Report on Senate Activity in 2000

This report carries on from the Report of Senate Activity in 1999 and outlines Senate activity in 2000 to the end of the second period of office, i.e. 19th December 2000, when upon the opening of the first Senate meeting in the third period of office following the regular Senate elections of 12th and 19th November 2000, the third Senate period of office commenced.

Nine Senate meetings took place during this period. Senators ratified a total of 44 international treaties and debated 148 bills,  including two draft contitutional bills. Here you will find a complete summary of Senate legislative activity.

Out of the 147 bills referred to it, the Senate approved 41 (the Amendatory Act on Value-Added Tax, the Amendatory Act on Education, the Amendment of the Civil Procedure Code, the Act on Municipalities, the Act on Regions, the Act on the Amendment and Repeal of Certain Laws Associated with the Act on Regions, the Act on Municipalities, the Act on District Authorities and the Act on the City of Prague – the Copyright Act, the Act on Regional Council Elections, the Amendatory Act on Narcotics, the Act on the Protection of Museum Collections, the Act on the Provision of Compensation for Damage Caused by Certain Specially Protected Animals, the Act on the Protection of Employees against Insolvent Employers, the Amendatory Act on the Czech Commercial Inspectorate, the Act on Handling Genetically Modified Organisms and Products, the Amendatory Act on Certain Measures against Money Laundering, the Amendment to the Labour Code, the Amendatory Act on Higher Education, the Act on the Protection of Biotechnical Inventions, the Act on the State Housing Development Fund, the Amendatory Act on Detention, the Amendatory Act on Elections to the Parliament of the Czech Republic, the Act on Electronic Signatures, the Act on Budgetary Tax Assessment, the Act on Regional Development Support, the Act on the Acquisition and Improvement of Competence to Drive a Motor Vehicle, the Act on the Joint Rescue Service, the Act on the Fire Brigade of the Czech Republic, the Fire Protection Act, the Act on Emergency Economic Measures, the Act on State Holidays, the Act on the Rectification of Certain Property Injustices Committed during the Holocaust, the Amendatory Act on Animal Feed, the Act on Environmentally-Compatible Agriculture, the Emergencies Act, the Registries Act, the Amendatory Act on Foodstuffs and Tobacco Products, the Act on Agricultural Warehouse Warrants, the Act on the State Bond Scheme for Partial Compensation of Damage to Agricultural Concerns Affected by the Drought in 2000, the Amendment of the Criminal Code, the Amendment of the Act to Determine Further Preconditions for the Performance of Certain Offices in State Institutions and Organizations of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic and the Amendatory Act on Certain Further Preconditions for the Performance of Certain Offices Filled by the Assignment or Appointment of Members of the Police of the Czech Republic and members of the Reform Training Board of the Czech Republic).

