Rules of procedure of the constitutional council
Approved at a Council meeting held on 13 April 2011
We, the delegates of the Constitutional Council,
respecting the confidence shown in us by the nation and the Althing by entrusting us with the urgent task of reviewing the Constitution of the Republic,
determined to submit work of high quality within the set limits of time,
in the spirit of constructive and positive co-operation with full regard for principles of non-discrimination,
intending to use judicious discussion and objective criticism to achieve a consensus, rather than force of vote,
citing the ideas of the National Gathering of 2010 and desiring to confer with the nation,
in the hope that an extensive consensus can be achieved on our draft of a new Constitution,
have adopted for the Council the following
ADMINISTRATION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL
Call to order of the Constitutional Council, election of chairman and vice-chairman The senior delegate in age shall call the first meeting of the Constitutional Council to order and preside at meetings until a chairman has been elected.
The chairman shall be elected by ballot from among the Council delegates. The senior delegate shall preside over the election, announce nominations and call for further nominations. A vote shall be taken among the nominated delegates.
The rightfully elected chairman is the candidate who received a majority of the votes of all delegates. If no candidate has received the required number of votes ballots shall be cast between the two candidates who received the most votes. If they receive the same number of votes in the second ballot a vote shall be taken again. If the votes are still equal the chairman shall be selected by casting lots.
The chairman shall preside over the election of a vice-chairman. The vice-chairman shall be of the opposite gender of the chairman; in other respects the election shall, mutatis mutandis, be subject to the provisions of the first and second paragraphs.
Election of committee chairpersons and their alternates.
When a Council meeting has decided on the number of thematic committees and assigned tasks as provided in the second paragraph of Article 4, the chairman shall preside over the election of committee chairpersons and vice-chairpersons from the ranks of the Council delegates. The chairman shall inquire which delegates volunteer for these posts. The chairman and vice-chairman of the Constitutional Council are not eligible to serve as committee chairpersons.
Elections of committee chairpersons and vice-chairpersons are in other respects subject to the provisions of the second, third and fourth paragraphs of Article 1, mutatis mutandis.
The chairman is permitted to recommend to the Council meeting that chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of a committee or committees should be transposed for the purpose of achieving an equal representation of the genders.
Management of the work of the Constitutional Council.
The chairman, vice-chairman and chairpersons of thematic committees, following elections pursuant to Article 2, shall form the steering committee of the Constitutional Council. Vice-chairpersons of the thematic committees shall deputise for chairpersons on the steering committee. The chairman of the Constitutional Council shall serve as chairman of the steering committee.
The principal role of the steering committee is to organise the work of the Constitutional Assembly and direct the work in accordance with the provisions of the resolution of the Althing on the appointment of a Constitutional Council of 24 March 2011 and these Rules of Procedure. The steering committee shall prepare a work schedule to be approved by a Council meeting. The schedule shall be reviewed regularly as work progresses.
The chairman of the Constitutional Council shall report on the work of the Council to the preparatory committee appointed pursuant to Act No. 90/2010.
WORKING PROCEDURES OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL
Council meetings, thematic committees and working groups
Plenary meetings of the Constitutional Council are referred to as Council meetings. The Council meeting is the supreme authority in the affairs of the Constitutional Council. The chairman presides over Council meetings, or the vice-chairman in the chairman’s absence. If the chairman or vice-chairman participate in the plenary debate, they shall relinquish the chair.
The tasks of the Constitutional Council pursuant to the resolution of the Althing on the appointment of the Council shall be assigned to thematic committees. The Council meeting shall decide on the number of committees and assign their tasks. A Council meeting may transfer tasks as the work of the Council progresses.
The steering committee may appoint working groups for specific tasks. The working groups shall appoint their own leaders.
Division of delegates into thematic committees and working groups
The delegates to the Constitutional Council, other than the chairman of the Council, shall select a thematic committee on which to serve. Each delegate shall only have voting rights in a single thematic committee at any time, but all delegates are permitted to attend committee meetings with the freedom to participate in discussions and submit proposals.
The steering committee may take the initiative in changing the composition of a committee in consultation with the persons concerned. Also, a delegate may submit a request to the steering committee to be transferred between committees. Proposals made by the steering committee shall be submitted for comment to all the delegates affected. If a consensus cannot be reached, lots shall be cast between delegates who have expressed an interest in a particular theme.
Rules of order
The chairpersons of the Constitutional Council, thematic committees and working groups shall decide on an agenda and call meetings. The chairman is required to call a meeting and place an item of business on the agenda if requested by a third of the voting delegates with sufficient notice. Council meetings shall be convened by means of a notice with an agenda sent by electronic mail no later than on the day before the meeting. Also, the agenda shall be made available on the website of the Constitutional Council.
A quorum is achieved only if the majority of voting delegates is present. If a consensus cannot be reached regarding an item of business, the issue shall be decided by force of vote.
If the chairman of a meeting is of the opinion that discussions have become excessively prolonged the chairman may move for limitations on speaking times. The motion shall be put to the vote without debate.
In other respects, normal rules of order shall apply, as further decided by the steering committee, at meetings of the Constitutional Council, committee meetings, and meetings of working groups. Delegates are required to attend all their scheduled meetings unless legitimately excused, provided that the Office of the Constitutional Council is notified in advance.
Minutes of meetings
Minutes shall be kept of Council meetings, steering committee meetings and thematic committee meetings. A member of the staff of the Constitutional Council shall keep the minutes. At a minimum, minutes should state the time of the meeting, the agenda, attendees, decisions on procedure and resolutions and any comments that attendees may specifically ask to have noted.
Minutes shall be put to the vote for approval at the following meeting, or as promptly as possible. Minutes shall be published on the website of the Constitutional Council once they have been approved. Drafts of minutes of Council Meetings may be published after delegates have had an opportunity to submit comments.
