John Major did prorogue parliament for three weeks in 1997

Published: 12th Sep 2019

In brief

Claim

John Major prorogued parliament in 1997 to delay a report into Conservative MPs taking bribes.

Conclusion

Major’s prorogation in 1997 had the effect of delaying a report into Conservative MPs taking bribes until after the 1997 election, whether or not that was his intention.

A viral Facebook post claims that John Major suspended (or to use the legal term, “prorogued”) parliament longer than necessary in 1997 to postpone the publication of a report into allegations that Conservative MPs were bribed to ask questions in Parliament.

The post implies that because of this, he is hypocritical to oppose Boris Johnson’s recent suspension of parliament.

It is true that Mr Major prorogued parliament in March 1997 for three weeks before it was formally dissolved ahead of the election on 1st May. When prorogation happens, it typically lasts less than a week.

Mr Major was accused by political opponents and the media at the time of doing this to prevent the “cash-for-questions” report being published before the upcoming general election. Whether or not that was his reason for proroguing parliament, it had that effect—the report was eventually published in July 1997.

The post also claims correctly that John Major joined a court case to stop the current prorogation of parliament. 

You can read more about proroguing parliament here.

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