Parliamentary authority

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A parliamentary authority is a manual on parliamentary law, containing rules of order for the transaction of business in deliberative assemblies.[1] The society generally adopts such a book to cover meeting procedure not covered in the society's adopted procedural rules.[2] [3] [4]


A poll by Jim Slaughter surveyed North American Certified Professional Parliamentarians (CPPs) in 1999 to ask what percent of clients used each parliamentary authority. The results were published in 2000 in Parliamentary Journal, the official journal of the American Institute of Parliamentarians: 90 percent used Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), 8 percent used The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (TSC) (Sturgis), and 3 percent used some other authority, including Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure (Demeter), Riddick's Rules of Procedure (Riddick/Butcher), Bourinot's Rules of Order (Bourinot), and Rules of Order (Davis). Bourinot was used in Canada.[5]

Robert's Rules of Order, first published in 1876 by Major (later General) Henry Martyn Robert, has been revised several times by successors of the original author. Its current edition is Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, eleventh edition, published in 2011. It is the most popular and well-known parliamentary authority in North America.[6]

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, first published in 1950 by Alice Sturgis and referred to as TSC or Sturgis, is currently in its fourth edition, published in 2012. It is used by many United States medical associations of physicians and dentists, including the American Medical Association House of Delegates and American Association of Orthodontists as well as by the Association of Flight Attendants and American Library Association.[7]

Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, first published in 1948 by George Demeter and called "the Blue Book", is the third-most popular parliamentary authority in North America. It is often favored by North American labor unions.[8][9]

The UK Parliament follows Erskine May's Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament (also known as Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice).[citation needed]

The Canadian House of Commons follows Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms. Bourinot's Rules of Order is based on this is and is widely used in Anglophone Canada. In Quebec, the Procédure des assemblées délibérantes (commonly known as the Code Morin) is more popular.[citation needed] It is based on Robert's Rules.

The Australian House of Representatives follows House of Representatives Practice.[10] The Australian Senate follows Odgers' Australian Senate Practice.[11] Each Australian state and territory house of Parliament has its own set of rules. A number of procedural reference works are used by other organisations in Australia.[12]

Rules in a parliamentary authority can be superseded by the group's constitution or bylaws or by adopted procedural rules (with a few exceptions). In RONR, the adopted procedural rules are called special rules of order. Assemblies that do not adopt a parliamentary authority may use an existing parliamentary authority by custom, or may consider themselves governed by the “common parliamentary law”,[13] or “common law of parliamentary procedure”.[14] RONR notes that a society that has adopted bylaws that do not designate a parliamentary authority may adopt one by the same vote required to adopt special rules of order. A mass meeting can adopt a parliamentary authority by a simple majority vote. RONR notes that “in matters on which an organization's adopted parliamentary authority is silent, provisions found in other works on parliamentary law may be persuasive – that is, they may carry weight in the absence of overriding reasons for following a different course – but they are not binding on the body.” [15]

Some societies write their own parliamentary authority for use specifically for their own assembly.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Gondin, William R. (1969). Dictionary of Parliamentary Procedure. Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams. pp. 88,90. 
  2. ^ Robert, Henry M. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th ed., p. 16, 580 (RONR)
  3. ^ Sturgis, Alice (2001). The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 4th ed., p. 5
  4. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures (2000). Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, p. 28–9
  5. ^ Chris Dickey, Parliamentarian, Parliamentary Procedure Consultant
  6. ^ Robert's Rules Association
  7. ^ "Parliamentary Procedures: Interesting Facts and Tips", University of Illinois.
  8. ^ "Parliamentary Procedures: Interesting Facts and Tips", University of Illinois.
  9. ^ Jim Slaughter, "Businesses Must Follow Parliamentary Procedure," Greensboro News & Record.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ RONR, p. 17
  14. ^ Mason, p. 30
  15. ^ RONR, p. 16-17

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Non-legislative authorities[edit]

Legislative authorities[edit]


  • NAP (1997). Parliamentary Parallels : a comparison of the similarities and differences of major parliamentary authorities. Independence, MO: National Association of Parliamentarians. ISBN 1-884048-23-4.  Compares seven Parliamentary Authorities; however, it uses RONR (9th ed.) and TSC (3rd ed.) in the comparison.

External links[edit]