MAJLIS AL-AYAN THE JORDANIAN SENATE
I - COMPOSITION
40 members appointed by the King (the number of senators must not exceed half the number of deputies).
The King also appoints the President of the Senate from amongst its members.
II - SYSTEM OF APPOINTMENT
Minimum age : 40 years.
Term of office : 4 years.
Last elections : 22 November 2001.
The senators are appointed from amongst :
- present ministers (who exercise the rights attached to the position of senator) and former ministers ;
- ambassadors and ministers plenipotentiary ;
- the Speaker of the House of Deputies ;
- the President and judges of the Court of Cassation, and of the Civil and Sharia Courts of Appeal ;
- retired military officers of the rank of Lt. General and above ;
- former deputies who were elected at least twice as deputies ;
- other personalities in view of services rendered to the Nation and country.
III - PARLIAMENTARY SESSIONS
These are identical for both the Senate and the House of Deputies.
In the event that the House of Deputies is dissolved, sessions of the Senate are suspended.
A - ORDINARY SESSION
An annual ordinary session, four months in length, which commences on 1st October (or the next working day), with the condition that the King may postpone opening of the session for a maximum period of two months.
B - EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
The King may extend an ordinary session for a period no greater than three months in order to enable the conclusion of outstanding affairs. He may convene the National Assembly (composed of the House of Deputies and the Senate) for a particular agenda and for an unspecified length of time. An extraordinary session may be extended by royal decree.
The King may also convene an extraordinary session of the National Assembly at the request of an absolute majority of deputies, provided the issues for which the session is requested are specified.
During an extraordinary session, the National Assembly may only discuss those issues specified in the royal decree convening the meeting.
C - ADJOURNMENT
The King may, by royal decree, adjourn a session of the National Assembly up to a maximum of three times, twice if he has already postponed its opening.
The Senate and the House of Deputies may occasionally adjourn themselves.
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE
A - LEGISLATIVE POWERS
1) Legislative initiative
Conditioned: a group of ten senators or more (likewise a group of ten deputies or more) may propose a bill. This proposal is referred to the competent committee of the House of Deputies (or of the Senate?), which examines it. If the House of Deputies (or the Senate?) accepts the proposal, it refers it to the Government to draft it in the form of a bill and submit it back to the House of Deputies during that session or the following.
2) The right of amendment
3) Legislative procedure
a) Ordinary procedure
In the first instance, the Prime Minister submits a government bill to the House of Deputies. It must, nevertheless, be examined by both chambers.
If either of the assemblies rejects the bill twice whilst the other house accepts it, amended or not, the Senate and the House of Deputies must hold a joint session presided over by the President of the Senate in order to debate the disputed clauses.
Approval of the bill depends on a resolution being passed by a two thirds majority of those present from both chambers. If the bill is rejected, it cannot be presented a second time to Parliament during that same session.
When a bill that is the result of a parliamentary initiative is rejected by both assemblies, it cannot be presented a second time during that same session.
b) Budgetary procedure
The finance bill is presented to the National Assembly at least one month prior to the applicable financial year.
The National Assembly may reduce expenditure if it considers it to be in the public interest, but it may not increase it. Nevertheless, after the close of the budgetary debate, the Assembly may propose a bill for the creation of new expenditures.
During the debate, no proposal shall be accepted for the abrogation of an existing tax or the creation of a new one nor any increase or reduction of existing taxes which are prescribed by financial laws in force, and no proposal shall be accepted for amending expenditures or revenues fixed by contract.
4) King's veto
Within a period of six months from the date of submission of the bill to him, the King may return it to Parliament, along with his reasons as to why he objects to ratification of the law.
In this event, if the Senate and House of Deputies pass the law that has been sent back to them by a two thirds majority of senators and deputies, it must be promulgated. Otherwise, the text cannot be re-examined during that session, although the National Assembly may reconsider it during its next ordinary session.
5) Provisional legislation
In the event that the National Assembly is not sitting or has been dissolved, the Council of Ministers, with the King's approval, has the power to decree provisional legislative measures. These are subject to no deadlines and require no expenditure that cannot be postponed.
Such laws have the strength of legislation, provided they are submitted to the National Assembly at the commencement of the next session and that the Assembly passes them, amended or not.
If the Assembly rejects a provisional law, the Council of Ministers - with the King's approval - will immediately declare it void and, from the moment of this declaration, the text will cease to have effect, provided that such nullity has no affect on contracts or acquired rights.
B - THE POWER OF SCRUTINY
Any senator may put questions concerning any public issue to ministers.
Any senator may interpellate ministers regarding questions concerning the public domain.
No interpellation may be discussed before a period of eight days from the date of its receipt by the minister has passed, except in emergencies and subject to the minister's agreement.
3) The Senate (or the House of Deputies) may submit a petition in response to the Speech from the Throne that is made at the beginning of each ordinary session.
C - DISSOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND REPLACEMENT OF ITS MEMBERS
The King may dissolve the Senate and relieve its members of their senatorial duties.
V - MISCELLANEOUS ARRANGEMENTS
A - AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Constitutional amendments obey the same rules as ordinary bills, provided they are passed by a two thirds majority of the members of each chamber.
When the conciliation procedure is called for, that is, a joint meeting of the two chambers, the vote must also be carried by a two thirds majority.
In all cases, the amendment only becomes effective after it has been ratified by the King.
B - IN RELATION TO THE MONARCHY
1) When the Throne falls vacant
In the event that the King should die without a successor, the Throne devolves to the person chosen by the National Assembly from amongst the descendants of the Founder of the Arab Revolt, the late King Hussein Ibn Ali.
2) Absence of the King
Should the King spend more than four months outside the national territory whilst the National Assembly is not sitting, it must immediately be convened to examine this issue.
3) Replacement of the King
If the King is suffering from a mental illness, he is deposed by a resolution of the National Assembly and replaced by his heir.
C - JUDICIAL POWERS
The High Tribunal, which has competence for trying ministers for offences attributed to them in the course of the performance of their duties, is presided over by the President of the Senate. It also comprises eight members, of which three are elected by the Senate from amongst its members.
D - INTERPRETATION OF THE CONSTITUTION
The Senate (or the House of Deputies or the Council of Ministers) may refer a demand for interpretation of a constitutional clause to the High Tribunal. This resolution must be passed by an absolute majority.
E - SENATE REGULATIONS
The Senate (like the House of Deputies) submits its internal regulations to the King for ratification.