Renewal (parliamentary procedure)
Renewal is the act of bringing up again a motion that has already been disposed of by the deliberative assembly. Generally, the assembly cannot be asked to decide the same, or substantially the same, question as one it has already decided in the same session
The underlying principle behind the non-renewal of motion dates back to at least April 2, 1607 when the House of Commons adopted a rule "That a question being once made, and carried in the affimative or negative, cannot be questioned again, but must stand as a judgment of the House." John Hatsell, in his Precedents of Proceedings in the House of Commons, observes that while this "...seems to be a rule that ought to be adhered to as strictly as possible..." it should not "...be so stricly and verbally observed, as to stop the proceedings of the House: It is rather to be kept in substance than in words ; and the good sense of the House must decide, upon every question, how far it comes within the meaning of the rule." Over the past 400 years, various rules have evolved by precedent to allow and manage renewal of motions under specific circumstances.
Explanation and Use
Renewal of motions is closely tied to the parliamentary concept of session. Sessions in ordinary societies usually consist of one meeting, but legislative sessions can continue for months or years. A motion that has been rejected (voted down) in one session, cannot be easily brought up again in that session, but can be renewed in following sessions as a new motion. Motions such as Reconsider are typically used to renew or revisit a motion within the same session. Motions such as Rescind or Amend something previously adopted are generally applied to motions adopted in a previous session.
Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR)
Robert's Rules of Order provides exceptions to renewal through the motions to reconsider, rescind or amend something previously adopted. Robert's Rules of Order provides that "A previously considered motion may become a substantially different question through a significant change in the wording or because of a difference in the time or circumstances in which it is proposed, and such a motion may thus be in order when it could not otherwise be renewed."
British House of Commons
A motion or an amendment which is the same, in substance, as a question which has been decided during a session may not be renewed again in that same session. Such substantive motions can be renewed in succeeding sessions as new motions. Reversals of earlier decisions can be done by Repeal of a Standing Order, Annulment, or Rescission. The repeal of a standing order is normally made as part of an order creating a new standard order. An annulment is used to declare proceedings to be null and void because of some form of irregularity in procedure.
Renewals in the form of a recission of a resolution made in earlier sessions is not prohibited by the practice of the House of Commons, but is seldom done. Technically it is regarded as a new question: the form being to read the previous resolution of the House and to move that it be rescinded. This power of rescission has been used sparingly and then only in the case of substantive motions. The reasons why open rescission is so rare is that the House instinctively realizes that parliamentary government requires the majority to abide by a decision regularly come to, however unexpected, and that it is unfair to resort to methods, whether direct or indirect, to reverse such a decision. Essentially this is a safequard for the rights of the minority.
- Hatsell, John (1796). Precedents of Proceedings in the House of Commons. Vol. II. pp. p. 118.
- Precedents of Proceedings, pp. 125-126
- RONR (10th ed.), p. 325
- Boulton, C.J. (1989). Eriskine May's Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament (Parliamentary Practice) (21st ed. ed.). pp. p. 326.
- Parliamentary Practice, pp. 360-364