The sittings of the Chamber of Deputies are public. This is established by Article 64 of the Constitution. It conforms to the principle of popular sovereignty, and allows citizens to familiarise themselves with the position and activity of their representatives and to form an opinion on matters of political debate. As to the question of how to put into practice the constitutional principle that sittings should be open, in the first place, it is possible to attend live debates from public galleries above the plenary hall. It is possible also to read verbatim reports of debates, which are always available from the Chamber of Deputies website on the same day as they are held, and in printed version on the day after.
Verbatim reports of the sittings of Committees are also published, both in printed publications and on the internet. The sessions are also transmitted live on the internet, on radio and on the Chamber of Deputies satellite television channel. Particularly important debates are broadcast on public television.
The website www.camera.it is a rich source of information on parliamentary and legislative affairs, on the organisation of the Chamber of Deputies, on the art and architecture of the buildings of the Chamber of Deputies and on the services that the Chamber of Deputies provides to the general public.
Among the regular "residents" of the Chamber of Deputies are more than 400 parliamentary journalists who gather daily in the press room of Montecitorio, report and comment on political events, the decisions made by political Groups, the subjects discussed by the Committees, the decisions made on the Floor of the House and the strategies of the political parties. Accredited print journalists have long attended debates in the House from the gallery where they have reserved places. They also have an editorial room in the building.
Parliamentary documents include documents published by Parliament for the purpose of disclosing the activities carried out by MPs in the Lower House and by the various parliamentary bodies. They include: minutes of the proceedings, verbatim reports (summary and full reports) of sittings, bulletins of parliamentary bodies, messages by the Presidents of the Houses, printed documents with the texts of bills, proposed parliamentary enquiries or proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure, reports presented to the Floor of the House by committees, the final conclusions of fact-finding enquiries conducted by committees and the official documents of the parliamentary oversight body.
Parliamentary acts also encompass documents that are created outside the Chamber of Deputies but are intended for its use and are published by it as part of its own output. These include: messages from the President of the Republic, requests for authorisation to prosecute an MP, decrees on which the Audit Court has expressed reservations, and the many reports that, pursuant to many laws, have to be forwarded to Parliament from the Government, the Bank of Italy, the Audit Court, CNEL, independent authorities and so on.
From its beginnings as a simple tool of information, the website of the Chamber of Deputies has evolved over time to become a fully-fledged online digital archive of the activities of the Chamber.
It now affords its users far greater opportunities than ever to carry out in-depth research into various themes, and has branched out to include a series of subsidiary sites and sections. Its functions and objectives are manifold. The website is a means of communication, information and documentation of parliamentary work. It is also an archive of parliamentary acts and the activities since the years of the Constituent Assembly.
It also serves as a useful tool for MPs and parliamentary officials.