Briefing: Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill

Summary

Date: July 2021

For: MPs

Overview

Ahead of the Second Reading of the Bill on Tuesday 6 July, this briefing highlights the importance of the current minimum election timetable of 25-working days, which the Bill seeks to retain. This allows the electoral community to plan for the effective delivery and administration of general elections, and to support and encourage voter participation.

Key considerations

  • Our latest research shows public confidence in the running of elections is at its highest level since data collection began ten years ago, with four out of five respondents saying they are confident that elections in the UK are well run.
  • The Commission does not take a view on the constitutional questions about how UK Parliament terms are specified and how elections can be called. Its focus is that, whatever processes are in place, all those participating must have sufficient time to plan and deliver their responsibilities. The polls must be able to be delivered in a way which inspires confidence and gives voters choice on the ballot paper.
  • In order to meet this need, all those participating must have sufficient time to plan and deliver their role. It is important that sufficient time is allowed for:
    • the delivery of essential electoral administration services, such as the printing of ballot papers, identification of count and polling venues, and processing of postal ballot packs
    • candidates (including independent candidates) to take decisions on whether to stand, and for parties and campaigners to put their arguments to the electorate 
    • voter registration campaigns to be carried out, and for voters to register and to consider their voting options
  • Based on our experience of the three UK Parliamentary general elections since 2015, the current minimum election timetable of 25 working days, which the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill seeks to retain, supports the proper preparation and delivery of these activities. We set out further detail on this in our evidence to the Joint Committee on the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. 

The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. If you require any further information, please contact Alex White in our public affairs team at awhite@electoralcommission.org.uk