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Chapter when the Speaker adjourns the house without question
If more than one exempted motion stands upon the notice paper, and the first is not disposed of until after the time appointed for the adjournment of the house without question put, other exempted business may be brought forward ;? and in that case, adjournment without question put is postponed until that matter and the remaining business
upon the notice paper for that sitting has been disposed of. Adjourn On a Friday sitting, the adjournment of the house takes Adjournment from
ment on Friday till place without question put as soon as the business on the Friday. Monday,
S. 0. 3,
in the afternoon precisely; and as standing order No. 1
The time for the adjournment of the house on Saturday Saturday.
is not prescribed by standing order. Amend. Adjournment beyond the next day of sitting.–When it is
" intended that the house should be adjourned to a day bemotions,
5. yond the next sitting day, a motion is made, by a member of and debate the government, with or without notice (see p. 256, n. 4), that see p. 316. the house do “now,” 5 or at its rising, or at the conclusion
of the sitting,? or at its rising on a future day,8 adjourn
Adjournment on question. Except on occasions when a
? 153 C. J. 49; 155 ib. 54. 76. 99; 5 147 ib. 419; 148 ib. 178; 158 159 ib. 250. 336. 349; 160 ib. 41; ib. 114; 158 ib. 213; 159 ib. 201; 142 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 147; 156 ib. 531; 160 ib. 151. 158 ib. 231.
6 157 ib. 432. 2 143 C. J. 404; 144 ib. 446.
146 ib, 178; 147 ib. 182. 3 145 Parl, Deb. 4 s. 268.
8 150 ib. 147; 160 ib. 218. 4 145 C. J. 546.
9 9 ib. 560.
mont to such
Suspension of a sitting.—The sitting of the house is a occasionally suspended with the intention of resuming the VIII. transaction of business at a later hour. A suspension of the sitting always occurs on the opening day of a session (see p. 174). A sitting may also be suspended on other occasions, as when a bill from the Commons is under consideration by the House of Lords, or whilst the house waits for a message from the lords commissioners. During Suspended! the suspension of a sitting, the Speaker, the mace being ho left upon the table, retires from the house, and returns committer:
see p. 389, at the appointed hour, when business is resumed with- n. 2. out counting the house. As, technically, the house continues sitting, these occurrences are not noted in the journal.
Quorum, presence of.–Forty members, including the Speaker, form the quorum of the house. If the absence of
I Also, when the house has met at ten o'clock to receive a royal assent message, 3rd July, 1891, 18th Aug. 1892, 7 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 450.
2 12th June, 1885, 298 H. D. 3 s. 1532.
3 On the 17th Feb. 1866, the Lords sent a message to the Commons, requesting them to continue sitting for some time, to which the latter agreed, the object being to ensure the passing of the Habeas Corpus Suspension (Ireland) Bill on that day, 121 C. J. 88.
* Between the 2nd May, 1902, and Easter, 1906, there was a suspension of the sitting under standing order No. 1, from half-past seven o'clock till nine o'clock on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and on one cccasion the business appointed for an afternoon sitting being concluded before half-past seven o'clock, the Speaker in leaving the chair said that he would resume it if any formal business such as receiving a bill from the Lords had to be transacted, 116 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 1245. When the business appointed for an afternoon sitting had been completed before half-past seven o'clock, and
there was not any government busidess appointed for the evening sitting, the Speaker pursuant to an order of the house that he should at the conclusion of government busi. ness each day adjourn the house without question put, thereupon adjourned the house till the following day, 115 ib. 908; 157 C. J. 502.
s 5th Jan. 1649, 2 ib. 63. “ Forty maketh a House of Commons," Gaudy's Notes of the Long Parliament, MSS. Brit. Mus. “Awhile we had a less number present in the grand committee on subsidies) than forty, which we account, by the orders of the house, to be the least number present at a grand committee," D'Ewes, 5th June, 1641, Harleian MSS. From an entry, 20th April, 1607, it would appear that sixty was not then a sufficient number, 1 C. J. 364. A motion was made by Mr. Pierrepoint, 18th March, 1801, being the first Parliament of the United Kingdom, “ That Mr. Speaker do not take the chair until at least sixty members are present in the house:" but negatived, 35 Parl. Hist. 1203. In both houses of Congress, and the greater part of
Chapter a quorum be proved after four o'clock, except by a division
between a quarter-past eight and a quarter-past nine o'clock (see p. 231), the immediate adjournment of the house takes place:1 but if before four o'clock, presumably under the usage already mentioned (see p. 212), the sitting of the house is suspended until four o'clock, unless forty members be sooner present. At that hour, if the number of members in the house remains below forty, the adjournment must take place.
At the meeting of the house it is the duty of the Speaker to ascertain whether a quorum is present: 4 but
the state legislatures of the United States, a majority of the house forms a quorum.-Cushing, on Legislative Assemblies, 96. This rule, which dates from the year 1640, is only one of usage, and may be altered at pleasure. The rule was suspended by order of the house, 1st March, 1793, 48 C. J. 305, for the purpose of receiving messages from the Lords relating to proceedings on the trial of Warren Hastings. And such messages were received when even one member only was present, 48 C. J. 305. 310. 660. 804. In 1833, it was determined that sittings of the house from twelve o'clock till three for private business and petitions, might be held with only twenty members, 88 C. J. 95.
