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The Story

There was a young congressman who, unskilled of parliamentary procedure but nonetheless eager to prove his worth as law-maker, asked the secretary of the House what he was to do or say at the meeting of the assembly. Annoyed by similar questions from other equally inexperienced members, the secretary reportedly told him, Just go ahead and say what you wish; you will know if you are wrong because you will be ruled out of order.

Lessons from the Story

The eagerness of the young man to know what he was to do or say at the meetings dramatizes the importance of a working knowledge of parliamentary procedure if one is to take an active and responsible part in an organization. The blunt remarks of the secretary to just go ahead and say what you wish, exemplify the freedom of thought upon which parliamentary procedure is founded.

The admonition that you will know if you are wrong because will be ruled out of order demonstrates the discipline that characterizes parliamentary procedure. The exceedingly simple instruction of the secretary to the young legislator also illustrates one of the important aims of parliamentary procedure, which is to simplify and systematize the conduct of business to enable the assembly to make fast and legally valid decisions.

Parliamentary Procedure

Parliamentary procedure refers to that body of generally accepted rules, precedents, and practices commonly employed to regulate the proceedings of deliberative assemblies.

Aims of Parliamentary Procedure

It aims to facilitate the work of any deliberative body and to help it carry out its objectives effectively and well. It is designed for all people to help them in reconciling their views and in arriving at clear solutions to the many complex problems that arise in their social life. Its principal aim and function is to maintain decorum, ascertain the will of the majority, and facilitate the orderly and harmonious transaction of business of the assembly.

Fundamental Principles of Parliamentary Procedure

1. Members Have Equal Rights and Obligations 2. The Majority Rules 3. The Minority Must be Protected 4. Singularity of Subject 5. Full and Free Debate Must be Allowed 6. Every Motion Must be Voted Upon 7. Group Interest Must Prevail 8. The Presiding Officer Must be Impartial

Meetings and Sessions

Meeting is an assemblage of members of an organization for any length of time during which there is no separation of members except for brief periods of recess. It covers the period from the time the assembly convenes to the time it adjourns. Session is a series of meetings, held in close succession and for any length of time, such as the session of a convention or of the Congress.

Three Kinds of Meetings

Regular meeting one held at the time provided for in the constitution or by-laws Special meeting one called from time to time either by the head of the organization, its governing board, or a certain number of the members, depending upon the rules Adjourned meeting a continuation of an original meeting in which any business left pending when the original meeting was adjourned may be taken up


Quorum is that number or proportion of members of an organization which must be present at a particular meeting for the organization to legally transact business. In the absence of quorum, no business can be transacted with legal effect except to adopt such measures deemed necessary to obtain a quorum or to adjourn

Example of Computing a Quorum

Total Membership minus delinquent members Members in good standing minus members abroad (beyond jurisdiction) and or incapacitated Basis for computing quorum (divided by two plus one) Quorum required 200 5 195 3

192 97


Debate is a discussion on any subject for the purpose of elucidating the truth or influencing action It is only through debate (medium of a free and full discussion) that the members of an assembly may be able to decide a question intelligently

Basic Rules of Debate

Relevancy means that all discussions must be related to the question at issue Decorum means courtesy in speech and propriety of action

Votes and Voting

All matters brought before the assembly can be properly disposed of only the vote of the members (except few motions that are decided by the Chair). It is customary for organizations to provide in their constitution or by-laws the kind of vote necessary for disposition of certain important questions, and for this purpose they generally require a majority vote. In deliberative assemblies, there are five kinds of votes that are generally adopted, namely, majority, percentage, plurality, tie vote and unanimous vote.

