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Reform of the Parliament Act

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

The Parliament Act was designed to stop an elite band of Lords from preventing the passage of a bill favoured by the people. It is undeniable that the current Labour government have taken advantage of this, and forced through legislation that is at best controversial, and even potentially unpopular with the people, thanks to their huge Commons majority. It’s clear, therefore, that an archaic law is being abused by a modern-day government to the potential detriment of the democratic process. Why, then, don’t we reform this law?

We now live in an age where referenda are relatively easy to organise, especially if held alongside local elections. And when viewed in the context of the Act only having been used seven times in almost 100 years, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that the Parliament Act should be reformed to suggest that the Commons can only overrule the Lords in the case where the Commons has the backing of the majority of voters in a referendum. In that way, the Act would truly be restricted to being used when the people’s wishes are being ignored by the Lords, and would also prevent the abuse of the Act shown by the Labour government.

Obviously, urgent legislation couldn’t be passed using these measures, but then it is highly unlikely that the Lords would have any wish to delay urgently necessary legislation anyway. This change would appear to give more power to the Lords, and perhaps slightly increase the obstinacy of the Chamber, invoking more use of the Act than at present; however, viewed on another level, it takes power away from the Commons and returns it to the people the Commons is supposed to represent. It’s also possible that the piece of legislation being passed would be one that no-one really cared about, and so wouldn’t really be motivated to cast a referendum vote upon, but again, that’s unlikely as by the very nature of the process the legislation involved is likely to be controversial.

The final consideration is whether this would actually return power to the people, or increase the power of those in the media. Of course, in reality, it would probably do a bit of both – but we manage to get through General Elections every four years or so without worrying whether the votes are those of the people or those of media moguls, so I don’t see why we can’t manage the same in a referendum once every 13 years or so.

Overall, I think mine is a pretty good suggestion, even if I do say so myself. But I’m no expert, and I’m sure there’s some major factor I must be overlooking. So, if you can see the flaw in the plan, feel free to comment and let me know. The future of the Parliament Act needs to be debated – so let’s get on with it 😉

This post was filed under: Politics.

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18:42
11th April 2008.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » Council’s spying demonstrates danger of bad laws




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