Constitution - Part 5A - Council procedure rules

These rules of procedure are to be read in conjunction with Part 5J: Annex to the Constitution dated 7 August 2020 Remote Meetings.


1.1 Timing and Business

In a year when there is an election of all Councillors ('members'), the annual meeting will take place within 25 days of the election. In any other year, the annual meeting will be held in April and will: 

(a) Elect a person to preside at the meeting if the Chair of the Council is not present;

(b) Elect the Chair of Council;

(c) Elect the Vice-Chair of Council;

(d) Receive any declarations of interest from members;

(e) Approve the minutes of the last meeting;

(f) Receive any announcements from the Chair;

(g) When the meeting is taking place in the year of  the whole Council elections, elect the Council Leader for a four year term of office;

(h) Elect the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Scrutiny Management Board;

(i) Appoint at least one Scrutiny Board, and any other Committees which the Council considers appropriate to deal with those matters which are not reserved to the Council itself or which are not executive functions:

(j) Agree the Scheme of Delegation (excluding any  executive delegations which the Leader has responsibility for)

(k) Consider any business on the agenda for the meeting.

1.2 Selection of Councillors on Committees and Outside Bodies

At the annual meeting, the Council will:

(a) Decide which committees to establish for the following year;

(b) Decide the size and terms of reference of those committees;

(c) Decide the allocation of seats and  any substitutes to political groups in accordance with the political balance rules;

(d) Appoint the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of all Committees (except for the Local Committees and the Standards Committee)

(e) Receive nominations of members to serve on each Committee and outside body;  and

(f) Appoint to those Committees and outside bodies (except where appointment to those bodies has been delegated by the Council or are exercisable only by the Cabinet).

1.3  Appointment of Leader and Other Individual Appointments

(a) If only one nomination is received, the Chair will declare that person is duly appointed.

(b) If two persons are nominated, there will be a vote either by show of hands or a recorded vote at members request. The nominee with the highest number of votes will be declared as duly appointed.  In the event of an equal number of votes the Chair will exercise a casting vote.

(c) If three or more persons are nominated, there will be a vote either by show of hands or a recorded vote at members request.  If one nominee has an overall majority of the votes cast, he/she will be declared duly appointed.

(d) If not, then the nominee with the lowest number of votes will be excluded from the next round of voting. This process will be repeated, if necessary, until only two nominees are left, when the procedure is as at paragraph above.

(e) At all stages, any equality of votes will be resolved by the casting vote of the Chair.

1.4  Appointment of Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Scrutiny

(a) The Chair will request a motion for the appointment of the Chairs/Vice-Chairs of Scrutiny Advisory Boards. Only non-Cabinet members will be eligible to submit a motion and all nominations will be based on the principle that the Chairs and the Vice-Chairs of Scrutiny Advisory Boards are to be allocated on a basis which is proportionate to the number of seats that each group has on the Council as a whole, and in accordance with the  weighting system described below.

(b) The motion, after being seconded, may be the subject of amendment, debate and voting in accordance with these rules, but may not be amended so as to depart from the principle of political proportionality.

(c) The following system is to be used for making appointments on a politically proportionate basis:

(i)  Each position of Chair and Vice-Chair will be given a weighting which is then    multiplied by the number of positions on the Council to give a total points score. The point scores below are included for illustrative purposes only, and the actual points scores will be calculated by reference to the number of panels the County Council decides to establish at the time of its annual meeting.

WeightingPoints Score
Chair of Scrutiny Advisory Board (x3)618
Vice-Chair of Scrutiny Advisory Board (x3)39
Chair of Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee66

(ii) The total points score will be divided between the political groups on the Council in proportion to the number of seats that each group has on the Council as a whole, so as to give a points score for each political group.

(iii) Discussions will then take place between the political groups as to the positions which should be allocated to each group based on each group's points score and the weightings in the table above.

(iv)  For the avoidance of doubt, a political group may, if it wishes, nominate within its own points score a member who is not a member of a political group to a position of chair or vice-chair.

1.5 Vacancies

(a) If a vacancy arises in the position of Chair or Vice-chair of a Scrutiny Advisory Board before the next annual meeting of the Council, then the political group holding the position immediately before the vacancy arose is entitled to fill the vacancy until the next annual meeting of the Council.

(b) The Leader of the relevant political group should do this by giving notice of the new appointment to the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services and sending, where appropriate, a copy of the Chair or Vice-Chair's notice of resignation.  The Assistant Director - Corporate Governance will report the new appointment for information to the next available meeting of the Council.

