Thursday, April 02, 2009

Next Election is (UPDATE: Not) Confirmed for May 7 2010 (And Fixed Term Parliaments Too!)


So what's this then? On Tuesday the Government reintroduced its LibDem Peer introduced the Constitutional Renewal Bill into the House of Lords. If you look at Section 5 of the Bill it appears to give the game away on the date of the next election, which is says will take place on 7 May 2010. Even more interestingly it then says...
Each subsequent parliamentary general election is to take place on the first Thursday in May in the fourth year after the previous parliamentary general election.
Unless I am very much mistaken, that means the government has accepted the case for Fixed Term Parliaments. If that is indeed the case, I could not be more delighted. But there's a part of me that thinks that if they meant it, they'd have been trumpeting it from the rooftops. Another part of me thinks this clause has been included in error. Anyone know more details?

UPDATE: It appears that although this was not an April Fools joke the Bill was actually not introduced by the Government, but by LibDem Peer Lord Tyler using the same name as the Government's Bill last year. With me so far?!

More here on this from the Electoral Reform Society.

Hattip: The Withering Vine

31 comments:

Chris Paul said...

What date was this document actually published in Lords Hansard?

Oldrightie said...

Should say 2009, Iain!

DespairingLiberal said...

Isn't it well known that the Constitutional Renewal Bill calls for fixed terms? If so, there would have to be a start date, so haven't they just inserted the last possible date?

Mike Wood said...

This is a Private Members Bill tabled by Lord (Paul) Tyler. As a Lib Dem Private Members Bill, is it likely to pass?

Besides, 7th May is a Friday next year.

Surely if the Government really thought that elections should be called on the first Thursday in May four years after the next election, then the only consistent action would be to ask The Queen to dissolve Parliament at the start of next week so that there can be an election next month.

Half The Story said...

Is this a day late for April fools?

It is rather big constitutional stuff isn't it?

Simon Gardner said...

I agree it would seem an error. No PM is going to forego the power to decide when to call a General Election.

Unless (conspiracy theory) it’s an attempt to bind the next Government.

Jonny Mac said...

You know 1 April was yesterday not today, right Iain?

Simon Gardner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
matthew.oliver said...

Iain - APRIL FOOLS

Private Members' Bill (Starting in the House of Lords) introduced by Lord Tyler (LIB DEM)

http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2008-09/constitutionalrenewal.html

Tom said...

So how come four year terms would apply to the next government but not this one? "Do as I say, not as I do" indeed...

Simon Gardner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john said...

Also a citizens assembly with potential proposals for electoral reform.

Obsidian said...

April Fools or not, I would like to see fixed term Parliaments, with voting done on a Friday and make it a Bank Holiday.

Perhaps if we made voting a celebratory event more would vote?

golden_balls said...

so this isn't a government supported bill ? or is it a pvt members bill that is supported by the government.

You should really check facts before posting ian

DespairingLiberal said...

You'll get used to it golden_balls - Iain almost never checks a fact to any serious extent before posting. That's how he maintains the "posting all day" approach, but be aware this blog bears no more relation to any actual facts than does the Mail on Sunday.

subrosa said...

I'm a wee bit lost here. Is this just another needless, non-productive paper produced to use up the House of Lord's time or is it something we should sit up and take notice.

Over the past 2 years so much has been said and such little action taken, I'm subconsciously switched off I think.

Tom Harris said...

Iain, it's actually quite difficult to justify support for fixed term parliaments with opposition to PR. One could easily lead to the other, which is why I'm against fixed-term parliaments.

Thatsnews said...

If they allow this to go through, there'll be some hidden fiddle.

T England said...

All I care about is that we get our chance to tell ugly, incompotent, unpopular, deluded, unelected, creepy Brown what we think of him & his incompotent government next year, I don't care what month it is but the sooner the better because the fraustration of seeing Brown acting like our leader is making me more mad by the day, just like so many of the public.

WV=dismal

strapworld said...

will there be another election?

What, pray, is AN EU CRISIS MANAGEMENT
OPERATION ?

