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23 JUNE 2017

XII LEGISLATURE

FAQ

Parliamentary activity

Which information is provided through the calendar of activities? Is it possible to view the agendas for Plenary Sittings and Committee meetings?

The homepage provides access to an interactive calendar of activities which shows the meetings that have taken place or which have been convened. Plenary Sittings are shaded red and the days which contain information about an activity are underlined. Having selected a day or week, you can view the scheduled time of the meeting, as well as the agendas for Plenary Sittings and meetings of the Committees and Reporting Bodies.


Another way to view the agenda is to click on the "Agenda" button located in the news area of the homepage. Next to each scheduled meeting date, you will see the channel on which it will be broadcast (internet, satellite or fibre optic).


In addition to the general calendar of activities, which shows parliamentary meetings, institutional activity and international activity, the diary of the Speaker of the Senate and press conferences convened, in the different sections of the webpage you can view interactive calendars by type of activity (for the Plenary Sitting, the Permanent Deputation and official publications), and the agendas for the meetings convened (in the "Committees and Reporting Bodies" section”).

 

How can I follow a live broadcast of a Plenary Sitting? What about a Committee meeting? Can video clips be saved and sent?

To make it easier to follow Senate activity in real time, a special section has been created, called “El Senado en directo”.


They can be broadcast over the internet (streaming), with up to four Sittings simultaneously. The broadcast schedule is posted in advance in the "TV Senado Schedule” section.

 

The system has the option for storing videos on the user’s hard drive in mp4 format.


Once the Sitting is over, you can access the videos by viewing the corresponding Plenary Sitting or Committee meeting, as well as the specific initiative or bill that was debated. This makes it easier to obtain all the information generated around the debate of an initiative since, together with the video, you can access the Journal of Sittings, the results of any ballots held, approved texts and wording, and all the documentation related with the matters discussed.


Finally, the Senate also broadcasts live on Hispasat satellite (frequency 11,972 on Vertical, Fec 3/4, symbol rate 27,500).

How to find an initiative or bill?

The webpage has been designed to provide citizens with quick, easy and understandable access to all the activity that goes on within the Senate.


The browsing model allows users to reach the very heart of parliamentary activity, which is the discussion and channelling of different initiatives and bills which are presented in the Senate, through different parts of the website:


1) Directly, from the homepage, you can search the site by entering free text into the search box.
2) You can view which initiatives and bills are being debated and which have already been debated on the homepage as well as the side-bar menu through the "News" section.
3) The Agendas of the different Plenary Sittings contain information about each of the matters discussed, as well as speakers, videos, journals of sittings, the results of any ballots held and approved texts and wording. You can also find links to full information about each initiative or bill.
4) Each Committee has a similar local browsing system to the one used to access the activity of the Plenary Sitting, where you can view all the bills and initiatives which are currently being debated or which have already been debated.
5) The details provided for each of the Senators contain a tab dedicated to their parliamentary activity, where you can view all the initiatives and bills they have presented. There is a similar tab in the details for each Parliamentary Group in the Senate, where you can view all the initiatives and bills authored by each Group, as well as by the Senators who are a member of said Group.
6) Finally, there is a specific search engine which allows you to find any initiative or bill which has been or is currently being debated, searching by date, author, or competent body to find out the issues encompassed and type of initiative. The search results provide access to all the information available about the initiative or bill in question.


The details of each initiative or bill are presented in the same format. At the top you will find information identifying the initiative or bill, showing the title and its author, status, type of initiative or bill, dates on which it was presented and classified, the file number, procedure and body responsible for channelling it, and a description of the subject matters it covers. The table also includes a link to "Documents" where you can view all the written documents presented with regard to the initiative, as well as a link to any "Related files" there might be. For bills and initiatives introduced through previous Legislatives, you will also find its archive number.
 

Below that, you will see the details of its debating and channelling procedure, which varies in complexity depending on the type of initiative or bill involved. These details are presented in chronological order and include links to all texts, publications and videos that exist in relation to each initiative or bill.

 

Can I find out which initiatives and bills have been presented by each Senator? And by each Parliamentary Group?

The details for each Senator contain a tab dedicated to their Parliamentary Activity, where you can view any initiatives and bills they have presented, with links to the relevant file, the Journal of Sittings and short videos.


There is a similar tab in the details for each Parliamentary Group in the Senate, where you can view all the initiatives and bills authored by each Group, as well as by the Senators who are a member of said Group.

 

Which are the official publications and where can I find them?

Within the sphere of Parliament, the official publications are the Official Bulletin of Parliament (BOCG), which in turn is divided into three sections (Parliament, Congress of Deputies and the Senate), and the Journal of Sittings.
 
The Official Bulletin of Parliament - Senate section - is the official publication which reproduces all the texts and documents which must be published in accordance with the Senate Standing Orders, for their due knowledge and adequate parliamentary processing, or when publication is so ordered by the Senate Speaker. Since 1st January 2011, they have been published exclusively in electronic form on the Senate's webpage, and are divided into six sections: legislative bills, motions, authorisation, other parliamentary activities, rules about parliamentary matters, and Senate Administration.
 
The Journal of Sittings contains the transcriptions of the House Plenary Sittings, sessions of the Permanent Deputation and meetings of Committees which are not classed as secret. It reproduces the interventions of speakers, keeping a record of any incidents and the results of any ballots held.
 
