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Holyrood and Westminster clash over poll timings

6 July 2010

The stage is set for a face-off between Westminster and Holyrood over clashing election dates, with reports suggesting the Scottish Parliament will be asked to make way for the UK general election on 7 May 2015.

While the fixed term of the Scottish Parliament means its election date was set some time ago, similar arrangements introduced by the new UK coalition Government have left the electorate effectively double-booked, much to the chagrin of Holyrood.

The date of the Scottish Parliament election is set under the terms of the Scotland Act 1998 for the first Thursday in May every four years, with the next scheduled for 5 May 2011. These dates can in theory be varied by a month either way, by the Presiding Officer or the monarch.

Discussions aimed at straightening out the clash are expected, but Scottish ministers have appeared resistant to the idea of giving ground.

In an interview with Newsnight Scotland, Scottish External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop said the scheduling was "compromising the integrity of the Scottish Parliament”.

She continued: "We have already indicated to Downing Street that having elections on the same day in 2015 was a problem…We think the Scottish election should stand. Why should Scotland compromise?”

The row, and particularly the perception that Westminster may be pulling rank on Holyrood, will further stoke the independence debate ahead of the planned referendum on the issue later this year.

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