First recorded count out, 22nd April, 1729, 21 ib. 351.
The importance attached to the hour of four has been said to arise from the provisions of the Acts which required the oaths to be taken between the hours of nine in the morning and four in the afternoon (2 Hatsell, 90): but is, perhaps, more properly referable to usage; four o'clock having been the customary hour for the rising of the house when those Acts were passed. In all times, the proceedings of the house have been liable to such interruptions from the engagements or recreations of members. Writing of the grave
Long Parliament in 1641, Mr. Pal. grave relates that “one day's . discourse' was stopped because the Earl of Strafford came in his barge to the upper house from the Tower, and divers ran to the east windows of the house, who, with them that sat by, looked out at the said windows, and opened them; and others quitted their seats with noise and tumult;' and another sitting was, in like manner, broken up, in the very crisis of national anxiety, because such members preferred “the play-houses and bowling-alleys' to the committee of supply.”—Death of the Earl of Strafford, in Fraser's Magazine for April, 1873, citing D'Ewes Harleian MSS. I have myself seen the benches nearly deserted during a boat-race, which could be seen from the same east windows, before the great fire of 1834. In Dec. 1648, so many members were in prison, that sometimes there were not enough to make a house, and the Speaker was “obliged to send to the guards to bring in some of their prisoners to make up the number of 40; and when the jobb was done, to receive them again into custody," Carte, iv. 601.- Author's note.
3 140 C. J. 39 ; 154 ib. 214; 155 ib. 181; 158 ib. 37.
• On Friday sittings the Speaker takes the chair although a quorum is not present, and the transaction
when he has taken the chair, that responsibility rests upon Chapter
ti VIII. the house. Accordingly, the only occasion when the _ Speaker takes the initiative in this matter is immediately after prayers. At that moment, therefore, if the necessity should arise, the Speaker refrains from taking the chair, and, standing in the place which the Clerk of the house occupies at the table, he counts the house. The Speaker announces that the house is made by taking the chair, if he ascertains that forty members are present: but if that is not the case, he waits, seated in the Clerk's chair, or he retires from the house, either until a quorum is present, or until four o'clock, when, standing on the upper step of the chair, he again counts the house; and, if a quorum is not present when he has ceased counting, he adjourns the house, without question put, until the next day of sitting; 1 on a Saturday, therefore, he adjourns the house until Monday.” After the house has been made, if notice be taken that No count
betucen forty members are not present, the Speaker directs strangers 8.15 and to withdraw; the two-minute sand-glass upon the table is
De 1 sec p. 231. turned, and members are summoned as if for a division. Then, after the sand-glass has run down, the Speaker proceeds to count the house, the outer door being kept open throughout the proceeding. As has been explained, if it be after four o'clock that the absence of a quorum is
House counted out.
of business is commenced when the house is made. If, as occasionally happens on a Friday morning, the commencement of business by the house is prevented for some time by the absence of a quorum, the Speaker can request the Serjeant to inform the members in the com. mittee-rooms that the house is waiting to form a quorum. According to ancient usage, the Speaker used to send the Serjeant with the mace to desire the members attending select committees to attend to help to make a house; and the committees were dissolved by the presence of the Serjeant with the mace.-(MS. Account of the office and duty of
the Serjeant-at-arms attending the House of Commons.) 245 H. D 3 s. 1500; 18th May, 1892, 4 Parl. Deb. 4 s. 1181.
14th April, 1865, 120 C. J. 188; 25th May, 1866, 121 ib. 340; 19th May, 1876, 131 ib. 207; 1st June, 1892, 147 ib. 309.
? 78 ib. 8.
3 On the 10th June, 1874, complaint was made that members had been obstructed on their return to the house during a count. The Speaker said it was the duty of the Serjeant to keep free access to the house, and he believed that duty had been properly discharged, 219 H. D. 3 s. 1304.
quorum n com
Chap:er proved, the Speaker at once adjourns the house until the
next sitting day: 1 but if it be before that hour, the sitting
and a quarter-past nine o'clock. Authority in the duty respecting the presence of a quorum that Presence of of chair. inan, see p. devolve
p. devolves upon the chairman of a committee of the whole in 385.
house, he follows, in every respect, the course pursued by mitte
The house cannot be counted between a quarter-past Counting
The Speaker has declined to count the house again, when he had recently satisfied himself regarding the presence of forty members.? Nor would he count the house after a question has been put from the chair, as the division will prove the number of members present.8
1 128 C. J. 321.
• 132 ib. 370; 137 ib. 420; 140 ib. 181.
s 101 ib. 407.
• 85 ib. 60, &c. ; 8th July, 1845, 100 ib. 701 ; 155 ib. 315.
? 24th July, 1877, 235 H. D. 3 s. 1771; 311 ib. 620.
8 31st July, 1882, 273 ib. 331.