June 18, 2021

In the National Assembly, how a “second deliberation” got an amendment adopted by La France insoumise

Perhaps the second deliberations deserve a blog on their own. This process by which Parliament reconsiders a vote it has taken previously is a symbol of the relations between the legislative and the executive, which takes several facets according to the applicant.

The second deliberation allows, at the very end of the text, to vote again on a provision which was not adopted as intended. This formidable instrument for rationalizing Parliament – which also exists in the Senate – is not of constitutional origin. It is indeed the chambers that have imposed it in their respective regulations. The second deliberation kills the suspense and kills almost in the bud any attempt to emancipate Parliament. It is very useful to correct an “error”, however in the vast majority of cases, it emanates from the government, which considers that the error in question is that the majority did not vote as it wished (an example here ).

Yet in recent years MPs have tended to use the tool. At the end of the previous legislature, we saw a rapporteur or a committee chairman using it to wring the arm of the government.

During this legislature, we told you how a second deliberation was used to confirm a vote, or more recently to reverse a vote while incorporating elements of compromise.

This Wednesday evening, another type of second deliberation with unprecedented contours took place.

It all started in the afternoon with an amendment from La France insoumise defended by Caroline Fiat, which returns to the scandal of the bodies given to Paris-Descartes. He intends to add to an article of the bioethics bill that “Health, training or research establishments are committed to bringing respect and dignity to the bodies entrusted to them ».

In support of her argument, Caroline Fiat quotes an interview with the Minister of Research, then on the bench, who declared a few days earlier that the legislation and regulations had to be reviewed, on the occasion of the bioethics law.

The amendment is rejected, the rapporteur and the minister considering that article 7 ter as drafted is sufficient.

But the “rebellious” member quickly announced that she did not understand this rejection and that she was going to ask for a second deliberation; which she will do, late in the evening.

If the government and any deputy can request the application of this procedure, the initiative always comes from the executive or from a chairman or rapporteur of the committee, and never from a deputy in his own name, again. less opposition. Such a request is usually doomed to failure, since only the government or the commission can act on it. Yet in a “Constructive spirit”, the president of the special commission Agnès Firmin-Le Bodo accepts this request.

Caroline Fiat gives a layer, citing again the words of Frédérique Vidal. The rapporteur Gérard Leseul (socialist) modifies his opinion and gives an opinion of “wisdom”. The government, it maintains its unfavorable opinion, firm.

The result of the vote is final. The amendment was finally adopted widely, including among the ranks of the majority.

At the request of La France insoumise, the deputies therefore agreed to review their position on an amendment by the Mélenchoniste group, thereby going against the government’s position!

It must be said that it was not really obvious that article 7 ter carried with it the lessons of the Paris-Descartes affair, at least not in the text of the law. Moreover, this was the last opportunity to make a modification, since the bill is at the end of its parliamentary course (new and third reading, before a final reading which will only endorse the whole). Finally, the amendment was clear and not very talkative, and Caroline Fiat is a member rather recognized, on all the benches, for her parliamentary work. All these elements have undoubtedly played a role.

When they emanate from the government, the second deliberations are the sign of a balance of power in its favor. But when they come from deputies – more and more – they are an instrument of compromise, sometimes in an inverted balance of power.