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ried 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.
When the house have proceeded to the “ general or. ders of the day,” no other business shall be in order until the house have disposed of the same, by laying them upon the table, or by postponing them until the next day. R. of A. 41.
The final reading of all bills which require the sanction of a constitutional majority, shall be had on Tuesday or Friday in every week, and no other days, until otherwise ordered, except by unanimous consent. R. of A. 49.
All the unfinished business of the preceding day, shall have preference to any other, except special orders of the day, in committee of the whole. R. of A. 44.
After these, there are other privileged questions which will require considerable explanation.
It is proper that orery parliamentary asscmbly 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 that session, they postpone it indefinitely 3 Hats. 183. This quashes the proposition 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 before may not speak again when the adjourned debate is resumed. 2 Hats. 73. Sometimes, however, this has been abusively 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 shall 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 formalities 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 of the United States, in their practice, va. ry from this regular gradation of forms. Their practice, comparatively with that of parliament stands thus :
For the Parliamentary,
The Senate uses, postp. to a
day beyond the session.
In their 8th 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 its 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 follow:
1. Prev. qu. and postpone,
Amend. 2. Postpone and prev. qu
Amend. 3. Commit and prev. qu.
Amend. 4. Amend and prev. qu.
In the 1st, 2d, and 3d classes and the 1st member of the 4th class, the rule 6 first moved first put” takes place.
In the first class, where the previous question is first moved, the effect is peculiar. For it not only prevents the after motion to postpone or commit from being put to question before it, but also, from being put after it. For if the previous question be decided affirmatively, to wit, that the main question shall now be put, it would of course be against the decision to postpone or commit. And if it be decided negatively, to wit, that the main question shall not now be put, this puts the house out of possession of the main question, and consequently there is nothing before them to postpone or commit. So that neither voting for, or against the previous question, will enable the advocates for postponing or committing to get at their object. Whether it may be amended, shall be examined hereafter.
2d class. If postponement be decided affirmatively, the proposition is removed from before the house, and consequently there is no ground for the previous question, commitment, or amendment. But if decided negatively, that it shall not be postponed, the main question, may then be suppressed by the previous question, or may be committed, or amen:led.
The 3d class is subject to the same observations as the 2d.
The 4th class. Amendment of the main question first moved, and afterwards the previous question, the question of amendment shall be first put.
Amendment and postponement competing, postponement is first put, as the equivalent proposition to adjourn the main question would be in parliament. The reason is, that the question for amendment is not suppressed by postponing or adjourning the main question, but remains before the house whenever the main question is resumed: and it might be that the occasion for other urgent business might go by, and be lost by length of debate on the amendment, if the house had it not in their power to postpone the whole subject.
Amendment and commitment. The question for committing, though last moved, shall be first put: because, in truth, it facilitates and befriends the motion to amend. Scobell is express.
66 On a motion to amend a bill, any one may notwithstanding, move to commit it, and the question for commitment shall be first put. Scob. 46.
We have hitherto considered the case of two or more of the privileged questions contending for privilege between themselves, when both were moved on the original or main question; but now let us suppose one of them to be moved, not on the original primary question, but on the secondary one : e. g:
Suppose a motion to postpone, commit or amend the main question, and that it be moved to suppress that motion by putting a previous question on it. This is not allowed: because it would embarrass questions too much to allow them to be piled on one another several stories high; and the same result may be had in a more simple way, by deciding against the postponement, commitment or amendment. 2 Hats. 81, 2, 3, 4.
Suppose a motion for the previous question, or commitment, or amendment of the main question, and that it be then moved to postpone the motion for the previous question, or for commitment, or amendment of the main question. 1. It would be absurd to postpone the previous question, commitment or amendment alone, and thus separate the appendage from its principal. Yet it must be postponed separately from its original, if at all: because the 8th rule of the senate of the United States, says, that when a main question is before the house, no motion shall be received but to commit, amend, or prequestion the original question, which is the parliamentary doctrine also. Therefore the motion to postpone the secondary motion for the previous question, or for com
mitting or amending, cannot be received. 2. This is a piling of questions one on another, which, to avoid embarrassment, is not allowed. 3. The same result may be had more simply, by voting against the previous question, commitment or amendment.
Suppose a commitment moved of a motion for the previous question, or to postpone or amend. The 1st, 2d and 3d reasons before stated, all hold good against this.
Suppose an amendment moved to a motion for the previous question. Answer. The previous question cannot be amended. Parliamentary usage, as well as the 9th rule of the senate of the United States, has fixed its form to be “Shall the main question be now put ?" i. é. at this instant. And as the present instant is but one, it can admit of no modification. To change it to to-morrow, or any other moment, is without example, and without utility. But suppose a motion to amend a motion for postponement; as to one day instead of another, or to a special, instead of indefinite time. The useful character of amendment, gives it a privilege of attaching itself to a secondary and privileged motion. That is, we may amend a postponement of a main question. So we may amend a commitment of a main question, as by adding, for example, " with instructions to enquire, &c." In like manner, if an amendment be moved to an amendment, it is admitted. But it would not be admitted in another degree: to wit, to amend an amendment to an amendment, of a main question. This would lead to too much embarrassment. The line must be drawn somewhere, and usage has drawn it after the amendment to the amendment. The same result must be sought by deciding against the amendment to the amendment, and then moving it again as it was wished to be amended. In this form it becomes only an amendment to an amendment.
All questions, whether in committee or in the house, shall be put in the order they were moved : except that in filling up blanks, the largest sum and longest time shall be first put. R. of A. 27.
Contrary to the rule of parliament which privileges the smallest sum and longest time. 5 Grey 179. 2 Hats. 81, 83. 3 Hats. 132, 133. And this is considered to be