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Number of Members,
of the Commons In the House of Commons, those subjects which are
not of paramount importance, or which require much detailed examination, are referred to a Select Committee, appointed by motion of any member, if approved of by
the House. Number of Mem- No Select Committee can be appointed in the House of
Commons to consist of more than fifteen members* originally, without previous leave from the House, of intended application for which, notice must be given. And leave must be obtained from the House for the appointmentof any member subsequently. Of such a motion previous notice must be given, embracing the name of the member
to be added or substituted (?). Enquiry should In order that Committees appointed by the House may they are willing receive the attention and co-operation of each of their
members, it has been specially ordered (m) that every member about to move for the appointment of a Select Committee, first make enquiry of those he purposes to
name thereon, whether they be willing to serve. Appointment of If the Select Committee be on any public work, as a
railway or a canal, the usual course followed in the ap-
be first made if
to be nominated.
* By, a rule of the House of Assembly of this Province, when a Select Commit tee is to be appointed on any subject, to consist of more than five Members, the manner of appointment is to be as follows: The number of which it shall consist
first be determined, then each Member shall write on a slip of paper the names of as many Members as are to form such Committee, and deliver the same to the Clerk, who shall examine the said lists, and report to the Speaker, for the , information of the House, who have most voices in their favour; and if any diffi, culty arise by two or more Members having an equal number of voices, the sense of the House shall be taken as to the preference.
i Lists of all Select Committees are required to be affixed in the Lobby of the House of Commons, and in the office of the Clerk of Committees.
may either give it special instructions, or leave it to its Instructionsie own direction. The instructions when given are either enabling or mandatory. (See'ante p. 211.):
Having met, the Committee appoint one of their num- Chairman. ber to be Chairman, who regulates their proceedings, and gives his casting vote in cases of an equality (0), and by whom, or any other of the Committee they may order, a their conclusions are reported to the House." If the Committee be on a bill, it is debated clause by
Proceedings. clause, amendments are made, the blanks filled up, and" sometimes the bill entirely remodelled. See as to Committees on bills,—Chapters VII. & VIII. On Public and .Private Bills. A Committee may adjourn from time to time but can- Adjournment.
Not to sit after not continue sitting after the House has assembled; and it notice is directed to be sent to them by the serjeant at a arms, before prayers are read. *
This rule is a very proper one, inasmuch as the first and paramount duty of a member is to attend in his place in the House, to which attendance in Committees is but subordinate and ancillary; otherwise questions of great importance might be considered in the House while many of its most practical and useful members were unavoidably absent. It is no uncommon thing, however, for a certain Committee, or all Committees, to have leave to continue sitting after the House has met, by a special resolution.
The quorum of a Committee is generally settled by .. the order appointing it, but five is the usual number.
the House has assembled.
(0) C. J. 26 March, 1836. * The House of Commons having found it necessary to have Morning Sittings, from 12 till 3, for the presentation of Petitions, and the transaction of Private business (see ante, p. 283), and not desiring to prevent Committees from meeting at those hours, ordered (on the 20th Feb. 1833) “ That the Serjeant-at-Arms «do, from time to time, when the House is going to prayers (which is done be“ fore the morning sitting commences) give notice thereof to all Committees; and "also at 5 o'clock (when the evening sitting for public business begins) after the * Speaker has taken the Chair; and that all proceedings of Committees after as such second notice, be declared null and void."
It was formerly the practice to allow all members who chose to attend during the sitting of a Committee to have voices, but now none can vote or speak thereon, except they be specially appointed. And it has been held (P) that the Committee. have not only authority to exclude strangers from the room, but every member of the House, not of the Committee.
A matter referred to one Committee may afterwards be transferred to another (9). And, on motion, new matter mnay. be referred to their consideration. · The examination of witnesses by Comınittees of the House of Commons, must not be upon oath, as in the Lords (). See Chap. XVII, On Witnesses.
