Dissolution of Parliament

8.4Parliament is automatically dissolved at the beginning of the 25th working day before the polling day which has been fixed for the General Election under the terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.1 Previously, Parliaments were dissolved either by the passage of time or by proclamation. Under the Septennial Act 1715,2 a Parliament ceased to exist after seven years from the day on which, by writ of summons, it was appointed to meet; this period was reduced to five years by the Parliament Act 1911 (s 7). In the exceptional circumstances of world war, the Parliaments which assembled in 1911 and 1935 were prolonged beyond this limit by annual statutes to 1919 and 1945 respectively. Parliament is not dissolved by the demise of the Crown.3

For the procedure applicable to dissolution prior to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, see Erskine May (23rd edn, 2004), pp 272–74.


  1. 1. Fixed-term Parliaments Act, c. 3, as amended by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (c 6), c 14. In 2017, a proclamation was issued appointing 8 June as polling day (The London Gazette (25 April 2017) p 8774). For an example of a dissolution under the provisions of s 2(7) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, see Votes and Proceedings, 3 May 2017.
  2. 2. The Septennial Act was repealed by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.
  3. 3. Representation of the People Act 1867 (c 102), s 51. Before the Triennial Act 1694 there was no limit to the duration of a Parliament.