The Senate expressed its wish not to deal with 49 bills(the Bill on the State Bond Scheme to Cover the Loss Made by Konsolidacni banka Praha for 1998, the Bill to Amend Certain Acts in Connection with the Passage of the Ombudsman Act, the Amendatory Act on the Competence of Authorities of the Czech Republic in Matters Concerning the Transfer of State Ownership of Certain Items to Other Legal Entities or Natural Persons, the Amendatory Act on Consumer Taxes, the Amendatory Act on Consumer Protection, the Amendatory Act on the Protection of Hops, the Amendatory Act on the Chamber of Deputies Rules of Procedure, the Amendatory Act on Reimbursement for Travelling Expenses, the Act on the Protection of the Olympic Symbols, the Amendatory Act on the Land Fund of the Czech Republic, the Amendatory Act on Technical Requirements for Products, the Investment Incentives Act, the Amending Forestry Act, the Sea Navigation Act, the Public Support Bill, the Bill on Protection against the Import of Subsidized Products, the Amendatory Act on the General Health Insurance Company of the Czech Republic, the Act on Certain Measures Relating to the Import or Export of Products, the Amendatory Act on Real Estate Tax, the Act on Measures Relating to the Afghan Taliban Movement, the Act on the Capital City of Prague, the Act on Population Records, the Summary Amendment of Acts on the Protection of Industrial Property Rights, the Amendatory Act on the Transfer of Certain Items from the Property of the Czech Republic to the Ownership of Municipalities, the Amendment of the Cadastral Act, the Amendatory Act on Metrology, the Amendatory Act on Civil Aviation, the Act on Prospecting and Exploring for Mineral Resources from the Seabed and their Exploitation, the Act on the Transfer of Certain Items, Rights and Obligations from the Property of the Czech Republic to the Property of the Regions, the Act on the Examination of Guns, Ammunition and Pyrotechnical Devices, the Breeding Act, the Amendatory Act on Bankruptcy and Composition, the Act on the Protection of Industrial Designs, the Amendatory Act on Liability for Damage Caused by a Product Defect, the Amendatory Act on the Military Police, the Amendatory Act on Certain Measures Associated with the Ban on Chemical Weapons, the Amendatory Act on the Competence of the Authorities of the Czech Republic in Relation to Transfers of State Ownership of Certain Items to Other Legal Entities or Natural Persons, the Amendatory Act on the Colouring and Marking of Certain Hydrocarbon Fuels and Lubricants, the Act on Defence Standardization, Cataloguing and State Quality Control of Products and Services for State Defence, the Act on Drainage Areas, the Press Act, the Amendatory Act on Road Tax, the Amendatory Act on Fertilizers, the Act on the Foundation of the Tomas Ba?a University in Zlin, the Amendatory Act on the State Statistics Service, the Energy Management Act, the Herbalism Act, the Act on the Protection of Rights to Varieties and the Fishing Amendment.

Of the proposed amendments, 43 bills were returned to the Chamber of Deputies. In 27 cases the Chamber of Deputies concurred with the Senate version (the Act on the Provision of a Single Payment to Members of Czechoslovak Armed Forces 1935-1945, the Amendatory Act on Overland Communications, the Amendatory Act on Bankruptcy and Composition, the Amendatory Act on Savings Banks and Credit Cooperatives, the Act on the State Transport Infrastructure Fund, the Telecommunications Act, the District Authorities Act, the Amendatory Act on Certain Measures Concerning the Judiciary, the Election of Associate Judges, their Discharge and Recall from Office and the State Administration of Courts of the Czech Republic, the Act on the Property of the Czech Republic and its Representation in Legal Relations, the Act on the Amendment of Certain Laws Associated with the Passage of the Act on the Property of the Czech Republic and its Representation in Legal Relations, the Budgetary Rules, the Amendatory Act on Viniculture and Viticulture, the Amendatory Act on Salaries, Remuneration for Stand-by Work and Average Earnings, the Act on the Probation and Mediation Service, the Auditors Act, the Public Health Protection Act, the Amendatory Act on Court Fees, the Act on the State Agricultural Intervention Fund, the Commercial Code, the Act on Public Administration Information Systems, the Amendatory Act on Employment, the Amendatory Act on Bonds, the Amendatory Act on Securities, the Act on the Closure of the Children and Youth Fund, the Land Communication Traffic Act, the Amendatory Act on the Prison Service and the Judicial Security Service of the Czech Republic and the Amendatory Act on Income Taxes).

Another 13 bills were passed in their original Chamber of Deputies version (the Press Act, the Amendatory Act on Commodity Exchanges, the Act on the Imposition of International Sanctions in Support of International Peace and Security, the Personal Data Protection Act, the Amendatory Act on the Ownership of Apartments, the Act on the Prohibition of Supplies to the Busehr Nuclear Power Plant, the Amendatory Act on Medical Products, the Act on International Assistance in Recovering Certain Financial Debts, the Act on International Assistance in the Administration of Taxes, the Civil Code, the Amendatory Act on the Protection of Classified Information, the Amendatory Act on Geological Work and the Czech Geological Authority and the Amendatory Act on Public Health Insurance).

In three cases, an Act returned by the Senate to the Chamber of Deputies was not approved (the Amendatory Act on the Protection of Economic Competition, the Executory Rules and the Amendatory Act on Banks).

