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§ 136. “Absence.”

It is an ancient constitutional rule that every person elected to serve in Parliament is bound so to serve. “Service in Parliament” was a duty which might be cast upon every person not expressly disqualified; this duty he could not decline or invade, and even the Crown could not exempt him from the obligation. It is a consequence of the same principle that members are bound to attend during the whole time that Parliament is sitting. Several Acts have been passed in England to enforce this duty; and though


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the Crown does not now interfere, the House of Commons claims, and occasionally exercises, the right to compel the attendance of all its members by a “call of the House.' (Hearn, Gov. of Eng. pp. 532-3.)

Where a statute provided that “if any legislative councillor shall for two successive seasons fail to give his attendance, without permission, his seat shall thereby become vacated,” and a councillor absented himself during the whole of three sessions, having previously obtained a permission for a year, which period of time, in the event, covered the whole of the first and part of the second session: Held, that his seat was vacated, as the permission did not cover two successive sessions. (Att.-Gen. [Queensland] v. Gibbon, 12 App. Cas. 442; Dig. of Engl. Case Law, vol. 3, p. 493.)

Quorum137

39. Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the members of the House of Representatives shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers.

UNITED STATES.—…a majority of each (House) shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties, as the House may provide.—Const. Art. I. sec. v. sub-s. 1. SWITZERLAND.—In either Council a quorum is a majority of the total number of its members.— Const. Art. 87. CANADA.—The presence of at least twenty members of the House of Commons shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers; and for that purpose the Speaker shall be reckoned as a member.—B.N.A. Act, 1867, sec. 48. GERMANY.—To render action valid, the presence of a majority of the statutory number of members shall be required—Const. Art. 28.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—Clause 39, Chap. I. of the Commonwealth Bill of 1891, was in the same words, and was adopted verbatim at the Adelaide session, 1897. In Committee at Adelaide, Mr. Carruthers contended that the quorum was too high, and suggested “twenty.” This was negatived. (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 735.)

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