Зображення сторінки
[merged small][ocr errors]

mentioned, and to procure in general the happiness of the people, since it has taken mankind as they are, and has not endeavoured to prevent every thing, but to regulate every thing; I shall add, the more difficult to discover, because its form is complicated, while its principles are natural and simple. Hence it is that the politicians of antiquity, sensible of the inconveniences of the governments they had opportunities of knowing, wished for the establishment of such a government, without much hope of ever seeing it realised :* even Tacitus, an excellent judge of political subjects, considered it as a project entirely chimerical.f Nor was it because he had not thought of it, had not reflected on it, that he was of this opinion: he had sought for such a government, had had a glimpse of it, and yet continued to pronounce it impracticable.

Let us not, therefore, ascribe to the confined views of man, to his imperfect sagacity, the discovery of this important secret. The world might have grown old, generations might have succeeded generations, still seeking it in vain. It has been by a fortunate conjunction of circumstances,— I shall add, by the assistance ot a favourable situation,—that Liberty has at last been able to erect herself a temple.

Invoked by every nation, but of too delicate a nature, as it should seem, to subsist in societies formed of such imperfect beings as mankind, she showed, and merely showed herself, to the ingenious nations of antiquity who inhabited the south of Europe. They were constantly mistaken in the form of the worship they paid to her. As they continually aimed at extending dominion and conquest over other nations, they were no less mistaken in the spirit of that worship; and though they continued for ages to pay their devotions to this divinity, she still continued, with regard to them, to be the unknown goddess.

Excluded since that time from those places to which she had seemed to give a preference, driven to the extremity of

* "Statuo esse optime constitutam rempublicam quae ex tribus generibus illis, regali, optimo, et populari, modice confusa."—Cic. Frag.

+ " Cunctas nationes et urbes, populus, aut priores, aut singuli, regunt. Delecta ex his et constitute reipublicse forma, laudari facilius quam evenire: vel si evenit, hand diuturna esse potest."—Tac. Ann. lib. iv.

the Western world, banished even out of the Continent, she has taken refuge in the Atlantic ocean. There it is, that, freed from the dangers of external disturbance, and assisted by a happy pre-arrangement of things, she has been able to display the form that suited her; and she has found sis centuries to have been necessary for the completion of her work.

Being sheltered, as it were, within a citadel, she there reigns over a nation which is the better entitled to her favours, as it endeavours to extend her empire, and carries with it, to every part of its dominions, the blessings of industry and equality. Fenced in on every side (to use the expression of Chamberlayne) with a wide and deep ditch, the sea,—guarded with strong outworks, its ships of war,— and defended by the courage of her seamen,—she preserves that mysterious essence, that sacred fire so difficult to be kindled, and which, if it were once extinguished, would perhaps never be lighted again. When the world shall have been again laid waste by conquerors, she will continue to show mankind, not only the principle that ought to unite them, but, what is of no less importance, the form under which they ought to be united. And the philosopher, when he considers the constant fate of civil societies amongst men, and observes the numerous and powerful causes which seem, as it were, unavoidably to conduct them all to a state of political slavery, will take comfort in seeing that Liberty has at length disclosed her nature and genuine principles, and secured to herself an asylum against despotism on one hand, and popular licentiousness on the other.

[ocr errors][merged small]

No. 1. BILLS IN PARLIAMENT.—(Page 61.)

A Bill In Pabliament constitutes the foundation or the whole of the law or statute to be passed by the Houses of Commons and Peers, and assented to by the Sovereign. Bills are either private or public. Originally, Bills were introduced in the form of Petitions, and on receiving the royal assent they were at the close of the session submitted to the Judges, who reduced them to the form of an Act of Parliament, and then entered them upon the statute rolls. The Judges were by no means careful in drawing up the acts in conformity with the petitions, and since the 2 Henry V. and the reign of Henry VI. it was decided that all Bills should be prepared in the form of an act, which on passing both Houses was to be assented to or negatived by the King. There is little doubt, however, that both Henry VI. and Edward IV. altered statutes without the consent of Parliament.