The official Senate publications are accessible from the homepage of the Senate website in the "Parliamentary Activity" section. They encompass all the House's activities since the Constituent Legislature of 1977. In relation to the Official Bulletin of Parliament, Senate section, the webpage offers the possibility of searching for specific text, or by date using a calendar. You can also ascertain the authenticity of copies using the electronic verification code (CVE). To access the official publications for the Congress of Deputies and the Parliament (also available exclusively in electronic format since 1st August 2012), a link is provided to the webpage of the Congress of Deputies.
 

The official publications of the Senate during the historical period, between 1834 and 1923, can be accessed through the "Archive" section: "The Senate in History".

Which information does the Senate provide about its international and institutional activity?

The homepage provides direct access to the international activity of the Senate, offering information about the different inter-parliamentary assemblies and conferences, and the Friendship Groups created with other countries with which the Senate has a particular history of collaboration.


The calendar of activities also shows any scheduled international trips and visits, as well as institutional activity. Both types of activities will be highlighted in the News area when they are particularly important.
 

What kind of news information does the webpage provide? Where can I view the latest news?

The homepage has direct access to all the news content.


It occupies a prominent position on the image carousel, associated with an explanation (slider), which communicates the most relevant news items.


Access to the "News" section provides information about the Senate's activity and Parliamentary Administration which might be of interest to citizens, such as Open Days or staff recruitment procedures. There is also direct access to the calendar of activities and the daily diary, which allows you to view the agendas for meetings, as well as a list of bills currently being debated. There are also schedules for live broadcasts and the scheduling for TV Senado.

 

Can I view acts and bills which are currently being discussed or which have already been passed?

The homepage of the website provides direct access to all the information related with acts and bills which are being debated in Parliament as well as acts that have already been passed and published in the Official State Bulletin.


In the section on "Acts being debated", you will find a list of all the legislative bills which have been entered into the Senate and which have not yet been published in the BOE. There is also a link to the webpage of the Congress of Deputies to view any bills presented through this House which are still being debated in their first reading.


The title of the bills provides a link to a page which shows all the documents and official publications associated with the debate, as they have passed through Congress and Senate, as well as details of the sessions and sittings at which they have been debated, including videos of the sessions.


The "acts passed" section shows all the acts that have already been published in the BOE, ordered chronologically starting with the most recent one. There is also a free text search box. By clicking on each of the acts, you can view the complete debate and channelling of the bill, as well as the publication of the act through a link to the webpage of the Official State Bulletin.
 

What are the stages in the Senate's legislative procedure?

The legislative procedure is the succession of parliamentary acts required for the House to pass a law. The necessary elements are publicity, the possibility of proposing amendments (about the whole or specific sections or wording), contradictory debate and ballot. It is carried out through different bodies: Reporting Body, Committee and Plenary Sitting.


In the Senate, the legislative procedure takes place within a period of two months, which is shortened to twenty calendar days in emergency situations.


Details of the different types of legislative procedures can be found in the "Key issues" section of the "Get to know the Senate" block.

 

Parliamentary administration

What details does the Senate provide about its Administration?

The webpage contains information about the organisation of its Administration, staff recruitment and economic and contractual aspects. Specifically, it provides the following information:

 

  • With regard to organisation, you can access the rules that govern the functioning of the Secretariat General, its functions, the types of staff members working there, and its organisational diagrams and charts.
  •  In relation to staff recruitment, all competitions and openings for civil service and non-civil service staff are published, offering information about the functions of each civil service unit or professional group, and the requirements set out for candidates. This information is completed with other details about training activity provided within the Senate.
  • Finally, the economic and contractual rules are published in the section dedicated to the Senate's contractor profile, together with all the information about tender bids that are currently available and contracts allocated.


 

Can the information provided on the webpage be reused?

In general, the information provided on this webpage is public and may be reused.
The new webpage includes an XML version of the Official Senate Publications (Bulletin and Journal of Sittings).
In the future, there will be XML versions of other information such as lists of Senators, initiatives/bills, etc.
 

Can the information provided on the webpage be reused?

In general, the information provided on this webpage is public and may be reused.
The new webpage includes an XML version of the Official Senate Publications (Bulletin and Journal of Sittings).
In the future, there will be XML versions of other information such as lists of Senators, initiatives/bills, etc.
 

What happens with amendments and vetoes approved by the Senate?

The Senate can approve amendments (additions, suppressions or modifications of the text being debated) or vetoes (which imply a rejection of the bill as a whole). Amendments require a simple majority of votes; vetoes require an absolute majority.
Amendments or vetoes approved by the Senate will be sent to the Congress of Deputies to be debated and put to a vote at its Plenary Sitting. Senate amendments are incorporated into the definitive text of the act if the Congress ratifies them by a simple majority. Senate vetoes can be lifted by Congress if so decided by an absolute majority within the following two months or by a simple majority after that period.

 

What happens if the Senate does not approve amendments or vetoes?

If the Senate does not approve amendments or vetoes, the bill will be passed as an act. It is then passed onto Government for the purposes of its sanction and enactment by the King and subsequent publication in the Official State Bulletin.

What is its budgetary function? How are General State Budgets processed?

The budgetary function entails approving State revenues and spending for a specific year. In addition, it involves the subsequent supervision and control of budget implementation.


It is the exclusive responsibility of the Government to draw up and present the budget, whereas Parliament is responsible for examining, amending and approving the budget. The powers of amendment are subject to strict requirements. If General State Budgets are not approved by the 1st January of each year, the budget from the previous year is deemed to have been carried over. 

