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Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Act 2021

Other arrangements for 2021 election

Section 6: Dissolution of current Parliament

18.The effect of section 13 of the Scotland Act 1998 is that when the Parliament dissolves before a general election, members of the Parliament (MSPs) cease to hold office, and the Parliament cannot be convened to debate or pass legislation. For previous general elections, dissolution (which is set by secondary legislation) has usually lasted 28 days.

19.However, the possibility exists that, once the Parliament dissolves, there is an event connected with the coronavirus pandemic (such as a spike or surge of coronavirus infections) that could potentially endanger the general election being safely held on 6 May.

20.The purpose of this section is therefore to provide a kind of insurance policy against that situation occurring by making dissolution happen on 5 May 2021 This means that MSPs will still retain office until a single day before the election, and therefore up to that point the Parliament would be able to debate and pass an emergency Bill to postpone or alter arrangements for the election, if coronavirus were to threaten the election occurring as normal. It is anticipated that the Parliament will instead go into recess for the campaign 27 days prior to the election (although it is ultimately for the Parliamentary Bureau to decide on this after discussions with the business managers of the different political parties), but this would not prevent the Parliament from being recalled to sit as required.

21.Subsection (2) reflects that if the election is postponed by the Presiding Officer under section 11(1), the date of dissolution will also be postponed, under section 11(8).

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Text created by the Scottish Government 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 Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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