SAINT LUCIA SENATE
I - COMPOSITION
11 senators appointed by the Governor General.
II - SYSTEM OF APPOINTMENT
Term of office : 5 years.
Most recent appointment date : 3 December 2001.
Criteria for eligibility : 21 years of age, a citizen of the British Commonwealth, residence in Saint Lucia for 5 years prior to appointment.
Criteria for ineligibility : allegiance to a foreign State, undischarged bankruptcy, mental illness, death sentence, prison sentence of more than one year.
Criteria for incompatibility : senior civil servants, minister of religion (on the other hand, ministers and parliamentary secretaries (secretaries of State) are selected from the senators and members of the lower house. However, neither the president nor the vice-president of either house of parliament (elected by them during the first session following a general election) may be members of the government).
Disputes regarding the validity of the appointment of senators fall within the competence of the Supreme Court.
III - ORGANISATION OF SESSIONS
A - The parliament may not fail to sit for more than 12 consecutive months .
B - LEGAL SESSION
The Senate is legally in session at the most one month following parliamentary elections.
C - ADJOURNMENT
The sitting must be adjourned if a quorum of 6 members is not present.
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER
AND THE EXECUTIVE
The Saint Lucia parliament comprises Her Majesty the Queen of England, the Senate and the lower house.
A - LEGISLATIVE POWERS
Limitations to the legislative powers of the Senate.
1) The right to propose legislation
The members of parliament have the right to propose legislation.
But the powers of both chambers of parliament are limited in budgetary and financial matters in respect of any reform which, in the judgement of the president of the sitting, would lead to a change in fiscal law (other than a reduction of taxes), to an increase in public expenditure, to a reduction in public resources, or would relate to the public debt.
2) Right of amendment
Members of parliament have the right of amendment but this power is limited in budgetary and financial matters in respect of any amendment which, in the judgement of the president of the sitting, would lead to a change in fiscal law (other than a reduction of taxes), to an increase in public expenditure, to a reduction in public resources, or would relate to the public debt.
3) Legislative procedure
Draft legislation may be introduced in either of the chambers of parliament, with the exception of finance bills, which are introduced in the lower house.
The president of the sitting does not take part in the vote, except when a casting vote is necessary.
a) Normal procedure
A bill is deemed rejected by the Senate if its amendments are not adopted by the lower house.
Legislative reform is passed regardless of Senate opposition if the bill has been adopted by the lower house in two successive sessions and rejected by the Senate in each of these sessions, provided that the bill has been sent to the Senate at least one month before the end of the session, and that a period of six months has elapsed between each adoption of the bill by the lower house.
However, before the second reading of the bill by the Senate, the lower house may suggest amendments to the Senate which, if adopted by it, will be treated as Senate amendments approved by the lower house.
b) Special measures in budgetary matters
Special time conditions are stipulated for the adoption of finance bills by the Senate: if a bill adopted by the lower house and sent to the Senate at least one month before the end of the session has not been adopted by it without amendment, within one month of its being sent, it is presented to the Governor General for signature, provided the lower house has not decided otherwise.
B - SUPERVISORY POWERS
The Cabinet (composed of the Prime Minister and other Ministers) has collective responsibility before parliament (but only the lower house has the right to vote on a motion of censure).
C - DISSOLUTION AND PROROGATION
The Governor General may, at any time, dissolve parliament with the Prime Minister's consent.
The Governor General may, at any time, prorogue the mandate of the parliament.
In the event of war, prorogation of the legislature is possible for periods of twelve months renewable (for a total of five years at most)
V.- SPECIAL MEASURES
A - REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION
The vote, on the final reading, on amendments to the Constitution (and on those to legislation relating to the Supreme Court) must obtain a three quarters or two thirds majority of the members of each assembly, depending on the provisions forming the subject of the amendment. The president of the session does not have the right to a casting vote in the event of the vote being equal.
If a proposed constitutional amendment has been rejected by the Senate on two successive occasions, it can only be confirmed by referendum (this measure applies only for amendments to some of the provisions of the Constitution).
B - STATE OF EMERGENCY
A State of Emergency is declared by The Governor General.
Declaration of a State of Emergency shall cease to be effective if it has not been approved by the Senate and the lower house :
- within a period of 7 days of publication when parliament is in session,
- within a period of 21 days in other cases.
C - PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONER
The Parliamentary Commissioner of Saint Lucia is an official of the parliament, concentrating exclusively on this task, appointed by the Governor General after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the lower house.
He is responsible for investigating any decision or action of the government or of the public authorities, either on an individual complaint, or on referral by a senator or by a member of the lower house.
He has the power to call witnesses, to investigate written evidence and on site, on condition that there is no interference with judicial proceedings.
The following matters are excluded from his powers of investigation:
- external relations,
- if there is a judicial investigation on the same subject,
- the Governor General's Right of Reprieve,
- armed forces,
- appointment, remuneration and career of public servants.