Sivut kuvina

it very briefly, beginning in the houfe of commons. But firft I muft premife, that for dispatch of business cach houfe of parliament has it's fpeaker. The fpeaker of the house of lords, whofe office it is to prefide there, and manage the formality of bufinefs, is the lord chancellor, or keeper of the king's great feal, or any other appointed by the king's commiffion: and, if none be to appointed, the house of lords (it is faid) may elect. The fpeaker of the house of commons is chofen by the house; but must be approved by the king. And herein the ufage of the two houfes differs, that the speaker of the house of commons cannot give his opinion or argue any question in the houfe; but the fpeaker of the house of lords, if a lord of parliament, may. In cach houte the act of the majority binds the whole; and this majority is declared by votes openly and publicly given: not as at Venicc, and many other fenatorial affemblies, privately or by ballot. This latter method may be ferviceable, to prevent intrigues and unconftitutional combinations: but is impoffible to be practiced with us; at least in the house of commons, where every member's conduct is fubject to the future cenfure of his confiituents, and therefore should be openly fubmitted to their infpcction.

To bring a bill into the house, if the relief fought by it is of a private nature, it is firft neceffary to prefer a petition; which must be presented by a member, and ufually fets forth the gricvance defired to be remedied. This petition (when founded on facts that may be in their nature difputed) is referred to a committee of members, who examine the matter alledged, and accordingly report it to the houfe; and then, (or otherwife, upon the mere petition) leave is given to bring in the bill. In public matters the bill is brought in upon motion made to the house, without any petition at all. Formerly, all bills were drawn in the form of petitions, which were entered upon the parliament rolls, with the king's anfwer thereunto fubjoined; not in any fettled form of words, but as the circumftances of the cafe required': and at the end of cach parliament the judges drew


t See, among num berlefs other inane, the articuli cleri, 9 Edw. II.

them into the form of a statute, which was entered on the slatute-rolls. In the reign of Henry V, to prevent mistakes and abuses, the ftatutes were drawn up by the judges before the end of the parliament; and, in the reign of Henry VI, bills in the form of acts, according to the modern cuftom, were first introduced.

THE perfons, directed to bring in the bill, prefent it in a competent time to the houfe, drawn out on paper, with a multitude of blanks, or void spaces, where any thing occurs that is dubious, or neceffary to be fettled by the parliament itself; (such, especially, as the precise date of times, the nature and quantity of penalties, or of any fums of money to be raised) being indeed only the fceleton of the bill. In the house af lords, if the bill begins there, it is (when of a private nature) referred to two of the judges, to examine and report the state of the facts alleged, to fee that all neceffary parties confent, and to settle all points of technical propriety. This is read a first time, and at a convenient diftance a fecond time; and after each reading the speaker opens to the house the fubftance of the bill, and puts the quef tion, whether it fhall proceed any farther. The introduction of the bill may be originally oppofed, as the bill itself may at either of the readings; and if the oppofition fucceeds, the bill must be dropped for that feffions; as it must alfo, if opposed with fuccefs in any of the fubfequent ftages,

AFTER the fecond reading it is committed, that is, referred to a committee; which is cither felected by the house in matters of fmall importance, or elfe, upon a bill of confequence, the houfe refolves itself into a committee of the whole house. A committee of the whole houfe is compofed of every member; and to form it, the fpeaker quits the chair, (another member being appointed chairman) and may fit and debate as a private member. In these committees the bill is debated clause by clause, amendments made, the blanks filled up, and fometimes the bill entirely new modelled. After it has gone through the committee,


the chairman reports it to the houfe with fuch amendments as the committee have inade; and then the houfe reconfider the whole bill again, and the queftion is repeatedly put upon every claufe and amendment. When the houfe have agreed or difagreed to the amendments of the committee, and fometimes added new amendments of their own, the bill is then ordered to be engrossed, or written in a strong grofs hand, on one or more long rolls (or preffes) of parchment iewed together. When this is finished, it is read a third time, and amendinents are fometimes then made to it; and, if a new clause be added, it is done by tacking a feparate piece of parchment on the bill, which is called a ryder. The speaker then again opens the contents; and, holding it up in his hands, puts the queflion, whether the bill fhall pafs. If this is agreed to, the title to it is then fettled; which used to be a general one for all the acts paffed in the feflion, till in the fifth year of Henry VIII diftinct titles were introduced for cach chapter". After this, one of the members is directed to carry it to the lords, and defire their concurrence; who, attended by feveral more, carries it to the bar of the houfe of peers, and there delivers it to their peaker, who comes down fro:n his woolfack to receive it.

