Scottish Secretary David Mundell today announced the UK Government will devolve the power to Holyrood to set an alternative date for the Scottish Parliament election which had been due to take place in 2020.
The UK and Scottish Governments agreed voters should be aware of the length of term they will be electing MSPs to in 2016.
Mr Mundell has written to the Presiding Officer and Scottish party leaders to inform them that Scotland Office is taking forward a Section 30 Order to devolve the power which will allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate on the timing of the first Scottish Parliament general election to be held after 2016.
The wider power to set election dates beyond the next Scottish Parliament election will be included in the Scotland Bill.
Elections to both the UK and Scottish Parliaments had been scheduled to take place on the same day in 2020, as a result of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.
The change will allow the Scottish Parliament to introduce and pass legislation to avoid this happening. Holyrood will be able to set a date which avoids holding the poll on the same day as UK Parliament, European Parliament or local government elections.
The move is consistent with the Smith Commission’s recommendation that power over Scottish elections should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
The Order has the support of the UK and Scottish Governments, the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer and the leaders of all parties represented at Holyrood.
Mr Mundell said:
This is a sensible move which ensures clarity for voters in Scotland by giving the Scottish Parliament the power to set its own parliamentary terms. It will ensure Holyrood elections take place separately from others in future.