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The natural order in considering and amending any paper is to begin at the beginning, and proceed through it by paragraphs; and this order is so strictly adhered to in Parliament that when a latter part has been amended you cannot recur back and make any alteration in a former part. 2 Hats., 90. In numerous assemblies this restraint is doubtless important.

To this natural order of beginning at the beginning there is a single exception found in parliamentary usage. When a bill is taken up in committee or on its second reading they postpone the preamble till the other parts of the bill are gone through. The reason is that on consideration of the body of the bill such alterations may therein be made as may also occasion the alteration of the preamble. Scob., 50; 7 Grey, 431.

On this head the following case occurred in the Senate March 6, 1800: A resolution which had no preamble having been already amended by the House so that a few words only of the original remained in it, a motiou was made to prefix a preamble, which, having an aspect very different from the resolution, the mover intimated that he should afterward propose a correspondent amendment in the body of the resolution. It was objected that a preamble could not be taken up till the body of the resolution is done with; but the preamble was received, because we are, in fact, through the body of the resolution. We have amended that as far as amendments have been offered, and, indeed, till little of tbe original is left. It is the proper time, therefore, to consider a preamble, and whether the one offered be consistent with the resolution is for the House to determine. The mover, indeed, bas intimated that he shall offer a subsequent proposition for the body of the resolution; that the House is not in possession of it; it remains in his breast, and may be withheld. The rules of the House can only operate on what is before them. [The practice of the Senate, too, allows recurrences backward and forward for the purposes of amendment, not permitting amendments in a subsequent to preclude those in a prior part, or e converso.]

When the committee is through the whole, a member moves that the committee may rise, and the chairman report the paper to the House, with or without amendments, as the case may be. 2 Hats., 289, 292; Scob., 53; 2 Hats., 290 ; 8 Scob., 50.

When a vote is once passed in a committee, it cannot be altered but by the House, their votes being binding on themselves. 1607, June 4.

The committee may not erase, interline, or blot the bill itself; but must, in a paper by itself, set down the amendments, stating the words which are to be inserted or omitted (Scob., 50), and where, by references to the page, line, and word of the bill. Scob., 50.


The chairman of the committee, standing in his place, informs the House that the committee, to whom was referred such a bill, have, according to order, had the same under consideration, and have directed him to report the same without any amendment, or with sundry amendments (as the case may be), which he is ready to do when the House pleases to receive it. And he or any other may move that it be now received; but the cry of “now, now," from the House, generally dispenses with the formality of a motion and question. He then reads the amend

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ments, with the coherence in the bill, and opens the alterations and the reasons of the committee for such amendments, until he has gone through the whole. He then delivers it at the clerk's table, where the amendments reported are read by the clerk without the coherence; whereupon the papers lie upon the table till the House, at its convenience, shall take up the report. Scob., 52; Hakew., 148.

The report being made, the committee is dissolved, and can act no more without a new power. Scob., 51. But it may be revived by a vote, and the same matter recommitted to them. 4 Grey, 361.

SEC. XXIV.-BILL, RECOMMITMENT. After a bill has been committed and reported, it ought not in an ordinary course to be recommitted; but in cases of importance, and for special reasons, it is sometimes recommitted, and usually to the same committee. Hakew., 151. If a report be recommitted before agreed to in the House, what has passed in committee is of no validity; the whole question is again before the committee, and a new resolution must be again moved, as if nothing had passed. 3 Hats., 131—note.

In Senate, January, 1800, the salvage bill was recommitted three times after the commitment.

A particular clause of a bill may be committed without the whole bill (3 Hats., 131); or so much of a paper to one and so much to another committee.

SEC. XXV.-BILL, REPORTS TAKEN UP. When the report of a paper originating with a committee is taken up by the House, they proceed exactly as in committee. Here, as in committee, when the paragraphs have, on distinct questions, been agreed to seriatim (5 Grey, 366; 6 Grey, 368; 8 Grey, 47, 104, 360; 1 Torbuck's Deb., 125; 3 Hats., 348), no question needs be put on the whole report. 5 Grey, 381.

On taking up a bill reported with amendments, the amendments only are read by the clerk. The Speaker then reads the first, and puts it to the question, and so on till the whole are adopted or rejected, before any other amendment be admitted, except it be an amendment to an amendment. Elsynge's Mem., 53. When through the amendments of the committee, the Speaker pauses, and gives time for amendments to be proposed in the House to the body of the bill, as he does also if it has been reported without amendments, putting no questions but on amendments proposed ; and when through the whole, he puts the question whether the bill shall be read the third time?

