A couple of constitutional questions

A couple of quick constitutional questions.

First, as I understand things, there has always been a parliamentary convention that The Lords would not block legislation sent over from The Commons, if the content of that legislation was contained within a manifesto pledge.

I wonder, could this principle apply in reverse? Thinking about the current row over an EU Referendum, perhaps the Lords has a duty to block legislation that is contrary to a stated manifesto pledge? Indeed, where better than the highest court in our land to rule on whether there is a substantive shift in power?

Personally I’m a Europhile of sorts. I think there are some projects, like tackling climate change, where it is probably advantageous to pool sovreignity. But the EU’s reputation for bureaucracy undermines it, and this messing about over referendums is a sitting duck for the Euroscrotics.

5 Replies to “A couple of constitutional questions”

  1. Not sure it’s possible for them to block legislation. There’s a special process the commons can invoke (the something act) which effectively steamrollers legislation through the Lords. The most the lords can legally do is delay legislation, thier official function is a “refining” body.

  2. Its the Parliament Act. However, as Cleanthes says in the earlier commentary linked above, its unlikely they would invoke it in this case due to the political fallout that would ensue.

  3. I’m of the same view as you. Europhile, but appreciate there are a few things where if we worked together effectively (pah!), there’s some issues we could really ‘tackle’. I know this was covered ages ago and keeps coming up on any number of blogs every week, but I love this topic. Yes, they can, in effect block it, and Brown could use the Parliament Act if he wanted (and wanted to rile the public more than ever thought possible). Blair only used it once (to pass the fox-hunting ban becasue that’s one that would never get through the Lords) and it would be a big move/mistake in my view. My worry though is if they block it, then the Govt will seek revenge (and future security and leverage) when it comes to reforming the House of Lords. To an extent, the House of Lords, in cases such as this, is more democratic than the Commons becasue they can vote on conscience and not fear party whips or losing their ministerial car. An odd an intriguing situation.

  4. Hold on – voting with your conscience and ‘democratic’ are two very different things. While the former may be admirable, voting how you see fit with no accountability to the people who you are legislating over is in no way democratic.

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