In 2000, five bills were rejected by the Senate. In four cases the Chamber of Deputies insisted on its original version (the Amendatory Act on Road Transport, the Amendatory Act on the Czech National Bank, the Energy Act and the Act on State Bond Schemes to Cover the State Budget Deficit of the Czech Republic for 1999 and to Cover the Principal of the State Debt payable in 2001 and 2002) and in one case the bill was not approved(the Act on Financial Control in Public Administration).

In seven cases the Senate did not pass any resolution(the Amendatory Act on Misdemeanours, which was thus not passed, as the Rules of Procedure of both houses were amended at the same time, the Amendatory Act on Specialist State Supervision of Security Work, the Act on Healthcare Facilities, the Act on the State Bond Scheme to Cover the State Budget Deficit of the Czech Republic for 2000, the Act on Budgetary Rules for Regional Budgets, the Amendatory Act on Association in Political Parties and Political Movements and the Amendatory Act on the Securities Exchange).

Of the two draft Constitutional Bills, the Senate approved one (the Amendment to the Constitution and the Constitutional Act on the Security of the Czech Republic) and returned one to the Chamber of Deputies with proposed amendments (the draft Constitutional Bill on the Referendum); the Chamber of Deputies did not approve the version of the bill approved by the Senate and so it was not passed.

Overall Summary of Second Period of Office

Summary of Bills Returned with Proposed Amendments in the Second Period of Office

Thus in its 2nd period of office the Senate debated a total of 82 international treaties and 225 bills, two of which were Constitutional Bills. Of these bills, it expressed the wish not to deal with 68 of them, it approved 72 of them, it rejected nine of them, it returned 66 to the Chamber of Deputies with proposed amendments and in the case of the other nine it did not pass a resolution.

Of the 66 bills which the Senate returned to the Chamber of Deputies with proposed amendments, 18 were approved in the version approved by the Chamber of Deputies and 44 in the Senate version. Whereas in 1999, 17 out of 22 bills were approved in their Senate versions, i.e. 77%, in 2000, this figure was 27 bills out of 44, i.e. 61%.

As for the bills rejected by the Senate, there were four in 1999 but the Chamber of Deputies insisted on its original version in all four cases, while in 2000 there were five bills, with the Chamber of Deputies overruling the Senate veto in four of these five cases.

If we compare the figures for these two periods of office we find that in the first period of office, i.e. in the period from the first Senate meeting in December 1996 to the seventh Senate meeting in November 1998, the Senate debated 59 international treaties and 111 bills, of which four were draft Constitutional Bills.

The Senate approved 84 bills, including all submitted draft Constitutional Bills. In four cases, it expressed the wish not to deal with the bill, it rejected five bills and it returned 17 bills to the Chamber of Deputies with proposed amendments.

Of these 17 bills, four were approved in the version approved by the Chamber of Deputies and nine in the Senate version, i.e. 53%.

Of the five bills which the Senate rejected, the Chamber of Deputies insisted on its original version in one case and the bills were not passed in the other cases.

In 2000, Senate Bills submitted to the Chamber of Deputies also continued to be debated:

The draft Senate Bill on the Memorial to the Period of Oppression 1939-1989 – Parliamentary Document No. 450 - this bill was rejected at the second reading in the general debate of 5.4.2000 at the 24thmeeting of the Chamber of Deputies.

The draft Senate Bill to amend Act No. 172/1991 Coll., on the Transfer of Certain Items from the Property of the Czech Republic into the Ownership of the Municipalities, as amended by Act No. 485/1991 Coll. and Act No. 10/1993 Coll. – Parliamentary Document No. 468 – this bill was rejected at the first reading of 6.4.2000 at the 24th meeting of the Chamber of Deputies.

The draft Senate Bill to amend and supplement Act No. 247/1995 Coll., on Elections to the Parliament of the Czech Republic, as amended by Act No. 212/1996 Coll. – Parliamentary Document No. 467 – this bill was rejected at the second reading in the general debate of 28.6.2000 at the 26thmeeting.

