The Diary of Thomas Burton: 10 February 1658-9

Pages 194-201

Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 3, January - March 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.

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Thursday, February, 10, 1658–9.

I came not till ten, and the House had been an hour in debate whether there should be a previous vote.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge and Sir Henry Vane, and others, strongly urged that the proper question was for commitment.

Mr. Bodurda. Let us not defeat one another. If any question intervene, every man may speak again. I move that we be ingenuous one to another, and not exclude our votes. Every man agrees that it should be committed.

Mr. Knightley. I never knew commitment to lose a bill. A man may lose his life by commitment. I am against the previous vote.

Mr. Trenchard. There is a great difference between a previous vote and part of a Bill. I would have the previous vote, first.

Mr. Trevor. I find that either a Bill is so bad that it is incapable of amendment, or so good that it needs none; and so may go to engrossing; or else there are some faults in it, that it stands in need of some amendments.

Mr. Hewley. You differ about the, method. Why need we be so nice ? I cannot speak to the orders of the House, but to right reason. It matters not which question goes first. You are master-builders, and may lay which stone you please, first.

I see the doctors differ as to the orders of the House.

Colonel Birch. If the question pass for commitment, then all the debate is excluded. The meaning is, to lose three days' debate, if not the Bill.

Mr. Scawen and Mr. Hungerford never knew a previous vote upon the commitment of a Bill. First commit it, and then give your Committee directions, as most agreeable to the orders of the House.

Mr. Fowell. The debate has always been upon the words standing. If you agree not to this, I am against committing it. In all your Bills formerly, in all Bills, for money, you ever agreed for the sum and time of payment, before you committed it.

Mr. Francis Bacon. Your first vote must needs be, whether you will have a Protector, or not. If the question be carried for a Committee, two or three days will be spent in debating whether it shall be a Grand or Special Committee. I doubt it will breed danger abroad.

Lieutenant-general Ludlow. I move against the previous vote. I would not have us capitulate with them. I dare not well trust them.

Mr. Starkey. I move for the words to stand in the Bill.

Mr. Scot. Qui bene distinguit, bene docet. True, a previous vote is proper upon a first reading; but not on a second reading, in the case of money, as is moved. It is moved by Mr. Francis Bacon that you swallow it without a debate, either in a Grand or Private Committee. The proper question and best way to come to a right understanding is, to commit the whole.

Colonel Fielder. This question was propounded yesterday. I would have it now put, whether it shall be put.

Mr. Chaloner. If you agree to this, there is nothing left for your Committee to debate upon; unless a little about the House of Lords.

Mr. Speaker. It is hard for me to understand your sense. All agree about the commitment. If this were a previous vote of itself, then it were another thing; but if you mean this shall be a part of the Bill, then it will be part of the Bill. There are divers exceptions against the Bill, in the words, "lawful successor," and the like.

Mr. Knightley. Let both go together. If you pass this, you pass the whole Bill. Divers young gentlemen came here in 44, and said they had been at two hundred Bills, and never saw one.

Sir Henry Vane. You ought to direct us that the commitment should be first.

Mr. Goodrich. Here are two questions on foot; one for commitment, and another for the previous vote. Out of these results a third. Which of these questions shall precede? Pray put it, which shall be first put.

Mr. Disbrowe. I never knew it, that a previous vote was denied. I would have the arguments answered. If the question be for commitment, why may not all speak over again, to direct your Committee?

All those reflections on former Parliaments might better have been spared: better have covered your fathers' nakedness, for so I must honour them and call them.

Put the question, whether you shall put the question.

Mr. Pedley. You have a natural and a collateral question. It cannot be denied but, sometimes, the collateral question may precede. It has been always expected we are to put a question for a natural question. I would have the question put, whether this collateral question shall be first put.

Mr. Neville. It appears to me that as great a sense of the House is for the natural question.

Captain Baynes and Mr. Weaver the same. Many things were done precipitately, in the five months' Parliament; but always, in that, the natural preceded the unnatural.

Major Ashton. This question has received many names. I wish the unnatural name had been spared. My reason why the natural question should not be put, is, because it would unnaturally destroy the other question.

Mr. Steward. I cannot well distinguish between natural and collateral. I suppose they may be both natural questions. It is very natural that before the first question be put, the collateral should be decided.

Mr. Reynolds. It is time that makes a prescription. I wonder how. gentlemen can. prescribe from 54. I have not spoken to the merits. Let this question be put for commitment. You have but one question before you, naturally, and put the next question, afterwards, when debated.

Mr. Hoskins. The proper question is for commitment; but I never heard but other questions may intermeddle. Else how came the debate ? Nothing so usual.

Sir John Northcote. I am sorry to see time squandered away. When a Bill is but in the question, it follows naturally for commitment, and to give directions to your Committee. A previous vote never came; but always before the Bill came in. You must needs put the natural question.

Mr. Hewley. I would have neither question precede; but that they may be both put together.

Mr. Fowell. You turn the other question out of doors, if you put that.

Mr. Knightley. The natural son ought always to precede the adopted son. He that will ask me nothing, shall have nothing from me.

Mr. Stephens. Jealousies amongst ourselves are the cause of all this delay. Putting the natural question will be most proper, but if that pass in the negative, I doubt you will put a bar upon yourselves, as to the other.

Serjeant Seys. I thought to have sat still, and served, but as the members find such differences—(used the words "illword, folly," &c. which was improper).

If the question pass for commitment we are locked up. It is most fit to put the previous vote, before the Bill is committed.

