Why a referendum on Lords reform is a bad idea

On 23 April 2012, the Joint Select Committee reviewing the Government’s Draft House of Lords Reform Bill released its report. Real life has not allowed me sufficient time to properly read through the entire report, available here, however I do want to take a few minutes to focus on one recommendation the Committee put forward, and that is the call for a referendum: 87. The Committee recommends that, in view of the significance of the constitutional change brought forward for an elected House of Lords, the Government should submit the decision to a referendum. Part of me sort of understands why some believe significant constitutional change should be subject to a referendum for the people’s approval, but a larger part […]

Scottish Consultation on Independence Referendum

As mentioned in an earlier post, the Scottish Government launched its own consultation on a referendum on Scottish independence, which you can view here. The consultation runs until 11 May 2012. The Scottish Government is looking to hold said referendum in the fall of 2014. This time frame is to allow for the responses to the consultation process to be used to inform the further development of the bill before it is debated in the Scottish Parliament some time in 2013. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond (Scottish National Party-SNP) revealed the proposed referendum question: Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? Salmond described the question as “short, straightforward and clear”, but there has been criticism that adding […]

The debate on Scotland indepedence heats up

Debate on the issue of independence for Scotland has heated up again this past week in the United Kingdom. On Tuesday (10 January), the Government launched its consultation on “facilitating a legal, fair and decisive referendum on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom”, which you can download here. The “legal” bit seems to be the crux of the matter here. I am not a constitutional expert by any stretch of the imagination, and so I won’t attempt to weigh in with my own opinion on the matter; rather, I will share with you what others far more knowledgeable than I have to say. To summarize, the issue appears whether the Scottish Parliament can legally deliver its manifesto commitment to […]

Some interesting links

1. The Big Society The Canadian media has recently been reporting that the current Conservative Government is considering emulating the UK Coalition Government in adopting David Cameron’s Big Society. Some of what has been written here in Canada is critical of this, which is their perogative, but I found that they often failed to adequately explain the plan. See, for example, this post by Murray Dobbin, in which he dimisses the initiative as “social engineering from the right” and pointing out that the Big Society “scam” has been “widely ridiculed” but makes little effort to explain how it’s supposed to work. I am not argueing for or against this initiative, but I did think some Canadians (and perhaps some Brits) […]

Canada’s first voter-initiated referendum

In a much earlier post, I wrote about the Canadian province of British Columbia’s Recall and Initiative Act. This act provides a mechanism to recall sitting Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and to bring citizen initiatives before the Legislature or to province-wide referendum. As discussed in that post, which focused primarily on the recall aspect of the act, since the Act’s adoption in 1995, there have been 20 attempts at recalling MLAs, and only came close to succeeding. The verification process was halted because the MLA targeted by the recall petition resigned. The Recall and Initiative Act also allows for voter-initiated legislation and referendums. The requirements for a voter-initiated referendum are similar to those for a recall of an […]

The new independence – devolution-max?

Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, stated yesterday that independence for Scotland would require two referendums. The first would be an advisory referendum, which would seek a mandate for the Scottish government to negotiate with the UK government at Westminster to work out an agreed position. Any settlement deal reached would then also need to be put to the Scottish people in a referendum for the UK government to approve it. Moore’s two-referendum statement was immediately rejected by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. I admit to not having followed the evolution of the Scottish independence movement, and so I am busily researching the issue as it will undoubtedly remain very topical over the course of the next four years. […]