoples.
Similar to our proposed national laws, they must empower the people to prevent the corruption of governments, the monopoly of raw materials and goods and services, and make it obligatory to establish such monetary an|l commercial reforms that all the necessities of human life and progress shall be made available to all.
An enduring peace and international contentment and progress could be assured by the British Government and the British Commonwealth of Nations demonstrating by example to the world the honesty and integrity of its peace aims by accepting the following principles as the basis of any plans for post-war reconstruction and establishing them in fundamental laws governing their international policy, and by inviting other nations to co-operate in a similar purpose:
i. The economic security, happiness, and the natural physical and cultural needs of the people shall be the first claim upon all social, industrial, and commercial effort: and in all international negotiations these simple human needs shall take precedence over every other factor.
2. Removal of the principal causes of war by giving all peoples
access to world resources and raw materials, and enabling them to exchange goods and services freely with each other in accordance with their natural needs and the common good, irrespective of national boundaries.
3. International irritations caused by tariffs, quotas and the
vulgar seeking to profit at the expense of other peoples can be avoided.
4. The traffic in currencies by private individuals and organisa-
tions in such a way as to injure the welfare of any people
shall be prohibited. if No man or woman shall be deprived of liberty or security
because of his or her religious belief or practice. 6. All peoples shall have representation at the International
Council Table, where their representatives shall meet as
occasion demands, and that at such meetings the nations
and peoples shall accept these principles as final arbiter
the sexes and the value of human life and limb, and happiness,
and within the meaning of the Law a woman was entitled
to the same compensation as a man for injuries received
through enemy action.
•s to admit that there exists any ruling _____
wrong, or of common justice or injustice, or of equity or inequity that is superior to Parliament and should guide
th^V? 4emakhl6 oflaws. The light-hearted and ^nougntless manner in which they make statute laws which
A^nis is one of the many instances of the reluctance of
em as not
contravene the principle of the Law condemns th
bemg fit for their high office. ^_
Apart from the fact that conscience alone should be
104 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
sufficient guide to M.P.s not to offend against common justice, it is incorrect to say that there exists no written Common Law.
It is not necessary to possess more than the average amount of intelligence to understand the Common Law and the relation between it and statute law. The origin of the former has been lost in the dim mists of antiquity; it is a code of common right and natural law expressed in broad principles, and providing, together with the rules of equity, the main foundation of the British Constitution. Statute laws began with the reissue of the Magna Carta in 1225 in the reign of Henry III, and are for the most part Acts of Parliament by which legislators have sought to express some aspect of Common Law principle. It is generally correct to say that the Common Law makes known the rights and duties of the subject and deals broadly with all aspects of individual and national life, whilst the Statutes of the Realm seek to interpret and apply to modern conditions some particular branch of the Common Law without contravening its general principles. For instance, no statute prescribes in general terms that a man must pay his debts or pay damage for trespass or libel or slander. The common right to compensation is a regulation of the Common Law, whilst statutes (except where they re-state in the form of code some branch of the Common Law) interpret and deal with details. The most fundamental part of our body of law is Common Law, and it would be correct to say that it defines the purpose of statute law. If the former were swept away the latter would provide us with a tangle of disjointed rules taken from their context, and with no provisions for the most important relations of life. Our judges would be in the curious position of having statutes by which to dispense right and justice which had no legal existence.
The Common Law was first codified by our Anglo-Saxon kings, then by William L Since the time of Edward I it has been in writing or print. It can be found, often misrepresented and misapplied, in the reported decisions of
COMMON LAW AND COMMON RIGHT 105
the judges of the English Courts, and also in the Great Charter and similar State documents.
But law reports and charters did not establish the Common Law. One cannot establish nor grant customs or natural rights which were in existence long before the records were made. Law reports and charters can only acknowledge, interpret, and reassert them.
It is both morally wrong and politically unsound for legislation to give powers to or to acquiesce in any practices by private monopolies which render void the regulations of the Common Law which says:
No freeman may be seized or imprisoned or dispossessed or
outlawed or in any way destroyed except by the legal
judgment of his peers. A freeman shall not be amerced but according to the degree
of the offence and saving his contenement (excepting his
subsistence): a merchant shall be amerced in the same
manner saving his merchandise. All merchants shall have safety and security in coming into
England and going out of England, to buy and to sell
without any unjust exactions. To none will we sell, to none will we deny, to none will we
delay right or justice.
The economic and commercial practices and the legislation which cause, or allow, food to be destroyed whilst people are in need, which deny men the right to trade or to earn their living, which conceal the illegal taxation by private financial corporations, by which M.P.s contravene the Law by judging in their own case, and by which great monopolies exploit human life for private gain, causing untold misery and suffering, are all examples of violation of the ancient precepts of Common Law. There is every reason why Common Law should be clearly defined and set above statute law, and why statute law should interpret clearly and fairly the spirit of the Common Law.
We are not concerned with the many branches of Common Law but with the spirit which places the security, freedom,
106 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
and happiness of the individual and the peace and progress of the State before all else. Common Law acknowledges the sacredness of human life and prohibits the placing of a money or economic value upon human happiness. This Regulation must not only be maintained but be made supreme in all departments of life, so that individual ability and the nation's capacity to produce goods and services, and to provide educational, cultural, and spiritual equipment, shall be the only limitation to personal security and happiness.
It is this spirit of the Common Law which we seek to preserve and to express in the Principles and Objects we propose shall become the supreme Law of the Realm, and provide the foundation and the purpose of all political, social, industrial, commercial and monetary effort.
