I'm looking for the name of something that likely is defined somehwere in Robert's Rules of Order or in some other standard in parliamentary procedure.

Before a vote can take place, there must be a minimum number of voting parties present first. This term is called the quorum, and without it, no vote can take place.

But what about a term defining the extent and scope to which the group may take a vote on? For instance, the Senate cannot get together and vote on whether or not Bulgaria should legalize marijuana, because Bulgaria is outside of their defined scope. The board of a local homeowner's association cannot convene and take a vote on how many illegal firearm their homeowners can possess, because thats a legal issue outside the scope of the homeowner's association.

Whereas quorum defines the number of people required for a vote to take place, I'm hoping there is a word or phrase that defines the scope/domain over which votes can be taken.

Does such a word of phrase exist in politics and governance?

  • It isn't commonly defined in parliamentary procedure. Jurisdiction or competence is usually part of the debate itself.
    – ohwilleke
    May 3, 2021 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


The term is "competence" or "legislative competence". For example, the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament is defined by the Scotland Act 1998.

More generally you can just speak of the "Powers" granted to a body. In the UK, Parliament can pass any bill, even on legalising cannabis in Bulgaria. Of course, the UK government couldn't enforce that act, but Parliament could pass it.

In the USA the Senate derives its power from the Constitution, as agreed by the several states. Its powers, and hence its competency can't exceed what is granted by the Constitution. Moreover, the individual states agree to share their powers with the Union.

So you can say the homeowner's board is not competent to decide how many illegal firearms the homeowners can possess. The board does not have the power to vary federal law or the Constitution.

  • A similar term is "authority".
    – henning
    May 10, 2021 at 18:39

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