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Federal Law on the Rules of the Procedure of the National Council

Rules of Procedure Law of 1975

Promulgations: BGBl. [Federal Law Gazette] No. 410/1975 as amended in BGBl. Nos 302/1979, 353/1986, 720/1988, 569/1993, 438/1996 and BGBl. I Nos 131/1997, 163/1998, 29/2005, 31/2009, 11/2010, 12/2010, 114/2011, 66/2012, 31/2013, 131/2013, 132/2013, 6/2014, 99/2014, 62/2015, 41/2016 and 45/2020

VIII. Sessions and Sittings of the National Council

§ 46. (1) The Federal President shall convene the National Council every year for an ordinary session, which shall not begin before the 15th of September and not end after the 15th of July of the following year.

(2) The Federal President may also convene the National Council for extraordinary sessions. If the Federal Government or at least one third of the Members of the National Council or the Federal Council so require, the Federal President shall be under the obligation to convene an extraordinary session, which shall begin within two weeks of the receipt of the request by the Federal President at the latest. If the convocation of an extraordinary session is called for by Members of the National Council or by the Federal Council, a proposal by the Federal Government shall not be necessary.

(3) The Federal President shall close the sessions of the National Council following a decision of the same to that effect.

(4) If a new session of the National Council is convened within one and the same term, its business shall commence at that point at which it was at the time the previous session was closed. At the time a session is closed, individual Committees may be instructed by the National Council to continue their work during the recess. Such an instruction may relate to specified items of business.

(5) During the course of a session, the President of the National Council shall convene the individual sittings.

(6) During the course of a session the President shall have the duty to convene a sitting of the National Council to take place within eight days - Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays not included - if twenty Members so demand and indicate the subject to be considered; any one Member shall support such a demand no more often than once a year. If a Parliamentary Group is composed of fewer than 20 members, it may nevertheless make such a demand once a year in good and due form if said demand has the support of all the Members belonging to the respective Group. In this case, too, no one Member may give his support to such a demand more often than once a year.

(7) During the course of a session the President shall also have the duty to convene a sitting of the National Council to take place within the same period as stated in (6) above, if one third of the members or the Federal Government so demand.

§ 47. (1) The sittings of the National Council shall be open to the public.

(2) The public shall be excluded if the President or one fifth of the Members so demand and the National Council so decides after the public has left.

(3) Official Records (§ 51) shall be kept of the deliberations that take place in camera. The Records shall be read in the course of the same sitting and deemed approved if no objection is raised. If there are objections, the President shall rule on them during the same sitting. The National Council shall decide even before the public is readmitted whether or not the Minutes of the sitting in camera are to be published.

(4) The National Council shall also be free to decide that the deliberations in camera are recorded in the form of a stenographic record, about the publication of which the National Council shall decide.

§ 48. (1) The presence of a quorum shall be required only for the purposes of votes and elections. 

(2) If a vote or election cannot take place because there is no quorum the President shall suspend the sitting.

§ 49. (1) The President shall open the sitting at the appointed hour irrespective of the number of Members present and shall make the communications s/he deems appropriate. In particular, s/he shall announce apologies for absence on the part of Members and indicate the individuals who deputise for members of the Federal Government who are prevented from attending (Art. 73 B-VG).

(2) The President may also make communications in the course of or at the end of a sitting.

(3) The President shall announce the entry upon the agenda.

(4) Before the agenda is embarked upon, the President may change the order of items of business on the agenda and rule that the debate about several items of business shall take place jointly. If there are any objections to this ruling, the National Council shall decide the issue without debate.

(5) Upon proposal by the President or upon a motion tabled by a Member the National Council may, before the agenda is embarked upon, decide by a two-thirds majority that an item of business be removed from the agenda or that an item of business not on the agenda is to be deliberated upon.

(6) Even after the agenda has been embarked upon, the President may, after consultation with the members of the President's Conference, propose to the National Council that one or more items of business be removed from the agenda. The National Council shall decide this question without debate by a two-thirds majority.

