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How effective is the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in limiting the power of Prime Ministers?


On Wednesday 4 September the House of Lords Constitution Committee will hold its first evidence session on the workings of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. The Committee will hear from witnesses from Hull University, the Hansard Society, the Institute for Government and the Constitution Unit. 

The Committee's inquiry was launched to consider the operation and implications of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. It will explore how the Act has worked in practice, how the 14-day period following a successful no confidence motion would work in practice, the Act's effect on the concept of the House of Commons having 'confidence' in the Government, and what the consequences of repealing or amending the Act might be.

Speaking to the Committee at 10.30am will be:

  • Professor Lord Norton of Louth, Hull University
  • Dr Ruth Fox, Director and Head of Research, Hansard Society

Speaking to the Committee at 11:15am will be:

  • Professor Robert Hazell, Constitution Unit, University College London
  • Dr Cath Haddon, Senior Fellow, Institute for Government

Witnesses will be asked questions on the implications of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, the issue of confidence, and amending or repealing the Act. Questions are likely to include:

  • To what extent has the Act led to a meaningful transfer of power from the Prime Minister to Parliament?
  • What impact has the Act had on the notion of the House of Commons having “confidence” in Government?
  •  What obligation is the Government under to make time available in the House of Commons for a motion of no confidence?
  • What constitutional and legal obligations is the Prime Minister under in the 14 days following a defeat in a no confidence motion?
  • Should the Act be amended or repealed? 

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