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What dissolution powers should MPs have?

09:33 UK time, Friday, 14 May 2010

David Cameron has defended plans to make parliaments fixed term and give MPs the power to directly dissolve parliament. What is your reaction?

The coalition agreement states that power to call an election as and when they wished would be taken off the government by fixing each parliamentary term at five years. It also allows for the direct dissolution of parliament if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.

MPs currently have no way of voting directly for dissolution, although they can hold a vote of no confidence. If carried by a majority of 50% plus one and no other party is able to form a government, this motion can lead to the dissolution of parliament and a general election. The coalition's plans would not affect votes of no confidence, which would continue to operate on a 50% plus one basis.

Representatives at the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly already have the power of direct dissolution if two thirds of their respective members vote in favour. 

What do you think of this proposal? Should MPs have the power to directly dissolve parliament? What effect would this reform have?


Thank you for your comments.  This message board is now closed.


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  • Comment number 1.

    In 1979 the Labour government fell on a vote of no-confidence by a majority of one vote, giving us thatcher and 18 years of tory rule.

    If Labour had demanded a 55% limit they would have stayed in power. I'm not saying they would have won the next election, but with the so-called 'winter of discontent' revealed as the right-wing media spin it was, then she might not have had the majority rule and 5 million people would not have lost their jobs in a couple of months.

    This rigging of the rules, including the fixed term parliment WAS NEVER MENTIONED DURING THE ELECTION. You cannot change the rules when you win, no matter how beneficial they are 'in the national interest'.

    I believe it won't make a ha'peth of difference. Come the first by-election (or local election) the lib dems will watch as their proportion of the popular vote evaporates.

    We will then see the rats leaving the sinking ship.

  • Comment number 2.

    Such a change is the type of behaviour expected of and by Mugabwe, or Gaddafi, or Chavez.

    In its first instant of being,and via secret deals away from the public this Tory Lib Dem pact/coalition, seeks to take away an important democratic parliamentry power.

    Whatever pathetic excuses are given by Torys/Lib Dems it is a closer step towards dictatorship.

    I oppose it with all my energy and if necessary will take to the streets to demonstrate against it and demand that our democratic parliamentry system is NOT undermined and TRASHED via using the SAME excuses HITLER used, "for the better of the nation/people".

  • Comment number 3.

    while Lib Dem MP Andrew Stunell said it would prevent an "ambush" on the Tories by all the other parties.

    ERM excuse me, WHAT other partys, this Tory Lib Dem coalition has a majority and the ONLY honest/TRUTHFUL purpose of this change, would be to soley prevent the current coalition from falling out of bed with each other and avoiding allowing the public to vote and elect a new government if this one turns into an outrageous attrocity.

    Such a change basically ensures that a TORY MINORITY government will have MORE POWER than is due to them.

    ITS a DISGRACE and ANTI democratic and SHOULD BE PREVENTED at ALL COSTS, as also even the NEXT possible Labour government would ALSO be in a much greater dictatorial position.

    NO, NO NO.

  • Comment number 4.

    What's wrong with the current 50% plus one vote scenario - except that the Tories obviously don't think that it can be manipulated to benefit them? So much for the 'new politics'. Their first act is blatant gerrymandering - plu ca change!

  • Comment number 5.

    I am outraged by this. Surely this is unconstitutional? If the coalition breaks down we could end up with a Government that cannot govern, and then how will that help the UK? That may not be a big issue if it breaks down 6 months before an election, but in this new fixed term parliament being proposed, it'd cause chaos if the coalition broke down after 6 months, leading to 4.5 years of no effective Government. I know what I shall be writing to my new MP about!

  • Comment number 6.

    Does an effective no confidence vote still exist after this proposed change?

    If 51% would pass a no confidence vote under this new proposed rule what would happen next?
    Would a Prime Minister with no majority continue to 'squad' in No 10?
    Should not a vote of no confidence automatically lead to a dissolution of Parliament?
    Could a new majority in Parliament be formed without a dissolution and then a new Prime Minster installed?

    If a new government cannot be formed without dissolution of Parliament, then the proposed 55% rule is a 5 year power grab by David Cameron and Nick Clegg who do no trust Parliament (and their own fellow MPs) to sustain their demand of power.

  • Comment number 7.

    The right wing press havwe been trying to stir this up into a story but it just isn't.

    Its a way of trying to ensure some stability for the coalition government over the next 5 years, and hopefully to deter governments calling elections based on poll performance in the future.

    In fact according to the information I've read its actually more straight forwards now to get a dissolution as the old no confidence vote didn't actually guarantee a dissolution even if was successful.

    I wish the right wing press would realise that we are where we are and the government now needs to get on with implememnting its economic policy as a matter of urgency.

    I know most of them are foreign owned & don't actually give a stuff about the UK but this constant niggling pressure on the coalition does no good for the country, and if the public gets the impression that the tories are more concerned about the future of their Party than the future of the country then that can only be bad for the future of the Tories as well.

  • Comment number 8.

    Perhaps the various Lords up in arms about this should consider how they got into the House of Lords before complainig about Democracy.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's a rich for Lord Adonis to get on his high horse. When did he ever win a seat in the Commons? He got his peerage just so that Blair could have him in his government. As for the specific issue, it's understandable that the Tories didn't want the possibility of the LibDems bailing out and voting the government down once they'd got their policies through the Commons. Don't forget, this is a coalition government, and even with the LibDems voting for, it would only take 19 Tory rebel MPs to stop this measure going through. If it does go through, and the LibDems bail out later, it needs less than a dozen Tory rebels to force an election in the hope of getting a working majority.

  • Comment number 10.

    The true face of Tory and Liberal Democrat incompetence is demonstrated within less than a week of a new Parliament!

    Without other reforms essential to the whole fabric of our Parliamentary checks and balances this is rampant opportunism invented by two minority parties doing precisely what they don't want anyone else to do for five years!

    It is an ambush to prevent an ambush.....oh the irony.

    David Joke meets Nick Joke. The terrible price we must pay for daring to want a hung Parliament? We shall see what the Lords make of it won't we.....

  • Comment number 11.

    What this country NEEDS is a WRITTEN constitution.

    What it also NEEDS is a BILL OF RIGHTS.

