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Bribery. The greatest danger, however, is from bribery. No candidate shall give any money or entertainment to electors, or promise to give any to certain persons, or to the place in general to secure election, on penalty of being incapacitated to serve in parliament. And if any money, gift, office, employment or reward be given or promised to any voter at any time, to influence him to give or withhold his vote, as well he that takes as he that offers such bribe, forfeits 500 pounds, and is forever disabled from voting and holding office, unless he discovers some other offender of the same kind.
The Return of the Election. The election being closed, the returning officer in boroughs returns his precept to the sheriff with the names of the persons elected and their majorities, and the sheriff makes return to the clerk of the crown in chancery before the day of meeting, if it be a new parliament, or within fourteen days after the election, if it be an occasional vacancy.
6. The Method of Making Laws. This is much the same in both houses. Each house has its speaker.
The Speaker. The speaker of the house of lords is the lord chancellor, or keeper of the great seal, or any other person appointed by the king's commission, otherwise it is said the house of lords may elect. The speaker of the house of commons is chosen by the house, but must be approved by the king. He cannot give his opinion or argue any questions, but the speaker of the house of lords may, if he be a lord of parliament.
The Majority Controls. In each house, the act of the majority binds the whole, and this majority is declared by votes openly and publicly given.
Bills Introduced. To bring a bill into the house, if the relief sought be of a private nature, it is first necessary to prefer a petition, which must be presented by a member, and usually sets forth the grievance desired to be remedied. The petition, when founded on facts, whieh may be disputed, is referred to a committee of members, who examine the matter alleged, and report it to the house, upon which leave is given to bring in the bill. In public matters, the bill is brought in upon
1 In the house of commons, the speaker never votes, except to give a cast. ing vote, while in the house of lords, the speaker always votes as a member.
motion made in 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 answer thereunto subjoined. A private bill begun in the house of lords is referred to two judges, to examine and report the state of the facts alleged, to see that all parties consent, and also to settle all technical points.
Reading of the Bill. This is read a first time, and after a convenient distance, a second time, and after each reading, the speaker opens to the house the substance of the bill, and puts the question, whether it shall proceed any further. The introduction of the bill may be originally opposed, as the bill itself may be at either of the readings, and if the opposition succeeds, the bill must be dropped for that session.
Referred to a Committee. After the second reading, the bill is referred to a committee, which in matters of small importance is selected by the house. Upon a bill of consequence, the house resolves itself into a committee of the whole house, which is composed of every member. To form it, the speaker quits the chair, another member being appointed chairman, and then may sit and debate as a private member.
Work of the Committee. In these committees, the bill is debated clause by clause, amendments made, the blanks in the printed copy of the petition filled up, and sometimes the bill entirely remodelled. After it has gone through the committee, the chairman reports it to the house, with such amendments as the committee have made, and then the house reconsiders the whole bill, and the question is put upon every clause and amendment.
Passage of the Bill. When the house has passed upon the amendments of the committee, and sometimes added new amendments of its own, the bill is ordered to be engrossed, or written in a strong gross hand, on rolls of parchment, sewed together. It is then read a third time, and amendments may even then be made to it, and if a new clause be added, it is done by tacking a separate piece of parchment on the bill, which is called a rider. The speaker then again discloses the contents, and holding it, puts the question whether the bill shall pass. If this is agreed to, the title to it is then settled, which used to be a general one until the reign of Henry VIII, when distinct titles were introduced for each chapter. It is then carried to the other house and delivered to the speaker.
Approval by the Other House. In the other house, it passes through the same forms, except the engrossing, and if rejected, no more notice of it is taken. But if it is agreed to, the lords send a message to two masters in chancery, or upon matters of great importance to two of the judges, that they have agreed to the same, and the bill remains with the lords, unless they amend it.
Amended and Returned. If amendments are made, such amendments are sent down with the bill, to receive the concurrence of the commons. If the commons disagree to the amendments, a conference usually follows between members deputed from each house, who for the most part settle and adjust the difference, but if both houses remain inflexible, the bill is dropped. If the commons agree to the amendment, the bill is sent back to the lords by one of the members, with a message to acquaint them therewith. The same forms are observed, mutatis mutandis, when the bill begins in the house of lords.
Bill Deposited. When both houses have done with any bill, it is always deposited in the house of peers, to await 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 house of commons.
