General elections

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on general elections. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Standard Notes

11.11.2014Overseas voters
This Note provides background to the provisions relating to overseas voters in the Representation of the People Act 1985 which was subsequently amended by the Representation of the People Act 1989 and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Information is also given about the procedure for registering to vote as an overseas elector and the means of voting, either by post or by proxy.
22.10.2014Televised debates between party leaders
This note sets out the background to the current debate about televised debates between party leaders during a general election campaign. Three debates were held for the first time in the UK during the 2010 general election. The BBC, ITV News, Sky News and Channel 4 have put forward proposals to change the format of the televised leaders' debates to be held before the 2015 general election.
10.09.2014Timetable for the UK Parliamentary General election
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 fixes the date of the next general election as 7 May 2015, and provides for five year intervals between elections. The Act ends the prerogative power of dissolution. The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 made provision for lengthening the UK Parliamentary election timetable, both for general and by-elections. These provisions have been brought into force and Parliament will have to be dissolved 25 rather than 17 days before the general election on 7 May 2015.
12.08.2014Prisoners' voting rights
Prisoners serving a custodial sentence do not have the right to vote. Prisoners on remand are able to vote under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 2000. Narrative of events following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on 6 October 2005, the Hirst case, that the UK's current ban on all serving prisoners from voting contravenes Article 3 of Protocol No 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
22.05.2014Pre-election contacts between civil servants and opposition parties
By convention, opposition parties are entitled to enter into confidential discussions with senior civil servants in the run-up to a general election. This note outlines the current arrangements and also provides a brief history of the convention.

Research Papers

07.08.2012UK Election Statistics: 1918-2012
This paper presents an overview of results from UK elections since 1918, including elections to the House of Commons, the European Parliament, devolved bodies and local government.
11.02.2011Wash-up 2010
The wash-up period at the end of a Parliament allows a Government to get onto the statute book essential or non-controversial legislation that would not otherwise complete its passage through Parliament because of Dissolution. This paper describes the wash-up process; reviews the proceedings on wash-up in 2010; and provides details of Bills that received Royal Assent in each of the last six wash-up periods.
02.02.2011General Election 2010
No single party won an overall majority at the 2010 General Election, for the first time in the UK since February 1974. The Conservatives won the most seats, 306, a net change of 96 compared with notional 2005 general election results. Labour were down by 90 seats, leaving them with 258, while the Liberal Democrat total of 57 was five fewer than 2005. General Election 2010 provides detailed analysis of the results of the 2010 General Election. The data for votes cast and electorates agree with the official results published by the Electoral Commission. This Research Paper replaces the analysis published on 8 July 2010 which used provisional data.
11.11.2010Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010-11: Commons Stages
This Paper summarises all Commons stages of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010-11. It supplements Research Paper 10/55 which was produced for the Bill's Second Reading and replaces Standard Note 5697 'Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill: Progress of the Bill'. No major changes were made during the passage of the Bill in the Commons, but the text of the referendum question was altered and legislative provision was made for the combination of polls on 5 May 2011.
01.09.2010The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill [Bill 63 of 2010-11]
This Paper has been prepared for the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons. The Bill seeks to enable the next general election to be fought under the Alternative Vote system, provided this change is endorsed in a referendum on 5 May 2011 and boundary changes have been made to reduce the size of the House of Commons to 600. New rules for the redistribution of seats are designed to give primacy to numerical equality in constituencies and regular redistributions would take place every five years.

Select Committee Reports

16.03.2010Constitutional processes following a general election.
Justice Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House is concerned at allegations of high levels of voter fraud in Halifax and elsewhere at the 2010 General Election; notes that Calderdale Council has admitted that 763 ...
That this House notes with concern the quality of the BBC's coverage of the recent general election, and in particular its results programme on election night; further notes the importance ...
That this House notes with concern the new restrictions placed on media coverage of the forthcoming general election in Ethiopia; further notes with great sadness the violent aftermath ...
That this House supports the principle that the counting of votes following the 2010 general election should take place immediately after the close of polls, recognising that in some ...
That this House welcomes the decision of the Chief Electoral Officer in Northern Ireland to count the ballots for the general election immediately following the close of the polls on ...


  • Research Papers (RP) - briefings produced by the House of Commons Library on Bills, topical issues and regular statistics
  • Standard Notes (SN) - shorter, topical briefings from the Commons Library
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POST Notes - short briefing notes produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - papers compiled by the House of Lords Library on Bills and for debates in the Lords
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses