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General Election 2010 timetable

When Parliament is dissolved every Commons seat becomes vacant and there is a general election. Below is the expected timetable published ahead of the 2010 General Election, setting out the timescales of the campaign and what was to happen after polling day when the new MPs take their seats and Members of the Lords return.


Tuesday 6 April - General Election announced 

The Prime Minister goes to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament on the following Monday 12 April

From Tuesday 6 April - Wash-up and Royal Assent


While Bills can be carried forward from one parliamentary session to the next, the same cannot happen between parliaments. All Bills not passed on the date the House rises are lost.

Parliament has evolved a mechanism called the "wash-up" whereby some Bills are saved and allowed to complete their passage.

Both Houses of Parliament continue to sit until the Parliament is formally dissolved on Monday 12 April.

Royal Assent

Bills receive Royal Assent when they have completed their passage through Parliament

Thursday 8 April - Prorogation 

The formal end of the parliamentary session is marked by what is known as prorogation. Dissolution is on Monday 12 April.

Monday 12 April - Dissolution 

  • Parliament dissolved

  • A proclamation of dissolution is made, announcing when Parliament will meet after the general election and setting the date of the Queen's Speech at State Opening

  • Writs issued for elections in the UK's 650 constituencies

Tuesday 20 April

  • Cut-off date for UK citizens aged 18 and over to register to vote in the general election

  • Also marks the deadline for voters to apply for a postal or a proxy vote

  • Candidates' nomination papers must be delivered to the local returning officer. Any candidate wishing to withdraw must do so on this date

  • Election agents, who ensure the proper management of each candidate's campaign, must also be appointed

Thursday 6 May - Election day

Polling booths open between 7am and 10pm. Counting of votes will begin when the polls close.

Friday 7 May 

Counting continues

Tuesday 18 May

  • Parliament returns

  • Commons to choose the Speaker of the House of Commons

  • MPs start swearing the Oath of Allegiance or making an Affirmation in the Commons

  • Members of the House of Lords start swearing the Oath of Allegiance or making an Affirmation in the Lords

Tuesday 25 May

The Queen's Speech is delivered at the State Opening of the new Parliament.

Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission is an independent body, accountable directly to the UK Parliament, that regulates elections in the UK, promotes voter awareness and works to build confidence in the electoral process.

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