By parliaments therefore liberty is preserved; and whoever has the honour to sit in those assemblies, accepts of a most sacred and important trust; to the discharge of which all his vigilance, all his application, all his virtue, and all his faculties, are necessary; and he is bound, by all the considerations that can affect a worthy mind, by all the ties that can bind a human soul, to attend faithfully and carefully upon this great and comprehensive duty: A duty, which, as it is honestly or faithfully executed, determines the fate of millions, and brings prosperity or misery upon nations.

—Thomas Gordon. Cato’s Letters No. 99, The important duty of attendance in parliament, recommended to the members, Saturday, October 20, 1722.

The legislature is charged with governing the nation through the laws it makes while the executive merely carries out the laws. Thus the executive holds a merely technical role, while the legislature has the power of initiative. It follows that the quality of government ultimately rests with the legislature. The legislators accordingly hold the highest trust possible in a free country, and with it the greatest responsibility.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove