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House at its
at 3 o'clock.
Quorum of the It was further ordered, that the Speaker shall take the morning sittings. chair at all these morning sittings when twenty members
are assembled-instead of forty (the usual quorum)—and they may proceed to business with that number; but it is still in the power of any member, at his discretion, to call for the House to be counted, and forty members not being present it must be adjourned. By this check a proper attendance of members can be secured when any Petition of
importance is about to be presented. To bo adjourned The Speaker is also directed to adjourn the House at
three o'clock precisely (without a question first put) until five—and all business interrupted by such adjournment, must be resumed at the next morning sitting as an adjourned debate, in preference to any other business. And if the private business be disposed of before three o'clock, the Speaker may adjourn the House, without putting a question, until five.
This plan has no reference whatever to the evening sittings, which are to commence at five o'clock, if forty members are assembled, and proceed to take into consi
deration the orders of the day. Petitions against Any Petition against the principle of a Bill should be
presented after its first reading, when an order is usually made that it do lie on the table until the second reading ; and that the Petitioners be then heard against the bill*. But if the Petition be against certain provisions of the bill, it should be presented after the second reading, with the grounds of objection distinctly specified-(see ante p. 210) -it will then be referred to the Committee on the bill; and, if it contain a provision praying to be heard by counsel upon those grounds, powers' will be given to the Committee for that purposet.
Bills when to be presented.
* For the manner of hearing Counsel upon such a Petition, at the sceond reading of the Bill, See ante p. 209.
† For the manner of hearing Counsel upon such a Petition, before the Committee on the Bill, see ante. p. 213.
CHA P. XII.
On Committees. A Committee is a number of the members of the House (select, or otherwise) appointed to consider and digest matters referred to them, and, upon documentary evidence or oral testimony, to make such a report as will en. able the House to proceed upon the subject under consideration, in a manner that will best conduce to the welfare of the state, or the interest of the parties concerned.
They are of various kinds, viz : Standing and Sessional Committees, Committees of the Whole House, of Supply, and Ways and Means, Select and Joint Committees, and Committees of Conference. 1. STANDING COMMITTEES.
STANDING COM There have usually been five Standing Committees ap- MITTEES. pointed at the commencement of a Parliament (a), and remaining during all its sessions, viz: for Privileges* (and formerly Elections); Religion ; Grievances; Courts of Justice (6); and Trade.
The Committee for Privileges always had precedence of Or Privilege. all other Committees whatsoever (c). Its power was formerly to examine and consider all questions "which shall grow “and arise in that Parliament, about Elections,t Returns, " and other Privileges” (d), and report their proceedings and opinions thereon to the House, from time to time—but
(aj 4 Inst. 11 ; Scobell, 9 ; Lex Parl. 341. (6) C. J. 13 Nov. 1761. (c) Scobell, 10.
(d) So entered, C. J. 6 Nov. 1640. * This is now a Sessional Committee.
† Controverted Elections were formerly decided by the House upon a report from the Committee of Privileges. This practice had prevailed ever since the Commons first exercised a jurisdiction in this matter, and it was not discontinued until the year 1770, when the present admirable system of Election Committees was first introduced, by the Grenville Act.
For Trade, &c.
since a separate tribunal has been erected for the trial of Contested Elections, its duty has been confined to incidental questions of Privilege referred to them, or which are needful to be so considered.
The Committee for Trade hath sometimes been a Select Committee, particularly named; sometimes a Grand Committee of the Whole House. The Committees for (e) Religion, Grievances, and Courts of Justice, are always Grand Committees of the Whole House. The Committee for Justice, it is said, may summon any of the Judges and examine them in person, upon complaint of misdemeanor in their office (f). These, when not Committees of the Whole, are first called in the Speaker's Chamber, and then adjourned into the House, because they are usually very numerous, every member having a vote therein though not named of the Committee. There must be at least eight members present to empower the Committee to act. The person first named is usually the Chairman; but this is a matter of courtesy, every Committee having a right to elect their own (g).
At these Committees the members are to speak stand. ing, and not sitting, though there is reason to conjecture that it was formerly otherwise (K).
Their proceedings are not to be published, as they are of no force till confirmed by the House (i). Nor can they receive a petition but through the House (k).
Standing Committees may be said to have fallen into disuse, their duties being now performed, in many cases, by Sessional Committees appointed for the purpose.
SESSIONAL COMMITTEES Are now, in the Lords, two, viz :—for Privileges and for the Journals. In the Commons there are seven, viz :of Privileges; of Expiring Laws; of Supply, and of (e) C. J. 21 James I.
18) 1 sid. 338; Comyn's Dig. Parl. E, 13, (g) 4 Inst. 11, 12.
(h) D'Ewes, 630, col. 1, 4; 2 Hats. 77. (i) 3 Grey, 401 ; Scob. 39. (k) 9 Grey, 412.
Ways and Means (as to them, see post Committees of Sup-
COMMITTEES OF THE WHOLE HOUSE ;
The Speech, Message, and other matters of great con. cernment, are usually referred to a Committee of the Whole House (1), where general principles are digested in the form of Resolutions, which are debated and amended till they have arrived at a state satisfactory to the majority. These being reported, and confirmed by the House, are then either referred to one or more Select Committees, (accordingly as the subject divides itself,) to draft bills thereon-or considered and acted upon by the House.
Their object. The object of going into Committee is, professedly, that the bill may be maturely considered in all its parts and bearings. It is with the detail that the Committee has to deal, the principle must be considered to have been already examined and pronounced upon. It remains only for the Committee to discuss the best mode of carrying it into execution. This is the fit stage for offering suggestions for the improvement of the measure, in order to give it greater efficacy-for proposing any alterations or amendments to guard the interests of those affected by it; in short, of attentively considering the adaptation of means to their end, of parts to the whole, of the machinery to the invention (m).
The sense of the whole is better taken in a Committee, because the members have, therein, liberty to speak as often as they may think fit, to one question (n).
Propositions for any charge on the people, it has been seen (o), must emanate from Committees of the Whole.
Rules of proceeding therein.
The form of going into Committee is, for the Speaker, on motion, to put the question “ that the House do now “resolve itself into a Committee to take into a considera“tion” such and such a matter. If agreed to, he calls upon any member present to take the Chair of Committee, which is at the clerk's table, and leaving his chair he takes a seat elsewhere and may then speak and vote as any other member.
They generally acquiese in the Chairman appointed by the Speaker, but, like all other Committees, they have a right to appoint a Chairman themselves, by election (p).
The Chairman takes his seat with his hat on, and the Committee proceed to business. On public bills the preamble is postponed, to be discussed last; in private bills the preamble is to be considered before any other part. The quorum is the same as that of the House (i. e. forty members), and if a defect occur, the Chairman, on motion and question, rises, and the Speaker resumes the chair to receive the report, which can be no other, in that case, than to inform the House of the cause of their dissolution ; but on a question of "order" arising, the Speaker may , take the chair without motion (2), for the Committee can
not punish a breach of order, but must rise and report it . to the House (r). . If a message be announced during Committee, the Speaker takes the chair to receive it, because the Committee cannot (s).
It is often said, that in a Committee of the Whole, there . is no necessity for a motion to be seconded. Hatsell says,
that he does not know on what authority the assertion is made, nor that it is justified by practice.
On a division, the Committee divide to the right and left , within the House, the Chairman directing the yeas to one