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UK by-elections more than 3 months after vacancy

Published Monday, November 7, 2016

This list notes UK by-elections that have taken place more than three months after the vacancy.

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A by-election takes place in the House of Commons when a seat becomes vacant, either through the Member of Parliament dying or resigning the seat.

Moving the writ for a by-election

A writ must be moved in the House of Commons to trigger each by-election that takes place. It is customary for a member of the party which previously held the seat to move the writ. Normally, this takes place not long after the seat becomes vacant, so that the seat’s constituents are not left without representation in the House for longer than necessary. Occasionally, however, there may be a significant delay between the vacancy and the by-election, or the vacancy and the issuing of the writ.

It is also possible for the Speaker to issue a writ during a recess period. When this occurs, the Speaker informs the House when it next sits.

Must a writ be moved?

There is nothing in statute law or in Standing Orders obliging the House to move a writ for a by-election. It could choose to leave the seat without representation until the next General Election (General Elections must be held every five years). One of the by-elections listed, for North-West Leicestershire in 2009, was left vacant until the 2010 General Election some five months later.

Further information

UK parliamentary by-elections since 1945 lists all by-elections by session and by parliament in Table 1. Table 2 provides the results of each by-election since 2005 together with the reason for the by-election.

Detailed information on the by-election results, including the number of votes cast and percentage share can be found on the by-elections pages of the Parliament website. 


Please send comments or corrections to: Parliamentary Information Lists Editor, Parliament and Constitution Centre, House of Commons, SW1A 0AA. Suggestions for new lists welcomed.


Commons Briefing papers SN06576

Author: Sarah Priddy

Topics: Elections, House of Commons

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