Ordinary meetings will:

(a) Elect a person to preside if the Chair and Vice-Chair are not present;

(b) Receive any declarations of interest from members;

(c) Approve the minutes of the last meeting;

(d) Receive any announcements from the Chair, Leader, Cabinet Member or the Head of Paid Service. The Leader of any political group(s) not forming part of the Administration will be given an opportunity to respond to any statement made by the Leader of the Council by either making a comment or asking a question; the response time  is limited to 2 minutes;

(e) Deal with any business adjourned from the last Council meeting;

(f) Receive petitions or questions from the public under the Public Participation Scheme.

(g) Receive the minutes of public meetings of the Cabinet and give members the opportunity to ask any questions on the minutes in accordance with rule 11.1.  The total time allowed for questions will normally be limited to 30 minutes, but this may be extended at the Chair's discretion;

(h) Enable members to ask any relevant questions of the Leader, Cabinet Member or Committee Chair without notice in accordance with rules 11.2 to 11.5.  The total time allowed for questions will normally be limited to 30 minutes, but this may be extended at the Chair's discretion;

(i) Receive  reports from the Chair of the Scrutiny Management Board (or in his/her absence the Vice-Chair of the Board) on issues relating to the work programme of either the Board or any of the Council's Scrutiny Advisory Boards or on any matter relating to their responsibilities which the Chair considers should be brought to the Council's attention. Questions on the report of Scrutiny Management Boards will  normally be limited to 30 minutes but may be extended at the Chair's discretion;

(j) Receive reports from Committees of the Council and receive questions and answers in accordance with rules 11.1 to 11.5.

(k) Receive reports about, and receive questions and answers on, the business of joint arrangements and external organisations;

(l) Consider any other business specified in the summons to the meeting, including consideration of proposals from the Cabinet in relation to the Council's Budget and Policy Framework and reports of the Scrutiny Boards for debate;

(m) Consider Notice of Motions for up to a specified period of 1 hour.  The Chair may extend this period at his/her discretion; and

(n) Hear speeches (not exceeding five minutes each), for up to a specified period of 30 minutes, from individual members.  At least 24 hours' notice of the topic of the speech must have been given to the Monitoring Officer. The Chair may extend the specified period at his/her discretion.

3.1 Calling Special Meetings

A special meeting may be requested by:

(a) The Council by resolution;

(b) The Chair of the Council;

(c) The Head of Paid Service 

(d) The Monitoring Officer;

(e) The Section 151 Officer;  and

(f) Any five members of the Council notifying the Head of Paid Service in writing.

3.2 Business

A special meeting may only consider the specific items set out in the summons to the meeting.

The  Monitoring Officer is authorised to appoint replacement members to committees, sub-committees, boards, panels, and relevant joint and outside bodies, in accordance with the expressed wishes of the political groups and within their approved allocation as agreed by Council from time to time.

The appointment of replacement members for Scrutiny Advisory Boards is limited to the list of six named substitutes for each Advisory Board.
The time and place of meetings will be determined by the Head of Paid Service and notified in the Summons to the meeting, unless specifically decided by Council or the committee concerned.  Meetings of Council will commence at 10.00 a.m. unless the Chair of the Council agrees an alternative time.
The Head of Paid Service will give notice to the public of the time and place of any meeting, in accordance with the Access to Information Procedure Rules.  At least five clear days before a meeting, the Head of Paid Service will send a summons, signed by him/her, by post, to every member of the Council, or leave it at their usual place of residence.  The summons will be accompanied by all reports which are available.
The Head of Paid Service may postpone any meeting which has already been called as a result of inclement weather, other emergency, or exceptional reasons, after consultation with the Chair of the member body concerned.  Where the meeting involves two or more political groups, the group spokesperson for each group or, in the case of their non-availability, the group leaders will also be consulted.
The person presiding at the meeting has the authority to exercise any power or duty of the Chair.  Where these rules apply to committee and sub-Committee meetings, references to the Chair also include the Chair of committees and sub-Committees.
The minimum number of members who must be present for the meeting to proceed is one quarter of the total number of members of that body, with a minimum of two members. All figures will be rounded up to the nearest whole number.

During any meeting, if the minimum number is not present, then the meeting   will adjourn for 15 minutes.  If, after 15 minutes, the minimum number of members is still not present the meeting will immediately adjourn.  The remaining business will be considered at a time and date fixed by the Chair.  If no new date is fixed then the remaining business will be considered at the next Ordinary Meeting.
All meetings of the Council, or any of its committees, which have commenced in the morning, will be automatically adjourned for lunch at 12:30 p.m., unless the body concerned resolves to continue or the lunch break has already commenced.