 

What does the supervisory and political impetus function entail? Through which procedures is it exercised?

The function of supervision and political impetus involves obtaining information about the Government, subjecting its actions to debate and urging it to focus its policies in a specific direction. In the Senate, the parliamentary initiatives through which this function is articulated are questions, interpellations, motions, motions following an interpellation, debates about memoranda and reports issued by the Government, appearances and investigation and special committees.


The Senate does not participate in votes or motions of no confidence
 

What kinds of questions can Senators submit to Government?

Questions are a supervisory initiative which can be used by members to interrogate the Government about matters that fall within their realm of competence. Questions must be submitted in writing to the Speaker of the House. Questions can require a written or an oral response, which shall be given at the Plenary Sitting or at a Committee. Questions are not admitted if they are of exclusive personal interest to the asker or any other individual person, or if they entail a strictly legal query.
 

How are questions channelled when they require a written response from the Government?

Questions which require a written response from the Government, which can contain more than one question, are channelled entirely via electronic means and are published on the Senate webpage. The Government must send its reply within thirty days of its communication. If the Government does not provide a response within this timescale, the Senator asking the question may request that the question is included in the agenda of the following session of the relevant Committee with regard to the matter, where it will be treated as an oral question.

How are questions channelled when they require an oral answer in the Plenary Sitting? And what about questions which require an oral answer in a Committee meeting?

Questions that require an oral response in a Plenary Sitting must contain the strict formulation of one question only. The inclusion of questions in the agenda is carried out by means of a quota system for each Parliamentary Group. Questions presented can be substituted with others pertaining to matters agreed at the Council of Ministers or matters of particular urgency or topicality. Questions are formulated from the member's seat. Firstly, the member asking the question speaks, formulating the question for response by a member of Government. The member then has a turn to reply, and the member of Government has another turn to formulate a rejoinder. In the Senate, each of the intervening parties has three minutes in total to make use of the two turns described above.


Questions that require an oral answer in a Committee meeting must fulfil the same requirements as oral questions formulated in a Plenary Sitting, although there are no quotas and the times for the respective turns are longer than responses in Plenary Sittings. Only Ministers and Secretaries of State may appear in order to respond to these kinds of questions.

 

How is an interpellation channelled?

An interpellation is an initiative by virtue of which a member of Parliament raises a question with the Government with a view to dealing with the Cabinet's policy in matters of general interest. Once classified by the Senate Bureau, having consulted the Board of Spokespersons, the inclusion of interpellations in the agenda will be carried out in accordance with a quota system for each Parliamentary Group.


An interpellation is formulated orally by the Senator who authored the initiative or bill, and a response is also provided by a member of Government. If the interpellant is not satisfied with the Government's response, he or she may raise a motion resulting from an interpellation, which will be debated at the next Plenary Sitting.

 

How is a motion channelled?

A motion is an initiative tied to the function of supervision and political impetus, which is presented so that the Government makes a statement regarding an issue or submits a governmental bill to Parliament, or for the House to deliberate and announce its findings with regard to a non-legislative bill, accompanied by an evaluation of its economic cost. They can be presented for debate at a Plenary Sitting or a Committee. The debate features interventions from the author of the initiative in addition to representatives of the Parliamentary Groups. They are put to a vote.
 

How is an appearance channelled?

Committees can require, through the Speaker of the House, the presence of members of Government to report on matters within their realm of expertise. This is normally done at the initiative of a Senator or a Parliamentary Group. Appearances can also be requested by the Government itself, and authorised by the Bureau of the Committee. These appearances are regulated by section 66 of the Senate Standing Orders. Similarly, Committees can secure the presence of other authorities and civil servants of the State and the Self-Governing Communities, or other persons, to report on matters within their sphere of competence. The debate features interventions from the author of the initiative in addition to representatives of the Parliamentary Groups.
 

What role is played by the Senate in treaties and international agreements?

The Constitution establishes, through sections 93, 94 and 96.2, the modes through which Parliament can intervene in the conclusion and denouncement of international treaties.


The procedure followed with international treaties follows the same basic stages as governmental and non-governmental bills. They are always presented by the Government, with the Congress and the Senate intervening.


Firstly, treaties that are channelled in accordance with section 93 of the Constitution, those that are attributed to an international organisation and institution, and those derived from the exercising of competences stipulated in the Constitution (for example, treaties to join, expand or reform the European Union) are channelled in accordance with the procedure for organic acts and, therefore, require an absolute majority in Congress to be passed, when voting on the totality of the treaty.


Secondly, a large group of treaties encompassed by section 94.1 of the Constitution also require the prior authorisation of Parliament, but expressed in the form of an act and by a simple majority in each House, with Congress intervening first, then the Senate. This is true of political treaties, military treaties and those which affect the territorial integrity of the State, the fundamental rights and responsibilities established under Heading I of the Constitution, those which imply financial obligations for the Public Tax Authority, or which entail modifying or repealing an act, or which require legislative measures for their execution.


Once authorisation has been granted by the two Houses it is communicated to the Government which, from then on, proceeds to ratify the treaty or agreement.


Finally, for other treaties, not subject to authorisation requirements, the Constitution only requires the Houses to be informed of their conclusion (section 94.2 of the Constitution and 146 of the Senate Standing Orders).


