Coalition announces u-turn on dissolution resolution

The coalition has announced a u-turn on the controversial dissolution resolution. In doing so they have taken our advice and moved to a two-thirds majority.

Alongside today’s announcement by Nick Clegg of a referendum on the Alternative Vote next year – a story first broken by this blog – the Deputy Prime Minister slipped out a u-turn on the controversial dissolution resolution. The change is a victory for Left Foot Forward, which aided by UCL’s Robert Hazell was the first progressive voice to recognise the distinction between a confidence vote and a dissolution resolution.

The initial coalition agreement announced:

“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.”

While a number of constitutional and political commentators erroneously confused the dissolution resolution with a confidence vote, Left Foot Forward asked:

“whether 55 per cent is too low a threshold for a dissolution resolution. If the point of a fixed term parliament is that the governing party cannot dissolve parliament to suit itself, perhaps the threshold should be two-thirds as in both the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.”

In today’s Parliamentary statement, Nick Clegg said:

“there will be an additional power for parliament to vote for an early and immediate dissolution. We have decided that a majority of two thirds will be needed to carry the vote, as opposed to the 55% first suggested, as is the case in the Scottish Parliament. These changes will make it impossible for any government to force a dissolution for its own purposes.

“These proposals should make it absolutely clear to the House that votes of no confidence and votes for early dissolution are entirely separate.”

With one victory under the belt, the next battles must be to decouple the reduction in the number of MPs from the AV vote, and to ensure that fixed terms are four years, rather than five.

13 Responses to “Coalition announces u-turn on dissolution resolution”

  1. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Coalition announces u-turn on dissolution resolution – and takes our advice //bit.ly/bmHmM9

  2. Ralph Ferrett

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition announces u-turn on dissolution resolution – and takes our advice //bit.ly/bmHmM9

  3. Trakgalvis

    Coalition announces u-turn on dissolution resolution – and takes our advice //bit.ly/bmHmM9 via @leftfootfwd

  4. cim

    “the next battles must be to decouple the reduction in the number of MPs from the AV vote”

    Other than “likely to be introduced in the same bill” how are they currently coupled? The boundary changes will go through whether or not the referendum passes. (Or the bill gets defeated and neither happen, but that’s unlikely)

    Also, if you view a small change in one number of an otherwise unchanged proposal as a “u-turn”, what do you call actual reversals of policy?

  5. mike

    Supported PR for many years (regional top up)
    does not mean Labour needs to support this motion for AV in the House

    lets let Clegg hang out to dry

  6. Tim Horton

    Will – I think many people were concerned about 55% not because they’d confused a no confidence vote with a dissolution resolution, but because for the Westminster Parliament we haven’t codified the relationship between a no confidence vote and a dissolution resolution (as they have in the Scottish Parliament). The danger was that if we formalised the mechanism for dissolution in a way that is different to the current convention, it would prevent a no confidence vote bringing down the government with a simple majority.

    However, the good news is that Clegg has now done a U-turn on this too, proposing codification of the relationship between a no confidence vote and dissolution. So the threshold for bringing down the government will effectively remain at 50%+1, not the higher level of 55%.

    Good news.

  7. Politics Summary: Tuesday, July 6th | Left Foot Forward

    […] the legislation because of the “outrageously partisan” boundary changes. As reported on Left Foot Forward yesterday, the Coalition also announced a u-turn on the controversial dissolution […]

  8. Rupert Read

    This is a great story from LFF; Tim is also correct. Good news all round.

  9. RupertRead

    //bit.ly/d91Mnd This is important – a significant improvement on what the LibCons were previously offering.

  10. Mr. Sensible

    Will, I fully agree with you on the latter 2, however I’m not sure we can call this a victory.

    In my mind, if a government loses a confidence motion, that should be that.

    It’s not often I agree with the Daily Mail, but I do on this one:
    //www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1292206/Nick-Cleggs-U-turn-year-fixed-term-Parliaments.html

  11. Five-year fixed terms put UK out of step with rest of the democratic world | Left Foot Forward

    […] this month, Left Foot Forward welcomed the Coalition’s u-turn on the 55 per cent dissolution figure; as before, only a simple […]

  12. Another Lords defeat bodes ill for Clegg's constitutional reform agenda | Left Foot Forward

    […] Coalition announces u-turn on dissolution resolution – Will Straw, July 5 2010 Share | Permalink | Leave a comment Comments > […]

Leave a Reply