Skip to main content

Committee to question Lord O'Donnell

20 April 2020

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee is to hold the first session of its inquiry on the Fixed term Parliaments Act 2011 (FtPA), which the Government has said it wants to repeal, and will also examine the Government's response to Covid-19, on April 24 2020. 

The session will take evidence from Lord Gus O'Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary, and Sir Stephen Laws, former First Parliamentary Counsel.  Both witnesses were involved in the origins and production of the FtPA, and Lord O'Donnell was Cabinet Secretary during the Swine Flu outbreak in 2009. 

On the FtPA, PACAC will consider the purposes for which the Act was introduced and its subsequent operation.  The Committee will also consider the issues around: whether the act abolished the Royal Prerogative of dissolution (where by convention Parliament was dissolved on the advice of the Prime Minister) and what arrangements may be put in place if the Act is repealed; any advantages or disadvantages in having more predictable parliamentary terms, and the length of those terms; and whether the powers of Prorogation should also be set out in statute. 

On the Government's response to Covid-19, PACAC will consider: the process for identifying  and rectifying potential issues with emergency legislation such as the Coronavirus Act 2020; whether previous plans for emergencies used the emergency power provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004; and Lord O'Donnell's experience of preparing for the Swine Flu epidemic in 2009.


From 10.00am

Friday 24 April 

  • Lord (Gus) O'Donnell
  • Sir Stephen Laws 

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright