This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
It is customary for the secretary to stand while reading any extended document or calling the roll of members in large assemblages, and to retain his place throughout the session of the meeting unless some one be appointed pro tempore to act as secretary during his absence. Where one or several assistant secretaries are chosen, less inconvenience is occasioned by the temporary absence of the secretary.
The office of treasurer, while often distinct, is frequently coupled with that of secretary. This portion of his duty consists in entering in a book provided for the purpose, an account of all moneys received and disbursed in behalf of the body which he serves.
The rule is, to pay out no moneys without an order bearing the signatures of the president and secretary, or the chairman of a finance committee, who is empowered to audit bills, which orders the treasurer should carefully preserve as vouchers.
It is further customary to require bonds of such officer for the faithful performance of his duty, where any considerable amount of money is handled, he being also required to yield possession of his books to his successor, in good order.
All public bodies find it necessary, in order to systematize their work and expedite business, to appoint certain individuals of their number to have charge and control of certain departments of the work, relating to their deliberations.
Where appointed for a particular occasion, the committee is known as and called a select committee; where appointed at the beginning of a session, to consider all matters of a certain nature, it is termed a standing committee.
A "committee of the whole" consists of all the members. As it is the duty of the standing and select committees to prepare measures to be acted upon by the full assembly, so it is the duty of the "committee of the whole" to consider and arrange the preliminaries of the business that the assembly is to consider. This committee can act with much less formality than is consistent with the customary forms of parliamentary usage in full assemblage.
The constitution and by-laws of an association usually provide for the appointment of standing committees, who sit permanently during the session. The members of such committees in deliberative assemblies, unless otherwise ordered, are appointed by the presiding officer.
The necessity of a select committee is usually suggested by some member of the assembly, who frequently moves that a certain number be appointed, either by the chairman or the meeting. Should this committee be appointed by the meeting, it is customary to select by majority vote one at a time, thus giving the assembly ample time to consider the fitness of each candidate for the proposed committee; though the entire number may be voted upon at once, if thought desirable, to save time.
While the members of the committee possess the right to select their chairman, it is a recognized courtesy to select the first person appointed on the committee as chairman of such committee.
The necessity of appointing a new committee is sometimes obviated, if there be already a committee appointed, by assigning the matter to be considered to such committee.
In most legislative bodies the committees appointed by the presiding officer at the opening of the session, are sufficient in number to appropriately consider any subject that may be brought before the meeting. Thus, in the City Council, there is usually provision made for the appointment of a committee on "police," on " fire and water," on "abatement of taxes," on "streets and alleys," on "license," public grounds," etc. Committees are also appointed by legislative assemblies, whose duty it is to consider everything of a judicial character, matters relating to taxation, public institutions, etc. Any matter arising during the session, decidedly distinct in its character, and requiring considerable deliberation, is usually referred, by motion of one of the members of the assembly, to the committee having jurisdiction over that kind of business.
When a committee is appointed, it is usual for the first named member to call such committee together as soon as possible, though it is not allowable for a committee to hold its meeting during the session of the main body, unless ordered to do so.
No order is necessary to require a committee to report. Whenever a conclusion is arrived at by the majority, a report should be made by the chairman of the committee to the main body. The minority of a committee can also present a report, by obtaining leave to do so. If a majority cannot be obtained, or an agreement made, the committee should report the fact and ask to be discharged. Upon being discharged, a new committee may be appointed as before, or the matter may be disposed of by the main body.
When a report is made, the chairman, or person appointed to present the report of the committee, rises in the assembly, and states to the presiding officer that the committee which he represents is ready to make their report concerning the matter which they have had under consideration. The person making this announcement may himself move that the report be received and (if a select committee) the committee discharged, though it is more usual for some other member of the assembly 'to make such motion. The question is then put by the presiding officer to the meeting, as to whether the report will be received then; or, if not then, a time is fixed upon when it will be received.
The person making the report usually presents the same in writing, reading the document in his place, after which he presents the report, and all papers relating to the subject, to the secretary; or the report may be given to the secretary to read, after which the meeting will consider the matter of its acceptance. As a rule, upon some one member of the meeting moving the acceptance of the report, the same being seconded, the presiding officer will announce the report accepted, without taking a vote thereon. If, however, decided objection is made, a vote by the meeting will be taken.