    All we get is airy fairy bits and pieces that can be turned over and scrapped at the drop of a pin to suit whoever is in government/power.

    This is the 21st century and modern Britain is STILL run by a Victorian system of government, which is why we are seen as quaint by USA and also why the worlds dictators and despots laugh in our face and also why even European countrys dont take us seriously and mock us.

    Our supposid democratic system is a world laughing stock, and this Tory Lib Dem policy is just yet another joke at the expense of UK citizens libertys and rights.

  • Comment number 12.

    LORD Adonis talking about constitutional outrage is a joke. He held power without accountability in Transport. That is the real constitutional outrage. At least the MPs voting for change were elected.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think Lord Adonis has just confirmed that the Labour party are not really the "progressive" party they like to think they are, and would much prefer to stay with the first past the post system.

    The people effectively voted for no single party in control. If we retain the draconian rules of the current system we are never going to move to alternative voting or even PR. It is totally logical that the change proposed goes ahead otherwise we would end up, EVERY YEAR, having a General Election and NOTHING would be done for the good of the coutry. This change FORCES coalition partners to work together with no opt out. This is a very logical thing to put in. As a voter I want politicians to do what the people have laid down. Not find any excuse to ignore it.

    A good change, should be 60%, and this is coming from someone who voted Troy and din't like the idea of changing the voting system. I have changed my mind. This will be good for the country. The politicians will have to work together. It is good to see at least two of the main parties are trying to be PROGRESSIVE!

  • Comment number 14.

    Playing fast and loose with the constitution in the name of 'stability' to me demonstrates the perpetrators' lack of faith in their potential to avoid instability. To then have Hague describe the manipulation as "innovative politics" should make everyone wary.

  • Comment number 15.

    There are two goal here: (i) avoid the government calling a snap election, and (ii) allowing parliament to pass a vote of no confidence in the government.

    Surely the 55% figure is somewhat arbitrary.

    Wouldn't it be a better solution if only MPs on the opposition benches were allowed to call for a vote of no confidence? This would prevent the government from calling a snap election but would retain the existing 'majority voting' rules on votes of no confidence.

  • Comment number 16.

    The Lib Dem-Tory plan will mean that 55% of MPs must approve a vote of confidence to get it through the House of Commons.

    Foreign Secretary William Hague defended the move, saying it was necessary to give plans for a fixed-term parliaments "credibility".

    Liberal Democrat MP Andrew Stunell, who helped frame the deal, said it was needed to prevent an "ambush" on the Tories by all the other parties.

    Andrew Stunell shows breathtaking arrogance in his explanation what does he mean by "ambush" by all other parties... A vote of No confidence in his world wouldn't be able to be passed if Labour had 350 of the parliamentary seats on their own.

    The opposing parties are elected to oppose the government.. if that government fails to acheive 326 seats (although speaker doesn't vote)they have failed to win a mandate. What this does is effectively require a party in a hung parliament to gain 292 seats to form an unelected and unremovable government.

    William Hague failed as a Leader of the Conservative party to win power and failed as an MP to win power...Now it appwears He is trying to win by gerrymandering the system, knowing full well that HM opposition would need 358 votes to unseat him.

    So much for cleaning up politics...not a week into a Tory led government and already there is a whiff of skulduggery gerrymandering and changing the system to stay in power

    Parliament hasn't changed... same faces... same practices and people wonder why for the 1st time in 30 years I didn't vote

  • Comment number 17.

    John H. wrote:

    "This rigging of the rules, including the fixed term parliment WAS NEVER MENTIONED DURING THE ELECTION."

    Of course it wasn't. It's a direct consequence of the electorate giving itself a hung parliament and consequently a coalition government.

    Having said that, I think a fixed term parliament has its advantages and disadvantages. It stops a government going to country when it thinks it's popularity is at a peak, or just before a possible economic downturn, (remember 1987, anyone). On the other hand it can distort the
    the legislative process, by getting unpopular legislation through first, and saving the sweeties until the last year of a parliament.

  • Comment number 18.

    This is just a workaround for the fixed term parliament, the majority party would simply invoke this clause to dissolve it's parliament if the going is good.

    This decision should be in the hands of the electorate, the public should be able to recall MP's at will, and force a GE through a popular vote.

    If we do choose a fixed length parliament it should be 2 or 3 years not 5!

    Hopefully we'll be able to maintain a hung parliament for a few more sessions until these spin doctor puppets get the message and start doing as they are told!

  • Comment number 19.

    It didn't take long for this government to show its true colours did it? Within days of taking power they want to rig Parliament so that they can never be removed even if a majority of the Commons agree that there should be an election and they're planning to alter constituency boundaries in a way that just happens to ensure that the Conservatives gain MPs and everyone else loses them.

    I expect those people who voted for the Tories and their Lib-Dem pets in the name of 'new politics' and 'freedom' are feeling total fools now eh?

  • Comment number 20.

    I can't help noticing that there seem to be a number of very vocal people who want this coalition government to fail far more than they care about what happens to the country.

    I suspect these people have absolutely no idea just how much trouble the UK is in.

    Or maybe they'd rather have the UK in ruins as long as it meant that their party was in power.

    This isn't a football game.

    This is the future for 60 odd million people.


    Grow up.

  • Comment number 21.

    I see some people are referring to a dictatorship, well we have already had 13 years of that!

    This coalition is not what I voted for or many others but we have to give it a chance.

    There seems to be some confusion as to whether the 55% relates only to a Government proposal for dissolution, or does it also apply to an opposition confidence motion? The Government need to make this clear.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hang on everybody! We need some clarity here about what is actually being proposed. My understanding is that no-confidence vote rules are unchanged by this legislation, so if the majority of MPs vote against the government, the Government falls and we either get a new coalition or a general election.

    At the moment Cameron can dissolve parliament when it suits him, and these new rules stop him from doing that without 55% of MPs agreeing to it.

    The BBC’s article here: appears to be confusing things!

  • Comment number 23.

    Will people stop talking about 'stable government' and 'national interest'.

    These proposals are intended to promote neither. Its a change of the rules that benefits this dogs dinner of a coalition, and nothing else.

    It is so transparent it's embarrasing, which is why the right-wing tory press is against it, at last they have shown some backbone.

  • Comment number 24.

