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 Under the First Republic, the National Assembly and the Senate have important but temporary working tools. It is the commissions of inquiry or control whose members are held incommunicado.
The commissions of inquiry collect information on the facts that determined their creation. They submit their findings to the House from which they come. The role of supervisory commissions is to examine the management of public services. They do not, however, have the power to nominate permanent subcommittees and are necessarily of a temporary nature.
According to the Rules of Procedure of the Assemblies, the creation of these bodies of investigation and control results from the vote of a motion for a resolution which determines either the facts giving rise to the investigation or the services to be checked. When the Minister of Justice announced that legal proceedings were pending on these facts, the Commission of Inquiry closed its proceedings.
However, Organic Law No. 5 of 9 June 1959 imposes certain restrictions on the establishment and functioning of commissions of inquiry. Thus, it is forbidden to set up such a body if the facts give rise to legal proceedings. Like supervisory commissions, they can not be reconstituted for the same purpose “before the expiry of a period of 12 months from the end of their mission”.
Similarly, unless a decision of the Chamber concerned is made, publication of the committee report is prohibited. Those who do or disclose information relating to unpublished work, deliberations, acts and reports are punishable by the penalties of article 378 of the Criminal Code.
As a result, and in general, the public is not informed of the conclusions of the work of these committees. Moreover, “the need to create them is rare in a state where power is strong and public services are well organized and directed” (Bertrand Mounier, Doctor of Law).
Parliamentarians are grouped into groups (political, trade union, etc.), but each can belong to only one. Those who do not belong to any group can be compared to the one of their choice. Thus designated senators form the group of non-members.
However, the structure of the groups remains rather loose, the discipline of voting and speaking is not very strict. Inside the hemicycle, the members of the various groups are dispersed and mixed among themselves, the choice of places seems to result more from personal affinities than from political considerations. “Nevertheless, the groups play an important role in the functioning of the Assembly through the participation of their leaders in the Conference of Presidents and, above all, by the formation of general committees which operate under the system of proportional representation Based on group size. “
Each House has, as it does today, standing and specialized committees whose role is to study draft laws and to prepare the debates. In general, they are insufficient to control a ministry. They may appoint sub-committees and, if they deem it advisable, refer the consideration of certain cases to a special committee formed by the Commission.
Finally, several commissions are sometimes called upon to work together on a given subject. No member of the House of Commons may be a member of, or a member of, more than two committees.
Convened by their chairman, the committees do not have fixed days to meet. All members of the House may attend and participate in debates, but only members of the committee may vote or propose amendments. Likewise, members of the Government have the power to attend their meetings and to speak as much as the Committees may consult with all persons who appear to them useful to hear.
At the end of the debate, decisions taken by an absolute majority, the rapporteur of the committee shall draw up a report as a basis for debate in plenary or public session.
It should be emphasized that Article 35 of the First Constitution stipulates that: “Proposals and amendments formulated by members of the Assemblies shall not be admissible if their adoption would result in either a reduction in public resources or the creation or aggravation of a” A public office. “