Parliamentary Life (1947 - 1974)
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Political Milieu

On the 22nd March 1946, a treaty of friendship was signed between the Government of Transjordan and the British Government to end the British mandate, and recognize Transjordan as a full independent sovereign State with a Parliamentary Monarchy system. The fifth Legislative Council held its extraordinary session on May 25th 1946 to declare Jordan an independent state, and pledge allegiance to Abdullah 1st Bin Al-Hussein as Constitutional King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Under these circumstances in 1946, substantial modifications to the Basic Law of 1928 were called for due to the political, economic and social transformations in the country, particularly the declaration of independence and transforming Jordan from an Emirate into a Kingdom. Therefore the Basic Law of 1928 was repealed, and a new Constitution governing the country was promulgated and published on February 1st 1947. This constitution is the first to adopt the bicameral system under the National Assembly- Senate and Representatives. The first Senate was formed on October 24th 1947.

Following Palestine Partition Resolution and the ensuing 1948 war, the Jordanian State directed its efforts towards uniting the East and West Banks, thus, holding parliamentary elections covering both Banks on April 11th 1950. The first Senate Council was dissolved to appoint new members including members from the West Bank. Subsequently, the newly elected Council officially endorsed the unity of East Jordan and the West Bank on the 24th of April 1950.

As a result of such circumstances it was necessary for Jordan to issue a new Constitution known as the 1952 Constitution to include core principles as the sovereignty of the nation, the nation is the source of powers, and the lenient separation of powers based on partnership and complementarities.

Legislative Authority under the 1947 Constitution

National Assembly Formation
The promulgation of the 1947 Constitution was a turning point in the Jordanian parliamentary system. It adopted a bicameral system in the “National Assembly” that consists of a House of Representatives elected by the people, and a House of Senate appointed by the King where the Senate members are half the number of Representatives. At that time, Senate members were 10 and Representatives were 20.

National Assembly Speaker
The Constitution delineated the King’s authority to appoint the Speaker of the Senate for a renewable two-year term. The King also had the authority to appoint one of the elected members of the House of Representatives to be Speaker of the House for a renewable one-year term.

National Assembly Term
The 1947 Constitution specified the term of the House of Representatives to be four years while the Senate term was eight years to be renewed for half of the members by a lot every four years.

National Assembly Meetings
The Senate convened concurrently with the House of Representatives sessions. During its term, the House of Representatives held one annual Ordinary session. The ordinary session lasted three months. Deferral, postponement and extension of the ordinary session were subject to the rules specified by the Constitution and the Representatives’ Bylaw.

National Assembly Functions

First: Legislative Function
According to the 1947 Constitution, legislative powers of the Parliament were limited to:

  • Proposing draft laws submitted by members of the Parliament as per the 1947 Senate and Representatives Bylaws.
  • Passing draft laws received from the Executive Authority.

Second: Oversight Function
The 1947 Jordanian Constitution granted the National Assembly the right to look into any issue or matter related to public administration, where the Senate had the authority to direct questions and request discussion on matters of public administration as per the 1947 Senate Bylaw.
The House of Representatives powers were directing questions, requesting discussion, filing complaints, and providing data as per the 1947 Bylaw.
Despite the oversight powers of National Assembly, It did not include the right to a confidence vote in the Cabinet.
The 1947 Constitution did not grant the National Assembly the right to look into or ratify international treaties and agreements or to exercise oversight authority over such documents. Besides, the National Assembly did not have the oversight powers over Country’s natural investments concession contracts.

The Legislative Authority under the 1952 Constitution

The 1952 Constitution affirmed the adoption of the bicameral system. The Constitution introduced core principles: the nation’s sovereignty, the nation is the source of powers, and the lenient separation of the three powers (executive, legislative, and judiciary) based on Complementarities and balance.

National Assembly Formation
The National Assembly consists of two Houses: the House of Senate- members are appointed by the King, and the House of Representatives- members are elected by the people through secret direct ballot.

