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Alex Meed

Request for information

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I have several questions about requests for information, all of which apply to the case when the person to whom the question is posed is not in the middle of a speech:

Can a member pose a question to a colleague and then, when the question has been answered, continue with a speech? Or does a member lose the floor after posing a question?

Similarly, can a member follow a question with another question? If the member loses the floor upon posing the first question, may he claim preference in recognition to pose the second?

Can a member give a speech and then conclude by asking a question?

Finally, is there any limit on the length or content of a question, and does a question (or an answer to a question) count as one of the two permissible speeches per day on the pending motion?

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11 hours ago, Alex M. said:

Can a member pose a question to a colleague and then, when the question has been answered, continue with a speech? Or does a member lose the floor after posing a question?

In my opinion, yes, provided he still has time. 

 

12 hours ago, Alex M. said:

Can a member pose a question to a colleague and then, when the question has been answered, continue with a speech? Or does a member lose the floor after posing a question?

Yes, provided his time has not expired. 

 

12 hours ago, Alex M. said:

Can a member give a speech and then conclude by asking a question?

Yes.  The answer would be taken from his time, unless the person he asks want to answer it on his own time.

12 hours ago, Alex M. said:

Finally, is there any limit on the length or content of a question, and does a question (or an answer to a question) count as one of the two permissible speeches per day on the pending motion?

The request must be related to the business at hand (p. 294, ll. 19-23).  The time would be taken from the person that is speaking in debate.  You might wish to look at "Standing for Interrogation," Parliamentary Journal, January 2017.

 

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15 hours ago, Alex M. said:

Can a member pose a question to a colleague and then, when the question has been answered, continue with a speech? Or does a member lose the floor after posing a question?

Similarly, can a member follow a question with another question?

Can a member give a speech and then conclude by asking a question?

Assuming that debate is otherwise in order at the time, I think the answer to all of these questions is "yes." In the general case, when a member has been granted the floor, he may use it for any valid purpose or combination of purposes. That would seem to include asking a question and speaking in debate, in either order. The only limitation on this would be the limits on the member's time in debate. The rule clearly states that the question, and the answer, are taken out of the speaker's time.

"When assigned the floor, a member may use it for any proper purpose, or a combination of purposes; for example, although a member may have begun by debating a pending motion, he may conclude by moving any secondary motion, including the Previous Question (16), that is in order at the time." (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 378)

15 hours ago, Alex M. said:

If the member loses the floor upon posing the first question, may he claim preference in recognition to pose the second?

No.

15 hours ago, Alex M. said:

Finally, is there any limit on the length or content of a question, and does a question (or an answer to a question) count as one of the two permissible speeches per day on the pending motion?

The only limitations on the content of the question (and the answer) are the same as the limitations on debate - that they must be within the bounds of germaneness and decorum. As for length, if the member is also speaking in debate, then the rules are clear that the question and the answer count toward the speaker's time. As a result, the combined total of the questions, answers, and speeches cannot exceed the total time permitted for the member to speak in debate (which is ten minutes, unless the assembly has adopted its own rule on the subject). If the member is also speaking in debate, then this obviously counts as one of the member's speeches in debate.

On the other hand, if a member gains the floor and only asks a question, then generally I do not think this counts as a speech in debate. I think the rules on content are still the same. There are no clear-cut limitations on length in this instance, but I think the chair can (and should) use his best judgment to ensure that in these instances, the request for information is being used for its intended purpose of asking a question and receiving an answer rather than as a backdoor to gain more time to speak in debate. In these instances, I think the member's ability to ask follow-up questions without yielding the floor is also at the sufferance of the chair and the assembly. In applying these principles, the chair might look at such factors as how long the first question and answer took, whether the second question appears to be one which may be asked and answered quickly, and whether other members are seeking recognition. Members have a right to ask questions, but they do not have a right to monopolize the floor for this purpose.

Edited by Josh Martin

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I think, to clarify just a little bit, the time available to make the Request for Information and response is the amount of time the speaker in debate has left for his speech.  For example, if the speaker has already used four minutes of his time, the time left to make the Request for Information and response is six minutes, under the default rule.  Under the rules, the chair can allow the colloquy to continue beyond the available time if he senses the assembly is interested in hearing more and no one objects.

The person making the Request for Information need not be friendly to the pending question.  Assuming the speaker in debate has suffered to grant leave for the request, the requester can, using the form of a question, make his opposing point succinctly.

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"Can a member pose a question to a colleague and then, when the question has been answered, continue with a speech? Or does a member lose the floor after posing a question?"

While I generally agree with the responses to your other questions, I disagree on this point.  

No...the member may not make a speech.  

