Clause 2 - Revival of prerogative powers to dissolve Parliament and to call a new Parliament

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:15 pm on 13th September 2021.

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Votes in this debate

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Division number 66 Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill — Clause 2 - Revival of prerogative powers to dissolve Parliament and to call a new Parliament

Aye: 312 MPs

No: 162 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

The Committee divided: Ayes 316, Noes 162.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 3 to 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Third Reading

Queen’s consent signified.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 8:40 pm, 13th September 2021

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I thank hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House for their careful scrutiny of the Bill throughout its passage, and I thank you and your colleagues for your chairmanship, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I am also grateful to all those who contributed in Committee and on Second Reading, and I particularly thank those who served on the Joint Committee on the Fixed-term Parliaments Act and on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, whose expert scrutiny has informed our approach and improved the Bill.

We have been fortunate to have had an enriching debate today, including on the conventions that underpin the Dissolution of one Parliament and the calling of another. As I mentioned earlier, that dialogue will continue through the remaining stages of the Bill as it passes out of the elected House and goes into the other place. During its passage, the Government have at all times listened with care to the concerns raised and the thoughts posed, and I reassure the House that this is a focused, careful Bill that will return us to the long-standing constitutional arrangements that have served successive Governments and Parliaments and have ensured effective, responsive, accountable politics in which the voters are supreme. All the flexibility encapsulated in that is essential to our parliamentary democracy. This Bill restores that constitutional balance, and I commend it to the House.

Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement 8:42 pm, 13th September 2021

This Bill would have benefited from being amended in Committee. Although it is right and proper that the Fixed-term Parliaments Act is repealed, as it was so clearly flawed, reverting to the status quo hands power to the Executive. Indeed, it is a power grab by a Tory party that believes there is one rule for it and another rule for everybody else.

This Bill should not be the Government’s priority during a global pandemic. While our doctors and nurses are having to wear bin bags, the Government are coming up with legislation to play to their own electoral advantage. However, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act was clearly a flawed piece of legislation and the 2019 Labour manifesto committed to repealing it. Although the Bill could have been improved in Committee, and it is regrettable that it was not, we will be abstaining on Third Reading.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Conservative, Basingstoke 8:43 pm, 13th September 2021

I bid this Bill well as it passes to the other place. On behalf of other members of the Joint Committee, I particularly thank the Minister for her incredible hard work throughout the passage of the Bill, despite the other challenges she was facing at the time. I personally thank her for her words in response to new clause 1. I look forward to talking to her further about the research she has undertaken to do on the length of elections.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 8:44 pm, 13th September 2021

Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank you and your colleagues, the Clerks and all hon. and right hon. Members who have taken part in what has been a good-natured debate.

Having said that, this is still a thoroughly bad piece of legislation, and nothing I have heard tonight has changed my mind.

Conservative Members seem determined, on a regular basis, to turn the clock back, in this case to a system deemed undesirable and out of touch more than a decade ago. As we have heard, politicians and academics are still arguing about whether it is even possible to believe that the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 had never been enacted. We are being asked to pretend that it never happened. At the risk of showing my age, let me say that it is as though this Government have been taking advice from the scriptwriters of “Dallas”, who asked the world to pretend that Bobby Ewing had never died and they could just go back and pick up the storyline as though nothing had happened previously and anything that had happened in the past would have absolutely no consequence now. While that academic debate rages on and we are heading back to the situation prior to 2011, there can be no doubt that this Bill is little more than a brazen attempt by the Executive to entrench more and more powers with themselves, at the expense of this Parliament. I repeat: as bad as that is in and of itself, when it is viewed alongside what else is going through this place, we see that we are witnessing a full-on attack on our democracy. For that reason, we will be opposing the Bill on Third Reading.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third Time.

Division number 67 Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill — Clause 2 - Revival of prerogative powers to dissolve Parliament and to call a new Parliament

Aye: 310 MPs

No: 55 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

The House divided: Ayes 312, Noes 55.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.