Friday, 28 October 2016

Referendums and Representative Democracy

Updated October 2017

In March 2010, the House of Lords Constitution Committee published a report on Referendums in the UK.  The government response to the report was issued in October 2010.

As noted in the report, the impact of holding referendums could be either to complement the British system of representative democracy or to undermine it.  The report noted significant drawbacks to the use of referendums but acknowledged arguments that, if referendums are to be used, they are most appropriately used in relation to fundamental constitutional issues.  The committee said: "We do not believe that it is possible to provide a precise definition of what constitutes a "fundamental constitutional issue". Nonetheless, we would consider to fall within this definition any proposals: