« PreviousContinue »
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: ITS
REMARKS IN THE SENATE, ON THE BILL FOR THE APPORTION
MENT OF REPRESENTATIVES AMONG THE STATES, JANUARY 29, 1872.
R. PRESIDENT, - Before the vote is taken I
desire to make one remark. I was struck with the suggestion of the Senator from Ohio [Mr. SHERMAN), the other day, with regard to the proposition which comes from the House. He reminded us that it was a House proposition, and that it was natural that the House should be allowed to regulate itself. I think there is much in that worthy of consideration. I doubt if the Senate would receive with much favor any proposition from the House especially applicable to us. I think we should be disposed to repel it. I think we should say that our experience should enable us to judge that question better than the experience of the House. And now I ask whether the experience of the House does not enable them to judge of the question of numbers better than we can judge of it? On general grounds I confess I should myself prefer a smaller House; personally I incline that way; but I am not willing on that point to set myself against the House.
Then, Sir, I cannot be insensible to the experience of other countries. I do not know whether Senators have troubled themselves on that head; but if they have not, I think it will not be uninteresting to them to have their attention called to the numbers of the great legislative bodies of the world at this moment. For instance, beginning with England, there is the upper House, the Chamber of Peers, composed of four hundred and sixty-six members; then the lower House, the House of Commons, with six hundred and fiftyeight members. We know that, practically, these members attend only in comparatively small numbers; that it is only on great questions that either House is full.
Did the House of Lords ever have anything like that number present ?
MR. SUMNER. It has had several hundred.
There are four hundred and sixty-six entitled to seats in the House of Lords.
Pass over to France. The National Assembly, sitting at Versailles at this moment, elected February 8 and July 2, 1871, consists of seven hundred and thirtyeight members.
Pass on to Prussia. The upper Chamber of the Parliament of Prussia has two hundred and sixty-seven members; the lower Chamber has four hundred and thirtytwo. Now we all know that Prussia is a country where no rule of administration or of constitution is adopted lightly, and everything is considered, if I may so express myself, in the light of science.
Pass to Austria, under the recent organization. You are aware that there are two different Parliaments now in Austria, - one for what is called the cis-Leithan terri