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Deputees during a committee meeting.
© Hamburgische Bürgerschaft

How are they made up?

When it sets up the committees, the Hamburg Parliament (Bürgerschaft) also decides how many members they should have. The parliamentary groups are represented on the committees according to how many seats they have in parliament. Each parliamentary group has at least one seat on each committee. The distribution of power in the Bürgerschaft is also reflected in voting on who should chair the committees. The fields covered by the committees correspond to the division of responsibilities in the Hamburg local authority, which illustrates the principle of parliamentary scrutiny of the work of the government.

What do they do?

The Hamburg Parliament sets up standing committees to help it manage its varied responsibilities. This is where a considerable part of parliamentary work takes place and it is where the experts from the parliamentary groups meet. The biggest part of their work is preparing the debates and resolutions to be tabled in the plenary sitting (full meeting of Parliament).

How do they work?

Committees mostly get sent motions and bills from the plenary sitting that need further discussion and revision, but they also have a right to take up issues on their own authority. The responsible Senate and local authority representatives also take part in the meetings. The debating style here is often more down to earth than in the plenary sitting.

The committees have the power to organise public hearings that help committee members formulate political objectives. In addition to experts and representatives of special interest groups who are often asked to give their opinions, every citizen also has a right to be heard. The dates of public hearings are published in the committee agendas. Committees may also set up sub-committees for specific tasks in preparation for main committee work.

The committees summarise the results of their discussions in written reports which are intended to reflect the positions taken in the committee and the reasons for the recommendations made. A very important committee is the Petitions Committee, which is responsible for dealing with requests and complaints made to the Bürgerschaft by the public.

As a rule, all committee meetings are open to the public, with the exception of the Petitions Committee. Visitors may take part without registering in advance.

A meeting of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry "Cum-Ex-Steuergeldaffäre" in the Plenary Hall.

Parliamentary Committees of Inquiry

A Committee of Inquiry, whose rules are based on the code of criminal procedure, is one of the most important means the Bürgerschaft has of checking the work of the Senate. The support of a quarter of the parliamentarians is needed for one to be set up.

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