Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums
Alexis Hunt

Debate without quorum

Recommended Posts

During lengthy debate on a very contentious motion, a group of members leave to get dinner. A remaining member correctly raises a point of order about the lack of quorum The chair announces that there is no quorum, and invites a motion to determine the assembly's next steps, seeing as it can no longer continue the business.

A member moves "to continue debate without a quorum until we have to vote". The chair puts the question as such, and it is adopted. The chair then resumes debate on the main motion where it was interrupted by the point of order. During this time, Ms. D., one of the motion's opponents, speaks twice to the motion, using her full time. Later on, the dinner party returns with the food, and the meeting recesses.

At the conclusion of the recess, the chair confirms that a quorum is present, and resumes the meeting. Ms. D. rises to speak. The chair grants her limited recognition, noting that she has already spoken twice. Seeking to drag debate out longer, she makes a point of order that although she spoke to the motion twice earlier, that was when the assembly had no quorum, that the assembly's motion to continue debating was null and void, and therefore she had not exhausted, or indeed used at all, her right to debate.

Is her point of order well taken?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I think the point of order is well taken. RONR is quite clear on pages 347 - 348 that "the prohibition against transacting business in the absence of a quorum cannot be waived even by unanimous consent". P. 348.

Therefore, I also think the vote to continue debate in the absence of a quorum was null and void. It is a rule which may not be suspended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A member raised a Point of Order that the meeting was inquorate, so debate on the immediately pending question could not continue, persuant to the rule in RONR (11th ed.), p. 349. The debate, nevertheless, proceeded on the basis of the presiding officer's mishandling of the procedure following his ruling that the meeting was, as claimed, inquorate.

Thankfully, the assembly recessed for catered dinner. When proceedings resumed, the meeting was quorate.

The question is: Did the lady who spoke twice while the meeting was inquorate exhaust her right to speak to the question on that day?

I opine that she did, indeed, exhaust her right to speak on the question again that day. She spoke during a legal meeting when the question was immediately pending. The affirmative result on the motion to prolong debate might well have been null and void, but a negative result on the motion would have been equally null and void. Ignoring, therefore, this motion, it is clear the debate continued, though in error. In consequence, the lady exhausted her right to speak, and the chair should have ruled that Ms. D's Point of Order was not well taken.

Edited by reelsman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Zev

It seems clear, at least to me, that Ms. D. is trying to have her cake and eat it too.

I think it is important that the assembly itself voted to continue the debate is spite of the fact that it constituted a mistake. But how the mistake becomes the automatic adoption of a motion for informal consideration is a mystery. It would be quite strange if the assembly voted to continue the debate yet at the same time discard the regular rules of debate without an additional motion.

As presiding officer I would put the question in the form of "Shall member D. be allowed to speak again to the pending question?" and let the assembly decide the issue. Since it seems that the assembly expected the regular rules of debate to prevail, I doubt they would cut Ms. D. an extraordinary amount of slack in this regard. But that would be the assembly's decision and not mine.

Had Ms. D. any feelings about her ability to speak at length on the motion she could easily have moved a motion to proceed to a Committee Of The Whole or informal consideration either before or during the inquorate period, or during the inquorate period raised a Parliamentary Inquiry as to whether the regular rules of debate were in force or not. Since none of that was done, it seems reasonable that Ms. D. also expected the regular rules of debate to prevail.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/5/2019 at 11:37 PM, Alexis Hunt said:

During lengthy debate on a very contentious motion, a group of members leave to get dinner. A remaining member correctly raises a point of order about the lack of quorum The chair announces that there is no quorum, and invites a motion to determine the assembly's next steps, seeing as it can no longer continue the business.

A member moves "to continue debate without a quorum until we have to vote". The chair puts the question as such, and it is adopted. The chair then resumes debate on the main motion where it was interrupted by the point of order. During this time, Ms. D., one of the motion's opponents, speaks twice to the motion, using her full time. Later on, the dinner party returns with the food, and the meeting recesses.

At the conclusion of the recess, the chair confirms that a quorum is present, and resumes the meeting. Ms. D. rises to speak. The chair grants her limited recognition, noting that she has already spoken twice. Seeking to drag debate out longer, she makes a point of order that although she spoke to the motion twice earlier, that was when the assembly had no quorum, that the assembly's motion to continue debating was null and void, and therefore she had not exhausted, or indeed used at all, her right to debate.

Is her point of order well taken?

No. Her point of order, that the motion to continue was improper, amounts to a point of order that she should never have been allowed to speak at all during that period. At this point it is no longer timely..Certainly not since she did in fact speak although she claims to have known she had no right to do so.

RONR gives the chair some leeway on allowing debate to continue in the absence of a quorum, as least if no vote occurs or new motion is made.  It also allows the chair, when in doubt, to place a question of order before the assembly.  The assembly decided to allow it, and so what followed was subject to the normal rules of debate, including limits on the number of speeches.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...