Having examined into the merits of the subject referred to them, it is the duty of the Chairman to sign their report, which is then delivered to the House. Accompanying the report there must be the daily minutes of their proceedings, which must include the names of the members attending the Committee at each of its sittings,—the votes .on all divisions, with the question and the name of its proposer,--and, if witnesses have been examined, the name of every member examining a witness must be prefixed to the evidence (s).
See further, incidentally, as to Select Committees, in Chaps. VII. & VIII. Or Public and Private Bills.
There are two kinds of Select Committees which require a separate notice; they are :
1st. Select Committee to search Lords' Journals. It has been the uniform practice with the House of Commons, if they have occasion to know formally what the Lords have done with respect to any bill or other measure pending, to appoint a Committee to search the Lords' Journals on the matter, and report the proceedings to the House; to entitle
Committee to search Lords' Journals,
the Commons to this right it is not held necessary that the subject matter of the search should have originated in the House of Commons (t) or that the matter of enquiry should have originated or taken place that session (v). It does not appear that the Lords have ever adopted a similar course of proceeding with respect to the Journals of the House of Commons; indeed, the practice that has so long prevailed of printing the votes of that House may have rendered it unnecessary, the Lords having always held them to be good evidence in any matter of enquiry (w). • 2d. Select Committees to attend upon certain Lords to re- Committees to ceive information. The practice of appointing Committees Lords. ® < of this kind, to obtain information upon particular subjects under enquiry, seems to have been adopted in lieu of desiring the personal attendance of such Lords for examination. But this plan has been found very defective in answering the purposes required, and therefore, in later instances, the Commons have departed therefrom, and requested the personal attendance of the Lords, to receive their viva voce evidence (x).
JOINT COMMITTEES OF BOTH HOUSES. · These Committees, from a feeling of jealousy on the part of the Lords, are now disused, and may almost be considered as obsolete. · They differ from Conferences materially, their object being, that a Committee of this kind, in receiving information will communicate it to both Houses at the same time, and in the examination of witnesses the same questions and answers will form the substance of the report made to each House; another advantage attending them is, that by this means evidence receives the sanction and authority of
(t) C. J. v. 60, p. 449 ; v. 66, p. 371, &c. (o) C. J. v. 65, p. 26. (W) See L. J. 31 Dec. 1691.
(x) As the examination of Lords Sandwich and March, in 1769, on Wilkes! case; and Earl Cornwallis, in 1779, relative to America.
ber of Comino2s.
Where Lords an oath, the witnesses being sworn at the bar of the House refuse to appoint them. of Lords prior to giving their testimony (y). But with re
spect to this latter reason, the Lords would now refuse to accede to the appointment of a Joint Committee expressly on that ground, as was shown in a case in which the Commons desired a Joint Committee that the public accounts might be examined upon oath (z). Another great objection made by the Lords to Committees of this kind is,
that, according to the practice on such occasions, the numDouble the num- ber of Commons is always double that of the Lords, con
as: sequently, if a division should take place on any sub
ject, the Commons would be able to carry the question, even though all the Lords were in opposition. The mode adopted in 1794, (on the question of the King's health) of each House appointing a separate Committee, and giving power to these Committees to communicate with each other from time to time, obviated this objection, and yet preserved all the advantages of a Joint Committee,
COMMITTEES OF CONFERENCE.
A Conference between the two Houses is used to preCONFERENCE., vent a bill being lost from some difference as to the amend
ments; or in cases of difficulty or dispute between the two Houses, in order to enable them to come to a good
understanding, or in default thereof, to preserve a record Who to request. to posterity of the opinions or wishes of either House.
The request for a Conference must always come from the
When a conference is asked, the subject must be clearly expressed, or it will not be acceded to (6); this rule is not only required to be observed that the other House may be enabled to estimate the importance of the subject, but that they may see whether it will be consistent with their
Cause to be expressed.
(1) L. J. 24 & 25 April, 1693.
(z) C. J. 28 Nov. 1666.