Motion (parliamentary procedure)

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In parliamentary procedure, a motion is a formal proposal by a member of a deliberative assembly that the assembly take certain action.

Motions can bring new business before the assembly or consist of numerous other proposals to take procedural steps or carry out other actions relating to a pending proposal or to the assembly itself.

In a parliament, it may also be called a parliamentary motion and may include legislative motions, budgetary motions, supplementary budgetary motions, and petitionary motions.


A motion is a formal proposal by a member to do something.[1] Motions are the basis of the group decision-making process.[2] They focus the group on what is being decided.

Generally, a motion should be phrased in a way to take an action or express an opinion. A motion to not do something should not be offered if the same result can happen without anything being done.[3] Such a motion could result in confusion if the assembly does not want to not do it.[3]

Process of handling motions

The process of handling motions involve the following steps:[4][5]

  1. A member obtains the floor and makes a motion.
  2. Another member seconds the motion.
  3. The chair states the motion.
  4. Members debate the motion.
  5. The chair puts the motion to a vote.
  6. The chair announces the results of the vote and what happens with the motion.

Proposing motions

A motion is proposed by a member of the body, for the consideration of the body as a whole. Generally, the person making the motion, known as the mover, must first be recognized by the chairman as being entitled to speak; this is known as obtaining the floor.[6]

Once the mover has obtained the floor, the mover states the motion, normally prefixed with the phrase "I move."[7] For instance, at a meeting, a member may say, "I move that the group donate $5 to Wikipedia."

Instead of being given verbally, a motion may be made in writing, called a resolution.[8] If the motion was in writing, the mover would say "I move the resolution at the desk" or "I move the following resolution" and would then read it.

Generally, once the motion has been proposed, consideration by the assembly occurs only if another member of the body immediately seconds the motion.

Once the chair states the motion, it becomes the property of the assembly and the mover cannot modify it or withdraw it without the assembly's consent.[9]

Classification of motions

There are different types of motions. Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) divides motions into five classes:[10]

  1. Main motions, those that bring business before the assembly when no other motion is pending. This is the most common type of motion.[1]
  2. Subsidiary motions, which affect the main motion being considered.[11]
  3. Privileged motions, which are urgent matters that must be dealt with immediately, even if they interrupt pending business.[12]
  4. Incidental motions, which relate in different ways to the business at hand.[13]
  5. Motions that bring a matter again before the assembly.[14]

Classes 2, 3 and 4 are collectively referred to as "secondary motions".[10]

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure treats the fifth class as a type of main motion, under the title "Restorative Main Motions".[15]

Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure has a similar classification of motions.[16]

The United States Senate and House of Representatives have their own specialized motions as provided in the Standing Rules of the United States Senate and the procedures of the United States House of Representatives, respectively.[17][18]

Parliaments also have their own specialized motions.[19][20][21][22][23]

Rules on use

Generally only one motion can be considered at a time. There is a precedence, or ranking of the motions, when multiple motions are made.[24]

Motions should not be made for dilatory or improper uses.[25]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Robert, Henry M.; et al. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-306-82020-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Robert III, Henry M.; et al. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-306-82019-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Robert 2011, pp. 104–105
  4. Robert III 2011, p. 18
  5. "The Process of Debate - Moving a Motion". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2016-01-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Robert 2011, p. 29
  7. Robert III 2011, p. 20
  8. Robert 2011, pp. 105-106
  9. Robert 2011, p. 40
  10. 10.0 10.1 Robert 2011, p. 59
  11. Robert 2011, p. 62
  12. Robert 2011, p. 66
  13. Robert 2011, p. 69
  14. Robert 2011, p. 74
  15. Sturgis, Alice (2001). The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 4th ed., p. 36
  16. Mason, Paul (2010). Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure (PDF). Denver, CO: National Conference of State Legislatures. p. 325. ISBN 9781580246101.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "The Legislative Process: Senate Floor (Video)". Retrieved 2016-01-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "The Legislative Process: House Floor (Video)". Retrieved 2016-01-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "What are Early day motions?". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2016-01-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Brown, Chris (2011-05-08). "About PQs, Answers and Motions". Retrieved 2016-01-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "CHAPTER VII". Retrieved 2016-01-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "No. 1 - Senate business documents". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 2016-01-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "The Process of Debate - Motions". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2016-01-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Robert 2011, pp. 60-61
  25. Robert 2011, pp. 342-344