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Lords Constitution Committee investigates proposals for fixed term parliaments

15 July 2010

The Committee has decided to hold an inquiry into fixed-term Parliaments following the Government’s announcement that they intend the current Parliament to operate on a fixed-term basis with the next general election taking place on the first Thursday of May 2015.

The Committee invite written evidence to be received no later than 30 September.  Areas the Committee invite evidence on include:

  • Issues of principle for and against fixed-term Parliaments – including whether the Government’s proposed term of five years is appropriate.
  • What lessons can be learned from comparisons with other parliaments such as the devolved legislatures in the UK and international case studies including Canada, Sweden and Germany?
  • How can extraordinary circumstances be dealt with? Should a safety valve such as a parliamentary super majority be introduced to allow for early dissolutions of Parliament?
  • How would confidence motions work under a fixed-term Parliament?
  • Given that one Parliament cannot generally bind another, how can the principle of fixed-term Parliaments be entrenched?

Commenting at the launch of the Call for Evidence, Baroness Jay, said:

“One of the first announcements from the new coalition Government was their proposal to move to fixed-term Parliaments, including new requirements for a House of Commons vote on an early dissolution. The proposals have since been modified but this is clearly an issue that could have a profound constitutional impact that may far outlive the current Government.

“We will consider the broad constitutional issues around these proposals and report in time to inform the proposed legislation as it passes through Parliament.  We would welcome written evidence from any interested parties and will hear oral evidence from a range of witnesses once Parliament returns from the summer recess.”