Law Text Culture


The spirit in this article is that of liberal democracy, that precisely state of affairs in which there exists a separation of powers among the executive, legislature and judiciary, an independence of the judiciary and a substantive independence of the legislature from the executive. Additionally, in the 19th century there was added to this structure, in the United Kingdom and subsequently in the Australian colonies, a tenured civil service. Writers in mid to late Victorian Britain saw this addition as a necessary restraint on a Parliament elected by an ever-widening franchise comparable — if one listens to Maine’s gloomy assessment of popularly elected legislatures (Maine 1897, Essay II) — to the process of judicial review established in the United States. However undemocratic in origin, the civil service nevertheless operated by guaranteeing — in the eyes of the political ‘establishment’ — disinterested advice to secretaries of state and ministers, to help ensure that those selected to government were, so far as possible, given the information upon which to make choices, and therefore to carry responsibility to the legislature for those choices. Its very paternalism in restraining ‘irresponsible’ popular politics helped ensure the answerability of government to popular politics.