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STANDING ORDERS OF THE SENATE

 

Sittings Department and Library of the Senate

January 2007
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CHAPTER XII - WRITTEN AND ORAL QUESTIONS

A. -  QUESTIONS FOR A WRITTEN ANSWER

Article 74

1. - Any Senator wishing to table a written question for the Government shall send the text to the President of the Senate, who shall in turn forward it to the Government.

2. - Questions for a written answer must be brief and to the point and must contain no personal allegation relating to third parties identified by name. They may only be tabled by one Senator, and addressed to one Minister. The admissibility of written questions with regard to these conditions falls under the procedure set out in Article 24, paragraph 4 of the present Standing Orders.

Article 75

1. - Questions for a written answer shall be published both during sessions and outside sessions in the Journal officiel;  Ministers' replies must also be published there within a month after the tabling of the question.

2. - However, Ministers shall also be empowered to state in writing that public interest prevents them from replying. Exceptionally, they may request an extended deadline to put together the main features of their response;  this extension may not exceed one month.

3. - Any question for a written answer which has received no reply within the deadlines set out above shall be converted into an oral question if its author so requests. It shall occupy a position on the list of oral questions. The question shall also be placed on the list of questions on the date on which the request for conversion was made.

b) - QUESTIONS ON CURRENT ISSUES ADDRESSED TO THE GOVERNMENT
Article 75a

Twice a month, the Senate agenda shall include questions for the Government on current issues. The Chairmen's Conference shall announce the distribution of the number of these questions among the political Groups and the non-aligned Senators, taking account of their numbers, and shall determine how they are to be tabled and the procedure to be followed during a sitting.

B.  - ORAL QUESTIONS

Article 76

1. - Any Senator wishing to table an oral question for a Minister shall send the text to the President of the Senate, who shall in turn forward it to the Government.

2. - Oral questions must be brief and to the point, and must contain no personal imputation relating to third parties identified by name. They may only be tabled by one Senator and addressed to one Minister. Those dealing with the Government's general policy shall be addressed to the Prime Minister. The admissibility of these questions with regard to the previous procedures shall be assessed in the procedure set out in paragraph 4 of Article 24.

3. - Oral questions shall be placed on a special list in the order in which they were tabled, and shall be published under the conditions set out in Article 75.

Article 77

1. - The morning of the Tuesday sitting shall be reserved as a matter of priority for oral questions. The Chairmen's Conference may defer application of the priority provisions of paragraph 2 of Article 48 of the Constitution to another sitting day.

2. - A decision on placing oral questions on the agenda for the day of this sitting shall be made by the Chairmen's Conference in the light of the list set out in paragraph 3 of Article 76.

3. - Only questions tabled at least eight days before this sitting may be placed on the agenda.

Article 78

1. - The President shall call for questions in the order determined by the Chairmen's Conference. He/she shall announce the number of the tabled question, the name of the author and its short title, and shall identify the member of the Government to whom it is addressed.

2. - The author of the question, or one of his/her colleagues appointed by him/her to substitute for him/her, shall have three minutes to develop their argument. He/she may also speak for a period not exceeding two minutes to answer the Government.

3. - If the author of the question and his/her substitute are absent when the question is called, the question shall automatically be placed further down the list.

4. - If the Minister concerned is absent, the question shall be placed on the agenda of the next sitting when oral questions will be called.

5. - At the request of thirty Senators, whose presence must be confirmed by a roll call, an oral question that has been given an answer may, on a decision of the Senate, be transformed into an oral question with debate:  this shall be automatically placed at the top of the agenda of the next possible sitting of the Senate.

C.  - ORAL QUESTIONS WITH DEBATE

Article 79

1. - Any Senator wishing to ask the Government an oral question followed by a debate shall send the President of the Senate the text accompanied by a request for debate.

2. - Oral questions followed by a debate must be brief and to the point and must contain no personal imputation relating to third parties identified by name. The admissibility of these questions with regard to these conditions falls under the procedure set out in paragraph 4 of Article 24.

3. - The President shall inform the Government of this request immediately. He/she shall also inform the Senate of the text of the question and of the request for a debate on the first sitting day after the request has been tabled.

4. - Oral questions with debate may only be tabled by one Senator and addressed to one Minister. Those dealing with the Government's general policy shall be addressed to the Prime Minister.

Article 80

1. - The date for the discussion of oral questions with debate shall, on the proposal of the Chairmen's Conference, be determined by the Senate either for the same sitting as for oral questions or for another sitting.

2. - However, upon a written request from the author of the question submitted at the same time as the question and countersigned by thirty members whose presence must be confirmed by a roll call, the Senate may, if it has been informed of the question at once by the President, decide by a sitting or standing vote, and without debate, to fix the date of discussion immediately after Government and member's bills placed as priority issues on the agenda of the sitting have been examined.

3. - The Senate shall determine the date without debate on the substance, after hearing the Government, if appropriate.

4. - When fixing dates, no intervention may exceed five minutes. The opportunity to speak may only be extended to the author of the question or a colleague designated by him/her to substitute for him/her, each Group President or his/her representative, and the Government.

5. - If the Senate decides to defer debate on an oral question, the author of the question shall retain the right to table it in the form of an oral question without debate.

Article 81

(Repealed by the Resolution of 21 November 1995)

Article 82

1. - The author of the question may speak for twenty minutes in the debate on an oral question. The Chairmen's Conference may also decide:

- that the provisions of Article 29-1 shall apply to subsequent speakers, or

- to grant ten minutes' speaking time to one speaker per political Group;  the author of the question and speakers from each Group shall have five minutes to reply to the Government.

2. - The right to speak in order to develop the argument shall be a personal matter for the author, but he/she may designate one of his/her colleagues to substitute for him/her in the event of impediment.

3. - Repealed by the Resolution of 21 November 1995.

Article 83

After the last speaker has been heard, the President shall proceed with the agenda.

D. - ORAL QUESTIONS WITH DEBATE ON EUROPEAN MATTERS

Article 83a

1. - Oral questions with debate dealing with European matters shall be tabled in line with the procedure set out in Article 79;  they must focus on a precise European issue and must be addressed to the competent Minister.

2. - The date for discussing them shall be determined under the procedure set out in paragraphs 1, 3 and 4 of Article 80.

Article 83b

1. - The opportunity to speak in the debate on an oral question dealing with European matters shall only be given to the author of the question, a Senator representing the Delegation for the European Union, a Senator representing the competent Standing Committee, the Government, and to one representative from each political Group. Subject to the agreement of the Chairmen's Conference, a Senator representing the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee may also speak if it is deemed competent to participate in the debate.

2. - Each Senator may speak for ten minutes. The Government shall be given an opportunity to speak if it so requests, and without a limit on how long it may do so.

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