HL Deb 20 May 2004 vol 661 cc101-2WA
Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 6 April (WA 221), what are the residence criteria for membership of the Upper House in:

  1. (a) Belgium;
  2. (b) France;
  3. (c) Luxembourg;
  4. (d) Austria; and
  5. (e) Germany. [HL2594]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

For all federal and regional elections in Belgium (including for the Chamber and Senate), candidates must be Belgian by birth or be naturalised Belgian; be in full possession of their civil and political rights (the right to vote can be withdrawn if convicted of serious criminal offences); be at least 21 years-old; and be resident in Belgium. There is no stipulation on the number of years resident in Belgium or the number of years since naturalisation.

To stand for election to the French Sénat, one must be a French national and resident in France. There are no limitations for naturalised French citizens on how long they need to have had French nationality before they can stand.

In Luxembourg the closest body to an upper chamber is the Conseil d'Etat (Council of State). It consists of 21 Members, of which a minimum of 11 have to hold lawyers' degrees. They are nominated by the Grand Duke. Candidates must be a Luxembourger (there is a five-year minimum residency to obtain citizenship); a resident of the country (no minimum time for EU 14 citizens); and be at least 30 years of age, with the exception of the Crown Prince. Membership ends after 15 years, or when a member turns 72.

In Austria the Bundesrat functions as the "second chamber", representing the interests of the federal provinces in the legislative process. The 62 Members of the Bundesrat are not directly elected but are chosen by the regional parliaments (Landtag) in each of the nine federal provinces (Bundesland), in proportion to the representation of the politcal parties within the respective regional parliament. The candidates do not have to be Members of the regional parliament, but must fulfil the criteria to be elected to the Landtag. These are: Austrian nationality; having the main residence (Hauptwohnsitz) in the relevant Bundesland; no criminal record.

Members of the Upper House (the Bundesrat) in Germany are appointed by the governments of the federal states (the Länder). As specified in the Federal Basic Law (Grundgesetz), Article 51(1), they must be Members of the respective Land government. In most Länder, the Minister President (Head of the Land Government) can freely pick their Ministers. They usually do not have to be Members of the Land parlaiment, or even necessarily resident in the Land. In theory, Länder could impose their own residence criteria for membership of their governments, but in practice none does so and any such criteria would need to be compatible with German federal law.

All of these countries operate restrictions on their labour market for citizens of eight of the new EU member states which acceded on 1 May 2004 (the two exceptions being Cyprus and Malta.)