The Constitution Society paper,‘Constitutional Guardians: The House of Lords’ by Professor Dawn Oliver, is available online.
This pamphlet explores the arrangements for guardianship of the UK constitution and its values and the role of the House of Lords in particular.
Effective constitutional guardianship is important in any liberal democracy. In most democracies the courts have important roles in deciding whether laws breach the constitution and striking them down if so. This is not a role that the courts are able to perform in respect of legislation passed by the UK Parliament, since it possesses legislative supremacy. Protection of constitutional values in the UK is therefore essentially a matter for parliamentarians, and particularly a responsibility of the second chamber and its committees: party political partisanship is less strong there than in the Commons, the government does not have a majority in the House of Lords, and an independent and professional element in the membership of the Lords enables that chamber to carry out its guardianship roles authoritatively and fairly. However the composition of that chamber presents political problems for the guardianship role which need to be overcome.
(This pamphlet presents the personal views of the author and not those of The Constitution Society, which publishes it as a contribution to debate on this important subject).