    This is a constitutional outrage. We have two unelected leaders dictating to the British public that they are staying in power for five years. The British public deserves a referendum if a no confidence motion is raised. Nobody voted for this coalition. The Conservatives and Lib Dems are natural enemies. We have two novice MPs desperate for power who have dishonoured their parties. When things go wrong they will quickly blame each other.

  • Comment number 25.

    OK there are 645 MPs meaning that 50% would be 322 +1 would be 323. An overall majority is 327 and it is worth remembering that in the last Government if a 3 line whip were applied the Government had an excess of 55% of the chamber. The existing rule of 50% +1 means that a Government with an overall majority cannot be unseated unless there is a major revolt. A case in question was where Brown refused to hold an election a vote of no confidence was not an option. The reality was that most governments got through unscathed with parties affected more by motions of confidence on the leadership. Unless the Government party self destructs there is lettle chance that a vote of no confidence ever succeeds and this is not going to happen with 354 now needed.

  • Comment number 26.

    In Germany, Spain and Israel vote of no confidence requires that the opposition, on the same ballot, propose a candidate of their own whom they want to be appointed as successor by the respective head of state.

    Thus the motion of no confidence is required to be at the same time as a motion of confidence for a new candidate (this variation is called a constructive vote of no confidence). The idea was to prevent crises of the state such as those found near the end of the German Weimar Republic by ensuring that whoever is head of government has enough support to govern.

    Unlike the British system, the German Chancellor does not have to resign in response to the failure of a vote of confidence, provided it has been initiated by herself and not by the parliamentary opposition, but rather may ask the Federal President to call general elections - a request the President may or may not fulfill.

    Tell me, if we are going to be PROGRESSIVE as Labour claim they want to be, it is only logical that we have to consider ways in which the NEW politics WE THE PUBLIC HAVE VOTED FOR should be put forward.

    Personally I prefer the 55% proposed than the German version.

    Labour really needs to start being progressive if it wants to claim the tag. It appears the only two parties who are trying to be progressive are the ones trying to work together.

    Isn't polotics fun!

  • Comment number 27.

    "The right wing press havwe been trying to stir this up into a story but it just isn't.

    Its a way of trying to ensure some stability for the coalition government over the next 5 years, and hopefully to deter governments calling elections based on poll performance in the future."

    Nice spin you put on this story there but if the intention is to prevent the Tories from calling a new election when they think they can win then why not just change the rules so that the standing government alone can't dissolve parliament? The only reason to make this change in the way they've proposed is to stop ANYONE from forcing an election, even if the coalition breaks down and they're a minority government again. It's a fix to guarantee that they have 5 years in power.

    If Labour had done this you'd be outraged and using words like dictatorship.

  • Comment number 28.

    Some interesting reading before any of you start to jump up and down over this.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Page 23, section 6. shows some very slim labour majorities clinging to power in wales but *having* to form coalitions in scotland.

    It would be interesting to find out the figure needed to dissolve the scottish parliament, does anyone know? I think its 66% if thats the case then Lord Adonis really needs to take a look at his party and how duplicitous they have become as that would have been his government that made the figure that high.

  • Comment number 29.

    I just find it funny for a LABOUR minister to pop up and complain about the "Constitution" being changed, considering Labour, with the Devolution changes made in the last 13 years, done more damage than this small amendment will make.

  • Comment number 30.

    It's a tricky one, but it's also there to protect the Lib Dems - some say it's primarily there to protect them - in the face of preventing the conservatives from calling an election early to try to get a majority government.

    We have to remember that these are pretty untested times in that we've never had such a coalition government before so you'd expect a few new rules to be brought in to protect the coalition and allow its programme of work to be implemented. I honestly believe that coalition has the country's best interests at heart and would like to give them the chance to sort out the awful mess we're all in.

    Adonis should shut his unelected mouth. There are a lot of spoutings coming from miffed Labour former cabinet members and unelected powerbrokers (Mandelson, Campbell, Wheelan); sour grapes, some might say.

  • Comment number 31.

    it took up until the stroke of midnight when cameron had been to the palace for the BIG betrayal of conservative voters to be announced.

    remember dave banging on day and night, time after time about the JOBS TAX?
    well as soon as he got in he dropped the biggest policy decision he had promised tory voters. "I will reverse the national insurance increase due for 2011" oh well he did for his 100 mates in the richest companies in the uk but not for 10's of millions of workers.
    Lie, Lie, lie lie Lie.... will tory voters let him away with it?

    do you think the lib dems asked him to compromise? because thats not whats being said this is a Tory betrayal. if you voted tory what do you think?

  • Comment number 32.

    The Tories are hoping to slip this through quickly in the early days. Just imagine how the press and media would have reacted if Brown had tried the same trick. It's being done purely to add stability to this shaky coalition and is called vote rigging. What is so incredible is how those who are happy with the Tories being in power are dismissing this as a small issue and unimportant, they are so blinkered in their thirst for power that they ignore the implications and possible outcome of the proposal. Some Tories are having the guts to stand up for what they can see is both fair and just, it's frightening to see how these people are being treated and says a lot about David Cameron

  • Comment number 33.


    "What this country NEEDS is a WRITTEN constitution.
    What it also NEEDS is a BILL OF RIGHTS."

    It already has a Bill of Rights -

    Also, it doesn't really need a written consitution... it just needs sensible conventions, correctly safeguarded within the governing institutions.

    More importantly, we may have been misled by the media & Opposition about what this 55% business really means:

    Prof Robert Hazell (UCL Constitution Unit) wrote in a press release that "...people have got over-excited about the 55% threshold. That is simply intended to prevent the Conservatives from calling an early election without the consent of their coalition partners. It will not prevent the opposition from tabling confidence motions, on which the normal threshold of 50% will continue to apply’.

    The press release is here:
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    If this is true, then traditional votes of no confidence are unaffected, and this threshold exists only to protect the coalition from its own members... not quite so frightening as we've been led to believe!

  • Comment number 34.

    so one of the unelected ministers from the last government is whingeing about the constitution what a suprise.all governments try and fiddle with staying in power so why should this one be any different?them and us always has been and always will be.

  • Comment number 35.

    It seems that a lot of people who ought to know better don't know the difference between dissolution of the house and a no-confidence vote. There's nothing in this that alters the position on no-confidence votes: if the opposition gets a simple majority in a no-confidence vote then the government falls, just as it's always been.

