In almost all the countries, legislatures are available for making laws. In democracy, the importance of legislature is still more. For law-making most of the countries have two Houses of legislature, while a few countries have only one House.The first chamber is called the Lower House and the second chamber is called the Upper House.
The following arguments are advanced in favour of the second chamber:
(1) The Second Chamber checks the despotism of the 1st chamber or the Lower House:
Generally the supporters of second chamber emphasise the fact that “power corrupts a person and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Similar is the case with unicameral system. In the first chamber or the Lower House the members are ambitious, extremists and want to introduce radical changes in the society, because the Lower House is elected on the basis of population and every adult is given the right to take part in its elections.
If there is a majority of over-enthusiastic persons or if they have influence over the majority party or the ruling party, they will try to get the laws passed in the House in the manner they like, in spite of a strong opposition from the minority. This will make the Lower House a dictator.
Thus Lecky says, “there is none which is likely to be worse than the government of a single omnipotent democratic chamber. It is at least as susceptible as an individual despot to the temptations that grow out of the possession of an uncontrolled power and it is likely to act with much less sense of responsibility and much less real deliberation”.
While accepting the importance of the second chamber to certain extent, J.S. Mill admitted “that a second chamber serves an important purpose as a check upon legislative despotism. A majority in a single assembly, he said, with no check but their own will, easily becomes despotic and overweening, if released from the necessity of considering whether its act will be concerned in by another constituted authority.
Judge Story has also said that this is the only way to get protection from the tyranny of the executive. He said that “legislative bodies have a constant tendency to overstep their proper boundaries, from passions, from ambition, from inadvertence, from the prevalence of faction or from the overwhelming influence of private interests. Under such circumstances, he further added, the effective barrier against oppression, whether accidental or intentional, is to separate its operations, to balance interest against interest, ambition against ambition, the combinations and spirit of domination of one body against the like combinations and spirit of another”.
Bryce has rightly said, “the necessity of two chambers, is based on the belief that the innate tendency of an assembly to become hateful, tyrannical and corrupt, needs to be checked by the co-existence of another House of equal authority”. Lord Acton has also said that, “for the protection of freedom, second chamber is necessary”.
Dr. Garner observes, “the bicameral principle not only serves to protect the legislatures against their own errors of haste and impulse but it also affords a protection to the individual against the despotic tendency of a single chamber”.
(2) Second Chamber serves as a check upon hasty, rash and ill-considered legislation:
Elected members of the Lower House are generally impatient and radicals. They are out for sweeping changes which may not always be in the ultimate interest of the people. A second chamber gives fall consideration to every problem because its members are conservative and they are able and experienced persons.
Chancellor Kent says, “One great object of the separation of the legislature into two Houses acting separately and with co-ordinate powers, is to destroy the evil effects of sudden and strong excitement and of precipitating measures springing from passion, caprice, prejudice, personal influence and party intrigues which have been found by sad experience to exercise a potent and dangerous sway in single assemblies”. Bluntschli, in explaining the advantages of the bicameral system, said, “It is clear that four eyes see better than two, especially when a subject may be considered from different standpoints”.
(3) For giving representation to special interests or classes in the State:
In every State there are many interests and classes and for preserving peace they should be balanced. In the Lower House, the democratic element or the common people get the representation and the aristocratic people get the representation in the Upper House.
Bluntschli says, “we cannot ignore the distinction between the aristocratic and democratic elements in the population of the State and allow one of these elements alone representation in the legislature without doing the other injustice”
(4) For giving representation to scholars and social servants:
In some countries the scholars, artists, retired Generals and politicians are given representation in the Upper House of the Parliament. For example, the President of India can nominate twelve such members to the Rajya Sabha who have gained special experience in art, science, literature and social service.
In India, the President has nominated many litterateurs and scientists of repute. In Canada the Governor-General gives representation to retired politicians. In England also the Queen on the recommendations of the Prime Minister nominates litterateurs, retired politicians and military commanders.
(5) The Second Chamber gives representation to units in Federation:
In the countries where there is a federal form of government, the second chamber is used for giving representation to federating units. For example, in India, the states are given representation in the Rajya Sabha. In America, each state sends two representatives to the Senate.
There are fifty States in America and there are two representatives to the Council of State and each Half Canton sends one representative. There are 19 Full Cantons and 6 Half Cantons and there are 44 members in Council of the State of Switzerland.
