Council sessions are formal meetings of the Military Council. They are distinct from the muster, being shorter and having a broader focus. A Council session is intended to last for no longer than one hour; the Herald of the Council is responsible for ensuring business is presented, discussed and resolved in a timely fashion. The sessions let the military council receive battle reports and other military briefings, as well as allowing them opportunities to propose and discuss strategies for the coming months.
A council session is also an opportunity for representatives of other political bodies to make addresses to, or requests for aid form, of the Military Council. Individuals such as the Quartermaster General of the Imperial Armies may put forward their plans for resupply, or the High Exorcist might offer the generals the chance to receive additional priestly support during an up coming battle.
Member of the Military Council
Only members of the Military Council and civil servants may speak freely during Council sessions. Any title that grants membership of the Council automatically grants the right to speak on any issue being discussed and to participate in any vote brought before the chamber. The current Imperial titles that are classed as a Member of the Military Council are:
Members of the Imperial Synod have the right of witness which grants them the right to attend council sessions, but not to speak. In practice, it is common for any Imperial citizen who is interested in the affairs of the Military Council to attend sessions, provided they do not disturb the meetings. Citizens who are not members of the Military Council or the civil service may only speak in session if they are requested to do so by a Council member with the right to speak and the request receives the assent of the Herald.
Speaking in a Council session
The Herald of the Council acts as an impartial chair to keep the discussions civil and organised. They have the power to silence anyone present in the chamber, or to expel them from the chamber, but such powers are rarely used. The preferred approach in the Council is to allow members to discuss matters freely. The Herald will usually only intervene where a speaker is repeating themselves, attempting to browbeat other council members, or is straying far off the topic being discussed. They are disciplined about keeping the meetings running to time however and will bring a discussion to an end once the allotted time has been used.
The Herald will introduce each agenda item, by stating the nature of the issue that the assembled council members are being asked to discuss. If any member of the Council wishes they may demur, requesting that the Herald strike the item from the agenda. If this happens, the Herald may take a quick show of hands to determine if the majority present wish to continue with the item. If they do not, then the Herald may move to the next item on the agenda. It is not possible to object to the presentation of an address to the Council, only to an item of business on the agenda.
There is no legal requirement for truth, anyone speaking in a Council session is within their legal rights to choose whatever words they feel will suit their cause best.
Setting the Agenda
The Herald of the Council prepares the agenda on behalf of the Council. Any member of the Council may view the agenda and may add something to it by informing the Herald in good time before the Session begins. The Herald will normally try to arrange the agenda so that the least contentious items to discuss are raised first. That way, if less time is required to discuss these items, then time is freed up for discussing other items later. Likewise, they may collate similar agenda items to together for the sake of simplicity and smooth running order.
In addition to the agenda items, there will often be one or more addresses which are usually handled first. The initial address at the Council session following a battle is automatically given over to the Field Marshal. The session after each battle also includes an address by the Herald, where they update the assembled members of the Council with all available information on the progress and outcome of the battle. This address usually involves confirmation of what objectives were achieved. The Herald may also present reports from Imperial scouts, or details about spoils of war.
A discussion may lead to a call from members of the Council to exercise one of the powers of the Imperial Military Council. When this is the case, the Herald may call for a vote.
Powers of the Council
The Military Council has three legal powers that it wields collectively. They are not used in the muster, but they can be employed at any time during a Council session; there is no requirement to raise a specific agenda item. Most often, an opportunity to use one of these powers is raised during a discussion during a session and then voted on.
All these powers require a majority of eligible Council members to vote in favour, otherwise the vote is rejected. When invoking these powers, members of the Council who are not present are counted as a vote against, likewise Council positions which are currently vacant.
The Military Council may be able to directly appoint someone to an Imperial title. An Imperial appointment is voted on by all the members of the Military Council, while a national position is decided by majority decision of the generals of that nation.
An Imperial appointment by the Military Council can normally be revoked by the General Assembly and the Assembly of Nine, while a national appointment can also be revoked by the appropriate National Assembly.
A general or adjutant can use their right of address to make a formal request for the Military Council to pardon an Imperial citizen who has been sentenced to death by penal military service. They must add their address to the agenda for the next meeting in the normal manner, but make clear who they will be seeking a pardon for. It is possible, though rare, to use a single address to request a pardon for a group of individuals provided they can be clearly identified.
Spoils of War
When spoils of war are captured by Imperial armies on campaign, then the legal responsibility to assign them falls to the Military Council. The Herald will add an address to the agenda for the first Military Council session after the muster so that they can present details of the spoils of war. The Council will then discuss them and how they might best be allocated. When this discussion has concluded, the Herald will call a vote as to what method will be used to allocate the spoils.
If the Council are unable to agree a method then the Herald will automatically raise the issue again at the next Council session. If the Council cannot reach an agreement by the end of the summit, then control of the spoils passes to the Imperial Senate who can attempt to dispose of them at the next summit.
Speaking outside a Council session
Members of the Military Council are strongly encouraged to meet and discuss their business outside the regular hours of the muster and the Council sessions. The sessions are intended to be an opportunity for members of the Council to address everyone in a formal setting, they are not meant to be the first opportunity for a general to discuss matters with their colleagues. On occasion the Herald will advise a Council member looking to add a point to the agenda that a matter might be better discussed privately outside of a session rather than raised in Council.
On occasion some Council members will arrange to arrive at a session early, or remain behind after the session is concluded in an attempt to discuss matters with other members of the Council. This practice is encouraged provided it remains a private agreement between colleagues and no attempt is made to create a de facto extension of a muster or Council session. The Herald encourages private discussions between Council members so that discussions in session can be expedited and efficient, not so that they can be dragged out indefinitely.