Dissolution of Parliament
Dissolution is the official term for the end of a Parliament. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 a general election must be held in the UK, and a new Parliament elected, every five years.
What happens to Parliament at dissolution?
Parliament is dissolved 25 working days before a general election at a minute past midnight.
The formal end to the parliamentary session is called 'prorogation'. This may take place a few days before dissolution.
House of Commons
When Parliament is dissolved, every seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant. All business in the House comes to an end. MPs stop representing their constituencies. There will be no MPs until after the general election.
MPs can come into Parliament for a few days after dissolution to clear their offices.
Those who wish to be MPs again must stand again as candidates for election.
Role of the Commons Speaker at dissolution
The Speaker is no longer an MP once Parliament is dissolved.
Like every other MP, the Speaker must stand for re-election. The Speaker will stand as 'Speaker seeking re-election'.
However, the Speaker retains responsibility for the management of the House of Commons as they remain the chair of the House of Commons Commission until a new Speaker is elected.
House of Lords
Members of the House of Lords are appointed, not elected. Members of the House of Lords retain their positions. Business in the House comes to an end when Parliament is dissolved.
Members of the House of Lords can access the premises of Parliament following dissolution.
What happens to the Government when Parliament is dissolved?
Parliament and Government are two separate institutions.
The Government does not resign when Parliament is dissolved. Government ministers remain in charge of their departments. The role of minister is independent of the role of MP.
Ministers keep their ministerial titles after dissolution, but MPs can no longer use MP in their name.
The Cabinet Manual sets out the main laws, rules and conventions affecting the conduct and operation of government.
Read more about Parliament and government:
There are rules in relation to the conduct of government business during the pre-election period. These are given to civil servants during this period which is sometimes known as 'purdah'.
- Pre-election period of sensitivity: Commons Library briefing paper
- GOV.UK: Election guidance for civil servants (external site)
Further information on the dissolution of Parliament
The House of Commons Library has published briefing papers on the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 and the dissolution of Parliament.