At the start of the sitting on Monday 16th March, the Storting adopted an oral recommendation from the Presidium to set up a special committee. Its remit is to consider urgent matters relating to the coronavirus crisis. The committee consists of the President of the Storting and one MP from each of the nine parliamentary party groups.
Section 18 of the Storting’s Rules of Procedure provides the Storting with the opportunity to set up special committees in exceptional cases “to deal with a particular matter or matters of a particular kind.”
“By setting up such a special committee, we are ensuring that the Storting will be able to consider matters relating to the coronavirus as quickly as possible,” said Tone W. Trøen, President of the Storting.
Public gallery closed
The Storting also made the decision to close the public gallery for Monday’s sitting on the basis of essential infection control measures. Commenting on the proposal put forward by the Presidium, the President made it clear to the Chamber that the Presidium was fully aware of the importance of having sittings that were open and accessible to the public. She underlined that any decision to close the public gallery must be adopted before each sitting on a day-by-day basis.
“This has been a very difficult decision, but considerations of life and health are the most important thing at present. I would encourage everyone to watch the sittings on www.stortinget.no”, the President added.
The press retains its access to the Storting and the Storting’s press gallery. However, it is urged to follow advice issued by the health authorities, and to send only as many journalists and photographers as absolutely necessary.
87 Members of Parliament
On Thursday 12th March, the Presidium adopted a resolution to reduce the number of MPs present in the Chamber to 87 when sittings are called to order and during voting. The resolution will be effective until the end of April. Article 73 of the Norwegian Constitution states that the Storting may not hold a sitting unless at least half of its Members are present.
During this time, MPs will sit as far apart as possible and will not necessarily be in their usual seats.
The Storting steps up its coronavirus measures