Constitutional Reform of National Legislatures
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Constitutional Reform of National Legislatures

Bicameralism under Pressure

Edited by Richard Albert, Antonia Baraggia and Cristina Fasone

Despite the importance of second chambers to the success of constitutional democracies around the world, today many fundamental questions about bicameralism remain understudied and undertheorized. What makes bicameral reform so difficult? Why choose bicameralism over unicameralism? What are the constitutional values of bicameralism? This innovative book addresses these questions and many more from comparative, doctrinal, empirical, historical and theoretical perspectives.
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Chapter 6: The House of Lords faces up to Brexit

Peter Leyland

Abstract

The chapter analyses the role played by the UK House of Lords – a unique second chamber in comparative perspective – in the controversial process of withdrawal from the European Union. It argues that in passing Brexit legislation and in the scrutiny of governmental action through the relevant select committees, the House of Lords provides significant resistance to the House of Commons, which tends to be dominated by the executive. This is partly because no single party or group has a majority since the removal of the hereditary peers in 1999, and, partly because of the specialised select committees with an EU focus, which are able to draw upon the expertise of their members to provide relatively independent scrutiny. It is further argued that notwithstanding its useful contribution, the scrutiny provided has not been co-ordinated, and that the House of Lords ultimately lacks both democratic legitimacy and the formal power to fundamentally influence the policies adopted by government.

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