    Could it be that the critics are deliberately blurring the distinction in order to have a go? Surely not...

  • Comment number 36.

    A coalition dictatorship. Now that's new politics!

  • Comment number 37.

    This is a complete outrage. If the coalition is worried about other parties ganging up against them it just shows that they've been out of power so long they've forgotten that this is exactly how Parliament works.

  • Comment number 38.

    I would take to the streets over this one. This is an erosion of democracy. Given that all parties are coalitions anyway, why make an exception for this coalition? Don't be fooled into thinking it is in the national interest. That is the route by which dictatorships happen.

    If they behave this way then 'The ConDems' label will become appropriate and I shall use it.

  • Comment number 39.

    So now we know what to expect from this corrupt outfit: and more of it is no doubt on the way. I can imagine the future situation: A motion of no confidence is passed. 'Fine' say our new rulers, now pass a motion for dissolution with 55% of the vote.' 'You can't? Oh, dearie me, what a pity, never mind, we'll just continue in office then.'

  • Comment number 40.

    If it gives us a stable Government, they should do whatever it takes, in Blog 1 JOHNH said he did not think that they should be allowed to "rig the system" What exactly have Labour done to stay in power? They rigged, manipulated and changed just about everything they could, even your right to freedom of speech. Well if you are English, all the privacy laws electoral boundaries, you name it they did it! Throughout their history they have tried to scupper any good idea that was not theirs.
    I will give an example. The Community TAX (POLL TAX).
    This tax has got to be the fairest Tax ever proposed. It ensured that everybody living in the UK paid the same amount toward the running cost of their community, yes, the same cost for one occupant as for twenty living in the same house. Had the people to the left, and they are anything from Liberals to Communist, not tried and succeeded, as they always do having the louder mouths within their ranks, to mix up "fair" with rich and poor and then apply a completely separate tax to the rich and wealthy, we would now be in a situation where all the spongers in our society would be paying for the services they receive.
    And quite rightly so.

  • Comment number 41.

    Well, Lord Adonis would suggest anything that reduces or delays Labour's chance of returning to power as something absurd.

    Considering that Lord Adonis IS a Labour Lord and they all look after their own.

  • Comment number 42.

    Ok, let me get this straight; if an African government ammend the constitution to allow him to rule longer, the west calls him a dictator? On the other hand, if a western country does the same it is described as needed to stabilize a government. It is a bit hypocritical. Britain, the democratic powerhouse would loose her credubility and moral right if the con-dem coaltion are allowed to do this.

  • Comment number 43.

    "# 2. At 11:07am on 14 May 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    Such a change is the type of behaviour expected of and by Mugabwe, or Gaddafi, or Chavez.....I oppose it with all my energy and if necessary will take to the streets to demonstrate against it and demand that our democratic parliamentry system is NOT undermined and TRASHED via using the SAME excuses HITLER used, "for the better of the nation/people".

    Can you please explain exactly why a law that allows 55% of our elected MP's to bring down the govt has anything to do with people like Hitler and Gadaffi who have passed numerous laws to ensure that they couldn't be removed from power?

    HYS is getting increasingly filled with hysterical rantings. #24 "We have two unelected leaders dictating to the British public that they are staying in power for five years. The British public deserves a referendum if a no confidence motion is raised. Nobody voted for this coalition" is another one.... damn near 60% of the electorate voted either conservative or Liberal. Whats the alternative? A minority tory govt that falls in 6 months because it can't pass anything? I just LOVE that Cameron is now 'an unelected leader' just like Brown. Maybe thats because we NEVER directly elect our PM's? They've ALL been unelected leaders!

  • Comment number 44.

    It is not a bad idea to dissolve the Parliament if the coalition does not work effectively and to hold new elections. If the Tories were in a greater majority, they would be able to form the government by themselves. There is a certain impression that the conservatives deserve more than they actually have. If they had more votes, they could make the most important decisions by themselves. This coalition, which exists now, may be good, but the situation would be better if the government were formed by only one party - this is simply evident.

  • Comment number 45.

    It's a none issue. We already have fixed term parliaments of 5 years, although it is currently possible for the incumbent Prime Minister to call an election earlier, usually when it suits them. Often they artifically boost the economy to ensure they do well which isn't actually good for the country.
    The 55% rule is really to try to stop the tories ending the coalition when it suits them. However in reality if 50% plus 1 refuse to back key government policy the only option would be to call an election immediately.

  • Comment number 46.

    How ironic, Adonis was completely unelected and now has the brass neck to lecture others on what is democratic and what isn't.

  • Comment number 47.

    Labour figures including Jack Straw and Lord Adonis say it is a "fix" and a "stitch up" well they would know ! It is highly hypocritical for them to say that, when Labour has already put through fixed-term laws in Scotland requiring 66% of MSPs to dissolve Parliament. Why must it always be one rule for them and one rule for the rest of us !

    This also from a party who tried to give us a second unelected Prime Minister, and were happy to hand out whatever electoral reform the Lib- Dems wanted without any referendum, if if meant they could cling to power for another few years! Hypocracy of the highest order !!!

  • Comment number 48.

    #20 One

    What sanctimonious claptrap is their left in your arsenal?

    I am passionate about politics and would like a Parliament that actually works otherwise 60m people have absolutely no chance of removing themselves from a mess created by decades of incompetence.

    The economic problems of our once proud Union have been with us for over forty odd years of feckless decisions with one eye on Europe and one eye on the USA. We have peddled our independence, our inheritance, our sovereignty, our nous to the highest bidders for long enough, and still there are people like you who just don't get it!

    Tory, Liberal Democrat or New Labour are all the same. They are the reason we are in a mess. For goodness sake let us have some polemic and passion and not this wishy washy "let's talk to one another brave new world" that goes absolutely where we are going - down the pan!

  • Comment number 49.

    The Con-Dem coalition wants electorasl reform.

    Is this the first step? Does electoral reform involve ensuring that you stay in office?

    They are not even a week old and they are at it already.

  • Comment number 50.

    If the Brown or Blair Govt had tried to impose this 3rd world country change to our constitutional rights as voters, at any time in the last 13 years, the right wing biased press in this country would have had a field day. They would have been slaughtered and a public outcry would have ensued - and rightly so may I add.

