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Glossary Of Common Terms Used In The Legislature

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | N | O | M | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


 A - [top]

abstention .  Refusal to vote either for or against a motion.  A Member is not obliged to vote and if he abstains, the records of the House will reflect his abstention.

Act of Parliament .  A bill which has been passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, has received Prime Ministerial Assent.  Unless a provision of the Act specifies otherwise, the Act comes into force on the date of Assent.

adjournment of debate.   Often a dilatory tactic which may be employed to delay progress on a particular matter.  If a motion to adjourn a debate is adopted, the item is not dropped from the Order Paper but may be taken up again on a later day.

adjournment of the House .  The termination by the House of a sitting (either by motion or pursuant to a Standing or Special Order) within a session.  An adjournment covers the period between the end of one sitting and the beginning of the next.  The House may adjourn for a few minutes or for several months.

Distinguish:  recess; suspension of a sitting.

adjournment proceedings .  A thirty-minute period prior to the daily adjournment, during which Members may raise matters which fall within the official cognizance of the Cabinet.  They are another method of raising questions in order to get answers from the Ministers.  Ministers are obliged to respond to these requests.

admonition.  A stern warning by the Speaker/President of the Senate to an offender.

Compare: reprimand.

affirmative resolution.  In an Act, this expression, when used in relation to a regulation, means that the regulation shall be laid before both Houses, or the House of Representatives as the case may be,  within the prescribed period of time and shall not come into force unless and until it is affirmed by a resolution passed by both Houses, or the House of Representatives as the case may be.

Compare:  negative resolution.

amending Act .  An Act of Parliament whose sole purpose is to modify another Act or Acts which are already in force.  Restrictions exist on the type of amendments that may be proposed to bills leading to amending Acts.

amendment .  An alteration proposed to a motion or clause of a bill or to a committee report.  It may attempt to present an improved formulation of the proposition under consideration or to provide an alternative to it.

ancillary motion .  A subsidiary motion, such as a motion for the second reading of a bill dependent on an order already made by the House.

appropriation .  A sum of money allocated by Parliament for a specific purpose outlined in the Annual Budget.

appropriation bill .  A bill to authorize government expenditures, which must be first introduced in the House.

Synonym:  supply bill.

Auditor General.   An Officer responsible for the independent examination of the Government's accounts.  Reports of this examination are tabled regularly in both Houses and referred by the House of Representatives to either the Public Accounts Committee or the Public Accounts (Enterprises) Committee, as the case may be.

 B - [top]

backbencher .  A Member who is not a Presiding Officer, a Government Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary.

See also:  private Member.

bar (of the House) .  A barrier inside the Chamber beyond which uninvited officials, the Media  and other non-Members may not be admitted. 

bicameralism .  A legislative body comprised of two chambers or Houses.  The House of Representatives and the Senate are the two Houses of Antigua and Barbuda's Parliament.

bill .  A proposed law submitted to Parliament for its approval.  It may originate either with the Government, with a private Member or with a private body and may relate either to public or private interests.  Bills may be first introduced in either the House or the Senate, but bills for appropriation of public revenue or for taxation must be introduced in the House of Representatives by a Minister.

breach of privilege .  An infringement of one of the specific privileges of the House or its Members which prevents them from carrying out their functions.  The House is asked to deal with an alleged breach only when it appears to the Speaker/President of the Senate to be evident (prima facie).

Distinguish:  contempt of Parliament.

budget .  The Government's statement of its fiscal, economic and social policies.  It is presented once a year.

Distinguish:  budget speech.

budget debate .  A debate on a motion approving the Government's budgetary policy.  The motion is moved by the Minister of Finance following the presentation of the budget speech.

Compare:  budget speech.

budget speech .  A presentation made in the House by the Minister of Finance introducing the Government's plans concerning fiscal, economic and social policy (the budget). 

Compare:  budget debate.

Distinguish:  budget.

Synonym:  budget presentation.

business of the House .  Any question, motion or bill which is placed before the House, whether introduced by a minister or by a private Member.

by-election .  An election held to fill a vacancy arising during the course of a Parliament.  The date of the by-election is fixed by the Governor General.

Compare:  general election.

 C - [top]
Cabinet .  The executive of the Government, consisting of those MPs and Senators appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. It is responsible for the administration of the Government and the establishment of its policy.

Cabinet minister .  A member of the executive, appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister.  Chosen from among existing MPs and Senators, Ministers are responsible to Parliament for their official actions and those of their Departments.  Cabinet Ministers are given the title "Honourable".

Synonym:  Cabinet member.

Cabinet solidarity .  The principle that decisions of the Cabinet must be supported by all of its members; by convention, those not supporting a decision must resign from the Cabinet.

