During recent years, again, the idea of a single chamber has been revived and it found favour with many political writers.
It is maintained that unicameral system is simple and responsibility under this system can be definitely located. The bicameral system, in contrast with this, is complicated and responsibility is divided. When both the chambers are popularly elected and possess coequal powers, discord and division is inevitable. Division of responsibility means inaction, thereby paralysing the will of the people. When one House is a replica of the other, it has no utility, because “if the two assemblies agree”, as Sieyes said, “the second chamber is unnecessary; if they disagree it is obnoxious.” There is duplication of effort as both chambers seek independently to obtain the same information by debating the same questions with their elaborate rules of procedure.
MacIver, too, points out that the Second Chamber “unless it is constituted on a broad representative principle, lacks the authority which derives from the support of public opinion; if it is so constituted it tends to be a duplicate of the first house and lacks a raison d’etre,” It is, therefore, suggested to co-opt specialists on the Select Committees of the popular chambers, which should examine the details of the provisions of the bill racier than to make legislatures bicameral. A second chamber, it is asserted, “is a clumsy addition a sort of fifth wheel on the coach”, which prevents or delays the necessary and urgent transaction of business. In very many countries second chambers have proved citadels of reaction, retarding the forces of progress. Illustrating this point, Laski says that the House of Lords cannot fulfill the demands of democracy, because “where it is tempted to be active in defence is just where democracy is tempted to be active in offence.
” He argues for abolishing the House of Lords, and the critics of bicameralism unequivocally regard second chambers as destructive of national solidarity, creating deadlocks and frictions between the different sections and interests of the people. It has been further maintained that there is no unanimity of opinion regarding the organisation of the second chambers. This disagreement is itself an argument against bicameralism. In countries which have two chambers there is much discussion about reconstituting them. The House of Lords has always been condemned to be out of tune since it represents no one, except the peers who form a class by themselves. The method of nomination of the members of the Canadian Senate has all through been subjected to serious objections. The utility of the second chamber in a federal State has also been questioned. It is maintained that the representatives of the constituent units of a federation now vote on party lines rather than as representatives of their respective regional governments.
There is, as such, no use giving the constituent units separate representation through second chambers. And the minorities get better protection from constitutional safeguards than from doubtful representation through second chambers. It is also argued that legislation passed by a single chamber is neither hasty nor ill- considered. Almost every measure that becomes law is the result of a long process of discussion and analysis. In fact, every modem legislature takes its cue, while making laws, from the opinions expressed in the press and on the platform.
Such being the case, there is no need to give unnecessary duplication to deliberation and delay the much- needed legislation. Nor is there any truth in the assertion that bicameral system prevents legislative despotism. There are many other safeguards, like the suspense veto of the executive, and a second vote in the same chamber after some interval, against the so- called despotism of a single chamber. Finally, double-chamber system, its opponents maintain, duplicates work, leads to delay in action and is an unnecessary burden on the national exchequer.
Laski and many other writers, therefore, conclude that a single-chamber assembly seems best to answer the needs of the modem State. Here is a resume of the comparative advantages of unicameralism and bicameralism: 1. Provide a check on hasty and ill-considered legislation. 2. Avoids obstruction of the will of the people. 2.
Avoid despotism of a single chamber. 3. Permits clarity of responsibility of the Cabinet in a Parliamentary system of government. 4. Reduces duplication and confusion of responsibility relating to legislation. 3. Help public opinion to crystallise by interposing delay. 4.
Reflect the popular will at all times and there is no time lag. 6. Is less expensive and ensures speedy transaction of business. 6. Do useful and careful revision of legislation. 7.
Allow representation to different classes and groups. 8. Account for their necessity in a federation. 9. Protect individual freedom against legislative despotism.
Bicameralism is now the well established and essential feature of a representative democracy. There is no doubt that genuine bicameralism, if the Upper House does its proper job of being a House of review and reconsideration, slows down the legislative machinery and tends to render radical reforms and changes more difficult. Yet, bicameralism is based on an enduring principle that resolutions of government which have widespread results need a multitude of counselors. Two Houses are more advantageous as deliberation and solemnity strengthen the prospect of obedience and acceptance. But if second chambers are to do their job, the two obviously must not be carbon copies of each other. They should differ in their composition, method of election, tenure and in powers.
They should be so constituted as to make themselves felt through opportunities of organised cooperation with the other organs of government. They should suggest and criticise measures, deliberate on important affairs and assist in planning. But they should not be able to create deadlocks, to interpose long delays or to nullify the policy of the lower chamber. The upper chamber is intended to act as a brake, but not too tight a brake. It’s necessary function is to resist and not to persist. The more popularly elected chamber must be the final determining authority.