The Government of the Republic of Nauru

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Terminology - a list of parliamentary words

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


absolute majority - More than half the total votes of all those eligible to vote; in a house of Parliament, one more than half the votes of the total number of members of the house, whether they are present or not, as opposed to a simple majority


accountable -  able to be called on to explain ones actions. Ministers are accountable to Parliament for actions they take while in office


Act (of Parliament) - a law made by Parliament; a bill which has passed all three readings in each house and has received the certificate of the speaker. Note, an Act of Parliament may also be call a law, a statute or a piece of legislation


adjourn -  to put off, postpone or defer


adjournment debate - a debate usually at the end of each sitting day of a house when members make speeches about any subject on the motion to end the sitting


appropriation bill - a bill which, when passed by Parliament, will allow the government to spend public revenue from the Treasury Fund


ayes -  the collective vote of members in a house of Parliament who support a proposal



bicameral - having two chambers or houses, especially of a law-making body (such as the Australian Federal Parliament, which has a lower house - the House of Representatives - and an upper House - the Senate. See also unicameral.


bill -  a proposal for a new law which has been presented to Parliament


budget -  a plan placed before Parliament each year showing what money the government expects to receive (revenue) and how the government wants to spend it (expenditure)


by leave -  with the permission of every member present in the chamber


by-election -  a special election held to fill the seat of a Member of the House of Representatives who has died, resigned or vacated his seat



cabinet - the group of ministers appointed by the President


cabinet solidarity - a commitment by individual cabinet ministers to the position adopted by the majority of cabinet


casting vote - a vote exercised by the Speaker or certain committee chairs only when the votes for and against a proposal are equal


caucus - Members of parliament who are in Cabinet or who support government


Chair -

  1. the seat in which the presiding member sits in the chamber
  2. the member presiding in the chamber or in a committee


chamber - the room in which sittings of Parliament are held


clause -  a numbered provision in a bill. Once a bill becomes an Act, a clause is known as a section.


Clerk -  the senior permanent official of Parliament who advises on procedure and records the decisions of the house, and is the administrative head of the Parliament Secretariat


Clerk's certificate -  the statement signed by the Clerk of a house to state that a bill has been by Parliament; every bill must have a final Clerks certificate before it is presented to the Speaker for his certificate


committee of the whole - a committee consisting of all the members of the Houseusually formed to consider a bill in detail.


committee, parliamentary (see parliamentary committee)


common law - law based on custom or court decisions, as distinct from statute law


confidence -  the support of more than half the members on the floor of the House


Congress (USA) -  the national law-making body of the United States of America, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives


conscience vote (see free vote)


constituency -  the electoral division or area, or the people in it, which a member of Parliament represents


constituent - someone who votes, or lives, in an electoral division or area which a member of Parliament represents


Constitution - the set of basic rules by which a country or state is governed


constitutional -

  1. having the power of, or existing because of, the laws set out in the Constitution
  2. in agreement with, or depending on, the laws set out in the Constitution


contempt -  disobedience to the authority or orders of the house, or interference with or obstruction of their work or the work of Members



debate - a formal discussion in the house on a bill or other topic in which different views are put to arrive at a decision


deliberative vote - a vote in Parliament which has as much value as any other vote, as opposed to a casting vote, held by the Speaker and some committee chairs


democracy -

  1. a way of governing a country in which the people elect representatives to form a government on their behalf
  2. a country with such a government
  3. the idea that everyone in a country has equal rights


determination - authoritative decision, rule or arrangement


dissolve the House - to bring to an end the life of the Parliament and make a new election necessary


disallowance - the vetoing of subsidiary legislation by the Parliament, which has the effect of repealing it


division - the separation of the members of a house of Parliament into two groups, for and against a proposal, so that their votes can be counted



estimates -  the sums of money which the government proposes it will need to provide works and services during a financial year