    It hasnt taken the Nick and Dave show long to start and show their murky hands has it and what next? A return to rotten boroughs? Only those with a certain financial pull to vote? This is about as corrupt as it gets and yet nothing is said by the press?

    I am appauled and very concerned as to where this new politics is taking us and I hope and pray David Milliband is installed as Labour Leader asap and gets to work getting stuck into this 'new corrupt' regime.

  • Comment number 51.

    What a lot of hypocracy! If Labour set it so that a 66% majority is required in the Scottish Parliament, they can't complain (Well they can, but they are being very petty!) if a much more moderate majority of 55% is set for the English(Sorry, British)Parliament.

    We still have to work out the full implications of fixed term parliaments (unelected prime ministers etc.)so we would do well to shut up and wait until we see the whole package.

    The fact is that Labour has left us with a constitutional mess as well as a financial one, and there is a need to set priorities.

    I like the idea of a left of centre party teaming up with a right of centre party, together they can lead us straight down the middle! Dave and Nick, you have my backing.

    At last we have got rid of the socialists and their discredited back room schemers like Mandelson and Campbell. I am also looking forward to the new openness that Cameron has promised. It's all quite exciting really!

    Hooray for the New Politics!

  • Comment number 52.

    A simple majority should be enough for a motion of no-confidence.

  • Comment number 53.

    My point simply is this.

    It is not about what % of MP's is required for a disolution of parliment.

    It is not about votes of confidence.






  • Comment number 54.

    Looks like a perfectly sensible protection for the Lib Dems to me. Its also obvious that Labour will be spending the next five years promising the population the earth in order to get back in power. All of the bye elections in this parliament will go to Labour whilst the government becomes more and more unpopular fixing Labours debts.

  • Comment number 55.

    Riggin' n' fixin' so soon... typical, here did I leave a letter out? Well it's not surprising they're going make it difficult to get clodded out they think they are the bees knees already.

    I don't like the sound of this and one or two other things for that matter but I will hold my breath on the latter...

    .... I certainly don't like the idea of you can have this n' that and we'll do this n' that, the policies being changed from that they were elected upon, just who would you vote for at the next election wouldn't they have the same policies?

    If they are no good we want to be able to throw them out rather than they dictate to us over the issue, under these terms things can get rather nasty, we only need look whats happening elsewhere.

    It seems they are doing their best to lock themselves in and other parties out!

  • Comment number 56.

    This move is NOTHING to do with engendering legitimacy (William Hague) or stability (sundry Lib Dems) and EVERYTHING to do with ensuring that when the waves of mistrust, disaffection and maybe even downright anger begin to break across the coalition government, they are better placed to withstand them and cling on to power. The storm has started to brew today. And sooner or later, the less "Cleggeronesque" members of the Lib Dem parliamentary party - possibly led by a clearly less than happy Vince Cable (judging by his body language on the first day working with George Osborne) - will begin to spit the dummy. Under the proposed "back-of-a-fag-packet" re-writing of the British Constitution, there will have to be a 100% Lib Dem defection PLUS 14 Tory MPs before they fell through the floor of 293 MPS (ignoring for the moment Sinn Fein's abstentionism). It's not going to happen, and Camaregg know it. It'll be interesting to see how the Lib Dems start to react to this Faustian disgrace, now the first flushes of obtaining power are beggining to fade though.

  • Comment number 57.

    Is this real electoral reform? Surely insteead of 55% being needed this shouls be changed to 326 MP's which is over half the commons majority, would this not be a more practical figure? also, is this real electoral reform? what about a NO vote on ballot papers, surely this would encourage more people to vote and at least they can have there say? what about proportional representation? is this now off the agenda?. It just seems they don't want to change anything of real value.

  • Comment number 58.

    two parties that did not receive the required number of seats to form a government now wish to change how that said government could be held to account. anyone else think thats wrong?
    if its so good and pally as Dave & nick suggest why are they so worried we won't like it?

    Own goal...back of the net!

  • Comment number 59.

    Well that didn't take long before the Tories show their full colours. Let's just tweak the rules so that they can't kick our minority government out, eh.

    ...and we have only just begun.

    The people should simply get rid of MP's power lust. The Internet is now firmly established and there is no reason why we can't all vote on a regular basis for 'rule tweaks', statutes and MP's perks on a regular basis. Let the MPs promote their cause by all means, then let the people decide.

  • Comment number 60.

    As an academic specialising in constitutional law, this deeply concerns me. Although they are trying to reassure us that the old 50% rule would apply to a vote of no confidence, they are also saying that if a vote of no confidence was lost, they would then need 55% in favour to dissolve Parliament - well, what is the point in having a no confidence vote if it does not trigger dissolution and an election? It makes a mockery of the entire process. If such a rule change is to be made, it should be done openly and honestly and in full consultation with those affected and the wider public. At first I assumed that they had been unintentionally ambiguous but their comments about the old rules applying to no confidence votes (even though they know that these will be meaningless if you then still need a 55% vote to dissolve Parliament) seem like a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.

  • Comment number 61.

    1. At 11:02am on 14 May 2010, JohnH wrote:

    "This rigging of the rules, including the fixed term parliment WAS NEVER MENTIONED DURING THE ELECTION. You cannot change the rules when you win, no matter how beneficial they are 'in the national interest'."

    I don't recall hearing anything about a coalition before the election either but it has happened. People were so concerned about what was said, they didn't think about what was not said. Also, when a coalition is formed, compromise is made. How can that be anticipated before an election? Use some common sense, John!

  • Comment number 62.

    It's quite depressing that so many people don't know the difference between a no confidence vote from parliament (that could trigger a general election) and a dissolution vote. Up until now, dissolution has been in the sole hands of the PM, now the responsibility is being put in the hands of MPs. This is to protect the coalition and stabilise government.

    Imagine the scene - things go brilliantly in the first 3 years of the new parliament, Tories are doing great in the polls and decide to shaft the Lib Dem partners by going to a general election early so that they can dissolve the coalition and get a full majority. Not fair eh?

    Having to have 55% of MPs vote for dissolution means this can't happen, although parliament can still possibly trigger an election if they think the government is rubbish through a vote of no confidence (50% + 1).

    We've never had such a coalition before and because of this, it's sensible to put some rules in place to protect all parties.