National Assembly Speaker
The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by the King for a renewable two-year term. The House of Representatives elects a Speaker for a renewable one-year term at the beginning of each Ordinary session till the next session.

National Assembly Term
The term of the Senate is four years according to the date specified by the Royal Decree. The House of Representatives term is four years starting the results’ gazetting date.

National Assembly Meetings
The Senate convenes concurrently with the Representatives sessions. The number of sessions is the same for both houses. Concurrent to the dissolution of the House of Representatives, the Senate ceases its meetings. Meetings of the House of Representatives are held over three types of sessions as follows:

  1. The Ordinary Session
    The House of Representatives holds every year one ordinary session for four months on October 1st. The session is called for by His Majesty the King. The Ordinary session may be deferred or extended by a Royal Decree within certain conditions as per the Constitution.
  2. Special Sessions
    are held upon the initiation of His Majesty the King or at the request of an absolute majority of the House of Representatives when necessary. The duration of a special is not defined since it is held for finalizing specific issues including discussing bills or laws and other important matters. The House’s legislative and oversight authorities in the Special sessions are restricted by the Royal Decree issued for that purpose.
  3. Extraordinary Sessions
    are held in case of dissolving the House of Representatives where general elections take place. The new House of Representatives then holds an extraordinary session within a maximum period of four months after the dissolution. The conditions governing the ordinary session apply to the extraordinary session as per the Constitutional provisions. The same extension and deferral conditions of the Ordinary session also apply to this session. The extraordinary session should not exceed September 30th in order to hold the House’s first ordinary session on October 1st. If an extraordinary session is held in October and November, it is then considered as the House’s first Ordinary session as per article 73 of the Constitution.

National Assembly Functions

  • First: Legislative Function
    The legislative process goes through three stages: drafting, deliberation and passing laws. The National Assembly exercises its legislative role through two basic functions: proposing bills and adopting draft laws referred by the Executive Authority. The power of the National Assembly is, therefore, limited to approving, rejecting or modifying bills.
  • Second: Oversight Function
    The National Assembly exercises its oversight role over the Executive Authority performance as per the powers stated in the constitution. Therefore, the Prime Minister and Ministers have a shared responsibility before the National Assembly for the State’s general policy. The Jordanian National Assembly exercises its oversight function through special oversight tools set by the Jordanian Constitution to enable members of the National Assembly to follow-up and oversee the progress of government programs.

Legislative Oversight Tools are as Follows

  1. Proposing “Vote of Confidence”

    The confidence vote is proposed before the House of Representatives. In case the House decides a no-confidence vote against the Cabinet by absolute majority of members, the Government resigns. If the vote of no-confidence is against a particular minister, the concerned minister resigns.
  2. Investigation

    is an important oversight tool intended to reach certain knowledge via forming ad hoc committees from House members. Committees collect the required information on the subject under investigation.
  3. Request for discussion

    aims at realizing the factual situation and exchanging views on a particular subject with the Government to probe facts on a certain matter or to be aware of Government policy therein. The Government has also the right to request discussion with the Parliament in order to update the Parliament on its policies on a particular subject.
  4. Expressing desire

    means to ask the Government to do a certain action or to adopt a certain plan. This is parliament leverage- to oversee State affairs and monitor the Government policy.
  5. Receiving petitions and complaints
    since every Jordanian has the right to submit to the House a petition regarding public or personal matters.
  6. Query

    is one of the methods used to learn of an ambiguous issue, to receive an explanation from the Government on its way of dealing with a certain issue, or to draw the Government’s attention to a specific matter. Raising queries is regarded a personal right for Senate and Representatives.
  7. Interrogation and impeachment

    Interrogation is the right of the National Assembly to hold ministers or one minister accountable for their performance in office. Yet impeachment is directed to ministers by the House of Representatives with a two-thirds majority. The impeachment proceeding, as a critical matter, is brought before the Higher Council.

In addition to its oversight and legislative functions, the National Assembly exercises a financial role by adopting the draft state budget law and controlling taxations and concession contracts.

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