Compare:  ministerial responsibility; responsible government.

casting vote .  The deciding vote accorded to the Speaker/President of the Senate (or, in committee, to the chairman) in the event of a tie.  The Speaker/President of the Senate or chairman may vote only in order to avoid a deadlock, and traditionally votes so as to maintain the status quo.

caucus.   A group composed of all Members and Senators of a given party.

censure motion .  A motion condemning the Government, a Minister or a private Member for some position which they hold or for some action or lack of action for which they are responsible.

Chair .  The presiding officer at a meeting of the House, whether the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, President of the Senate, Vice President of the Senate or, in a committee, the chairman.

chairman .  The Member selected as the presiding officer of a committee. 

Chairman of Committees of the Whole .  The Member charged with presiding over all Committees of the Whole.  This is usually the Speaker/President of the Senate. 

Chamber.  The hall in which the House of Representatives or the Senate meets to conduct its business.

Chief Whip .  See:  whip.

clause .  A division of a bill consisting of an individual sentence or statement.  Once a bill becomes law, its clauses are referred to as sections.

clause-by-clause study .  The final phase of a committee's consideration of a bill, involving detailed study of its provisions.  Each clause of the bill is considered individually.

Clerk of the House The chief procedural and administrative adviser to Parliament.  This officer works directly with the Speaker of Members of  the House of  Representatives and is the Administrative Head of the Office of the Parliament. Appointed by the Public Service Commission, the Clerk, as the senior permanent official of the House, is responsible for a wide range of administrative and procedural duties relating to the work of the Parliament and its committees.

Clerk of the Senate.   The Deputy to the Clerk of the House, this person is the principal procedural adviser to the President of the Senate and to Senators.  Appointed by the Public Service Commission, the Clerk of the Senate as Deputy Head of the Office of the Parliament is assigned a wide range of procedural and administrative duties.

Clerks-at-the-Table .  See:  Table Officers.

commencement clause .  The clause of a bill stating the date upon which an Act will be enforced.  Such a clause may indicate that an Act or some part of it will come into force on a date to be proclaimed by the Governor-General or it may state the actual date.  The absence of such a clause in an Act means that the Act comes into force on the date of Assent.

committee .  A body of MPs, or Senators or both, selected to consider such matters, including bills, as the House/s may refer to it or empower it to examine.  There are several types of committees: sessional, special and joint committees as well as Committees of the Whole.

Committee Clerk .  The procedural Clerk acting as administrative officer and adviser on parliamentary procedure to a committee.  The Committee Clerk takes the minutes of proceedings at all committee meetings and may draft rulings on procedural questions as well as the reports for the committee chairman.

committee hearing .  The receiving of oral evidence by a committee either publicly or in camera

Committee of the Whole .  All of the Members of the House sitting in the Chamber as a committee. Such committees usually sit to scrutinize a bill, clause by clause.

committee stage (of a bill).  Detailed study of the clauses of a bill by a committee  (could be a committee of the Whole or a select committee). This stage, which may include the taking of evidence or the receiving of documents, is the first at which amendments may be proposed to specific provisions of the bill.

concurrence (in a report) .  Agreement with a committee report, including the conclusions or recommendations it contains.  Concurrence is arrived at in the House by the adoption of a motion.

conflict of interest .  A conflict arising from any interest, pecuniary or other, which interferes with a Member's ability to perform his or her functions.  

consequential amendment .  Following the adoption of an amendment to the text of a motion or bill, subsequent amendment(s) to that text made necessary simply for coherence.

contempt of Parliament .  Any offence against the authority or dignity of Parliament, including disobedience to its commands or libel against it or its Members.  Punishment for such an offence may take a variety of forms, up to and including imprisonment.

Distinguish:  breach of privilege.

cross the floor .  To change political allegiance, signified by taking a seat as an independent or among the Members of a new party, usually located across the Chamber from one's former party.

 D - [top]

debatable motion .  A motion which, because of its substantive nature or procedural importance, is subject to debate before being put to a vote. 

delegated legislation .  Regulations made by Ministries, Departments, Independent Institutions or agencies by virtue of the power conferred on them by some Act of Parliament.  Delegated legislation are usually reviewed by the Statutory Instruments Committee of the Senate before laying.

Synonym:  subordinate legislation.

Compare:  legislation.

Deputy Speaker .  Title given to the Member elected by the House of Representatives to this office. The Deputy Speaker replaces the Speaker when the latter is unavoidably absent.

definite matter of urgent  public  importance.A topic which a member requests to have discussed before the sitting is adjourned. It is left to the discretion of the Speaker to agree that the matter is definite, urgent and of public importance.

die on the Order Paper .  To remain on the Order Paper at the end of a session without a final decision having been taken.  Motions and bills which "die" are lost and are not proceeded with further, unless they are re-introduced in the next session.

