網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

and from courtesy, the persons nominated for speaker, always vote for each other.

Before they can proceed to business, even before the choice of a speaker, the members must take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, in the presence of the lord Steward of his majesty's household. After the choice of the speaker, they take the said oaths again at the table, and formerly declared and subscribed their opinions against the doctrine of transubstantiation, invocation, and adoration of saints, and the sacrifice of the mass: but in 1829 the statute enforcing the subscription against these doctrines was repealed, and the oaths only remain.

Any member of parliament may move for leave to bring in a bill; when the question is put and agreed to by the house, the person making the motion, and those who second it, are then ordered to prepare and bring in the bill; which when ready, the mover presents; reading the order at the side bar, and desires leave to bring it to the table, which being agreed to, the bill is sometimes immediately read for the first time, if not, it may be read at any other time, by the clerk at the table, which the house agrees to; after which the speaker taking the bill in his hands reads the preamble, and after the debate, if any, he puts the question whether it shall be read a second time, and when: after the second reading, the question is put whether it shall be committed, which if the bill is of great importance is usually to a committee of the whole house, if it is of inferior moment to a private committee, any member at pleasure naming the persons to be on the committee, whose names being read by the clerk at the table, they are ordered to meet in the speaker's chamber, and report their opinion to the house. When the Committee meets they choose a chairman, and either adjourn to some future time or immediately proceed to consider the bill: the chairman first causes a clerk attending the committee to read the bill, then he reads it himself paragraph by paragraph, putting every clause to the question, filling up the blanks, and making amendments according to the opinion of the majority of the committee, of whom there must be eight of the persons named to proceed regularly, though five may adjourn. When the Committee, have gone through the bill, the chairman by directions of the committee makes his report at the side bar of the house, reading all the additions and alterations made by the committee, and how any of these amendments have changed the scope of the bill, and what connexion they have with it, the clerk having at the committee written down in what folio and line of the bill those amendments are to be found; and if it has been thought fit by the committee to add any clause, they are marked alphabetically and read by the chairman, who then moves to have leave to bring up the report to the table; which being agreed to, he does, and delivers it to the clerk, who reads all the amendments, and clauses, the speaker putting

the question whether they shall be read a second time; and if agreed to, reads them himself; and as many of them as the house agrees to, the question is put whether the bill so amended shall be engrossed, that is to say, written fair in parchment, and read the third time some other day and then the speaker, holding the bill in his hand, puts the question whether the bill should pass : if the majority is in its favour, then the clerk writes on it Soit baille aux Seigneurs; but if the bill passes through the house of peers, then it is Soit baille aux Communes. When an engrossed bill is read, and any clauses are offered to be added to it, they must be engrossed in parchment like the bill, which are then called Riders, and if agreed to are then added to the bill.

Petitions are offered in the same manner as bills at the bar of the house, brought up by the member who presents them, and are delivered at the table. All messages from the lords, as likewise all persons appearing at the bar of the house, are introduced by the sergeant in attendance with his mace on his shoulder.

While the speaker is in the chair the mace is always laid upon the table, except when sent upon any extraordinary occasion into Westminster Hall and Court of Requests to summon the members to attend. But when the house resolves itself into a committee of the whole house, the mace is laid under the table, and the chairman to that committee takes the chair where the clerk of the house usually sits. To make a house in the Commons, forty members are requisite, and eight for a committee; the house generally begins by reading some uncompleted bill from last session.

After the speaker and members have taken the oaths, the standing orders of the house are read, and grand committees appointed to sit on usual days. When any member stands up to speak, he must be uncovered, but in strictness and regularity he ought to sit with his hat on. When the speaker finds several bills prepared to be put to the question, he gives notice the day before, that to-morrow he intends to put such bills to the third reading, and desires the special attendance of all the members. And if a bill is rejected it cannot be again proposed during the same session. One mode of rejecting a bill, is by moving, that it be read that day six months, which if carried puts an extinguisher upon it.

When a Bill is sent up by the commons to the peers, it is usual for a certain number of the members to attend, to show their respect, and as they approach the bar of the upper house, the member who presents the bill makes three profound reverences, saying, "The commons have passed an act entitled, &c., to which they desire your lordships' concurrence :" The lord chancellor walks down to the bar and receives it.

When the lords send down a bill to the commons, it is delivered by one of the masters in chancery, or other person whose place is on the woolsacks, who approaches the speaker, and, bowing three times, delivers the

O

bill to him after reading the title, and desires it may be there taken into consideration. If it passes the house Les communes ont assentez is written on the bill. All messages from the commons to the lords, are introduced by the black rod, and those from the lords, are presented by the sergeant, who, with his mace on his shoulder, and walking on their right hand, makes with them three bows as they draw near to the speaker, and then deliver their message; they do the same as they retreat, keeping their faces always to the chair. When the messages are of great importance, the lords send one or two of the judges to the house of commons.

In the commons, when a member speaks, he stands up, takes off his hat, and addresses his speech only to the speaker; but cannot speak twice in the same debate, unless the whole house be turned into committee, and then every member may reply as often as he himself or the chairman judges it necessary. If any one in either house, speaks words of offence against the king's majesty or to the house, he is called to order by the speaker, and may be reprimanded at the bar; but if the offence be very great, he is liable to be sent to the Tower. The speaker takes no part in the debates, but only makes a short and plain narrative, he does not vote unless the house be equally divided.