SEC. XXVI.-QUASI-COMMITTEE. 1. In a committee every member may speak as often as he pleases. 2. The votes of a committee may be rejected or altered when reported to the House. 3. A committee, even of the whole, cannot refer any matter to another committee. 4. In a committee no previous question can be taken. The only means to avoid an improper discussion is to move that the committee rise; and if it be apprehended that the same discussion will be attempted on returning into committee, the House can discharge them and proceed itself on the business, keeping down the improper discussion by the previous question. 5. A committee cannot punish a breach of order in the House or in the gallery. 9 Grey, 113. It can only rise and report it to the House, who may proceed to punish.


In Parliament, after the bill has been read a second time, if on the motion and question it be not committed, or if no proposition for commitment be made, the Speaker reads it by paragraphs, pausing between each, but putting no question but on amendments proposed; and, when through the whole, he puts the question whether it shall be read a third time, if it come from the other house ; or, if originating with themselves, whether it shall be engrossed and read a third time. The Speaker reads sitting, but rises to put questions. The clerk stands while he reads.

The bill being now as perfect as its friends can make it, this is the proper stage for those fundamentally opposed to make their first attack. All attempts at earlier periods are with disjointed efforts, because many who do not expect to be in favor of the bill ultimately are willing to let it go on to its perfect state, to take time to examine it themselves and to hear what can be said for it, knowing that after all they will have sufficient opportunities of giving it their veto. Its last two stages, therefore, are reserved for this; that is to say, on the question whether it shall be engrossed and read a third time, and, lastly, whether it shall pass. The first of these is usually the most interesting contest, because then the whole subject is new and engaging, and the minds of the members having not yet been declared by any trying vote, the issue is the more doubtful. In this stage, therefore, is the main trial of strength between its friends and opponents, and it behooves every one to make up his mind decisively for this question, or he loses the main battle, and accident and management may and often do prevent a successful rallying on the next and last question, whether it shall pass.

When the bill is engrossed the title is to be indorsed on the back, and not within the bill. Hakew., 250.


Where papers are laid before the House or referred to a committee, every member has a right to have them once read at the table before he can be compelled to vote on them; but it is a great though common error to suppose that he has a right, toties quoties, to have acts, journals, accounts, or papers on the table, read independently of the will of the House. The delay and interruption which this might be made to produce evince the impossibility of the existence of such a right. There is, indeed, so manifest a propriety of permitting every member to have as much information as possible on every question on which he is to vote, that when be desires the reading, if it be seen that it is really for information and not for delay, the Speaker directs it to be read without putting a question, if no one objects; but if objected to, a question must be put. 2 Hats., 117, 118.

It is equally an error to suppose that any member has a right, without a question put, to lay a book or paper on the table, or have it read, on suggesting that it contains matter infringing on the privileges of the House. Ib.

For the same reason, a member has not a right to read a paper in his place, if it be objected to, without leave of the House. But this rigor is never exercised but where there is an intentional or gross abuse of the time and patience of the House.

A member has not a right even to read his own speech, committed to writing

without leave. This also is to prevent an abuse of time, and therefore is not refused but where that is intended. 2 Grey, 227.

A report of a committee of the Senate on a bill from the House of Representatives being under consideration, on motion that the report of the committee of the House of Representatives on the same bill be read in the Senate, it passed in the negative. (Feb. 28, 1793.)

Formerly, when papers were referred to a committee they used to be first read; but of late only the titles, unless a member insists they shall be read, and then nobody can oppose it. (2 Hats., 117)


It is no possession of a bill unless it be delivered to the clerk to be read, or the Speaker reads the title. Lex Parl., 274; Elsynge Mem., 85; Ord. House of Com

mons, 64.

It is a general rule that the question first moved and seconded 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.

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 cannot 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

bat session they postpone it indefinitely. 3 Hats., 183. This quashes the proposi


tion 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 be re may not speak again when the adjourned debate is resumed. 2 Hats., 73. Sometimes, however, this has been abusedly 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 sball 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 formali ties 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 : FOR THE PARLIAMENTARY, Postponement indefinite,

Postponement to a day beyond the session. Adjournment,

Postponement to a day within the session.

Postponement indefinite. Lying on the table,



In their eighth rule, 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 the 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

In the first, second, and third classes, and commit

the first member of the

amend 2. Postpone and previous question


fourth class, the rule - first moved first amend

put” takes place. 3. Commit and previous question


4. Amend and previous question


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