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Form of Examipation,
Committee, when it must be reported for the information
of the House, who are not present to hear it (e). If Witness is
When the House has need of the evidence of any per: unable to attend.
son who is incapacitated from attending, an order is made empowering certain members to wait upon him to receive his evidence (f).
A member may, in his place, give information to the House of any thing he knows relative to any matter under hearing at the bar (8).
When a Witness is examined before the House or a Committee of the Whole, the bar must be down. If the Witness be already in the custody of the House, or if he be in prison, he should be brought by the serjeant, with the Mace, who must stand by him during the examination, though the practice in this respect has sometimes differed (k). But when a common Witness is examined, the Mace should remain on the table. When it is off the table, no member can speak, or even suggest questions to the
Chair. When it is left on, the members, though they Speaker only to put questions. cannot debate, may suggest to the Speaker such questions
as arise out of the examination, and appear to them necessary to be put (ë).
Select Committees are generally empowered by the order appointing them, to send for persons and papers. If a Committee be appointed without this power, they may summon witnesses, but if they refuse to attend, authority must first be obtained from the House, before they can be compelled to come. When such authority has been given, the Chairman may sign an order for the person to appear and give evidence before the Committee. If he then refuse to attend, he may be committed for con
tempt. This cannot be done by the Committee, but only coutempt.
by the House, after the matter has been reported to them.
Select Commit. tee to examine Witnesses.
&c. in a witness,
In like manner, a witness guilty of prevarication in giving Prevarication, his evidence, will be punished. Also, any person tampering with a witness, or directly or indirectly attempting to prevent his attendance, will be severely censured by the House, as committing a breach of their collective privileges (k). It is not sufficient for any one to plead such an attempt in excuse for non-attendance, or prevarication, for fected by the the House will protect every Witness giving an honest evidence (1).
No Witness can be arrested upon any civil suit whilst in attendance for examination, or within a reasonable time necessary for a return to his residence, after his final discharge from attending before the Committee (m).*
By a recent order of the House of Commons (n) it is Report of Evirequired, that in all cases where Witnesses are examined before any Select Committee, there be prefixed to the minutes of the evidence of such Committee, to be reported to the House, the name of any member asking a question.
When either House, or any of its Committees, desire Members exa the attendance of a member of the other House, to give other House. evidence, leave must be requested by message ; and it is never granted but with this proviso, that the member
may attend “if he thinks fit”-(see ante p. 309). The mode of admitting Peers into the House of Com
Admitting Peers mons to give evidence, is as follows:- They are received into House of at the door by the Serjeant, bearing the Mace, and on Examination. entering they make three obeisances to the House. They
(£) C. J. 29 Nov. 1710.
(O) C. J. 25 Mar. 1833. (m) C. J. 7 Aug. 1835.
(n) C. J. 12 Feb. 1836. * In a recent case—where a Parliamentary Agent, returning from the House of Lords, where he had been attending an appeal, was arrested upon an attachment for the costs of a Chancery suit,-it was held, that he was entitled to his discharge by privilege of Parliament, although he had not returned by the shortest road, and had stopped for refreshment; aud that he might apply for that purpose either to the Court, out of which the process had issued, or to that on which he was attending when arrested.--Att. Gen. v. Skinner's Comp. ; ex parte Watkins.8 Sim. 377; & Cooper. 1.
then sit down, covered, on a chair placed for them within the bar, on the left hand as they enter ; but in speaking, they stand up uncovered, the Serjeant standing by them all the time, with the Mace on his shoulder.
After giving their evidence, they withdraw, making the same number of obeisances to the House as on entering, the Serjeant
with the Mace accompanying them to the door. The And Judges.
difference between the reception of a Peer and of a Judge has been, that the Speaker informs the Peer that there is a chair for his Lordship to repose himself “ in,” and to the Judge the Speaker says, that thére is a chair for him to repose himself“ upon," i. e. as explained by usage, for the person to rest with his hand upon the back of it (c).
When Peers are sitting as Court of Criminal Judicature, they may order the attendance of members of the House of Commons; unless it be on a case of impeach
ment, when it must be a request (P). Witnesses in If either House have occasion for the
presence custody of the other House. person in custody of the other, they ask leave of that
House that he may be brought before thern (9).
The extent of the power of the House of Commons, to mops can compel
compel Witnesses to attend, without asking leave of their superior officer, if they are under authority, is a disputed question, but it would appear from the precedents of foriner proceedings on this subject, that if they desire to examine a private soldier in the regular army, leave must be first obtained from his commanding officer (r); this does not seem to extend, however, to officers, whether subaltern or otherwise (s).
It is unquestionably desirable and right that the House of Commons, being the grand Inquest of the nation,
How far Coni
witnesses to attend.
(0) 2 Hats. 142.
(p) 9 Grey, 306, 406.
should possess the power to compel persons to attend, and give evidence before them in all cases where it may
be required, but it would seem proper that, when the form of requesting the permission of a member of the Upper House to attend, is observed, the same courtesy should be extended to the immediate Servants and Officers of the King, who is also a branch of the legislature.
But when this individual is merely a civil officer in the Government (r), or the head of a department not under the immediate control of the Sovereign (s) no such permission is necessary, and the House nay, if its order be disobeyed, vindicate its authority by force.
(r) J. H. of A. U. C. 1st Sess. 13th Parlt. ; 7 Feb. 1837. (s) J. H. of A. for 1828, p. 116, &c.
( H A P. XVII.
On Officers Servants of both Houses.
1. OFFICERS, &c. OF THE LORDS.
of the Lords.
Each House of the Imperial Parliament has certain OFFICERS, &c. of Both Houses. officers and servants for the superintendence and transac
tion of its business. Those of the Lords are as follows:
1. A Chairman of Committees upon Private Bills and other matters. This Officer is elected by the House at the commencement of
session ; and it is his duty, not only to preside over all Committees on unopposed Private Bills (see ante p. 213), but to take the chair at all Committees of the Whole, unless another Chairman be specially appointed. The post is now, and has been for many years, filled by Lord Shaftesbury, a noble Lord of profound and practical experience, as well upon the complicated subject of Private Bills, as upon all other duties. connected with the situation,
2. A Clerk of the Parliaments, appointed by letters Parliaments.
patent from the King*. -The duties of this Officer are similar to those of the Clerk of the House of Commons, which will be presently considered. His place in the House is upon a bench behind the table, where he must
sit "to record all things done in Parliament.” He has Under Clerks,
two Clerks under him, who kneel behind the bench (a).
Clerk of the
(a) Elsy. 112.
By the 5th Geo. IV.ch. 82, after the expiration of the existing Letters Patent, the Clerk of the Parliaments shall be appointed by His Majesty, and shall execute bis office in person; and be removable by His Majesty on an Address from the House of Lords.