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100 Years Ago: Forward into battle

October 11th, 1907.

SIR Henry Campbell-Bannerman [Liberal Prime Minister 1905-08] sent forth on Saturday from Edinburgh the fiery cross, which is to be borne wide and far until the whole of the United Kingdom has been roused to battle with the House of Peers. Reading between the lines of the speech in which the Premier sounded the slogan, we seemed to distinguish an uncertain undertone. He appeared rather more anxious to persuade the Lords to agree to his measures, than to carry the war into their territory. It may be that he perceives that it is not quite so easy a feat to destroy or partially to wither a branch of the Legislature as he affected to believe it was; or, again, it may be that some of his followers, foreseeing the long consumption of time that it would require for its accomplishment, despair of getting their schemes of social reform attended to.

It is not likely, however, that the Lords will be terrified into passing the Bills they have rejected, and the Government must either acquiesce in their rejection, or carry on to the bitter end the war it has begun. This would mean an appeal to the country on this one issue, and it is doubtful if the country would consent to the abolition of the House of Lords unless a really efficient Second Chamber were substituted for it. We do not believe that the people of this country is ready at present to commit its liberties and its interests to the sovereign will of a single House.

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