Compare:  lapse

dilatory motion .  A superseding motion designed to dispose of the original question before the House, either for the time being or permanently.  Motions to adjourn the debate and motions to adjourn the House are examples of dilatory motions.

discharge an order .  To cancel an order previously made by the House, often with a view to presenting some alternative.  The order for second reading of a bill must be discharged before the subject matter of the bill can be referred to a committee.

Compare:  rescind a resolution.

discussion paper .  See: green paper.

dissolution .  The bringing to an end of a Parliament, either at the conclusion of its five-year term or by proclamation of the Governor-General  It is followed by a general election.

Compare:  prorogation.

division .  A vote; the dividing of the members into the ayes and nays in order to reach a decision.

division list .  A list giving the results of a recorded division.

 E - [top]

electoral district .  Any place or territorial area entitled to return an MP to represent it in the House of Representatives. During debate, MPs are identified not by their own names but often by the name of their electoral district.

election. The process of choosing a representative by vote.

emergency debate .  A debate held on a motion to adjourn, devoted to the discussion of a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration. Such a debate has the effect of interrupting the business then before the House. When a Member requests an emergency debate, the Speaker/President of the Senate decides whether or not the request will be granted; one factor is whether the matter can be dealt with by the House in another way; another is whether it relates to a genuine emergency.

enabling clause. The part of a bill giving the appropriate authorities the power to bring the provisions of the bill into force.

enabling legislation .  Legislation which confers the power to do something; many Government proposals, such as international trade agreements, require such measures before they can be acted upon.

enacting clause .  A short paragraph preceding the sections of an Act, which indicates the authority by which it is made.  In Antigua and Barbuda's legislation is enacted by the Parliament of Antigua.

Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice .  A procedural authority providing a complete description of the rules, practices and precedents in the United Kingdom's House of Commons at Westminster.  The original edition was prepared in 1844 by Sir Thomas Erskine May, Clerk of the British House.  Commonly referred to as Erskine May or simply May.

Estimates .  The departmental expenditure plans, consisting of Main Estimates, tabled annually, and Supplementary Estimates, tabled as required.

expanded negative .  An amendment which, although it is not expressed in the same terms, would have the same effect as an amendment proposing the negative of the motion under consideration.  Such an amendment is not in order.

expel a Member .  The action of the House in ridding itself of one of its Members who is, in its opinion, unfit for membership in the House.

Compare:  naming a Member; suspend a Member.

 F - [top]

filibuster . An obstructive tactic consisting of the use of excessively long speeches to delay the business of the House or of a committee.  

first-past-the-post system .  An electoral system in which the candidate receiving more votes than any other candidate is declared elected, whether or not the winner has received an absolute majority of the votes.  The first-past-the-post system is used to elect Members to the House of Representatives.

Synonym:  single member plurality system.

first reading .  A purely formal stage in the passage of a bill, taken together with the order for printing.  The motion for first reading and printing is deemed carried without question put.

Compare: introduction of a bill 

fiscal year .  The twelve month period, from October 1 to September 30, used by the Government for budgetary and accounting purposes.

floor of the House .  That part of the Chamber of the House reserved for the Members and the officials of the House.

free vote .  Non-procedural term, meaning a vote during which party discipline is not imposed on individual Members.  Compare:  party vote.

Synonym:  unwhipped vote.

front benches .  The first row of seats in the House of Representatives which, on the Government side, are occupied by the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet Ministers and, on the Opposition side, by the leaders of the Opposition and principal opposition Members. 

 

 G - [top]

galleries .  Areas in the House set aside for the public, the press and distinguished visitors who wish to attend a sitting.

general election .  An election following dissolution at which MPs are selected for every electoral district.  MPs are elected by a simple plurality of the votes, which are cast by secret ballot.

Compare:  by-election.

government. The political party/group of parties (coalition) with the most representatives in the Parliament usually forms the Government

government bill .  Any bill introduced by a Minister.

government business .  Any bill or motion introduced in the House by a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary. 

Governor-General Address.  Address delivered to Parliament by His Excellency the Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda.  This is usually done at Ceremonial Openings of Parliament.

 

Governor-General's Assent.  The approval for a Bill to become and Act after it has been passed by both Houses.

 

grandfather clause. A clause protecting a prerogative of an individual or a collectivity from being affected by the new legislation.

green paper .  A document containing Government policy proposals, issued for discussion purposes.  Such a document does not represent a Government commitment to introduce legislation or to adopt a particular position.

Distinguish:  white paper.

Synonym:  discussion paper.

