Identifying the Value of Parliamentary Constitutional Interpretation.
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This thesis examines the practice of parliamentary constitutional interpretation. Parliamentary constitutional interpretation is a form of reasoning used by parliamentarians to articulate the constitutional effect of a Bill, within the legislative process in Parliament. The significance of the practice is explored through a combination of empirical study and theoretical enquiry. The first part of the thesis describes and analyses parliamentary constitutional interpretation in three case studies, each on a different Government Bill from the 2010-2012 parliamentary session. Each study provides a fine-grained account of how parliamentarians interpreted the constitutional effect of each Bill and the role this interpretation played during the passage of the Bill. In order to identify the constitutional effect of a particular clause, parliamentarians interpret a range of constitutional norms including: constitutional principles, constitutional statutes and constitutional conventions. In each case study, parliamentary constitutional interpretation played an important role in shaping the constitutional effect of each Bill and holding the Government to account. The second part of the thesis uses the reality of the practice, as described in the case studies, to identify the value of parliamentary constitutional interpretation and to situate the practice within political constitutionalism. Two principal values of the practice are identified. Firstly, parliamentary constitutional interpretation can enhance the level of justification within the legislative process. Secondly, it can facilitate a distinctively parliamentary contribution to the normative content of the constitution. By expanding the role of legislative politics within the constitution, parliamentary constitutional interpretation can develop and strengthen the political model of constitutionalism. These values also serve as both a template for analysis of parliamentary performance and as a guide to parliamentary reform.
AuthorsSimson Caird, Jack Alaric
- Theses