Page last updated at 22:32 GMT, Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Fixed-term Parliaments Bill part 2

Labour MP Stephen Pound has accused the coalition of trying to "poison" the UK's constitution with its plans to introduce fixed-term Parliaments of five years.

During committee stage debate on the Fixed-Term Parliaments Bill on 16 November 2010, he said: "The key point here is that the context in which this bill is brought before the House tonight is based on expediency. It's not based on ethics."

The legislation would see general elections take place on the first Thursday in May every five years from the next time voters go to the polls, which would be 7 May 2015.

But Mr Pound told MPs: "This coalition is like the Upas tree which is poisoning the soil all around it and they are trying to poison our constitution by this appalling bill which we have here before us on the floor of the House."

Mr Pound added: "The most key, important, salient point here is that if we locked the system in to a four or five year cycle we would lose that glorious uncertainty of the democratic over-sight.

"We would lose that concern, even on occasion that fear of the electorate, which is the honest emotion that parliamentarians should always feel."

At the conclusion of the debate, MPs voted to reject an amendment, which would have reduced the proposed parliamentary term from five years to four, by 313 votes to 246, a government majority of 73.

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