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Mr. Onslow, the ablest among the Speakers of the House of Commons, -used to say it was a maxim he had often heard when he was a young man, from old and experienced members, that nothing tended more to throw power into the hands of administration, and those who acted with the majority of the House of Commons, than a neglect of, or departure from, the rules of proceeding; that these forms, as instituted by our ancestors, operated as a check and control on the actions of the majority, and that they were, in many instances, a shelter and protection to the minority against the attempts of power. So far the maxim is certainly true, and is founded in good sense; that as it is always in the power of the majority, by their numbers, to stop any improper measures proposed on the part of their opponents, the only weapons by which the minority can defend themselves against similar attempts from those in power are the forms and rules of proceeding which have been adopted as they were found necessary, from time to time, and are become the law of the House, by a strict adherence to which the weaker party can only be protected from those irregularities and abuses which these forms were intended to check and which the wantonness of power is but too often apt to suggest to large and successful majorities. 2 Hats., 171, 172.

And whether these forms be in all cases the most rational or not, is really not of so great importance. It is much more material that there should be a rule to go by, than what that rule is; that there may be a uniformity of proceeding in business not subject to the caprice of the Speaker or captiousness of the members. It is very material that order, decency, and regularity be preserved in a dignified public body. 2 Hats., 149.

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All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. Constitution of the United States, Art. 1, sec. I.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. Constitution of the United States, Art. I, sec. 6.

For the powers of Congress, see the following articles and sections of the Constitution of the United States: I, 4, 7, 8, 9; II, 1, 2; III, 3; IV, 1, 3, 5, and all the amendments.


The privileges of members of Parliament, from small and obscure beginnings, have been advancing for centuries with a firm and never-yielding pace. Claims seem to have been brought forward from time to time, and repeated, till some example of their admission enabled them to build law on that example. We can only, therefore, state the points of progression at which they now are. It is now acknowledged: 1. That they are at all times exempted from question elsewhere, for anything said in their own House; that during the time of privilege. 2. Neither a member himself, his * wife, nor his servants

* Order of the House of Commons, 1663, July 16.

(familiares sui), for any matter of their own, may be* arrested on mesne process in any civil suit. 3. Nor be detained under execution, though levied before time of privilege. 4. Nor impleaded, cited, or subpænaed in any court. 5. Nor summoned as a witness or juror. 6. Nor may their lands or goods be distrained. 7. Nor their persons assaulted or characters traduced. And the period of time covered by privilege, before and after the session, with the practice of short prorogations under the connivance of the Crown, amounts in fact to a perpetual protection against the course of justice. In one instance, indeed, it has been relaxed by the 10 G. III, c. 50, which permits judiciary proceedings to go on against them. That these privileges must be continually progressive seems to result from their rejecting all definition of them, the doctrine being that "their dignity and independence are preserved by keeping their privileges indefinite; and that 'the maxims upon which they proceed, together with the method of proceeding, rest entirely in their own breast, and are not defined and ascertained by any particular stated laws.'i Blackst., 163, 164. '

. It was probably from this view of the encroaching character of privilege that the framers of our Constitution, in their care to provide that the laws shall bind equally on all, and especiaily that those who make them shall not exempt themselves from their operation, have only privileged Senators and Representatives themselves from the single act of arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same, and from being questioned in any other place for any speech or debate in either House. 1,

Constitution United States, Art. I, sec. 6. Under the general authority to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers given them (Constitution United States, Art. 1, sec. 8), they may provide by law

* Elsynge, 217; I Hats., 21; i Grey's Deb., 133.

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