§ 50. (1) As a rule, the President shall at the end of each sitting announce the day, hour and, whenever possible, agenda of the next sitting envisaged. This may be done by referring to a written communication distributed in the meeting hall. If there is an objection, the issue shall be decided by the National Council unless the President accepts the objection. As a rule, all the objections raised in such a case shall be debated jointly, and the President may limit the time allotted to each speaker in this debate to five minutes and the number of speakers per Parliamentary Group to three; if five Members belonging to the same Parliamentary Group so require, a separate debate shall take place on all of the objections raised by that Parliamentary Group, and the President shall have the right to limit speaking time and the number of speakers in the same way as in the joint debate. The President shall determine the order in which several debates are to take place in accordance with the principles stipulated in § 60 (3). The vote on all the objections raised shall take place after the end of the debate or, in the case of several debates, after the end of the last. If no objection is supported by a majority, the President's proposal shall stand.

(2) The President shall have the right to place elections on the agenda of his own accord.

(3) If the day, hour and/or agenda of the next sitting have not been announced in accordance with (1) above, the announcement shall be made in writing and communicated to each Member and each Parliamentary Group. In addition, the President may have announcements to this effect posted in the Parliament building and publicised by the press, radio and other media.

(4) Objections to an agenda announced by the President as indicated in (3) above can only be raised immediately after the opening of the sitting. In such cases the provisions of (1) above shall be applied mutatis mutandis.

§ 51. (1) Official Records of all sittings shall be kept by staff appointed for this purpose by the Parliamentary Administration; these records shall, on the working day following the sitting, be open to inspection by the Members on the premises of the Parliamentary Administration during the latter's opening hours.

(2) Objections to the form or content of the Records shall be communicated to the President outside the sitting during the time that the Records are open for inspection, and the President shall have them corrected if s/he considers the objection to be justified.

(3) If no objections to the Records are raised or the President has ruled on any objection raised, the Records shall be deemed approved after the lapse of the period indicated in (1) above or once the President has made his/her ruling.

(4) The contents of the Records shall be limited to the items of business deliberated upon, the issues voted on, the results of the votes, and the decisions taken, as well as the enunciation of the point in time at which an Investigating Committee is deemed to be established under § 33 (9).

(5) The Records shall be signed by the President and one secretary. Copies shall not be made, but the President shall announce at the sitting following approval of the Records whether any objections were raised and what his/her ruling was.

(6) In exceptional cases, a part of the Official Records shall be considered approved at the end of a sitting if the President has read, upon a demand in writing on the part of at least 20 Members, the envisaged version of the Official Records covering specific items of business that have been completed and if s/he has ruled on any objections - to be made immediately - to the form or content of that part of the Official Records. There shall be no debate.

§ 52. (1) Stenographic records shall be made of the public sittings of the National Council and published in printed form; these records shall reflect the deliberations in extenso.

(2) Each speaker shall receive, before his/her statements are printed, a copy of the stenographic record so that s/he can make editorial corrections. In case of doubt the President shall rule on the admissibility of such corrections. Unless objections are raised or the copy is returned within the period allowed for correction the record shall go to print.

(3) The stenographic records shall list the items of business received during and/or since the last sitting.

(4) The items of business enumerated in § 21 (1) and (2) other than requests for the approval of the public prosecution of Members under § 10 (2 and 3, first sentence), requests for a decision on a possible connection with the political activities of the Member as outlined in § 10 (3), and notifications on the part of authorities under § 10 (5); requests of authorities under Art. 63 (2) B-VG; requests for the authority to prosecute persons for insulting the National Council; and petitions and citizens' initiatives shall be published as annexes to the stenographic records. The same shall apply to written questions and answers thereto as well as committee reports and minority reports.

(5) If the requirement of copying and distributing items of business or parts thereof has been dispensed with (§ 23 (2)), they shall not be published as annexes to the stenographic records either.