The process for gaining authorisation in the Senate is similar to the legislative procedure, with a few specific characteristics. The most notable feature of treaties processed in accordance with sections 93 and 94.1 is that they are not open to amendments. Only non-ratification proposals can be presented (which are subject to the stipulations outlined for veto proposals, equivalent to the need for an absolute majority for their approval), or ratification postponement or reservation (in this latter case, providing treaties make provision for this possibility or their content admits it). If presented, they are sent to the Foreign Affairs Committee which sends its findings or reasoned proposal to the Plenary Sitting regarding whether authorisation should be granted or not.


In the event that the Senate’s decision regarding authorisation differs from that of the Congress of Deputies, a Mixed Committee must be set up. The text drafted by said Committee will be sent directly to the Plenary Sitting, whose agreement will be communicated to the Government and the Congress of Deputies.


The House, at the proposal of a Parliamentary Group or twenty-five Senators, can request the Constitutional Court to declare whether or not a treaty or agreement subject to its consideration is contrary to the Constitution. Once the request has been agreed, the channelling of the treaty or agreement is suspended until the decision of the Constitutional Court.
 

 

What role does the Senate play in appointing members of other bodies?

The Senate is charged with the function of appointing members of other constitutional bodies of State. Proposals for appointments, designation or election of people are regulated by sections 184, 185 and 186 of the Senate Standing Orders. Among other functions, the Senate proposes the designation of four Magistrates in the Constitutional Court, ten Members of the General Council of Judiciary Power, and six councillors in the Court of Auditors, four members of the Board of Directors at Corporación RTVE and one member of the Advisory Board of the Spanish Data Protection Agency. Also, together with the Congress of Deputies, it appoints the Ombudsman. 
 

Archive

Can I obtain information about all the Senators there have been throughout history?

Yes. You can obtain information about all the people who have been Senators. There are several ways of doing this. On the homepage, through the "Senators" section, and through the section entitled "Archive. The Senate in History".
You can also search using the website's search box.


The Archive also contains information about all the Senators who did not take possession of their position, in other words, who were appointed or elected but did not meet the requirements to take possession of the position (not admitted, deceased, etc.).

 

What types of Senators have there been in the constitutional history of Spain?

Prócer is the name given in the Royal Statute (1834-1836) to members of the Upper House, then known as the Estamento de Próceres.


Life Senators were appointed by the King to occupy this position until their death.


Senators in their own right were so determined by the different constitutions by virtue of their special personal circumstances, regardless of the will of the Crown, as certain members of the royal family, Spanish grandees and senior officials in the army, clergy and State institutions.


Appointed senators were chosen by different civil, political and religious corporations to represent them in the Senate.

 

Which documentation can I view in the Archive?

The Archive encompasses the whole historical collection, from 1834 to 1923, and the current collection, which begins in 1977. For the period 1834-1923, there is a complete collection of official publications and a series of personal files of members of the upper house (Próceres) and Senators.
 
The webpage enables all citizens to view a large section of the Archive collections related with parliamentary activity and Senators. Audiovisual and photographic material will be incorporated as the task of cataloguing progresses.

How can I access the Archive?

Access is free of charge. There are several ways of accessing Archive documents, including the electronic channel, which allows citizens to obtain information as required, and the webpage, since the collections have been catalogued and digitalised. You can also request information and documents from the Archive by post and e-mail, over the phone or in person. The access channels, as well as any reproductions made of the material safeguarded in the Archive, are described in the Senate Service Charter.
 

Committees and Reporting Bodies

What is a Committee? What types of Committees are there and what are their functions?

A Committee is a functional parliamentary body, made up of a small number of members of the House in proportion to the numerical weight of their Group in the House, with authority in certain matters and which occasionally acts as a preparatory body for the activity of the Plenary Sittings and, in other cases, as a body with its own competences. There are several types of Committees: standing (legislative and non-legislative), investigation, special and Mixed Committees (Congress of Deputies and Senate). The key competences of Committees are to rule on legislative texts and hold informative sessions with members of the Government, authorities, civil servants and other figures, and to channel oral questions and motions.

How many members of a Committee are there?

Committees do not have an equal number of members. The general rule for this current Legislature is 26, which is valid for the immense majority of standing legislative Committees and which is fixed at the start of the Legislature. These members are distributed proportionally between the different Parliamentary Groups. Other Committees, such as the Committee of Self-Governing Communities and Mixed Committees, might have more members, and others, such as the Appointments Committee, may have fewer.

Composition of the Senate

Is the number of Senators fixed?

No. It can vary depending on the number of inhabitants living in the different Self-Governing Communities, since Regional Parliaments appoint one fixed Senator and another Senator for every million inhabitants. The variation in the number of Senators is established at the start of each Legislature (following general elections), taking as a reference the population census published on 1st January from the year of the general election.

How are Senators elected?

Most Senators (208) are elected directly by the population, four per province. However, in the insular provinces, each island or grouping of islands is classed as one electoral constituency , with each ofe the larger islands (Gran Canaria, Mallorca and Tenerife) electing three Senators (Ibiza-Formentera, Menorca, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma) choosing one Senator each. The population of Ceuta and Melilla choose two Senators. Voters can vote for a maximun of three candidates in the provincial constituencies, two in Gran Canaria, Mallorca, Tenerife, Ceuta and Melilla and one in the remaining island constituencies. Candidates with the highest number of votes obtain a seat.

 

The other Senators (58) are appointed by Regional Parliaments in accordance with theri population: one Senator per Community and other Senator per million inhabitants in their respective territories, ensuring the adequate proportional representation at all times.

 

How long is the Senate elected for?