The peers give their suffrages or votes, beginning at the puisne or lowest baron, and so of the rest, each answering separately "content" or "not content." In the house of commons they vote by yeas and nays altogether, and if the yeas or nays be doubtful, the house divides. If the question be the bringing in a bill or petition, then the ayes go out; but if it is on any bill before the house, then the noes go out. In all divisions, the speaker appoints four tellers, two of each opinion, who, after they have told those within, place themselves in the passage betwixt the bar and the door of the house, and tell the others who went out as they enter, and who till then are not permitted to come in: afterwards the two tellers who have the majority take the right hand, and placing themselves within the bar, all the four make their reverences, as they advance, three times, and then deliver the numbers at the table, saying, the ayes that went out are so many, the noes that stayed in so many, and vice versa, which the speaker repeats, and declares the majority. In a committee of the whole house, the way of dividing, is by changing sides, the ayes taking the right and the noes the left hand of the chair, in which case there are but two tellers.

If a bill pass in one house, and the other house demur to receiving it, then a conference is demanded in the Painted Chamber, where certain deputed members of each house meet, the lords sitting covered at a table, the commons standing uncovered, when the business is debated: if they do not agree, then the business is null; but if they do agree, then it is at last brought, with all the other bills which have passed both houses, to the king, who comes again wearing his crown and royal robes, and seated on the

throne, and the peers being in their robes, the clerk of the crown reads the title of each bill, and as he reads, the clerk of the parliament, according to his instructions pronounces the royal assent. If it is a public bill he says, Le roy le veut, which gives life and birth to that bill which was before only in embryo. If the bill be private, the answer is Soit fait comme il est desire. If the king refuses his assent to any bill, the answer is Le roy s'avisera, which is an absolute denial, but in a mild and gracious manner, and the bill is wholly null. If it be a money bill, or has subsidies for its object, he says, Le roy remercie ses loyaux sujets, accepte leur benevolence, et aussi le veut.

This custom of using the French language, was imposed by William the Conqueror, and has been continued ever since as a matter of form, which often subsists for ages after the real substance of things has been altered ; and judge Blackstone says, it is "a badge, it must be owned, now the only one remaining, of conquest; and which, one would wish to see fall into total oblivion, unless it be reserved as a solemn memento to remind us that our liberties are mortal, having once been destroyed by a foreign force."

A bill for the king's general pardon has but one reading in either house, because they must take it as the king will please to give it.

When the business for which the parliament was summoned, has been brought to a conclusion, then the king usually adjourns, prorogues, or dissolves the parliament in the following manner:

The adjournments are always made in the house of peers, by the lord chancellor, in the king's name, to any other day which the king pleases, and also to what other place, if he thinks fit to remove them, as used formerly to be done. Every thing already debated or read in one or both houses, continues in the same state as it was in before the adjournment, to the next meeting, and so may be resumed. This is to be understood only of such adjournments as precede a recess for some time; for in all other cases, it is the undoubted privilege of each house to adjourn itself. When parliament is prorogued, the session is ended, in which case, such bills in either house as were almost ready, but had not the royal assent, must at the re-assembling of parliament, be begun anew. When notice is given to the speaker of the house of Commons, that it is the king's pleasure to adjourn the parliament, he says "This house is adjourned.”

When it is the king's pleasure to prorogue or dissolve parliament, he generally comes down to the house of peers wearing his crown, and sends the black rod for the members of the house of commons to come to the bar of the house of peers, and after signifying his assent or dissent, as already described, his majesty usually makes a speech, and sometimes the lord chancellor another: then the lord chancellor, by his majesty's special command, pronounces the parliament either prorogued or dissolved. Sometimes parliament is prorogued or dissolved by commission, under the great seal, and in the same manner bills have been passed. The king

being the head of the parliament, if his death happened during its sitting, it was formerly ipso facto dissolved. But to prevent tumults and confusions, it has been provided by a solemn act: "that a parliament sitting or in being at the demise of the king, shall continue for six months, and if not sitting, shall meet expressly for keeping the peace of the realm and preserving the succession.'

THE ANCIENT PARLIAMENT OF SCOTLAND.

ALTHOUGH the parliament of Scotland, by the happy union of the kingdoms, is now at an end, and the representatives of this country united to those of England, with the peers, compose the imperial parliament of Great Britain; yet when we reflect on our own independence as a free people, and upon its ancient grandeur, decency, dignity, and excellent order in transacting public affairs, it will not be unacceptable to take a brief view of it.

The late supreme court, both in dignity and in authority, was accounted the assembly of the states of the kingdom, and was called a parliament. It consisted always of three estates, the lords spiritual, the lords temporal, and the commissioners of counties, cities, and boroughs. This court was called by the king or queen-regent at pleasure, allowing a certain time for notice before their assembling. Forty days previous to meeting, the parliament was summoned by proclamation at the principal burgh of each county; after which the counties and burghs met for their elections. Every one who held lands of the crown, who in the rolls of taxations were valued at forty shillings Scots money of taxation to the king, which in real value may be about ten pounds sterling a year, or every one who had thirty three pounds six shillings and eight pence, of the present valuation, was an elector or might have been elected, if he was legally infeft or seised in the lands, and was not at the king's horn, or under an outlawry. The electors subscribed the commissions they gave, which returned their member or commissioner, as was the language of the Scottish parliament. In the case of a controverted election, the parliament judged who should serve. In the royal burgh, the common council elected the commissioner. On the first session of each parliament, the regalia, crown, sceptre, and sword of state, were brought down in state from the castle where they were kept, to Holyrood house, the coach being well attended with guards, and every passer by being obliged to be uncovered.

The following was the order of the procession in the riding of the Scottish parliament at Edinburgh, 6th May, 1703, with the number of

« 上一頁繼續 »