 H - [top]

Hansard .  See:  Official Report

House Bill.  A bill, either public or private, which is first introduced in the House of Representatives.  After it has been passed by the House of Representatives, a House bill is sent to the Senate.

House copy (of a bill).  The copy of a bill in the care of the Clerk of the House which is used as a working copy by the House.

housekeeping motion .  A motion of a routine nature dealing with administrative or purely formal matters necessary to expedite House business.

Compare:  routine motion.

 I - [top]

impute motives.  Impute bad motives or motives different from those acknowledged to a Member.

in absentia election .  The election of a presiding officer in the House or in committee when the candidate is not present.

in camera meeting .  A meeting from which the public is excluded.  Committees routinely meet in this way to deal with administrative matters and to consider draft reports.

independent Member .  A Member who is not a member of a recognized political party.

inquiry .  A study undertaken by a standing or special committee of the House.  It may be initiated as a result of a standing or special order or, in the case of a (Departmental) Joint Select Committee, it may be initiated by the committee itself.

instruction .  A direction by the House to a committee which has already received an order of reference, further defining its course of action or empowering it to do something.  There are two types of instructions:  permissive and mandatory.

interpretation clause .  A clause of a bill which contains the definitions of certain terms used in the bill.

introduction of a bill .  The first presentation of a bill to Parliament for its consideration.  Leave to introduce a bill is granted automatically, without debate, amendment or question put. A Bill is only introduced in the First House.  It is read a First time in the Second House.

 J - [top]

joint committee .  A committee made up of a proportionate number of members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  It may be either a statutory (required by law) or a special select committee.

 K - [top]
 L - [top]

Lapse.  The termination of a matter before the House due to the expiration of a prescribed time limit or the prorogation/dissolution of Parliament.

lay on the table.The official presentation of papers, reports and other documents to the Parliament. This involves the actual putting of copies of such material on the Table.

Leader of the House .  The Minister responsible for managing the Government's business in the House of Representatives, including the negotiations with the Opposition Chief Whip.

Leader of the Opposition. The leader of the party with the second largest membership in the House of Representatives.

leave (of the House) .   Approval of all Members present.  Required when the House wishes to set aside its rules or usual practices without notice.  Actions taken by unanimous consent do not constitute precedents.

Synonym:  unanimous consent.

legislation .  The laws enacted by or on the authority of Parliament.  These include orders, regulations and other statutory instruments adopted as a result of power delegated by Parliament to a variety of Government departments, boards and independent bodies and institutions.

Compare:  delegated legislation.

legislative agenda .  The Government's legislative plans for the session.  In many Parliaments this is set out in a throne speech although the Government is free to modify its legislative plans without notice during the course of the session.

long title .  The title of a bill which sets out in general terms the purposes of the bill.  It must encompass all aspects of the bill and if the bill is amended it may be necessary to amend the long title to reflect those changes.

Compare:  short title.

 M - [top]

Mace .  A large, heavy and richly-ornamented staff which is the symbol of authority of the House.  When the Speaker/President of the Senate takes the Chair, the Marshal of the Parliament places the Mace on the Table to signify the House is in session.

maiden speech .  The first speech made in the House by a new Member.  By tradition, the Speaker/President of the Senate recognizes a Member rising to make such a speech in preference to others, and the Member may read from notes on this occasion.

main motion .  The principal question before the House or a committee.  A proposed modification to it, or an attempt to supersede it, is considered a subsidiary or secondary motion.

Compare:  subsidiary motion.

majority government .  A government formed by the party or the coalition of parties holding the majority of seats in the House.

Compare:  minority government.

mandatory instruction .  An instruction which directs the work of a committee in an express and precise manner.  The committee is obliged to follow a mandatory instruction from the House.

marginal note .  A short explanatory note inscribed in the margin of a bill to serve as a title for each paragraph.  Marginal notes are not officially part of a bill and cannot be amended by motion, though they may be changed by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel if amendments to the clause require it.

May .  See:  Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice.

Member of Parliament .  Generally, a person either elected to the House or appointed to the Senate. 

message .  A formal communication between the House and the Senate that accompanies bills or conveys a request.  The Governor-General may also communicate with the Parliament or either House by message.

minister .  See:  Cabinet minister.

Ministers' Statements .  See:  Statements by Ministers.

ministerial responsibility .  The principle that ministers are responsible to Parliament for their actions and those of their departmental officials.

Compare:  responsible government.

Minutes of Proceedings .  The formal printed record of business occurring during a committee meeting.

motion . A proposal moved by a Member, for the House to do something, or order something done or express an opinion with regard to some matter.  In order to be placed before the House for consideration, a motion by a private member must be duly moved and seconded.  No seconder is required for government motions. Once adopted, a motion becomes an order or a resolution of the House.

mover .  A Member presenting a motion in the House or in committee.  When debate is permitted, the mover speaks immediately following the proposing of the question to the House.

