Holyrood to stop sitting on March 25 ahead of Scottish election

The Scottish Parliament is to stop sitting on March 25 and go into recess ahead of the Scottish elections at the start of May, Holyrood's Presiding Officer has confirmed.

But unusually Parliament will not be dissolved during this six-week period, meaning the politicians will continue in their role as MSPs. This will take place instead on May 5, the day before the election itself.

The arrangements are set out in a letter from Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh to MSPs.

It means that Parliament could be recalled, most likely in the event of a coronavirus-related emergency, during the election campaign.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon takes part in First Minster's Questions at the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Jane Barlow/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Read More

Read More
Nicola Sturgeon: Light at the end of the tunnel 'more visible now than at any po...

"To coincide with the start of the ‘short’ campaign period, Parliament will be asked to schedule a pre-election recess period beginning on 25 March, six weeks ahead of the poll," Mr Macintosh's letter states.

"During this time, members will uniquely retain their status as MSPs, but, as with any pre-election period, the SPCB [Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body] has policies in place to ensure that parliamentary resources are used appropriately and that candidates are treated equally."

The unusual arrangements are in place as a result of the Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Act 2021, which was passed last year to allow special measures to deal with the impact of the pandemic on the vote.

It could see the election delayed if the situation with the virus deteriorates, although Nicola Sturgeon has said she does not want to see this. The use of postal voting is to be expanded.

The clerk's office at Parliament will close during the recess, meaning it will not be possible to lodge motions, questions, amendments, members’ Bills, legislative consent memorandums, petitions, bills or subordinate legislation.

Holyrood committees must also finish up their business on March 25 and will not be able to meet after this unless Parliament is recalled,

The Presiding Officer adds: "As usual during recess, I will be able to recall Parliament where necessary and in consultation with the political parties. In the event of a recall, it would be possible, for example, for a bill to be introduced to change the date of the poll or for any significant announcements to be made on the pandemic response."

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.