All meetings of the Council will be automatically adjourned at 6.00 p.m., to a date to be fixed by the Chair, unless the Council resolves to continue.

11.1 On Reports of the Cabinet or Committees

A member of the Council may ask the Leader, a Cabinet member or the Chair of a committee, any question, without notice, on an item in any the report of the Cabinet or a committee, when that item is being received or considered by the Council.

11.2 Questions without Notice

A member of the Council may ask the Leader, Cabinet member or the Chair of a committee any question, without notice, at a meeting of the Council. Questions must relate to the responsibilities of the Leader or Cabinet member or relate to the responsibilities of a committee.
11.3 Duration

Questions under rules 11.1 and 11.2 above will normally be limited to 30 minutes duration in respect of each rule but this may be extended at the Chair's discretion.

11.4 Undertakings

Where an undertaking is given to reply to a question under rules 11.1 and 11.2 above in writing, a copy of the reply shall be made available to all members of the Council, and the press and public by making the information available on the Council's website, so long as no exempt or confidential information is disclosed as a result.

11.5 Supplementary Questions

Where a member asks a question under rules 11.1 and 11.2 above, he/she may also ask one supplementary question related to the original question/answer, unless the Chair uses his discretion not to permit supplementary questions in view of time constraints or to facilitate the conduct of the meeting.

11.6 Response

An answer may take the form of:

(a) A direct verbal answer;

(b) Where the  information referred to in the question is in a publication of the Council, or other published work, by  reference to the publication;  or

(c) A written answer circulated after the meeting to the questioner and copied to all members as set out in rule 11.3 above.

12.1 Notice Period

Notices of Motion must be signed by at least one member of the Council and delivered to the Monitoring Officer not later than eight working days before the date of the meeting. 

12.2 Urgency

The Chair may agree that a Notice of Motion should be considered as a matter of urgency if he/she considers that any delay caused by the requirement to give eight working days would seriously prejudice either the Council's or the public's interest.  The minutes of the Council must specify the grounds upon which the motion is considered urgent.

12.3 Agenda Item and Order

Notices of Motion will be listed on the agenda in the order in which they are received, unless the member giving notice states, in writing, that they propose to move it to a later meeting or withdraw it.

12.4 Scope

Notices of Motion must be about matters for which the Council has a responsibility or which affect the County of Cumbria.

12.5  Acceptability

Any decision about the acceptability of a motion will be made by the Chair and notified to the member concerned by the Chief Legal Officer.

The following motions may be moved without notice:

(a) To appoint a Chair of the meeting;

(b) In relation to the accuracy of the minutes;

(c) To change the order of business in the agenda;

(d) To refer back or to an appropriate body or individual a recommendation of the Cabinet or a committee;

(e) To appoint a committee or member arising from an item on the summons for the meeting;

(f) To receive reports or adopt recommendations of committees or officers and any resolutions following from them;

(g) To withdraw a motion;

(h) To amend a motion;

(i) To proceed to the next business;

(j) That the question be now put;

(k) To adjourn a debate;

(l) To adjourn a meeting;

(m) To continue the meeting beyond the time fixed for automatic adjournment;

(n) To suspend a particular Council Procedure Rule;

(o) To exclude the public and press in accordance with the Access to Information Procedure Rules;

(p) To not hear further a member named, or to exclude them from the meeting;  and

(q) To give the consent of the Council where its consent is required by this Constitution.

14.1 Conduct of Debate

Unless the Chair gives permission for the member to remain seated, when a member speaks at Council, he/she must stand and address the meeting through the Chair.

If more than one member stands, the Chair will ask one to speak and the others must sit.  Other members must remain quiet and seated whilst a member is speaking unless they wish to make a point of order or a point of personal explanation.

When the Chair stands during a debate, any member speaking at the time must stop and sit down, and all others present at the meeting must then be silent.

14.2 No speeches until Motion seconded

Each item must be introduced (moved) by a proposer, and supported by one other person (a seconder) before it is debated further. The person introducing the item may speak for up to five minutes.

Unless notice of the motion has already been given, the Chair may require it to be written down and handed to him/her before it is discussed.

14.3 Seconders Speech
When seconding a Motion or Amendment, a member may reserve his/her speech until later in the debate.

