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assembly should attempt thereby to become a court of justice.1
The commons enjoy the privilege of electing their own speaker (subject to the nominal approval of the crown), who must be a member of that house. He is intrusted with the task of seeing that the orders and rules of the house are observed in its proceedings; and, to ensure his impartiality, he may not take part in a debate nor vote, excepting while the house is in committee, for then he is not in the chair. But if the numbers, on a division, are equal on both sides, the speaker has a casting vote.2
V. We will now proceed to the method of making laws, which is the same m both houses.
It has been already mentioned, that bills for raising a supply or granting money to the crown, ought, according to the rules of the House of Commons, to begin in a committee of the whole house. This mode of proceeding is also sometimes followed in other matters of great importance; and, whenever it is adopted, the house orders certain persons to bring in a bill founded on the report of the committee, which consists of distinct resolutions. But any member may bring in a bill on obtaining leave to do so from the house. If the bill relates to some private matter, a petition from the parties interested must pre
1 Hats. Prec. vol. ii. p. 151, *cc.
1 Hats. Prec . vol. ii. p. 212, &c.; p. 230, See.; p. 241, &c. Hatsell says, in a note, that formerly the speaker used to pass through Westminster Hall in his way to the House of Commons, and saluted the Courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas, the judges rising from their seats, with their caps on, to receive and return the speaker's salute. And Mr. Onslow says, " I ordered a person into custody, but afterwards discharged him, who pressed upon me, and had like to have thrown me down, as I was saluting the Court of Common Pleas."
viously be presented by some member. Petitions are also received against the bill; and the whole matter is referred (if it depends on facts which may be disputed) to a select committee, who are to report thereon to the house; and then the house gives, or refuses, leave to bring in the bill. In the House of Lords all private bills are referred to two of the judges, to see that all the proper parties consent, and to settle all points of technical propriety. If the bill relates to a public matter, no petition is requisite.
The bill is put to the vote a first time; and, if the question passes in the affirmative, it is read a first time; and, at a convenient distance, a second time, if the house consents. After the second reading the bill is committed, —that is to say, it is referred to a select committee appointed by the house,— or else the house resolves itself into a committee of the whole house. In the House of Lords this is done by the lord chancellor leaving the woolsack, and a lord, who is called the chairman of committees, presiding in his stead, but at the table where the clerks sit. In the House of Commons the speaker leaves the chair, tbe chairman of committees presides at the table, under which tbe mace is then placed by the sergeant-at-arms attending the house. And here it is proper to observe, that when the speaker is in the chair, and the mace on the table, any member may rise to address the house. When the speaker leaves the chair, the mace is taken off the table, either to be carried before him by the sergeant-at-arms, or to be placed under the table, if the house resolves itself into committee. When the mace is on the sergeant's shoulder, no member can speak but the speaker; and when it is out of the house, the assembly is no longer a house.1 In committee the bill is put to the 1 Hatsell, Prec. vol. ii. p. 141, note. Parliamentary etiquette is not less minute than that of a court. Thus, when a peer is admitted vote clause by clause, and the blanks left therein are filled up. Any member may propose amendments, which are likewise put to the vote. For the full discussion of bills in committee, members may speak as often as they think proper; but when it is a house, and not a committee, Do member can speak more than once, except the proposer of a motion, who has the right of reply.
When the bill has gone through the committee, the house resumes, and the chairman reports it to the house with whatever amendments the committee have made; and then the house reconsiders the whole bill again, and the question is repeatedly put upon every clause and amendment . If, however, all the clauses have not been examined when the house resumes, the chairman of the committee reports progress, that is to say, reports how far the committee have proceeded, and asks leave to sit again at some other time. When the house has agreed or disagreed to the amendments of the committee, and sometimes added new amendments, which every member is at liberty to propose, the bill is engrossed, or written in a strong hand, on parchment. The next stage is the third reading, when new amendments may be made; but if a
to the House of Commons, the speaker informs him that '' there is a chair for his lordship to repose himself in;" but to a judge the speaker says, that " there is a chair to repose himself upon." The difference is, that the peer sits down, but the judge rests his hand on the back of the chair. Hats. Prec. vol. ii. p. 149. It was proposed, when the lord mayor (Vyner) was admitted to the bar, that he should have a chair, and carried, on a division, in the affirmative: but the speaker, Sir E. Seymour, disapproved of the proposition, and said, that the lord mayor and aldermen had been on their knees at the bar; that to be allowed a chair was a civility due to the nobility; and that the judges had that honour done to them because they were summoned by the king's writ to the House of Lords. The lord mayor was not allowed to be seated. Hats. Prec. vol. ii. p. 138, n., and p. 146 n.
new clause is added, that must be done by tacking a separate piece of parchment on the bill, which is called a rider. The next vote is on the question put by the speaker, “that this bill do pass.” At this stage, in the house in which the bill commenced, its title is added. At any of these stages the whole or any part of the bill may be opposed, and either expressly or virtually rejected. The bill is then sent by the house in which it commenced, or which has amended it, to the other house. The commons always send some of their members to carry bills to the upper house; but the messengers of the House of Lords are usually two masters in chancery, or, when the bill regards matters of great dignity and importance, two judges. When either house has agreed to a bill sent by the other, they inform that house that they have done so by their usual messengers. The lords' messengers are received by the sergeant-at-arms with the mace, and conducted, with three obeisances, to the table, where they deliver the bill, or message with which they are charged, to the speaker; after which they retire as they came, attended by the sergeant, but without turning their backs to the house. In the House of Lords the commons' messengers observe the same forms; but the mace remains on the woolsack, and the lord chancellor comes down to the bar bearing the bag containing (or supposed to contain) the great seal, and there receives the bill or message. If the two houses disagree respecting the amendments to a bill, a conference usually follows between members deputed from each house. And here the lords are distinguished from the commons by peculiar forms and honours. The commons always must send to the conference twice as many members as the other house; the lords are to appoint the time and place; and they sit covered, while the commons stand bareheaded. Nothing, however, passes except the exchange of written doeuments containing the reasons on which each house ground their decision, unless it is a free conference, in which case speeches are made by the peers and commons. Conferences are also held between the two houses on a variety of matters besides amendments to bills.
Bills agreed to by the commons are sent back to the lords; and when both houses have done with a bill, it is deposited in the house of peers to wait the royal assent, except in the case of a bill of supply, which, after receiving the concurrence of the lords, is sent back to the commons, to be presented to the queen by the speaker, at the end of the session, in the House of Lords.1
The royal assent may be given in two ways: 1st, 'ib person, when the queen, seated on the throne in the House of Lords, wearing her crown and royal robes, sends for the commons to the bar, and her answer is declared in Norman French, by the clerk of the parliament, to the bills, the titles of which are severally read. 2d, by commission: the statute 33 Hen. VIII. empowers the queen to give her royal assent by letters patent under her great seal, signed with her hand, and notified, in her absence, by the lords commissioners therein named, to both houses assembled together in the upper house. Those lords commissioners sit with their hats on, in their parliamentary robes, on a form placed before the throne, and send for the House of Commons to the bar. Then the commission is read; after which the royal answer is given, in the usual form, to each of the bills named in the commission; and the commons retire, without turning their
> Blackst. Com. b. i. c. ii. p. 183. Hats. Prec. vol . iii. p. 158, &c .