European Journal of Law Reform

Praktijk

Bicameralism or Unicameralism

A Case of the United Kingdom and Uganda

Keywords unicameralism, bicameralism, legislative system of Uganda, legislative system of the UK
Authors Esther Majambere
Author's information

109332 Esther Majambere
Esther Majambere is a Senior Legal Officer at the Uganda Law Reform Commission in Kampala, Uganda.
  • Abstract

      This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of a unicameral legislative system and that of a bicameral legislative system. A unicameral legislature has one chamber whereas a bicameral legislature has two chambers as this article shows in detail.In any democratic state, Parliament is the only organ given power to make laws. Most Constitutions define legislation as the central function of parliament. This is supported by its very name ‘the Legislature’. The law making processes in a unicameral legislature are more less the same as those in a bicameral legislature as this article discusses. The only difference is that in a bicameral system the law has to be approved by both chambers. The article therefore explores whether the second chamber is necessary.Bicameralism seems to work best in countries that are larger or socially and ethnically diverse. It helps to resolve regional conflict. In some countries with a bicameral legislative system, the upper house is used as a way of reserving representation for certain societal groups and or to replace a further check on the power of the Lower House. The Parliament of UK is a bicameral legislature with the House of Lords (upper house) and the House of Commons (lower house). The House of Lords includes two different types of members- the Lord Spiritual (the senior bishops of the Church of England) and the Lords Temporal (members of the peerage upper ranks of the British nobility) elected by the population at large, but are appointed by the sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Lords also performed a judicial role through the Law Lords prior to the opening of the Supreme Court. In theory, supreme legislative power is vested in the Queen-in-Parliament; in practice real power is vested in the House of Commons, as will be discussed in this article. Therefore how many chamber a parliament should have is a controversial question in constitutional law.

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