Full text: Iceland 1930

For legislative and other work Althingi is usually divided into two 
Houses, the efri deild or Upper House and the ned: deild or Lower 
House. But sometimes both Houses work together in a United Althingi. 
The members constituting the efri deild are the six chosen by the 
whole electorate and eight others, whom the united Althingi chooses 
from amongst the representatives elected by the constituencies, the 
remaining twenty-eight forming the nedri deild. Whilst both Houses 
are on the whole on an equal fooling, the budget must be introduced 
in the nedri deild. Both Houses and the united Althingi choose their 
respective speakers. The rules of procedure for both Houses (deildiv) 
and the united Althingi are fixed by law. Althingi itself decides whether 
its members are lawfully elected and whether a member has forfeited 
his eligibility. While the sittings of Althingi are as a rule held in 
public, either House and the united Althingi may determine to discuss 
an affair behind closed doors. No decision can be made by either 
House unless more than half of the assembly is present and vote, 
and in a united Althingi more than one-half of the members of each 
House must be present. Generally, resolutions are passed by simple 
majority, but sometimes an increased majority is required (vide infra). 
Besides the buisness done at sittings, Althingi also works in com- 
mittees. Each House can appoint committees of its own members to 
examine important matters. There are thus both standing committees, 
each having its special kind of affairs to deal with, and special com- 
mittees, appointed for the purpose of inquiring into certain matters. 
Each House may furnish its committees with authority to demand oral 
or written reports from civil service officials and private persons. 
Committee meetings are not open to the public. The proceedings of 
Althingi, i. e., the debates, parliamentary documents and votings, are 
published in the parliamentary Gazette. 
Although Althingi is in the main a legislative assembly, it can both 
control and influence the administrative work of the government. This 
is primarily due to the fact that Althingi commands the sources of 
supply, for both the budget proper and the supplementary budget 
require its sanction; nor must any payments be made from the public 
treasury unless authorized by Althingi. The sanction of Althingi is ne- 
cessary for imposing, changing or abolishing taxes, duties and customs, 
for the State to take up loans; for disposing of any public domains 
or the right of using such domains. The national accounts of revenue 
and expenditure during each financial year must be sanctioned by 
Althingi, which appoints three auditors to examine them. — As already

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