The Dunfermline by-election will be held on Thursday 24 October, it has been announced.
Under the Section 9 of the Scotland Act 1998, the date of the poll is fixed by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.
Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick has this morning written to Steve Grimmond, Chief Executive of Fife Council, as Returning Officer, to confirm her choice of date and ask for arrangements for the by-election to be put in place.
Section 9 of the Scotland Act 1998 refers:
9 Constituency vacancies
(1)Where the seat of a constituency member is vacant, an election shall be held to fill the vacancy (subject to subsection (4)).
(2)The date of the poll shall be fixed by the Presiding Officer.
(3)The date shall fall within the period of three months—
(a)beginning with the occurrence of the vacancy, or
(b)if the vacancy does not come to the notice of the Presiding Officer within the period of one month beginning with its occurrence, beginning when it does come to his notice.
(4)The election shall not be held if the latest date for holding the poll would fall within the period of three months ending with the day on which the poll at the next ordinary general election would be held (disregarding section 2(5)).
(5)For the purposes of this section, the date on which a vacancy is to be treated as occurring shall be determined under standing orders.
(6)A person may not be a candidate at such an election if he is a member of the Parliament or a candidate in another election to fill a vacancy.
When fixing the date, the Presiding Officer (PO) does the following:
- consults the Returning Officer (RO) – the RO will highlight any difficulties foreseen in terms of timing or fulfilling other legal requirements;
- takes soundings from each of the main parties on the possible date of the poll, but she will be free to exercise her discretion as she sees fit;
- takes a final decision on the date and communicates that to the RO.