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Fixed-term Parliaments

This report considers the significance of such a constitutional change of fixed-term parliaments and the key issues to decide in introducing fixed-term parliaments. 

Fixed term parliaments remove the Prime Minister’s power to decide the date of the next election. They should create greater electoral fairness and more efficient electoral administration, and enable better long term planning in government. Their potential disadvantage is a loss of flexibility and accountability.

The report sets out the key issues to decide in introducing fixed-term parliaments:

  • the length of the fixed term;
  • how to allow for mid term dissolution;
  • how to reform the prerogative powers of dissolution and proclamation.

The report also considers mid-term dissolutions of fixed-term parliaments, including no confidence motions and investiture votes.

It concludes that:

  • The fixed term should be four years, not five (in common with other fixed-term parliaments).
  • To avoid clashes with devolved or European elections, general elections should be held in October.
  • The power of proclamation should be reformed so that the Electoral Commission is put in charge of the election timetable, and the date for first meeting of the new parliament is set by the outgoing Speaker.
  • It is very difficult to entrench the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. A future governmentand parliament can always amend or repeal it. It will create a norm, not a rigidconstitutional rule.

Page last modified on 23 feb 11 17:34