MP.   A person elected to a seat in the House as a representative of one of the 36 electoral districts into which Antigua and Barbuda is divided.  By section 46(3) of the Constitution, a Speaker elected from outside the House of Representatives, becomes the 37th Members of the House of Representatives.

 N - [top]

naming a Member .  A disciplinary procedure used by the Speaker/President of the Senate to maintain order in the House.  The Speaker/President of the Senate names a Member for persistently disregarding the authority of the Chair.  He or she uses the personal name of the Member, rather than the name of the Member's electoral district, and the Member is then usually suspended from the service of the House for the rest of the sitting.

negative resolution.  In an Act, this expression, when used in relation to any regulation, means that the regulation shall be laid before the House and, within a prescribed period of time, may be annulled by a resolution of the House.

Compare:  affirmative resolution.

no-confidence motion .  A motion which, if adopted, indicates that the Government has lost the confidence of the House of Representatives.  The Government then either resigns or requests the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and issue a writ for the holding of a general election.

notice of motion .  An written announcement of an intention to bring a substantive proposal before the House.  Depending on the type of motion and who is moving it, the notice period varies.

Notice of Motion (Papers) .  A notice issued by the Clerk of the House/Senate announcing the intention of a Private Member to move a motion on a given day, in accordance with the rules of the House.

  

 O [top]

oath of allegiance .  An oath of loyalty to the country, in accordance with the requirements of the constitution, sworn by a Member before taking a seat in the House.

officer of Parliament .  An officer responsible to one or both Houses for the carrying out of duties assigned by statute. 

official  of the House .  An officer responsible to the House for the carrying out of duties assigned by statute or by special order.  Among those included in the designation are the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate.

Official report  . The in extenso report - transcribed, edited, and corrected - of what is said in the House and in a Committee of the Whole.  The Official Report often identified as "the Hansard" which is the name of the British family originally responsible for arranging the official reporting of debates in the British House of Commons.

omnibus bill .  A bill consisting of a number of related but separate parts which seek to amend and/or repeal one or several existing Acts and/or to enact one or several new Acts. 

Order Paper .  The official agenda of the House, published for each sitting day, listing all items that may be brought forward on that particular day.

out of order .  Contrary to the rules of parliamentary procedure.  The expression may be applied to motions, bills or to any intervention which offends against the rules of the House.

 P [top]

parent act .  In relation to a bill, the parent act is the statutory law(s) which the bill is amending.

Parliament   (1) The legislative branch of Government, composed of the Governor-General, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  (2) A period of time during which the institution of Parliament exercises its powers (constitutionally, a Parliament has a maximum lifespan of five years).

parliamentary precinct .  See:  precinct of Parliament.

parliamentary privilege .  See:  privilege.

parliamentary procedure .  The rules by which the House conducts its business, based on statutes, the Standing Orders, authoritative procedural works, precedents, and tradition.  Decisions by the Speaker/President of the Senate are based on these rules.

parliamentary secretary.  A member appointed to assist a minister in the performance of his duties.

party discipline .  The control exercised by a party over the positions held by its members and over the way in which they vote. 

passage (of a bill) .  The process by which a bill obtains Parliamentary approval and becomes law.  The principal steps in the passage of a public bill by the Parliament are:  introduction; first reading; second reading; committee stage; report stage; and third reading.  After completing similar stages in the second House, the bill goes forward for the Governor-General's Assent.

petition .  A formal request made to Parliament by citizens or bodies for redress of a grievance or for parliamentary approval or action.  Such a request can only be presented to the House by a Member.  Petitions must be filed with the Clerk.

plurality system .  See:  first-past-the-post system.

point of order .  A question raised with respect to any departure from the Standing Orders or customary procedures, either in debate or in the conduct of House or committee business.  Points of order are decided by the Speaker/President of the Senate, whose decision is final, or, in committee, by the chairman.

political party .  A group of people sharing a particular ideology and set of goals which puts forward candidates for election to Parliament.

portfolio .  The responsibilities of a Cabinet minister, especially the subject matter or government department with which he or she is charged.  Portfolios are assigned by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister.

postponement of a clause.  Under certain conditions, a committee may postpone consideration of a clause for a time.

prayer (of a petition) .  That part of a petition in which the petitioners present their request for action.  The prayer must be concise, clear and respectful; and the action requested must be within the jurisdiction of Parliament.

preamble (of a bill) .  The part of some bill preceding the main text which states the reasons for its introduction and the ends which it seeks to attain.  Preambles are required in all special majority bills.

precedent .  A Speaker's ruling or a practice of the House taken as a rule for subsequent cases of a similar nature.  Not all decisions and practices constitute precedents.

precinct of Parliament .  The Parliament House and its offices and curtilages.  Members enjoy certain rights and privileges within the precincts of Parliament. 

