Parliamentary board of inquiry in France
In France, a parliamentary board of inquiry is a commission formed within the National Assembly or of the Sénat. The parliamentary boards of inquiry have the role “of collecting data elements either on facts determined, or on the management of the public services or the national companies, in order to submit their conclusions to the assembly which created them” (article 6 of the ordinance n°58-1100 of November 17th, 1958). They consequently constitute one of the modes of the control of the government by the Parlement.
The creation of boards of inquiry is often the consequence of serious problems, having had a strong resonance in the public opinion (thus on the heat wave in 2003 or on the Affaire of Outreau in 2005).
Legal bases of the existence and the operation of the boards of inquiry
Appeared under the Monarchy of July, the parliamentary commissions are today controls by article 6 of the ordinance n°58-1100 of November 17th, 1958 relating to the operation of the parliamentary assemblies, which defines their objectives and determines the methods of their operation. The ordinance is supplemented by the Payments of the National Assembly (articles 140 to 144) and of the Sénat (article 11).
Except contrary mention, the quotations come from article 6 of the ordinance of November 17th, 1958.
The creation of a board of inquiry is initiated by the deposit, by one or more members of Parliament, of a motion for a resolution. “This proposal must determine with precision, is the facts which give place to investigation, that is to say the public services or the national companies whose board of inquiry must examine management” (article 140 of the Payment of the National Assembly, article 11 of the Payment of the Sénat).
The proposal is returned to the qualified Standing committees which examine its. After report/ratio of the Standing committee, it is subjected to the vote of the National Assembly or the Sénat.
There exist two conditions of admissibility.
Initially, under the terms of the principle of the Séparation of the capacities, and in particular of the principle, devoted by the Constitution, of “independence of the legal authority”, “it cannot be created of board of inquiry on facts having given place to legal proceedings and as a long time as these continuations are in hand”. Moreover, “if a commission were already created, its mission ends as of the opening of legal information relating to the facts on which it is charged to inquire”.
Then, “they cannot be reconstituted with the same object before the expiry of a twelve months deadline as from the end of their mission”.
If the motion for a resolution is admissible, and if the creation of the board of inquiry is approved by the assembly concerned, it is then proceeded to its constitution.
The maximum manpower of a board of inquiry is fixed at 30 with the National Assembly and 21 with the Sénat.
Its members are designated in order to ensure a representation proportional of the political groups within the commission.
Once constituted, the commission elects its office (president, vice-presidents, secretaries) and appoints a rapporteur. In 2003, the Payment of the National Assembly was the subject of one modification on the initiative of its president, Jean-Louis Debré. The president's function or that of rapporteur from now on is reserved for a member of the group to which belongs the author of the motion for a resolution, which results in to make it possible the opposition to exert one or the other of these functions, in order to increase “the pluralism of the boards of inquiry and thus the effectiveness of their investigations” (explanatory memorandum of the motion for a resolution of February 12th, 2003).
Course of work
Within the framework of their work, the commissions carry out in particular hearings (public, except contrary decision, and, if necessary, televised), with displacements in France or abroad, with investigations into parts and on the spot. To conclude their mission, they profit from wide powers to carry out investigations.
They thus have a right of quotation: “any person whose board of inquiry considered to be hearing useful is held to submit with the convocation which is delivered to him”; “she is heard under oath”; “it, moreover, is held to deposit” (subject to the professional secrecy). These obligations are matched penal sanctions.
The commissions can also call upon the Court of Auditors, in particular to ask him to inquire into the management of the services or organizations which it has the role of controlling.
Lastly, their rapporteurs have the capacity to inquire into parts and on the spot. Within this framework, “all the information likely to facilitate mission must be to them provided”, and “they are entitled to be made communicate all documents of service, except for those covering a secret character and relating to national defense, the foreign affairs, the internal security or external of the State, and subject to the respect of the principle of the separation of the legal authority and other capacities”.
Conclusion of work
The boards of inquiry are temporary. Their mission ends by the deposit of their report/ratio or with the expiry of a six months deadline as from the date of the adoption of the resolution which created them.
The reports are published, except contrary vote of the National Assembly or the Sénat made up in secret committee.
They generally comprise suggestions intended to cure the noted dysfunctions.
Parliamentary boards of inquiry under XIIe legislature (2002-2007)
the dates mentioned are those to which the resolutions were voted creating the boards of inquiry .
Board of inquiry into the conditions of the presence of the wolf in France and the exercise of the pastoralism in the mountainous areas (2002)
- Board of inquiry into the economic and financial causes of the disappearance of Air Lib (2003)
- Board of inquiry into the management of the state enterprises in order to improve the system of decision making (2003)
- Board of inquiry on the application of the measures recommended as regards the maritime transport of the hazardous substances or pollutants and the evaluation of their effectiveness (2003)
- Board of inquiry on the medical and social consequences of the heat wave (2003)
- Board of inquiry on evolution of the local tax system (2005)
- Board of inquiry into the causes of the dysfunctions of justice in the business known as of Outreau (2005)
- Board of inquiry relating to the influence of the movements in sectarian matter and to the effects of their practices on the physical and mental health of the minors (2006)
Board of inquiry into the national policy of fight against illicit drugs (2002)
- Board of inquiry into the ill-treatment towards the handicapped people accommodated in institution and the means of preventing it (2002)
- Board of inquiry on clandestine immigration (2005)
Some parliamentary Boards of inquiry former to 2002
- Board of inquiry into the situation of energy in France (1974)
- Board of inquiry created following the shipwreck of an oil tanker on the coasts of Brittany on March 16th, 1978 (Amoco-Cadiz) (1978)
- Board of inquiry into the activities of the civic service of action (S.A.C.) (1981)
- Board of inquiry into the financing of the political parties and the electoral campaigns under Ve République (1991)
- Board of inquiry into the attempts at penetration of the Maffia in France (1992)
- Board of inquiry into the delocalizations abroad of economic activities (1993).
- Board of inquiry into the sects (1995)
- Board of inquiry into Super-Phenix and the die of the fast reactors (1998)
- Board of inquiry into the use of the public funds and the management of the public services in Corsica (1998)
- Board of inquiry into some practical of the national and multinational groups industrial, services and financial and their effects on employment and town and country planning (1999)
- Board of inquiry into the situation in the French prisons (2000)
- board of inquiry into the recourse to the animal flours in the food of the livestock, the fight against bovine spongiform encephalopathy and the lesson of the crisis in terms of husbandries and public health (2001)
- Board of inquiry into the energy policy of France (1998)
- Board of inquiry into the detention conditions in the penal establishments in France (2000)
- Board of inquiry into the conditions of use of the animal flours in the food of the livestock and the consequences which result from it for health from the consumers (2001)
Présentation of the boards of inquiry into the site of the National Assembly
- Présentation of the boards of inquiry into the site of the Senate
- Liste of the boards of inquiry create under the Ve République
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