    Of course, we could just let them get on with trying to govern or we can whinge for the next five years.

  • Comment number 63.

    As ever moving towards the US political system... a very good and fair system where the President is elected and can only serve two terms.

  • Comment number 64.

    It's simple really:

    -Existing confidence rules still apply
    -PM no longer has power to call a snap election ....this goes hand in hand with:
    -The House cannot be dissolved as easily (55%)
    -This mirrors what has been put in place in Scotland and elsewhere

    What's the problem? It all adds up to more stable Govt - people who don't like this need to say what they would do differently. Leave the power to call an election with the PM?

  • Comment number 65.

    So Labour think it's a "stitch-up" do they?

    Even more of a stitch-up was that the Tories had the same percentage of the vote at this election as that of Tony Blair when he was elected with a majority of 100+ seats and yet, Cameron didn't walk away with an overall majority.

    So, what goes around comes around and it's nice to hear the whingers from Labour now that they are having to choke on the medicine that they dished out for 13 years!!!

    More of it.......

  • Comment number 66.

    These are politically exciting times for those who voted. Those who didn't vote - well complain - but you can't explain?

    It is great news that this coalition will force Conservatives to look hard at themselves for once; and their legacy of neglect that Labour actually rebuilt before fraudulent financial global crisis that started in America?

    This coalition should force some right-wing nutters in the Conservative Party to get off their 'high horses' and remember who pays their wages and allowances that many Conservatives take and claim, but don't actually need?

    Perhaps, MPs allowances should be means-tested? David Cameron and George Osborne took full MP salary and allowances even though they are independently wealthy? Should these two chaps, pay it back to the tax-payer? (source:

  • Comment number 67.

    48. At 12:26pm on 14 May 2010, polly_gone wrote:
    #20 One

    What sanctimonious claptrap is their left in your arsenal?


    Fair enough,

    lets all just go on moaning about the current government, lets have election after election after election until we're in a economic hole we really can't get out of.

    Sanctimonious enough for you?

  • Comment number 68.

    I think the people should decide if a government is good enough to stay in or not,either through polls taken on how they see things.
    MP's are our employees and we should have the right to sack them if they don't do there jobs,which is, look after the interests of the british people,after all we live in a democracy,( if there is such a thing).
    Where the heck is V when you want him.

  • Comment number 69.

    This proposed revision to the percentage is tantamount to the introduction of a dictatorship state.

    What is does most clearly demonstrate is the LIE-CON coalitions lack of confidence in their own long term existence, when they have to fiddle the figures in order to wrest power challenges from the opposition.

    Is anyone suprised that a Tory is at the head of all this? Fiddling figures is what they did best. Clearly there is no change in the Vote for Change.

    Add to this the fisrt broken manifesto promise of the NI Tax rise, then its little suprise. I trust those Liberal Democrat supporters will rememeber how the Tories used them and stole their vots to make them as corrupt as the Tories are. The Con-servatives bleated on about a Moral Mandate - where is the Morailty in what they now are attempting to do? Nowhere to be seen.

  • Comment number 70.

    What's wrong with you people? Anyone would think that your party dogma is more important than the country. You all sound like "old" politicians.

    Traditional votes of no confidence are unaffected.

    The press have lost some of their passing trade now that the electorate has spoken and given no one their majority support. Now the press has to find some nugget of negativity to sell their rags to their more extreme readers from both the left and the right.

    If the coalition succeeds, the papers don't have any stories to sell. Let's be clear about who has the vested interest here.

  • Comment number 71.

    @ 43
    David cameron Con, Nick Clegg Lib,
    neither won the election as per our constitution. their parties were not voted!!! into government. thats a fact.

    to then take it upon themselves to change said constitution governing who holds office as the government is a crass, brutal and undemocratic way to cling on to power for FIVE years.

    Liberal Democratics - hand your heads in shame this is a dark day for our country but especially your party.

    Quote from the Lib dem manifesto (Constitutional Affairs):
    The way Britain's run means the Government doesn't have to listen to you. One party can get control over Parliament even if only a quarter of people vote for them. So individual people and families don't seem to have a voice to influence what happens. The old parties are comfortable because they know they'll get into government every few years - so they never change things and they never will. But people are fed up of being ignored. It's time to make a real change. We need to have an open political system that's designed to listen to people and deliver what they need. Everyone should have an equal voice - not just people who can pay for big donations.

    The Liberal Democrats will throw open the doors of government, reinvigorate Britain's democracy and give power back to people. We will modernise government so that it serves the interests of all people, not just the vested interests of politicians, corporations or rich donors. Liberal Democrats plan to reform government so there will be no more privileged patronage, no more dodgy dossiers, no more excessive secrecy. Government should uphold the law, as well as our liberties, not seek ways to undermine them. We will create a British democracy for the 21st century that people can be proud of.

  • Comment number 72.

    There is some absolute tosh being written here!

    #33 has got it spot on. The country voted for a hung parliament and that's what we've got, but the last thing we need is the self centred parties pontificating with points of view that are wholly within their own interests and not the countries.

    We voted out the labour party, but couldn't decide between the other other two, so it seems perfectly reasonable for a coalition to exist. If we are to give it a fair chance of success then the 55% mark seems reasonable. The only people who would complain are the self serving type - yes the losing labour party!

  • Comment number 73.

    A "Zombie Government"? Has Lord Falconer been spending too much time reading the Monster Raving Loony Party's manifesto?

    The coalition government's proposal sounds like a very good way of
    a) stopping other self-interested individuals forcing a general election for their own ends and
    b) giving the government in power a reasonable length of time to make things work

    No problem as far as I'm concerned...

  • Comment number 74.

    It's wrong to change the rules for dissolving Parliament at this time, by this government.

    Within the current rules, provided the PM and the Deputy PM can keep the coalition together, the government cannot be brought down -- between them, the Lib Dems and the Tories have more than 50% of the MPs in Parliament (55.8%, to be precise, pending the outcome of the Thirsk & Malton by-election).

    It would take dozens of defectors, plus all of the other parties, to bring this government down. If that happens, then it's only right and proper that Parliament be dissolved -- the coalition would have failed to keep the confidence of the house.

