Journal Article

The Problem of the ‘Lame Duck’ Government: A Critique of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act

Raymond Youngs and Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds

in Parliamentary Affairs

Published on behalf of Hansard Society

Volume 66, issue 3, pages 540-556
Published in print July 2013 | ISSN: 0031-2290
Published online February 2012 | e-ISSN: 1460-2482 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pa/gss001
The Problem of the ‘Lame Duck’ Government: A Critique of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act

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Under the UK Fixed-term Parliaments Act, apart from a motion of no confidence, the only way to obtain a dissolution is by an absolute majority of at least two-thirds of the House of Commons. However, it might be possible for a motion of no confidence to be engineered by the government against itself. This would seem to defeat the purpose of the Act, and ought only to be permitted if the government is no longer capable of acting because of lack of support in the House of Commons. Control on the exercise of this power should therefore lie with the courts. The Canadian Constitution is insufficiently similar here, but the German Constitution offers a possible model for judicial control. It allows for governments feeling themselves unable to act to ask for a vote of confidence, intending to suffer a defeat leading to dissolution of the Bundestag; and this can be challenged in court proceedings.

Journal Article.  7269 words. 

Subjects: Parliamentary and Legislative Practice ; Law and Politics ; Political Institutions ; UK Politics

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