Publication of documents
Documents of Council meetings and committee meetings shall be published as promptly as possible on the Constitutional Council website. The same applies to any recommendations and communications received by the Council pursuant to Article 10.
Council meetings shall be held in public. Committees and working groups are permitted to open their meetings to the public, in which case the notice of the meeting and agenda shall be published on the Council website no later than the day before the meeting. The steering committee may establish further rules on public access to meetings.
Recommendations and communications
Communications may be submitted to the Constitutional Council. The Constitutional Council, committees and working groups may request recommendations from parties outside the Council and invite guests to attend meetings. The steering committee may lay down rules on these matters.
Broadcasting of meetings and publication on the website
Council meetings are broadcast live and recordings of the broadcasts can be accessed on the Constitutional Council website. When a draft bill for a constitutional act is tabled for formal deliberations, as provided in Article 15, a transcript of the discussions shall be published on the website.
Public meetings of committees and working groups are recorded and recordings are accessible on the Council website.
DRAFT LEGISLATIVE BILL FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL ACT AND ITS PROCESS
Draft legislative bill for a constitutional act
The Constitutional Council will prepare a draft bill for a constitutional act in accordance with the parliamentary resolution on the appointment of a Constitutional Council.
Report of the Constitutional Committee
The Constitutional Council will take delivery of the report of the Constitutional Committee and publish it on the Council website. The steering committee will prepare a proposal on the initial process of the report at a Council Meeting.
Preparation of a draft legislative bill for a constitutional act
A Council meeting shall decide as soon as possible the manner of starting the preparation of a draft bill for a constitutional act. The document that is prepared, with subsequent amendments at any time, shall be known as a progress document and made available on the Constitutional Council website. Proposals for amendments to the progress document from delegates, thematic committees or the steering committee shall normally be tabled for process once a week. The progress document may at any time contain alternative options for individual articles or chapters, provided that each option has the support of a minimum of one fifth of the Council delegates.
The general public may express an opinion on the progress document, its individual provisions and options in public and under their personal names on the Constitutional Council website.
The steering committee shall examine whether and by what means the opinion of the public can be obtained as regards options for individual provisions of the draft bill for a constitutional act or, as applicable, its individual chapters. The steering committee shall submit its proposals on the implementation of this paragraph to a Council meeting in a timely manner.
Submission and process of a draft legislative bill for a constitutional act
The steering committee of the Constitutional Council shall submit to a Council meeting a draft legislative bill for a constitutional act based on the progress document when its preparation has been completed in accordance with Article 14. The draft legislative bill shall be subjected to two readings at a Council meeting.
The first reading shall be divided in accordance with the thematic elements of the draft bill and committee rapporteurs shall present the thematic elements that their committee has discussed, or, as applicable, the chairman of the Constitutional Council. Following the first reading, the draft bill with amendments shall be sent to the Council’s thematic committees for deliberation.
The second reading shall not take place until two days after the reports and recommendations of committees have been published on the Constitutional Council website. At the second reading, individual articles of the draft bill shall be debated, along with any proposed amendments to the articles. At the end of the reading a vote shall be taken on each article of the draft bill and any amendments that may have been proposed. Finally, a vote shall be taken on the draft bill in its entirety with amendments, if any. A roll call may be requested for these votes.
Draft legislative bill of the Constitutional Council submitted to the Althing
When a draft bill for a constitutional act has been passed after two debates at a Council meeting, the Constitutional Council shall deliver the draft bill to the Althing for process. The draft bill shall be accompanied by the Council’s proposal concerning process in accordance with the opinion of the General Committee of the Althing submitted in the course of deliberations of the parliamentary resolution on the appointment of a Constitutional Committee.
STAFF OF THE COUNCIL
The Secretary General of the Constitutional Council shall manage the Secretariat of the Council, its staff and functions and is responsible for its finances and property with the authority vested in the office by the chairman. The Secretary General shall assist the steering committee and Council in all matters relating to the functioning of the Council. The Secretary General, or his or her deputy, shall attend meetings of the steering committee with the right to participate in discussions and submit proposals, and meetings of the Council as an observer.
The Secretary General shall, together with the chairman, ensure that all resolutions passed by the Council are recorded, and the record shall be signed by the chairman and the Secretary General. The Secretary General shall also ensure that all communications and recommendations received by the Council are securely preserved, together with other documents relating to the work of the Council and its functioning.
A committee secretary shall be appointed for each thematic committee to work under the authority of the committee. The secretary is a member of the staff of the Constitutional Council Secretariat. The Chief Legal Counsel of the Constitutional Council acts as secretary for Council meetings and steering committee meetings. The Chief Legal Counsel shall co-ordinate the work of secretaries.
The staff of the Constitutional Council shall assist the steering committee, thematic committees, working groups and delegates as needed in accordance with their job descriptions.
Preservation of documents
On the conclusion of the work of the Constitutional Council, electronic data of the Council, including debates, Council documents, communications and recommendations, shall be preserved and made accessible on a public website. In addition, debates and Council documents shall be printed and bound in a minimum of four copies. One copy shall be preserved by each of the following organisations: the Althing, the National Archives, the National Library and the Municipal Library of Akureyri. The printed copies shall be identified by the title “Journal of the Constitutional Council”. The Secretariat of the Constitutional Council shall undertake this task.
Preparation of the Rules of Procedure and amendment of the Rules
These Rules are established pursuant to a parliamentary resolution of the Althing on the appointment of a Constitutional Council of 24 march 2011.
In the event of a proposal being introduced on an amendment of the Rules, the proposal shall be deliberated and dealt with in a single reading at a Council meeting which shall be called expressly for such purpose.