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mining or amending, cannot be received. 2. This is n 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 pre-> vious 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 V 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 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, <fcc." 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 amemdment 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 not in the form of an amendment to the question; but as alternative, or successive originals. 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 irredeemability of a loan, or the terminus in quem, in any other case. Then the question must begin a maximo. Or whether the lesser concludes 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 incidental 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. 8S.
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 ta the question.
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 V 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. Mem. in Hakew. 28. 4 Grey 27.
The previous question, until it is decided, shall preclude all amendment and debate of the main question, and shall be in this form—shall the main question be noxi put?—R. of A. 13.
No member shall speak more than once, without leave, upon a previous question. R. of A. 14.
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 1" 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 Hakew. 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 is 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 to the main question, by this manoeuvre of the previous question, get the enemies to the amendment added to them on the first vote, and throw the friends 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
to 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 heen 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 put it in the power of the other side to force on, incidentally at least, a discussion which would be better avoided 1 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.
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 was intended by the movers, so that they vote against