Effect and disregard of disqualification

3.23The first subsection of s 6 of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 declares that if a Member of the House becomes disqualified under any of the provisions of the Act, the seat becomes vacant. Where a person disqualified under the Act is elected to the House while disqualified, the election is declared to be void. No special provision is made to cover the situation which arises from an election becoming void in this way; the normal procedure in the case of controverted elections will accordingly apply (para 2.12 ).

But the House may itself provide relief from the effects of such disqualification (s 6(2)). If it appears to the House that the grounds of disqualification or alleged disqualification under the Act which subsisted or arose at the material time have been removed and that it is otherwise proper to do so, the House may by order direct that any such disqualification shall be disregarded.1 This power may not, however, be used so as to affect the proceedings on any election petition or any determination of an election court (see para 2.22 ); and under the Representation of the People Act 1983, s 144(7), it is the duty of the House to make the appropriate orders when informed of a certificate and of any report of an election court.

Moreover, this provision for relief extends only to disqualification under the Act of 1975. The House cannot therefore employ this procedure in dealing with cases of disqualification arising in any of the ways described earlier, at paras 3.4–3.10.

In any case where the Speaker would otherwise be required to issue a warrant during a recess (para 2.16 ) for a new writ for the election of a Member in the room of a Member becoming disqualified under the Act of 1975, the Speaker is authorised to defer the issue of a warrant if of the view that an opportunity should be given to the House of considering provision for relief (s 6(4)).

Footnotes

  1. CJ (1974) 71, in accordance with the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957.