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.

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