Parliament Tens of thousands of euros in fees for constitutional experts for parliamentary hearings – Professor: “I would have liked to have done something else last year”

The HS reviewed the fees paid to the experts most consulted in the two main parliamentary committees and asked how much work the statements should be commissioned. Tuomas Ojanen invoiced the most.

Parliamentary the experts most frequently consulted in the committees have earned tens of thousands of euros for their opinions during this parliamentary term.

There have been dozens of more than a hundred statements made to them, including in the Korona period, which involved urgent decisions.

HS reviewed the fees and hearings paid by two major committees, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Social Affairs and Health. At the same time, it was asked how much work the statements do for their donors.

One Based on the sample, one of the experts most often consulted by Parliament is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Helsinki Tuomas Ojanen.

During the election period, Ojanen has accumulated more than a hundred statements, which have been related to the legislation of the Corona era. He has also been consulted on, for example, the Sote reform. The ditch can thus be described as a key legal adviser to Parliament.

Based on the report, Ojanen charged the committees a total of EUR 71,835 for this work.

“There have been an exceptional number of hearings, especially last year, but this year there have been enough,” says Ojanen.

“Exceptional circumstances, then exceptional times.”

Professor Tuomas Ojanen is going to be heard at the Social Affairs and Health Committee’s meeting in Parliament in March 2019.

During the busiest times, Ojanen has been heard by Parliament several days a week.

“Yes, I can now say that I would have liked to have done something more than just preparing for or coming to the next hearing of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs last year. It would have been nice to do more research, go skiing or orienteering, or whatever. ”

HS: n the report is based on the fees paid for expert consultations in the constitutional committee and the social and health committee from the beginning of july 2019 to mid-november this year.

A total of 74 experts have received remuneration in the committees during that period.

There have been more people consulted during the election period, as no fees are paid ex officio to those heard in committee or to representatives of organizations or other entities.

Remuneration statistics therefore mainly show which researchers, researchers or other specialists have significant power in the committees.

Nine the expert has received more than 10,000 euros in fees during the election period. A total of 15 experts have received more than 5,000 euros and 46 experts more than 1,000 euros.

The largest fees have accrued either from the Committee on Constitutional Affairs alone or for the most part from the Committee on Constitutional Affairs.

The second largest The amount has been received by a professor of constitutional law at the University of Turku with his expert opinions Veli-Pekka Viljanen, just under 54,650 euros. He has also accumulated less than 80 statements.

Professor of Constitutional Law Veli-Pekka Viljanen participated in the round table discussion of the Speaker of Parliament Anu Vehviläinen in October.

The third and fourth largest amounts have been invoiced by a professor of public law at the University of Turku Janne Salminen, EUR 48,630, and Professor Emeritus of Administrative Law at the University of Helsinki Olli Mäenpää, 48 400 euros. Both have given dozens of expert opinions to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs.

Ojasen and Viljanen’s position at the top of the list in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs is natural.

Ojanen himself points out that there are currently only two actual Chairs of Constitutional Law in Finland, his own and Viljanen’s. The number of constitutional experts to be heard is generally limited.

The crowd is also male-dominated. One of the ten most prize-winning women is a tenure track professor at the University of Tampere. Anu Mutanen. During his corona, he has given opinions to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs on, for example, amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act.

The Research Professor of the Department of Health and Welfare and the Professor of Social Policy at the University of Helsinki have earned the most in the current election period among the statements of the Social Affairs and Health Committee. Heikki Hiilamo. The amount is EUR 2 230.

Parliament pays the expert EUR 780 for a written expert opinion if he has a Doctorate and EUR 710 if he does not. The experts consulted shall also submit a written opinion to the committee.

The fees were increased in the autumn of 2020. Before that, they were 670 euros for doctoral graduates and 610 euros for others.

As of 2018, fees for committee hearings may also be paid in one and a half or two times if the matter under consideration requires an exceptional amount of work.

In the current parliamentary term, there have been two such cases in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs: the Foreign Minister Pekka Haaviston (green) ministerial responsibility and the imposition of restrictions on the movement of Uusimaa during a coronavirus pandemic. In the Committee on Social Affairs and Health, the increased fee has been paid once for a matter related to social reform.

Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Timo Tuovinen says it considers the level of remuneration to be quite reasonable in relation to the amount of work done.

“Yes, getting acquainted with such a broader proposal, drafting an opinion and then coming to committee [vie aikaa], so you can’t get an hourly wage there. ”

He also points out that the fees paid by Parliament are clearly lower than, for example, the expert opinions of legal scholars are paid by the private sector. On the other hand, the fees have been felt to be sufficient to make experts heard, Tuovinen says.

“Could it even be argued that professors and researchers want to be heard. Experts in committees influence the content of legislation. Maybe that’s the side, not the pure financial side. ”

Professor Veli-Pekka Viljanen says that she feels that the job description of a professor of constitutional law is to give statements and that the institution is valuable.

At least the fees for him are not unreasonable, if you think about the workload: for example, the legislation on social reform was about two thousand pages harder than average.

“Yes, I think this is a lot of help.”

Ojanen calculates that at least half a day will be spent in committee at the hearings, in addition to which a written statement will be prepared. In the case of major draft laws, preparation can take several days. He stresses that money is not a reason to make statements.

“Yes, at least I would go there more and more. I would say now about the sense of duty and the fact that the invitations are Finland’s primary, central state body.”

What about how does the constant digging in parliament go hand in hand with the day work of professors?

In practice, for example, Ojanen and Viljanen have been almost part-time in Parliament, having given several expert opinions a week during busy times.

Both say work is done in the evenings and on weekends.

Ojanen recalls that during the busiest period in the spring spring of 2020, he even took the provisions of the Emergency Preparedness Act for a run and refueled them with a lamp on his head so that he could also have time outdoors.

At the same time, Ojanen says that he wanted to keep the main job at the university. According to him, the employer has not said anything about parliamentary work.

“It may not have been all over my cheek either, when I just received the Teacher of the Year award, and just this week my fourteenth dissertation will come to an end.”

Professors still see in the hearings a kind of systemic problem: when there are few primary experts on the Constitution and human rights, the burden accumulates for the few and the system can be vulnerable.

“If we did not participate there, it would stop the legislation of Parliament quite totally,” says Viljanen.

Last spring, then chairman of the constitutional committee Antti Rinne (sd) complained in public, that a shortage of experts delayed SOTE reform.

The current chairman of the committee Johanna Ojala-Niemelä (sd) says he recognizes the concern. That is why attempts have been made to expand the expert package during this election period, and new names have been tried, he says.

Ojanen recalls that at the same time as constitutional and human rights issues have come increasingly important, the number of chairs connecting to the sectors has decreased.

“Personally, I would like to see a lot of other people in the committee, especially women and younger people.”

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