The plenary session is the most visible aspect of Parliament's work. Less visible, but of central importance is the work done in committees, since reports drafted by committees provide the basis on which Parliament takes nearly all of its decisions.
As a rule each committee deals with matters that fall within the scope of a corresponding ministry. For instance, the Social Affairs and Health Committee deals with matters that come under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Education and Culture Committee with matters that come under the Ministry of Education and the Administration Committee with matters that come under the Ministry of the Interior.
Each committee has 17 members and 9 alternate members, with the exception of the Finance Committee (21+19), the Audit Committee (11+6) and the Grand Committee (25+13).
A committee constitutes a quorum when at least two-thirds of its members are present. Each MP generally belongs to two committees. The Speaker and Government ministers do not sit on committees, nor do the Deputy Speakers in most instances
Committees generally deal with the matters referred to them as soon as possible. It usually takes one or two months for a committee to finish handling a matter, but urgent matters can be dealt with in just a few days. The handling of major legislative reforms can easily take many months or even years. At the end of the electoral period, bills are allowed to lapse, except for EU affairs.
Committee meetings are not open to the public. Committee reports, statements and minutes are public documents.
The scope of hearings varies: in some cases only one expert may be called, but in major legislative projects a committee may hear dozens of experts.
Experts usually give oral presentations at committee meetings. A committee can also ask an expert for a written statement.
Members have unlimited speaking rights at committee meetings, provided they stick to the point and conduct themselves with dignity and decorum. Members can make different kinds of motions - that a matter be shelved, that particular experts be called or that a proposal be amended or rejected, for example.
The committee conducts a general debate on the basis of the draft report or statement and then proceeds to detailed discussion of the matter, in which it decides on details. If the draft report contains legislation, the committee goes over this section by section.
If a committee does not unanimously decide to dispense with further debate, handling proceeds on the basis of the report or statement that has been approved by the committee, with another general debate followed by detailed discussion.
A matter must be put to a vote if a committee cannot reach unanimity. This requires a motion, which must be seconded. Voting usually takes place by a show of hands, but a roll call is conducted for this purpose if the chairman deems it necessary or a member so demands. The chairman acknowledges votes and announces the outcome. In the event of a tied vote, lots are drawn.
A committee can recommend that a bill be approved as it or with minor or major changes. It can also recommend that a bill be rejected.
A committee report may propose that Parliament issue a statement or adopt a position, for example regarding how the Government should proceed in implementing legislation.
The names of all members and deputy members who have taken part in the decisive handling of a matter are listed in a committee report. A member can also have a dissenting view appended to a report, together with grounds and a motion for a resolution.
When a committee report has been completed, preparation of the matter continues in plenary session. Constitutional Law Committee
Constitutional laws, legislation closely related to constitutional laws, election legislation and legislation concerning the highest organs of government, self-government of the Åland Islands, citizenship, language matters and political parties.
Foreign Affairs Committee
Matters involving the amendment or termination of international treaties and other international obligations requiring Parliament's approval, the management of foreign affairs, security policy, peacekeeping policy, foreign trade policy, development cooperation and international organizations.
Government bills and parliamentary initiatives concerning the state budget and other financial matters, legislation pertaining to taxes and similar charges and state loans.
Oversight of the management of government finances and compliance with the state budget.
Employment and Equality Committee
The work environment, labour and employment, equality and civilian service.
General organization of state administration, state administration at the regional and municipal levels, administrative procedures, state personnel policy, regional and structural policy, public order and safety, rescue services, Frontier Guard, immigration matters, municipal affairs and church matters.
Legal Affairs Committee
Matters involving family, estate, corporate, contract, property, criminal and procedural law as well as courts and tribunals.
Transport and Communications Committee
Road, rail, air and water traffic, navigation and communications.
Agriculture and Forestry Committee
Agriculture and forestry, water resources management, veterinary medicine, hunting, fishing, reindeer husbandry and animal protection.
Military service, Defence Forces and legislation pertaining to emergencies.
Education and Culture Committee
Education, science, the arts, culture, sports, youth work and student aid.
Social Affairs and Health Committee
Social services and healthcare, income support, social insurance and pension legislation.
Banking, trade, industry, business, consumer protection, competition, private insurance, energy, legislation pertaining to the foreign exchange and securities markets.
Committee for the Future
Matters related to development factors and models, futures research and assessment of the social impact of technological development and technology.
Housing, land-use and building legislation, waste management, environmental protection and nature conservation.
|The Finnish Parliament, 00102 Eduskunta, Finland. Telephone +358 9 4321 General disclaimer|