According to the constitution, legislation was to be prepared by a Conseil d’Etat whose 40–50 members would present legislative proposals to an elected Corps législatif. During the 1850s, it was members of the Conseil who defended government policy both in the Corps législatif and in the Senate. The Conseil served, additionally, as the supreme administrative tribunal, the final court of appeal in administrative matters. Appointed by the Emperor, its members could be removed from their lucrative positions at will, although in practice dismissals were rare following an initial purge of 31 of its 40 members in 1852. The Conseil would nevertheless prove adept at using legal technicalities to thwart the Emperor’s will. The consent of the Corps législatif, made up of 275 deputies, was required for all laws and taxes. Its role, however, at least initially was viewed as essentially consultative. It would discuss proposals prepared by the Conseil d’Etat and presented by its president (Baroche until 1860). Deputies were not permitted to initiate legislation. Although they had the right to approve or reject legislation, this could only occur en bloc and without amendment, and they would be very reluctant to contemplate rejection, particularly of budgetary proposals. In procedural terms, legislative proposals, approved by the Conseil d’Etat, were submitted for discussion to the seven bureaux into which deputies were divided. Following discussion, each of these elected a rapporteur, who presented suggested amendments to the Conseil d’Etat.
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