COMMITTEE

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COMMITTEE. Large deliberative assemblies, with a great variety of business before them, are unable to discuss and investigate, sufficiently, many subjects on which they are obliged to act. Committees, therefore, are appointed, to examine and to report to the assembly. Committees have a right to choose their chairman. In the English parliament and the legislative bodies in the United States, as, in fact, in all legislative bodies in representative governments, there are select and standing committees. The French chambers are divided into bureaux. The standing committees are appointed, in England and the United States, by the speaker or president of the house, at the beginning of each session. In the English parliament, the standing committees appointed at every session are those of privileges and elections, of religion, of grievances, of courts of justice, and of trade, though only the first mentioned acts. In the congress of the U. States, the standing committees are very numerous; some of the most important are those of elections, of ways and means, of commerce, of public lands, of the judiciary, of public expenditures, of Indian affairs, of foreign affairs, of manufactures, &c. In fact, business is done by means of committees much more in the American congress than in the English parliament. The French chamber, on the request of five members, must resolve itself into a secret committee. Committee of the Whole. Matters of great concernment are usually referred to a committee of the whole house, where general principles are digested in the form of resolutions, which are debated and amended, till they take a shape which meets the approbation of the majority. These, being reported, and confirmed by the house, are then referred to one or more select committees, according as the subject divides itself into one or more bills. The sense of the whole assembly is better taken in committee, because in all committees every one speaks as often as he pleases. They generally acquiesce in the chairman named by the speaker, but, like all other committees, have a right to elect their chairman, some member, by consent, putting the question. When the house is desirous of forming itself into a committee, the speaker, on motion, puts the question whether the house wTill resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration such a matter, naming it. No previous question can be put in a committee; nor can this committee adjourn, as others may; but, if their business is unfinished when the time of separation arrives, a motion is made for rising, and the chairman reports that the committee of the whole have, according to order, had under their consideration such a matter, and have made progress therein, but, not having had time to go through the same, have directed him to ask leave to sit again. The question is then put whether the request shall be granted, and, if so, at what time the house will again resolve itself into a committee. But, if they have gone through the matter referred to them, the chairman reports, either immediately, or, if the house wish, at a later period. (See Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice, pp. 33, 39.)