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STANDING ORDERS OF THE SENATE

 

Sittings Department and Library of the Senate

January 2007
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CHAPTER VII - DISCUSSION OF GOVERNMENT AND MEMBER'S BILLS

Article 42

1. - Bills submitted on behalf of the Government and tabled with the Senate Bureau, Government and member's bills transmitted by the National Assembly, and member's bills and draft resolutions presented by Senators shall be debated in a public sitting as follows:  

2. - Government and member's bills transmitted by the National Assembly and accepted by the Government shall be the subject of a discussion opened by the Government, and continued through the presentation of the competent Committee's report. In all other circumstances, discussion shall open with the presentation of the Committee's report, subject to the provisions set out in paragraph 4 below.

3. - When the report has been printed and distributed, the Rapporteur shall complete it and comment on it;  a formal reading being excluded. Except where a contrary decision has been made by the Chairmen's Conference, the Rapporteur's presentation shall not exceed twenty minutes. When the procedure goes on to a discussion of the Articles, the Rapporteur must inform the Senate of the current state of the Committee's work after an examination of the amendment and sub-amendments that it has been working on, when it results in a substantial change to the Committee's final report.

4. - When, in accordance with Article 69 of the Constitution, the Economic and Social Council has chosen one of its members to provide the Senate with the Council's opinion on a Government or member's bill that has been submitted to it, the appointment shall be notified to the President of the Senate by the President of the Economic and Social Council. The Economic and Social Council representative shall have access to the Chamber for the entire duration of the discussion in a public sitting. The President shall give the representative an opportunity to speak before the report from the Referrall Committee has been presented. The opinion shall be given in the form set out in Article 50 of the Standing Orders of the Economic and Social Council. In particular, it must report on the positions taken during a session of the Council by groups, and particularly by minorities, on the whole of the text and on its main provisions. At the request of the Chairman of the Referrall Committee, and after the debate has finished, an opportunity to speak shall be given to the representative of the Economic and Social Council to present the Council's point of view.

5. - After the general discussion has ended, the Senate shall pass to discussion of the Articles.

6. - Discussion of the Articles in Government and member's bills shall focus on:

a) the text presented by the Government in relation to Government bills initially tabled with the Senate Bureau, or the text transmitted by the Government if it has been initially rejected by the National Assembly;

b) the transmitted text in relation to Government and member's bills voted on by the National Assembly;

b-1) the text previously adopted by the Senate in relation to Government and member's bills all of which have been rejected by the National Assembly after transmission from the Senate;

c) the text sent back by the competent Committee in relation to Government and member's bills presented by Senators. In these circumstances, when the Committee does not present a conclusion, or if the Committee's conclusions are rejected, the Senate shall be invited to discuss the initial draft of the bill;

d) a text drawn up by the Joint Committee when the Senate discusses the Committee's conclusions.

7. - Discussion shall focus on each Article, and then on associated amendments. However, under Article 44 of the Constitution, and if the Government so requests, the Senate shall express a view on all or part of the text under discussion, retaining only amendments proposed or accepted by the Government. Opportunities to speak on each amendment shall therefore only be accorded to one speaker for, one speaker against, the Committee and the Government.

8. - Each speaker has only one opportunity to speak on the whole of an Article, except in the exercise of the right of reply to Ministers and Rapporteurs, and subject to explanations of votes;  interventions and explanations of votes may not exceed five minutes13(*).

9. - In complex matters, the text must be divided if a request to do so is made. A decision on this may be taken by the President.

10. - After the second reading in the Senate of Government and member's bills, the Articles and budget appropriations to be discussed shall be limited to those for which the two Chambers of the Parliament have not yet adopted a text or identical sum.

11. - It follows that, during the second or subsequent readings, no amendment or additional Article shall be accepted which, either directly or by incompatible additions, calls into question Articles or budget appropriations voted on by one or other Assembly in a text or with an identical sum.

11a. - No exception may be made to the rules set out in paragraphs 10 and 11 for ensuring coordination of the provisions adopted and for carrying out a material correction.

12. - Amendments shall not be admissible, except with the Government's agreement, when the Senate examines a text drawn up by a Joint Committee. When the Senate is invited to express a view before the National Assembly, it shall first give a ruling on the amendments and then, on a single vote, on the whole of the text, only retaining amendments that have the Government's agreement.

13. - After a vote has been taken on all the Articles, there shall be a vote on the whole of the text.

14. - When no additional articles have been proposed prior to the vote on the single Article of a Government or member's bills, this vote shall be equivalent to a vote on the whole text. No additional Article shall be admissible after this vote has taken place.

15. - General considerations may not be presented on the whole of the text;  only brief explanations not exceeding five minutes shall be allowed before a vote is taken on the whole of the text.

Article 43

1. - Before a vote is taken on the whole of a Government or member's bill, the Senate may, at the request of one of its members, decide that the text should be remitted to the Committee for coordination. In the debate on this request, an opportunity to speak shall only be given to the author of the request or his/her representative, a speaker with a contrary view (a maximum of five minutes each), the Chairman or Rapporteur of the Referrall Committee of the bill and the Government. No explanation of the vote shall be allowed.

