The House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee published on Friday a report on the Fixed-Term Parliaments Bill, in time for the Second Reading of the Bill in the Commonds this afternoon.
The report is highly critical, not so much of the principle of fixed-term Parliaments but of the speed with which the Bill is being taken through, preventing detailed engagement with experts and commentators outside the House and avoiding pre-legislative scrutiny. The report raises some substantial issues in terms of the Bill’s provisions, some of which I planned to raise, not least in relation to the definition of a vote of confidence.
The Committee did not have time to undertake a sustained inquiry. Similarly, in the Lords we will be pressed for time, but the Constitution Committee – on which I serve – will be undertaking a (necessarily short) inquiry into the subject in time for the Bill’s Second Reading in the Lords. It is a topic that will be covered when the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, appears before the Committee on 13 October.