« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
the floor. In such a case one of the minority should address the Chair quickly, and, if not given the floor, make the point of order that he is the first one to address the Chair, and that the other member, not having the floor, was not entitled to make a motion" (Rules of Order, p. 54).
Where these abuses of the motion to lay on the table exist every member who understands the law and the philosophy of the motion should object to the erroneous practices, and continue to object until, with fuller information and a better comprehension of the nature of the motion, the faulty procedure is rectified.
This may be brought about by using every proper occasion for calling attention to the right practice and explaining the philosophy underlying it, and urging that the faulty rule or usage be corrected. Then, when the erroneous method is attempted, points of order may be made, and when adverse decisions are made by the Chair, appeals can be taken and argued, for the purpose of presenting the proper form, and thus, by a good-tempered persistence and kindly reasoning in such a campaign of education, conviction as to the right practice will be secured and sooner or later the best parliamentary method will prevail.
A member entering a body should ascertain what has been its custom in this regard, in order that he may not be at a disadvantage in assuming that the right practice will prevail, and, though for a time he may be compelled to bend to an erroneous practice, he may lead the way to a full recognition of that which is right.
1. Consideration. Objection to the Consideration of a Question is a method of entirely avoiding any question which may be deemed unprofitable, irrelevant, or contentious. It means, Shall the house consider the proposition at all? Therefore it applies only to the main question, and consequently cannot be raised when an amendment or any other subsidiary question is pending.
Such objection can be made to any principal motion, but it can only be made when it is first introduced, and before it has been debated. It may, however, be made when a member has the floor. It cannot be raised after discussion on the proposition has actually begun, for that would be equivalent to raising the question as to whether the house would consider the matter when the house had already actually answered the question by considering it. The time to raise the question is when the matter is proposed, and not after consideration has begun or other motions have been made. So the ruling in the United States House of Representatives is that "After a question has been stated, and its discussion commenced, it is too late to raise the question of consideration." It may be raised, however, while the person who introduced the proposition has the floor, but not after he has begun the discussion.
Any member may object to the consideration, or, as it is said, "raise the question of consideration."
In doing this the member objecting may say, "I raise the question of consideration," or, "Mr. President, on that I raise the question of consideration," or use some similar form. The question does not require a second, is
not debatable, and cannot be amended, or have any other subsidiary motion applied to it.
When the question of consideration has been duly raised, the presiding officer, without waiting for remarks upon the question, immediately states and puts the question. He may say: "The question of consideration has been raised on Will the house now consider it?" or, “Shall the question be considered?” or use some other equivalent form, and follow with, “As many as favor the consideration -" and take the vote, and then, "As ." If there is a two-thirds
many as are opposed vote in the negative the whole matter is dismissed for that session; if there is not, the consideration goes on as if objection had not been made.
It should require at least a two-thirds vote in opposition to prevent the consideration, because the question of consideration is raised in order to interfere with the natural right of a question properly introduced to receive consideration.
The question of consideration should be used sparingly and never as a mere gag on a legitimate measure. If the house refuses to consider at a given time, the refusal does not hold forever, but the matter may be brought up again, for the question when put was, "Will the house now consider it?"
The question of consideration is usually grouped among the incidental questions, but, as it bears so directly on the main question and relates to its disposal it may be asked whether it should not be regarded as a subsidiary question.
2. Questions of Order (Appeal). It is the duty of the individual member and of the assembly to be in order. Orderliness relates to individual action and to the general procedure of the body, and what is orderly is determined by general parliamentary practice, special rules, and the sense of propriety.
It is the duty of the presiding officer to see that all the business is conducted according to the proper order.
Questions of order which may arise are, therefore, to be decided by the Chair.
The Chair has a right to call attention to anything that is out of order or improper without waiting for anyone to make reference to it, but any member may at any moment interrupt the proceedings and indicate that which is out of order. Thus, if a member notices anything in the procedure which he thinks is a violation of good parliamentary usage, or of the law of the body, he may arise, and, addressing the Chair, say, "I rise to a point of order." The chairman then interrupts the proceedings and says, "Please state your point of order." The member then states what he considers to be out of order, and the chairman decides that the point is, or that it is not, well taken, and directs the business to proceed accordingly. The question of order must be decided without debate, but the Chair may obtain the advice of members by allowing them to express their opinions upon the point; but these opinions must be given sitting, in order to avoid the appearance of debate.
If any member is not satisfied with the correctness of the decision he may appeal from it to the decision of the meeting itself. An appeal is the defense of a member against an arbitrary act or mistake on the part of the chairman. Without this right the members might be at the mercy of a despot. On the other hand, it is a defense of the presiding officer against the charge of error or partiality.
The appeal is from the Chair to the house-from the decision of the presiding officer to the judgment of the body over which he presides, and the house may sustain the Chair or it may overrule his decision, and, if the decision of the Chair is overruled, then the presiding officer must abide by and conform to the judgment of the house.
As to seconding an appeal, Cushing says it "will depend upon the rules of each assembly." The old rule of the United States House of Representatives read, "Subject to an appeal to the House by any two members." The
present rule is, "by any member."
take an appeal.
One member can
The member in appealing says, "I appeal from the decision of the Chair." This being seconded, the presiding officer immediately states his decision, and that it has been appealed from, and then puts the appeal under the form of the question: "Shall the decision of the Chair be sustained?" or, "Shall the decision of the Chair stand as the judgment of the assembly?"
After the question has been stated, and the chairman gives the reason for his decision, if he desires, it is open to debate, and is decided in the same manner as any other question. It is not debatable, however, if the previous question was pending at the time the point of order was raised, or, if the question relates simply to indecorum, or transgression of the rules of speaking, or to priority of business. When it is debatable no member is allowed to speak more than once, but whether the appeal is debatable or not, the chairman can state the reasons upon which he bases his decision. In some bodies the only discussion permitted is for the presiding officer to state the grounds for his decision, and for the appellant to state the reasons for his appeal. In such an arrangement the appellant should first state his case and then the Chair should reply, and the appellant should invariably have the right to state why he appeals, even if general debate is not permitted.
The presiding officer has the right to continue in the chair while the appeal is being considered, but, if the question is to be discussed, it is good taste for him to call some other person to the chair, so that he may take part in the debate, and prevent his being charged with helping to determine the matter by prejudiced chairmanship.
When the appeal is debatable the previous question and the motion to lay on the table can be applied to it; but if adopted, they affect nothing but the appeal.
To sustain the Chair does not require more than a majority vote, but even a tie vote sustains his decision, upon the principle that the decision can be reversed only