Category Archives: Parliament

Has the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (2011) been a failed constitutional reform?

When the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was passed in 2011 it was sold as a significant constitutional reform that would modernise the UK constitution and give more democratic legitimacy to the House of Commons. Prior to this, the calling of General Elections was governed by both statute and convention:

Septennial Act 1716 – This Act mandated that a General Election had to be called at least every seven years. In 1911, the Parliament Act reduced the maximum length of each Parliament to five years.

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James Callaghan and the last successful ‘Motion of No Confidence’ in a UK Government

Thatcher won the 1979 General Election following the motion of no confidence in James Callaghan’s government.

Few days in Parliament have had the drama of the 28th March 1979. On this day, the government of Labour leader James Callaghan fell after it lost a motion of no confidence in the House of Commons. Consequently, the 1979 General Election was held which ushered in 18 years of Conservative Government.

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Do Opposition Days in Parliament really matter?

The Parliamentary agenda is largely controlled by the Government.

Parliament in the UK is dominated by the Executive. A combination of the fusion of powers and the First Past The Post electoral system mean that the government is able to control the agenda. In fact, this is written into the Standing Orders of Parliament. Standing Order 14 says:

“Save as provided in this order, government business shall have precedence at every sitting”

Labour get 20 days in each parliamentary session.
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