Queen's Speech: Parliamentary Reform Bill

Notes on: "Measures will be brought forward to introduce fixed term Parliaments for 5 years."

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Measures will be brought forward to introduce fixed term Parliaments for 5 years.

Constituents will be given the right to recall their Members of Parliament where they are guilty of serious wrongdoing.

A Bill will be introduced for a referendum on the Alternative Vote system for the House of Commons and to create fewer and more equal sized constituencies.

The government has set out an ambitious programme of reforms to transform politics and redistribute power away from the centre.

The purpose of the bill

Provide for a greater public say over how they are represented in Parliament, improve the reputation of Parliament and provide for more parliamentary control over the government.

The main benefits of the bill

  • giving the people a say in the electoral system used to elect MPs
  • giving every vote more equal weight by ensuring that constituency sizes are more equal
  • reducing the costs of Parliament through reducing the size of the House of Commons
  • removing the right of the Prime Minister to decide on the date of the General Election for narrow party advantage
  • making MPs more answerable to the people who voted for them

The main elements of the bill

  • to provide for a referendum on a choice between First Past the Post and the Alternative Vote as the system for electing the House of Commons, and change the electoral system for the Commons to the Alternative Vote if the result of the referendum supports this
  • to provide for a reduction in the number of seats in the House of Commons and more equally sized constituencies, through changes to the rules for boundary reviews to enable the Boundary Commissions to draw up the new constituencies during the current Parliament
  • to provide for fixed, rather than maximum, term parliaments of 5 years and to provide that the next General Election shall be on 7 May 2015
  • to provide that a Prime Minister can seek an earlier dissolution of Parliament only if 55 per cent of the membership of the House of Commons have voted in favour of this
  • to provide that where an MP is judged to have engaged in serious wrongdoing, constituents can petition for the ‘recall’ of the MP. If more than 10 per cent of electors sign the petition, then a by-election will be held in the seat


Existing legislation in this area

Fixed term parliaments

  • Septennial Act 1715
  • Parliament Act 1911

Recall (legislation relates to disqualification from the House of Commons)

  • Representation of the People Act 1981
  • Representation of the People Act 1983
  • House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975
  • Mental Health Act 1983
  • Insolvency Act 1986


  • Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000

Parliamentary boundaries

  • Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986


Any legislation will apply to the United Kingdom. All proposals are reserved in all three of the devolution settlements.

Updates to this page

Published 25 May 2010