10 Proverbs for our MPs

With MPs back in the House of Commons, By George thought it helpful to provide our elected representatives with proverbial wisdom that, if taken to heart, could lead to a more productive (and civil) legislature. (If our By George Journal readers are so inclined, this list of 10 proverbs would be a perfect missive to forward to your MPs.)

  1. Law is a necessary evil.
  2. Pass as few laws as possible, consistent with the demands of justice and the maintenance of order.
  3. Where custom is sufficient, there is no need for law.
  4. Do not pass laws that cannot, or will not, be enforced, for such breed contempt for both the law and the State.
  5. Penalties must be minimally sufficient to deter infractions, given adequate enforcement. Less renders the law ineffective; more inflicts unnecessary pain.
  6. There is an inverse proportion between the severity necessary to deter infractions and the certainty of punishment.
  7. Enshrine your principles in constitutions, codify your common sense in laws, and leave the rest to regulation.
  8. Even more than on your wisdom, the legitimacy of the State depends on your integrity.
  9. In public life, integrity requires not only an honest heart but an honest face.
  10. Your primary object must always be not the satisfaction of your constituents but the continued legitimacy of the State, for upon that depends the welfare, even the survival, of us all.

It bears repeating for those MPs who might have skimmed over these words: the legitimacy of the House of Commons and what it represents depends on your integrity.

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