Election 2021

The Scottish Parliament is in recess ahead of the election on 6 May.

Because of Covid-19, there are some changes to how the Parliament prepares for the election.

Find out more in our Election 2021 pages

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Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs)

Election 2021: parliament information

The Scottish Parliament election is on 6 May. 

Usually before an election Parliament goes into “dissolution" for several weeks.  Dissolution is the time before the election when there are no MSPs. In dissolution:

This year, because of Covid-19, things are a bit different.  

Campaign recess

Instead of dissolution, from 25 March the Parliament will be in recess until the day before the election. This particular recess is called a “campaign recess”. Having a recess instead of dissolution means:

  • MSPs continue in their role
  • the Parliament can be recalled if public-health matters require it
  • committees continue to exist (but will stop meeting)
  • Bills do not fall

These changes were made by the Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Act.

During recess there is no business planned but the changes mean the Parliament can be recalled if needs to be.  This would allow MSPs to scrutinise the actions of the Scottish Government and pass emergency legislation.  

Dissolution happens on 5 May, the day before the election. 

Got a specific question?  Get in touch

General information about Election 2021


During the campaign recess MSPs:

  • cannot hold “surgeries” (meetings with constituents in their local areas)
  • can continue with work they are already doing for their constituents
  • cannot normally take on new cases
  • should not use their MSP status or refer to another Member’s status during any election-related activity   

Members of the Scottish Parliament stop being MSPs at dissolution on 5 May. 

More details are available in the Guidance for Members

Parliament business and dissolution

The recess and dissolution mean different things for Parliament business.


Committees will conclude their work and stop meeting after 25 March.

If the Parliament is recalled a committee may meet but only to consider procedural issues related to the subject of the recall.

The Covid-19 Committee can meet even without a recall but only in an emergency.

All committees cease to exist on 5 May.


New petitions cannot be made during the campaign recess.

Petitions which have not been completed do not fall.  They can continue to the new session.


Bills which have been passed by the Parliament before the start of the campaign recess may still be submitted for Royal Assent and become Acts.

All Bills that have not been passed by the start of the campaign recess continue to exist.  In practice, though, there cannot be further scrutiny of these Bills.  They will fall at dissolution on 5 May.

Subordinate legislation

Statutory instruments can be made during the campaign recess but such instruments cannot be laid before the Parliament.

Instruments laid in the current session may be subjected to continued scrutiny in the new session.  They do not need to be laid again.

Motions and amendments

All motions and amendments will continue to be live during the campaign recess, but they cannot be supported by other MSPs. They will fall at dissolution on 5 May.

Business Bulletin

Unless Parliament is recalled, no Business Bulletin is produced during the campaign recess. The last Business Bulletin will be published on 25 March.

Cross-party groups

All Cross-party groups (CPGs) cease to exist from 25 March.

After the election, CPGs can follow the process to re-establish themselves through the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

Parliament roles

Some parliamentary roles continue through the recess and dissolution.

Presiding Officer

The Presiding Officer continues in his role during the campaign period and dissolution.  A new Presiding Officer will be elected by the next Parliament.

Scottish Parliament Corporate Body

The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) makes sure the Parliament:

  • has everything it needs to run
  • provides support to MSPs to enable them to carry out their parliamentary duties

This includes property, services and staff.

It is chaired by the Presiding Officer and includes 5 elected members.

The SPCB continues to exist over the campaign period and dissolution

Scottish Government

Scottish ministers continue in office during the campaign recess.  They remain in post until a First Minister and Scottish ministers are agreed by the Parliament after the election.

During the campaign period and dissolution, it is expected ministers will:

  • carry out only essential government business
  • not make any major policy decisions

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