  1. the branch of government which carries out or administers the laws
  2. The President and Cabinet ministers who make policy and control government departments, and who are answerable to Parliament for the way they run the government


executive power -  the power to administer the law, and one of the three powers under the Constitution, the others being the legislative power (exercised by Parliament) and the judicial power (exercised by the Supreme Court and other courts)


explanatory memorandum -  a paper which explains the purpose and details of bills or regulations, usually in a simple and non-technical way



financial power (of the Parliament) - the power of the Parliament to approve all expenditure proposals by the government


financial year -  a 12-month period, usually 1 July to 30 June, at the end of which a government or company balances its accounts and reports on them


first reading -  the first stage in the progress through a house of a bill (also called its initiation), marked by the reading by the Clerk out loud for the first time of the long title of a bill, usually straight after it is presented to the house


floor of the House -  the area containing Members seats and the area in between


freedom of information -  the principle that citizens should have a right to see most government papers and reports, particularly those which relate to their personal affairs


free vote -  a vote in Parliament in which members are free to vote according to their own judgment or belief, and not necessarily according to the guidelines, policies or decisions of their group or party



Gazette -  an official government publication which gives information about government matters and makes government announcements


government business -  business of a house which is introduced by a minister


governor -  the representative of the Queen in a state of the Commonwealth of Australia



Hansard - the official transcript of the debates in Parliament


hearing (of a committee) - a meeting of a parliamentary committee for the purpose of taking oral evidence


honourable -  a title of members of Parliament


House of Commons -  one of two houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom and Canada, in which members are elected on the basis of population


House of Lords - one of two houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom, comprising hereditary, appointed and elected members


House of Representatives -  One of the two houses of the federal Parliament of Australia, whose Members are elected on a population basis



immunity -  the protection of members of Parliament and others from civil or criminal action in relation to their participation in parliamentary proceedings, and the protection of parliamentary proceedings from impeachment or question in the courts (see also privilege, parliamentary)


in committee - the state of a house of Parliament when it has formed itself into a committee of the whole house, usually to consider the detail of a bill


independent (Member) - a member of Parliament who does not belong to a political party


informal vote - in an election, a voting paper which is not counted because it has not been filled in correctly


initiate (a bill) - to originate a bill in either house of parliament


in order -  in accord with the rules, in a correct form or style, as required by parliamentary procedure


inquiry (parliamentary) - an investigation by a parliamentary committee


Interpretation Act - an Act of Parliament which gives guidance as to the meaning of expressions used in other acts and which gives details of procedures to be followed under other acts [Interpretation Act 1971]


introduce (a bill) - to bring in and formally present a bill to a house for future consideration



judicial power - the power to interpret or apply the law in particular cases; one of the three powers under the Constitution, the others being the legislative power and the executive power






legislative power - the power to make and change laws; one of three powers under the Constitution, the others being the judicial power and the executive power


legislative process - the series of actions which result in a law being made


life (of a Parliament) - the period of time from the first meeting of Parliament to the dissolution (breaking up) or expiry of the House


long title (or title of a bill) - the full title of a bill which sets out briefly the purpose or scope of the bill (see also short title)


lower house - a house is a two chamber parliament, usually having more members that the upper house and whose members usually represnet electorates with similiar numbers of voters; for example the House of Representatives is the lower house in the Australian Federal Parliament



Mace -  once a weapon of war shaped like a club, and the symbol of royal authority, but now the symbol of authority of Parliament and its Speaker


ministerial accountability -  the requirement that a minister can be called upon to explain in Parliament his or her actions and those of the department and agencies under his or her control


ministerial responsibility (sometimes used in the same sense as ministerial accountability) - responsibility to the Parliament for actions taken by a minister or on that ministers behalf; the doctrine that the ministers in a government, individually and collectively, depend for their continuance in office on maintaining the support of a majority of Parliament


ministerial statement -  a statement made by a minister to Parliament, often used to announce the governments policies and decisions


motion -  a proposal for action put forward in the Parliament for consideration, debate and decision


move (a motion) - to make a formal proposal



name (a member) - to formally identify a member for disorderly behaviour during a sitting of Parliament, by which action a Speaker sets in train disciplinary proceedings which may result in the suspension of the member from the house


no confidence (motion or vote of) - a means by which Parliament expresses dissatisfaction with the performance of a government; a successful no confidence motion results in the removal of government and a new election of President


noes -  the collective vote of members in a house of Parliament who oppose a proposal by voting no


notice of motion -  an announcement of intention to put forward a motion for consideration, nearly always for a later day


notice of question (see question)


