What are the Merits & Demerits of Unicameralism?

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In fact, the merits of bicameralism suggest the defects of unicameralism and the defects of bicameralism suggest the merits of unicameralism. However, a detailed analysis of the merits and demerits of unicameralism is as follows.

Merits of Unicameralism

1. No Duplication of Work-

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Law making is done through a process. If there is one house the process is followed once only. There is no repetition of the same process. So time is saved, money is saved and energy as well.

2. No Hindrance-

The people’s will is reflected in the single chamber and there is no check on progressive legislation by any reactionary or conservative second chamber. If the legislature is bicameral in nature there will be differences in the outlook of the two houses.

3. Singleness of Purpose-

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When the legislature consists of only one house, singleness of purpose will be maintained. Hence, there will be no confusion in the law making process. Benjamin Franklin said: “Legislative body divided into two branches is like a carriage drawn by one horse in front and one behind pulling in opposite direction.”

4. No Divided Responsibility-

It adds to the quality and dignity of the legislators by avoiding conflict between two chambers. The single chamber is responsible for all legislative matters. There is no divided responsibility as is found in a bicameral legislature.

5. More Representative and less Expensive-

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The unicameral legislature can be composed of members who are the true representatives of the people. The composition can be simple. Because it is unicameral, double expenditure for maintenance of two houses is not necessary.

Demerits of Unicameralism

1. Tendency towards Arrogance-

If there is only one house, then the house in course of time may become arrogant. It may push through any law of its choice. It may act arbitrarily. Bryce is apprehensive that unicameral legislature may become autocratic.

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2. No Scope for Second Thought-

In the name of progressive outlook, the unicameral legislature may thoughtlessly pursue certain measures. Once such a measure is taken, it is the people who suffer.

3. Lack of Time-

Modern states are complex societies. They require more laws of complex matters to be made. A single house cannot give adequate time for thorough discussion as to the making of those complex laws. A second chamber would reduce the burden of a single chamber considerably.

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4. No Scope for Revision-

Unicameralism does not provide any opportunity for revision of bills. The single chamber may pass have and ill considered bills. It may be swayed away by emotion and passion.

5. Unsuitable for Federal Government-

Usually the people are represented in the legislature. There is no scope for safeguarding the interests of the federal units if the legislature is unicameral. So unicameral legislature is unsuitable for federal government.

It has been seen that both bicameralism and unicameralism have certain advantages and disadvantages. If bicameralism and unicameralism are weighed, the weight is in favour of bicameralism. Several writers like Sir Henry Maine, Madison, Marriot, Bryce and Lecky have recommended bicameralism. The second chamber is to be well constructed with carefully limited power.

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