Constitutional provisions

I have been going through the provisions covering constitutional issues in the coalition policy document.  I can see that the Constitution Committee of the Lords is likely to be in virtually continuous session once the House returns and certainly when some of the legislation starts to appear. 

 Some of the proposals appear incomplete or incorrect.  The proposal for fixed-term Parliaments, for example, has provision for early dissolution if 55% of MPs vote for it but fails to incorporate reference to votes of confidence.  It also envisages a ‘binding motion’ of the Commons prior to legislation being introduced.   It is not clear who is meant to be bound by the motion.  Dissolution is a prerogative power and until superseded by statute the Queen’s power to determine when to dissolve Parliament cannot be formally fettered by a resolution of the House of Commons.


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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5 Responses to Constitutional provisions

  1. maldencapell says:

    I’m dismayed that the proposals include a committee to consider electing the Lords, Lord Norton. No doubt this was proposed at the insistence of the Liberals, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some Conservatives weren’t opposed to it.

    How do you imagine it will pan out? Will the committee, which apparently will report in December, bring proposals that will be legislated? Or do you think – as I hope – that it’ll be quietly dropped, or that the proposals will poo-poo election, like the Wakeham Commission did?

  2. ladytizzy says:

    My reply to an earlier comment:

    My first reaction to fixed terms revolved around the 55% threshold. We can all see though the arithmetic and it struck me that it would be more entertaining to have an endless parliament until 55% (negotiable) voted for its dissolution and, thus, for a general election. Or, a fixed annual date and time when MPs (but, in an added twist, only those attending) were called to vote to continue/dissolve parliament.

    The voting system and, so, results, within parliament needs sorting out. Currently there are MPs who can’t vote, won’t vote, or have no vote. Voting thresholds are silly.

  3. ladytizzy says:

    I’m very happy to see HIPs being part of the bonfire; although I favour an immediate renunciation I can see at least one benefit in holding back for a week or so.

    A couple of other easy vanities:

    1. Sort out how, where and when wheel clampers operate. The Magistrate’s Blog puts the case here –

    2. Repeal the requirement for every other building or car to display ‘No Smoking’ signs (and similar). Or, force No. 10 Downing Street to display all relevant legislation on its front door. Fair’s fair.

    Probably best to repeal/introduce the above ehwn the Daily Mail gets restless.

  4. N Hackett says:

    Germany supposedely has fixed terms but in 2005 Schroeder effectively declared a vote of no confidence in his own Government and forced an election. Bar having an absurd 55% rule I cant see how a fixed term Parliament can work. A governing Majority could just vote for dissolution by calling a vote of no confidence at any time before its 5 year period is up.

  5. Fixed term parliament debates apart, the concept of weighted majorities in legislation seem to me to form an extremely dangerous precedent.

    Where does it end? One could imagine no end of Acts requiring weighted majorities for their repeal, for example. Is there any precedent for weighted majorities in legislation? Why 55%, as distinct from eg 51%, 66% or 78%?

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