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Fixed-term Parliaments Bill

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 17 March 2011

The Government have been engaged in discussions with the parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland about the potential coincidence of elections in May 2015.

The Government have tabled amendments to the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill to implement the agreement we have reached with the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales. Following the discussions, motions were passed in the Scottish Parliament on 3 March and in the Welsh Assembly on 16 March calling on the UK Government to bring forward provision to defer the 2015 Scottish and Welsh general elections until 5 May 2016 in order to avoid the two sets of elections coinciding.

The amendment will provide that the normal rules pertaining to general elections to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales apply to the deferred polls.

The Government will also carry out a detailed assessment of what the implications would be of the two sets of elections coinciding at a later date. Then in the light of this we will consider whether to conduct a public consultation in Scotland and Wales on whether the Parliament and Assembly terms should permanently be extended to five years.

Following correspondence with parties in Northern Ireland on this issue, Northern Ireland Office Ministers have concluded that it would be better to await the outcome of the combined polls scheduled for May 2011 before taking a decision on whether special provision would be needed for Northern Ireland.