Raise a question of privilege

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In parliamentary procedure, a motion to raise a question of privilege is a privileged motion that permits a request related to the rights and privileges of the assembly or any of its members to be brought up.[1]

Explanation and Use[edit]

Raise a question of privilege (RONR)
Class Privileged motion
In order when another has the floor? Yes, but should not interrupt a person who has begun to speak, unless unavoidable
Requires second? No, but if the question of privilege thereby raised is in the form of a motion, the motion must be seconded
Debatable? No
May be reconsidered? No
Amendable? No
Vote required Admissibility of question is ruled upon by chair

Questions of privilege affecting the assembly may include matters of comfort, amplification, or safety. Technically, notifying the assembly of a fire alarm or bomb threat could be viewed as a question of privilege. Such questions have precedence over points of personal privilege should they conflict. Otherwise, a question of privilege can only be interrupted by higher-precedence privileged questions: Motions to take a recess, adjourn or fix the time to which to adjourn.

When a question of privilege affects a single member (rather than the entire assembly), it is often called a point of personal privilege. Such a point may include a need for assistance, to be excused for illness or personal emergency, or the need to immediately answer a charge of misconduct made by another member. The member rises immediately and without waiting to be recognized states, "Mr. Chairman, I rise on a question of personal privilege," or similar words. If the member has interrupted a speaker, the chair must determine if the matter is of such urgency as demands immediate attention; otherwise, the member will have the floor immediately after the current speaker is finished. The use for personal insults follows from the requirement of comity in an assembly: members cannot insult one another unless they are prepared to prefer and prove charges, and a member so insulted must be able to demand proof or an apology quickly, lest his standing in the assembly be imperiled. Points of personal privilege are most often raised when the member in question feels that something is materially affecting his or her ability to discharge his or her duties as a member. The most common reasons for such a point are inability to hear the speaker and an attendant request to the speaker to speak more loudly or clearly and discomfort with the temperature or other conditions of the debating chamber.

A question of privilege cannot interrupt a vote or the verification of a vote.[2]

United States House of Representatives[edit]

The United States House of Representatives has two similarly named procedures, "Question of the Privileges of the House" and "Privileged Questions"


  1. ^ Robert, Henry M. (2000). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (10th ed.). p. 216. 
  2. ^ Robert, Henry M. (2000). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th ed.
Robert's Rules of Order available on line here