2. - Remittance for coordination shall be mandatory if the Committee so requests.

3. - If there are grounds for remitting the text for coordination, the sitting shall be adjourned if the Committee so requests:  the Committee's work shall be submitted to the Senate as soon as possible, and debate may only focus on the wording.

4. - Before a vote is taken on the whole of a text, all or part of it may, on the decision of the Senate, be remitted to the Committee for a second deliberation as long as the request to remit has been formulated or accepted by the Government. In the debate on this request, opportunities to speak shall only be given to the author of the request or his/her representative, a speaker with a contrary view (a maximum of five minutes each), the Chairman or Rapporteur of the Referrall Committee and the Government. No explanation of vote shall be allowed.

5. - If there are grounds for a second deliberation, the texts adopted in the first deliberation shall be remitted to the Committee, which in turn must present a new report.

6. - In its second deliberation, the Senate shall only give rulings on the Government's or the Committee's new proposals presented in the form of amendments, and on sub-amendments that apply to the amendments.

7. - Before a vote is taken on the whole of the text, no vote that has already been taken may be returned to without prior remittance to the Committee either for coordination or for a second deliberation.

Article 44

1. - During discussion, exceptions, questions, motions and emergency requests shall be proposed and discussed in the order set out below:

2. - An objection that a question is inadmissible (inadmissibility exception), the aim of which is to demonstrate that the text under discussion, unless it is covered by Article 45 below, is contrary to constitutional, legal or regulatory provision, and whose effect, if it were to be adopted, would be rejection of the text against which it was raised. Unless it emanates from the Government or the Referrall Committee, only one question of admissibility may be put in the course of a given debate before the discussion of the Articles. The vote on admissibility shall take place after short debate referred to in paragraph 8 below;

3. - The preliminary question, the aim of which is to decide either that the Senate opposes the whole of the text or that there are no grounds for continuing the deliberation. It may only be asked once in the course of a given debate before discussion of the Articles or, if it emanates from the Referrall Committee or the Government, either after the Government and Rapporteurs have been heard, or before discussion of the Articles, and, at all events, after discussion of any inadmissibility relating to the whole of the text. A vote on the preliminary question shall take place immediately after the limited debate referred to in paragraph 8. Adoption shall cause the text to which it applies to be rejected;

4. - Incidental and prejudicial motions, the aim of which is to govern a debate with one or more conditions relating to the text under discussion, and the effect of which, if it is adopted, is to defer the debate until the condition or conditions are complied with;

5. - Motions remitting part or all of the text under discussion to the Committee, the aim of which, if they are adopted, is to adjourn the debate until the Committee presents a new report. When a text has been placed as a priority item on the agenda by a decision of the Government, the Committee must present its conclusions during the same sitting, except by agreement with the Government. A request to remit to the Committee emanating neither from the Government nor from the Referrall Committee is inadmissible if there has already been a vote on a request to remit relating to the whole of the text;

6. - Requests for priority or reserve, the effect of which, if they are adopted, is to amend the order of discussion on the Articles of a text or the amendments. When the request comes from the Referrall Committee, priority or reserve are mandatory, unless this is opposed by the Government. In the latter case, the request shall be submitted to the Senate, which shall give a ruling without debate.

7. - The motions referred to in paragraph 4 may only be presented during discussion on Government and member's bills that have been placed as priority items on the agenda following a decision of the Government.

8. - In debates opened under the terms of this Article, only the author of the initiative or his/her representative, a speaker with a contrary view, the President or Rapporteur of the Referrall Committee and the Government may speak. Interventions by the author of the initiative or his/her representative and the speaker with a contrary view may not exceed five minutes on a request for priority or reserve, fifteen minutes in debates on the whole of the Government or member's bill under discussion, and five minutes for all other debates. Prior to a vote on the motions referred to in paragraphs 2 to 4, an opportunity may be given to a representative of each Group to speak on the explanation of the vote for a maximum of five minutes.

Article 45

1. - Any amendment, whose adoption could lead either to the diminution of a public resource not balanced by another resource14(*) or to the establishment of, or increase in, a charge on the public purse, may be the subject of an inadmissibility raised by the Government, the Finance Committee, the Referrall Committee of the text or any Senator. Inadmissibility is deemed to be automatic if it is accepted by the Finance Committee, and as a consequence no debate takes place. If the Finance Committee recognizes it as admissible, the amendment shall be scheduled for debate.

2. - When the Finance Committee is unable to announce its conclusions on the admissibility of the amendment immediately, the Article under discussion shall be reserved. When the Finance Committee believes that there is doubt, its representative may ask to hear the explanations of the Government, and of the author of the amendment, who may speak for five minutes. If the Finance Committee representative believes that there is still doubt, the amendment and the corresponding Article shall be reserved and remitted to the Finance Committee. In the cases referred to in this paragraph, the Finance Committee must announce its conclusions on admissibility before the end of the debate;  if it does not do so, the inadmissibility will be tacitly allowed.

3. - The rules set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article shall also apply to the discussion of a member's bill tabled by a Senator.

