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CHAP. date till one thousand fix hundred and
forty, parliaments were not convened: fefsions were held till near the king's death in one thousand six hundred and forty-eight; but in the interregnum a parliament for the three kingdoms was held during the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, of which a list shall be given in the Appendix.
The Irish parliament met after the Restoration, in one thousand fix hundred and sixty-one, and sat till one thousand fix hundred and sixty-three, with few intervals : they met afterwards in one thousand fix hundred and sixty-five, and were diffolved in the following year, on account of a dispute between the two houses at a conference.
From one thousand fix hundred and fix= ty-fix a parliament was not held in Ireland till one thousand six hundred and ninetytwo; it was soon diffolved by lord Sydney, and did not re-assemble till one thousand fix hundred and ninety-five : from thence
they were convened twice before one thou- CHAP. fand six hundred and ninety-eight; but they did not meet for five years till one thoufand seven hundred, and three; from hence they have assembled biennially till one thoufand seven hundred and eighty-three, when; in consequence of a resolution of the house of lords *, and of the annual grants of the duties, they have been annually convened since that period.
The Irish parliament was usually cona. vened in the summer months in former times; and the long intervals in the sessions must appear very inconvenient and unaccountable.
Even so late as one thousand seven huna dred and seventy-nine-eighty they met in
* Lords Journals, die Lunæ, 3d Nov. 1783. Resolved, That it is the opinion of this house, that in the present situation of this kingdom, it will promote the general utility, and national welfaré, contribute to amend, strengthen, and preserve the laws, and to give ample and speedy justice to the subjects of this realm, in his majesty's high court of parliament, if a session of parliament were held every year in this kingdom.
CHAP. O&tober, were prorogued in September, and
fat every month in the year.
Three circumstances conduced to this inconvenience: The first, the adjournment for about three weeks to prepare the public accounts, after parliament had fat for three or four days; the second, the delay in returning the bills ; and the third, the want of due regularity in their proceedings.
The first has been corrected by preparing the public accounts before the sessions commenced; the second, by a proper difpatch in the English councils, where bills since one thousand seven hundred and eighty are no longer debated and altered ; and the last, by the attention of the present speaker and the following regulation :
The orders of the day were transcribed in the house of commons in one thousand feven hundred and eighty-five, and sent every morning to the house of each member, a regulation which the lords have since
adopted; adopted; and in that session, they fat with= CH A P. out any holidays (Sundays and the 30th of January excepted) from Christmas till Easter; by which period, it is probable, a session may in future be limited. These regulations, which are due to the ability of the present speaker of the house of commons, are improvements in parliamentary proceedings, even beyond those which have been adopted in the British parliament.
CONFERENCES prevailed more in the Irith than in the British parliament. The propositions for laws, which went under the prescriptions of Poyning's act, from either house to government, had only the weight and recommendation of one branch of the legislature; the weight of a joint recommendation could only be effected by them : hence the frequency of conferences in the annals of parliament:
From the year one thousand fix hundred and thirteen, when the Journals of the comN 2
CHAP. mons commenced, till one thousand feven v.
hundred and thirty-seven, many conferences obtained in every seffion ; but forms, ceremonies, idle etiquettes, and disgraceful altercations, marked their meetings. I have carefully avoided dwelling upon disputes, which amplify and extend the early parliamentary records, - whether they were to sit, or to stand; to go first, or second ; to be covered, or uncovered ; to stand in one spot, or another, at conferences.
Some controversies of this kind had been composed by the authority of lord Strafford in one thousand six hundred and thirty-four, and 'the two houses acquiesced in his great knowledge of the forms and proceedings of parliament, as a commoner, and afterwards as a peer in England, But the duke of Ormond was not so fortunate in one thousand fix hundred and fixty-fix, and a diffolution and the vacation of parliament for above twenty-five years followed a dispute so frivolous, that it is almost impossible to collect such minute altercations, nor would any