Four years, but this period may be shorter if the President of the Government moves for early dissolution.

Is it possible to see the composition of the Senate from the past?

Yes. On the webpage, you can view the composition of the Senate and its different bodies in previous Legislatures. Information is provided for two major periods: the historical period between 1834 and 1923; and the current period, since 1977
 

Is it possible to view electoral results?

Yes. The webpage offers information about the results from all Senate elections since 1977.

How can I find information about a Senator? What information is contained in their profiles?

In the "Senators" section, which can be accessed directly from the homepage, you can find out about the composition of the Senate, broken down by different criteria: alphabetical, geographical, membership of a Parliamentary Group, composition of the different bodies of the Senate, and chronological. By clicking on the name of each Senator, you can open their profile or personal details.
 

The structure of each Senator's details is divided into a fixed section, with essential details (name, constituency or appointment, date they became a Senator, Parliamentary Group to which they belong, or territorial Group of which they are a member, electoral formation through which they stood for election, and membership of a political party) and the citizen participation channels indicated by the Senator (e-mail, profiles on social networking sites, and personal pages or blogs).


The rest of the information contained in the Senator's details is displayed by activating the following tabs: “Posts in the Senate”, “Parliamentary activity” (including the initiatives and bills they have authored), “Biography”, “Declaration of activities”, “Declaration of assets and income", and, if applicable, "Other Legislatures in the Senate”.

 

How can I contact a Senator?

A citizen can contact a Senator directly by e-mail and through the mechanisms for participation, which can be accessed either through the Senator's details or through the "Participate" section of the area dedicated to citizen relations.

Can I find out the declarations of activities made by Senators?

Yes. The declarations of activities made by Senators at the beginning of their mandate, when their declared situation has changed, or when they cease to be members of parliament, can be viewed by any citizen on the webpage, either through the details for each Senator or through the section on "Transparency”.

Can I find out the declarations of assets and income made by Senators?

Yes. The declarations of assets and income made by Senators can be viewed by any citizen on the webpage, either through the details for each Senator or through the section on "Transparency”.

What are the functions of a Senator?

All Senators are involved in the functions of the Senate set out in the Constitution and in Law. The main functions are legislative, budgetary, and the supervision of Government.
 

What are the duties of a Senator?

Senators are required to present a declaration of activities and a declaration of assets and income. They must also swear an oath of allegiance or observance of the Constitution and respect the regime of compatibilities. They also have the right and the duty to attend Plenary Sittings and the meetings of Committees of which they are a member.

What is the regime of incompatibilities that affects Senators?

To guarantee the independence of members of parliament when performing their functions, electoral legislation establishes that certain professions or political positions cannot be held simultaneously with a parliamentary post. To this end, when being sworn in, members of parliament must make a declaration of activities which is judged by the Committee responsible for incompatibilities. If any incompatibilities are observed, the affected party must choose between their seat and the condition or position that is the cause of the incompatibility. Furthermore, they are required to communicate any alteration in their situation during the Legislature.
 

What is parliamentary inviolability?

It is a prerogative enjoyed by members of Parliament whereby they cannot be held accountable for written and oral statements made during a parliamentary session or sitting, or for any votes they might cast in relation to the parliamentary decisions with which they are involved.

What is parliamentary immunity?

It is a prerogative by virtue of which members of Parliament cannot be charged or brought to trial without the prior authorisation of the House which must be requested. Through this requirement, the House can ascertain, without judging the matter in depth - in other words, without ascertaining if a crime has been committed -, whether behind an accusation levelled against a Senator or Deputy there is an agenda of political persecution. To this end, a procedure is followed within the House, with the participation of the affected party, which culminates in the corresponding decision made via a secret ballot. This prerogative is not applied in the case of a flagrant crime. 
 

How much does a Senator earn? What is their regime of social protection?

Each Senator receives an allowance of €2,813.91 a month, plus an additional allowance to cover costs incurred through Senate activity of €1,822.38 (€869.09 for Senators elected in Madrid). In addition, they receive a sum depending on the position they hold and a series of allowances agreed by the Senate Bureau, in accordance with the Senate Standing Orders.


The social protection of Senators encompasses making sure they are registered with the Social Security system as members of the Senate, along with making the pension payments and mutual friendly society payments pertaining to each of them.
Once their mandate has been lost, they have the right receive compensation for dismissal (given that they do not have the right to receive an unemployment allowance), which is incompatible with any other compensation. Contributions made to retirement funds are also suspended.
 

Furthermore, as a consequence of the latest modifications made to the corresponding regulations, the following have been repealed: pension allowances (with the exception of those who were already entitled to receive them at the end of the IX Legislature); the ongoing registration of former members of parliament aged over 55 with the Social Security system and the economic assistance provided for the latter, as well as financial assistance for widowed spouses.
 

The Senate webpage publishes a list of individuals in receipt of pension allowances, financial assistance and compensation, as well as the corresponding amounts. The details regarding parliamentary pensions, the registration of Senators in the Social Security system, additional earnings allowances and compensation for dismissal are kept up to date at all times.
Detailed information about the economic regime and social protection of Senators can be found in the "Senators" section (within "Composition and organisation") and "Transparency" (within "Citizen Relations"). Descriptions of the subsidies awarded to Parliamentary Groups along with the corresponding amounts are also provided.
 

Are there gender quotas?

 Yes. Since the reforms of 2007, the Electoral Act requires that when candidacies are grouped into lists - which is most common - they must have a balanced composition of women and men.
 

