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Scottish Elections (Dates) Bill passes stage 3

Published: 25 Feb 2016 17:03

Five-year term for next Parliament agreed.

Proposals to avoid future election clashes have been passed today by the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Elections (Dates) Bill – a Programme for Government commitment – proposed a five-year term for the next Scottish Parliament to avoid clashing with the next UK General Election on 7 May 2020.

In addition, the Bill defers the planned 2021 Scottish Local Government elections until 2022 to avoid a clash with the new Scottish Parliament election date.

Proposals include:

  • The deferral of the Scottish Parliament election, due on 7 May 2020, to 6 May 2021; and
  • The deferral of the Scottish Local Government elections, due on 6 May 2021, to 5 May 2022.

Speaking after the Stage 3 debate of the Scottish Elections (Dates) Bill, Minister for Parliamentary Business Joe FitzPatrick said:

"The Scottish and UK Governments agreed to keep the elections separate and this is what this legislation achieves. Backed by unanimous cross-party support it represents a straightforward and pragmatic solution to the problem.

"By agreeing to a five-year term for the next Scottish Parliament this Bill avoids a clash with the next UK General Election in 2020 and will therefore help eliminate any potential voter confusion.

"When the Scotland Bill transfers full powers over elections to the Scottish Parliament, we can then agree permanently the best term lengths and dates for Scottish elections."

Notes to editors

The Smith Commission recommended that the Scottish Parliament should have all powers in relation to Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections in Scotland, a provision that is included in the Scotland Bill. The Scotland Bill, however, will not be enacted in time to address the clash of the 2020 Scottish Parliament and Westminster elections ahead of voters going to the polls on 5 May 2016. The Scottish and UK Governments agreed a Section 30 Order under the Scotland Act 1998, which was made in Privy Council on 8 October 2015, to enable this Bill to be brought forward.

The legislation will not alter existing cycles for Scottish Parliament elections after 2021 nor the Scottish Local Government elections after 2022; does not alter the current position relating to extraordinary elections; or alter the Presiding Officer's power to propose another date for a Scottish Parliament election as set out in the Scotland Act 1998.