The government welcomes the motion passed unanimously yesterday in the National Assembly for Wales signifying that it wished the UK Government to bring forward provision to defer the Welsh Assembly 2015 general election to 5 May 2016 in order to avoid elections coinciding in May 2015.
A similar motion was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 3 March.
This follows discussions between the UK Government and parties in Scotland and Wales about the potential coincidence of elections in May 2015.
In line with the agreement reached with the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales, the Government has tabled amendments to the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill. If accepted, the amendments will move the date of the elections to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales scheduled for 2015 on a one off basis in line with the motions passed in Edinburgh and Cardiff. This will allow voters in Scotland and Wales to know how long they are electing MSPs and AMs for in elections on 5 May this year.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said:
We have listened to what has been said in the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales and have been responsive to the concerns that have been expressed.
It is right that the decision was left to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly 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:
These motions follow an extensive dialogue between the UK Government and the devolved legislatures. In the end, it was their decision, and I am glad that they have debated and agreed on a suitable date for each of their elections. The UK Government has the legislative means by which to facilitate this move.
The Fixed-term Parliaments Bill, which sets UK Parliamentary General Elections every five years, is currently before the House of Lords.
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.