About me
About me

Reform of the Parliament Act


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 13 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 13 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

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 757th post was filed under: Politics.

More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd December 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd November 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th October 2018)

Where poverty means living on just £3 a month (published 15th January 2005)

Another Conservative MP defects to Labour (published 26th June 2007)

David Cameron doesn’t know how many houses he owns (published 12th April 2012)

Medical emergencies at 40,000 feet (published 3rd May 2013)

Comments and responses

Trackback from elsewhere on the site

Trackback received at 18:42 on 11th April 2008.

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

Compose a new comment


You may use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> .

If you would like to display a profile picture beside your comment, sign up for Gravatar, and enter your email address above.

By submitting your comment, you confirm that it conforms to the site's comment policy. Comments are subject to both automatic and human moderation, and may take some time to appear.

The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. This site uses cookies - click here for more information.