The Senate keeps a check on the work of government
The Senate is not empowered to make the government resign. But, in all other respects, the powers of the Senators are identical to those of their counterparts in the National Assembly in supervising the government. This is one of the key roles of Parliame
Senators address written questions to ministers and their replies are published in the Journal Officiel. Every two weeks a public sitting is reserved for oral questions . A debate may be held during certain sittings devoted to oral questions. This gives the event a more political character.
The senators put about 7,000 questions a year to the government.
Question Time on themes of current public interest is also broadcast live twice a month by the television channels Public Sénat and France 3. Questions on European affairs can also be followed by a debate.
In order to keep Parliament fully informed, the government can make announcements to the two houses which are generally followed by a debate. The Prime Minister may ask the Senate to approve a declaration of general policy.
Investigation and Reflection
Each year, the standing committees designate missions of enquiry . Moreover, the members of the Finance Committee can investigate whether government ministries are implementing the national budget as voted by Parliament. The rapporteurs of the Social Affairs Committee have similar powers of supervision over the enforcement of laws financing the national social security system. The Senate may set up commissions of enquiry to collect information on sensitive political or social issues or on the running of public services and state companies. The Senate plays an active part in European affairs, particularly through the work of its Comittee for the European Union. A permanent offshoot of the Senate was set up in Brussels in 1999. It performs a watchdog task on EU legislation, from the drafting stage. It scope of action has been extended to help local authorities obtain access to EU funds.
- Ill treatment of disabled persons, illegal immigration and the role of the pharmaceutical compagnies in the management by the Governement of the influenza A are among topics reviewed by the Senate's committees of enquiry.
- The Parliamentary Office for the assessment of scientific and technological options, common to both houses, seeks to keep their members and the public aware of major new issues.
The Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices (OPECST) :
Consult the program control of the Senate (fr)