Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

The Powers of Second Chambers in Australia and Canada

  The following is taken from Table 2 of the Constitution Unit's briefing, Second Chambers Overseas: A Summary, Constitution Unit (June 1999):

  Australia Canada
Ordinary legislationBills are introduced in either house, Upper house may amend or reject any legislation. Bills are introduced in either house. Upper house may amend or reject any legislation.
Financial legislationMust be introduced in lower house. Upper house may not amend but may "suggest" amendments, or reject. Must be introduced in lower house. Upper house may amend but not increase costs.
Dispute resolutionOnly means of resolving disputes is to dissolve both Houses of Parliament. No means of resolving disputes—bills may shuttle indefinitely.
Constitutional amendmentsMust pass at least one house with absolute majority and then pass referendum by majority and with support in at least half the states. Can only be blocked by Senate for 180 days, but must also be agreed by legislative assemblies in 2/3 of provinces, comprising 50 per cent of population.

  The powers of these Senates formed part of the analyses in Meg Russell's Reforming the House of Lords: Lessons from Overseas (Constitution Unit, 2000), which studied the powers and composition of a number of chambers overseas. I enclose a copy of chapter 6 (pp 120-164) on the legislative role of second chambers.[4]

4   Ev not printed. Back

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