May 12th, 2010

breaking bad

Fixed term Parliament?

If the Tories have really persuaded the Lib Dems to vote for a fixed term Parliament - no election until 2015 whatever happens, like in the USA - then they can literally screw them any way they like for five years. 'You're my wife now Dave Nick' I can't believe the Lib Dems sold themselves that cheap.

That appears to be what has just been announced on the BBC (there is a telly set up in the office at work where I am now). I haven't been able to find it confirmed online. How would it even work if the Tories lose a vote of no confidence find themselves in a position where they can't pass legislation?

ETA Thanks to coalescent for this pointer:

BBC here: We understand that under the new agreement for fixed-term parliaments, the only way to remove the government between elections would be a vote of no confidence with the support of 55% of MPs. At present, any no confidence vote requires only 50%, plus one MP.

The Tories thus gave themselves a vote of no confidence threshold too high for the Lib Dems to challenge them. Pursuing the marriage analogy - they just took away the possibility of divorce.
breaking bad

More on this

From the Conservative Lib Dem coalition negotiations document:

6. Political Reform
The parties agree to the establishment of five year fixed-term parliaments. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.

I feel that a no-confidence vote is a proxy for having enough support to pass legislation. I would like to know what happens if a government only commands 46% of the votes in the House. They will not be able to go, but they wont have any ability to legislate.

ETA - BBC “The Lib Dems have called a special conference on Sunday to allow their membership to vote on the coalition agreement. It’s already been approved by the powers at the top, but in a statement the Lib Dems say they “remain a democratic party, and we believe it is right to consult our membership on this momentous occasion in our party’s history”.

It remains to be seen whether the Lib Dem rank and file will vote for this