Currently there are 91 Female Senators. It is certainly true that this figure does not provide a balanced composition in relation to the total members of the Senate (266). The reason for this imbalance lies largely in the electoral system of the Senate, which impedes balanced candidacies, particularly in comparison with Congress: parties and coalitions usually present three candidates in the majority of constituencies, so it cannot guarantee more than one candidate in both sexes. Furthermore, electors may distribute their three votes freely; therefore parity will also depend on their selection.
 

In addition, in the case of Senators appointed by regional Parliaments, the requirement for proportional distribution between their Parliamentary Groups also impedes this balance given that there are Groups which can only put forward one candidate; therefore, one of the genders will always go unrepresented through this channel. Furthermore, the fact that some of the Self-Governing Communities appoint a smaller and odd number of Senators contributes to this result.
 

How many members of the Senate are there?

In the X Legislature, the Senate has 266 members, of which 208 are elected and 58 are appointed by Regional Parliaments.
 

Get to know and visit the Senate

Can I go on a guided tour of the Senate? And how about attending a Plenary Sitting?

Yes. The webpage includes en electronic form for requesting a tour as well as information about getting to the Senate and what the tour involves. The same is true if you wish to attend a Plenary Sitting.

 

For people who are unable to attend the Senate in person, there is a virtual tour of its buildings showing the different rooms and chambers, paintings, sculptures and decorative objects.
 
As for Plenary Sittings, they are broadcast live over the Internet, and recordings can be viewed at any time after they have been held.

What is available from the Senate Shop?

The Senate Shop is open to the public and sells various gift items which reflect the historic, artistic and symbolic motifs of the Senate.


Within the section "The Senate opens its doors" (in the "Get to know the Senate" block), you will find the information you need to contact the Shop and view the catalogue of products available.
 

Where can I find out about the history, composition, functions and parliamentary procedures of the Senate?

To provide information about the institution, there are themed sections about the constitutional history of the Senate, its composition, the way in which Senators are elected and appointed, as well as its functions and parliamentary procedures. A short parliamentary dictionary and a selection of frequently asked questions are also available at the top of the page from whichever screen you are browsing.

What is in the "Library and documentation resources" section”?

The monographic studies and documents safeguarded by the Senate make up a bibliographical heritage of great cultural value, which provides a foundation for parliamentary activity. The Library contains books on paper and in electronic format, organised into two collections, ancient and modern, along with maps, periodicals from the 19th Century, manuscripts, scores, prints and etchings. The historical collection is in the process of being digitalised.


There is a general search facility for these resources and for the bibliographical and documentation databases which is free to use.
There are bibliographies about issues related with the Senate and themed dossiers, which include a selection of legislation, monographic studies and journals, regional, national and European maps and statistics, which are permanently kept up to date and available through the Senate webpage.


In the Senate, information and documentation is also compiled in relation to the European Union. Of particular importance is the database of legislation and reports of the European Commission (COM documents), which is complemented by the opinions of the Spanish Government, and the State's monitoring of the processing and debating of each legislative bill. The Senate participates in the IPEX database, which is a centralised database regarding the supervision of National Parliaments in relation to the EU policy of their respective Governments.


The Senate has two databases which allow citizens to learn about regional legislation and the activity of regional Parliaments: CALEX (legal database regarding the Self-Governing Communities) and APCA (database for regional Parliamentary activity).
To examine any documents in person, you will need a researcher's card.

 

Does the Senate publish any books or leaflets? How can I get them?

Yes, the Senate does publish books and information leaflets.


The catalogue of Senate non-official publications can be found on the webpage, under the "Library and documentation resources" section, providing the necessary contact details for users to acquire the publications available.


 

Parliamentary Groups and Political Parties

What is a Parliamentary Group?

A Parliamentary Group is a group of members of Parliament established by virtue of their political affiliation. They are constituted in the Houses at the start of each Legislature.


In the case of the Senate, each Parliamentary Group will be composed of at least ten Senators. No Senator may be a member of more than one Parliamentary Group. Senators who have stood for election as part of the same party, federation, coalition or group may not form more than one Parliamentary Group. Senators who do not join a specifically named Parliamentary Group will join the Mixed Group.
 

What are the functions of a Parliamentary Group?

A Parliamentary Group plays a decisive role in parliamentary life: it can exercise various initiatives, such as non-government bills and motions; takes part in debates and deliberations; it participates in the turns reserved for Parliamentary Groups by means of a freely appointed Senator; it coordinates, delegates functions and exercises voting discipline in relation to its members; its Spokesperson participates in the Board of Spokespersons.
 

What information is provided about Parliamentary Groups?

Parliamentary Groups and political parties have their own space on the webpage, providing information about their composition and activity and opening up channels of communication and participation for citizens, through their e-mail addresses and social network profiles. 
 

How many Parliamentary Groups are there in the Senate?

In this current Legislature, there are 7 Parliamentary Groups: Popular en el Senado Parliamentary Group; Socialista Parliamentary Group, PODEMOS-En Comú-Compromís-En Marea Parliamentary Group, Catalán en el Senado Democràcia i Llibertad Parliamentary Group; Esquerra Republicana Parliamentary Group; Vasco en el Senado (EAJ-PNV) Parliamentary Group; and a Mixto Parliamentary Group.

General Characteristics of the website

What are the objectives of the Senate webpage?