Lord Fairfax. I move that the question for commitment be put.

Mr. St. Nicholas. There was a great deal of time, before that proposition grew up to a question.

Mr. Turner. I have sat in three Parliaments, yet would not venture to speak to the orders of the House, but that some that never saw a Parliament before, speak to the orders. In the turning of all the Instruments of Government that we have been under, there were always previous votes. We differ not in the substance, only in the modus agendi.

Mr. Barnham. It is your duty to put the question for commitment, though all and every individual of this House were for the other question.

Mr. Jones. You may divide any part of the Bill here. It will be no way inconsistent to your Bill. The proper question is for the previous vote.

Mr. Jenkinson. The natural and proper question is for commitment.

Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. It was moved to debate it in parts, beginning at "Be it enacted." If you determine not this, you will commit it to a Committee that can do nothing with it. All the preface may be mended. The substance lies in two lines, in the latter end. Without this question I shall be against the commitment of the Bill.

Mr. Manley. I hear nobody deny the single person to be fitted to be Protector. Why need you then refer the question to a Committee ?

Mr. Speaker. I cannot yet see that the previous vote is fit to be propounded. Two questions are before you, whether the previous vote, or the commitment.

Sir Henry Vane. He mistakes the two questions:—

1. If the Bill shall be committed.

2. Whether that question shall be put.

Mr. Trevor and Serjeant Maynard. If either of those questions be put, I am deprived of my vote which way soever I give my vote, either to hazard the casting out the Bill, or to lose the debate. Let us not lose our ingenuity in surprising one another into a question. The debate has been soberly carried on hitherto.

Lord Lambert. The general sense of the House may be put, yea or nay. The Bill shall be committed, for any thing that is said; no votes shall be lost. There may be a great want of ingenuousness on the other side. I believe if this were referred to a Committee, I would be so understood, that those that would now give their affirmative to the previous vote would then give their negative to it.

Mr. Speaker. It is very natural to put the question, if this shall be part of the Bill.

Lord Lambert. Upon the second reading, you cannot speak to any part of the Bill; unless for rejecting it or committing it.

Mr. Solicitor-general. You may speak to any part of the Bill. It is not so natural to commit a Bill. You may pass a whole, or any part of a Bill. If this question be too great for us, it is too great for the Committee. So that clearly it agrees with the orders of the House to pass any part.

I hear some except against the style, (fn. 1) that it is not grave enough, or so Parliamentary. This is the work of the Committee. I am excluded of my vote if the question be for commitment; but the other question every man is free to affirm or deny.

Sir Walter Earle. I have seen it done ten times; a previous vote after a Bill has been engrossed, I would not have men to speak four or five times.

Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Knightley. Any gentleman may speak to the orders of the House as often as he pleases. Sir Walter Earle moved expressly against the orders of the House.

Sir Henry Vane. It seems it is long since any Bill passed regularly. At the first reading no man can speak for a Bill; but against it, he may. At the second reading he may speak for, or against it, that is, against any part of it. The natural orders will preserve you from rocks. In times when we had kings, the House was surprised by previous votes. Our ancestors foresaw the necessity of committing a Bill. You have not touched the question, if the question shall be put for commitment.

Mr. Attorney-general. I have always observed the rule that what was the most agreeable to every man's sense was the natural question, not to exclude any man's vote. I think it too great for your Committee. I would have that question put which may save our time.

Colonel White. It is expedient to determine the debate. Some say, per orders, the question; some, of another mind, propose this, whether the House will take into consideration a previous vote, before the commitment.

Mr. Knightley. I like the question well, for an expedient; but doubt it will be dangerous to skip over the orders of our ancestors, in Queen Elizabeth's and King James's times. I have read journals before I was a Parliament man.

Sir John Maynard. If you cautionate it so that the previous vote shall be upon what is debated. By those intervening votes, I have often known the whole debate turned aside, and both questions lost.

Sir Arthur Haslerigge. I hope we shall have ingenuousness on both sides, not to be jealous of one another. If I surprize any, I desire never to be heard again. If I see any serpent under the green leaves, I will pull off the leaves, though never so flourishing.

Mr. Bodurda. I observed Sir Henry Vane. He contended not for the precedency; but for the dangerousness of the other question. I think it, on the other side, necessary that you put no question that may put out of doors a question of this concernment. This gentleman did move that the debate go on upon this negative debate. I desire the question be, that a previous vote, in order to this debate, shall be first put.

Sir Henry Vane. I agree that the question may be, if a previous vote shall be before commitment.

Mr. Knightley and Mr. Reynolds moved that a question should be put for a previous vote, to be before the Committee be named.

Sir Walter Earle. That question is improper. You are, part, for a previous vote before the Committee be named; and you know not whether you will have a Committee, or not.

Mr. Godfrey. I agree this is impossible. I would have the question: if a previous vote upon the matter debated shall be put, before the Bill be committed.

The question was proposing.

Sir Henry Vane. Those that were naming a Committee should be against this question. (Query, if ingenuously moved?)

The question being put in the affirmative;—

Lieutenant-general Ludlow stood up, and pressed that the natural question might be put, for commitment.

The question being put, whether this House will take into consideration a previous vote touching the matters here debated before the Bill be committed. The question being put if that question shall be now put, it passed in the affirmative.

The main question being put, it passed in the affirmative.

The House rose at almost three.

The Committee of Privileges sat in the Star Chamber. Serjeant Waller in the chair.


  • 1. See supra, p. 130.