A people's runnymedem by

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It is within the memory of persons now living that a breach of the law of the land was considered to be an act of immorality. This immorality has permeated Parliament, commerce, and every department of life, so that the un­scrupulous prosper and the scrupulous law-abiding citizens become their legitimate prey.

Parliament must be bound by the Constitution to make enactments in accordance with a high moral code of right


and wrong, and when in doubt seek the advice of a High Court of Common Law. There are many cases of Parlia­ment receiving judicial advice on great issues or ordering the repeal of laws harmful to the community. For instance, we find in Compendium of the Law of Real Property, p. 231, that:

"Nothing in the history of English Law better illustrates the

actual legislation by the courts than their treatment of the

fh Statute De Donis. They, rather than the Parliament, represent

the will of the nation . . . and their action was sanctioned by

King and people. Nothing in English Law is better known

than these facts, but it is amazing that their true significance

should be so little recognised. Mr Scrutton is not going too

far when he says, 'The class legislation of Parliament was

defeated by the national legislation of judges,' Land in Fetters,

p. 76. For the opposition of the judges here is direct, conscious,

successful, and generally approved. It is directed against an

U odious piece of 'class legislation' which the Parliament has

jjj formally enacted in words too clear to be misunderstood, and

has refused again and again to repeal. And there can be no

question of the intention of the makers of the Act. . . . The

judges are trying to defeat that intention, not to give effect to it.

They are guided by considerations of what is expedient for the


There are also many cases of citizens, or groups of citizens,

appealing to a High Court of Common Law when all else

had failed to give them justice. There is the case of the

Hickleton miners. In June 1937 t^teir colliery was

I amalgamated with the Doncaster Collieries, Ltd.; the

I miners resented the changed and unjust conditions of

employment introduced by their new employers. 1"

I October the men came out on strike, but their Union would

give no help.* One thousand eight hundred and sixty men

were prosecuted by the owners for breach of contract* they

lost their case, and were fined and assessed in damages. The

men refused to accept the decision. They declared that

their contract had been made with the Hickleton Colliery


k* miffht choose to sell their own property but owners, *"° * frcat men like chattels and sell them by they coumB tempting to do so they violated the rights of contract ^ey claimed that they were not just labour-

free men to

They *t^—

r to be transferred like the coal and the machinery.

Their Branch Secretary, Walter Starkey, was prepared to

fight on these lines without the support of the Union. The

men raised a fund and appealed to the High Court. They

lost. They raised more money and went to the Court of

Appeal. They lost again. They mortgaged their funds,

their buildings, and their homes, and appealed to the House

of Lords. The Law Lords recognised the fundamental

principles of human freedom and justice inherent in the

British Common Law. By a four to one decision the men

won their case. It had been fought and won, at real cost

and risk, by a united and self-organised group of working

men. The Law of the land was vindicated.

And yet we have evidence of men and women robbed of their homes, property, and every possession; of widespread and incredible injustices which have brought suffering and poverty to thousands in every class of society, but in none of these cases has the Law of right and justice been triumphant. Very few civic rights and liberties of which the British people boast so confidently have statutory existence. Many are only principles or Constitutional rules established by custom, often assumed as a right because they are not denied, such as the right of public assembly, i.e. public meetings, etc. rhis,^then, is the nature of our boasted bulwark against injustice and despotism, and the reason why it has failed so lamentably to preserve common justice and prevent the encroachments of financial, political, and departmental bureaucracy.

Not one in one hundred M.P.s acknowledge, or even

understand, the spirit of the Common Law and Constitution,
or the ancient traditions upon which they are based. H

We are not concerned with the many interpretations of Common Law nor with its actual or theoretical powers, but


with the fact that it has failed to provide the protection it was designed to give and, owing to its vagueness, has permitted legislators to divert the nation from its true destiny. Un­scrupulous as well as honest but foolish men have taken advantage of its ambiguity to enact laws, confer powers, and introduce practices which have injured the national life, and which are contrary to Christian social precepts and the British Constitution.