The Senate webpage is the result of a process of technological renewal and organisational culture inspired by the Senate's principle of openness to citizens.
The Senate's webpage has improved on the design, browsing structure and the way in which information is presented about its activity, composition and functions. It also incorporates new contents and tools to make effective the principles of transparency, accountability and participation, moving further along a pathway already initiated with the first version which entered into effect in 1997, offering reliable, exhaustive and up-to-date information.
In order to respond to the new demands of transparency, the new webpage not only offers high quality information, presented in an understandable, intuitive and accessible way; it also facilitates the reusing and sharing of public data. A powerful search facility allows users to find information using a free text search box.
To facilitate the participation of citizens, there are communication channels with Senators, Parliamentary Groups, Committees and Parliamentary Administration. Another innovation is the Senate's institutional account on the social networking site Twitter, @senadoesp, which aims to inform the public about the activity of the Senate and maintain direct contact with citizens, responding to their suggestions, questions and requests for information.
 

Who is the webpage aimed at?

The Senate's webpage is aimed at all citizens and uses clear and concise language to make parliamentary activity easier to understand. Browsing the page is intuitive and accessible, offering reliable and accurate information at all times.
Experts in political and legal matters will find extensive information about the Senate's activity, debates surrounding different initiatives and bills, official publications, and the composition of the different Senate bodies, from the historic period between 1834 and 1923, and since 1977.
To make the Senate more open and accessible to children and teenagers, adapted contents have been created as part of the section entitled “The Little Senate", so these users can familiarise themselves with the institution through cartoon strips, games and quizzes.
 

Can disabled people browse the webpage? What is the level of accessibility?

Yes. The webpage has been developed following the guidelines defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to obtain Level AA. We have also developed training to ensure that the introduction of new contents meets the requirements of this level.
However, initially there might be areas or specific contents that do not yet comply with certain aspects of these standards. The Senate is committed to continually improving the levels of accessibility.
 

Which channels of communication are made available by the webpage?

One of the aims of the new webpage is to facilitate citizen participation. To do that, there are channels made available which allow users to interact with Senators and Parliamentary Groups (e-mail, blogs, social networking sites, personal webpages, etc.) and facilitate contact with Committees and the various units of the Secretariat General.
The user can also connect to the Senate via Twitter to find out about the Senate's activity and ask any questions or request information.
For the purposes of grouping all these channels within the same point of access, the homepage has a "Participate" icon which takes users straight through to the area dedicated to citizen relations.
 

How can I find information?

The structure of the webpage makes it easy and intuitive to browse from the homepage through the four major sections into which the information is structured: parliamentary activity, composition and organisation, getting to know the Senate and citizen relations. These four sections will always be active through the browser bar at the top. The heading also contains links to the sitemap and links to its contents.
To facilitate access to information, a general search engine has been developed with a search box at the top of the page which is permanently accessible from any section on the website. It enables users to search for any information by typing in free text.
There are also phone lines in the information office and in the units responsible for providing services.
 

Can the information provided on the website be shared?

Yes. One of the new features introduced on the Senate webpage is that it allows users to share information. Understanding that the institution must be part of the new "online society", the webpage now incorporates the tools required to achieve this. The "send" and "share" buttons can be found on most of the pages within the site, and allow users to exchange information on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Tuenti.

Which languages is the website available in?

The Senate webpage is available in Spanish, as well as the official languages spoken in each Self-Governing Community, and English.
The website can be browsed in the chosen language, although certain contents, such as the information obtained from the Senate databases, will be displayed in Spanish.
On the Senate webpage, you can follow speeches made in the official language of a Self-Governing Community, in accordance with the provisions of the Senate Standing Orders: this is true for the first intervention of the elected Speaker in the constitutional sitting, interventions made in sessions of the General Committee of Self-Governing Communities, and those which take place at Plenary Sittings when debating motions.
The Journal of Sittings for the Plenary Sitting and the General Committee of Self-Governing Communities can also be viewed on the webpage, containing speeches and interventions in the language in which they were given along with their transcription and their translation into Spanish.
Similarly, in the Senate Section of the Official Bulletin of Parliament, all the initiatives and bills presented are published in Spanish as well as in any of the official languages of the Self-Governing Communities.
 

Can the information provided on the webpage be reused?

In general, the information provided on this webpage is public and may be reused.
The new webpage includes an XML version of the Official Senate Publications (Bulletin and Journal of Sittings).
In the future, there will be XML versions of other information such as lists of Senators, initiatives/bills, etc.
 

Plenary sitting and Permanent Deputation

What is the Plenary Sitting? What are its functions?

The Plenary Sitting is the functional body of the House made up of all its members. The Plenary Sitting is aware of all the most important matters and in most cases it has the final word in the debate and passing of initiatives and bills presented by Committees for its consideration.


The main functions of the Plenary Sitting include: approving vetoes and amendments presented within the Senate with regard to governmental and non-governmental bills received from Congress, including the general draft State budget; authorising the ratification of treaties and international conventions; approving motions; debating questions and interpellations; and choosing the members of constitutional bodies, as well as the Constitutional Court, the General Council of Judicial Power, the Court of Auditors and the Ombudsman.
 

When does the Plenary Sitting meet?

The Plenary Sitting usually meets for two weeks every month, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and sometimes on Thursdays, in accordance with a previously established calendar and agenda.

What is the Permanent Deputation?

The Permanent Deputation is the body responsible for convening extraordinary sittings and safeguarding the powers of the House when it is not in session or when its mandate has expired or it has been dissolved, until the new House is constituted. The Speaker of the House presides over the Permanent Deputation, which has a minimum of 21 members of Parliament chosen by the Parliamentary Groups in proportion to their numerical importance. It is constituted at the start of the Legislature.

