The Independent, on 28 May, reported:
The Tory backbench rumour mill suggests that Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, is dusting down the rules about how a “confidence and supply” arrangement would work.
If this were done, it would mean the cabinet would become a minority government, but the LibDems would agree not to vote in favor of a no-confidence motion. They would also commit to supporting (or at least not defeating the government over) the budget. In exchange, they would continue to be consulted on policy, but would forfeit their voice around the cabinet table.
Confidence and supply agreements, which have become the norm over the past decade in New Zealand as well as being common in other multiparty parliamentary systems, give the support party more flexibility while also preserving stability.
I have wondered since the election over a year ago why this was not the arrangement negotiated between the parties. Of course, the LibDems wanted ministerial positions and the greater policy influence that comes with them. But it was also apparent at the time that Conservative leader and PM David Cameron preferred a formal coalition over a minority government. Perhaps he still does, but as the next election draws nearer, both parties will have electoral interests in differentiating themselves. A confidence and supply agreement would make that easier.
If this change were made to the current UK governing arrangement, it would not change a provision of the original coalition agreement by which the parties agreed to legislate fixed election dates.
Ending the Coalition would not mean an immediate general election. A Bill is going through Parliament that should ensure it takes place in May 2015, which suits both parties.