Parliamentary Procedure: Types of Motions

Jump To Type of Motion: Privileged | Subsidiary | Questions | Incidental

There are several types of motions. Each type serves a special purpose. While every type may not be used by an organization, here is a listing of a number of motions, along with notes about their use-whether they can be amended and debated and the vote required.


Privileged Motions

Privileged motions have to do with the rights or needs of the organization. They outrank all other motions and have rank among themselves. They are as follows:

  • To adjourn: "I move we adjourn." Use: to bring the meeting to a close. Second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. Majority vote.
  • To raise a question of privilege: "I rise to a question of privilege." Use: to request rights or privileges. No second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. No vote.

Subsidiary Motions

Subsidiary motions are applied to other motions. They rank below privileged motions. They are as follows:

  • To lay on the table: "I move to lay the question on the table." Use: to lay one matter aside temporarily so that a more urgent matter can be considered. Second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. Majority vote.
  • To stop debate and vote immediately: "I move the previous question." Used to stop debate and vote immediately on the question before the organization. If adopted, a vote is taken at once on the pending question.
  • To limit or extend limits of debate: "I move that debate be limited to … (or end at)." Use: to define length of time of speeches, number of speakers or to close debate at a specified time. Second needed. Not debatable. Amendable. Two-thirds vote.
  • To postpone to a definite time: "I move that we postpone consideration of this question to…." Use: to set up a time when a question can be considered more fully at a more convenient time or because arguments advanced during debate have indicated the need to make a decision at a later time. Second needed. Debatable. Amendable. Majority vote.
  • To refer: "I move that we refer the question of…to…(name group) for…(further study, study and report back)." Use: to change or modify a motion. Change must be related to the subject of the motion. Amendments can be made by adding to, striking out, inserting, striking out and inserting, and substituting. Second needed. Debatable. Amendable. Majority vote.
  • To amend a main motion: "I move to amend by…." Use: to change or modify a motion. Change must be related to the subject of the motion. Amendments can be made by adding to, striking out, inserting, striking out and inserting, and substituting. Second needed. Debatable. Amendable. Majority vote.

Motions to Bring a Question Again Before an Organization

By their adoption or introduction these motions serve to bring matters back for consideration or action:

  • To reconsider: "I move to reconsider the action on the question of…I voted with the prevailing vote." Use to prevent action being taken on a motion already carried. A motion to reconsider may be offered only by one who voted on the prevailing side of the question. If the motion to reconsider is adopted, the question before the organization is exactly the same question and in the same form as at the time the original vote was taken. Second needed. Debatable. Not amendable. Majority vote.
  • To take from the table: "I move to take from the table the motion that …which was laid on the table (state time)." Use: to bring up a motion temporarily set aside by being laid on the table. Second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. Majority vote.
  • To rescind: "I move we rescind the action that…which was adopted…." Use: to annul something previously adopted. If notice of interest to rescind is given at a previous meeting, a simple majority vote is needed. If the motion to rescind is made at the current meeting and the intention is to call for a vote at this meeting, then a two-thirds vote is necessary for immediate passage. Second needed. Debatable. Amendable. Majority with previous notice/two-thirds at same meeting.

Incidental Motions

Incidental motions are incidental to the pending question. They must be disposed of before action is taken on the question from which they arise:

  • To call for a point of order: "I rise to a point of order." Use: to call attention to a mistake in parliamentary procedure or the relevancy of a member's remarks based upon the organization's constitution or bylaws. The member addresses the presiding officer. She/he need not be recognized before speaking, and she/he may interrupt a speaker who has the floor. No second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. No vote.
  • To make a parliamentary inquiry: "I rise for parliamentary information." Use: to ask for information on parliamentary procedure. No second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. No vote.
  • To request additional information: "I rise for information." Use: to ask for information on parliamentary procedure. No second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. No vote.
  • To verify accuracy of vote: "I ask for a division." Use: to request a vote again on the same question when the results of the first vote seem to be in doubt. No second needed. Not debatable. Not amendable. No vote.
  • To assure a true expression of the assembly's will: "I request the vote be taken by ballot." Use: to have a secret vote if this will allow members to vote their true opinion. Second needed. Not debatable. Amendable. Majority vote.

Remember: Parliamentary Procedure is a tool that helps organizations carry out their business in an orderly, fair, and impartial manner. It gives the majority the right to decide while allowing the minority to express its views. Parliamentary Procedure is good manners in action at a meeting.