The prior answers would be correct if the member with a question was assigned the floor.  But a member recognized for a Request for Information is not assigned the floor.  The original speaker still has the floor -- that is why the time for the question and answer is deducted from their time.  The index entry in RONR for the word "speech" is simply the reference "see debate".  To "debate" one must first "obtain the floor" [p. 29 ll. 13-14].  However, a person rising for a request for information does so "without obtaining the floor" [p 294 ll. 3-4 (Note: a Request for Information "is treated like a Parliamentary Inquiry" [p. 294 ll 24).]     There is a bit of a loophole in that once the answer has been given, there may be a "resulting colloquy made in the third person through the chair."  Thus, if not satisfied with the answer, or if there are followup questions, a dialogue through the chair may result.   But that is different than giving a speech, for which one must first be recognized and be assigned the floor.  

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I doubt that there is any conflict between these responses. I think Mr. Martin and J.J. are assuming that no one has the floor when the member seeking information obtains it, and smb and Mr. Elsman are assuming that someone does.

 

 

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11 hours ago, smb said:

"Can a member pose a question to a colleague and then, when the question has been answered, continue with a speech? Or does a member lose the floor after posing a question?"

While I generally agree with the responses to your other questions, I disagree on this point.  

No...the member may not make a speech.  

The prior answers would be correct if the member with a question was assigned the floor.  But a member recognized for a Request for Information is not assigned the floor.  The original speaker still has the floor -- that is why the time for the question and answer is deducted from their time.  The index entry in RONR for the word "speech" is simply the reference "see debate".  To "debate" one must first "obtain the floor" [p. 29 ll. 13-14].  However, a person rising for a request for information does so "without obtaining the floor" [p 294 ll. 3-4 (Note: a Request for Information "is treated like a Parliamentary Inquiry" [p. 294 ll 24).]     There is a bit of a loophole in that once the answer has been given, there may be a "resulting colloquy made in the third person through the chair."  Thus, if not satisfied with the answer, or if there are followup questions, a dialogue through the chair may result.   But that is different than giving a speech, for which one must first be recognized and be assigned the floor.  

Depending on the circumstances, however, a member who wishes to make a Request for Information does not necessarily need to seek recognition for that specific purpose. If debate is in order at the time, and no one currently has the floor, a member could simply seek general recognition by rising and stating "Mr. Chairman," and the member could then use the floor for any valid purpose or combination of purposes, including asking a question. I think this is the most applicable situation regarding the OP's question. He said his question was regarding "the case when the person to whom the question is posed is not in the middle of a speech." I assumed by this he meant that no one currently has the floor (not that the member is asking a question to someone other than the person who has the floor, or that a member has been granted the floor but has not yet begun to speak). I further clarified that my response assumed that debate was otherwise in order, however, since it could be that debate has been ended by the Previous Question, or that an undebatable motion is pending, and in such cases debate would not be in order even although no member has the floor.

Certainly, there are cases in which a member will need to seek limited recognition in order to ask a question - such as when another member has the floor, or when debate is not in order. In those cases, the member would not be able to speak in debate. The example as written in the text assumes a situation in which limited recognition is necessary. This does not mean, however, that a member must always seek limited recognition in order to ask a question.

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So it sounds like whether a member may follow a question with a speech depends on how the member addressed the chair. If the member simply seeks the floor—"Mr. Chairman. (The gentleman is recognized.) Mr. Chairman, I wish to begin with a question to Ms. X."—then he retains the floor after Ms. X answers the question, and may use the floor for any legitimate purpose. His question and Ms. X's answer counts against his time. This is only in order when debate is otherwise in order.

On the other hand, if the member seeks limited recognition—"Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask a question of Ms. X."—then his recognition is only valid for the request for information, and after receiving the answer (and engaging in the permitted ensuing colloquy) he loses the floor. However, this may be done when debate is not in order, such as when an undebatable question is pending or the previous question has been ordered.

Am I missing anything?

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6 hours ago, Alex M. said:

So it sounds like whether a member may follow a question with a speech depends on how the member addressed the chair. If the member simply seeks the floor—"Mr. Chairman. (The gentleman is recognized.) Mr. Chairman, I wish to begin with a question to Ms. X."—then he retains the floor after Ms. X answers the question, and may use the floor for any legitimate purpose. His question and Ms. X's answer counts against his time. This is only in order when debate is otherwise in order.

On the other hand, if the member seeks limited recognition—"Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask a question of Ms. X."—then his recognition is only valid for the request for information, and after receiving the answer (and engaging in the permitted ensuing colloquy) he loses the floor. However, this may be done when debate is not in order, such as when an undebatable question is pending or the previous question has been ordered.

Am I missing anything?

I don't think you're missing anything. This all sounds correct to me.

Edited by Josh Martin

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