Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill awaits Royal Assent
23 March 2022
The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill returned to the Lords for consideration of Commons amendments in ‘ping pong’, on Tuesday 22 March.
The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill seeks to repeal the Fixed Term Parliament Act, whereby a Term was fixed at five years, allowing any future Parliament to be dissolved by the Sovereign, on the request of the Prime Minister.
Consideration of amendments
The bill was considered by the House of Lords between 30 November 2021 and 24 February 2022, before passing back to the House of Commons for consideration of Lords amendments.
Members of the Lords considered a Commons reason for disagreeing to a Lords amendment to the bill.
The amendment requires that any dissolution of Parliament is subject to an approval vote in the House of Commons.
Commons reasons were accepted by members without a division (vote).
As both Houses agreed on the text of the bill it now awaits the final stage of Royal Assent when it will become an Act of Parliament (law). Royal Assent is scheduled for 24 March.
Explore further information
Read background information on the bill in the House of Lords Library Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill briefing.
What's happened so far?
Third reading: Thursday 24 February
Third reading is the chance for members to ‘tidy up' a bill, making any small changes to ensure it is effective.
No changes to the wording of the bill were put forward ahead of third reading. Members discussed the progress of the bill through the House at the conclusion of Lords stage.
What's happened so far?
Report stage: Wednesday 9 Februaury
Report stage is an extra chance for members to closely scrutinise elements of the bill and make changes.
The first vote was on amendment 1, which prevents the government from calling a dissolution of Parliament without first gaining the formal approval of the House of Commons.
Members voted 200 in favour and 160 against, so the change was made.
Courts and tribunals
The second vote was on amendment 5, which sought to remove a clause from the bill which prevents a court or tribunal from questioning the revived powers to call a dissolution of Parliament.
Members voted 120 in favour and 230 against, so the change was not made.
Committee stage: Tuesday 25 January
Committee stage is the first chance to check the bill in detail and make changes.
The amendments covered a range of subjects, including:
the expectation of how long a Parliament should be in normal circumstances
the regularity of dissolution
revising the Dissolution Principles document and the Cabinet Manual
the role of the House of Commons in approving a dissolution
court powers, including whether any request to the sovereign to dissolve Parliament and any related advice, can be reviewed by a court or tribunal.
Second reading: Tuesday 30 November
Members discussed the main issues in the bill during the second reading debate, including:
- courts' powers, including whether any request to the Sovereign to dissolve Parliament and any related advice, can be reviewed by a court or tribunal
- the flaws of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act
- restoring public confidence in democratic arrangements
- role of the House of Commons in approving a Dissolution.
Lord True (Conservative), Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, opened the debate and respond on behalf of the government.
Former Supreme Court justices, senior judges and lawyers, plus a former Cabinet Secretary and Lord Chancellor took part in the debate. Members speaking included:
- Lord Beith (Liberal Democrat), member of the Joint Committee on the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act
- Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (Crossbench), former Justice of the Supreme Court
- Lord Norton of Louth (Conservative), Professor of Government and Director of Centre for Legislative Studies at the University of Hull
- Baroness Taylor of Bolton (Labour), Chair, House of Lords Constitution Committee
The Earl of Leicester made his maiden speech.
Image: Roger Harris