The history of the growth of the Constitution is bound up with the Englishman's struggle to prevent tyrants from depriving him of his rights. The inability of the Con­stitution and Common Law to protect the nation from the evils we have brought forward in this book has been largely due to the failure to record in modern documents the rights and duties of the people and their rulers. The nearest approach to a written Constitution is, as A. V. Dicey, K.C., says in his Law of the Constitution^

". . .the celebrated 39 th Article of the Magna Carta which should be read in combination with the Declaration of the Petition of Right [suspended for the duration of the war.— Author] . . . these enactments (if such they can be called) are rather records of the existence of a right than statutes which confer it. . . . Individual rights are the basis, not the result, of the Law of the Constitution."

I Rule by Common Law has been usurped by the Cabinet, which, as Sir John Simon says,

"has greater power than the House of Commons. . . . It is impossible to find the slightest allusion to the Cabinet in any Act of Parliament ever passed . k . the title of Prime Minister is even to-day unknown to law. But nowhere is there to be found an individual with powers so great."

It is the Inner Council of British peoples throughout the world; and the arbiter of their destinies. It is the Sovereign in Commission which has taken to itself almost the entire power of the House of Commons; which has violated Common Law and justice, and has endangered national


by giving preference to private

• ts in a manner no king would have dared to have done.

wThave no effective means of calling it to account for, as

Mr Dicey says: I

"Its principles and its constitution are not fixed by any

rule of practice. It keeps no record of its proceedings. . . .

The relation of an individual minister to the Cabinet, and the

Cabinet to its head and creator, the Premier, are things only

H known to the initiated." i

The inner activities are as much a mystery as the functions and powers of the Secret Cabinet of the Bank of England.

The British Constitution fails to protect our rights and liberties because, as Sir John Simon pointed out during a lecture in Paris in 1935:

"Strictly speaking there is no British Constitution at all. Parliamentary forms necessary to repeal Magna Carta are exactly the same as the Parliamentary forms for putting a dog in quarantine."

Need more be said as to the necessity for having a written
Constitution of Supreme Common Law, the existence of
which politicians cannot deny and which will prevent the
rights and liberties of the people from being taken from them
by a procedure as simple as that of removing an inconvenient
dog? We have had the experience of "our intangible
bulwark of liberty" being swept away quite recently by the
Emergency Powers Act with but scarcely a dissent in the
Souse of Commons. Rule by the precepts of the ancient
Common Law would have given our legislators greater
powers than the Emergency Powers Act, and would have
maintained many of the liberties denied to-day. If the
spirit of the Common Law had prevailed Parliament would
not have failed to have broken the financial and commercial
monopolies which to-day hinder our war effort by holding
up the production of war materials. H

The rules which regulate the conduct of the sovereign power of the Ministry are merely conventions of the Con-


stitution, and consist of functions, understandings, habits, and practices which cannot be enforced by law. They are only constitutional moralities, and as such can be ignored, or changed to suit the convenience of the financial overlords who dictate the business of Parliament. It has been asserted that no Act of Parliament is valid if it is opposed to the dictates of private or public morality. This is still claimed to remain the intention of the British Common Law and Constitution, but no modern judge would listen to a barrister who argued that a statute was invalid because it was immoral, or because it violated the Christian conscience or the will of the electorate.

Unless the British people awake to their peril and take action they will lose what vestige of the rights and liberties they possess, even the right of the British subject to seek damages and redress for breaches of the law, as was urged by Viscount Simon, the Lord Chancellor, before the Select Committee on Crown Offices on June 19, 1941, when he sought the abolition of the right of the "common informer."

When Common Law is made supreme any single British subject can repeal any legislation and check any public or private action which violates it. But to ensure rule by popular consent further reforms in the Constitution will be required, by which the people may give their consent to, or reject, statutes, plans, or policies designed to put the Law into operation.

None plead for the right;

None decides for the truth; ffl

They trust upon trick and false speech; conceive

Mischief and bring forth deceit;

Their products make nothing but wrong in their hands.

Their feet run to evil and haste to shed innocent blood.

Their genius a contrivance of crime,—

In their haunts are destruction and ruin. y8

They know no path of Peace;

No justice is found in their trades.

They distort their own roads

And all who travel them never know peace.



Tn ensure that common consent shall prevail, Common Law Touncils should be established in all political constituencies, where the public can hold "watch and ward" over all legislation and commercial and political activities. These public assemblies would bring Parliament into regular touch with public opinion. They should be impartial in composi­tion and free from Ministerial control and the influence of political parties. They should be so constituted as to be able to ascertain the measure of public opinion, make known its results, and bring the influence of the electorate to bear upon our legislators. Such an institution should be able to tell the Government definitely and clearly its verdict, and be able to enforce it.

