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Queen's Speech — Debate (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:10 pm on 27th May 2010.

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Photo of Lord Tyler Lord Tyler Liberal Democrat 2:10 pm, 27th May 2010

That was not the point that was being made earlier today or on Tuesday. The conventions were referred to. I served on the Joint Committee on Conventions. It is simply not true that the conventions are as were described on Tuesday and today. I certainly agree that we must review them, but it is not true that the conventions meant, as was stated on Tuesday, that the Salisbury/Addison agreement, which was an agreement between only two parties, still stands today. That is simply not true.

We have had a discussion about the threshold for Dissolution. I can tell your Lordships' House that the original idea was to adopt the Scottish 66 per cent. As has been implied, that is indeed the custom elsewhere, but it was sensibly decided that that percentage was excessive. For those who do not understand the difference between a vote of confidence and the Dissolution of the House, I should draw attention to the sensible-as one would expect-contribution by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern. These are different issues. What is important at this stage is that this is the first Prime Minister who has been prepared to give up the right to call a general election when it suited his party's advantage. That was not, of course, the case with the previous Prime Minister, who only dallied with the idea of a fixed-term Parliament during the fifth year of the Parliament.