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February 2011

 File n°70 

The Secretaries General

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Key Points

    One of the defining elements of the administrative structure of the National Assembly is its two-headed aspect: the running of its two distinct poles (legislative departments and administrative departments) is carried out by two high-ranking civil servants appointed by the Bureau of the Assembly.

    The Secretary General of the Assembly and of the Presidency assists the President in plenary sitting and helps him in all matters concerning the institutional running of the Assembly, particularly in his relations with public powers. He is responsible to the President for the correct running of the legislative departments.

    The Secretary General of the Questure assists the three Questeurs, whose responsibility it is, under the authority of the Bureau, to deal with all administrative and financial questions. He is responsible to them for the correct running of the administrative departments.

    The two secretaries general head the joint departments. They are together responsible for their correct running to the President and to the Questeurs.

See also files 19, 20, 21, 65 and 69

 

    Since the origin of Parliament, M.P.s considered that for their work to be carried out in the best conditions, it should not be burdened by material problems. Therefore, they appointed, amongst their own members, M.P.s specifically in charge of the administrative and financial management of their assembly. In 1803, these appointees received the name of Questeurs.

    Thus, the activities of the staff responsible for assisting the representatives of the Nation were divided into two poles. The first, under the authority of the President, was centred on legislative activity and the second, under the authority of the Questeurs, was organized around administrative tasks.

    Two high-ranking civil servants head these two poles: the Secretary General of the Assembly and of the Presidency and the Secretary General of the Questure.

    I. – APPOINTMENT, SUBSTITUTION, RETIREMENT

    The Secretary General of the Assembly and of the Presidency and the Secretary General of the Questure are appointed by the Bureau of the National Assembly. In theory, they are selected from amongst civil servants of all categories but in practice, they come from the ranks of civil servants holding the position of Director General or Director, so as to ensure that they have the ability, experience and authority necessary for the carrying-out of their positions.

    The two secretaries general are assisted, for the former, by a Director General of Legislative Departments and, for the latter, by a Director General of Administrative Departments. The directors general replace them if need be and have, in such a situation, authority over all the legislative and administrative departments. In addition, the Director General of legislative departments has authority over 2 joint departments (Permanent Representation of the National Assembly to the European Union and Human Resources Department). The Human Resources Department is placed under the authority of both secretaries general.

    The secretaries general may, by right, retire at the age of sixty-five. Beyond this limit, they may retain their position up to the age of seventy upon a special annual decision by the Bureau.

    II. – MAIN REMIT

    1. – The Secretary General of the Assembly and of the Presidency

    The Secretary General of the Assembly and of the Presidency plays the role of adviser to the President in all matters concerning procedure. He/she assists the President in plenary sitting.

    Outside of questions linked to the running of debates, he/she provides the President with assistance in all matters concerning the institutional operation of the Assembly and in particular with his relations with public powers. He/she is in charge of the preparation, the holding and the follow-up of the meetings of the Bureau. The Bureau is the supreme collegial body of the Assembly and has full power in the making of rules concerning the deliberations of the Assembly and in the organization and management of all its departments.

    - The Secretary General of the Assembly and of the Presidency is responsible to the President for the correct running of the thirteen legislative departments: the General Secretariat of the Presidency, the Table Office, Legal Affairs, Culture and Social Questions, Economy and Scientific Assessment, Public Finance, European Affairs, International and Defence Affairs, Communication and Multimedia Information, the Library and Archives, the Verbatim Report Departments for the Sittings and for the Standing Committees and, finally, the Protocol and Management Unit.

    2. – The Secretary General of the Questure

    The Secretary General of the Questure assists the three Questeurs who, under the authority of the Bureau, of which they are members, have extensive powers in financial, accountancy and administrative matters within the framework of the autonomous management of the National Assembly.

    To do so, he arranges the meetings of the Questure. He also, along with his departments, prepares the files which will be submitted to the Questeurs, draws up the minutes, records the decisions and ensures their implementation.

    The Secretary General of the Questure is responsible to the Questeurs for the correct running of the five administrative departments: the General Administration and Security Department, the Parliamentary Logistics Department, the Budget, Financial Control and Procurement Department, the Financial and Social Management Department and the Buildings and Heritage Department.

    The two secretaries general head together one joint department and one joint unit: the Information Systems Department, and the Protocol Unit. They share responsibility for the Human Resources Department.