Notice Paper - the document issued each sitting day which lists all outstanding business before Parliament (including orders of the day, notices of motion,as well as questions on notice



Office of Parliamentary Counsel -  an office of lawyers who draft or prepare proposals for new laws


order of the day -  an item of business which the Parliament has ordered to be set down for discussion on a particular day, usually the next day of sitting


out of order -  not in accordance with recognised parliamentary rules



paper - a report or document presented to a house of Parliament


Parliament - the assembly of elected representatives


Parliament House -  the building where the house of Parliament meets


parliamentary committee -  a small group of members of Parliament, which examines, reports on, and makes recommendations about a particular subject


Parliamentary Counsel (see Office of Parliamentary Counsel)


parliamentary democracy -  a system of government in which power is vested in the people, who exercise their power through elected representatives in Parliament


parliamentary government -  a system of government in which the executive government is answerable to the Parliament, in which the government is formed from members of the Parliament, and in which the Parliament is supreme


parliamentary precincts - the area in which Parliament House is situated and over which the Parliament has certain regulatory powers


parliamentary procedure -  rules for and methods of carrying out the business of a house of Parliament


petition -  a document presented to Parliament by a person or group of people asking for action on a matter


point of order -  a question to the Chair as to whether proceedings in a meeting are in accord with the rules or in the correct form


political party -  an organisation which exists to achieve particular public policy objectives by having members elected to Parliament (Note: Nauru does not have formal political parties, but most other parliamentary democracies do)


portfolio -  the area of responsibility or duties of a minister in a government


President -  the head of State and the head of government in Nauru, who is chosen by and from among members of Parliament


private member -  a member of Parliament who is not a minister


privilege, parliamentary -  the immunity of Parliament and its powers to protect the integrity of its processes


procedure (see parliamentary procedure)


proceedings (of a House of Parliament) - the formal actions and decisions of Parliament


prorogue (the Parliament) - to end a session of Parliament without dissolving the House and therefore without a subsequent election


put the question -  ask for a decision on a motion or stage of a bill



question -

  1. a matter, such as a motion or stage of a bill, to be debated and voted on
  2. a request for information directed to a minister. A question without notice is asked orally during Question Time, for immediate answer, and a question on notice is a written question asked of a minister which is answered in writing at some later time


Question Time -  a daily period of time on every sitting day of the Parliament in which ministers are asked questions without notice concerning their responsibilities by other members


quorum -  the minimum number of members, specified by Article 45 of the Constitution of Nauru, who should be in the chamber before it transacts business ( the number of members present, other than the person presiding at the sitting, must be at least on-half of the total number of members of Parliament - in other words, there must be at least 9 members on the floor)



reading (of a bill) - a formal stage in the passage of a bill through a house of Parliament; the first reading occurs when a bill is introduced, the second when it has been agreed to in principle and the third when it has been fully considered and any amendments agreed to; it is usual practice for the second reading of a bill to be moved immediately after the bill has been read a first time


recommit (a bill) - to send a bill back to a committee of the whole so that all or part of the bill can be looked at again


referendum -  a vote by all voters on a proposed law to alter the Constitution


regulation -  a law made under the authority of an Act of Parliament; Regulations are usually made by Cabinet and must be published in the Gazette and tabled in Parliament. Regulations are a form of subordinate legislation


report (of a parliamentary committee) - a statement, usually in writing and containing recommendations, of the results of an inquiry by a parliamentary committee


resolution -  a motion which has been agreed to by Parliament and expresses the will or opinion of Parliament


responsible government - a system where the government is answerable to elected representatives of hte peolel in Parliament for its actions, especially a system where the executive government (Cabinet) is drawn from within the Parliament from members of the party or group which has the support of a majority of the house and must maintain the confidence of a majority of the house.


