The Senate is the Upper House of the bicameral legislature the Parliament of Barbados. The Senate is accorded legitimacy by Chapter V of the Constitution of Barbados. It is the smaller of the two chambers and also includes Elizabeth II, Queen of Barbados (represented by the Governor General). The Senate was established in 1964 to replace a prior body known as the Legislative Council. Besides creating and reviewing Barbadian legislation, the Senate generally reviews approved legislation originating from the House of Assembly (Lower House). One main constraint on the Senate is that it cannot author monetary or budget-related bills. Most of the non-political appointees to the Senate have been selected by the Governor General from civil society organisations, labour collectives and public associations in Barbados.
Senators are nominated by the Governor General of Barbados, on behalf of the Sovereign. According to the Constitution of Barbados, some are chosen at the Governor General's sole discretion, and some on the advice of the Prime Minister and HM's Loyal Opposition. The Senate sits for 20 to 25 days a year. The term of the Senate, and the House of Assembly, is five years; both chambers are dissolved before each election.
All 21 Barbadian Senators are theoretically appointed by the Queen, but this duty, and all of the Queen's other Barbadian duties, is carried out by the Governor General. The Governor General appoints 12 Senators on the advice of the Prime Minister and two on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition. The remaining seven Senators are nominated by the Governor General at his discretion to represent various religious, social, economic, or other interests in Barbados.
Potential Senators must meet certain criteria before they can be nominated to the upper chamber. In order to be eligible for appointment, a person must be a Barbadian citizen of at least 21 years of age who has resided in the country for the past twelve months. A person is ineligible for appointment if they are in bankruptcy, have a mental illness, hold an allegiance to a foreign state, have a capital punishment sentence, have been in prison for a time exceeding six months, or have been convicted of a crime involving electoral fraud, treason, or other dishonourable acts. Furthermore, a Senator cannot also serve as a civil servant, a member of the armed forces or police, a judge, a public prosecutor, a controller, or a current sitting member of the House of Assembly. Senators serve for five years.
Both the Senate and the House of Assembly constitutionally share most of the same powers, however, much as in other Westminster System Parliaments, the lower house is dominant. All legislation can be introduced and amended in either house with the exception of money bills; money bills always originate in the House of Assembly, and the Senate is limited in the amendments it can make to them. If the budget is approved by the House of Assembly, but it is not approved un-amended by the Senate within one month, it can be directly submitted to the Governor General. If regular legislation is approved by the House of Assembly twice in two consecutive sessions, but is not approved of by the Senate either time, it can also be submitted directly to the Governor General.
When a session begins, the Senate elects a President and a Vice President, who may not be ministers or parliamentary secretaries. The President usually votes only to break a tie.