Parliamentary procedure is the body of
rules, ethics, and customs governing meetings and other operations of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies, and other deliberative assemblies. It is part of the common laworiginating primarily in the practices of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, from which it derives its name.
United States, parliamentary procedure also referred to as parliamentary law, parliamentary practice, legislative procedure, or rules of order. In Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other English-speaking countries it is often referred to as chairmanship, chairing, the law of meetings, procedure at meetings, or the conduct of meetings.
At its heart is the rule of the majority with respect for the minority. Its object is to allow
deliberationupon questions of interest to the organization and to arrive at the sense or the will of the assembly upon these questions. [Henry M. Robert, "Parliamentary Law", 1923, p. 3] Parliamentary procedure is used in organizations of self-governing people to conduct debatewith the least possible friction in order to as efficiently as possible make group decisions. These decisions are usually determined by voting.
United Statesand Canada, "Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised" is the authority most often used by non-legislative deliberative assemblies. "Robert's Rules" is based on the common law of parliamentary procedure found in the United States.
Commonwealth countries (except for Canada) follow a somewhat similar, but distinctively different set of rules, sometimes referred to as Westminster procedure. Both sets of parliamentary procedure originate from the procedure used in the British House of Commons. Legislative assemblies in all countries, because of their nature, tend to have a specialized set of rules that in some areas differs greatly from the common parliamentary procedure used by clubs and organizations. Parliamentary procedure is based on the principles of allowing the majority to make decisions effectively and efficiently (
majority rule) and ensuring fairness towards the minority, as well as giving each member or delegatethe right to voice his or her opinion [Cite parl|title=RONR|edition=10th|pages=XLVII] Votingis used to determine the will of the assembly. While each assembly may create their own set of rules, these sets tend to be more alike than different. A common practice is to adopt a standard reference book on parliamentary procedure and then modify it by adopting special rules of orderthat take precedence over certain rules in the adopted authority.
Business is conducted through motions, which cause actions. Members bring business before the assembly by introducing
main motions, or dispose of this business (through subsidiary motions and incidental motions). Parliamentary procedure also allows for rules in regards to nomination, voting, disciplinary action, appeals, dues, and the drafting of organization charters, constitutions, and bylaws.
Organizations and civic groups
In civic groups and other organizations, "Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised" is the most commonly used parliamentary authority. Other authorities are "
The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure" (widely used in medical organizations), and " Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure".
Of the 99 state legislatures in the
United States, " Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure" governs parliamentary procedures in 70; "Jefferson's Manual" governs 13, and "Robert's Rules of Order" governs five.
"Mason's Manual", originally written by constitutional scholar and former
California Senatestaff member Paul Mason in 1935 and since his death revised and published by the National Conference of State Legislatures(NCSL), governs legislative procedures in instances where the state constitution, state statutes, and the chamber's rules are silent. [See, for example, "Standing Rules of the California Assembly", in [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=hr_1&sess=CUR HR 1, 2007-08 Regular Session] .] [http://www.ncsl.org National Conference of State Legislatures web site] ] [cite book|last=National Conference of State Legislatures|title= Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure|year=2000|publisher=NCSL|location=Denver, CO|isbn=1580241166]
According to the NCSL, one of the many reasons that most state legislatures use "Mason's Manual" instead of "Robert's Rules of Order" is because "Robert's Rules" applies best to private organizations and civic groups that do not meet in daily public sessions. "Mason's Manual", however, is geared specifically toward state legislative bodies.
In the United States and Canada, individuals who are proficient in parliamentary procedure are called parliamentarians. (In other English-speaking countries with parliamentary forms of government, "parliamentarian" refers to a
member of Parliament.)
Several organizations offer certification programs for parliamentarians, including the
National Association of Parliamentariansand American Institute of Parliamentarians. Agriculture teachers who coach teams in the National FFA Organization(formerly Future Farmers of America) parliamentary procedure contest can earn the title Associate Parliamentarian (AP). Parliamentarians perform an important role in many meetings, including counseling organizations on parliamentary law, holding elections, or writing amendments to the constitution and bylawsof an organization.
American Institute of Parliamentarians
History of parliamentary procedure
National Association of Parliamentarians
Principles of parliamentary procedure
Rules of order
* [http://www.parl.gc.ca/compendium/web-content/c_a_index-e.htm Compedium of Procedure for Canada's House of Commons]
* [http://www.ncsl.org/programs/legismgt/about/masons.htm National Conference of State Legislatures: Mason's Manual vs. Robert's Rules of Order]
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