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Reform of Fixed-term Parliaments Act must keep the Queen out of politics, says Committee

4 September 2020

The Constitution Committee has published its 12th report of the session on the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011


The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 was introduced to set the length
of parliaments at five years and to require the approval of the House of Commons for any early general election. Both the Conservative and Labour parties promised to repeal the Act in their 2019 manifestos and the Government has reiterated that commitment since taking office.

Key findings

Key findings within the report include:

  • The FTPA has proved controversial and the statutory review of its operation that must begin by the end of the year is timely.
  • A straight repeal of the FTPA without a replacement is not feasible; as it would leave no mechanism to dissolve Parliament and trigger an election.
  • Attempting to revive the prerogative power of the Monarch to dissolve Parliament would raise the possibility of legal challenge to the Prime Minister's advice to the Monarch, or the Monarch's decision to dissolve Parliament. This must be avoided in order to avoid inadvertently politicising the role of the Monarch. 
  • Fixing the length of parliaments could in theory have practical benefits for Parliament. However, there is insufficient evidence from the 2010–15 Parliament to draw a firm conclusion.

Chairs's comments

Baroness Taylor, Chair of the Committee, said:

"Since its introduction, the FTPA has proved controversial and in the eyes of the two main political parties it has been found wanting. Furthermore, there is insufficient evidence that fixing the term of parliaments has had practical benefits.

"However, repealing the Act without new provision is not feasible, as it is the only piece of legislation setting the length of a parliament. It is therefore paramount that any proposals to replace the FTPA leave no uncertainty about such an important constitutional matter".

Further information