The Coalition introduced the Fixed Term Parliaments Act in 2011. Now some Conservative MPs want to repeal the Act. But Fixed Term Parliaments are good for UK democracy and the Act should stay.
When the current coalition government introduced the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in 2011, the case appeared compelling:
“The Government believes that fixed-term Parliaments will have a positive impact on our country’s political system; providing stability, discouraging short-termism, and preventing the manipulation of election dates for political advantage.” [Government response to the report of the House of Lords Constitution Committee on the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill”, 2011, Introduction]
Now Tory MPs have changed their minds. This week a group of Tory backbenchers have been mounting a campaign to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. Their aim has been to prepare the ground for a backbench debate on Thursday in which MPs will hold a symbolic vote on returning to the old days when Prime Ministers had full discretion to call elections as they saw fit.
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act is one of the few surviving elements of the Coalition’s ambitious programme of constitutional reform, which – had it been fully implemented – would have altered the UK’s majoritarian vision of democracy and elections extensively. The reforms were designed to change the nature of electoral representation (the referendum on the alternative vote), alter the composition of both Houses of Parliament (boundary review and House of Lords reform), and to reduce the power of the Prime Minister to time elections. In the event, internal coalition disagreements scuppered most of the reforms.