Request for information (parliamentary procedure)
In U.S. parliamentary procedure, a request for information is a request directed to the chair, or through the chair to another person, for information relevant to the business at hand. Until the publication of the 11th edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised published in September 2011, this device has been known as the "point of information." The change was made in order to avoid the common misperception that the "point of information" permitted the maker to engage in debate in the guise of "providing information."
Explanation and use
|In order when another has the floor?||Yes|
|May be reconsidered?||No|
|Vote required:||Is not voted on|
The information sought in the request generally pertains to the substantive matter under discussion, and therefore the request is distinct from a parliamentary inquiry, which requests information related to parliamentary procedure. If another member responds to the question, then any time he spends doing so is taken out of his allowed time. Accordingly, if a point of information is used to interrupt someone's speech to ask them a question, the chair asks the member if he is willing to be interrupted. A point of information can be used to remind a member of a point to be made in argument or with the intention of rebutting his position, but it must always be put in the form of a question.
Mason's Manual notes, "If members desire to ask a question of other members, they may do so through the presiding officer, but it is discourteous and a strict violation of parliamentary rules to ask questions directly of a member...If the first reply does not fully answer the question, it is the practice to permit a limited number of further questions to be asked." Further restrictions are that questions addressed to members may be related only to a question before the body; that a question reflecting upon the character or conduct of any member or upon the executive or another official, or inquiring as to what course a member proposes to follow, is not permitted; and that purpose of the question must be to obtain information and not to supply it to the body. Accordingly, a question may not contain statements of fact unless they are necessary to make the question intelligible, and can be authenticated. Nor may a question contain arguments. A question, then, is distinct from debate. A member is entitled to inquire concerning the meaning or purpose or effect of an undebatable motion.
- Robert, Henry M. (2000). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th ed., p. xxvi
- Robert, Henry M. (2000). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th ed., p. 294–295
- National Conference of State Legislatures (2000). Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, 2000 ed., p. 93–95