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Parliamentary Procedure – A Basic Approach

How to Prepare for a Meeting

If a club is going to function properly, it has to have meetings at regular intervals. Before a meeting, the presiding officer should prepare an agenda so that there will be a direction to the discussions that will take place. Below is a model of an agenda that could be used.

Agenda

1. Call to order

2. Roll call

3. Motion to approve minutes of the last regular meeting

4. Payment of bills

5. Committee reports

6. Motions

7. Unfinished business

8. New business

9. Adjournment

 

Suggested Rules

No meeting should be a “free for all,” however, don’t get so technical that the meeting becomes mainly concerned with correct procedure. Orderliness and effectiveness are primarily important.

The basic reason for having any standard procedure is to dispose of the business before the assembly as quickly, efficiently, and justly as possible. The five basic theses of parliamentary procedure are:

1. Only one subject may be discussed at a time.

2. Every member of the assembly has equal rights.

3. Each issue presented is entitled to free debate.

4. The rights of the minority must be protected.

5. The will of the majority must rule.

 

Definitions

1. Motion - A formal proposal that assembly take a certain motion. The method whereby the business is presented to the entire assembly. There are four types of motions.

  • Main Motion - One made to bring a particular item of business before the assembly. No main motion may be made while another is pending.
  • Subsidiary Motion - One which may be applied to a main motion in order to modify, delay or dispose of the main motion.
  • Privileged Motion - One which, although it need not have any relation to the pending motion, is of such importance and urgency that it is entitled to immediate consideration.
  • Incidental Motion - One which arises accidentally from the business at hand and which must be decided upon before the pending question can be further considered.

2. Pending - A question is pending when it has been stated by the chair, but has not been disposed of as yet. If it is the one last stated by the chair, it is called the immediately pending question since it must be the first disposed of.

3. Previous Question - A motion made to close a debate upon a matter of business and to have a vote taken at once upon the immediately pending question. Requires a two-thirds vote.

4. Put the Question - Chair asks for a vote on the question.

 

Method of Conducting Business

The chairperson (i.e., president) runs the meeting, unless he/she appoints someone else. Duties include:

  • Call the meeting to order.
  • Announce business according to agenda
  • State and put to a vote all motions/resolutions
  • Restrain members within rules of order

Stick to your agenda. Set time limit for discussion of each item. If you exceed time limit, either vote to extend time by majority vote, table until the next meeting, or setup a subcommittee to formulate recommendations.

 

Specific Item

1. Chairperson prevents the agenda item, sets discussion for approximately five minutes. Chair recognizes one person at a time based on order chair recognizes them – it is helpful for the secretary to keep track of order.

2. When a motion is made, it should be opened to further discussion of new points related to Motion A. Vote then takes place. Normally, a majority vote passes the motion unless it is for a charter revision or impeachment.

3. Key to smooth decision making is realizing that discussions serve to bring out all the relevant points related to an agenda item. The voting decides the issue. There is no need to continue a discussion which repeats the same points over and over. Call the motion, which means the discussion is ended and voting takes place.

4. When motion passes, which implies further action to be taken, the responsibilities for action should be delegated to individuals with a timetable for completion of those responsibilities.