Debates also continued on draft Senate Bills:

The draft Senate Constitutional Bill put forward by the Senate Commission on the Constitution of the Czech Republic, amending and supplementing Constitutional Act No. 1/1993 Coll., Constitution of the Czech Republic, as amended by Constitutional Act No. 347/1997 Coll.

The draft Senate Bill put forward by Senator Jiri Liska and others, to amend Act No. 140/1996 Coll., on the Provision of Access to Files Associated with the Activities of the Former State Security Service, and Act No. 97/1974 Coll., on Archives, as amended by Act No. 343/1992 Coll.

The draft Senate Bill put forward by Senator Frantisek Kroupa and others, to amend Act No. 200/1990 Coll., on Misdemeanours, as amended by subsequent regulations, Act No.  90/1995 Coll., on the Rules of Procedure of the Chamber of Deputies, as amended by Act No. 47/2000 Coll. and Act No. 107/1999 Coll., on the Rules of Procedure of the Senate.

The draft Senate Bill put forward by Senator Emil Skrabis and others, to amend Act No. 115/2000 Coll., on the Provision of Compensation for Damage Caused by Certain Specially Protected Animals.

The Senate does not only debate bills and international treaties at its meetings. It also takes part in the selection of functionaries for offices and institutions established under the law or the Constitution.

In February, for the first time in its history, upon the request of the President, the Senate expressed agreement with the appointment of a Constitutional Court judge, doc. JUDr. Jiri Malenovsky.

On the basis of Act No. 349/1999 Coll., the Ombudsman Act, the Senate and the President of the Republic put forward two candidates each to the Chamber of Deputies for the positions of Ombudsman and his deputy. Thus in May, after interviewing all the proposed candidates, the Senate voted for JUDr. Stanislav Drobny and JUDr. Simeona Zikmundova as candidates for the position of Ombudsman and JUDr. Jiri Vyvadil and Ing. Vladimir Zeman as Deputy Ombudsman candidates. However, in the subsequent election at the Chamber of Deputies, neither of them received the majority required to be elected.

Thus in October the Senate acceded to a new election of candidates and this time voted for JUDr. Otakar Motejl and Mgr. Marie Hoskova as Ombudsman and Mr Jan Voracek as his deputy. In November it elected a second candidate for this position, JUDr. Jiri Vyvadil.

The Chamber of Deputies eventually elected JUDr. Otakar Motejl as Ombudsman and Anna Sabatova as his deputy.

On the basis of Act No. 101/2000 Coll., on Personal Data Protection, the Senate also voted at its August meeting for RNDr. Karel Neuwirt as a candidate for the post of Chairman of the Personal Data Protection Office, and Ing. Bc. Milos Dokoupil, Ing. Milan Snytra, RNDr. Jiri Soucek and Ing. Mojmir Hajnik as candidates to be inspectors at the Personal Data Protection Office The President eventually appointed Mr Karel Neuwirt as Chairman of this Office from 1st September and the first three candidates to be Office inspectors from 1st October. The total number of inspectors anticipated by the law is seven so the Senate is yet to put forward another four candidates for appointment by the President of the Republic.

On the basis of Act No. 256/2000 Coll. on the State Agricultural Intervention Fund and the Amendment of Certain Other Acts, which stipulates that the Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the State Agricultural Intervention Fund is to be a senator, the Senate also elected Senator Emil Skrabis as Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of this fund.

In January, the Senate dealt with the Report on Petitions submitted to the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, its bodies and officials, with petition details and the manner in which they were settled, for the period from 1.7.1999-31.12.1999, which the Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions presents to the Senate on a regular basis.

In May, the Senate presented the President of the Czech Republic with proposals on the bestowal or conferment of state awards. Proposals on the bestowal or conferment of awards are presented under Act No. 157/1994 Coll., on State Awards, to the President of the Republic by the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the government. Awards are made on 1stJanuary and 28th October.

