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body, created by the sovereign, are supposed to be more liable to the influence of the crown, and, when once influenced, to continue so, than the commons, who are a temporary elective body, freely chosen by the people. But the lords are enabled to secure themselves against any unfairness or improvidence on the part of the commons, by being invested with the power to reject their grants. The lords are not allowed by the commons to amend any money-bill; for it must come down to the House of Commons with the amendments, and then that house invariably rejects the bill. Every bill which imposes any charge on the subject directly or indirectly, has been construed to be a money-bill; and then either the bill itself (if it is for granting a supply), or the money-clauses (if it only incidentally charges the subject), must not be altered by the lords.1
All motions for supply must be brought forward in a committee of the whole house. The advantage of this is, that the rules of the house admit of members speaking in committee as often as they find it necessary, which they could not otherwise do. Thus the subject is fully and maturely considered, and all the information which members can afford is elicited. Besides, in committee nothing is actually decided, but resolutions only are agreed to; and these are examined again on being reported to thr house, which may recommit the whole or any part of the report, if they think it not sufficiently canvassed. If the house agrees to the report, it orders that a bill be brought
1 Hats. Prec. v. iii. p. 110, &c. The queen can no more incidentally charge than directly tax the subject . Thus, though to the queen belongs the creation as well as the distribution of offices, yet she cannot create any new office with new fees, nor annex new fees to old offices. Cruise, Digest, v. iii. p. 93. tit. xxv. § 5. (Coke) 4 Inst. (Coke) 2 Inst .
in by certain persons, founded on the resolutions.1 Thus it appears (and this is, indeed, most fitting) that the commons use great deliberation and caution in exercising that privilege, with which they are exclusively entrusted by the constitution. The House of Commons, however, can vote no money except at the application, or with the assent, of the crown.2 They sometimes, where the sum required is trifling, address the crown to advance money for a particular purpose, and give assurances that the expenses so incurred shall be made good; but without the assent of the crown the money cannot be raised. Thus the house cannot receive a petition praying for a grant of money, unless it is recommended by the crown.3 Moreover, the money raised by taxation is paid immediately into her majesty's exchequer, and not to the House of Commons. The reasons of these limitations of the power of the commons are very cogent. In the first place, the duty of collecting and applying the public revenues properly belongs to the executive; and, secondly, if the House of Commons could raise and manage the revenue without the crown, the independence of the royal authority would be endangered, and the balance of the constitution destroyed.
We come now to the laws and customs of the House of Commons respecting elections. We have already seen who are entitled by law to elect, and what persons are qualified to be elected, in the preceding chapter, wherein we examined the nature of the component parts of the legislatuie. Nothing, therefore, remains to be considered under this head but the mode of proceeding at elections.
1 Hats. Prec. vol. Hi. p. 166, &c.
1 Hats. Prec. vol. Hi. p. 194, 195. And see the commencement of the fourteenth chapter, infra. » Hats. Prec. vol Hi. p. 242.
This is regulated by a great variety of statutes, but chiefly by the stat. 2 Wm. IV. c. xlv. for England, the stat . 2 and 3 Wm. IV. c. lxv. for Scotland, and the stat. 2 and 3 Wm. IV. c. lxxxviii. for Ireland.
When a parliament is summoned, the lord chancellor sends his warrant to the clerk of the crown in chancery, who thereon issues writs to the sheriffs of every county, for the election of all the members to serve for that county, and every city and borough therein. If a vacancy happens while parliament is sitting, the speaker issues his warrant to the clerk of the crown, by order of the house; and if during a recess, then merely on receiving a certificate of the vacancy under the hand of two members; and fourteen days after giving notice thereof in the London Gazette, the clerk of the crown proceeds thereon as in the cases where the warrant is sent by the lord chancellor.1
Within three days after the receipt of the writ, the sheriff is to issue his precept, under his seal, to the proper returning-officers of all the cities and boroughs in his county, requiring them to proceed for the election of their members. Those returning-officers are to give three clear days' notice of the election, and proceed to the election within eight days ;s to preside thereat, and receive the votes by themselves and their substitutes; and return the precept to the sheriff, with the name and description of the person chosen.
Elections for counties must be proceeded with by the
1 The regulations on this subject are to be found in stat. 24 Geo. III. st. 2, c. xxvi.; which also provides for the cases of the speaker's being dead, or absent from the kingdom, or his seat being vacant. The speaker, at the beginning of parliament, appoints not less than three, nor more than seven members to act for him in these cases. As for cases where a seat becomes vacant pending a petition against the return, see stat. 2 and 3 Vict. c. xxxviii. § 19.
: Stat . 3 and 4 Vict . c. lxxxi.
sheriffs themselves, in person or by deputy, within sixteen, and not before the expiration of ten, days from the receipt of the writ, at the usual place.1
No scrutiny can now take place before the sheriff, or other returning-officer, as to the legality of any votes tendered. A voter is sworn to three points of inquiry :—1. That he is the same person whose name appears on the register; 2. That he has not already voted; and, 3. That he still possesses the qualification for which he was registered. Persons excluded from the register when it was revised may tender their votes, which are to be entered on the poll-book, and distinguished from the others. In the event of a petition against the return, the validity of those votes comes for adjudication before a committee of the House of Commons.
The election being closed, the sheriff returns the writ, with the names of the knights of the shire chosen,—and also the precepts, with the names of the citizens and burgesses elected for the cities and boroughs in his county,— to the clerk of the crown in chancery, before the day on which the parliament is summoned to meet. If the election is to fill a vacancy, and not on a dissolution of parliament, the sheriff is to make the return within fourteen days.
The proceedings at elections in Scotland and Ireland are conducted in an analogous mode.
To preserve the freedom of choosing representatives, which is so essential a principle of the constitution, all soldiers must be removed to the distance of at least two miles from the place where an election is to take place; and, on the same principle, riots have frequently been held to make an election void. By a vote of the House of Commons, no lord of parliament, or lord lieutenant of
1 25 Geo. III. c. lxxxiv.
a county, hath a right to interfere in elections; and, by statute, the lord warden of the cinque ports shall not recommend members there.1
There are also various laws respecting bribery; but it is to be feared that they have hitherto proved ineffectual to extirpate that grave and pernicious offence. A member who is found guilty of bribery forfeits his seat, and is ineligible for that parliament, besides being liable to prosecution in the same manner as bribed voters and persons corrupting them.
Any candidate or voter may petition against the return, and its validity is then adjudicated upon by a committee of the House of Commons, constituted in a peculiar mode, devised for the purpose of securing the impartiality of its decisions.2 These committees have by statute the power of examining witnesses on oath, which the constitution denies to the House of Commons, lest that
1 Blackst. Com. b. i c. ii. p. 179. Officers of the excise, customs, stamps, and some other branches of the revenue, are forbidden, under severe penalties, to interfere in elections.
: Stat . 2 and 3 Vict. c. xxxviii. Six members, appointed by the speaker, and approved by the house, at the beginning of every session, are to appoint six, eight, ten, or twelve chairmen of election-committees out of a list of all the members not excused or petitioned against. The six members (called the general committee) are next to divide that list into five nearly equal panels. The order of the panels is then to be decided by lot, and they are to be numbered accordingly. The general committee are to choose the select committees out of the panel which stands first, and then out of the others in rotation as they are numbered. But members may be disqualified to serve on a select committee by various circumstances specified in the act. Every select committee must consist of six members. The chairman is to be appointed by the members on the list or panel of chairmen before men. tumed. The members and chairman of the select committee, having been reported to the house, are sworn at the table, and constitute the tribunal to adjudicate on the petition or petitions referred to them by the house.