Royal Assent. This may be given in two ways: (1) In person, when the king comes to the house of peers, in his crown . and royal robes, and sending for the commons to the bar, the
titles of all the bills that have passed both houses are read, and the king's answer is declared by the clerk of the parliament, in Norman French, the only remaining badge of the conquest'. If the king assents to a public bill, the clerk usually declares: “the king wills it ;” if to a private bill : “be it, as it is desired." If he refuses his assent: “the king will advise upon it.” When a bill of supply is passed, it is presented to the king by the speaker of the house of commons, and the royal assent is thus expressed : “the king thanks his loyal subjects, accepts their benevolence, and wills it so to be.” When the bill has received the royal assent, it is then a statute, or act of parliament.
Until the reign of Richard III., all of the statutes were either in Latin or French, more frequently the latter.
Proclamation of the Act. This statute, or act, is placed among the records of the kingdom, and needs no formal promulgation to give it the force of a law, as was necessary by the civil law, with regard to the emperor's edicts. A copy, however, is usually printed, for the information of the whole land. Before the invention of printing, the sheriff of every county announced the new act, in the county court.
Binding Effect of the Act. The act thus announced, binds every subject in the land, and in all the dominions of the king, nay, even the king himself, if he be particularly named therein. And it cannot be amended, dispensed with, suspended or repealed, but in the same forms, and by the same authority of parliament, as it requires the same strength to dissolve as to create an obligation. At one time, the king could, in many cases, dispense with penal statutes, but he can do so no longer, without consent of parliament.
7. Adjournment, Prorogation, or Dissolving of Parliament. Adjournment. This is merely a continuance from day to day, and is done by the authority of each house, and does not affect the other. If the king signifies a desire for an adjournment of either house, it is made, otherwise a prorogation would assuredly follow, which would be most inconvenient to business, as it puts an end to the session, and bills not perfected must be resumed de novo, if at all, at a subsequent session,
Prorogation. This is the continuance of the parliament, from one session to another. This is done by royal authority, expressed either by the lord chancellor, in his majesty's presence, or by commission from the crown, or more frequently by proclamation. Both houses are, necessarily, prorogued at the same time. At one time, the king's assent to bills, in itself, put an end to the season, but now a prorogation must be expressly made, to terminate it. If, in times of imminent danger, the parliament be separated by adjournment or prorogation, the king is empowered to call them together by proclamation, with fourteen days notice.
Dissolution. This is the civil death of the parliament. It may be effected in three ways: (1) By the king's will, expressed either in person, or by representation, for as the king has the sole right of convening the parliament, it is a branch of his prerogative to prorogue the body for a time, or put an end to its
existence. Otherwise it might become perpetual, which would prove extremely dangerous. It would encroach upon the executive power, as it did, with fatal effect, in the reign of Charles I., who, unadvisedly, assented to an act to continue the parliament then in being, until such time as it should please to dissolve itself. (2) It may be dissolved by the demise of the crown. Formerly this occured immediately upon the announcement of the death, but this being found inconvenient, and indeed dangerous, in the event of a disputed succession, it was enacted, that the parliament, in being, shall continue for six months after the death of the monarch, unless sooner prorogued or dissolved by his successor. If the parliament be not in session, at the time of his decease, it shall assemble immediately, and if no parliament then exist, the last parliament shall assemble. (3) It may be dissolved, or expire, by length of time. Seven years is the extreme limit.
CHAPTER III.—THE KING AND HIS TITLE.
Title, how Vested. The supreme executive power in England, is vested in a single person, the king or queen, for it matters not to which sex the crown descends; but the person entitled to it whether male or female, is immediately invested with all the insignia, rights and prerogatives of sovereign power.
1. Hereditary. It is descendible to the next heir, on the demise of the last proprietor. All regal governments must be hereditary or elective. The crown of England has never been the latter, although attempted to be made so by the regicides of Charles I.
Not Jure Divino. It is by no means hereditary, jure divino. Such a title may have subsisted under the theocratic establishments of the children of Israel, in Palestine, but it never existed in any other country. This hereditary right has no relation to the civil laws of the Jews, the Greeks or Romans, or any other nation.
Elective Monarchies. It must be owned, that an elective monarchy seems the best suited of any to the rational principles of government, and the freedom of human nature; and hence we find in the infancy of most states, the leader has usually been