President of the Senate.  The presiding officer of the Senate.

presiding officer .  See:  Chair.

press gallery .  (1) A gallery in the Chamber reserved for accredited members of the media.  (2) Members of the media accredited to cover the proceedings of Parliament and so granted access to the gallery reserved for them.

prima facie breach of privilege .  See:  breach of privilege.

Prime Minister .  The Leader of the Government, who is ordinarily the leader of the party having the greatest number of seats in the House of Representatives.  Appointed by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister selects the other members of the Cabinet and, along with them, is responsible to the Parliament for the administration of public affairs.

principle (of a bill) .  The object or related objects which a bill seeks to achieve.  The principle of a bill is adopted at second reading.

private bill .  A bill designed to affect the rights of a group of persons or a body such as a bill to incorporate a private company.  Distinguish:  private Member's bill.

Distinguish: Public Bill

private Member .  Strictly speaking, a Member who is not Speaker/President of the Senate or a Member of the Executive. 

private Member's bill .  A bill sponsored by a Member who is not part of the Cabinet.  The term usually refers to public bills.

Distinguish:  private bill.

private Members' business .  Bills and motions sponsored by private Members.  Such business has precedence on the fourth Friday/Tuesday of each month.

privilege.   Those rights and immunities enjoyed by the House, collectively, and by each Member individually, without which Members could not carry out their duties and the House could not fulfill its functions.

Compare:  contempt of Parliament

procedural authority .  A work dealing with the procedure and practices of the House which may be referred to for guidance in resolving points of order and questions of privilege.  The most frequently cited work is Erskine May.

procedural motion .  A motion which deals with a purely routine matter.

proclamation .  An official notice or order issued by the Governor-General.  A Parliament, as well as its sessions, are begun and ended by proclamation.

propose the question .  The formal reading of a motion from the Chair which places it before the House.  Until the question is proposed it cannot be debated, amended or voted upon.

Distinguish:  put the question.

prorogation .  The ending of a session which terminates all unfinished business.  Prorogation also refers to the period of time a Parliament stands prorogued.

 Compare:  dissolution.

Public Accounts .  A report on the financial transactions of the Government prepared by the Auditor General.

public bill .  A bill concerned with matters of public policy; it may be sponsored either by a Minister (Government bill) or by a private Member (private Member's bill).

Distinguish:  Private Bill

put the question .  To put the motion before the House to a vote.  At this stage no further debate or amendment is possible.  The question is put to the House by the Speaker/President of the Senate. Distinguish:  propose the question.

 Q [top]

question .  The matter before the House or a committee, about which it is called upon to make a decision. When the House is ready to come to a decision, the Speaker says "The Question is ...  All in favour say..."

question of privilege .  See:  breach of privilege.

Questions to Ministers.   An Order Paper Item during which the Government responds to oral questions printed on the Order Paper.  Questions for written reply appear as an appendix to the Order Paper and when answered are removed from the Order Paper.

quorum .  The number of Members, excluding the Speaker/President, necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers.  In the House of Representatives, it is set by the Constitution at 12; in the Senate it is 10.

quorum call.   To draw the attention of the Speaker/President of the Senate (or the chairman, in a committee) to the absence of a quorum; the business under consideration in the House is interrupted and if a quorum is not established, the House adjourns.

 R[top]

reading of a bill .  One of the stages of the passage of a bill.  The reading stages (first, second and third) each have their own individual function.

recall of the House .  Pursuant to the Standing Orders, the Speaker/President of the Senate may recall the House, when it stands adjourned during a session, to meet prior to the date to which it stands adjourned.

recess .  The period between the ending of one session (prorogation) and the beginning of the next. Also used in reference to a long adjournment.

Distinguish:  adjournment of the House; suspension of a sitting.

recommittal (of a bill) .  The referral of a bill back to committee for further amendment in a specific area or for the reconsideration of a certain clause or clauses.  The recommittal is moved as an amendment to the motion for third reading of the bill.

recorded vote .  A vote where the names of those voting for and against a motion are registered in the official record of the House or of one of its committees.  A recorded division may be requested by any member calling "Division".  Members vote by roll call.

referral (to a committee) .  The sending of a bill (before or after second reading), paper, instrument or a question to a committee for study and report.  Depending on the objectives of the referral, it may be made to a sessional, special or Joint committee.

report progress .  To report to the House from a Committee of the Whole, indicating that the committee has not concluded its deliberations.  Such a report is necessary because a Committee of the Whole has no power to adjourn its own sitting or to adjourn consideration of a matter to a future sitting.

report stage .  The stage at which the House considers a bill as reported by a committee, with amendments, if any. 

report to the House .  An oral or written statement by a committee to the House, giving the results of an inquiry or requesting additional powers. 

reprimand.  Pursuant to an order of the House, a formal reproof addressed by the Speaker/President of the Senate to an offender adjudged guilty of a breach of privilege or of a contempt of the House.

