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Reforms - Essay Example

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How far the reforms introduced by the last labour government enhance or detract from the rule of law, democratic accountability or the sovereignty of parliament in the U.K. The last few years has seen United Kingdom undergoing a series of insightful constitutional changes…
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Download file to see previous pages The changes have bought positive impacts from the view point of parliamentary democracy, parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law. Two such reforms, introduced under the Labour Party reform agenda, are the House of Lords act, 1999 and Freedom of Information, 2000. The former reform was introduced with the goal to make the House of Lord more representative as well as democratic whereas the later was created to make the government operations more open and increase the democracy and sovereignty of the nation1. UK is a nation that follows parliamentary democracy i.e. the members who form the government body are also members of either of the two Houses of the Parliament (though there are a very few exceptions to this) and, the government of Britain is answerable to the Parliament as it owes its very existence to the Parliament. The Parliament of UK is also a sovereign parliament i.e. the legislative body is superior to any other government body inclusive of executive or judicial bodies. In the United Kingdom, it is the Parliament which decides the laws and the work of the judges is to interpret it. They cannot themselves make a law2. Under the House of Lords reform, the right to sit and vote held by the hereditary peers was to be ended but the legislative powers of the House of Lords was to remain the same. No particular political party would then have majority in the House of Lords and its composition will be a reflection of the percentage of votes cast in the last General Election. When the first phase of this reform came, all but 92 of the then present hereditary peers were removed from the House of Lords. 3 This law positively affects the British democracy, as proposed by many scholars. According to the result of a poll, the British MPs too have favored a fully elected House of Lords in comparison to the traditional composition citing that a step like that will have a major impact on the British constitutional reform. The government of Britain was previously divided into commons and the lords i.e. the there existed a “lower house” or popularly the “House of Common” which comprised of elected members and on the other hand there existed the “upper house” or the “House of Lords” who were unelected. The Lords believed themselves to be privileged who had either been put to the coveted seat by their fathers who sat on those chairs in the past or by the ruling party of their time. This arrangement was totally in contrast with the idea of democracy. The ultimate decision making power used to rest with the Lords and only when their decisions differed considerably with those of the Commons, the attempt to rule out those decisions used to be made. This highlights the existence of a large section of society with no important voice in the legislative process of the nation. This shows a democratic split. In a truly democratic country, problems like this would have never emerged. Therefore, it can be said that the House of Lords Act, 1999 was a step towards enhancing the democracy of the nation. (Britain’s Deficient Democracy) The reformed House of Lords is more confident, authoritative and it is broadly a representation of the society it seeks to serve. It contains people from different parts of the United Kingdom, from varied professions, from all ethnic and religious communities, both men and women and hence it will be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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