Letter: Mistaken Act

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The Independent Online
When Alan Watkins writes about the Parliament Act of 1911, saying that if not previously dissolved a parliament ceases to exist five years from the day first appointed, he is actually quoting from the Act that governs the length of a parliament, which is not the 1911 Parliament Act ("Bankruptcy and death could soon do for Mr Major", 5 May).

The Parliament Act of 1911 is more famous for curtailing the powers of the House of Lords on Money Bills. It also in Section 7 amended the Septennial Act 1715, which sets the life of a parliament, to become five years instead of the seven years then operating.

Quoting the 1911 Act might give the false impression that our election laws are modern in that they are from this century.

The position is somewhat worse than this example. The current legislation setting the age limit for a parliamentary candidate at one-and-twenty years is the Parliamentary Elections Act 1695 under a sole clause quaintly titled "Infants shall not be elected". It is not to the credit of Parliament that we allowed this situation to arise, but then our parliament never debates our constitution for fear the public might find out about it.

Jeff Rooker MP

House of Commons