January 28, 2021

Coronavirus- The lawyers of the Congress maintain that, without changing the regulation, they cannot fit plenary sessions by videoconference



Both Ciudadanos and Junts have been calling on the Chamber to allow interventions by their spokespersons electronically, but after the state of alarm for the coronavirus crisis has been extended, other formations such as Unidas Podemos or the PP have registered parliamentary initiatives to change the regulations and allow that this option be used in exceptional cases.

The last report of the lawyers, collected by Europa Press, stresses that, in its article 70, the Regulation of the Congress establishes that “the speeches will be delivered personally and by voice”, and that “the speaker will be able to speak from the rostrum or from the bench, “but he does not contemplate another alternative. What was allowed from 2011 on was remote voting under certain conditions, but with regard to the interventions there were no further changes since it is understood that, when intervening, no deputy is essential and anyone can be replaced by another from the same group.

“The forecast of the use of the rostrum or the seat is not accompanied by any possibility of intervening in the absence or outside the Plenary Hall, which is logical, because it responds to immediacy as the very essence of the debate, serves its proper development and to its due order by the Presidency, while allowing the correct follow-up by third parties of the public session, “argue the legal services.

THE JUDGMENT OF THE PUIGDEMONT CASE

Therefore, to authorize interventions from outside Congress, it would be necessary, from the outset, to reform the current regulations, but, even so, lawyers warn that this route “in any case should be considered only for exceptional reasons”, given the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court on the matter.

In this sense, they recall the TC ruling that prevented the Parliament from celebrating Carles Puigdemont’s inauguration from Belgium, where it was said that “the presence of parliamentarians in the chambers and in their internal organs is a necessary requirement for them to deliberate and adopt agreements “and that” in parliamentary procedures, the interaction between those present is an essential element for the chamber to form its will “.

But it is that, in addition, the lawyers indicate that, “from a technical point of view, Congress does not have, at the moment, the necessary means to be able to hold a plenary session through the videoconference procedure”, nor to coordinate 350 interventions telematics, even if only some spokespersons made use of these systems and had to attend to all of them at the same time.

AND ALSO, TECHNICAL REASONS

“Currently, the Hemicicycle screens that reflect the results of the voting are mainly dedicated to this purpose, although they also allow the projection of the image produced by the signal from the Congress Television Center. They allow the repetition of a single signal that is the one that is distributed to all television channels and therefore could not be replaced by the emission of several images, each one coming from one of a different signal, “explains the report.

The lawyers acknowledge that the technical problems would be minor in the case of the parliamentary committees, and in fact there has been some specific appearance that has been made by videoconference, but it was an outside party appearing, not the deputies themselves, to which would always apply the precepts established by the regulation.

In these weeks of alarm, Congress has minimized his face-to-face activity. Two plenary sessions have been held with a reduced participation of deputies, never more than fifty and the rest voting from home. There have also been two meetings of the Health Commission to listen to Minister Salvador Illa, also before a scant audience in the room, and with the separate deputies to avoid contagions.

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