The proposal for a fixed term Parliament is one way of underpinning the durability of the coalition government (the Liberal Conservative coalition as David Cameron significantly calls it). But is it constitutionally viable?
What the agreement says on this subject is: 'The parties agree to the establishment of five year fixed-term parliaments. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.'
First, I would question whether the House of Commons can 'bind' itself in this way. Second, how was the figure of 55 per cent arrived at? Is it because it would allow the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to call an election if they thought it was in their mutual interest?
One constitutional expert who happens to be a Conservative in the upper house has remarked: 'It is remarkable for claiming that there will be a "binding resolution". There can be a resolution but there is no provision for it to be binding. I wonder if the Queen has been told that her legal power to dissolve power is subject to a resolution of the House of Commons.' Indeed.