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Woolas re-run Commons procedural clarification

Michael Crick | 19:01 UK time, Thursday, 11 November 2010

Further to my blog yesterday on the Woolas re-run, here is the House of Commons procedural clarification note I received:

After the decision by the election court concerning Phil Woolas, the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth, the Speaker of the House of Commons reported the court's decision to the House in a statement on Monday.

A candidate reported by an election court as personally guilty of an illegal practice is required to vacate their seat in the House of Commons as from the date of the court's decision (Friday 5 November).

As the seat is now vacant, a by-election will be held once the House of Commons has passed a motion for the issue of a writ.

The Speaker can neither initiate nor block the motion to move a writ for a by-election. He has no say in when a Member moves a writ for the by-election.

This is usually done by a member of the party which has previously held the seat. Once the House agrees to a motion for the issue of a writ, the Speaker is required to carry out the House's decision and to issue his warrant for the by-election. He has no discretion about this. A by-election must be held within 19 working days of the issue of the writ.


  • Comment number 1.

    Court? What court? It is time for an investigation into the political affiliations of the two decision makers.

  • Comment number 2.


    As I have repeated, ad nauseam, politicians regard 'the political lie' as an instrument of high democracy. This is one hell of a block to good governance. Woolas is just an anomalous 'spike' in a disgraceful upland of iniquity - the Westminster Ethos.

    Weep Britain

  • Comment number 3.

    a politician told me a favour....don't they all...

  • Comment number 4.

    Am I right in thinking that if a motion for a writ is moved but is voted down then the seat remains vacant until the next election?

    That may be why Labour haven't moved it yet.

    Also, it leaves open the chance for someone to use the procedure of moving the writ to delay proceedings, as was famously done by Dennis Skinner in 1989.

  • Comment number 5.

    The people who are being forgotten in this are the electorate for Oldham East and Saddleworth. But then they are not important people, are they?

    By-election now!


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