On the basis of its Resolution No. 196 of 18thNovember 1999, the Senate also regularly deals with information from the Czech government on the activities of Czech Army units and staffs. In 2000, the Senate debated:

  • Czech government information on the participation of Czech Army units and staffs in military exercises with foreign partners during 2000 (Senate Document No. 150)
  • The government proposal to assess the deployment of Czech Army units in the operations of multinational forces under the NATO JOINT FORGE (SFOR II) in Bosnia and Hercegovina, JOINT GUARDIAN (KFOR) in Yugoslavia (Kosovo), ALLIED HARBOUR (AFOR) in Albania and the sixth field hospital after the earthquake in Turkey, July – December 1999 (Senate Document No. 220)
  • Czech government information on recently agreed military exercises by Czech Army units and staffs with foreign partners in and outside the Czech Republic in the second half of 2000 and a review of transits and cross-country flights across Czech Republic territory in the period from January to May 2000 (Senate Document No. 329)

At its meeting on 12th July 2000, the Senate also adopted Resolution 425 on developments in Belarus.

The next part of the report focuses on the Senate bodies. These are the Senate committees, whose resolutions recommend the Senate to approve a bill or international treaty in the version referred by the Chamber of Deputies, or to reject it or to express the wish not to deal with it or to return it to the Chamber of Deputies with proposed amendments. In addition to this legislative activity the committees are also engaged in other tasks.

The law requires the Senate to establish an Organizational Committee and a Committee on Mandate and Parliamentary Privilege. Both have tasks determined by the Act on Rules of Procedure. Under the law, the members of the Organizational Committee are the Senate President, the Senate Vice-Presidents and the Chairpersons of the Senators´ Clubs.

The Senate Committee on Mandate and Parliamentary Privilege also has special powers. In 2000 it held 10 meetings.

The Committee on the National Economy, Agriculture and Transport debated 90 bills and 18 international treaties at 24 meetings.

The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security debated 30 bills and 57 international treaties at 19 meetings.

The Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs debated 68 bills and 15 international treaties. There were 33 Committee meetings.

The Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions debated 39 bills and 12 international treaties at 15 meetings.

The Committee on European Integration debated 43 bills and nine international treaties. There were 19 Committee meetings.

The Committee on Health and Social Policy debated 19 bills and eleven international treaties at 19 meetings.

The Committee on Public Administration, Regional Development and the Environment debated 33 bills and six international treaties. The Committee held 23 meetings.

The Senate also has its Commission on Elections. This arranges the elections held by the Senate as well as nominations requiring its approval. The Commission on Elections has seven members. The Commission Chairman was Senator Bohumil Kulhanek, who convened eight meetings.

In addition to the Committees, the Senate bodies also include Commissions, which the Senate may establish for tasks that come under more than one Senate body or for tasks that do not come under any of the bodies set up by the Senate (Section 43 of the Senate Rules of Procedure.)

In 2000, three other Senate Commissions continued their work at the Senate:

  1. The Senate Permanent Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad. This Commission is chaired by Senator Milan Spacek.
  2. The Senate Permanent Commission on the Senate Chancellery Activities. This Commission is chaired by Senator Karel Korytar.
  3. The Senate Commission on the Constitution of the Czech Republic. Senator Jiri Stodulka was elected Chairman of this Commission.

Foreign activities of the Senate in 2000 – foreign trips and the reception of foreign visits

In 2000, the President of the Senate made four trips, the Senate Vice-Presidents made eleven trips and Senate delegations made a further six trips.

There were also nine foreign trips made by senators, five trips by the Permanent Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad, a delegation from the Senate Permanent Commission on Senate Chancellery Activities went on a foreign triip to Italy, there were 43 trips made by members of standing delegations to interparliamentary organizations – nine trips to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a trip to the Central European Initiative, ten trips to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, five trips to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, four trips to the Interparliamentary Union, twelve trips to the Western European Union Assembly and a trip made by members of the standing delegation for collaboration with the European Parliament.

