How should the upper chamber be composed and what powers would you allot to it?

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A good chamber is what its composition makes it. The problem is however, most baffling. Many solutions have been attempted but none of them is without any flaws.

Prof. Goldwin Smith is said to have remarked that it has passed the wit of man to construct an effective upper chamber which would give general satisfaction.

The essentials for good second chamber may be discussed from three view-points, viz., its composition, function and its relation with the lower chamber.

Composition:

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The second chambers may be classified according to their composition into hereditary, nominated, partly elective and wholly elective. The House of Lords in England is constituted on hereditary principle. The Senate of Canada is wholly nominated by the executive.

The Upper House of the Japanese legislature, known as the House of the Peers is partly elected and partly nominated. The Rajya Sabha of India is also partly elected and partly nominated. The U.S. Senate is wholly elected. The composition of the second chambers as given above has been subjected to criticism in one way or the other.

A hereditary second chamber is considered to be undemocratic and cannot command the respect of the people. Likewise, a nominated second chamber like that in Canada acts as a puppet in the hands of the executive and cannot, therefore, be expected to discharge the functions of an ideal second chamber.

Such a chamber cannot stand against the popularly elected Lower House. A partial elected second chamber like the Rajya Sabha of India is bound to play a second fiddle to the directly elected lower chamber.

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The U.S. Senate which is directly elected has acquired a dominant position over the House of Representatives and thus lowered the prestige of the popular chamber.

The foregoing account regarding the composition of the upper chambers reveals that none of the methods regarding the constitution the Upper House is satisfactory.

The method that has been suggested TO competent authorities and which has been adopted by some countries the legislature the organization of the second chamber is that majority of the members may be elected by the Lower House and a small number be nominated by the executive or by a commission especially appointed by the legislature for this purpose.

In this respect we find that the Indian Rajya Sabha is more or less an ideal chamber in so far as its composition is concerned.

Functions:

ADVERTISEMENTS:

The Bryce Conference of 1917-18 suggested the following functions for an ideal second chamber:

1. The examination and revision of Bills referred to it by the Lower House.

2. The initiation of Bills dealing with subjects of non-controversial nature. It will thus save the time of the Lower House.

3. The interposition of the such delay in the passage of a Bill that may be necessary to enable the opinion of the nation to be adequately expressed upon it.

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But it may be remembered that the second chamber should only resist but should not persist. In no case should it prove to be an obstacle in the way of any progressive legislation.

Its relations with the Lower Chamber :

(a) The second chamber should have a subordinate position and should in no case stand against the lower chamber which represents the general will of the people.

It should be vested with powers of making sug­gestions but should not have any power to oppose the will of the people as expressed through the Lower House.

(b) The Lower House alone should have control over the public purse. The Money Bills should originate in the Lower House-alone. The Upper House should have little power to amend or reject a financial measure passed by the Lower House.

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(c) The Upper House should simply act as a deliberative and ventilating chamber with full powers of free discussion on important questions of the day.

Points To Remember

1. Composition:

The second chambers may be classified according to there composition into hereditary, nominated, partly elected, or wholly is partly elected,or wholly elected.

The popular opinion swings in favor of a second chamber which elected and partly nominated as is the case with the Rajya Sabha

Functions:

(a) Revising the Bills passed by the Lower House.

(b) Initiating legislative proposals of non-controversial nature.

(c) Interposing some delay in the passage of Bills.

3. Relations with the Lower Chamber:

(a) It should be subordi­nate to lower chamber.

(b) It should have no control over the public purse.

(c) It should act as a deliberative and ventilating chamber.

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