    And I say this as someone who is optimistic -- cautiously, but genuinely -- about the coalition and what the PM and DPM could and hopefully will achieve through working together. It seems like the best result for Britain at the moment, far better than a Labour victory, and far better than a Conservative victory. A victory for centrist politics and sensible politicians.

  • Comment number 75.

    What a tawdry, shifty, undemocratic move. It has inspired me to join the Labour Party. We have to rid ourselves of this.

  • Comment number 76.

    In the past seven days surely our constitution hasn't been this disrespected since Tudor times. Fixed term parliaments, fine. Changing the constitution to cling onto power in such a quiet way smells of a very unbritish coup. How many comparisons in history can be quoted where power has been embedded by the back door? A bid to neutralize the will of the people clothed in the fashionable emperors clothes of "national interest". I don't mind supporting a coalition. But it doesn't bode well when two party government subverts the constitution to seize on party power. Shame.

  • Comment number 77.

    Reminds me of when Hitler was made Chancellor of Germany in 1933 by some back door dealing. The first thing he did as Chancellor was make it virtually impossible for him and his party to get booted out of power.

    Is this a taste of things to come. Start getting worried when Tories start giving the police and army lots of money.

  • Comment number 78.

    This is Lord Adonis we are talking about? Baron Adonis of Camden Town in the London Borough of Camden. Lord Adonis who was elevated to be peerage by Tony Blair and then given a government ministerial job without ever being elected.

    He has the audacity to say that something the Coalition is doing is "not constitutional" with his background.

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    Anyway isn't the 55% limit there to stop the Conservatives basically bailing out if things look like they are either going very well (and they could get a majority government) or really bad (when they'd hope labour would get in).

    Also what about the 66% limit in Scotland - introduced by the last Government....

  • Comment number 79.

    Surprise surprise. Less than a week into the new Tory government and we have cheating. The fact is the Tories alone did not win a majority and have to accept that. It is Parliament's right as the supreme arm of the separation of the powers to scrutinise the government and if they do not have confidence they have the power to dissolve. If the LibDems no longer want to be a part of the coalition then they should have every right to do so and then if as a result Parliament loses confidence then so be it.

    Unconstitutional, fascist and cheating. Back to the 1980s. If the Tories want to go back to rioting, civil unrest and deep hatred of them (I use the term 'go back' loosely) then they are certainly going the right way about it. This is the sort of thing I would expect from a totalitarian agenda, not in Britain. Shame on the coalition. Bring on a Labour landslide in 5 years time.

  • Comment number 80.

    @ Tony Dixon #52

    A simple majority IS enough for a vote of no confidence

    The 55% rule refers to powers to dissolve parliament - it's taking the power out of the hands of the PM and giving that power to the MPs instead.

  • Comment number 81.

    Interesting that this has already come down to a Reductio ad Hitlerum. Considering that in Scotland 66% of the MSPs are required to dissolve a government and that a 51% vote against a supply bill would trigger an election anyway, frankly this outrage is absurd and churlish. This protects minority governments from immediate dissolution while still leaving them open to a vote of no confidence and a loss of supply (both require a 50% vote, one forces an election, supply, the other forces a new government, no confidence). Hence the "Confidence and Supply" negotiations earlier this week. If Britain is going to reform the voting system, and is likely to have more coalition governments in the future, then a distinct separation between vote of no confidence and a vote to dissolve has to be made in order to preserve the stability of Parliament.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    The unelected Lord Adonis is not in a position to voice his opinion.

    This is a sensible idea, so why all the whingeing?

    It seems to me that most people are not interested in having a stable government that MUST be given the opportunity to rectify 13 years of damage and get the country back on its feet.

    Ths Scottish parliament has a similar system but as usual no-one checks a few facts before coming up with kneejerk ill informed comments.

    We are in unknown territory here and many compromises have and will have to be made in order for this coalition to work.

    I am a natural pessimist but I am very optimistic now about the future of the country and unlike Labour with its saying 'a future fair for all' this administration will ensure that all citizens are treated fairly.

  • Comment number 84.

    This behaviour would be more expected from dictatorships in Africa, or extreme far eastern countries. All Liberal Democrat MPs should be absolutely ashamed. If this gets through it is enough for all of them to resign on the spot.
    Before the election we heard stories at bedtime about the voters being able to throw out their MPs. Let's have that first (next week please) then we can have a new one - the voters being able to throw out the governemt.

  • Comment number 85.

    Not only do I support the idea of this coalition, it is pretty much the outcome I was hoping for when I cast my vote. However, while welcoming the move to fixed term parliaments, I have grave concerns about the proposal of a 55% requirement to win a vote of no confidence.

    It is understandable that the Tories want to protect themselves against
    the possibility of a LibDem breakaway enabling the (by then) minority government to be brought down, but this method seems undemocratic and, whilst not on a par with the antics of Mugabe et al, might easily be the thin end of the wedge. I hope that the DPM's short term focus in bringing forward proposals on political reform will be upon this issue - like him, I want a fairer politics and a fairer electoral system, but if, for whatever reason the government of the day cannot command a majority of the Commons, then it has to be prepared to go!

  • Comment number 86.

    Lord Adonis wants to mind his own business.He is not even a M.P.

  • Comment number 87.

    Seems a sensible thing to do actually. Stops the Tories trying to wriggle out of the coalition agreement, since they cannot muster 55% by themselves.

    From a lot of these comments, most people are failing to grasp that this is NOT changing the standing rules about no confidence votes, which is what took Callaghan's government down in 1979. That stays, and is vital. That way, Labour + Lib Dems + others can muster 50% + 1 and force a change by Labour entering a coalition with LD instead.

  • Comment number 88.

    This is the same Lord Adonis who was a Miniter but was never elected to Government. Unlike most other members of the previous Government, there was no way of kicking his Lordship out. Another of Tonies Cronies.

  • Comment number 89.

    Most people don't seem to understand the difference between losing a vote of confidence and having a dissolution.
    Situation A) Coalition breaks down. Vote of no confidence lost by a few votes. There has never been a constitutional requirement for a general election, only for the Prime Minister to resign. If another leader can clearly get majority support in the Commons the Queen could ask him to form a government from the same MPs.
    Situation B)Coalition breaks down. PM loses a lot of by-elections and his party has less than 45%. Then opposition can force a general election.