We have outgrown the idea that a political contest is to give unlimited authority to our political representatives. It is the right of the people to make known the principles upon which their lives shall be governed and it is the duty of M.P.s to carry out the technical details to put them into operation. The function of these assemblies would be to investigate all local and national evils and proposed legislation, and to test them by the precepts of the Common Law, and if they did not conform with them to take such public action as may be necessary to check the offending practice or legislation.

A further function would be to test the statements of our legislators. It is a vital necessity to national security and public well-being that our legislators shall make their public statements in accordance with truth and actual facts. Public memory is so short that it may be necessary to remind the reader of certain political statements and by their example remonstrate the urgent need of means to ensure political honesty and efficiency. If this is not done the British people will lose the peace as effectively as if they had lost the war. fl



It seems inconceivable that there are questions of con-duct and character of M.P.s which cannot be impartially investigated by any committee of the House of Commons; that a Minister, for instance, by his incompetence or deliberate knavery might allow, or cause to develop, an international situation which would plunge his country ill-armed and unprepared into war with a powerful nation, and still be allowed to retain office in the Cabinet

The increasing immoral force of the party system in England and throughout the British Empire has broken all bounds of honest conduct. Our Parliament is supreme in all matters of good and evil, but the art of good government has almost been forgotten, while evil practices are becoming almost time-honoured in the British Constitution. For the integrity of the nation and the well-being of the people the actions of our legislators must be checked by Supreme Law and by an informed and active democracy.

The Prime Ministers Mr MacDonald and Mr Baldwin

saw no dishonesty in the continuance of an international

policy which they knew would plunge England and the

world into war; nor did they care that, if they must pursue

such a policy, something more than an increase in naval

strength was needed. They betrayed the general good will

and desire for peace by aggravating international distrust

which every year brought us nearer to war, with the result

that their deceit caught them in the cleft stick of a public

demand for limitation of armaments and inevitable war.

I In 1935 Mr MacDonald saw no inconsistency in promising

| an air force equal to that of Germany and at the same time

promising "no great armaments." | A year later "honest" Mr Baldwin admitted the urgent necessity for rearmament to protect ourselves in the war | developing from a faulty international policy, yet fought a

re-election on the popular cry for disarmament

| I have made the loss of the election, from my point of view, more certain. We won the election by a large majority."


nd the Government benches accepted

I His colleagues> a o{ dishonesty. Similar political

without ProtesJ d. FAe British Empire being inadequately

dishonesty"/esu. defied the world's mightiest engine of
armed wrien ^ foregone conclusion that our armies

JS'Sfcr defeat in Norway, France, Greece, Crete, and

elSl7there had been public forums, or Common Law Coun­cils to make known the true state of affairs to the people, whit would have been the popular reaction f Would the electorate have been capable of judging on the issues which led to the declaration of war ? If they had had the oppor­tunity to choose between an international policy which led to war or an economic policy based on friendly co-operation between nations, what would their decision have been ?

The electorate would have protested against a policy likely to lead to war and at the same time leave the nation ill-armed and unprepared.

The Government knew that Germany was creating the most colossal war machine the world has known, but the Ministers deliberately lied to the House of Commons and to the nation.

The press was silent.

Mr Baldwin said: "My lips are sealed. But if these troubles were over I would make such a case that no man would go into the lobby against me." What did he mean ? He must have meant that he and his colleagues were responsible for economic chaos at home and war abroad and for allowing their country's defences to fall into such dis­repair that the nation was perilously close to defencelessness.

The people were fooled.

oy all means let us have public forums where the people can be told the truth. Cut away all political deceit, secret diplomacy, treason, and betrayal for private interest, so that we can live and act like Christians in peace and prosperity with our fellows.

Vjreat Britain could have led the world in peace or war.


In 1927 Colonel Pile strikingly demonstrated to the Govern­ment the potentialities of mechanised warfare, but his new military arm was broken up in 1928. Major-General Fuller was the army's most prominent exponent of mechan­ised warfare; his brilliant tactics were adopted by Hider, but he was retired by our statesmen in 1933!

Brigadier Hobart blazed the trail which the German armoured divisions followed with such dramatic success, but he was only allowed to use his great abilities in the Home Guard. Major-General Brooke, whose great ability made him the natural choice for carrying out the reorgan­isation of our anti-aircraft defences, was given the post of developing mechanised forces for which he had inadequate knowledge!

