Debates between Lord Desai and Lord Lexden during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 25th Jan 2022

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill

Debate between Lord Desai and Lord Lexden
Lord Desai Portrait Lord Desai (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, if I may intervene in this debate, I think it is still important that what used to be the custom and convention be clarified on paper. This is for a very simple reason. While I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, that it is inconceivable that a monarch could refuse the request of a Prime Minister, there is always a possibility. For example, in India, which has a constitution based very much on British lines, the president is elected by the Parliament, and very often he or she is a partisan person and would be unable to refuse the Prime Minister under any circumstances. We have to reserve the power of the monarch. If what the Prime Minister is saying does not smell good when he or she is asking for a dissolution, the monarch should have the power to say no.

Lord Lexden Portrait Lord Lexden (Con)
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My Lords, I agree with all those who have said that my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth has done us a very considerable service. He reminded us of the formidable words of Alan Lascelles, private secretary to George VI in 1950. We should, at all times, keep those Lascelles words in mind:

“It is surely indisputable (and common sense) that a Prime Minister may ask—not demand—that his Sovereign will grant him a dissolution of Parliament; and that the Sovereign, if he”—

or, we should add, she—

“so chooses, may refuse to grant this request.”

It is the existence of this power that has ensured, and will continue to ensure, that no Prime Minister has asked improperly for a dissolution in our history.