The Constitutional Significance of the Abolition of the Legislative Council in 1950

26 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2017

See all articles by Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

For nearly one hundred years, New Zealand had an appointed upper house in its Parliament, called the Legislative Council. It was abolished by statute in 1950. The search for a substitute took some years, but ended with no proposal succeeding. This article reviews the history of the Legislative Council and revisits the reports done in attempts to revive a second chamber and the constitutional agitation that accompanied those efforts. It analyses the weaknesses of the Legislative Council and why reform proposals failed. It examines more recent efforts to reintroduce a second chamber, including the Bill for an elected Senate that was introduced into Parliament, alongside the measures to implement the Mixed Member Proportional election system in 1993. The Senate provisions were excised by the Select Committee considering the Bill. Efforts still continue to revive the idea of a second chamber, but the article concludes they are doomed to failure in New Zealand's particular political culture. It suggests that the salient function of a second chamber as a revising chamber for legislation should be achieved by improving the scrutiny of legislation in the House of Representatives.

Keywords: Legislative Council, Constitutional Law, Parliamentary Structure

JEL Classification: KOO, K1, K19

Suggested Citation

Palmer QC, Sir Geoffrey, The Constitutional Significance of the Abolition of the Legislative Council in 1950 (2017). (2017) 15 NZJPIL 123; School of International Service Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3054306 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3054306

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

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