Page images
PDF
EPUB

shall be first put. Scob., 28, 22; 2 Hats., 81. But this rule gives way to what may be called privileged questions; and the privileged questions are of different grades among themselves.

A motion to adjourn simply takes place of all others; for otherwise the House might be kept sitting against its will, and indefinitely. Yet this motion cannot be received after another question is actually put and while the House is engaged in voting. [In the Senate.] The present rules specify the motions entitled to preference

as follows:

Rule XXII.
When a question is pending no motion shall be received but-
To adjourn,

To adjourn to a day certain, or that when the Senate adjourn, it shall be to a day certain,

To take a recess,
To proceed to the consideration of executive business,
To lay on the table,
To postpone indefinitely,
To postpone to a day certain,
To commit,

To amend; which several motions shall have precedence as they stand arranged; and the motions relating to adjournment, to take a recess, to proceed to the consideration of executive business, to lay on the table, shall be decided without debate.

Rule IX. Immediately after the consideration of cases not objected to upon the Calendar is completed, and not later than two o'clock, if there shall be no special orders for that time, the Calendar of General Orders shall be taken np and proceeded with in its order, beginning with the first subject on the Calendar next after the last subject disposed of in proceeding with the Calendar, and in such case the following motions shall be in order at any time as privileged motions, save as against a motion to adjourn, or to proceed to the consideration of Executive business, or questions of privilege, to wit:

First, d motion to proceed to the consideration of an appropriation or revenue bili.

Second. A motion to proceed to the consideration of any other bill on the Calendar, which motion shall not be open to amendment.

Third. A motion to pass over the pending subject, which, if carried, shall have the effect to leave such subject without prejudice in its place on the Calendar.

Fourth. A motion to place such subject at the foot of the Calendar.

Each of the foregoing motions shall be decided without debate, and shall have precedence in the order above named, and may be submitted as in the nature and with all the rights of questions of order.

Orders of the day take place of all other questions, except for adjournment—that is to say, the question which is the subject of an order is made a privileged one, pro hac vice. The order is a repeal of the general rule as to this special case. When any member moves, therefore, for the order of the day to be read, no further debate is permitted on the question which was before the House; for if the debate might proceed it might continue through the day and defeat the order. This motion, to entitle it to precedence, must be for the orders generally, and not for any particular one; and if it be carried on the question, "Whether the House will now proceed to the orders of the day ?” they must be read and proceeded on in the course in which they stand, 2 Hats., 83; for priority of order gives priority of right, which can not be taken away but by another special order.

After these there are other privileged questions, which will require considerable explanation.

It is proper that every parliamentary assembly should have certain forms of questions, so adapted as to enable them fitly to dispose of every proposition which can be made to them. Such are, 1. The previous question. 2. To postpone indefinitely. 3. To adjourn a question to a definite day. 4. To lie on the table. 5. To commit. 6. To amend. The proper occasion for each of these questions should be understood.

1. When a proposition is moved which it is useless or inexpedient now to express or discuss, the previous question has been introduced for suppressing for that time the motion and its discussion. 3 Hats., 188, 189.

2. But as the previous question gets rid of it only for that day, and the same proposition may recur the next day, if they wish to suppress it for the whole of that session, they postpone it indefinitely. 3 Hats., 183. This quashes the proposition for that session, as an indefinite adjournment is a dissolution, or the continuance of a suit sine die is a discontinuance of it.

3. When a motion is made which it will be proper to act on, but information is wanted, or something more pressing claims the present time, the question or debate is adjourned to such day within the session as will answer the views of the House. 2 Hats., 81. And those who have spoken before may not speak again when the adjourned debate is resumed. 2 Hats., 73. Sometimes, however, this has been abusively used by adjourning it to a day beyond the session, to get rid of it altogether, as would be done by an indefinite postponement.

4. When the House has something else which claims its present attention, but would be willing to reserve in their power to take up a proposition whenever it shall suit them, they order it to lie on their table. It may then be called for at any time.

5. If the proposition will want more amendment and digestion than the formalities of the House will conveniently admit, they refer it to a committee.

6. But if the proposition be well digested, and may need but few and simple amendments, and especially if these be of leading consequence, they then proceed to consider and amend it themselves.

The Senate, in their practice, vary from this regular gradation of forms. Their practice comparatively with that of Parliament stands thus :

[blocks in formation]

In their eighth rule (XXII), therefore, which declares that while a question is before the Senate no motion shall be received, unless it be for the previous question, or to postpone, commit, or amend the main question, the term postponement must be understood according to their broad use of it, and not in its parliamentary sense. Their rule, then, establishes as privileged questions, the previous question, postponement, commitment, and amendment.

But it may be asked: Have these questions any privilege among themselves ? or are they so equal that the common principle of the "first moved first put” takes place among them? This will need explanation. Their competitions may be as follows: 1. Previous question and postpone )

commit

amend 2. Postpone and previous question

| In the first, second, and third

, commit

classes, and the first member amend

of the fourth class, the rule 3. Commit and previous question

“first moved first put" takes postpone >

place.

amend
4. Amend and previous question )

postpone >
commity

In the first class, where the previous question is first moved, the effect is peculiar; for it not only prevents the after motion to postpone or commit from being put to question before it, but also from being put after it; for if the previous question be decided affirmatively, to wit, that the main question shall now be put, it would of course be against the decision to postpone or commit; and if it be decided negatively, to wit, that the main question shall not now be put, this puts the House out of possession of the main question, and consequently there is nothing before them to postpone or commit. So that neither voting for nor against the previous question will enable the advocates for postponing or committing to get at their object. Whether it may be amended shall be examined hereafter.

Second class. If postponement be decided affirmatively, the proposition is removed from before the House, and consequently there is no ground for the previous question, commitment or amendment; but if decided negatively (that it shall not be postponed), the main question may then be suppressed by the previous question, or may be committed, or amended.

The third class is subject to the same observations as the second.

The fourth class. Amendment of the main question first moved, and afterwards the previous question, the question of amendment shall be first put.

Amendment and postponement competing, postponement is first put, as the equivalent proposition to adjourn the main question would be in Parliament. The reason is that the question for amendment is not suppressed by postponing or adjourning the inain question, but remains before the House whenever the main question is resumed ; and it might be that the occasion for other urgent business might go by, and be lost by length of debate on the amendment, if the House had it not in their power to postpone the whole subject.

Amendment and commitment. The question for committing, though last moved, shall be first put; because, in truth, it facilitates and befriends the motion to amend. Scobell is express : “On motion to amend a bill, any one may notwithstanding move to commit it, and the question for commitment shall be first put." Scob., 46.

We have hitherto considered the case of two or more of the privi. leged questions contending for privilege between themselves, when both are moved on the original or main question ; but now let us suppose one of them to be moved, not on the original primary question, but on the secondary one, l..

Suppose a motion to postpone, commit, or amend the main question, and that it be moved to suppress that motion by putting a previous question on it. This is not allowed : because it would embarrass questions too much to allow them to be piled on one another several stories high; and the same result may be had in a more simple way-by deciding against the postponement, commitment, or amendment. 2 Hats., 81, 2, 3, 4.

Suppose a motion for the previous question, or commitment or amendment of the main question, and that it be then moved to post

« PreviousContinue »