Dealing with Big Brother: Relations with the First Chamber

Roger Awan-Scully*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Central to the contemporary debate over reform of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom has been not merely the issue of the composition of the second chamber (with discussion focusing around matters like the elimination of the hereditary element and the possibility of a wholly or partly elected house) but also the future relationship of the reformed chamber with the lower house, the House of Commons. It is virtually impossible to think in any sustained way about second chambers without considering the question of inter-cameral relations. How is the second chamber to stand in relation to ‘Big Brother’, the lower house? In its final report, and in response to much debate on the matter, the Wakeham Commission on reform of the British upper house stated its clear view that it should not be the role of the second chamber to substitute its own opinion for that of the House of Commons. The House of Commons should continue to be the pre-eminent Chamber of Parliament and should remain the principal forum for the resolution of political differences. [abstract from publisher site]

An issue central to an understanding of second chambers- their relationship with the first chamber in a bicameral system - is examined. Drawing on a variety of real-world illustrations, consideration is given to how interchamber relations may be shaped by variance in three key factors: the relative powers of the two chambers, the balance of party competition between them, and the degree of party unity prevailing. The interrelationship between these factors may often be complicated; what is more certain is that inter-cameral relations both reflect and influence wider processesin a political system. [abstract from Scopus]

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecond Chambers
EditorsNicholas Baldwin, Donald Shell
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780203045541
ISBN (Print)9780714651446, 9781138981522
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2001

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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