Public memory is short because political propaganda and Press sensationalism is deliberately contrived to make it forget, except when it suits their purpose to make it remember. The confusion caused by the deception and the stupid blunders of our statesmen and certain members of our civil services are calculated to deceive and confuse the wisest of men, and will continue to do so until democracy is provided with the means of obtaining correct information on these issues.

When the public woke up and realised the danger of war our statesmen adopted a new policy. Let us take five men whose dangerous deceptions would have been immediately revealed and checked by the suggested Common Law Councils.

Sir Samuel Hoare, a Cabinet Minister for eighteen years, three times Air Minister, also First Lord of the Admiralty and Foreign Secretary, said in October 1938, when he knew that our defences were totally inadequate:

'We are perfectly prepared to have our record examined as

■ to our defence preparations. We are determined to fill up the

gaps which have shown themselves in our defensive armaments."

In February 1939, when certain sections of the public


mongers, are doing the g gave the nation this he:

"The long period of preparation has come to an end and the results are now emerging with ever-increasing effect. I am confident that we could not be defeated in a short war by any knock-out blow, and that in a long war our almost inexhaustible resources will ensure the victory."

He made this statement when he must have known that our preparations were insufficient, and that in the event of war our expeditionary force must leave our shores in­sufficiently armed and lacking the necessary support of aeroplanes and tanks. He helped to cause the failure in Norway and the Dunkirk debacle; the "jitterbugs and panic-mongers" would have prevented the defeats.

Sir Kingsley Wood, appointed Air Minister in May 1938 and in 1940 succeeded by Sir Samuel Hoare, was equal to his successor in deceiving the public. "This year we shall have a record year," he said in 1939. "We are becoming more powerful in the air every day." A month later he said: 'By the end of this year production of aircraft will be 400 per cent, higher than was anticipated a year ago for twelve months hence." When the twelve months had gone by he said:

'We have been also engaged in preparing that further great expansion of strength which we know will be required. I therefore take the view with some confidence that even on a numerical basis the output of aircraft now accruing to us and to France is to-day in excess of that of Germany."

These are the words of a man who failed the nation. To-day, to our cost, we know that this statement was untrue. In January 1935 Mr Neville Chamberlain said:

"If we are to make our contribution to the general sense of


I security in Europe, we must at all events be sufficiently ar^ed to be able to do so."

I Two years later he said:

"I must frankly admit that progress is not yet as fast as I should like, but it soon will be. A great deal of preparatory work still remains to be done. I am glad to say that this I preparatory stage is now practically completed and that produc­tion has begun in earnest." l

In December 1937, when seventy-five per cent, of our young men who tried to enlist in H.M. Forces were found to be unfit for military service owing to ill-health, resulting from years of unemployment and consequent malnutrition2 he said:

"The country is strong. She is getting stronger every day. Our strength makes it easier for us to appeal to others to join us in applying our common sense to these problems." 3

■■:■': * Mr James Griffiths, M.P., House of Commons, January 21, 1941:

"We are paying the price for the last twenty years in allowing our industrial equipment to rust and to rot. For twenty years we lived in a period when coal mines, workshops, and shipbuilding yards were being closed down. By whom? By the financiers of this country who are in this House to-day. • • • I want the nation to remember that for twenty years We have pursued a policy of restricting and cutting down production, and now we are paying the price for it. I will give one example. What would this nation give to-day for a shipbuilding yard at Jarrow? Who closed down Jarrow? "

2 In the best diary of the Second World War yet published (U.S.A.) William L. Shirer, who accompanied the German armies in Belgium and France, etched this unforgettable picture in his May 19, 1940 entry:

"Returning from Brussels to Aachen, we ran across a batch of British

prisoners. . , . They were herded together in the brick-paved yard of a disused

factory. We stopped and went over and talked to them. They were a sad

sight. Prisoners always are, especially right after a battle. . . . But what

impressed me most about them was their physique. They were hollow-chested

and skinny and round-shouldered. About a third of them had bad eyes and

wore glasses. Typical, I concluded, of the youth that England neglected so

■ criminally in the twenty-two post-war years when Germany, despite its defeat

and the inflation and six million unemployed, was raising its youth in the open

air and the sun. J

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