On introducing a Bill in the House of Peers, it is moved by any member without notice that the Bill shall be at once brought in. But in the House of Commons a member cannot introduce a Bill without first moving for leave to bring it in. This is usually agreed to, and the Bill is ordered to be prepared by one, two, or three members; or a select committee may be appointed in order to prepare the same. When drawn up it is presented at the bar by one of the members who has prepared the Bill, and on his name being called by the Speaker, he replies "A Bill;" on which the Speaker requests him to bring it up, and it is then laid upon the table. The next proceeding is to move that it be read a first time, which is seldom negatived; the arguments for and against its clauses being usually reserved for the second reading. A day is then appointed for its being read a second time, and when read a second time it is moved that the bill be committed, to be considered clause by clause, either in a committee of the whole House, or if the bill be of minor importance in a select committee. When the committee has agreed to the Bill, either as originally prepared, or with amendments, they report the same through their chairman to the House; upon which it is moved that the report be received. It may even then by motion be recommitted, in order to undergo further consideration or alterations. But if the report of the committee be received by the House, either as first brought up, or after being recommitted and considered, then it is moved that the Bill be read a third time, and, if carried, it is further moved that the Bill do pass. When passed in the Commons it is sent up to the Lords in charge of several members, frequently including the Speaker. The Speaker or chairman knocks at the door of the House of Peers, and the members are introduced by the Usher of the Black Rod; the Speaker or chairman advancing to the bar makes three obeisances, on which the Lord Chancellor leaves the woolsack to receive the Bill from his hands, the chairman informing him that it is a Bill which the Commons have passed, and to which they desire the

to the same process in the Peers as in the Commons, with the exception that it may be read a first time without previous notice.

When a Bill originates in the Lords it is engrossed in a distinct round hand on parchment, and in that form sent to the Commons. It is ordered to be engrossed by the Speaker of the House of Commons after the report is received; and if amendments or additional clauses are added they are called riders, and are engrossed on separate sheets or parchments, but attached to the Bill.

On a Bill passed by the Commons being sent up to the Lords, the Clerk of the Commons endorses on it "Soi bailie aux Seigneurs:" and the same form is observed by the Clerk of the Lords on a Bill being sent to the Commons, the


The Bill is then subjected BILLS IN PARLIAMENT.


indorsation being "Soi bailie aux Communes;" and when passed by the Commons the Clerk indorses "Les Communes ont assentez." It may be remarked, that before a Bill is referred to a committee, spaces are left blank for dates, amount of penalties, &c. Sometimes Bills are recommitted twice or thrice before passing finally through committee, and are on each occasion printed as amended. A Bill in any of its stages may be argued or opposed. All Money Bills must constitutionally originate in the Commons; and although the Peers may reject they cannot alter Money Bills sent up from the Commons. But, after a conference with a committee or deputation of the Commons, the suggestions of the Peers may be adopted and passed as a new Bill, with such amendments by the Commons, and then sent up for the approval of the Lords. If a Bill be lost in either House, it cannot, according to the standing orders, be brought forward during the same session. Bills, not Money Bills, may be amended in either House, but they must be returned by the House making the amendments to the other House for the purpose of agreeing to or rejecting those amendments. In the Commons, according to the standing orders, no Bills affecting religion or trade can be introduced until its propositions shall have been first considered and agreed to in a committee of the whole House. It is necessary also for a committee of the whole House to discuss the introduction of any Bill granting money, or for compounding or realising money owing to the Crown. By a standing order of the House of Peers, of the 7th July, 1819, no Bill intended to regulate manufactures, navigation, or trade, &c. shall be read a second time until a select committee shall have inquired into and reported on the same.

Private Bills are not personal Bills, strictly speaking, but are such as affect municipal corporations and public undertakings,—such as Railway Bills, Bills for Water-works, Canals, and other local undertakings of various kind. They are called Private Bills, inasmuch as they do not embrace matters of public revenue, or do not affect the whole community. Parliament may be considered as acting in a judicial as well as legislative capacity in determining on Private Bills, which go through much the same stages in both Houses of Parliament as Bills which are described as Public Bills. But no

« НазадПродовжити »