† In Congress and in our State Legislature, the Speaker, instead of naming the gentleman on the floor, says, "the member from - " naming the state or county he represents. This plan may be pursued in all other bodies where the members appear in the capacity of representatives.
The communication having been read, the President asks, "What order shall be taken on this communication?" A motion from some member then becomes necessary. If the matter is one that requires deliberation, it may be referred to a committee, or postponed for the present, to be taken up in a subsequent part of the meeting for discussion. In this case, some member will rise and say, "I move that it be postponed for the present," which motion being seconded,* the President says, "It is moved and seconded that the communication be postponed for the present - as many as are in favor of that motion will please say 'aye,' - those of the contrary opinion will please say 'no.' " If the President thinks, from the sound of the voices, that the ayes are in a majority, he will say "the ayes appear to have it," and then pause for a moment or two, to give any who doubts, the privilege of calling for a division, or for the yeas and nays.† If no one objects, he will proceed; "the ayes have it - the motion is agreed to."
This is the ordinary mode of putting all questions, although in many cases, where the expression of opinion is pretty much all on one side of the question, the President instead of saying, "the ayes appear to have it," will say, "the ayes have it."
* In small bodies it is not usual for the President to wait for a seconder, it being understood that he seconds all motions and resolutions himself. Such also is the usage in the Select Council of this city. The President, however, is not obliged, unless he sees proper so to do, to take any notice of a motion unless it be seconded.
† A division may be taken on the call of one member, but to take the yeas and nays, requires that the call be sec. onded, or made by two members. In Congress, the yeas and nays are not called unless the motion is seconded by one-fifth of the members present.
A division may be called for by any one member any time before the final result is declared by the President. In that case he will say: - "A division is called for - gentlemen in favor of the motion will please rise and remain standing until they are counted." He will then direct the Secretary to count the number standing, and when that is ascertained and reported to him, (or he may count them himself,) request those up to take their seats, and pursue a similar course with those in the negative on the question.
Whenever possible, it is undoubtedly the best course to make a final disposition of all communications at once, in order to prevent business from accumulating too rapidly on the table.
When the President has communications himself to present, it is usual for him to an-nounce them after he has recieved those from the members.
5. The President will then say, "The next business in order is reports from Standing Committees - has the Committee on ----------,"naming the first committee on the list, "any report to offer?" The Chairman of that committee, or in his absence, one of the members, will then rise and say: " Mr. President, the Committee on---------have instructed me to make the following report," handing it to the President. The President, on receiving it, should say: "a report is received from the Committee on ---------. The report will be read."
All reports should terminate with a resolution. This is the unvarying custom in Legislative bodies, and in all Societies and institutions of the higher class. If the report merely embraces matter for the information of the Society, and requires no special action, the resolution may be as fol-lows:"Resolved - That the committee be discharged from the further consideration of the subject."
The report having been read, the President will say: "What order will the meeting take on the resolution attached to the report?" Some member may then move that it be adopted, or that it be postponed for the present, and the resolution is thus brought up for the immediate action of the members.
In some Societies, after a report has been read, it is usual to make a motion to accept or adopt it, but this is altogether unnecessary, unless the reception of the report is objected to. It is the recommendations of the committee, as embraced in their resolutions, rather than the report itself, that are the proper subjects for the action of the meeting. The report, however, if objectionable or unsatisfactory, may be recommit-ed, by a motion to that effect, with or without instruction, or, on leave given, before action has been had upon it, it may be withdrawn by the committee.
It has long been a subject of inquiry whether or not a meeting possesses the right to amend a report. General usage is unquestionably against the measure. After a close examination of the decisions in our State Legislature, I have been enabled to find but one instance in which it was exercised. Mr. Sutherland, however, is clearly of opinion that the House have as much right to amend a report, as a resolution or a bill. Mr. Cushing also adopts this opinion. A more courteous plan, doubtless, is to recommit with instructions.
If the Committee have no report to offer, the chairman should say: - "Mr. President, the Committee on ----- have no report to make at this time," which announcement the President should repeat, and then pass to the committee next in order.
Should a committee not be unanimous in opinion, and those in the minority be desirous of placing their views before the meeting, the matter should be introduced immediately after the majority report has been read. A member will then move that "the report and resolution thereto attached be postponed for the present, for the purpose of enabling the minority to present their report." If this motion prevails, as is almost always the case, the minority report will be immediately presented, received and read. It is then in order, on motion, to take up for consideration the resolution attached to either of the reports.