Parliamentary procedure is the body of
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics"/ref> The field of ethics, alo ...
rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and ...
, and
customs Customs is an authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses ...
governing meetings and other operations of clubs,
organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company, an institution, or an association – comprising one or more people and having a particular purpose. The word is d ...
s, legislative bodies, and other deliberative assemblies. In the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shortha ...
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocea ...

Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish ...

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and other English-speaking countries it is often called ''chairmanship'', ''chairing'', the ''law of meetings'', ''procedure at meetings'' or the ''conduct of meetings''. In the United States, parliamentary procedure is also referred to as ''parliamentary law'', ''parliamentary practice'', ''legislative procedure'' or ''rules of order''. At its heart is the rule of the
majority A majority, also called a simple majority to distinguish it from similar terms (see the "Related terms" section below), is the greater part, or more than half, of the total.See dictionary definitions of "majority" aMerriam-Webster
with respect for the minority. Its object is to allow deliberation upon questions of interest to the organization and to arrive at the sense or the will of the assembly upon these questions.
Self-governing __NOTOC__ Self-governance, self-government, or self-rule is the ability of a person or group to exercise all necessary functions of regulation Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems ...
organizations follow parliamentary procedure to
debate Debate is a process that involves formal discussion on a particular topic. In a debate, opposing arguments are put forward to argue for opposing viewpoints. Debate occurs in public meetings, academic institutions, and legislative assemblies. It ...
and reach group decisions—usually by
vote Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate, in order to make a collective decision or express an opinion usually following discussions, debates or election campaigns. Democracies elect holders of high office by voting. ...

—with the least possible friction. Rules of order consist of rules written by the body itself (often referred to as bylaws), but also usually supplemented by a published parliamentary authority adopted by the body. Typically, national, Constituent state, state/provincial and other full-scale legislature, legislative assemblies have extensive internally written rules of order, whereas non-legislative bodies write and adopt a limited set of Special rules of order, specific rules as the need arises.


The term gets its name from its use in the parliamentary system of government. In the 16th and 17th century, there were rules of order in the early Parliament of England, parliaments of England. In the 1560s Sir Thomas Smyth began the process of writing down accepted procedures and published a book about them for the House of Commons of England, House of Commons in 1583. Early rules included * One subject should be discussed at a time (adopted 1581) * Personal attacks are to be avoided in debate (1604) * Debate must be limited to the merits of the question (1610) * Division of a question when some seem to be for one part but not the other (1640)

Westminster procedures

The Westminster system, Westminster parliamentary procedures are followed in several Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa. In Canada, for example, the House of Commons uses ''House of Commons Procedure and Practice'' as its primary procedural authority. Others include Arthur Beauchesne's ''Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada'', Bourinot's Rules of Order, Sir John George Bourinot's ''Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada'', and Erskine May's ''The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament'' from Britain.

American procedures

The rules of the United States Congress were developed from the parliamentary procedures used in Britain. The American parliamentary procedures are followed in many nations, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Mexico and South Korea.


The procedures of the Diet of Japan have moved away from the British parliamentary model. In Occupied Japan, there were efforts to bring Japanese parliamentary procedures more in line with American congressional practices. In Japan, informal negotiations are more important than formal procedures. Written codes of rules govern in Italy the life of the Italian Parliament, Houses of the Parliament: the Constitutional Court of Italy, Constitutional Court is judge on the limits beyond which these regulations cannot go, exceeding the parliamentary or political function (judgement n. 120 of 2014), and on their bad application when a law is passed through.

Parliamentary authority usage patterns

Parliamentary procedure is based on the principles of allowing the majority to make decisions effectively and efficiently (majority rule), while ensuring fairness towards the minority and giving each member or delegate the right to voice an opinion. Voting determines 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 modify it through special rules of order that supersede the adopted authority. A parliamentary structure conducts business through Motion (parliamentary procedure), 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

The most common procedural authority in use in the United States is ''Robert's Rules of Order''. Other authorities include ''The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure'' (used by some medical and library organizations) and ''Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure''. A common text in use in the UK, particularly within trade union, trade unions, is Lord Citrine's ''ABC of Chairmanship''. In English-speaking Canada, popular authorities include Kerr & King's ''Procedures for Meeting and Organizations''. The Conservative Party of Canada uses ''Wainberg's Society meetings including rules of order'' to run its internal affairs. In French-speaking Canada, commonly used rules of order for ordinary societies include Victor Morin's ''Morin code, Procédures des assemblées délibérantes'' (commonly known as the ''Code Morin'') and the ''Code Confédération des syndicats nationaux, CSN''.


Legislative assemblies in all countries, because of their nature, tend to have a specialized set of rules that differ from parliamentary procedure used by clubs and organizations. In the United Kingdom, Thomas Erskine May's ''Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice, Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament'' (often referred to simply as ''Erskine May'') is the accepted authority on the powers and procedures of the Westminster Parliament, Westminster parliament. There are also the Standing Orders for each House. Of the 99 State legislature (United States), state legislative chambers in the United States (two for each U.S. state, state except Nebraska, which has a Unicameralism, unicameral legislature), ''Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure'' governs parliamentary procedures in 70; ''Jefferson's Manual'' governs 13, and ''Robert's Rules of Order'' governs four. The United States Senate follows the Standing Rules of the United States Senate, while the United States House of Representatives follows ''Jefferson's Manual''. ''Mason's Manual'', originally written by constitutional scholar and former California Senate staff member Paul Mason (author), 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 (United States), state constitution, State law (United States), state statutes, and the chamber's rules are silent.National Conference of State Legislatures web site
/ref> 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 that ''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, 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 Parliamentarians and American Institute of Parliamentarians. Agriculture teachers who coach teams in the National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America) Parli Pro, parliamentary procedure contest can earn the title Accredited 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 bylaws of an organization.

See also

* Group decision-making * Lawmaking procedure in India * Parliamentary procedure in the corporate world


External links

The Official Robert's Rules of Order Web Site

National Conference of State Legislatures: Using Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure

National Association of Parliamentarians (parliamentarians.org)

American Institute of Parliamentarians (aipparl.org)
{{DEFAULTSORT:Parliamentary Procedure Parliamentary procedure, Political law