IT there paffes through the fame forms as in the other houfe, (except engroffing, which is already done) and, if rejected, no more notice is taken, but it paffes fub filentio, to prevent unbe coming altercations. But if it is agreed to, the lords fend a me!fage by two masters in chancery (or fometimes two of the judges) that they have agreed to the fame: and the bill remains with the lords, if they have made no amendment to it. But if any amendments are made, fuch amendments are fent down with the bill to receive the concurrence of the commons. If the commons diíagree to the amendments, a conference ufually follows between members deputed from each houfe; who for the moft part fettle and adjust the difference: but, if both houfes remain inflexible, the bill is dropped. If the commons agree to the amea latents, the bill is fent back to the lords by one of the members, with a


u Lord Bican on u. 8° 3:5.

meffage to acquaint them therewith. The fame forms are obferved, mutatis mutandis, when the bill begins in the house of lords. But, when an act of grace or pardon is passed, it is first figned by his majesty, and then read once only in each of the houfes, without any new engroffing or amendment". And when both houfes have done with any bill, it always is depofited in the house of peers, to wait the royal affent; except in the case of a money-bill, which after receiving the concurrence of the lords is fent back to the houfe of commons *.

THE royal affent may be given two ways: 1. In person; when the king comes to the houfe of peers, in his crown and royal robes, and fending for the commons to the bar, the titles of all the bills that have paffed both houfes are read; and the king's answer is declared by the clerk of the parliament in Norman-French: a badge, it must be owned, (now the only one remaining) of conqueft; and which one could wish to fee fall into total oblivion; unless it be referved as a folemn memento to remind us that our liberties are mortal, having once been deftroyed by a foreign force. If the king confents to a public bill, the clerk ufually declares, "le roy le veut, the king wills it fo to "be;" if to a private bill, "foit fait come il eft de defirè, be it as it “is defired.” If the king refufes his affent, it is in the gentle language of "le roy f' avifera, the king will advise upon it." When a money-bill is paffed, it is carried up and presented to the king by the fpeaker of the houfe of commons'; and the royal affent is thus expreffed, "le roy remercie fes loyal fubjects, "accepte lour benevolence, et auffi le veut, the king thanks his loyal "fubjects, accepts their benevolence, and wills it fo to be." In cafe of an act of grace, which originally proceeds from the crown and has the royal affent in the firft ftage of it, the clerk of the parliament thus pronounces the gratitude of the fubject; "les prelats, feigneurs, et commons, en ce prefent parliament affem"blees, au nom de touts vous autres fubjects, remercient tres bumble« ment

D'ewes journ. 20. 73. 17 June 1747. Com. Journ. 24 Jul. 1660.

Com. journ.

y Rot. Parl. 9 Hen. IV. in Pryn. 4 lift:

39, 31.


“ment votre majeste, et prient a Dieu vous donner en fante bone vie "et longue; the prelates, lords, and commons, in this prefent "parliament affembled, in the name of all your other fubjects, "moft humbly thank your majefty, and pray to God to grant you in health and wealth long to live." 2. By the ftatute 33 Hen. VIII. c. 21. The king may give his affent by letters patent under his great feal, figned with his hand, and notified, in his abfence, to both houses affembled together in the high house: And, when the bill has received the royal affent in either of thefe ways, it is then, and not before, a ftatute or act of liament.


THIS ftatute or act is placed among the records of the kingdom; there needing no formal promulgation to give it the force of a law, as was neceffary by the civil law with regard to the emperors edicts: because every man in England is, in judgment of law, party to the making of an act of parliament, being prefent thereat by his representatives. However, a copy thereof is ufually printed at the king's prefs, for the information of the whole land. And formerly, before the invention of printing, it was used to be published by the sheriff of every county; the king's writ being fent to him at the end of every feffion, together with a transcript of all the acts made at that feffion, commanding him "ut ftatuta illa, et omnes articulos in eifdem contentos, in "fingulis locis ubi expedire viderit, publice proclamari, et firmiter "teneri et obfervari faciat." And the ufage was to proclaim them at his county court, and there to keep them, that whoever would might read or take copies thereof; which cuftom continued till the reign of Henry the feventh.

AN act of parliament, thus made, is the exercise of the highest authority that this kingdom acknowleges upon earth. It hath power to bind every subject in the land, and the dominions thereunto belonging; nay, even the king himself, if particularly named therein. And it cannot be altered, amended, difpenfed with, fufpended,


7. D'eues journ. 3r.

a 3 Inft. 41.

4 Inft. 16.

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