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Scotland Act 1998

SECTION 9: Constituency vacancies.

Purpose and Effect

This section provides for a by-election to be held within three months of a constituency seat becoming vacant. It also provides however that the by-election should not be held if the last day on which it could be held is within 3 months of the due date of the poll in the next ordinary general election. Existing members and candidates for any other vacancy may not stand.


The section is related to the group of sections dealing with elections and within the set dealing with vacancies which also includes section 10 covering regional vacancies. The other main related sections are section 1(2) which provides for constituency elections to be contested under the first-past-the-post system; section 2(5) in relation to varying the date for holding general elections; and section 5 which deals with candidates.

Parliamentary Consideration


Details of Provisions

Subsection (1) provides for a by-election to be held when the seat of a constituency member becomes vacant (subject to subsection (4)).

Subsection (2) states that the date of the poll in that by-election shall be fixed by the Presiding Officer.

Subsection (3) provides that the date of the poll in the by-election should be no later than three months after the vacancy arises unless notification of the vacancy is not made to the Presiding Officer within one month of the vacancy arising. In such circumstances the date of the election is to be fixed within three months of it being brought to the Presiding Officer’s attention.

Subsection (4) provides that a by‑election shall not be held if the latest date for holding the poll in that by-election would fall within the period of three months ending with the due day of the poll in the next ordinary general election. This avoids the cost and work of the election process for the sake of filling a seat for a short period of months.

Subsection (5) provides for the Standing Orders of the Parliament to determine the date on which a vacancy is deemed to have occurred.

Subsection (6) provides that a person who is already a member of the Parliament or a candidate to fill another vacancy is not eligible to stand for election at a by-election.

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Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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