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A PARLIAMENTARY BODY
A Parliament is literally a talking body, and the title comes from the French word parlement, which has its root in the French parler (par-la), which means to speak, talk, or converse. From it a number of words have come into the English language, as, for example, the word "parley," to speak with another; "parlor," a room for speaking or conversing; and "parliament," a meeting for the purpose of parleying; hence a "parliament" means "a speaking body."
In English it was at one time spelled "parlement," and, again, "parlament," but now it is spelled "parliament" to correspond to a Latin form, parliamentum, but is usually pronounced "par'-li-ment," with the short i sound, and the accent on the first syllable; or "par'-le-ment," with the short e sound. Some have been inclined to pronounce the ia as two syllables-"par"-le-ah-ment," or to run the i and a together, but, though phonetic, this form does not prevail.
A parliamentary body, however, is more than a mere talking body, for it talks in a formal manner and with a serious purpose. It is a consultative body which comes together to consider, discuss, deliberate upon, and decide matters presented and to do these things in an orderly and dignified way.
The title "parliament" is frequently applied to the highest legislative body of a nation, as, for example, the British Parliament. But many bodies are parliaments without the use of that specific title. Thus the Congress of the United States of America and other legislative assemblies are parliaments, as are the deliberative and legislative gatherings of religious denominations, though.
they may be called Conferences, Conventions, Assemblies, Synods, Associations, or be known by some other distinguishing title. They all meet to deliberate and decide, and they recognize the fact that they are subject to some form of lawful procedure.
Parliamentary Practice is the mode of procedure which should regulate the proceedings of a deliberative body. It is a development which has come from the experiment of the ages, and has gradually formed, during the course of many centuries, out of the experience of parliamentary bodies, and has received general recognition, so that general parliamentary law resembles in its nature and history the common law of the nation.
Parliamentary Law, as known among English-speaking peoples, can, in general, be traced to the British Parliament, and to some extent to earlier Anglo-Saxon times. It was brought to America by the British colonists and used by the colonial assemblies, the Continental Congress, and later by the Congress of the United States of America and by other deliberative bodies; but, because of different conditions and new experiences, the British practice has been modified and developed into American parliamentary practice, or American parliamentary law, for the settled practice has been regarded as having the force of law in deliberative and legislative assemblies.
Each deliberative body is under this common parliamentary law, but, because of peculiarities in organization or in the immediate circumstances, each body may make certain special rules of procedure to meet its own peculiar needs; but in all other respects it is governed by general parliamentary practice, as it is entirely if it has not adopted any special rules.
Because certain bodies have adopted special rules which are intended to meet their own peculiar needs, that does not make these rules and practices part of general parliamentary law which applies generally everywhere. Com
mon parliamentary law is broader and grows out of principles of general application. So general parliamentary law is more comprehensive than the special usage of any particular body. Even some things in the usage of the United States House of Representatives may not be common parliamentary law.
It is evident that parliamentary law is as necessary in a deliberative body as common and statute law is necessary in the state. It means a mutual understanding as to what and how things can be done, is a mutual protection, and is promotive of harmony.
It is a mistake to imagine that parliamentary usage is intended to interfere, or that it does interfere, with the rights of the individual member or of the body as a whole. It does not interfere with the right doing of things, but facilitates their doing. Instead of being in the way, it clears the way and makes easier the progress. Instead of overriding the individual, it protects the individual member and promotes the best interests of the whole body. It exists for the purpose of protecting the body as a whole and at the same time defending the individual, so that the majority shall not do a wrong even to the smallest minority, though composed of only a single one. It is based on principles of justice, logic, and equity, so that the strictest compliance with parliamentary law makes for the defense of the minority and for justice to all. So to speak, its motto is "Fair Play"-fairness to the body, fairness to the individual, and fairness to every proposition which is offered.