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Sittings Department and Library of the Senate

January 2007
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Article 29

1. - The Chairmen's Conference is made up of the Deputy Chairmen of the Senate, the Chairmen of Standing Committees, the Chairmen of Special Committees concerned, the Chairman of the Senate Delegation for the European Union, the general Rapporteur of the Finance, Budgetary Control and National Economic Accounts Committee and the Chairmen of political Groups. A meeting of the Chairmen's Conference shall be called once a week, if appropriate, by the President with a view to examining the Senate's work and to make proposals relating to regulating its agenda, together with debates given precedence at the Government's request. The Conference shall also determine the date of the monthly sitting at which precedence is given, in accordance with the final paragraph of Article 48 of the Constitution, to business decided upon by the Senate. The Conference shall take into account the balance between the Groups and put the agenda to the Senate.

2. - The Government shall be notified of the day and time of the meeting of the Chairmen's Conference. It may be represented by only one of its members.

3. - The Chairmen's Conference shall examine the Senate's agenda for the current week and for the two following weeks. To this end, it shall be informed of the matters that the Government has decided to place on the agenda as priority issues. Within the framework of the sittings that it decides to put to the Senate, the Chairmen's Conference shall set out the supplementary bills to be submitted to the Senate in relation to discussion on Government and member's bills and to oral questions. The Conference may also, in respect of certain legislation, determine the conditions for conducting votes.

3a - At the opening of the session or, at the latest, on the following 1 March or after a Government has been formed, the Government shall inform the Chairmen's Conference of the matters that it expects to ask to be placed on the Senate agenda, and the period of time planned for discussion7(*).

4. - In the course of the sitting following the meeting of the Chairmen's Conference, the President shall inform the Senate of the matters that the Government has decided to place on the agenda as priority issues, and shall submit to the Senate the additional bills drawn up by the Chairmen's Conference and the agenda for the monthly meeting referred to in paragraph 1 above. The President shall also announce the decisions reached by the Conference on accepting requests for a vote without debate or a vote after limited debate.

5. - In relation to priority items decided under paragraph 1 of Article 48 of the Constitution, the agenda drawn up by the Senate may only be subsequently amended by a decision of the Government. As far as other matters are concerned, it may only be amended by a vote on the initiative of a Committee, or of thirty Senators whose presence must be established by a roll call.

6. - Any amendment to the agenda, or to decisions relating to the organisation of a vote without debate or after limited debate, shall be notified immediately to the Government, the Chairmen of Groups and Chairmen of Committees. In addition, all Senators shall be informed in writing.

Article 29-a

1. - The organisation of general discussion of legislation submitted to the Senate may be determined by the Chairmen's Conference, which, within the framework of the sittings set out on the agenda, shall fix the total amount of time that speakers from the various political Groups, and those not appearing on the list of any Group, shall have.

2. - This time shall be divided by the President of the Senate in such a way as to guarantee each Group an identical minimum time based on the overall length of the debate. The amount of time that remains available shall then be divided between the Groups and the non-aligned Senators in proportion to their numbers of seats.

3. - Registration to speak shall take place no later than the day before the debate starts. This shall be carried out by the Chairmen of Groups or by the delegate representing non-aligned Senators, who shall in turn inform the President of the Senate of the order in which they want the speakers they name to be called, and the duration of their interventions.

4. - An opportunity to speak shall be given to all registered speakers by calling successively one from each Group and one of the non-aligned Senators, and in an order determined as follows:  

5. - At the beginning of each ordinary session, the Chairmen of Groups and the delegate of non-aligned Senators shall determine the order in which their speakers will follow one another by drawing lots. In each subsequent general debate, this order shall be modified by one place in such a way that each Group shall be placed at the level immediately above, while the Group that was previously at the top shall move to the last place.

Article 30

1. - Immediate discussion of a Government or member's bill may be requested at any time by the competent Committee or, in the case of a text submitted by a Senator, by its author.

2. - The request shall be communicated to the Senate and published. The Government shall also be informed. No ruling may be given on the request for an hour, but after the second reading, this waiting period shall not apply to matters relating to a request for immediate discussion from the Committee.

3. - A Committee may request immediate discussion without the hour's delay of a matter that comes within its competence providing that the request was formulated at least twenty-four hours before the Senate has to give a ruling on it, and has been published in the Journal officiel after the agenda that was previously drawn up.

4. - When immediate discussion is requested by the author of a member's bill without the prior agreement of the competent Committee, the request shall only be communicated to the Senate if it has been signed by thirty Senators whose presence must be established by a roll call.

5. - A ruling shall only be given on the request for immediate discussion after the Government and member's bills placed on the agenda as matters of priority have been examined.

6. - Debate on a request for immediate discussion on a Government or member's bill or a draft resolution must never deal with the substance of the matter:  only the author of the request, one speaker `against', the Chairman or the Committee Rapporteur and the Government may be heard. No explanation of the vote shall be allowed.

7. - When a decision has been reached on immediate discussion, deliberation may take place on a verbal report:  under Article 42, deliberation includes general discussion, an examination of the Articles, and a vote on the whole text.

8. - Provisions on coordination shall apply to immediate discussion.

Article 31

1. - Except in cases of a new deliberation or immediate discussion, and when discussion has been placed on the agenda by the Government as a matter of priority, a Government or member's bill may only be placed on the agenda for a date after distribution or publication of the report.

2. - However, when a Finance Bill is referred to the Senate in conditions provided for in paragraph 2 of Article 47 of the Constitution, a debate shall be scheduled automatically if a request is made to do so by a Senator within ten days of the bill being tabled with the Senate Bureau.

* 7 In its Decision of 15 December 1995, the Constitutional Council stated that: «the information that might be provided by the Government» was no more than «indicative».

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