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Fixing the terms Oct 07

One thing GB has inadvertently demonstrated over the last few weeks is the farcical nature of calling general elections by prime ministerial fiat. Local government has fixed terms; the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and London Assemblies have fixed terms; legislatures in other countries have fixed terms. It’s about time we had fixed-term parliaments at Westminster, and that’s the policy the LibDems backed at our conference Brighton in September.

Hurrah, then, for David Howarth MP, our Shadow Solicitor General. When the House of Commons returns from recess tomorrow, David will table a Fixed Term Parliaments Bill.

All of which is a convenient excuse to plug this video, which raises a chuckle every time I watch it:

2 Responses

  1. 1

    I don’t mind removing the prerogative power to recommend a dissolution to HM by the PM. And with our exhaustive constitution (it’s not unwritten, it’s just ALL our law and so not reduced to sound bites!) that would be easy to introduce by constitutional convention.

    We must be careful, though, not to throw out the ability to curtail a Parliament through a vote of no confidence. The Americans and others have found to their cost that *entirely* fixed terms are a bad idea – you can never get rid of bad president mid-term – you must sit it out. I think it’s a bad idea to start conferring presidential properties to the Prime Minister.

    Recommendations for dissolution should be put to HM by a cross-party committee, or preferably a committee of the whole house (like a vote of no-confidence).

  2. 2

    I don’t have a problem with a vote of no confidence (or the inability to elect a new Prime Minister following it) prompting a general election. That’s how the fixed-term devolved legislatures/assemblies are designed.