Alongside the Crown and the other constitutional bodies, the Italian political system has placed the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies: that is, it has adopted, like most modern states, the bicameral system, so that the two chambers can balance and integrate better political representation and, at the same time, so that the legislative work is more thoughtful and perfect. This of course matters that the two chambers, which, although they are often designated with the comprehensive word “parliament”, are separate bodies, independent of each other and not subordinate to each other, are formed differently. Referring for more details to the respective voices (chamber; senate), it is good to clarify these points here: the Senate, by royal appointment, has remained unchanged in its form, in its essential lines and in its functioning, which was created by the statute; the elected Chamber of Deputies has instead undergone a profound transformation; the constitutional position of the parliament then, in its relations with the government, has essentially changed, as we have said when speaking of the government.

The chambers are organs of the state, but they are not juridical persons: they are essentially legislative organs, since their ordinary competence is to cooperate in the legislative function; however, they also have administrative functions (especially for their own internal organization, but also in other matters, for example in enacting the laws relating to the endowment of the Crown and the prerogatives of the royal princes, the changes in administrative districts, the approval of budgets, all acts which are essentially administrative acts), and the Senate also has judicial powers. They enjoy autonomy by which they have the right to determine the way in which their powers are exercised by means of internal regulations. However, this autonomy has constitutional limits: first of all in the powers of the Crown, which must maintain coordination between the various organs of the state and on which only the determination of the periods of actual parliamentary work depends, that is, to open and close the sessions (which by now, in practice, coincide with the legislatures): therefore, except in the case of simply updating the work for certain occasions or for the exhaustion of the agenda, the functioning of both chambers is subject to the provisions of the Crown; furthermore, the work of the two chambers must be completed within the same session and any meeting of a chamber outside this period is illegal and the acts are entirely null and void. With the closure of the session or legislature, the Crown determines the forfeiture of all parliamentary work that is still pending before the chambers. A de facto limit is then constituted from the obligation that the chambers have, to ensure the very life of the state, to approve the budgets every year. Furthermore, the autonomy of the chambers finds limits in the powers of the head of the government, as we have seen in his place. Autonomy must therefore be understood rather in the sense of administration and the internal regiment of the assemblies than in the constitutional and political sense.

Legislative power, according to art. 3 of the statute, is exercised collectively by the king and the two chambers. For the art. 10, the initiative of laws belongs to the king, who exercises it through the government, and to each chamber, and it can be exercised by any senator or deputy. There are two limits to this right of initiative: for bills and bills of a constitutional nature, the prior opinion of the Grand Council of Fascism is required, and, as has been said, no bill can be placed on the agenda of a chamber without the prior adhesion of the head of government. A bill can be presented by the government indifferently to one or the other chamber, but, according to art. 10 of the statute, the laws concerning the imposition of taxes (and therefore also the issuance of loans) and the approval of budgets and accounts (see budget) must first be presented to the Chamber of Deputies. The king participates in the legislative power also and mainly with the sanction, that is with the approval of the bill, which occurs with the affixing of the sovereign’s signature. It is a legally free act, as the king could also deny it. Once the law has become perfect with the sanction, the king, as the supreme organ of the executive power, proceeds to promulgate it, that is, to make it executive and obligatory, ordering its publication, which is carried out by the Minister of Justice. In promulgating the constitutional laws, the explicit indication that the Grand Council of Fascism has expressed its opinion is required.

Alongside the legislative function, the chambers also have what some call a political inspection function, by means of which they exercise control over government action; it is expressed in verbal and written questions, in interpellations, in motions and in the right of inquiry. However, it seems more appropriate to the current relations between the powers in Italy to consider such institutes, rather than the manifestation of an inspection function, as means that the chambers have for obtaining news and communications. A real form of political and financial control in relation to the budget is rather that which the parliament exercises over the conditional registrations made by the Court of Auditors (see court, XI, p. 543 et seq.).

Italy Parliament

Italy Parliament
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