Committees

53. Committees. In small assemblies, especially in those where but little business is done, there is not much need of committees. But in large assemblies, or in those doing a great deal of business, committees are of the utmost importance. When a committee is properly selected, in nine cases out of ten its action decides that of the assembly. A committee for action should be small and consist only of those heartily in favor of the proposed action. A committee for deliberation or investigation, on the contrary, should be larger and represent all parties in the assembly, so that its opinion will carry with it as great weight as possible. The usefulness of the committee will be greatly impaired, if any important faction of the assembly be unrepresented on the committee. The appointment of a committee is fully explained in 46 (c).

The first member named on a committee is their chairman, and it is his duty to call together the committee, and preside at their meetings. If he is absent, or from any cause fails or declines to call a meeting, it is the duty of the committee to assemble on the call of any two of their members. The committee are a miniature assembly, only being able to act when a quorum is present. If a paper is referred to them they must not deface it in any way, but write their amendments on a separate sheet. If they originate the paper, all amendments must be incorporated in it. When they originate the paper, usually one member has previously prepared a draft, which is read entirely through, and then read by paragraphs, the chairman pausing after each paragraph and asking, "Are there any amendments proposed to this paragraph?" No vote is taken on the adoption of the separate paragraphs, but after the whole paper has been read in this way, it is open to amendment, generally, by striking out any paragraph or inserting new ones, or by substituting an entirely new paper for it. When it has been amended to suit the committee, they should adopt it as their report, and direct the chairman or some other member to report it to the assembly. It is then written out, usually commencing in a style similar to this: "The committee to which was referred [state the matter referred], beg leave to submit the following report;" or, "Your committee appointed to [specify the object], would respectfully report," etc. It usually closes thus: "All of which is respectfully submitted," followed by the signatures of all the members concurring in the report, or sometimes by only that of the chairman.

If the minority submit a report, it commences thus: "The undersigned, a minority of the committee appointed," etc., continuing as the regular report of the committee. After the committee's report has been read, it is usual to allow the minority to present their report, but it cannot be acted upon except by a motion to substitute it for the report of the committee. When the committee's report is read, they are discharged without any motion. A motion to refer the paper back to the same committee (or to re-commit), if adopted, revives the committee.