‘I’ll Like To Speak To The Motion’ – Blog by Ron Marriott

When a member presents a motion to the floor of a business session, regardless of its intent or purpose one thing is every clear… there’s going to be a debate of that motion.  Debating a motion has a lot of positive effects, a large number of opposing opinions can be expressed quickly, issues about the motion can be addressed and corrected if necessary (via an amendment) and most importantly members as a whole can accept or decline the motion at the end of the debate.  But while there will be a lot of speaking one question remains.  “Who can speak to what and when”?

The Chairman

One of the qualities of a good chairman is to remain impartial during a business session. It is important that he (or she) doesn’t express a biased opinion to the motion either directly (through comment) or indirectly (via influencing the debate).  Rather the job of the chairman is to act as a moderator during the debate of the motion allowing both sides of to freely express view and concerns while ensuring no party over steps the mark.  Additionally a chairman should also rules on points of order, procedural matters (such as clarifications of intent) and dealing with amendments as they arise.

Mover of the Motion

It goes with out saying that the main role that the Mover of the Motion has is to present their motion to the meeting.  The Mover should aim to move and speak to their motion straight away before a seconder is sort by the chairman.  Once a mover has presented the motion and another member has seconded the motion.  The Mover has no authority to speak in the debate until its conclusion where they are given a right of reply to summarize their case.  A mover shouldn’t introduce new material in their right of reply and should limit remakes to what was raised in the debate.  Additionally a Mover of the Motion is not allowed to either move or second an amendment that has been raised during the course of the debate.

Seconder of the Motion

The purpose of a seconder is to indicate to the chairman that there is an interest to discuss and vote on the motion in the business session.  If the seconder wishes they can speak on the motion straight away (a seconder does not have to be in favour of the motion).  Otherwise they can reserve their right to speak later in the debate.  If a Seconder does not reserve their right to speak or the chairman closes the debate then the Seconder automatically losses this right to speak in the motion’s debate.  Additionally like the mover, the seconder is not allowed to either move or second an amendment.

Speakers to the motion

Any person present at a business session can speak to a motion during a debate (unless specific bylaws indicate otherwise).  However only eligible members are allowed to vote on motions.  Once you have spoken to a motion you are unable to speak in the debate of the motion again.  Additionally when speaking to the motion it is important to limit your remakes to the motion as it stands. Also if you do speak to the motion follow the chairman’s cues of being for/against the motion.

Mover of an amendment

An amendment can be made at any time during a motion debate expect when a procedural motion/point of order is being addressed, another amendment is on the floor or at the close of a debate.  The mover of the amendment has the same rights and responsibilities as a mover of a motion with one key difference they have no right of reply. Once the mover has presented the motion they are not allowed to speak during the debate of that amendment.

Seconder of the amendment

A seconder of the amendment has all the same rights and responsibilities of a seconder to the motion.

Speakers to the amendment

As with the motion any person present can speak to an amendment.  This also includes anyone who has spoken in the debate of the main motion (including the mover and seconder).  Like the motion only eligible members can vote on that amendment.  However there is one key difference between speaking to an amendment and speaking to a motion.  That is when an amendment is being debated remarks should be limited amendment itself.  If an amendment “that the words ‘start time of 7:30’ be replaced with ‘start time of 7:00’” is being debated.  Then you would speak on where changing the start time to 7:00 is a better option then 7:30 not if the start time should be changed.  Finally an amendment can’t be amended by another speaker during the course of the debate.

Now you all have a little knowledge of who can say what during the motion.  Good luck with your points of order.

(Taken from Chapter 4: Motions and Chapter 5: Amendments)

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