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Government Government

Abolish the Fixed-term Parliaments Act

Last updated: 06:36pm 9 October 2019

We will repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.43

Our verdict

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act, passed by the coalition government in 2011, restricts a Prime Minister’s ability to call an election before the end of a parliamentary term. Before the Act, the Prime Minister could call an election at any time of their choosing, as long as the Queen agreed to it – and she was only expected to refuse in exceptional circumstances. The Act changed this, and established only two circumstances in which an early election can take place, namely:

  • When at least two thirds of MPs have voted to have one;
  • When the government has lost a vote of no confidence and fourteen days have passed without the creation of a new government, or the restoration of confidence in the incumbent government.

Moreover, the Act contains a provision which ensures that a statutory review of itself will take place in 2020. This review will be carried out by a committee – the majority of members must be MPs – which could recommend changes such as amending or repealing it. This policy is a pledge to repeal this Act.

Ahead of the 2020 statutory review, in September 2019, the Constitution Committee launched an inquiry into the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, to explore how it has worked in practice and what the consequences of repealing it might be.

However, since the 2017 election, we can find no evidence of the government taking actions to repeal the Act, so we’re marking this as ‘not started’. To stay up to date, follow this policy.

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