Majority Vote
Organization: 300 members, quorum is 151, 220 are present, 200 voted, 10 votes declared illegal

Majority of legal votes cast (200 10 illegal votes /2 + 1 = 96) Majority of total votes cast (200 /2 + 1 = 101) Majority of the members present (220 /2 + 1 = 111) Majority of all the members (300 /2 + 1 = 151)

Percentage Vote

Proportion of a certain whole, for example, twothirds of the legal votes cast or three-fourths of the members present Example: 300 members, quorum is 151, 220 are present, 200 voted, 10 votes declared illegal 2/3 majority vote (200 10 illegal votes x 2 /3 = 126.67 or 127)

Plurality Vote

A vote larger by at least one over the total vote of any other candidate or proposition. Example: Joseph Estrada 17 votes Fidel Ramos 26 votes Corazon Aquino 25 votes Total votes cast 68 votes

Tie Vote

Occurs when two or more candidates or propositions each receive the same number of the highest vote thus creating a deadlock. In this case, voting shall continue until it results in an election or a choice. The presiding officer, if he is a member of the assembly and has not voted on a particular question, may, of his own will, cast his vote in order to break or create a tie.

Unanimous Vote

Results when a candidate or a proposition obtains the total number of the legal or valid votes cast. When a successful candidate or a proposition receives a vote other than the unanimous one, the same may be made unanimous either through general consent or formal motion. Motion must be approved without a single opposition.

Methods of Voting
There are several methods of voting in deliberative assembly, namely, by voice, by show of hands, rising, roll call, general consent, and by ballot. Other forms, but of a different classification, are absentee and cumulative voting.

Practical Examples of Common Methods of Voting

By Voice By Show of Hands By Rising By Roll Call By General Consent


Is the procedure required by parliamentary procedure for the transaction of business in a deliberative assembly. It is a formal proposal that the assembly either adopts a certain view or takes a certain action on a question pending before it. It is identified by the prefatory phrase, I move that which is equivalent to saying, I propose that.

Classification of Motions

Motions are classified according to their general purposes into four basic groups, namely,

Motions Subsidiary Motions Privileged Motions and Incidental Motions

Main Motions

General main motions are those through which certain subjects or ideas are proposed to the assembly for its consideration. Example: to hold a Red Cross Youth Conference Specific main motions are those which in effect bring before the assembly a proposal for its consideration in a manner of general main motion but which have been given special names because of their long and frequent usage.

The Specific Main Motions

To take from the table To reconsider To reconsider and have entered on the minutes To rescind To expunge To adopt a report To amend (questions already adopted) To adjourn (if qualified) To create special orders

Subsidiary Motions

This class of motions is generally designed either to modify or dispose of temporarily or permanently a main motion that may be pending before the assembly. To lay on the table, To call for the previous question, To modify the limits of debate, To postpone definitely, To commit or refer to a committee, To amend (questions not yet adopted), To postpone indefinitely These motions are arranged in their order of precedence

Privileged Motions

These motions are designed to meet the urgent needs of the assembly and for this reason, they are entitled to the highest precedence. They are arranged in the order of their rank. To fix the time to which to adjourn, To adjourn (if unqualified), To take a recess, To raise a question of privilege, To call for the orders of the day

Incidental Motions
Arise only incidentally out of the business or proceeding of the assembly. They have no fixed rank but they take precedence over the question from which they arise, whether such question is main, subsidiary or privileged.

The Incidental Motions

To suspend the rules To withdraw or modify a motion To object to the consideration of a question To raise a point of order To raise a parliamentary inquiry To raise a point of information To appeal from the decision of the Chair To call for a division of the assembly To ask for the division of the question To read papers Motions relating to nominations Motions relating to voting

Progress of Motion

Motions brought before the assembly should be clearly presented, intelligently discussed, and properly disposed of without unnecessary waste of time and effort. To accomplish this, parliamentary rules prescribe eight steps in handling a motion.

8 Steps in Handling a Motion

1. Obtaining the floor 2. Recognition by the Chair 3. Presentation of motion 4. Seconding the motion 5. Statement of the motion 6. Discussion on the motion 7. Voting on the question 8. Announcement of the vote

Order of Business

It is a program or outline of the things to be done during a meeting. It serves as a guide of the proceedings to insure the orderly and efficient transaction of business. That portion of the order that lists the specific items of business is better known as the agenda.

Usual Order of Business

1. Call to order 2. Invocation (optional) 3. Roll call (optional) 4. Reading and consideration of the minutes of the previous meeting 5. Reports of standing committees 6. Reports of special committees 7. Unfinished business 8. New business 9. Announcements (optional) 10. Adjournment

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