All deliberative assemblies around the world conduct their businesses using motions. The process of making, amending, voting on, and approving motions is guided by a parliamentary procedure that has been agreed on by the members. These rules must be followed when making or amending a motion, prior to the motion vote.
This article talks about the five steps in presenting a motion.
A motion is an official proposal by a member of a deliberative assembly requiring the assembly to take a particular action. Motions are not only used in legislative houses, but also other deliberative gatherings, such as church vestries, fraternal organizations, and corporate boards, among others.
A motion can introduce a new business in the house or contain several other proposals to follow the parliamentary procedure, or request other actions to be taken with regard to the main proposal.
There are different types of parliamentary motions, including legislative motions, budgetary motions, petitionary motions, and supplementary budgetary motions. All these motions form the basis of decision-making by the members of the house. They guide members on decisions that need to be made. When you are preparing a motion, phrase it in a way that prompts members of the house to take action or offer their opinions.
Once the chair has presented your motion to the house and stated that the motion has been moved and seconded, the motion automatically becomes the property of the whole house. This means that only the whole house has the prerogative to approve the motion or request that the motion be withdrawn. At this stage, you can’t withdraw the motion without the permission of the house.
Also known as moving a motion, the process of presenting a motion begins when you give a notice of motion to the chair. From the time the chair gives a nod to move the motion forward, to the time all members vote for or against it, several important steps must be followed to ensure all the necessary parliamentary procedures are adhered to.
Here are the five important steps in presenting a motion.
As noted above, you have to issue a notice of motion to the chair before the session begins so that it can be included in the order paper. You also have to confirm to the chair that you have a seconder. The chair will then announce to the whole house and call you to move the motion. At this point, you can either agree to move the motion by giving a nod or refuse to give the nod if you are not interested in moving the motion further.
If you don’t want to move the motion, perhaps because you aren’t ready, the motion will be dropped from the order paper. If you wish to reintroduce the motion, you have to present it to the house as a new motion.
Once the chair has called you to move your motion, you are expected to rise to your feet and thank the chair for allowing you to move. Then, you should state as follows, “I move that we…” Sometimes you’ll be allowed to explain to the other members why you are proposing a certain action be taken, but in some cases, the explanation comes later during the debate.
All motions in a deliberative assembly need to be seconded before they can be debated and voted on. So, once you’ve moved your motion, your seconder will be called upon by the chair to second it. The second will say, “I second” or “I second the motion.” Seconding a motion means that the member wants the motion to proceed to the discussion stage. However, seconding a motion doesn’t necessarily mean that the seconder supports it; it’s just part of the house procedure.
The chair will officially place the motion before the house by reading the motion to the whole house and proposing the question. Before proposing the motion to the house, the chair must verify the motion to ensure it meets all procedural requirements and contains no irregular wording. Every member willing to contribute to the debate will be given a chance to offer their opinion, either in support or against the motion.
Once the members have deliberated on the motion at length, the chair will call a vote. A motion vote can either be a voice vote (“ayes” and “nays”), raising of hands, roll call, or a secret ballot. If a voice vote seems too close to call, the chair will propose a raise of hands or a secret ballot.