Early parliamentary general election

Part of Early Parliamentary General Election Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:47 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden Paymaster General (HM Treasury), Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 5:47 pm, 29th October 2019

It is a pleasure to speak in Committee on this crucial Bill. As I said in my closing remarks on Second Reading, this is a short, sensible Bill, setting out the date of the next general election. The Bill provides transparency on the date of an election and ensures that it can be conducted in a timely way so that Parliament can meet in good time ahead of the 31 January deadline.

Clause 1 provides for a parliamentary general election to be held on 12 December 2019. I will shortly set out why that is the preferred date and why the Government will resist the Opposition amendment.

Clause 2 deals with the Bill’s short title and provides that the Bill will come

“into force on the day it is passed.”

I wish briefly to touch on the subsections in clause 1, to provide reassurance to Members; these are minor, technical points. Subsection (3)(a) removes the requirement for Ministers to review the welfare cap in the current Parliament. Subsection 3(b) ensures that the reporting requirement placed on Ministers does not need to be completed in this Parliament. Both measures ensure that these requirements will align with the new parliamentary Session, following the election.

On the principal amendment standing in the name of the Opposition, we have considered the date of the poll and I wish to set out why 12 December is the best date, for two reasons. First, it gives Parliament enough time to progress essential business—specifically, the Northern Ireland Budget Bill, which is necessary to access the funding that the Northern Ireland civil service needs after 31 October. If that Bill does not receive Royal Assent, the delivery of public services and proper governance in Northern Ireland would be put at risk.