parliamentary law

parliamentary law, rules under which deliberative bodies conduct their proceedings. In English-speaking countries these are based on the practice of the British Parliament, chiefly in the House of Commons. British parliamentary law is conventional, rather than statutory, including traditions and precedents as well as the Standing Orders of the House. Thomas Jefferson, when presiding over the U.S. Senate, prepared a manual of parliamentary law based on the practice of the House of Commons, and this practice has generally been followed in the House of Representatives as well. Robert's Rules of Order, first compiled by Henry Martyn Robert in 1876 and drawn from the usages of all three bodies, is the usually accepted authority on parliamentary law in the United States. Parliamentary law includes the rules necessary for the efficient and equitable conduct of business by an assembly. In Britain the effective interpreter of parliamentary law is the speaker of the House of Commons; in the United States the role is shared by the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate, who are partisan figures, unlike their British counterpart.

See H. A. Bosmajian, ed., Readings in Parliamentary Procedure (1968); H. E. Hellman, Parliamentary Procedure (1968).

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