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dental to every one, will take place of every one, privileged or not; to wit, a question of order arising out of any other question, must be decided before that question. 2 Hats, 88.
A matter of privilege arising out of any question, or from a quarrel between two members, or any other cause, supersedes the consideration of the original question, and must be first disposed of. 2 Hats. 88.
Reading papers relative to the question before the house. This question must be put before the principal one. 2 Hats, 88,
Leave asked to withdraw a motion. The rule of parliament being that a motion made and seconded is in possession of the house, and cannot be withdrawn without leave, the very terms of the rule imply that leave may be given, and consequently may be asked and put to the question.
SEC. XXXIV. THE PREVIOUS QUESTION.
When any question is before the house, any member may move a previous question, 'whether that question (called the main question) shall now be put?' If it pass in the affirmative, then the main question is to be put immediately, and no man may speak any thing further to it, either to add or alter. Memor. in Hakew, 28. 4 Grey, 27.
The previous question being moved and seconded, the question from the chair shall be, Shall the main question be now put?' and if the nays prevail, the main question shall not then be put.
This kind of question is understood by Mr. Hatsell to have been introduced in 1604. 2 Hats. 80. Sir Henry Vane introduced it. 2 Grey, 113, 114. 3 Grey 384. When the question was put in this form, Shall the main question be put?' A determination in the negative suppressed the main question during the session; but since the words 'now put' are used, they exclude it for the present only. Formerly indeed only till the present debate was over; 4 Grey, 43; but now for that day and no longer. 2 Grey, 113, 114.
Before the question Whether the main question shall now be put?' any person might formerly have spoken to the main question, because otherwise he would be precluded from speaking to it at all. Mem. in Haker. 28.
The proper occasion for the previous question, is when a subject is brought forward of a delicate nature as to high personages, &c. or the discussion of which may call forth observations which might be of injurious consequences. Then the previous question is proposed and in the modern usage, the discussion of the main question is suspended, and the debate confined to the previous question. The use of it has been extended abusively to other cases: but in these it has been an embarrassing procedure: its uses would be as well answered by other more simple parliamentary forms, and therefore it should not be favored, but restricted within as narrow limits as possible.
Whether a main question may be amended after the previous question on it has been moved and seconded? 2 Hats. 88. says, if the previous question has been moved and seconded, and also proposed from the chair, (by which he means stated by the Speaker for debate,) it has been doubted whether an amendment can be admitted to the main question. He thinks it may, after the previous question moved and seconded; but not after it has been proposed from the chair. In this case, he thinks the friends to the amendment must vote that the main question be not now put; and then move their amended question, which being made new by the amendment, is no longer the same which has been just suppressed, and therefore may be proposed as a new one. But this proceeding certainly endangers the main question, by dividing its friends, some of whom may choose it unamended, rather than lose it altogether while others of them may vote, as Hatsell advises, that the main question be not now put, with a view to move it again in an amended form. The enemies of the main question, by this manœuvre to the previous question, get the enemies to the amendment added to them on the first vote, and throw the friends H
of the main question under the embarrassment of rallying again as they can. To support his opinion, too, he makes the deciding circumstance, whether an amendment may or may not be made, to be, that the previous question has been proposed from the chair. But, as the rule is that the house is in possession of a question as soon as it is moved and seconded, it cannot be more than possessed of it by its being also proposed from the chair. It may be said, indeed, that the object of the previous question being to get rid of a question, which it is not expedient should be discussed, this object may be defeated by moving to amend, and, in the discussion of that motion, involving the subject of the main question. But so may the object of the previous question be defeated, by moving the amended question, as Mr. Hatsell proposes, after the decision against putting the original question. He acknowledges, too, that the practice has been to admit previous amendment, and only cites a few late instances to the contrary. On the whole, I should think it best to decide it ab inconvenienti, to wit; which is most inconvenient, to put it in the power of one side of the house to defeat a proposition by hastily moving the previous question, and thus forcing the main question to be put unamended; or to be put in the power of the other side to force on, incidentally at least, a discussion which would be better avoided? Perhaps the last is the least inconvenience; inasmuch as the speaker, by confining the discussion rigorously to the amendment only, may prevent their going into the main question, and inasmuch also as so great a proportion of the cases in which the previous question is called for, are fair and proper subjects of public discussion, and ought not to be obstructed by a formality introduced for questions of a peculiar character.
SEC. XXXV. AMENDMENTS.
On an amendment being moved, a member who has spoken to the main question may speak again to the amendment. Scob. 23.
If an amendment be proposed inconsistent with one already agreed to, it is a fit ground for its rejection by the house; but not within the competence of the speaker to suppress as if it were against order. For were he permitted to draw questions of consistence within the vortex of order, he might usurp a negative on important modifications, and suppress, instead of subserving, the legislative will.
Amendments may be made so as totally to alter the nature of the proposition; and it is a way of getting rid of a proposition, by making it bear a sense different from what it was intended by the movers, so that they vote against it themselves. 2 Hats. 79. 4. 82. 84. A new bill may be ingrafted by way of amendment on the words Be it enacted, &c.' 1 Grey, 190. 192.
If it be proposed to amend by leaving out certain words, it may be moved as an amendment to this amendment to leave out a part of the words of the amendment, which is equivalent to leaving them in the bill. 2 Hats. 80, 9. The parliamentary question is, always, whether the words shall stand part of the bill?
When it is proposed to amend by inserting a paragraph, or part of one, the friends of the paragraph may make it as perfect as they can by amendments, before the question is put for inserting it. If it be received, it cannot be amended afterwards, in the same stage; because the house has, on a vote, agreed to it in that form. In like manner, if it is proposed to amend by striking out a paragraph, the friends of the paragraph are first to make it as perfect as they can by amendments, before the question is put for striking it out. If on the question it be retained, it cannot be amended afterwards because a vote against striking out is equivalent to a vote agreeing to it in that form.
When it is moved to amend, by striking out certain words, and inserting others, the manner of stating the question is first to read the whole passage to be amended as it stands at present, then the words proposed to be struck out, next those to be inserted, and lastly the whole passage as it will be when amended. And the question, if desired, is then to be divided, and put first
on striking out. If carried, it is next inserting the words proposed. If that be lost, it may be moved to insert others. 2 Hats. 80, 7.
A motion is made to amend by striking out certain words, and inserting others in their place, which is negatived. Then it is moved to strike out the same words, and to insert others of a tenor entirely different from those first proposed. It is negatived. Then it is moved to strike out the same words and insert nothing, which is agreed to. All this is admissible; because to strike out and insert A, is one proposition. To strike out and insert B, is a different proposition. And to strike out and insert nothing, is still different. And the rejection of one proposition does not preclude the offering a different one. Nor would it change the case were the first motion divided by putting the question first on striking out, and that negatived. For as putting the whole motion to the question at once would not have precluded, the putting the half of it cannot do it.*
But if it had been carried affirmatively to strike out the words and to insert A, it could not afterwards be permitted to strike out A, and insert B. The mover of B should have notified, while the insertion of A was under debate, that he would move to insert B. In which case those who preferred it would join in rejecting A.
In the case of a division of the question and a decision against striking out, I advance doubtingly the opinion here expressed. I find no authority either way; and I know it may be viewed under a different aspect. It may be thought that, having decided separately not to strike out the passage, the same question for striking out cannot be put over again, though with a view to a different insertion. Still I think it more reasonable and convenient to consider the striking out, and insertion, as forming one proposition; but should readily yield to any evidence that the contrary is the practice in Parliament.