A second chamber for a modern democracy: a comparative study

Russell, Meg (2003) A second chamber for a modern democracy: a comparative study. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

The focus of this work is on second chambers of parliament: their composition, functions, powers and effectiveness, and their reform. The work is comparative and considers different second chamber models within a context of the planned reform of the UK's House of Lords.
The research began in 1998, with a project that sought to draw lessons for House of Lords reform from seven other second chambers: in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland,
Italy and Spain. These represent a mix of second chamber models (directly elected, indirectly elected, appointed, and of varying powers) in advanced democracies of both federal and
unitary structure. Extensive desk research was carried out, coupled with study visits where interviews were completed with academics, current and ex-parliamentarians, parliamentary staff and other practitioners.
The main output of this project was a book published by Oxford University Press (publication 1). This is organised in three parts, amounting to around 120,000 words. Part 1 sets the context, looking at the House of Lords and the history and practice of bicameralism. The second, and longest, part analyses the seven overseas institutions thematically, covering issues such as history, composition, legislative work, relations with government, constitutional roles, public perceptions and calls for reform. The third part draws out general lessons and considers conclusions for the composition and functions of a reformed House of Lords. It is the only modem book which analyses second chambers in this thematic and comparative way.
The early results of the research (including publication 2) fed directly into the public debate on House of Lord reform during the time that the Royal Commission on Reform of the House of Lords was sitting in 1999-2000. After the Royal Commission reported, the work developed, including pieces which analysed their conclusions and recommendations in a comparative context (publications 3, 4 and 5).
The analysis developed through the later publications to draw more generic conclusions about modem second chambers. In publication 6 I set out to answer the fundamental question 'what are second chambers for?' by looking at classically defined functions, actuality, and what contributes to effectiveness. In publication 7 I examined the extent to which second chambers fuIfiI one of their classic functions - of representing territorial units within the state - and which factors contribute to their success. In publication 8 I consider
why, when second chambers are so often criticised, they remain so little reformed. Finally, publication 9 looked at some of the most recent developments in House of Lords reform in
he light of overseas lessons. It asked whether - despite concerns about reform having been frustrated - the most important reform might prove to be the removal of the hereditary peers in 1999, which had already taken place.
This PhD submission comprises the nine publications (summarised in the appendix) and a covering context statement, which explains how they fit together, what are their main conclusions, and what original contribution is provided by the publications taken together. It "claims that the work represents a Significant contribution to the theory of bicameralism and the role of second chambers in modem democracies. The conclusions of the work include new points about the role of political parties in second chambers, the influence of such chambers' particular relations with executives, and the importance of perceived legitimacy to
second chamber powers. After summarising these findings the context statement concludes by summarising the methodology employed, by examining some of the limitations of the book, and proposing some ideas for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Submission for a PhD by Published Works.
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
B. > Theses
B. > Doctorates by Public Works
Item ID: 10788
Depositing User: Adam Miller
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2013 10:52
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2019 03:26
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/10788

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