On 27th – 28th April, there was a meeting in Prague of the Western European Union Committee for Parliamentary and Public Relations on: “The State of Institutions Inspecting Defence and Security in Associate Member States of the Western European Union”.

A delegation from the Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs made two foreign trips and members of the Committee received three foreign visits.

Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security made six foreign trips and the Committee received 28 foreign visits.

A delegation from the Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions made two foreign trips in 2000 and members of the Committee were involved in the reception of five foreign visits.

A delegation from the Committee on Public Administration, Regional Development and the Environment made two foreign trips.

A delegation from the Committee on the National Economy, Agriculture and Transport made six foreign trips and the Committee was visited by 18 foreign delegations.

A delegation from the Committee on Health and Social Policy made three foreign trips and the Committee received one foreign delegation.

Members of the Committee on European Integration made eleven foreign trips and a delegation from the Committee received eleven foreign delegations.

Last year a Senate delegation headed by the Senate President received 35 foreign visits, the Senate Vice-Presidents received a total of 24 foreign visits and the Senate Committees received a total of 76 foreign visits.

Last year the Senate was visited by seven foreign delegations upon the invitation of the Senate President. A delegation from the National Council of Provinces of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa led by its Speaker, Naledi Mandisa Pandor, visited the Senate in March. Also in March a Senate delegation led by the Senate President received a delegation from the French Senate headed by its Speaker, C. Poncelet.

In June, there was a delegation from the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines led by its President, Blase F. Ople, and a delegation from the Shoura Council (Senate) of the Arab Republic of Egypt led by its Speaker, Mostafa Kamal Helmy. In June, Prague was also visited, upon the invitation of the Senate President, by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Lord Russel-Johnston, and a delegation from the Senate of the Republic of Ireland, headed by its President, Brian Mullooly.

In October, the Senate was then visited by a delegation from the Senate of the Republic of Chile headed by its President, Andres Zaldivar Larrain.

A Senate delegation headed by the Senate President received five visits from heads of state during the year 2000. In February, the Senate President received the President of the Republic of Poland, A. Kwasniewski, followed in April by the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Emomali Rachmonov, and in May, the President of the Republic of Estonia, L. Merih. In July, the Senate was visited by the President of the Republic of Latvia, V.Vike–Freiberg and in November by the President of the Republic of Greece, Konstantinos Stefanopulos.

In addition to other foreign visits, in March the Senate received the US Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Albright, and in April, Lord Irvine of Lairg, Speaker of the House of Lords.

Conferences and seminars also take place regularly on Senate premises (we provide a complete list in chronological order), at which the senators give the floor to representatives of the professional and lay public. There were 111 such events in 2000. By way of example we would mention the following:

On 2nd – 4th March a conference took place entitled “T. G. Masaryk, the idea of democracy and Europeanness today”, arranged by the George of Podìbrady Foundation under the auspices of President Vaclav Havel and the Senate President, Libuse Benesova.

On 25th May there was the “Children´s Parliament 2000”, arranged by the Czech Council for Children and Youth as part of the Bambiriada 2000 Festival under the auspices of the first Vice-President of the Senate, Ivan Havlièek.

On 29th May, the Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions arranged a concert by the Virtuosi di Praga ensemble under the auspices of Chairwoman Irena Ondrova to mark International Children´s Day.

On 9th and 10th of June, the Forum of Donors arranged the “First Nationwide Conference of Foundations in the Czech Republic” under the auspices of the Senate President, Libuse Benesova.

Another event in the series on Romany issues took place on 28thJuly. This was a seminar entitled “The Romany Minority in the European Integration Process” arranged by the First Vice-President of the Senate, Ivan Havlièek.

On 7th September, the Senate President, Libuse Benesova, arranged a conference entitled “The Association of European Border Regions”.

On 2nd November a meeting took place between senators and successful members of the Czech paralympics team, arranged by the Senate President, Libuse Benesova.

Open Days on 8th May and 28thOctober have now become traditional, and to these have been added the Open Days at the Wallenstein Riding Hall from 9th to 11th June. On 15th June the Wallenstein Palace Riding Hall was ceremonially opened.