Parliamentary elections, dissolution and summoning of Parliament
Produced in partnership with Carl Gardner of Head of Legal
Parliamentary elections, dissolution and summoning of Parliament

The following Public Law guidance note Produced in partnership with Carl Gardner of Head of Legal provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Parliamentary elections, dissolution and summoning of Parliament
  • Dissolution of Parliament
  • Early general elections
  • Effect of dissolution on parliamentary business
  • Convention right to free elections
  • The right to vote
  • Disqualification from election to Parliament
  • Election
  • Pre-election purdah
  • Electoral offences
  • more

This Practice Note considers the rules relating to dissolution, election and summoning of Parliament in the UK. Each Parliament normally lasts for five years from the date of a parliamentary general election until it is dissolved. Dissolution of Parliament is followed by a parliamentary general election, after which a new Parliament is summoned.

Dissolution of Parliament

Traditionally, the monarch would dissolve Parliament using her prerogative power to do so. That power was removed by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA 2011), which established a complete statutory scheme for the dissolution of Parliament.

Section 1 of the FTPA 2011 provided that the polling day for the next general election (ie the first general election following commencement of the Act) would be 7 May 2015. The polling day for every subsequent general election is to be held on the first Thursday in May, five years from the date of the last election.

In consequence, FTPA 2011, s 3 provides that Parliament dissolves automatically 25.5 working days before the polling day which has been fixed for the general election under the Act, and that Parliament cannot be dissolved in any other way.

Section 3 also empowers the Lord Chancellor (in relation to Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State) to have writs for election issued, which must happen as soon as practicable after dissolution. Section 3 also