Robert's Rules for Making a Parliamentary Inquiry

You may have the sense that something isn't being done according to Robert's Rules, but you don't want to tip your hand or embarrass yourself by raising a point of order until you're sure. Or, you may want to understand the parliamentary situation better so you can decide whether to make a particular motion. Or, you may want to know the effect of the pending motion.

When you want to know the answer to these kinds of questions, or just whether something going on (or being contemplated) is in order, you should make a parliamentary inquiry.

To make a parliamentary inquiry, just stand up and state, "Mr. President, parliamentary inquiry please." The president should stop and ask you for your question: "The member will please state his question," and you respond with whatever your question is.

A parliamentary inquiry elicits an opinion, not a ruling, from the chair. Because of this, the chair's answer to a parliamentary inquiry is not subject to appeal. However, if you raise a point of order after getting an answer to your parliamentary inquiry, the decision, or ruling, of the chair on the point of order is subject to appeal.

A parliamentary inquiry

  • Can interrupt a speaker who has the floor.

  • Doesn't need to be seconded.

  • Isn't debatable.

  • Can't be amended.

  • Requires that no vote be taken.

  • Can't be reconsidered.

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