A fundamental ajid inflexible Law is necessary to protect
and to define the general purpose of society, but it would be
disastrous to attempt to make it govern the detailed activities
of life. Statute law must continue in the r61e of the
"addenda and errata of the book of Common Law."
Common Law must deal with the basic principles of life;
the supreme authority of right and wrong, of justice and
injustice, and of the rights and duties of the individual and
the community; it must express those laws of nature which
have been common to man since he inhabited the earth, and
which are the unalterable laws of Nature and, if man will
obey them, will protect him until the end of time. Statute
laws must deal with the detailed application of the inflexible
principles of Common Law. Such complementary laws can
be enacted to meet the changing conditions and needs of
shall be used to enrich the social life, and such can be repealed
when they become redundant or a hindrance to a progressive
The present supremacy of the statute-making power of Parliament is not a logical or even practical necessity, but it is certainly dangerous to have such unlimited power over the life of a nation in the hands of our legislators with no
COMMON LAW AND COMMON RIGHT ,07
» • oofpcruard against misuse by unscrupulous, foolish,
effec«ve safeguard ag ^ ^ theState legislators
u°STe Constitution of the United States have such
In the seventeenth-century report we read:
"It appears in our books that in many cases the Common Law will control Acts of Parliament and sometimes adjudge, them utterly void; for whenever an Act of Parliament is against right and reason, or repugnant or impossible to be performed, the Common Law will control it and adjudge such Acts to be void."
To-day when the Common Law comes into competition with Statute Law it is the latter which prevails. When our fourteen Common Laws are made the frame of reference for all legislation and national activity, this ancient practice of Common Law supremacy will be re-established.
The need for Government departments to be brought under the rule of Law and to combat the present "reign of lawlessness" was emphasised in the late Lord Chief Justice Hewart's book, The New Despotism.
A. V. Dicey, K.C., in his Law of the Constitution, long ago warned the nation of the growth of Parliamentary despotism and civic lawlessness:
4'The ancient veneration for the rule of law has in England
suffered during the last thirty years a marked decline. The
truth of this assertion is proved by actual legislation, by the
existence among some classes of a certain distrust both of the
law and the judges, and by a marked tendency towards the use
of lawless methods for the attainment of social or political ends. . . .
Recent Acts have given judicial or quasi-judicial authority to officials who stand more or less in connection with, and therefore may be influenced by, the government of the day, and hence have excluded and in others indirectly diminished the authority of the Law Courts. This tendency to diminish the sphere of the rule of kw is shown, for instance, in the judicial powers conferred upon the Educational Commissioners . . .
108 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
on various officials by the National Insurance Acts ... and on the Commissioners of the Inland Revenue and other officials by the Financial Acts. . . .
"The Parliamentary Act of 1911 [he says]— . "Enacts 'that any certificate of the Speaker of the House of Commons given under this Act shall be conclusive for all purposes and shall not be questioned in any Court of Law? (Our italics.)
"This enactment, if strictly construed, would protect any Speaker who, either from partisanship or to promote some personal interest of his own, signed a certificate which was 1 notoriously false from being liable to punishment by any Court of Law whatever. No doubt the House of Commons has been historically jealous of any judicial interference with persons acting under the authority of the House, and has on more than one occasion claimed in a sense to be above the law of the land . . . such claims have rarely been of advantage or credit to the House."
The function of the Speaker should be that of an impartial judge, not that of a partisan empowered by Parliament to overthrow even the Courts of Law.
The writer continues:
'The rule of a party cannot be permanently identified with the authority of a nation or with the dictates of patriotism . . .
eminent thinkers are to be found who certainly use language B which implies that the authority or the sovereignty of the I nation, or even the conception of national will, is a sort of
political or metaphysical fiction which wise men will do well
to discard. . . . I "The Parliamentary Act enables a majority of the House of
Commons to resist or overrule the will of the electors or, in
other words, of the nation. . . . But that the widespread I demand for an appeal to the people has received no attention
from the majority of the House of Commons is also certain.
No impartial observer can therefore* deny the possibility that a ■ fundamental change in our constitution may be carried out
against the will of the nation."
Not one in ten thousand people understood all that the Parliamentary Act implied. If they had it would never
COMMON LAW AND COMMON RIGHT 109
i been passed. It changed the original purpose of
ErLnent almost beyond recognition. It left parties to
bble over things which do not matter, and placed the
SC*Ua of Parliament in the hands of the Cabinet and created
Bill through Parliament without the support of the
Ministry of the day. The Prime Minister can curtail the
opportunity for discussing legislation which in his opinion is
inopportune. We have a House of Commons which neither
claims nor practises real freedom of discussion, and there is
no sure means of obtaining from a Ministry answers to
questions which vitally concern the interests of the nation.
As Mr Dicey says:
"This is not from a constitutional point of view edifying or reassuring. ... It is at least arguable that important changes in the conventions, if not in the law, of the constitution may be urgently needed; but the reason for alarm is not that the English executive is too strong, for weak government generally means bad administration, but that our English executive is, as a general rule, becoming more and more the representative of a party rather than the guide of the country."
The example of legal lawlessness set by Parliament has encouraged the growth in England of a doctrine of civil law-breaking which perplexes moralists and statesmen. Large classes of otherwise respectable persons hold the belief, and act on the conviction, that it is not only allowable, but even praiseworthy, to break the law of the land if they are pursuing some end which seems to be just, desirable, or gainful.