Hardinge Stanley Giffard, 1st Earl of Halsbury PC, QC (1823-1921)
Today is the 190th birthday of Hardinge Stanley Giffard, the 1st Earl of Halsbury.
A biography has been written by a John Hostettler:
Those who have used the serried ranks of volumes of Halsbury in the course of their professional work may, perhaps, have regarded Halsbury the man as almost a mythical figure a man so much overshadowed by the work which bears his name that he himself has been hidden from public view. John Hostettler in this volume brings him triumphantly to life. Although the many years of his life belonged to the 19th century and to the Victorian era, the later part of his life proved to be the most productive. And what a period tha was : the tumultuous history of the early days of this century, with the social revolution following the end of the Victorian reign, the Lloyd George "Peoples's Budget", the Easter Rising in Ireland, the Taff Vale case, and with the [approach] of the Great War as a dark and terrifying backdrop. John Hostettler has written a biography which is a fully rounded portrait of Halsbury Halsbury the Barrister; Halsbury the politician, Halsbury the Lord [Chancellor], Halsbury the Judge, and Halsbury as the progenitor of that remarkable [exposition] on the Common Law which bears his name so proudly as a great jurist.
During the crisis over the bill that became the Parliament Act of 1911, Lord Halsbury was one of the principal leaders if not the principal leader of the rebel faction of Tory peers that resolved on all out opposition to the government's bill.
Lord Halsbury is known to have said at a meeting of Conservative peers on the 21 July 1911: "I will divide even if I am alone."
On August 8th of that year, the House of Lords resolved:
That in the opinion of this House, the advice given to His Majesty by His Majesty’s Ministers, whereby they obtained from His Majesty a pledge that a sufficient number of Peers would be created to pass The Parliament Bill in the shape in which it left the House of Commons, is a gross violation of constitutional liberty, whereby, among many other evil consequences, the people will be precluded from again pronouncing upon the policy of Home Rule.Two days later Their Lordships yielded with a dissentient, the dissentient having the following justification:
- Because it destroys the balance of the Constitution itself.
- Because it deals with the problem of Constitutional responsibility, but as a party measure.
- Because it is destructive and not constructive.
- Because it abrogates the authority of the House of Lords without substituting anything for it.
- Because it releases the House of Commons from all substantial control.
- Because it thus establishes in these realms, contrary to all the traditions of this country and the experience of all great Constitutional Powers, a Single-Chamber Government.
- Because it preserves this House in a nominal existence so as to obscure from the people of this country the absolute and unrestrained power of the House of Commons.
- Because it is avowedly brought forward as a means of carrying a further Constitutional measure of the first importance without referring that measure to the people of the United Kingdom, who have twice expressed their repugnance to it.
- Because the method of carrying it is almost as great a strain on the Constitution as the measure itself.
- Because the whole transaction tends to bring discredit on our country and its institutions.
BTW, Lord Halsbury was born on the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the American War of Independence.