|Type||Upper house of Parliament|
|Senate Moderator|| Sen. Reilly Jacobs, (SCP)|
since December 14, 2007
|Senate Leader|| Sen. Royce Matthewson, (SCP)|
since December 14, 2007
|Members|| 100 Senators|
|Last election||November 30, 2007|
Senate Chamber, Parliament House, Temple Park, Sanctus
The Senate is the lower house of the Sanctarian National Parliament, which also includes the President of Sanctaria and the House of Deputies (the lower house). It is elected at least once in every five years and is directly elected. Historically, its powers were much weaker than those of the House of Deputies and it could only delay laws with which it disagreed, rather than veto them outright, but following a constitutional amendment in 2012 (which came into force in 2013), its powers have been greatly enhanced, putting it on a more or less equal footing with the House of Deputies. Between 1974 and 2012, it met in St. George's Palace in Sanctus, but since the latter half of 2012, it has met in Parliament House, a purposefully built, state-of-the-art building in Sanctus city centre.
The Senate has 100 members. Members are directly elected at least once in every five years with each borough in Sanctaria returning two Senators.
An election must occur once in every five years. The Senate is dissolved on the same day the House of Deputies is, in which case a general election must occur within thirty days.
Number of Members
This is the current composition of the Senate:
The House chamber has confrontational benches but the end segment is curved to create a partial hemicycle. The government senators sit on the Senate Moderator's left, with the main opposition party on his right.
Moderator of the Senate
The chairman, or presiding member, of the Senate is the Moderator of the Senate, also known as the Senate Moderator. The Senate Moderator is chosen from among Senators but is expected to observe strict impartiality. Despite this, the government will usually try to select one of its own for the position, if its numbers allow. The Senate Moderator does not vote except in the event of a tie. The current serving Senate Moderator is SCP Senator Reilly Jacobs.
The Senate has broadly the same powers as the House of Deputies, unless otherwise defined, the most notable exception being it is unable to introduce any money bill. It has the power to veto any bill sent to it by the House of Deputies (likewise the House of Deputies can veto any bill sent to it by the Senate), and it also has a number of powers exclusive to the body:
- Approval of the Prime Minister's nominations to Government,
- Approval of the Prime Minister's nomination to the office of Attorney General,
- Approval of all judges nominated by the Government.
The Senate determines its own standing orders and its members are protected by certain rights arising from parliamentary privilege. In line with other modern parliamentary systems, Senators do not generally vote in accordance with their consciences or the wishes of their constituents, but must follow the instructions of party whips. Except in exceptional circumstances, the Senate meets in public. The Senate meets six days a week and at least once a week, a government minister, on rota, is summoned to the Senate to account for their department and/or duties to that date and to answer any question a Senator may have. A government minister may also be summoned during the course of a debate of a bill which falls under their department.
Firstly the Senate Moderator puts the question to the Senators present to say if they agree or disagree with the question before them. The Senate Moderators then gives his opinion as to the outcome of the voice vote. Senators can challenge the Moderator and demand a recorded vote. The Senate Moderator then again starts the voting process. Division bells sound around St.George's Palace and in some of its adjoining buildings calling Senators to the chamber to vote. The bells ring for six minutes and the doors to the chamber are locked after a further four minutes.
The Senate Moderator then appoints two tellers for each side and Senators are given one minute to vote. The vote is taken by electronic means whereby Senators press either the Aye or Nay button on their desks to vote for or against a motion. After the voting time has concluded a sheet (Division Paper) containing the result and each Senator's vote is signed by the four tellers and given to the Senate Moderator who declares the result.
While electronic voting has become the norm the Senate votes manually through the lobbies at the back of the chamber on a number of occasions, for example, motions of no confidence. A teller in an electronic vote can call a manual vote if they so wish. This has become an opposition tactic during important votes which are widely covered in the media.