14.4 When a Member may speak again

 A member who has spoken once on a motion may not speak again while it is being debated, except:

(a) To speak once on an amendment moved by another member;

(b) To move a further amendment if the motion has been amended since he/she last spoke;

(c) If his/her first speech was on an amendment moved by another member, to speak on the main issue (whether or not the amendment on which he/she spoke was carried);

(d) In exercise of a right of reply;

(e) On a point of order or personal explanation

14.5 Content and length of speeches

All speakers must address the issue under debate.  No speech may exceed 5 minutes without the consent of the Chair.

14.6 Point of Order or Personal Explanation

The debate may be interrupted by a member rising to his or her feet:

(a) Either to seek the Chair's interpretation of these rules (a point of order). The member must state the rule and the way in which he/she considers it has been broken;

(b) To give a short personal explanation of something he/she has already said (a point of personal explanation). A personal explanation may only relate to some material part of an earlier speech by the member which may appear to have been misunderstood in the present debate.

The ruling of the Chair on the admissibility of a personal explanation or point of order will be final.   

14.7  Members Conduct 

Members should follow the requirement of the Members' Code of Conduct to treat others with respect.  Members' attention is also drawn to the principles of the Council's approved Equality and Diversity Policy with its commitment to challenge all forms of discrimination.

If a member persistently disregards the ruling of the Chair by behaving improperly or offensively, or deliberately obstructs business, the Chair or any member may move that the member be not heard further.  If seconded, the motion will be voted on without discussion.

If the member continues to behave improperly after such a motion is carried, the Chair may move that either the member leaves the meeting or that the meeting is adjourned for a specified period.  If seconded, the motion will be voted on without discussion.

14.8 General Disturbance

If there is a general disturbance, making orderly business impossible, the Chair may adjourn the meeting for as long as he/she thinks necessary.

14.9 Amendments to Motions

An Amendment to a motion must be relevant to the motion, and may either be:

(a) To refer the matter to an appropriate body or individual for consideration or reconsideration;

(b) To leave out words;

(c) To leave out words and insert or add others;  or

(d) To insert or add words. 

 as long as the effect of (b) to (d) is not to negate the motion.

14.10  Number of Amendments 

Only one amendment may be moved and discussed at any one time.  No further amendment may be moved until the amendment under discussion has been disposed of.  The Chair may, however, permit 2 or more amendments to be discussed (but not voted upon) together if this would facilitate the proper conduct of the Council's business.

14.11 Further Amendments

If an amendment is not carried, other amendments to the original motion may be moved.

If any amendment is carried then the Motion as amended takes the place of the original Motion.  This becomes the substantive motion to which any further amendments are moved.

14.12 Amendment Carried

After an amendment has been carried, the Chair will read out the amended motion before accepting any further amendments, or, if there are none, put it to the vote.

14.13 Alteration or Withdrawal of Motion

A member may alter a motion of which he/she has given notice with the consent of the meeting.  The meeting's consent will be signified without discussion.
A member may alter or withdraw a motion which he/she has moved without notice with the consent of both the meeting and the seconder. The meeting's consent will be signified without discussion.

Only alterations which could be made as an amendment may be made.

14.14 Right of Reply

The proposer of a motion has a right to reply at the end of the debate on the motion, immediately before it is put to the vote.

If an amendment is moved, the mover of the original motion has the right of reply at the close of the debate on the amendment, but may not otherwise speak on it.

The mover of the amendment has the right of reply at the end of the debate on his or her amendment and immediately before any reply by the mover of the original motion.

14.15 Motions which may be moved during Debate

A member may move, without comment, the following motions at the end of a speech of another member:

(a) To go to the next business;
(b) That the vote be taken;
(c) To adjourn the debate or the meeting;

(d) That the meeting continue beyond the time fixed for adjournment under rule 10.1 or 10.2;

(e) To exclude the public and press in accordance with the Access to Information Procedure Rules; and

(f) To not hear further a member named under  rule 14.7

14.16 Motion to go to Next Business

If a motion to proceed to next business is seconded, and the Chair thinks the item has been sufficiently discussed, he or she will put the motion to the vote. If agreed the meeting will move to the next item of business immediately.

14.17 Motion that the Vote be Taken

If a motion that vote be taken is seconded, and the Chair thinks the item has been sufficiently discussed; he/she will put the motion to the vote.  If it is passed, he/she will give the mover of the original motion and, if appropriate, the mover of an amendment which is being debated, a right to speak before putting the motion to the vote.

