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Statutory Election Period

Volume 690: debated on Thursday 4 March 2021

What assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the adequacy of the length of time of the statutory election period. (912862)

The Commission recently submitted evidence to the Joint Committee on the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, setting out the background to the current minimum timetable of 25 working days for UK elections and the administrative and regulatory implications if the timetable were to be shortened. While the specific period is for Parliament to decide, the Commission emphasises that sufficient time must be allowed for campaigners to put their arguments to the electorate, for voters to decide how to cast their vote, and for returning officers to deliver the election process.

I thank the hon. Member for his answer. As he says, this point has been exercising the Joint Committee on the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, on which I and many other Members of this House sit. Election periods have grown considerably longer over the years, which is not necessarily in the best interests of our constituents and democracy more widely, especially when an election is called to resolve an impasse. Will he be willing to inquire further from the Electoral Commission as to what the shortest potential statutory period that could reasonably adopted is, and then write to me or the Committee?

I will indeed inquire about that. Informally, the suggestion to me has been that the Commission does not particularly want it shortened too much further because of all the administrative burdens and the administrative marker points that electoral registration officers and others would have to go through, but I will pass on the hon. Gentleman’s request and ask the Commission to write to him.