⇒ Because Parliament is sovereign, reform of the constitution can be effect by an Act of Parliament: no special procedure is required for constitutional reform
⇒ Can the constitution be modernised without the consent of the House of Lords?
⇒ As seen in R (Jackson) v Attorney General , the 1949 Act that further reduced the power of the House of Lords (which clearly amounted to a substantial constitutional reform), was passed without the consent of the House of Lords
⇒ There are some exceptions to this:
⇒ But, virtually any act can be passed without the consent of the House of Lords
⇒ Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales have devolved legislative and executive bodies
⇒ Human rights guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights have been given domestic effect by the Human Rights Act 1998
⇒ House of Lords Act 1999
⇒ Freedom of Information Act 2000
⇒ Constitutional Reform & Governance Act 2010
⇒ Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011
⇒ European Union Act 2011
⇒ The desire to reform the House of Lords had been on the agenda prior to the Parliament Act 1911. The 1911 Act was a compromise: a reduction in the power of the Lords in order to retain the Lords as a chamber comprising hereditary peers
⇒ The slow decline of the House of Lords was interrupted by the enactment of the Life Peerages Act 1958. It enabled the leaders of the main parties to appoint life peers. The chamber soon rapidly grew in its size...
⇒ The House of Lords Act 1999 was again a compromise: the Government wanted to remove all hereditary peers and reduce the size of the chamber; all but 92 of them went, leaving a chamber of around 800 peers who are mostly life peers.
⇒ Peers today are appointed by the prerogative, but in practice, Prime Ministers recommend life peerages at or near their resignation from office, or former MPs are recommended upon the dissolution of Parliament
⇒ The Prime Minister may make a recommendation to provide a peerage for a ministerial appointment where that minister is not an MP e.g. Peter Mendelsohn
⇒ Otherwise the House of Lords Appointments Commission can recommend appointments for those with no strong party-political affiliation
⇒ The House of Lords Reform Bill 2011 aimed to remove all hereditary peers, transform it into a 300 member ‘hybrid’ chamber (i.e. 80% elected and 20% appointed), and ensure the elected members were elected for a single, non-renewable term of 15 years
⇒ The Freedom of Information Act 200 creates a general ‘right of access’ to information held by public authorities
⇒ When has the Act been used to access information?
⇒ The Constitutional reform Act 2005 reformed the role of the Lord Chancellor, it created the Supreme Court, removed the function of the speaker in the House of Lords, and created an independent Judicial Appointments Commission
⇒ This Act replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act of Parliament
⇒ It provided the basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination
⇒ It extended the protection of the breastfeeding mothers, disabled people, transsexuals, and other categories of people
⇒ This fixed the terms of future Parliaments to 5 years
⇒ Parliament is to be automatically dissolved 17 working days before the election date
⇒ The Act expressly removes any other way of dissolving Parliament (i.e. including the royal prerogative)
⇒ This Act provided for gender equality in royal succession
⇒ It abolished the prohibition on a royal heir marrying a Roman Catholic
⇒ It limited the requirements on the need for the Monarch’s consent in respect of certain royal marriages
⇒ Matthew Flinders: In order for a constitutional reform process to succeed, three variables must be present simultaneously:
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