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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, in their practice, vary from this regular gradation of forms. Their practice, comparatively with that of Parliament, stands thus:
For the Parliamentary Postponement indefinite,
Lying on the table,
The Senate uses Postponement to a day beyond the session. Postponement to a day
within 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 Pr. Qu., 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. Previous Question and Postpone
In the 1st, 2d,
2. Postpone and Previous Question and 3d classes,
Commitand the 1st mem
Amendber of the 4th
3. Commit and Previous Question class, the rule
Postpone first moved first
4. Amend and Previous Question
In the first class, where the P. Q. 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 P. Q. be decided affirmatively, to wit, that the M. Q. 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 M. Q. shall not now be put, this puts the House out of possession of the M. Q., and consequently there is nothing before them to postpone or commit. So that neither voting for or against the P. Q. 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 Pr. Qu.commitment, or amendment. But, if decided negatively, that it shall not be postponed, the M. Q., may then be suppressed by the P. Q. or may be committed, or amended.
The 3d class is subject to the same observations as the 2d.
The 4th class. Amendment of the Q. M. first moved, and afterwards the P. Q., the question of amendment shall be first put.
Amendment and postponement competing, postponement is first put, as the equivalent proposition to adjourn the M. Q. would be in parliament. The reason is that the question for amendment is not suppressed by postponing or adjourning the M. Q. but remains before the house whenever the M. Q. 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. 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 M. Q., 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 M. Q. 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 prin
cipal. Yet it must be postponed separately from its original, if at all: because the 8th rule of Senate 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 committing 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, has fixed its form to be 'shall the main question be now put?' i. e. 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 an 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 inquire, &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 M. Q. 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.
When motions are made for reference of the same subject to a select committee, and to a standing committee, the question on reference to the standing committee, shall be first put. Rule 35.
In filling a blank with a sum, the largest sum shall be first put to the question by the 13th rule of the Senate, contrary to the rule of parliament, which privileges the smallest sum and longest time. 5 Grey, 179. 2 Hats. 8. 83. 3 Hats, 132, 133. And this is considered to be not in the form of an amendment to the question but as alternative or successive orignals. In all cases of time or number, we must consider whether the larger comprehends the lesser, as in a question to what day a postponement shall be, the number of a committee, amount of a fine, term of an imprisonment, term of an irredeemability of a loan, or the terminus in quem, in any other case. Then the question must begin a maximo. Or whether the lesser includes the greater, as in questions on the limitation of the rate of interest, on what day the session shall be closed by adjournment, on what day the next shall commence, when an act shall commence, or the terminus a quo in any other case, where the question must begin a minimo. The object being not to begin at that extreme, which, and more, being within every man's wish, no one could negative it, and yet, if he should vote in the affirmative, every question for more would be precluded; but at that extreme which would unite few, and then to advance or recede till you get to a number which will unite a bare majority. 3 Grey, 376, 384, 385. The fair question in this case is not that to which and more all will agree, but whether there shall be addition to the question.' 1 Grey, 365.
Another exception to the rule of priority is when a motion has been made to strike out, or agree to a paragraph. Motions to amend it are to be put to the question before a vote is taken on striking out, or agreeing to the whole paragraph.
But there are several questions, which, being inci
*In filling up blanks, the largest sum and longest time shall be first put. Rule 13.