The relationship between MPs and the people was ambivalent. On one hand, Parliament derived its place in the constitution from its representative nature: the peers spoke for themselves, the Commons for the commons of England – all subjects other than peers. Members were elected (or selected) by, or in the name of, the voters of a constituency, to whom they were presumably answerable in some way. In 1661 it was recorded that the ‘mayor, bailiffs and commonalty [of Winchester] have empowered and authorised [their two burgesses], for themselves and for the said city, to act, consent and do in the same Parliament those things which for the public good and by his Majesty’s council in the same Parliament shall happen to be ordained’. 1 On the other hand, debates in the Commons were regarded as confidential. It was alleged that MPs could not speak or vote freely if their conduct could be discussed and censured by the general public. Lord Chancellor Clarendon told the Commons in 1661 that the English chose the ‘learnedest, wealthiest and wisest’ of the land to represent them. 2 Representatives were innately superior to represented; they pooled their wisdom through the process of debate and were additionally informed by the privy councillors in the House. It would be inappropriate for less able and less informed people to instruct MPs how to vote or to criticize their resolutions. Publicizing their proceedings could be seen as not merely informing the people but inviting them to express their views on Parliament’s conduct, perhaps forcibly. This argument was given added weight by the experience of the civil wars. Having based its right to resist the king on its representative nature, Parliament was pressed to pay more heed to the wishes of those it claimed to represent. The Levellers turned Parliament’s rhetoric against itself and demanded that it should base the nation’s constitution on the ‘agreement of the people’.