"The application of parlimentary law is the best method yet devised to enable assemblies of any size, with due regard for every member's opinion, to arrive at the general will on the maximum number of questions of varying complexity in a minimum time and under all kinds of internal climate ranging from total harmony to hardened or impassioned division of opinion."
Principles Underlying Parliamentary Law
The rules of parliamentary law are constructed upon a careful balance of the rights:
- of the majority,
- of the minority, especially a strong minority-greater than one third,
- of individual members
- of absentees, and
- of all these together.
Fundamentally, under the rules of parliamentary law, a deliberative body is a free agent -- free to do what it wants to do with the greatest measure of protection to itself and of consideration for the rights of its members.
A deliberative assembly -- the kind of gathering to which parliamentary law is generally understood to apply -- has the following distinguishing characteristics:
- It is an independent or autonomous group of people meeting to determine, in full and free discussion, courses of action to be taken in the name of the entire group.
- The group is of such size -- usually any number of persons more than about a dozen -- that a degree of formality is necessary in its proceedings.
- Persons having the right to participate -- that is, the members -- are ordinarily free to act within the assembly according to their own judgement.
- In any decision made, the opinion of each member present has equal weight as expressed by vote -- through which the voting member joins in assuming direct personal responsibility for the decision, should his or her vote be on the prevailing side.
- Failure to concur in a decision of the body does not constitute withdrawal from the body.
- If there are absentee members -- as there usually are in any formally organized assembly such as a legislative body or the assembly of an ordinary society -- the members present at a regular or properly called meeting act for the entire membership, subject only to such limitations as may be established by the body's governing rules.
Sample Meeting Agenda
- Call to Order
- Opening Ceremonies (kirtan optional!)
- Roll Call (if customary)
- Reading and Approval of Minutes
- Reports of Officers, Boards, and Standing Committees
- Reports of Special Committees (announced only if such committees are prepared or instructed to report)
- Special Orders (announced only if there are special orders)
- Unfinished Business and General Orders
- New Business
- Program (if a program or a speaker is planned for the meeting*)
PROCEDURES AND MOTIONS [More Specific Rules of Parlimentary Function]