14.18 Motion to Adjourn the Debate or the Meeting

If a motion to adjourn the debate, or to adjourn the meeting, is seconded, and the Chair thinks the item has not been sufficiently discussed, and cannot reasonably be so discussed on that occasion, he/she will put the procedural motion to the vote without giving the mover of the original motion the right of reply.

14.19 Time Limits

A second motion under rule 14.15 may not be made for 30 minutes, unless it is moved by the Chair.

15.1 Motion to Rescind a Previous Decision

A motion or amendment to rescind a decision made at a meeting of Council within the past six months cannot be moved unless the notice of motion is signed by at least ten members.

15.2 Motion Similar to one Previously Rejected

A motion or amendment in similar terms to one that has been rejected at a meeting of Council in the past six months cannot be moved unless the notice of motion or amendment is signed by at least ten members.

15.3 Time Limits 

Once the motion or amendment is dealt with, no one can propose a similar motion or amendment for six months.

16.1 Majority

Unless this Constitution provides otherwise, any matter will be decided by a simple majority of those members voting and present in the room at the time the question was put.

16.2 Chair's Casting Vote

If there are equal numbers of votes for and against, the Chair will have a second or casting vote.  There will be no restriction on how the Chair chooses to exercise a casting vote.

16.3 Show of Hands

Unless a recorded vote is demanded under rule 16.4 below, the Chair will take the vote by show of hands, or, if there is no dissent, by the affirmation of the Meeting.

16.4 Recorded Vote

The vote will take place by recorded vote if one quarter of the members present at the meeting indicate by rising in their places or raising their hands.  The names for and against the motion or amendment or abstaining from voting will be taken down in writing and entered into the minutes.

16.5 Recorded Votes for Budget Meetings

A  recorded  vote  must take  place  when  setting  the  County Council's  budget  and determining the level of council tax to be levied for each financial year. This rule will apply to both the substantive motion and any amendments. There is no necessity for one quarter of members present to request a recorded vote in these circumstances as this is now a legal requirement for Budget Meetings.

16.6 Right to Require Individual Vote to be Recorded

Any member may request immediately after the vote is taken, that their vote is recorded in the minutes to show whether they voted for or against the motion or abstained from voting.

17.1 Signing the Minutes

The Chair will sign the minutes of the proceedings at the next suitable meeting.  The Chair will move that the minutes of the previous meeting be signed as a correct record.  The only part of the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

There is no requirement for the minutes of a meeting to be agreed at the next meeting if it is a special meeting, and the minutes will be submitted to the next ordinary meeting instead.

17.2 Form of Minutes

Minutes will contain all motions and amendments in the exact form and order the Chair put them.

Members of the public and press may only be excluded either in accordance with the Access to Information Procedure Rules, or as a result of disturbance by the public (refer to rule 19.1 below).

If a member of the public interrupts or disrupts proceedings, the Chair will warn the person concerned. If they continue to interrupt or cause a disruption, the Chair will order their removal from the meeting room.

If there is a general disturbance in any part of the meeting room open to the public, the Chair may call for that part to be cleared.

Recording and filming of meetings of the Council, Cabinet and committees is allowed, unless this is undertaken in a disruptive manner. Where a disruption of the business of the meeting occurs the Chair of the meeting will have the right to exclude the individuals concerned from the meeting in accordance with rule 19.1 above.
Members and co-opted members should disclose interests as required by the Members' Code of Conduct and withdraw from the meeting room where that is required, unless a dispensation has been granted by either the Standards Committee or the Monitoring Officer under their delegated powers.

22.1 Suspension

All of these Council Procedure Rules, except 'method of making appointments', refer to rules 1.3, and 'recorded votes for budget meetings', refer to rule 16.5 may be suspended by motion on notice or without notice if at least one half of the whole number of members of the Council are present.  Suspension can only be for the duration of the meeting.

22.2 Amendment

Except where a proposal to change this Constitution is being made by the Constitution Review Group, any motion to add to, vary, or revoke these Council Procedure Rules will, when proposed and seconded, stand adjourned without discussion to the next Ordinary Meeting of the Council, to await a report from the Monitoring Officer or the Constitution Review Group.

(a) All of these Council Procedure Rules apply to meetings of Council.

(b) The rules applicable to Cabinet and Scrutiny Boards are set out in the Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules respectively.

(c) Only Council Procedure Rules 1 - 10; 14; and 16- 21 will apply with any necessary modifications to meetings of committees and sub- Committees.