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United States. Office of the US High Commissioner for Germany / A program to foster citizen participation in government and politics in Germany

7. Legislative organization and practice,   pp. 21-23 PDF (2.0 MB)

Page 22

The legislatures consistently adopt laws which
contain an undue delegation of authority, and
even of legislative power, to the executive, and give
inadequate protection to the citizen from executive
Civil Servants serve also as legislators, thereby
further confusing the distinction between ex-
ecutive and legislature.
To aid those Germans who seek to:
(1) Strengthen the independence and efficiency
of the Legislative Branch. This includes the
establishment of adequate professional and tech-
nical asistance so that the legislature shall not be
dependent upon the Executive branch in the pre-
paration of legislation.
(2) Develop the relationship of legislators in-
dividually and as a body to their constituents and
the public, and the right of the public to be in-
formed and to be heard on pending legislation.
(3) Application of the principle of the separa-
tion of powers between the three branches of gov-
ernment. This includes reform in the pres-
ent practice of undue delegation of legislative
power to the executive and of assigning judicial
power to, or interference with the judicial power
by, the executive and legislative branches.
(4) A system of adequate judicial review of the
constitutionality and legality of legislative and ex-
ecutive acts.
(5) Elimination of secrecy in legislative proce-
dure where it is designed to conceal proper in-
formation from, or to avoid the responsibility of
the legislator to, the public.
Considerable formal progress has been made
since 1945. The Basic Law and the Land Con-
stitutions in the U.S. Zone declare the responsibil-
ity of the legislatures to the people, the right of
the individual legislator to vote according to his
conscience, the supremacy of the legislature in
the law making field, the separation of powers
between the three branches of government, the
individual rights of the citizen (civil liberties), and
the duty of the Judicial branch to protect them.
They also prohibit the undue delegation of legis-
lative power to, or its exercise by, the executive.
They authorize legislative investigation of gov-
ernment administration and public affairs.
Unfortunately the spirit of these constitutional
provisions is little found in German practice.
It must be added, however, that there is a grow-
ing consciousness in the legislatures of many of the
weaknesses noted. The legislators recognize and
resent executive domination and appear slowly to
be making an attempt to throw it off. Some specific
action has been taken where ministries failed to
carry out legislative decisions which they did not
like, or where the Executive branch refused proper
information to the legislatures. The very fact that
these isolated incidents are noted as evidence of
progress, however, shows how unsatisfactory the
situation is.
Perhaps the most encouraging step forward re-
sults fronM a recent visit of a Bundestag group to
the U.S. Fifteen members visited Congress, the
Supreme Court, TVA, Detroit and other places over
a period of 30 days. Special emphasis was put on
congressional organization and procedure, com-
mittee work, public hearings, relations between
Congress and the public, and the legislative ref-
erence service of the Library of Congress. Rec-
ognizing, however, that a competent legislator's in-
terest lies in the life and spirit of the people whom
he serves, and that organization and procedure is
merely a technique toward a successful accom-
plishment of his work, they were given the op-
portunity to see courts, newspapers, labor unions,
industry, education and city and state governments
in operation. They appear to have returned with a
new conception of the role of the legislature and of
possibilities for improvement in Germany. The
first concrete result has been the visit of a rep-
resentative of the Library of Congress at their
invitation, to advise the Bundestag on the estab-
lishment of a legislative reference service. Another
consultant made a survey of this situation in the
Landtage in 1949, and if the federal experiment is
successful it may be hoped that progress will be
made at the state level also.
The Bundestag visit to the U.S. may also produce
changes in terms of legislative organization and
Six members from the Landtage in the U.S. Zone
have gone to the. U.S. for a three months period to
observe State legislative procedure and organiza-
tion. They have not yet returned.
(1) General
It is believed that the most immediate progress
can be made in this field by the initiation of legis-
lative reference services and by improvements in
legislative organization and procedure. Some com-
mittees may decide to hold public hearings. Discus-
sions will be held with individual legislators con-
cerning specific legislation, to point out the prac-
tical importance and application of the doctrines
of the separation of powers and non-delegation of
legislative power to the executive.
For the reason stated in Program Item 6 it is
improbable that any great advance will be made
in the next year toward establishing the right of
legislators to represent their constituents. Program
item 6, however, suggests means to further a closer
relationship between legislators and constituents.
(2) Visiting Consultants
Two U.S. consultants will visit Germany in 1950
and three U.S. and two European in 1951, in addi-
tion to the Library of Congress expert who is al-
ready here on invitation of the Bundestag group.
The consultants arriving in 1950 will follow up the
work with the Bundestag, will give any assistance
desired by the Landtage to establish legislative
reference services, and will discuss with them
changes in organization and procedure which will
further legislative independence and enable it to
play its constitutional role.
(3) German Visits to the U.S. and European
Another group of 15 Bundestag members will be
invited to visit the U.S. early in 1951 and three
groups of Landtag members of 12 each will visit
State legislatures. The Bundestag group will follow
substantially the same program as that described

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