Compare:  admonition.

reprint (of a bill).  If a bill is amended substantially at committee stage, the committee may order a reprint when it reports the bill to the House.  When a bill receives third reading, it may again be reprinted.

rescind a resolution .  To cancel the effect of a resolution previously adopted by the House.  The motion proposed concerns the rescinding of the resolution and hence does not deal a second time with a question already decided during the session.

synonym : revoke a resolution.

resolution .  A motion adopted by the House in order to make a declaration of opinion or purpose. 

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responsible government .  The principle that ministers are collectively responsible to the Parliament for the actions of the Government.  The legislative branch of government thus exercises control over the executive.

right of reply .  The right of the mover of a substantive motion or a motion for second reading of a bill to speak a second time in debate.  This second speech closes the debate.

routine motion .  A motion required for the observance of the proprieties of the House, the maintenance of its authority, the management of its business, the arrangement of its proceedings, the establishing of the powers of its committees, the correctness of its records or the fixing of its sitting days or the times of its meeting or adjournment.

routine proceedings .  Business of a basic nature including such items as tabling documents, presenting petitions, introduction and first reading of bills and statements by ministers.

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schedule .  An appendix to a bill which contains matters of detail not suitable for inclusion in a clause.  Schedules form part of a bill and are subject to amendment.

scope (of a bill) .  The field of applicability of a bill as indicated by its text. 

seat .  (1) The desk in the House of Representatives assigned to an MP. MPs are accorded seats in the House of Representatives not as individuals but in their capacity as representatives of their electoral districts.  (2) The electoral district which an MP represents.

second reading .  The stage at which the principle and object of a bill is either accepted or rejected.  Detailed consideration is not given to the clauses of the bill at this stage.

seconder .  A Member who formally supports a Private Member's Motion in the House.  The Member does not actually need to speak in order to support a motion but may simply indicate his or her consent.  Government motions and motions in committee do not require seconders.

secret ballot .  A secret vote. 

section of an Act .  Each separate numbered division of an Act.  The clauses of a bill become sections once the bill is assented to.

Senate bill .  A bill, either public or private, which is first introduced in the Senate.  After it has been passed by the Senate, A Senate bill is sent to the House of Representatives.

session .  One of the fundamental time periods into which a Parliament is divided, usually consisting of a number of separate sittings.  Sessions are commenced by the Governor-General's proclamation and may be opened, ceremonially, by an address by His Excellency the Governor-General. They are ended by prorogation or dissolution of the Parliament.

Distinguish:  sitting.

shadow cabinet .  The group of Members in the opposition party/parties, particularly the Official Opposition, chosen to act as party critics for each of the ministerial portfolios.

short title .  The title of a proposed Act, used for purposes of citation.  Short titles need not cover all of the provisions of a bill.

Compare:  long title.

sine die adjournment .  An adjournment without the assigning of a day for the next meeting.  Usually the adjournment before dissolution or prorogation.

sitting .  A meeting of the House within a session.  A sitting may last for only a matter of minutes or may extend for several hours.

Compare:  session.

Speaker .  The Member elected by the House of Representatives to preside over its proceedings.  In particular, he or she is responsible for maintaining order and decorum.  The Speaker also oversees the administration of the Parliament.  In addition, the Speaker is the spokesman and representative of the House of Representatives in its relations with the Senate, the Governor-General and other bodies outside the House of Representatives.

sponsor (of a bill) .  The Member or Minister who presents a bill in the House.

standing order .  An order adopted by the House to regulate its proceedings which remains in effect permanently.  Standing orders may be altered or repealed only by a subsequent decision of the House.

Standing Orders .  The collection of the permanent written rules adopted by the House to govern its proceedings.

starred question .  A question on the Order Paper for which an oral response is requested. 

Statements by Ministers .  A Order Paper item during which a Minister may make a short factual announcement or statement of government policy. 

statutory instrument .  A regulation, order, rule or other instrument issued by virtue of power conferred by an Act of Parliament.  Statutory instruments are subject to review by the Statutory Instruments Committee of the Senate.

