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Rules of Procedure

The Constitution specifies that, with reference to the principles that it enshrines, the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure (of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate) will dictate the manner in which the two Houses of Parliament conduct their business, define parliamentary bodies and procedures, determine internal organisation. The Rules of Procedure of the Chamber and the Senate are separate and independent texts that each House enforces and amends independently. The Rules consist of a set of written regulations, which make up a sort of codified text, that each House adopts in compliance with a specific constitutional provision to that effect (article 64, paragraph 1) passed by an absolute majority of Members of the House (half the total number of Members plus one). The Rules are one of the most important manifestations of a founding principle of the constitutional system of the State, namely the autonomy of the Houses of Parliament.
The Rules of Procedure of the Chamber of Deputies are divided into four sections: the organisation and proceedings of the Chamber of Deputies; the legislative procedure; policy-setting, scrutiny and fact-finding procedures; final provisions. The Rules prescribe the rights and duties of Deputies, the methods for electing the President and other bodies as well as the tasks assigned to them, the organisation of parliamentary proceedings and the means for setting the agenda at sessions, procedures for debating and voting on bills and other matters under scrutiny by bodies of the Chamber of Deputies.
The enforcement and interpretation of the Rules is the duty of the President, who may make use of the opinion of the Committee on the Rules of Procedure.
The Rules of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate date back to 1971, but have been amended and updated several times since. In particular, the current Rules of Procedure of the Chamber of Deputies were approved on 18 February 1971 by an overwhelming majority (465 votes in favour, 41 against and 1 abstention). Published in the Official Journal no. 53 of 1 March 1971, the Rules came into force on 1 May of the same year.
For the Chamber of Deputies, the Rules were the first integral set of regulations adopted since the foundation of the Republic. In fact, in 1948, at the beginning of the first Parliament of the new Republic, the Montecitorio Parliament, like the Constituent Assembly before it, resolved to adopt the text in force in 1922 duly amended to reflect the new constitutional arrangements. In the following years, only a few narrowly focused amendments were made to the text.

Amendments to the Rules

The text introduced in 1971 underwent many additions and changes that were introduced in accordance with Rule 16, contained in the text itself. Rule 16 provides for a Committee on the Rules of Procedure and puts it in charge of submitting to the Chamber of Deputies proposals for rule changes that experience has shown to be needful. All told, between 1 June 1978 and 7 July 2009 (the dates of the first and the most recent rule changes), the Chamber of Deputies has intervened 27 times to amend the Rules of Procedure, sometimes introducing precise amendment and additions relating to single items, sometimes approving more wide-sweeping reforms.
Some of the most important changes were introduced in the 13th Parliament, and had significant implications for various aspects of parliamentary life, such as the planning of work and the organisation of the law-making process. In respect of the latter, an important development was the establishment of the Committee on Legislation. Another important development was the expansion of the advisory powers of the Budget Committee and of the Parliamentary Committee on Regional Affairs. Other changes related to the parliamentary procedures connected with European integration, the expression of parliamentary opinion in respect of Government legislative instruments, the control of the attendance of Deputies at working sessions, the institution of groupings within the Mixed Group, the procedures for making urgent interpellations and questions demanding an immediate response, the composition and functions of the Bureau and the introduction of new rules governing the verification of powers, which also led to the adoption of a new set of rules for the Elections Committee.

The amendments to the Rules of Procedure adopted in the 16th Parliament were as follows:

  • amendments to Rules 12, 153-ter and 154, adopted on 7th July 2009;
  • amendments to Rules 14, 15, 15-ter and 153-quater, adopted on 25th September 2012.

As noted above, the approval of the Rules and amendments requires a favourable vote of an absolute majority of the Parliament (see Rule 16, paragraph 4). Historically, the approval of the Rules and amendments to them has usually been supported by broad majorities.

img rules

Rules of Procedure of the Chamber of Deputies
(15 December 2001)

img rules Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Chamber of Deputies
(approved at the plenary sitting of 7 July 2009)

img rules Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Chamber of Deputies
(approved at the plenary sitting of 25 September 2012)