If the minority are not prepared to report, a motion may be made to postpone the majority report until the next meeting, in order to enable the minority to get their report ready.*
6. When all the Standing Committees have been called over, the President will call for reports from Special Committees, which will be disposed of in like manner. If a Special Committee, previously instructed to report at a specified day, have not been able to complete their labors, the chairman should say, "Mr. President, the Special Committee on - , not having had sufficient time to complete their investigations, report progress, and ask to be continued." This should be repeated by the President, who will ask, "Shall the Committee be continued?" If no objection be made, he will add, "The Committee will be continued."
When a Special Committee desires to be discharged without making a written report, the chairman, when that committee is called upon, should state the reasons verbally, and then move for its discharge himself.
* Mr. Onslow, at one time speaker of the House of Commons, justly remarked, that a check on the actions of the majority, and protection to the minority against the attempts of power, can only be secured by close attention to the rules of proceeding.
It is not usual to record upon the minutes, at length, the reports of committees. Such a course, in some Societies, would involve the Secretary in an immense amount of labor. The most general usage is simply to state that "the Committee on ----- , through Mr. ---- , chairman, made a report, accompanied with the following resolution," and then to insert the resolution, and the action of the meeting upon it. All reports and documents should be folded up neatly, endorsed with their character, date of presentation, and filed among the Secretary's papers. In some cases, however, a report may embrace very important matters, which the members may desire to have immedi-ately before them. All such should, by a motion, be directed to be entered upon the minutes.
7. The reports of committees being all received, the President will call for the Treasurer's report, which, if presented, he will direct the Secretary to read. In some Societies which meet monthly, the Treasurer's report is made quarterly or semi-annually. The President should be careful to remember the proper time, so that if the Treasurer has been neglectful, he may be reminded of his duty.
When the report has been read, the President, without a motion, will direct it to be handed to the auditors, entered on the minutes, filed, or otherwise disposed of, as the by-laws may direct.
Too much attention cannot be paid to the financial affairs of a Society, and every Treasurer should be a careful, prompt, and systematic business man. Frequent reports from this officer, so that the members may be kept constantly advised of the state of the Treasury, are not only desirable, but almost essential to the prosperity of any institution, no matter what its character.
8. The next order to be announced by the President, is "to take up unfinished business," which includes all resolutions left under consideration, and all reports and communications "postponed for the present," or not finally disposed of at previous meetings. If the previous meeting adjourned while debating a resolution, the President should declare that resolution to be first in order. The member speaking at the adjournment, if he gave way to a motion to adjourn, is again entitled to the floor, and should be so informed by the President's saying, "Mr. ----------is entitled to the floor."
If the previous meeting did not adjourn while debating a resolution, any item of unfinished business may be taken up, on motion.
The proper course is for the Secretary to keep a list of all items of unfinished business, on a slip immediately before him, which he should read over, when this order in the business is reached. The President may then ask, "Is it the pleasure of the meeting to take up for consideration the first item ?" and if no objection be made, he will declare it to be before the members. If it is deemed preferable first to consider some other item, it is necessary to make a motion to postpone the first item, for the purpose of proceeding to the consideration of another, which may be named.
9. Unfinished business having been gone through with, or continued over, the President will say, "New business is now in order." This is the proper time for offering original resolutions, for moving for the appointment of committees, or increasing the number of members on any already existing, for proposing or electing new members to the Society, and for the transaction of any other business not elsewhere provided for.
A member offering a resolution,* will rise and say, "Mr. President, I beg leave to offer the following resolution," which, after reading, he will hand to the Chair. The resolution being seconded, the President will say, "The following resolution has been moved and seconded - it will be read by the Secretary," and being so read, he will continue, "the meeting has heard the resolution - are gentlemen ready for the question?" If no one rises to speak, the question will then be taken at once.
* Resolutions are, in this state, almost invariably prefaced by the word "Resolved." In the Eastern States the term is "Voted." In many religious bodies the initiatory word is " Ordered." Hatsell says:-" When the House commands, it is by ' an order.' But facts, principles, their own opinions and purposes, are expressed in the form of resolutions."
Legislative bodies make a marked distinction between resolutions and motions. The former are presumed to embrace matters of importance, and, after being read by the clerk, require a motion to "proceed to a second reading and consideration." Motions are of minor character, and relate generally to order in taking up business, or to some preparatory movements necessary for business. These do not require a second reading.
In Societies all resolutions must be put in writing, at the request of the President, or of any member, but this course is not necessary in regard to motions.
Sometimes it is very desirable, at the commencement of a meeting, to change the order of business, in order speedily to reach a particular matter that requires prompt attention. This can always be effected by a majority, or by two-thirds, as may be laid down in the by-laws, concurring in opinion as to the expediency.
10. When any cessation occurs in business, the President should say, "There is no business before the meeting." This will elicit either new business or a motion to adjourn. A motion to adjourn, is, however, almost always in order. The exceptions are so few, that I shall notice them all in this place.
1. A motion to adjourn cannot be received while a member has the floor. The member, however, may be asked to give way, in order that the motion may be made, and if he complies, the motion can be received.
2. A motion to adjourn cannot be received while the yeas and nays are being called, or the members are voting on any question.
3. A motion to adjourn cannot be received if it immediately follows a similar motion just negatived. If a proposition be made, however, intervening, and any debate ensues upon it, the motion is in order, even though the proposition be not acted upon or withdrawn.
A meeting is not adjourned, until so declared by the President. In the Senate of the United States, it is a breach of order for a member to leave his seat, until the adjournment is formally announced by the Presiding officer.
Although, in passing over the foregoing order of business, I have gone somewhat into detail, yet I have noticed no proceedings that are not usual at almost every meeting. Observations on less familiar questions, and decisions on peculiar and interesting points of order, will be found under subsequent heads.