Page images

Orders for calls on different days may subsist at the same time. 2 Hats. 72.


[No member shall absent himself from the service of the Senate, without leave of the Senate first obtained. And in case a less number than a quorum of the Senate shall convene, they are hereby authorised to send the Sergeant-atarms, or any other person or persons by them authorised, for any or all absent members, as the majority of such members present shall agree, at the expense of such absent members respectively, unless such excuse for non-attendance shall be made, as the Senate, when a quorum is convened, shall judge sufficient: and in that case the expense shall be paid out of the contingent fund. And this rule shall apply as well to the first convention of the Senate, at the legal time of meeting, as to each day of the session, after the hour is arrived, to which the Senate stood adjourned. Rule 8.]


[The Vice-President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote unless they be equally divided. Constitution, I. 3.]

[The Senate shall choose their officers, and also a President pro tempore in the absence of the Vice-President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States. 16.]

[The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers. Const. I. 2.]

When but one person is proposed, and no objection made, it has not been usual in parliament to put any question to the house; but without a question, the members proposing him, conduct him to the chair. But if there be objection, or another proposed, a question is put by the clerk. 2 Hats. 158. As are also questions of adjournment. 6 Grey, 406. Where the house debated and exchanged messages and answers

with the king for a week, without a speaker, till they were prorogued. They have done it de die in diem for 14 days. 1 Chand. 331, 335.

[In the Senate, a President pro tempore in the absence of the Vice-President is proposed and chosen by ballot. His office is understood to be determined on the Vice-President's appearing and taking the chair, or at the meeting of the Senate after the first recess.]

Where the speaker has been ill, other speakers pro tempore have been appointed. Instances of this, are 1 H. 4. Sir John Cheyney, and for Sir Wm. Sturton, and in 15 H. 6. Sir John Tyrrel, in 1656, Jan. 27, 1658. Mar. 9, 1659. Jan. 13.

Sir Job Charlton ill, Seymour chosen 1673, Feb. 18.

Not merely pro Seymour being ill, Sir Robert Saw-Stempore. i Chand. yer chosen, 1678, April 15.

169, 276, 277. Sawyer being ill, Seymour chosen.

Thorpe in execution, a new speaker chosen. 31 H. VI. . 3 Grey, 11, and Mar. 14, 1694, Sir John Trevor chosen. There have been no later instances. 2 Hats. 161. 4 inst. 8 L. Parl. 263.

A speaker may be removed at the will of the house, and a speaker pro tempore appointed.* 2 Grey, 186.5 Grey, 134.


[The President shall, from time to time, give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. Const. II. 3.]

A joint address of both Houses of Parliament is read by

* RULE 23. The Vice President or President of the Senate, pro tempore, shall have the right to name a member to perform the duties of the chair ; but such substitution shall not extend beyond an adjournment.

the Speaker of the House of Lords. It may be attended by both Houses in a body, or by a Committee from each House, or by the two Speakers only. An address of the House of Commons only, may be presented by the whole House, or by the Speaker, 9 Grey, 473. i Chandler, 298, 301 ; or by such particular members as are of the privy council. 2 Hats. 278.


Standing Committees, as of Privileges and Elections, &c., are usually appointed at the first meeting, to continue through the session. The person first named is generally permitted to act as chairman. But this is a matter of courtesy ; every Committee having a right to elect their own chairman, who presides over them, puts questions, and reports their proceedings to the House. 4 inst. 11, 12. Scob. 9. 1 Grey, 122.

At these Committees the members are to speak standing, and not sitting : though there is reason to conjecture it was formerly otherwise. D'Ewes, 630. col. 1. 4 Parl. Hist. 440. 2 Hats. 77.

Their proceedings are not to be published, as they are of no force till confirmed by the House. Rushw. part. 3, vol. 2, 74. 3 Grey, 401. Scob. 39. Nor can they receive a petition but through the House. 9 Grey, 412.

When a Committee is charged with an inquiry, if a member prove to be involved, they cannot proceed against him, but must make a special report to the House: whereupon the member is heard in his place, or at the bar, or a special authority is given to the Committee to inquire concerning him. 9 Grey, 523.

So soon as the House sits, and a Committee is notified of it, the chairman is in duty bound to rise instantly, and the members to attend the service of the House. 2 Nals. 319.

It appears that on joint Committees of the Lords and Commons, each Committee acted integrally in the following in

stances: 7 Grey, 261, 278, 285, 338. 1 Chandler, 357, 462. In the following instances it does not appear whether they did or not : 6 Grey, 129.7 Grey, 213, 229, 321.*


The speech, messages, and other matters of great concernment, are usually referred to a committee of the whole house, 6 Grey, 311, where general principles are digested in the form of resolutions, which are debated and amended till they get into a shape which meets the approbation of a majority. These being reported and confirmed by the house, are then referred to one or more select committees, according as the

* Rule 33. The following standing Committees, to consist of five members each, shall be appointed at the commencement of each session, with leave to report by bill or otherwise :

A Committee on Foreign Relations.
A Committee on Finance.
A Committee on Commerce.
A Committee on Manufactures.
A Committee on Agriculture.
A Committee on Military Affairs.
A Committee on the Militia.
A Committee on Naval Affairs.
A Committee on Public Lands.
A Committee on Private Land Claims.
A Committee on Indian Affairs.
A Committee of Claims.
A Committee on the Judiciary.
A Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads.
A Committee on Pensions.
A Committee on the District of Columbia.

A Committee of three members, whose duty it shall be to audit and control the contingent expenses of the Senate.

And a Committee, consisting of three members, whose duty it shall be to examine all bills, amendments, resolutions, or motions, before they go out of the possession of the Senate, and to make report that they are correctly 'engrossed; which report shall be entered on the journal.

subject divides itself into one or more bills. Scob, 36. 44. Propositions for any charge on the people are especially to be first made in a committee of the whole. 3 Hats. 127. The sense of the whole is better taken in committee, because in all committees every one speaks as often as he pleases. Scob. 49. They generally acquiesce in the chairman named by the speaker ; but, as well as all other committees, have a right to elect one, some member, by consent, putting the question. Scob. 36. 3 Grey, 301. The form of going from the house into committee, is for the speaker, on motion, to put the question that the house do now resolve itself into a committee of whole to take under consideration such a matter, naming it. If determined in the affirmative, he leaves the chair, and takes a seat elsewhere, as any other member; and the person appointed chairman seats himself at the clerk's table. Scob. 36. Their quorum is the same as that of the house; and if a defect happens, the chairman, on a motion and question, rises, the speaker resumes the chair, and the chairman can make no other report than to inform the house of the cause of their dissolution. If a message is announced during a committee, the speaker takes the chair, and receives it, because the committee cannot. 2 Hats. 125, 126.

In a committee of the whole, the tellers on a division, differing as to numbers, great heats and confusion arose, and danger of a decision by the sword. The speaker took the chair, the mace was forcibly laid on the table; whereupon, the members retiring to their places, the speaker told the house “ he had taken the chair without an order, to bring the house into order.” Some excepted against it; but it was generally approved as the only expedient to suppress the disorder. And every member was required, standing up in his place, to engage that he would proceed no further in consequence of what had happened in the grand committee, which was done. 3 Grey, 128.

A committee of the whole being broken up in disorder, and the chair resumed by the speaker without an order, the house

« PreviousContinue »