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Camera dei Lords - Dibattito sulla riforma

Materiale didattico per il corso di Politica comparata del prof. Marco Giuliani. Trattasi della relazione del dibattito che ebbe luogo all'interno del parlamento britannico il giorno 13 marzo del 2007 ed avente riguardo le ipotesi di riforma della Camera dei Lords britannica.

Esame di Politica comparata docente Prof. M. Giuliani



The Government’s unease is understandable because the decisive vote on the 100 per cent

model has clear implications—at least it does for any person of common sense—for the

primacy of the House of Commons. That may be why such large numbers voted in another

place for the 100 per cent appointed and 100 per cent elected Peers. Some 70-odd did so, by

my calculations, including 60 or so of my own party. That is an impressive number voting for

two apparently contradictory positions—and, in time, those 70 will have to reach a decision to

back one option or the other. However, I think that their vote at present is defensible, because

this is an argument about hybridity.

The argument is that hybridity will confirm legitimacy because this House will have an elected

element, which my noble and learned friend claimed provided what he called democratic

connection, or the legitimacy claimed by many others. We can be legitimate, but not too

legitimate, because legitimacy would challenge Commons primacy. The 20 per cent appointed

Peers will be the bulwark claimed against a challenge to the primacy of the House of


The 80 per cent political or elected Members of this House will still believe that their individual

legitimacy is every bit as valid as the individual legitimacy of those elected to another place.

They will recognise that the cap put on the elected element in this House will be there to

protect those in the Commons to the disadvantage of the electoral mandate that they have in

this House. Moreover, the first time that a vote in this House turns on the 20 per cent

appointed votes, there will be a constitutional crisis. An elected majority will simply not

tolerate being overruled by an unelected minority, nor should they.

What of the relationship between the two Houses? Why should an elected Member in this

House subvert the mandate from his own electorate to the mandate of an MP in another place?

That is not democracy; it is a doctrine of, “all elections are equal, but some are more equal

than others”. It is this that will be used to protect the primacy of the Commons. That primacy

is not challenged—it is right that the Commons has primacy, and there is no question of it.

Members in the Commons are elected, we are not—end of story. But sooner or later—and,

given the vibrancy of our politics, it will be sooner—the 80 per cent elected Members of this

House will challenge another place, will feel an equal legitimacy with the all-elected Commons

and the 20 per cent artificial constraint will not hold. It will be attacked and defeated and

primacy will go.

The truth is that last week’s vote in the Commons has put primacy into play. The all-party

Cunningham committee said unanimously that at this point the

13 Mar 2007 : Column 573

conventions between the two Houses must be reconsidered. It was a unanimous committee

position, adopted by unanimous resolution in both Houses. How would this vital issue be

examined again? We already know what the Government want on the conventions: the status

quo. But who will they consult? Will there be another “understanding” with the Front-Benchers,

with no Back-Bench representation? Or will the Cunningham committee reconvene? There is

only one respectable answer: the issue must be dealt with by an all-party committee of both

Houses. No other means is acceptable, and I ask my noble and learned friend to confirm

unequivocally that that will be the case.

If this House has a majority of elected Members, the primacy of the Commons as currently

understood will go. The argument that it can be protected is both unsustainable and

undemocratic: unsustainable because neither electors nor elected will abide by it, and

undemocratic because it denies the elected the power to act on behalf of the electors.

Democracy is not just about voting, but about voting for people who will act on the basis of the

mandate that the electorate have given them. The election of political members of this House

will give them such a mandate. It is misleading to give the electorate the right to vote without

the right of the elected to deliver on that vote. A mandate without means to deliver is

meaningless; worse, it is a deceit.

I shall vote against all the options on hybridity. Hybridity is a connection not to democracy but

to constitutional uncertainty and electoral unfairness. I shall vote for a 100 per cent appointed

House. I could vote for a 100 per cent elected House, but only if there is a new settlement

between the two Houses reflecting that all elections to the British Parliament really are equal,

without some being more equal than others.

12.13 pm

Lord Higgins: My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, with whom I

served on the Joint Committee on Conventions. I find that her main point is one that I would


It is a privilege to speak in this debate. Yesterday, we had many fine speeches. There were

outstanding speeches from the government Benches by the noble and learned Lord, Lord

Irvine, from the Conservative Benches by my noble and learned friend Lord Howe and from the

Cross Benches by the noble Baroness, Lady Boothroyd. They all agreed, and I agreed with

what they said. I shall not repeat their arguments, but there is a consensus across the

Benches that ought to be followed.

The voting in the House of Commons last week was not, as was feared, a train crash; it is

probably better described as a nuclear missile that went off at half-cock. Yesterday, the noble

and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that we must take the vote on 100 per cent elected

at face value. That would be extraordinarily naive. In reality there was an enormous amount of

tactical voting. It is important to analyse how people voted last week, and I shall do so,

reinforcing the point made by the noble Baroness a moment ago.

13 Mar 2007 : Column 574

I first make one or two simple points. First, I support the views expressed, as quoted

yesterday, by Mr Alan Williams in another place. He was my pair for some 33 years, succeeded

me as chair of the Liaison Committee and is now Father of the House. He pointed out that

hybridity is not only the worst of all possible worlds, but intrinsically unstable. At the end of

the day, the choice can only really be between wholly elected or wholly appointed.

Secondly, the idea that democracy would be increased in this country if we had elected

Members of this House is false. We already have a system that is 100 per cent democratic;

one cannot make it more than 100 per cent. Having elected Members of this House would

change the balance between the two Houses. We would lose what is now an effective system,

both in revising legislation—I see the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, opposite, with whom we did

a great deal—because the Commons is no longer revising and scrutinising legislation as it

should, and in holding the Government to account. It is inconceivable that this House would

hold the Government to account—let us say at Question Time last week, on defence or the

National Health Service—with the same expertise if we had elected Members.

The Government, in support of their view that an elected element in this House would be all

right, points out that other countries have elected double chambers. However, they did not

point out in the evidence to the Select Committee that all those countries have written

constitutions. As far as I know, the Government do not propose that for this country, although

given the rather oracular remarks of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor yesterday,

I am not sure that he is not moving in that direction.

As to the future and the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, the noble and

learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said yesterday that we will reconvene the cross-party group.




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+1 anno fa

Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in scienze internazionali e istituzioni europee
Università: Milano - Unimi
A.A.: 2011-2012

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Atreyu di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Politica comparata e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Milano - Unimi o del prof Giuliani Marco.

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