Presented to Parliament
by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
by Command of Her Majesty
March 2009
Cm 7572 £5.50

AGREEMENT
BETWEEN THE MEMBER STATES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
CONCERNING THE STATUS OF MILITARY AND CIVILIAN STAFF
SECONDED TO THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, OF
THE HEADQUARTERS AND FORCES WHICH MAY BE MADE
AVAILABLE TO THE EUROPEAN UNION IN THE CONTEXT OF THE
PREPARATION AND EXECUTION OF THE TASKS REFERRED TO IN
ARTICLE 17(2) OF THE TREATY ON EUROPEAN UNION,1 INCLUDING
EXERCISES, AND OF THE MILITARY AND CIVILIAN STAFF OF THE
MEMBER STATES PUT AT THE DISPOSAL OF THE EUROPEAN
UNION TO ACT IN THIS CONTEXT
(EU SOFA)

Foreign Office Document link:-

AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE MEMBER STATES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION CONCERNING CLAIMS INTRODUCED BY EACH MEMBER STATE AGAINST ANY OTHER MEMBER STATE FOR DAMAGE TO ANY PROPERTY OWNED, USED OR OPERATED BY IT OR INJURY OR DEATH SUFFERED BY ANY MILITARY OR CIVILIAN STAFF OF ITS
SERVICES, IN THE CONTEXT OF AN EU CRISIS MANAGEMENT
OPERATION.

So, in the absence of our troops in Afghanistan, and a National Emergency is called. The government can call on the EU to send in troops to calm us all down dears!

Not a nice scenario.

farnboro said...

Chris Paul: name the last date on which the text of a Bill introduced to either House was published in hansard.

Iain: sorry, but that's a complete schoolboy error.

Simon Gardner said...

Voting on Sunday (like the French) please.

Not that it bothers me as I have a permanent postal vote and jolly convenient it is too - particularly if you never know where you will be on polling day.

Simon Gardner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon Gardner said...

Tom Harris said... “Iain, it's actually quite difficult to justify support for fixed term parliaments with opposition to PR. One could easily lead to the other, which is why I'm against...”

...for what appear (feeble discussions passim) to be entirely selfish reasons of party advantage and bugger-all to do with the actual voter you are supposed to be working for.

Gareth said...

Simon Gardener said: "I agree it would seem an error. No PM is going to forego the power to decide when to call a General Election."

Could it be a bargaining chip? Something to be amended away in return for greater support.

It would go a little way to re-establishing the primacy of Parliament/Us over Government though.

Paul Halsall said...

@strapworld

Don't be silly. It will be FEMA and Black Helicopters that will do the work of repression.

Erskine May said...

I am afraid it cannot be claimed as an April Fool's joke. The Bill was introduced on 31 March. It is a Private Member's Bill and even if it managed to get through the Lords before the end of the session - unlikely, given that there is already a queue of eight Private Members' Bills awaiting Second Reading - there would not be time for it in the Commons.

The Government is expected to introduce its own Constitutional Renewal Bill - or Constitutional Renewal (No. 2) Bill as it will now need to be - before the Summer recess. The draft Bill was published last year and was subjected to pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of two Houses.

The text of Lord Tyler's Bill is available on the Parliament website. The same applies to the Government's draft Bill.

farnboro said...

@Erskine May: a Private Peer's Bill, surely?

Scary Biscuits said...

It's a principle of parliamentary democracy that one Parliament cannot bind its successors. Even if passed, therefore, this bill wouldn't have any force.

Why would a Conservative Parliament choose to accept a term set by it's predecessor? They could simply write a new law or repeal it.

The current term is set by common agreement. The scary bit is that Brown could choose to ignore convention and make up some excuse to prolong his term.

Simon Gardner said...

Scary Biscuits said... “It's a principle of parliamentary democracy that one Parliament cannot bind its successors...”

Up to a point - but constitutional change is constitutional change.

It’s inconceivable (for instance) that all those hereditary peers would be put back by any future government of any stripe. (Indeed at least one of them is now an MP.)

Erskine May said...

farnboro: In the Lords, they are known as Private Members' Bills and are listed as such in the Business and Minutes of Proceedings.