In Soviet Russia, the Upper House of the Supreme Soviet (Parliament) is called Council of Nationalities. Every Union Republic sends 32 members, every Autonomous Republic 10, Autonomous Region 5 and every National Area sends one representative to the Upper House.
(6) For giving representation to divergent interests:
In certain countries there is a practice of giving representation to capitalists in Upper House and Lower House is represented by the working class. For example, in the Victoria State (Australia) the Upper House is represented by the capitalists and the Lower House by the working class.
(7) The Second Chamber removes the legal defects and shortcomings of the Bills:
The second chamber can help in removing the defects of the Lower House. There are experienced, seasoned and intelligent persons in the Upper House and they go into the details of the Bills passed by the Lower House in a dispassionate manner.
(8) The Second Chamber is more lasting than the 1st Chamber:
In certain countries the tenure of the second chamber is longer than the lower one and it cannot be dissolved. The tenure of the Lower House is short and the Head of the State is empowered to dissolve it. In England and Canada, the members of the Upper House remain in office till life and they are not to fight elections periodically.
In India, the Lok Sabha is elected for five years and the tenure of the Rajya Sabha is 6 years. The Lok Sabha can be dissolved even earlier as was done in 1970; but the Rajya Sabha is a permanent House. During Emergency, the Rajya Sabha can criticise the President, in case he acts arbitrarily after dissolving the Lok Sabha. This will be a sort of check on the dictatorial acts of the President.
In America, the Lower House is called the House of Representatives and the Upper House, the Senate, the tenure of American Senate is six years while that of the House of Representatives is two years. After the elections, the House of Representatives starts functioning and before the next elections the members cease to take, any interest in it. Thus, the members of the House of Representative work hardly for one year and a half, while the tenure of the Senate is longer and the membership is small. Its members become experienced and they study the Bills more seriously and in minute details.
(9) The Two Houses promote the independence of the Executive better:
Gettell is of the view that the two Houses give more freedom to the executive by imposing a check on one another, which results in the enhancement of the public interest. Sometimes, the ministers fail to get support for their right policies. Their position becomes sound in case they receive support from the Upper House and they do not depend much on the support of the Lower House.
Besides, in America and India, the President can be removed by an impeachment. Allegations are made by one House and the other House investigates these allegations. Who will bring allegations against the President and who will investigate those allegations if there is only one House? Is it not true that in case of one House, the President will depend on the mercy of the House?
(10) Two Houses reflects the public opinion better than one House:
The two Houses can represent the public opinion in a better way than one House. The reason is that in most of the countries the Lower House is elected for a period of four or five years while 1/3rd members of the Upper House retire after every two years.
In this way, the members reflecting the new viewpoints of the people continue coming into the legislature. This is the position in India. Besides, the Lower House is represented by the representative’s of the labour, extremists and reformists and the Upper House is represented by the capitalists.
In this way, democracy functions in a better way with the amalgamation of both the elements because there is no likelihood of radical changes nor are they stopped altogether. Thus, the country marches towards progress gradually. This is the position in England.
(11) Historical Experience:
Marriot has said that historical experience is m favour of second chamber. In England, after the Civil War during the regime of Cromwell, the House of Lords was abolished, but later on it had to be revived, there was one House in America after the establishment of a Confederation from 1777 to 1787.
This experience did not prove useful and except Benjamin Franklin all the other politicians vigorously supported the establishment of bicameral system. Later on when, in 1787 a new Constitution was enacted, bicameral system was introduced which can be seen even now. In France, after the revolution, unicameral legislature was established.
It worked there from 1791 to 1793. In 1793, bicameral legislature was established there which worked till 1881. Afterwards, barring a small period of time, bicameral legislature worked in France which is still in existence.
In France, the unicameral system failed and now no one talks of unicameralism in that country. In Naples (Italy), Mexico, Bolivia, Equador and Peru (South America), unicameral legislature did not prove successful and in its place bicameralism was introduced.
This is the reason that at present in almost all the progressive countries of the world, whether communists or democratic, bicameralism has been introduced. In Canada, Australia, the United States, India, Japan, England, France, West Germany, Italy, Soviet Russia, etc., bicameralism has been adopted.
(12) Protection of Individual liberty:
It is said that in unicameral system there will be a centralisation of powers which will result in tyranny and the freedom of the people will be destroyed. With bicameralism there will be a division of powers and the freedom of the people will be protected.