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Of Messages from the Lords, desiring Me mbers Attendance.
The message must express the cause, 86
Of joint Committees of Lords and Commons.
The Commons double the Lords, 87
Of particular Lords being attended by a Committee of the
House of Commons.
between Lords and Commons, where the Rights
and Privileges of either House are concerned. Each House is independant of the other, 90 Bills (with certain exceptions) may be originated in either House,
90 The reasons demanded by one House upon which the other has
passed a bill, 91 A member of one is not punishable by the other, 91 Course where a member of one libels the other House, or its
members, 91 Interference of one House where a person is in custody of the
Mode of searching the Lords'Journals.
Appointment of a committee, 92
THE LAW OF ELECTIONS.
from each other.
Of the Writ of Summons, and Precept thereon. MEMBERS of the House of Commons* are returned to The places for, parliament for three different kinds of places. 1. For and occasions counties at large. 2. For particular places which are, bers are return3. or are not counties of themselves. They are likewise edtoParliament, returned, 1. At the calling of a new parliament, 2. or distinguished to supply vacancies in one already convened. Distinctions not merely those of classification and arrangement; since in each of these different cases, different modes of election, to a certain extent, obtain. Distinctions, therefore, necessary to be premised.
When the Crown determines to call a new parlia- Issuing of the ment, and there is none then sitting, the Chancellor is Writ upon the required, by warrant, to issue the usual number of writs. calling of a new
Parliament. But when, as the course now is, the determinations to dissolve a present and convene a new parliament are concurrent acts, this warrant or order accompanies that directing him to seal the proclamation for the dissolution and convention. Under this authority, the writs are issued forthwith; and in the current form, being, like other original writs, immutable unless by statute. The interval between the teste and return of the writ, is forty days by law, made fifty by practice.?
On a vacancy in an existing parliament (that is, Issuing of the from the first day of sitting, whether actually sitting or Writ upon a not) the writ issues by the authority of the House itself.3 vacancy in an
* The doctrines peculiar to the other constituent branches of a Parliament (the King, and House of Peers,) are too well known to justify their insertion. 17 & 8 W. 3. C. 25.
2 2 Hats,
3 24 Geo, 3. e. 26.
On motion, if actually sitting; if not, and the vacancy has arisen (whether before or during the recess is immaterial) by death or elevation to the peerage, then in the following manner. On a written certificate of the fact from two members, the Speaker, fourteen days after notice of his intention has been inserted in the London Gazette, by his warrant directs the Clerk of the Crown to issue a new writ. A privilege, however, thus conditioned: 1. There must be time sufficient after the application, to allow the writ of election to issue before the next meeting. 2. The return of the writ under which the late member was elected, must have been brought into the Crown-office fifteen days before the end of the last sitting of the House. 3. No petition against his return must have been pending at the time of the recess.! And in case of the Speaker's absence, or his chair vacated, the necessary acts are to be done by those members whom he nominates, for this purpose, at the beginning of the parliament. The House has authority to suspend the issuing of the writ, or to supersede it when issued ; it has been suspended, where the place, by its misconduct, has incurred the displeasure of the House ; * and superseded (by ordering the messenger of the great seal not to deliver it, or a supersedeas to issue) when misdirected, and so likewise on a vacancy, without time to supply it, of one of the returning officers.5
In the case of counties at large, and places that are not counties of themselves, the writs are directed to the county sheriffs ; with, however, these exceptions. To the Chamberlain of Chester-Bishop of Durham-Chancellor of Lancaster - Constable of Dover Castle - and Warden of the Cinque Ports. In the case of places that are counties of themselves, the direction, with the like exceptions, is to the returning officer; who commonly, though not invariably, is the sheriff.
The writs, thus directed, are transmitted to the returning officers in the following manner. The messenger of the great seal, on receiving them, forthwith carries those that are directed to the sheriffs of London and Middlesex, to the officers of those sheriffs. The rest he delivers to the Postmaster General or his deputy, who dispatches them by the next post to the officers to whom
Direction of the Writ.
Mode of transmitting the Writ.
118 March, 1580-1.
4 1 Dec. 1702. 14 Journ. 63. 88.
they are addressed; who give a written acknowledgment, stating the day and hour of receiving them. If the Precept thereofficer to whom the writ is addressed, be not himself the returning officer, then in the case of the counties palatine, he transmits to the sheriff either the writ itself or his precept thereon; in all other cases, his precept.2 For the making out, receipt, delivery, return, or execution of either writ or precept, no fee can be given or accepted. 3
The precept should be directed to the proper returning Direction of the officer. Though if an improper person is joined in the precept. direction, his name may be rejected. So, likewise, if the direction, in its terms, is too comprehensive, it will be taken in a qualified sense. Even where the direction and delivery have been to improper persons, the returns by the proper officers (who, notwithstanding, may proceed to an election) have been adopted. And it is a rule to presume in favour of the direction."
The precept, thus directed, must be delivered to the Delivery of the proper returning officer. And in all other cases but the precept. Cinque Ports, within three days from the receipt of the writ; 10 in the Cinque Ports, six days are allowed. It is essential to a valid election. So that an election previous to the receipt is void.12 And votes given before it is read are of no force, 13
The returning officer is that person to whom the in- of the returnstrument under which the election is immediately holden, ing Officer. is and ought to be directed. In counties at large, this person is the sheriff; and commonly, though not invariably, in places that are counties of themselves : as well in the excepted places, as in those which are not counties of themselves, the officer, when ascertained, depends upon charter or usage. He need not be an elector. But if an annual and corporate officer, there is a prohibition against his being chosen for two years successively.14 Where there is no known or fixed returning officer, any elector may act.15 His duty is partly ministerial, partly judicial: ministerial, where the line of duty is delineated, leaving nothing to his judgment; judicial, where the contrary.