Early parliamentary general election

Part of Early Parliamentary General Election Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Conservative, The Cotswolds 6:45 pm, 29th October 2019

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to catch your eye. I intend to make a very short contribution to this important debate. I am delighted to follow my hon. Friend Michael Tomlinson. He is one of the up-and- coming Members, and he has made some useful and telling points.

This is the fourth time Parliament has been asked to hold a general election. The nation has been in schism, unable to do anything worthwhile as the dreadful problem of Brexit hangs over us. I should have infinitely preferred this Parliament to have sorted the Brexit problem out so that we could have left the EU on 31 March, before holding a general election, but the fact is that we have not sorted it out, and we are now in this position.

We are in this position because the coalition Government, under my right hon. friend the then Member for Witney, passed the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which the Bill seeks to amend. That Act was passed in a very different time. It was passed with the purpose of ensuring that the coalition could not end early, and it was passed in undue haste, without proper consideration of what the consequences might be in a situation in which there was no overall majority in Parliament. I think that one of the first things that whoever gains a majority in the House after the election will want to do is revisit the Act to see whether we want to alter its provisions so that we never get into this situation again.

As I have said, for too long this Parliament has been paralysed. It has been three years and four months since we held the referendum.