Fixed-term Parliaments

Oral Answers to Questions — Deputy Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th July 2011.

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Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Labour, Scunthorpe 2:30 pm, 5th July 2011

What recent representations he has received on the Government’s policy on the proposed length of fixed-term parliaments.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The Fixed-term Parliaments Bill has been debated almost fully in both Houses. We have received representations from the public, and I feel sure that, very shortly, another will emanate from the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Labour, Scunthorpe

Leading constitutional expert Vernon Bogdanor said:

“If we are entering a world of hung parliaments, there is no reason for dissolutions to be made more difficult.”

Is the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill designed to serve short-term, coalition political interests rather than the long-term interests of the British people?

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

Not at all. I know the opinions of Vernon Bogdanor very well, because he was my tutor. He and I disagreed while we were at university, and we continue to do so on many matters now. The Bill is very much in the interests of Parliament, and of having a stable situation in which the Prime Minister, for the first time, has given up the power to call an election to suit his political party. That is a huge constitutional improvement.