Tory MPs want fixed parliamentary terms law repealed

Law was first introduced by the Coalition

Click to follow

David Cameron is under growing pressure from Conservative MPs to scrap the law which says that a general election must be held every five years.

A ComRes survey shows that a majority of Tory MPs want to abolish the Fixed-Term Parliament Act introduced by the Coalition. They want the Tories to call a second general election if they emerge as the largest party in a hung parliament next May rather than form another coalition. The Act says that another election before five years would require the support of two-thirds of MPs, a higher hurdle than a simple majority.

ComRes found that 55 per cent of Tory MPs prefer a return to the previous system, with election timing in the prime minister’s hands. But 54 per cent of Labour MPs and 100 per cent of Liberal Democrats want to keep fixed-term parliaments.

MPs staged a thinly attended Commons debate on the issue, but a call to repeal the Act was defeated by 68 votes to 21.

Sir Edward Leigh, a former minister, said: “This is a hash job. It was designed to keep both parties in the Coalition from doing a runner on each other. Fixed-term parliaments were a pre-nup settlement drawn up between two parties who were never in love. Indeed, they had to bind their marriage in barbed wire. Is this the right way to make a major constitutional innovation? I don't think so."

Sam Gyimah, the Cabinet Office Minister, said the Government was “unconvinced” of the need to repeal the Act as it was “too early” to assess its impact.