Something Old, Something New? Votes of Confidence, Parliamentary Dissolution, Election Timing, and Judicial Review Under the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022

Abstract

Westminster ratified the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act in 2022. It provides that: (a) PMs’ ability to dissolve parliament through the monarch is restored. (b) Writs for general elections are bestowed upon the executive. (c) Some applications of the royal prerogative are non-justiciable. This article presents a critical summary of the history and content of the act, and it discusses its implications. (1) The repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act re-introduces flexibility vis-à-vis election timing. (2) The DCPA implies a transfer of dissolution authority from parliament back to governments. (3) The elimination of statutory confidence motions implies a return to the convention-based confidence procedure. This article argues that the bill rekindles cabinet supremacy. (i) Elections can be more easily strategically scheduled to the ruling party’s advantage. (ii) PMs can substantiate the employment of confidence votes with the threat of dissolution again. (iii) Leaders might capitalise on the absence of judicial review to further their agenda or elude the test of confidence. Altogether, the bill reshapes the relationship between the government and the legislature by deepening executive dominance to pre-FTPA levels and perhaps even higher, given the non-justiciability clause, at least as long as elections produce single-party majority cabinets.

Publication
Parliaments, Estates and Representation 43(2):194-211
Francesco Bromo
Francesco Bromo
Dissertation Fellow

My research interests include executives, legislatures, electoral and policy outcomes, representative institutions, coalition governance, constitutional law, and judicial politics.