4. - The procedure follows the same rules when the Government or any Senator opposing an amendment or an additional Article, raises a question of admissibility based on one of the provisions of the Organic Law relating to Finance Laws.

5. - Inadmissibility as set out in paragraph 1 of Article 41 of the Constitution may be opposed by the Government to a proposal or an amendment before discussion on it begins in a public sitting. When it is opposed in a public sitting, the sitting shall be adjourned, if appropriate, until the President of the Senate rules whether the inadmissibility is opposed to a proposal;  if it is opposed to an amendment, discussion on the amendment and, if appropriate, on the Article attached to it shall be reserved until the President of the Senate has given a ruling.

6. - In none of the cases referred to in the preceding paragraph are there grounds for a debate. The President of the Senate may consult the Chairman of the Committee for Constitutional Acts, Laws, Legislation, Universal Suffrage, Standing Orders and General Administration or a member of the Bureau specially assigned to that task15(*). Inadmissibility is automatic when it is confirmed by the President of the Senate. If the President of the Senate and the Government disagree, the Constitutional Council shall be informed under a procedure set out in Article 42 of the Constitution, and discussion shall be adjourned until the Council's decision, which must be communicated to the Senate by the President immediately, is known.

7. - The inadmissibility of amendments set out in Article L.O. 111-3 of the Social Security Code may be raised by the Government, the Social Affairs Committee, the Referrall Committee or any Senator. Inadmissibility shall be allowed as a matter of right without recourse to debate if it is confirmed by the Social Affairs Committee. The amendment shall be listed for discussion if the Social Affairs Committee does not recognise the inadmissibility.

8. - If the Social Affairs Committee is unable to announce its conclusions on the amendment's inadmissibility immediately, the Article under discussion shall be reserved if the Committee believes that there is doubt;  its representative may ask to hear the explanations of the Government, and of the author of the amendment, who may speak for five minutes. If the Committee representative believes that there is still doubt, the amendment and the corresponding Article shall be reserved and remitted to the Committee. In the cases referred to in this paragraph, the Committee must announce its conclusions on admissibility before the end of the debate. If it does not do so, the inadmissibility shall be tacitly allowed.

9. - In cases where a member's bill tabled by a Senator is being discussed, the rules set out in paragraphs 7 and 8 of this Article shall also apply to the text under discussion.

Article 46

1. - Amendments relating to expenditure may only refer to budget appropriations that are the subject of a vote under the provisions of Article 43 of the Organic Law relating to Finance Laws.

2. - Amendments dealing with mission funds above the amount that the Government has undertaken to cover are inadmissible, and may not be put to the vote by the President.

Article 47

When the Senate has submitted to it a Government bill authorising ratification of a treaty concluded with a foreign power, there shall be no vote on the Articles of the treaty, but only on the bill authorising ratification.

Article 47a

1. - When applying the provisions of Article 42 of the Organic Law relating to Finance Laws, a vote shall be taken on the whole of the first part of the year's Finance Bill under the same conditions as for the whole of the Government bill. The second deliberation shall be as a matter of right if requested by the Government or the Finance Committee.

2. - If the Senate does not adopt the first part of the Finance Bill, the whole of the Government bill shall be deemed to have been rejected16(*).

3. - Before a vote is taken on the whole of the Finance Bill, the provisions in paragraphs 4-6 of Article 43 may only be applied to Articles in the first part of the Bill, although coordination may take place at the request of the Government or the Finance Committee.

Article 47a-1

When applying the provisions of the Organic Law relating to Finance Laws, the Chairmen's Conference shall, on a proposal from the Finance Committee, determine precisely how discussion on the year's Finance Law will proceed.

* 13 A new paragraph arising from the Resolution of 25 April 1973, and declared to be compliant with the Constitution by the Constitutional Council (Decision of 17 May 1973), subject to the following comments: «Considering that such restrictions on the number of speakers able to speak in certain phases of debates must necessarily be understood subject to the provisions of Article 31 of the Constitution, under the terms of which members of the Government shall be heard by both assemblies when they so wish.»

* 14 In its Decision of 2 June 1976, the Constitutional Council declared that this provision is not contrary to the Constitution: «... providing, however, both that the resource designed to balance the diminution of a public resource is genuine, and that it benefits the same collectivities and bodies as those to whose advantage the resource that is the subject of a diminution is received, and that compensation is immediate».

* 15 The Constitutional Council considered, in its Decision of 15 December 1995, that: «these powers [of consultation] shall not challenge the personal prerogatives that the President of the Senate enjoys under Article 41 of the Constitution.»

* 16 In its Decision n° 92-309 DC of 9 June 1992, the Constitutional Council stated that the Resolution adopted by the Senate on 14 May 1992 excluding corrected Finance Bills from the scope of this Article ran counter to the Constitution. The Council considered that: «by generally and absolutely excluding corrected Finance Bills from the scope of the rules set out in Article 47a of the Senate Standing Orders, the Resolution submitted for examination by the Constitutional Council misunderstood the combined provisions in Articles 1, 2 and 40 of Ordinance n° 59-2 of 2 January 1959 on the Organic Law relating to Finance Bills.»

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