Working methods

Summary of the working methods of the Association

April 2010

Note: It was agreed at the Copenhagen session (October 1994) that a summary of the working methods of the Association should be sent to all at each session. This summary reflects the changes to the Rules of the Association agreed at Bangkok in April 2010.


Types of Business

1. Under Rule 21 of the Association, the Agenda setting out the business of the Association for a session or meeting is proposed by the Executive Committee. It is provisionally agreed by the plenary at the conclusion of the preceding session or meeting and is confirmed at the beginning of the session.

2. The Association’s business is of five types:

(a) General debates on subjects
(b) Communications by Members
(c) Other presentations
(d) Questionnaires
(e) Reports based on analysis of the responses to a Questionnaire.

General debates on subjects

3. At the end of each session or meeting, the Executive Committee will normally propose the inclusion in the orders of the day for the next session or meeting a debate on a particular subject. That subject will relate to the law or practice of parliament, the working practices of parliamentary structures, institutions and administrations, or any other subject of common interest. The aim of the debate is to allow exchange of experience between members.

4. Each debate is introduced by a principal speaker who also acts as a moderator of the discussion. The principal speaker’s presentation is followed by a general debate, in the course of which any member or substitute (under Rule 6) is invited to make a contribution. Such contributions are preferably submitted in writing in advance; in which case it may be sent before the opening of the session or meeting in the official languages of the Association, to one or other of the Joint Secretaries.

5. At the end of the various interventions which must be short, a general discussion may be started. That is ended by the final response of the main speaker for that debate.

6. The minutes of these general debates are published in the Review of the Association, “Constitutional and Parliamentary Information”.


7. The draft Agenda for each session makes provision for one or more Communications from members. These are short presentations by members on issues of interest to them, particularly presentations on recent developments in their own Parliament. They may be followed by question and answer sessions. The Communications to be presented are agreed by the Association, on proposal from the Executive Committee following suggestions from members. A summary of the presentation is prepared for inclusion in the minutes of the session and publication in “Constitutional and Parliamentary Information”.

Other presentations

8. Longer presentations may also take place in other circumstances. Two common occasions are:

(a) the presentation by the host Secretaries General, at the beginning of each session for which there is a host, on the parliamentary system of the host country, and

(b) presentations by officers of the Inter-Parliamentary Union under Rule 13 of the Association.

Questionnaires and Reports

9. The Association gathers and analyses information from its members on topics of general interest through Questionnaires.

10. A member wishing to invite responses to a Questionnaire first needs the agreement of the Executive Committee and the Association that the topic in question is suitable for a Questionnaire.

11. When a subject has been agreed, the member responsible produces a draft Questionnaire, which is also subject to the amendment and agreement of the Executive Committee and the Association.

12. Soon after it has been agreed, the Questionnaire is sent by the Joint Secretaries to every member Chamber. Each Secretary General sends a reply to the member responsible, who analyses the returns and presents their findings to the Association by way of a Communication. This is printed in “Constitutional and Parliamentary Information”. The Executive Committee may also propose:

(a) a general debate on the results of a Questionnaire.

(b) the adoption by the Association of a Report based on analysis of the responses to the Questionnaire. Such a Report is prepared in draft by the member responsible for the Questionnaire, is circulated to all members, and is debated and amended at the next session. The Report as amended is then finally agreed by the Association.

Tabling of subjects

13. Any member may propose subjects for the Association’s Agenda. The proposal may be tabled by being given to the President of the Association or to one of the two Joint Secretaries. The member should indicate whether it is proposed for consideration as a subject for a Questionnaire, for general debate, as a Communication or as another presentation.

14. If it is for a Questionnaire, the proposal should be tabled before the last day of a session. It will then be considered by the Executive Committee. If it is approved by the Committee, consideration of a draft Questionnaire on the subject will then be included in the draft Agenda for the next session, which is provisionally agreed by the plenary at the end of the sitting on the last day of the session. If it is for general debate, the proposal should normally be tabled before the last day of the previous session, as for a Questionnaire. In exceptional circumstances, however, a proposal for a general debate may be tabled later than this, but before the first meeting of the Executive Committee at the session in question.

15. If it is for discussion as a Communication or as another presentation, it should be tabled before the beginning of the session (by fax or e-mail to one of the two Joint Secretaries) or, in exceptional circumstances, on the first day of the session. Those proposals received before the first meeting of the Executive Committee will be considered at that meeting and, if approved, submitted to the plenary with the Agenda for the session. Any proposals received later than this will be considered by the Executive Committee if there is an opportunity to do so, and, if approved, submitted to the plenary for inclusion in the Agenda for one of the later days of the session.