Dissolution of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

Dissolution Of The Parliament Of The United Kingdom

Dissolution of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

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The Parliament of the United Kingdom expires, by law, after a five year term, as laid down in the Septennial Act 1715 (as amended by the Parliament Act 1911). This may, however, be overridden at a time of national emergency. The length of Parliament has been extended on two occasions since 1911, once during each of the two World Wars. At any time the Sovereign can dissolve parliament and call a general election. In accordance with constitutional convention, the Sovereign does not act independently, but on the advice of the Prime Minister, meaning that Prime Ministers have de facto authority to dissolve Parliament at a time of their choosing. Prior to 1918, it was the Cabinet who collectively sought permission from the monarch in order for Parliament to be dissolved. However, since 1918, the Prime Minister alone seeks the permission of the Sovereign.

Members of Parliament cease to be so, as soon as it is dissolved, and, although they and their staff continue to be paid until polling day, they may not enter the Palace of Westminster. Parliament is usually prorogued or adjourned before it is dissolved. Parliament may continue to sit for a wash-up period of a few days after the Prime Minister has announced the date when Parliament will be dissolved, to finish some last items of Parliamentary business.

A Royal Proclamation is made summoning a new parliament and requiring the despatch of writs of election. A general election must be held 17 days after the Proclamation summoning...
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