Government confirms plans to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.
Tried-and-tested powers for bringing forward UK general elections will be restored by the Government, in order to deliver on a manifesto commitment and prevent stalemates in Parliament from paralysing democracy.
Legislation proposed today will abolish the current law that governs how UK Parliamentary elections are called – the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 – and return the long-standing constitutional norm, whereby the Sovereign may grant a general election, on advice from the Prime Minister.
The overriding constitutional principle should be that the government of the day has the confidence of the House of Commons and is able to obtain a fresh democratic mandate from the British public when this is necessary.
Minister for the Constitution & Devolution, Chloe Smith, said:
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act was introduced by the Coalition Government in 2011. Under the Act, a UK Parliamentary election can currently only be triggered outside of the normal Parliamentary cycle by one of two scenarios: if two-thirds of the House of Commons vote in favour of one, or if the Government loses a vote of no confidence.
The draft Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (Repeal) Bill published today will:
- Repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011;
- Revive the prerogative powers relating to the dissolution of Parliament, and the calling of a new Parliament;
- Reaffirm the long-standing position that the prerogative powers are not reviewable by courts, providing legal clarity;
- Ensure Parliament will automatically dissolve five years after it has first met;
- Make consequential amendments to pieces of legislation that make reference to the 2011 Act ensuring their continued operation.
These measures will restore certainty to this important part of the UK constitution, while providing flexibility for exceptional circumstances – one of the fundamental tenets of a functioning and modern democracy.
Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Lord True, said:
Alongside the draft Bill we have published a draft set of principles that will underpin the legal framework for dissolving Parliament and inform what would happen in the event that a Prime Minister lost a vote of confidence. Such constitutional arrangements already applied before the 2011 Act.
To ensure the proposals receive comprehensive Parliamentary scrutiny, the draft Bill and dissolution principles have been presented to a Joint Committee of cross-party MPs and Members of the House of Lords for review.