The Constitutional Significance of the Abolition of the Legislative Council in 1950
(2017) 15 NZJPIL 123
26 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2017
Date Written: 2017
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: Suggested Citation