Page images

These petitions, &c. are announced to the house by the speaker, then by him handed to the clerk; by the clerk they are read through, unless the house, on motion, dispense with the reading thereof, and then either ordered to lie on the table, or referred to a select committee. Provided they are referred to a select committee, the following is the rule to be observed by the committee, viz:

Select committees, to whom reference shall be made, shall in all cases report a state of facts, and also their opinions thereon, to the house. R. of A. 36.

In obedience to this rule, it becomes the duty of the committee, as soon as the business will permit, to meet together, examine the matters and make their report, containing a state of the facts, and their opinion thereon. When this committee is ready to report, the chairman thereof, when no one occupies the floor, or whenever the house permits, rises in his place, and there reads the report agreed upon, and then delivers the same to the speaker together with all papers submitted to them. The speaker announces the report, and the same is then read through by the clerk, and the opinion of the house taken thereon, unless postponed. If agreed to, leave is given to bring in a bill, provided that is the request made in the report: and such other proceedings thereon had as the house shall think fit and proper. (See bills, first and second reading &c. hereafter.)



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 stand

ing, 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Their proceedings are not to be published, as they are of no force till confirmed by the house.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. Parl. 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 enquiry, 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 enquire 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.

It appears that on joint committees of the Lords and Commons, each committee acted integrally in the following instances. 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,


Every message from the honorable the senate, communicating any bill for the concurrence of this house, shall, after the second reading of the said bill, be referred to a select committee, with the accompanying documents, if any, to consider and report thereon. R. of A.38.



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 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 the 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. Hats. 125, 126.


In a committee of the whole, the tellers on a division, differing as to the 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 was adjourned. The next day the committee was considered as thereby dissolved, and the subject again before the house; and it was decided in the house, without returning into committee. 3 Grey 130.

en in answer before the house is never written down; but before a committee it must be, for the information of the house, who are not present to hear it. 7 Grey 52, 334.

If either house have occasion for the presence of a person in custody of the other, they ask the other their leave that he may be brought up to them in custody. 3 Hats. 52.

A member, in his place, gives information to the house of what he knows of any matter under hearing at the bar. Jour. H. of C. January 22, 1744....5.

Either house may request, but not command the attendance of a member of the other. They are to make the request by message to the other house, and to express clearly the purpose of attendance, that no improper subject of examination may be tendered to him. The house then gives leave to the member to attend, if he choose it; waiting first to know from the member himself whether he chooses to attend, till which, they do not take the message into consideration. But when the peers are sitting as a court of criminal judicature, they may order attendance; unless where it be a case of impeachment by the Commons. There it is to be a request. 3 Hats. 17.9 Grey 306, 406. 10 Grey 133. Counsel are to be heard only on private, not on public bills, and on such points of law only as the house shall direct. 10 Grey 61.



The Speaker shall cause the clerk of the house to make a list of all bills, resolutions, reports of committees, and other proceedings in the house, which are committed to a committee of the whole house, and which are not made the order of the day, for any particular day, which list shall be called "the general orders of the day." R. of A. 39.

On the meeting of the house, after the reading of the journal, the presentation of petitions shall be first in order; and it shall be the duty of the speaker to call for the same.-R. of A. 40.

one of the majority shall move such reconsideration. A motion for reconsideration being put, and lost, shell not be renewed; nor shall any subject be a second time reconsidered, without unanimous consent. R. of A. 34.

On a motion in committee of the whole house, to rise and report, the question shall be decided without debate, R. of A. 53.



Common fame is a good ground for the house to proceed by enquiry, and even to accusation. Resolution House Commons 1. Car. 1. 1625. Rush. L. Parl. 115. 1 Grey 16....22. 92. 8 Grey 21, 23, 27,


As the heads of impeachment were severally read against the Lord Clarendon in 1667, some member in his place, stated to the house, that several persons had undertaken to make that head good." Or," that the member had heard this from a certain great lord." Or, "that this was too public to stand in need of proof." Or, in one instance, "that the member did not doubt that it will be made out." St. Tr. 558. 4 Hats. 137.

Witnesses are not to be produced but where the house has previously instituted an inquiry, 2 Hats. 102. nor then are orders for their attendance given blank. 3 Grey 51. The process is a summons from the house. 4 Hats. 255, 258.

When any person is examined before a committee, or at the bar of the house, any member wishing to ask the person a question, must address it to the speaker or chairman, who repeats the question to the person, or says to him, "you hear the question, answer it." But if the propriety of the question be objected to, the speaker directs the witness, counsel and parties, to withdraw; for no question can be moved or put, or debated while they are there. 2 Hats. 108. Sometimes the questions are previously settled in writing before the witness enters. Ib. 106, 107, 8 Grey 64. The questions asked must be entered in the journals. 3 Grey 81. But the testimony giv

« PreviousContinue »