Citizens Relations

What is the level of transparency of the webpage?

The Senate webpage reflects the institution's commitment to transparency. As well as offering reliable and exhaustive information, which allows users to access over one and a half million documents, the webpage is presented in a well-structured way that is easy to understand, making things easy to find. To facilitate access to information, there are electronic and telephone channels to provide assistance.
 
In addition to contents related to the activity, composition, organisation and functions of the Senate, the webpage publishes information about the following aspects:
 
  •  Economic regime and social protection of Senators, which includes information about the remunerations, allowances and compensation received by members of parliament, their transportation regime, the technological material made available to them, and the subsidies allocated to Parliamentary Groups.
  • Senators' declarations of activities, assets and income.
  • Information required to apply for vacancies and to follow up on selection processes for staff, interns and participants in training seminars.
  • Contractual procedures, indicating the scope of the contract, the amounts of bids submitted and the successful bid, the procedure followed, the instruments through which they have been published and the identification of the successful bidder.
 
The Senate is sensitive to growing demands for transparency and, therefore, will gradually incorporate new information onto the webpage.

Which channels of participation are made available to citizens?

Harnessing the facilities offered by technology to connect with citizens, the Senate is ushering in a new era with the creation of its institutional profile on Twitter, @senadoesp, which provides direct, continuous and immediate communication with internet users.
Direct communication with Senators and Parliamentary Groups is enabled through two channels:


 

  • "Write to”: an option made available through a form which citizens can send electronically.
  •  Direct access to their profiles on blogs and social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, Tuenti and Linked-in.

 

Both channels can be found within the details for each Senator and each Parliamentary Group, as well as in the "Participate" section. This latter channel also allows users to contact Committees. Throughout the webpage, there are contact details to facilitate citizen communication.
 

Is there a Service Charter? What are the commitments made by the Senate in its relations with citizens?

Yes. At its meeting held on 23rd October 2012, the Senate Bureau approved the Senate Service Charter, with a view to improving quality levels in the services provided by Parliamentary Administration. The Charter informs citizens of its quality commitments in the provision of services, as well as the rights and responsibilities of citizens in their dealings with the Senate. Every year, an assessment is performed, the results of which will be published on the webpage.

 

Why "The Little Senate”?

  "The Little Senate" is the result of our belief that, in order to be a Senate for everyone, we must be closer to younger citizens.
A large number of children and teenagers are familiar with new technologies, have access to the Internet at home or in school, and use it as a source of information, as well as a channel for socialisation, recreation and entertainment. Both informative and fun aspects have been incorporated into the development of this section, with a view to conveying to younger users concepts such as democracy, political pluralism, the importance of debate and negotiation in the adoption of agreements, and the role of institutions.
 

What is the right of petition and how can it be exercised?

The right of petition is a fundamental right enjoyed by all private individuals and legal entities, regardless of their nationality, as reflected in sections 29 and 77 of the Constitution and developed in Organic Act 4/2001.


It is a right that can be exercised individually or collectively, as the faculty to address public powers either to inform them of certain facts or to demand their intervention, or both things at the same time.


To make it easier to exercise this right, a model petition is provided for presentation to the General Senate Register either in person or in writing. They must indicate the identity of the petitioner or petitioners, nationality, address for correspondence, addressee of the petition, as well as its purpose. 
 

Once a petition has been submitted, it will be examined by the Petitions Committee. The Report that must be issued for every ordinary period of sittings, which is subject to the consideration of the Senate Plenary Sitting, will state the decision reached regarding each petition, indicating the authority to which it has been forwarded for a response. The responses received to petitions will be forwarded to the petitioners.

Is it possible to submit suggestions and complaints?

Yes. The Senate is very grateful for any observations that will allow it to improve the content of its webpage. Suggestions and complaints which are submitted will be analysed and a reasoned response will be provided.

Who can work in the Senate?

Anyone who, having passed the corresponding competitive exam or recruitment process, has been appointed a Parliamentary Civil Servant or a non-Civil Service member of staff at the Senate. In addition, anyone who, having been appointed a civil servant with another Administration, is seconded to the Senate to hold certain positions, generally within the area of security. Finally, temporary advisory staff, characterised by the nature of their advisory capacity to members of the Senate Bureau or the Senators who propose them.


Information about different types of staff, requirements, competitions and recruitment processes and the main stages of these processes are published in the "Work and training in the Senate" section, which can be accessed directly from the homepage.

 

Are there training internships available in the Senate?

Every year, the Senate Bureau offers internships in the specialist areas of media and documentation. The requirements for these positions are published in the "Work and training in the Senate" section, which can be accessed directly from the homepage. 

Where can I find information about the current bidding processes and previously awarded contracts?

With a view to ensuring transparency and public access to information about its contractual activity, and notwithstanding the use of other advertising media, the Senate publishes its contractor profile on the Internet.


Through the "Contractor profile" section, which can be accessed directly from the homepage, you will find information about administrative contracts, including tender announcements, terms and conditions for bidding procedures, announcements for public acts of inviting tender bids and the awarding of contracts.

 

In general, the information provided on this webpage is public and may be reused.
The new webpage includes an XML version of the Official Senate Publications (Bulletin and Journal of Sittings).
In the future, there will be XML versions of other information such as lists of Senators, initiatives/bills, etc.