The Government has today written to the presiding officers of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales to give them the opportunity to signal whether they wish to vary the dates of their 2015 elections by up to a year.
The Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales will be asked to choose whether or not they would like to change the date of their elections so that they do not coincide with the date of the next general election to the House of Commons, which is set for 7 May 2015.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said:
“We want to ensure that election campaigns for the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales can be distinctly separate from the build-up to, and aftermath of the 2015 Westminster election.
“But this is their choice to make - they can hold it in May 2015 if they wish, or a year before or after if they prefer - as part of this Government’s commitment to mutual respect, devolution of power and political accountability.”
Mark Harper, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, said:
“This follows several months of dialogue with the parties in the devolved legislatures. They have asked for this power and we think it is right to give them this choice.”
The Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales will need to pass a resolution, before they rise for this year’s May elections, agreeing that the 2015 election should be moved on a one off basis to another date one year earlier or later than May 2015. The resolution must be passed with a two-thirds majority, which is consistent with provisions in the legislation establishing the devolved legislatures and in the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill for triggering an early general election. The Government would then be in a position to table an amendment to the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill which would, if accepted, make this change.
The Fixed-term Parliaments Bill, which sets UK Parliamentary General Elections to every five years, is currently before the House of Lords and will have its Second Reading on March 1.