- Created by: Q_
- Created on: 10-04-19 18:15
A legislature comprising of two chambers is said to be bicameral and most modern democracies have two chambers.
Advantages of Bicameralism:
- A second chamber can provide greater checks and balances on government power and allow for enchanced revision of legislation.
- A chamber that is less partisan or less sensitive to the prospect of an election can represent different interests and consider the long-term impact of actions and legislation.
Disadvantages of Bicameralism:
- Legislative gridlock can occur if the two chambers are in conflict, leading to inaction.
- An indirectly elected upper house can be increasingly marginalised by - or block the agenda - of a democratically elected lower house.
Bicameralism in the UK and USA
UK: Asymmetric bicameralism due to the greater power possessed by the Commons over the Lords.
USA: Balanced bicameralism as the legislative power between the House of Representatives and the Senate is largely co-equal.
The Legislative Process
Two types of bills exist:
- Government bills (usually contained within a manifesto, supported by the government and invariably passed into law).
- Private Members' Bills (originating with individual MPs, which are usually doomed to fail unless they receive government backing).
- Private bills are specific and affect certain individuals or organisations - not the general public.
The Passage of Legislation
1. First Reading: introduction and timetabling.
2. Second Reading: ministerial, explanation and vote.
3. Committee Stage: scrutiny by public bill committee, amendments proposed as appropriate.
4. Third Reading: voting on amendments, vote.
5. Lords Stage: similar process to the Commons with any amendments voted on by the Commons.
6. Royal assent: the signing of the Act into law by the monarch.
Speeding up the legislative process
Tactics and powers available to the government to speed up the legislative process include:
- Using whipped votes in the committee stage to limit the success of Opposition-backed amendments.
- Using guillotine motions to curtail debate, especially in the committee stage (used by governments to limit the amount of time that MPs can spend debating a particular stage of a Bill in the House of Commons).
- Making concessions to unsupportive backbenchers or to limit the Lords' power of delay for up to a year.
- Threatening or using the Parliament Act to bypass the Lords.