    So with the new system a 1 vote difference can cause a new government with the same MPs, a 10% difference (55/45%) calls a general election. But the PM cannot call a new general election when he fancies he might win unless he already has over 55% of the seats, in which case he would a) be voting no confidence in himself
    b) be stupid to call an election when he already has a majority!

    So the new system gives more power to the opposition, by enabling them to force a general election, which they could not do directly before. But it reduces the power of the PM to call a snap election.

    So how does that make it an outrage?

  • Comment number 90.

    Britain and it's population voted for a hung Parliament?

    Britain needs stability; and open coalition government and fair taxation for the lowest paid in our society will be desperately needed by so many.

    Our Armed Forces and it's ancillary support/medical workers will benefit from no tax on first £10k of their salary thanks to LibDems.
    Many health service workers will also benefit - they can do one job well, instead of three jobs badly?

    The tax threshold of no tax on earnings of £10k will save millions on 'phantom' allocated tax credits and administration of, that most are too busy working to claim?

  • Comment number 91.

    Let's "do the math". So the Tories , with 306 seats (around 47% of the house), want the other 53% of the house to face a 55% hurdle to knock them off their perch if they ever lose the support of the Lib Dems, considerably reducing the Lib Dems' leverage. This must be the bit of constitutional change that the Tories insisted upon in return for a referendum on AV.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    Lib Dem MP Andrew Stunell said it would prevent an "ambush" on the Tories by all the other parties.
    So what is wrong with an ambush? Isn't this an acceptable political tactic? Out voting one's opponents is the stuff of democracy.

    Ah, But we have the national interest to consider, said Hitler, Stalin, Mugabe and now Hope and Change our two ruling toffs. Meanwhile the academics can debate the fine distinction between a dissolution and a vote of no confidence.

    Yet having re-read the manifestos I see no mention of the 55% requirement. That is what emerged from the secret meetings just after the election.

    Sadly this affront to the voters - we were supposed to be their masters - is unlikely to be repealed by a future labour government. It might have helped the last one to survive.

    Hopefully the Lib Dem party activists won't buy it. But they can be bought off with a few promises of wind farms.

  • Comment number 94.

    This Goverment has incredibility in what it will do to stay in power it looks like mob rule.

    There is nothing wrong with the current 50%+1 rule but the ConDems want to change it as in my opinion they know a backlash is not far away. We'll see how long it takes for the Tweedledems to waken up and smell the real stench of coalition. David Cameron is paying lip service to the Tweedledems in order for him to be Prime Minister with a majority. Would he have proposed the new 55% if he had been in minority government - I think not.

    Anyway once the squabbling starts between the honeymooners it won't be long till the 55% is reached when the Tweedledems get the boot one by one for disagreeing with Mr Cameron and his mob and then start voting against them. Unless another new law is passed to shoot those who show any form of dissent - nothing would surprise me now!

    This is a dictatorship by another name aided and abetted by the Tweedeldems. Why don't the abolish elections altogether then the British electorate will know exactly where they stand and that their views go for nothing.

  • Comment number 95.

    whats all the fuss about?

    The Labour party set 66% in the Scottish Parliament - so 55% is actually quite generous!

    All we are getting is Labour supporters moaning about what is happening quickly when they should, in fact, look at what their own people did throughout the 13 years of rule to change the system into their own favour.

    Everyone should know by now that every time there is a change of government there is a tit-for-tat tweaking of the system.

  • Comment number 96.

    Once again there is a tirade of uninformed negativity that appears to be hell-bent of finding ways to undermine a potentially successful government.

    The facts:

    1. There is NO CHANGE to the no-confidence vote threshold of 50% + 1.
    2. There is a NEW dissolution vote, with a threshold of 55%

    In the event of a vote of no confidence, rather than trigger an immediate election, the government would have to seek to find another way of gaining the confidence of the house - either by changing some policies or forming a different teaming arrangement with other parties.

    This is designed to maintain certainty and will encourage (I hope) more consensual rather than adversarial government.

    Clearly if no other arrangement could be found, the government would effectively be paralysed and I'm sure the whole house would support a dissolution vote as this would be the only way forward.

  • Comment number 97.

    Wait a minute this Cameron guy was he not going to give us the right to sack our local MP if he was seen to be corrupt in any way ,over to you the people of Witney.

  • Comment number 98.

    It's utter hypocrisy for anyone from Labour to criticise the 55% rule when they themselves introduced exactly the same rule for the Scottish and Welsh parliaments - with the difference that it's 66% there!

    If anything, I think 55% isn't enough, and that if you must have a rule like this a much higher percentage like 66% is in fact correct. It is NOT to protect a government from a vote of no confidence by the opposition, it's to prevent a coalition government being held to ransom by its OWN members, especially the smaller party or a faction within either of them. Everyone who is against coalitions uses this argument, and now they want it both ways.

    Surprise surprise. 'Democracy' now seems to mean whatever the Labour Party and its supporters want. You might ask exactly why the 66% rule was introduced in Scotland and Wales, at a time when it was obvious that Labour would form the governments there but was beginning to lose its grip on absolute power to the SNP and PC. So it may not be a bad rule, but it also may not have been done for the honourable reason.

    If you take the trouble to read about it, you'll see that the 55% only applies to the dissolution of parliament - ie shortening the proper 5-year term. The government could in fact lose, and change its party composition - either to a minority government or a different coalition - but still be subject to the same final election date. Many other countries have fixed-term parliaments like this, and they work perfectly well.

    Or are we to simply swallow everything the hysterical right-wing press spout about it being 'undemocratic'? Undemocratic is when a government with a majority in parliament elected on a minority of the vote chooses the election date to maximise its own chance of re-election.

  • Comment number 99.

    Undemocratic and downright gerrymandering with the rules for self benefit.
    If labour had done this the whole Tory party would be up in arms and throwing threats of legal action.

  • Comment number 100.

    This arrangement looks OK to me if it stabilises this government - but it should only be for the length of this parliament or until a review of our political system is completed.

    There are so many outdated and indefensible practices in our political system that we need a thorough review to sort them out. I hope this is what the Deputy PM will be working on. I find it incredulous that we spend so much time debating these constitutional issues instead of the policies to try and solve the major problems we have. It was the same when Gordon Brown was trying to decide whether to call an early election. Weeks of discussion and manoeuvring, and all for one parties political advantage.


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