A BILL that would allow the Government to call elections at will is “unacceptable”, according to the SNP.

Boris Johnson’s government was dealt a blow when the House of Lords made an amendment to legislation intended to overturn the Fixed Term Parliaments Act which would “undermine” their plans.

Lords voted to add a section to the bill that would require a simple majority of MPs to call an election.

Brendan O’Hara, the SNP MP for Argyll and Bute, slammed the government’s plans to deny further power to Parliament.

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He said: “What this Lords amendment seeks to do is to place a very minimal check on the executive’s power.

“I don’t think, and I don’t think our constituents would think, that it is too much of an ask for those who have been elected to this place and who serve their constituents in this place, to have some say if a Parliament is to be dissolved early.”

He described it as MPs “abdicating the responsibility to the executive”, adding: “Electoral calculus and the position of the governing party at that time will govern and decide when we will have a general election. It is wrong, and it is unacceptable, I believe, in a modern democracy.”

Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Ellis said: “The amendment adds undesired complexity to what is a simple proposition, our simple proposition is a return to the status quo ante.

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“This Bill intends, therefore, to return us to that status quo, reviving the prerogative powers for the dissolution and the calling of Parliament, and preserving the long-standing position on the non-justiciability of these powers.

“This amendment would undermine the entire rationale of the Bill. If it is amended as proposed, we would be entering into precisely the kind of ill thought through constitutional innovation that we are seeking to repeal.”

Labour’s shadow minister Alex Norris said: “It ensures against a capricious Prime Minister, perhaps one losing the confidence of their own benches in the light of – in a hypothetical – significant issues of judgement or personal character cannot just go and throw everything in the air in their own interest.”

He added: “By including a parliamentary rubber-stamp on dissolution, we remove any risk whatsoever of dragging the crown into such a decision.”

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The Fixed Term Parliaments Act was introduced under the coalition government to commit the government of the day to holding a general election once every five years.

Prior to the law being passed the power to hold an election was held by the Prime Minister who was required to call an election every five years with the option of doing so sooner.

Since the passage of the act, there have been three elections – two of which were called early.