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Why are Second Chambers so Difficult to Reform?

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The experiences of second chambers in Canada, Australia, Italy and Ireland suggest that second chamber reform faces a number of inherent problems. It must frequently negotiate exacting procedures for constitutional change, may be caught up in wider constitutional issues and often comes a long way down the list of a government's priorities: an ineffective second chamber, or one with low public legitimacy, can be of value to the government. In the UK the public commitment of the current Government, based on decades of Labour Party tradition, together with the absence of a written constitution, may increase the likelihood of these obstacles being overcome.

Keywords: Bicameralism; House of Lords; parliamentary reform; second chambers; senates

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-09-01

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