return to order -  a document produced as a result of an order for the production of documents


revenue -  incoming money; the money a government collects from taxes and other sources


rule of law -  the principle that all people are equal before the law, and that all government action will be undertaken in accordance with the law


ruling (of the Speaker) - a formal decision made by the Speaker, usually on a matter of Parliamentary procedure



schedule (to a bill or Act) - a list at the end of a bill or Act which contains matters of detail


seat - a place for a member in a house of Parliament

second reading (of a bill) -  the second stage of the passage of a bill through Parliament at which time discussion on the principle or purpose of the bill takes place


secretary (of a department) - a public servant who is the administrative head of a government department


secretary (of a parliamentary committee) - a parliamentary officer who looks after the support arrangements for a parliamentary committee, including correspondence, record-keeping, research, and arrangements for meetings where witnesses give evidence, and who often prepares the first draft of a committees report


section (of an Act) - a separately-numbered provision in an Act of Parliament corresponding to a clause in a bill


select committee -  a parliamentary committee established to inquire into and report on a particular subject; a select committee ceases to exist when it has made its final report to Parliament


separation of powers -  the notion that the three arms of government: the executive(Cabinet), the legislature (Parliament) and the Judicature (Courts)are separate and act independently without interference from each other, but also provide certain checks and balances on each other to ensure that state power is not abused.


session - a parliamentary period which starts on the first day of sitting after an election or prorogation and ends at a prorogation or a dissolution of Parliament


short title (of a bill) - the name of a bill by which it is commonly known and indexed as distinct from its long title which describes its scope and purpose


simple majority - in Parliament, more than half the votes of those members present and voting, as opposed to an absolute majority


sitting - a meeting of the Senate or the House or Representatives (a sitting day)


Speaker - the Member who is elected by Parliament as its presiding officer


standing committee - a parliamentary committee appointed by either house or both houses to inquire into and report on certain matters; a standing committee usually continues to exist for the life of a Parliament and in successive Parliaments, until the referant Standing Order or Act of Parliamnt that established the Committee is repealed


standing orders - a collection of rules agreed to by Parliament which govern the way it conducts its business


submission (to a committee) - suggestions or arguments made orally or in writing to a committee


subordinate legislation - subordinate legislation (also called subsidiary legislation) is a collective term for statutory rules, regulations, by-laws and rules. It is made by persons or bodies to whom Parlliament has delegated some of its law-making powers (such as Cabinet or the Supreme Court) The authority totmake subordinate legislation is conferred by an Act of Parliament. Acts are usually general in nature, establishing broad principles. Subordinate legislation will contain the many details necessary to ensure that the Acts can be properly administered and implemented


Supreme Court - the court set up under the Constitution to decide matters arising under the Constitution and to hear certain other matters including appeals from other courts


suspend (a Member) - to remove a Member from a house and so prevent, for a time, his or her performing any duties in, or being present in, the house (usually in response to disorderly conduct by the Member)



table -  present a document or other item to Parliament


terms of reference (of a committee) - the scope for activity and investigation defined for a committee by Parliament when a matter is referred to it for inquiry


third reading -  the final stage in the passage of a bill through a house of Parliament



unicameral -  consisting of one chamber or house, especially of a law-making body


upper house - the second chamber in a two-chamber Parliament; for example the Senate is the upper house in the federal Parliament



voices, on the floor of the House - a decision reached by members saying aye if they support a motion proposed to the House, or no if they do not. The Chair states which side appears to be in the majority and if there is no objection the decision has been made on the voices. If, however, more than one member disagrees, they may call for a division


Votes and Proceedings -  the official minutes of the proceedings of Parliament



Westminster system -  a system of government originating in Britain, the main features of which are a head of state who is not the head of government, and an executive which is drawn from and directly responsible to the Parliament. The word 'Westminster' is the name of the building in which the British PArliament is housed


witness (before a committee) - a person who gives evidence to a parliamentary committee


writs (for an election) - formal orders, issued by the Speaker requiring that an election be held