Viscount Helmsley's 1910 Parliamentary Election Address

Very well printed on glossy paper with a portrait on the front page.

By todays standard an astonishing document. Viscount Helmsley was standing unopposed in a modern parliamentary division.






To the ELECTORS of the


For the second time in twelve months I come before you to ask for a renewed expression of your support as your representative in the House of Commons.

If I receive that support unchallenged, as I understand is to be the case, it will be a testimony to the strength of the principles for which I stand, in the Thirsk and Malton Division, not less than to the courtesy and forbearance of my opponents in refraining from inflicting on the Constituency the turmoil and trouble of a contested Election.

The issues are indeed grave

The Country is called upon to decide, not upon one particular item of policy, but on our whole system of Government now and for all time. Are we to have virtual Single Chamber Government or Government by two Chambers ? Are we to give arbitrary and absolute power to what Mr. Asquith felicitously describes as a scratch majority in the House of Commons, each section supporting the other for what it can get ? Or are we to have a reformed Second Chamber, based upon the Historical Assembly of the House of Lords, which would safeguard the country from legislation to which the majority of the people may be opposed ?

What is the grievance our opponents allege against the House of Lords ? Is it that they did not pass the Budget of 1909 without referring it to the people ? The Election was held; the people were consulted. The Government scraped together a majority for the Budget in the House of Commons by bargaining with the Irish Nationalists who were opposed to it.

The Budget was sent up again to the Lords and was passed by them into law.

Thus the Peers passed the Bill after the people had been consulted but not before.

Is this then the crime alleged against, them by those who have Democracy on their lips, but tyranny in their hearts, that the Peers dared to consult the people ?

Is this why all effective voice in affairs is to be taken from them; all safe- guards removed from the Constitution; and the Country committed to a system of Government which would not be tolerated in any civilised community in the world. Or is the grievance of our opponents that the House Of Lords deliberately obstructs all Liberal legislation ? The catalogue of measures passed by Liberal Governments in the past, and by this heterogeneous assortment of politicians in office at present, is a sufficient answer to that contention. No ! The fact is the Government are " toeing the line." They are dancing to the tune called by the American supporters of Mr. Redmond

His orders are that the constitution must be smashed, in order to smash the Union between Great Britain and Ireland, in order to give Ireland what a large proportion of Ireland does not want and would fight to avoid-an Irish Parliament with an executive responsible to it, Great Britain to finance but to have no share in the Government of Ireland.

Let there be no mistake; this is what the return of the present Government to power, and the abolition of the Veto of the Lords would undoubtedly mean. To facilitate the break-up of the United Kingdom, and the break-up of the Constitution, Ministers holding responsible and once honourable positions spare no effort to break-up the ties of mutual sympathy and esteem which have hitherto bound together all classes in the country. Vulgar abuse aided by false history and false economies takes the place of argument, and envy and hatred are the watch- words inscribed on the modern Radical banner.

It is time for all moderate men, by rallying to the Unionist party, to show their disgust at this degradation of British politics and their determination that reform shall prevail over revolution.

The Unionist party is pledged to reform in many directions.

Reform of the House of Lords coupled with a fair and practicable method of adjusting differences that may arise between the two houses.

Reform of our Fiscal system which will tend to stimulate employment, and so increase wages, and which will enable us to carry out mutually beneficial arrangements with our Colonies, without in any way increasing the taxation borne by the working classes.

Reform of the Poor Law; Reform of Local Taxation : a measure for encouraging the small ownership of land, are other matters which would demand and doubtless receive the attention of the Unionist party if called to power, and which I would support.

On these and most other questions, such as the supreme importance of an adequate Navy, my views are pretty well known to you.

I can only assure you that if I am once more returned I will do my best to serve you faithfully.

If I do not come among you at this Election, as much as on previous occasions, I am sure you will realise it is only because I feel I can be doing more good elsewhere in supporting the candidature of others who hold similar views, which must be made to prevail if the future welfare of our country is to be secured.

I am, Gentlemen,

Your obedient Servant,


November, 1910.