Compare:  delegated legislation

stranger .  Anyone who is not a Member of the House or an official of the House.   Strangers are admitted to the galleries but may be expelled by the Speaker/President of the Senate if there is a disturbance.

sub judice convention.  A convention whereby Members refrain from making reference to certain matters, particularly criminal cases, which are before the courts.  It does not apply to bills.

subamendment .  An amendment to an amendment.  A subamendment must be relevant to the amendment it seeks to modify, rather than to the original question.

subcommittee .  A committee of a committee, to which the latter may delegate its powers, except the power to report to the House.  Not all committees are granted the power to establish subcommittees.

subordinate legislation .  See:  delegated legislation.

subsidiary motion .  A motion which is procedural in nature, dependent on an order already made by the House.  Motions for the second and third readings of bills are subsidiary motions.

Synonym:  ancillary motion.

Compare:  substantive motion.

substantive motion .  An independent proposal which is complete in itself.  Normally such motions require written notice before they can be moved in the House.

Compare:  subsidiary motion.

summoning a witness .  Ordering a witness to appear before one of its committees.

summons of Parliament .  The convocation of a Parliament following a dissolution or prorogation.  Parliament is summoned by a proclamation issued by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister.

superseding motion .  A motion moved for the purpose of superseding or replacing the question before the House.  It may be either a dilatory motion or a motion for the previous question.

Supplementary Estimates .  An expenditure plan introduced to provide funds to the Government to meet new or increased costs.  The Government may introduce as many sets of Supplementary Estimates in a given fiscal year as it deems necessary.

supplementary question .  A question seeking clarification or further information following a Minister's response to a question during the oral question period.  The Speaker/President of the Senate has wide discretion in permitting the posing of supplementary questions.

suspend a Member .  The action of dismissing a Member from the services of the House and its committees for one or more days as a result of disorder.  This action may be exercised by the Speaker/President of the Senate alone (one day), or as an order of the House (more than one day).

Compare:  expel a Member; naming a Member.

suspension of a sitting .  A pause during the course of a sitting of the House.  When the sitting is suspended, the Speaker/President of the Senate leaves the Chair and the Mace is placed in the lower position on the Table.

Distinguish:  adjournment; recess.

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Table .  The Table in front of the Speaker's Chair at which the Clerk and the other Table Officers sit.  Copies of frequently consulted procedural authorities are kept on the Table for the convenience of Members and the Mace is placed on top of it when the House is sitting.

table .  To place a document before the House or a committee for consideration or consultation.

Synonym:  lay on the table.

Table Officers .  The Clerks who provide procedural advice during sittings of the House, take the votes and keep the minutes of proceedings.

Synonym:  Clerks-at-the-Table.

take note debate.  Debate on a motion which includes the words that the House "takes note" of an issue to allow Members to express their views.

Terms of reference .  An order of the House to a committee instructing it to consider some matter or defining the scope of its deliberations. 

third parties .  Generally, political parties represented in the House which are smaller in size than the Official Opposition party.

third reading .  The last stage of consideration of a bill in the House, at the conclusion of which the bill as a whole is either finally approved or rejected.

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unanimous consent .  The consent of all Members present, required when the House wishes to set aside its rules or usual practices without notice.  Actions taken by unanimous consent do not constitute precedents.

Synonym:  leave of the House.

unicameralism.  A parliamentary system in which the legislative power is vested in one chamber.

unparliamentary language .  Words or expressions contrary to the proprieties of the House.  A Member who refuses to withdraw unparliamentary language may be named by the Speaker.

unwhipped vote .  Free vote.

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vice-chairman. The person elected as deputy to the chairman of a standing or special committee.

visitors.  Distinguished persons who are invited to the Speaker's gallery in the Chamber and recognized by the Speaker/President of the Senate.

vote.  (1) The formal expression of opinion for the purpose of reaching a decision. (Distinguish:  division.  (2) An individual item of the Estimates indicating the amount of money required by the Government for a particular programme or function.

 

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whip .  The Member charged with keeping other Members of the same party informed concerning House business and ensuring their attendance in the House, especially when a vote is anticipated.  In Antigua and Barbuda this function is usually added to those of the Leader of the House, in the case of the ruling party. In the House of Representatives, the Opposition Chief Whip usually sits at the head of the Opposition front bench directly opposite the Leader of the House.

white paper .  A document tabled in the House presenting Government policy in a given area.  It may contain legislative or administrative proposals on which the Government intends to act.

Distinguish:  green paper.

witness .  A person invited to appear before a committee to present an opinion on a particular topic or to provide technical advice with respect to a bill.  While testifying, witnesses enjoy the same privilege of freedom of speech as Members.

writ of election .  A writ issued by the Chief Electoral Officer in order to institute an election in a specific electoral district.

written question .  See: Questions to Ministers

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