Reforming the Upper House: Lessons from Britain

Gary Levy


For nearly two decades Britain has been engaged
in some of the most ambitious constitutional and
parliamentary reforms since the Reform Acts of
the nineteenth century. Reform in the House of
Lords alone has produced six White Papers, one
Royal Commission, and dozens more parliamentary
votes and reports by the House of Commons,
the House of Lords and the joint committees.
Canadians have watched these developments
with particular interest, since many of the issues
debated - the legitimacy of an Upper House,
election versus appointment, and qualifi cations
for membership - are similar to those discussed
here. Yet before looking at possible lessons for
Canada we need to refl ect upon another question:
What is the Westminster Model and what
elements of this model are refl ected in our own

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