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Dissolution of Parliament

Dissolution is the official term for the end of a Parliament. By law, a general election must be held in the UK, and a new Parliament elected, at least every five years.

What happens to Parliament at dissolution?

At dissolution all the business in both Houses comes to an end and all MPs lose their seats in the House of Commons.

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:

Pre-election period

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'.

Further information on the dissolution of Parliament

The House of Commons Library has published the folowing briefing papers on the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act:

Contact the House of Commons Enquiry Service

The House of Commons Enquiry Service provides information on the work, history and membership of the House of Commons.

  • Telephone: 0800 112 4272 (Freephone) or 020 7219 4272
  • Email:
  • Text relay: Dial 18001 followed by our full number

Our telephone enquiry service is open from 10am - 12 midday and 2pm - 4pm, Monday to Friday.


The House of Commons Enquiry Service produces a series of free guides which you can read online, download or order copies.

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