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The Scottish Parliament and law making
The Scottish Parliament and law making

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4 The UK Parliamentary elections

The UK Parliament can legislate for Scotland on reserved matters. In the UK Parliament there are 59 MPs who represent constituencies in Scotland. Both the workings of the UK Parliament and the election process differ from those of the Scottish Parliament.

The UK Parliament is divided into two chambers,the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The House of Commons is a directly elected Chamber. Members of the House of Commons are elected by the public, with the country being divided into constituencies. Each constituency returns one Member of Parliament (known as an MP).

Inside the House of Commons
Figure 6 Inside the House of Commons

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 established a five-year fixed term for the UK Parliament. An election can, however, be announced before the end of the five-year period if:

  • a motion of no confidence is passed and there is no alternative government, or
  • if a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two thirds of the House or without division. This happened in April 2017 when agreement was given to hold an election on 8 June 2017, some two years before the end of the fixed five-year term of that Parliament.

Before the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 Act a UK Prime Minister could call a general election at any time of their choosing within a five-year period of election to that parliament.