The Committee’s main responsibilities

The Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs deals with two key areas; matters relating to the Storting’s supervisory authority and constitutional matters

The committee’s duties are set out in § 14, paragraph 8 of the Rules of Procedure:

"Constitutional matters and legislation relating to elections. Matters relating to the Storting’s scrutiny of the public administration, cf. § 15, first paragraph. Matters in which the Storting shall consider the extent to which constitutional responsibility shall be asserted, including whether the Storting’s Accountability Select Committee shall be requested to make the necessary enquiries to determine the basis for such responsibility, cf. § 15, second and third paragraphs and § 44. The committee shall also review and submit recommendations to the Storting on: 

a) records of proceedings etc. of the Council of State, cf. § 75, subparagraph f) of the Constitution;
b) the annual report from the Government concerning the follow-up of resolutions of the Storting containing petitions to the Government and concerning Private Member’s Motions submitted to the Government for consideration and comments;
c) documents from the Office of the Auditor General, and other matters relating to the Office of the Auditor General’s activities;
d) reports from the Parliamentary Ombudsman for Public Administration and other matters relating to the Ombudsman’s activities;
e) reports from the Norwegian Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee and other matters concerning the committee’s activities;
f) reports from the Storting's Accountability Select Committee and commissions of inquiry appointed by the Storting."

Supervisory matters

The Storting’s supervisory authority is there to ensure that the Government and public administration implement decisions taken in the Storting. The Storting has established three independent supervisory bodies to assist in this work:

  • The Office of the Auditor General is the Storting’s auditory and control body. The Office of the Auditor General is independent of government administration. It is responsible for auditing the central government accounts and monitoring administration of the government’s interests in companies and banks (corporate control). It is also responsible for ensuring that the State’s revenues are paid as intended and that the State’s resources and assets are used and administered in a sound financial manner and in keeping with the decisions and intentions of the Storting (performance audits). The Office of the Auditor General reports to the Storting on these areas. In addition, it issues an annual report.
  • The Storting’s Ombudsman for Public Administration (Parliamentary Ombudsman) ensures that individuals do not suffer injustice at the hands of public administration, and that human rights are respected. This work is carried out first and foremost by investigating complaints brought by private individuals. The Ombudsman also takes up issues on his own initiative and carries out inspections and visits to the civil service, prisons, psychiatric hospitals and other closed institutions. In addition to endeavouring to prevent injustice, the Office of the Ombudsman also aims to improve administrative agencies in general and strengthen confidence in public administration. The Ombudsman submits an annual report to the Storting.
  • The Norwegian Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee is a permanent seven-member committee which monitors the Norwegian Intelligence Service, the Norwegian Police Security Service, the Norwegian National Security Authority, and the Norwegian Defence Security Department. The committee is responsible for continuous supervision of the work of these services, and investigates complaints. It also takes up issues on its own initiative where appropriate. The main aim is to protect the security of the individual. The committee reports annually to the Storting.

The Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs makes recommendations to the Storting on issues arising from the Storting’s independent supervisory bodies. These most commonly involve documents from the office of the Auditor General, of which reports on performance audits are the most frequent.

In addition to dealing with supervisory issues arising from one of the independent bodies, the committee reviews other matters which come under the Storting’s monitoring of the Government and public administration. The committee

  • The Records of the Council of State. These include decisions taken by the King in the Council of State. The records are submitted by the Government twice a year and the committee makes recommendations twice annually, in the spring and autumn.
  • The Government’s annual report on the follow-up of decisions of the Storting that contain requests to the Government and on consideration of private member's bills submitted by the Storting to the Government for investigation and comment.

The Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs is distinguished from other committees by the fact that it can take its own initiatives. This means that the committee can instigate investigations into public administration which it finds necessary in order to fulfil the Storting’s supervisory function. The other committees may only deal with issues that have been referred to them by the Storting in plenary, though twice a session each committee may call for a matter that falls within its remit to be debated in the Storting.

At least one-third of the members must vote in favour to allow the committee to open a matter on its own initiative. Once such an agreement has been reached the committee must make recommendations to the Storting.

The committee may decide to subject a scrutiny matter to a public scrutiny hearing. Separate rules apply for these hearings. The minister responsible is requested to attend together with other parties whom the committee believes may be able to shed light on the matter. Official records are kept of public scrutiny hearings.

Constitutional issues

The Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs reviews and makes recommendations to the Storting on constitutional bills.

A bill to amend the Constitution may be put forward by a member of the Storting or a member of the Government. Article 112 provides that proposed amendments to the Constitution must be submitted during the first three sessions of an electoral term and must be considered during the first, second or third session of the following term. There will therefore always be a general election between the submission of a proposed amendment and the decision whether or not to adopt it. This allows the electorate to make its opinions known.

A two-thirds majority is required to adopt an amendment to the Constitution and at least two-thirds of the members must be present in the Chamber to vote on any constitutional matter.

The committee also deals with electoral legislation issues.

Last updated: 03.12.2018 12:00