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Standing at a UK Parliamentary general

election in Great Britain


August 2009
This factsheet provides What qualifications
basic information on must I meet?
standing as a candidate at
the next UK Parliamentary You must be at least 18 years old
and be either:
general election in Great • a British citizen
Britain. • a citizen of the Republic of
Ireland, or
• a citizen of a Commonwealth
If you are thinking of country who does not require
standing, you need to be leave to enter or remain in the
clear about the UK, or who has indefinite leave
to remain in the UK.
qualifications and
disqualifications that apply,
Who is disqualified?
and understand the
process for becoming a Certain people are disqualified from
validly nominated becoming a Member of the UK
Parliament. For example:
candidate. • members of the police forces
• members of the armed forces
This brief guide aims to • civil servants and judges
provide an overview of the • certain convicted prisoners
• people who are the subject of
process only. It may be a bankruptcy restrictions order
used as an introduction to in England or Wales or a debt
our full guide on standing relief restrictions order
• people who have been
at a UK Parliamentary adjudged bankrupt in Northern
general election, but Ireland
should not be used as a • people who have had their
estate sequestrated in
replacement. Scotland.

This is not a complete list of


disqualifications and the full range of

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disqualifications is complex. You the administration of the election in
should consult the relevant your constituency. Your local
legislation 1 to ensure that none of Commission office will be able to tell
the relevant disqualifications apply you how to contact them. Phone
to you, and if in doubt, seek your numbers and email addresses can
own legal advice. be found at the end of this factsheet.

When can I become a Deadlines for becoming validly


nominated are fixed and cannot be
candidate? moved for any reason. They will be
stated in a notice published by the
It is important to know when you (Acting) Returning Officer called the
become a candidate, as this will Notice of Election.
have an impact on your spending
limits and it entitles you to a free Forms you must submit
copy of the electoral register. You must complete and submit the
following forms by 4pm on the
You can become a candidate from deadline day:
the moment Parliament is dissolved. • a nomination paper
• a home address form
At that point, you are considered to
• your consent to nomination
be a candidate if you, or others,
have declared yourself to be one. • authorisation to use a party
description and an emblem
After that, you are considered to be request form (if standing on
a candidate when you or others behalf of a registered party)
declare yourself to be a candidate,
or when you are validly nominated These and other relevant forms can
as one. be obtained from your (Acting)
Returning Officer. They will also be
However, for your name to appear available from the Commission’s
on a ballot paper you must become website at
a ‘validly nominated’ candidate. www.electoralcommission.org.uk.

How do I become a How to complete your


‘validly nominated’ forms
candidate? Nomination paper
Your nomination paper will need to
To become validly nominated you contain your name and must be
must submit a completed set of signed by ten electors from the
nomination forms together with a constituency, known as subscribers.
deposit of £500 to the (Acting)
Returning Officer before the close of Once you become a candidate, you
nominations. The (Acting) Returning will be entitled to a free copy of the
Officer is the person responsible for electoral register. The register will
enable you to check that your
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House of Commons Disqualification Act
subscribers are registered electors
1975. in the constituency. The Electoral
Registration Officer(s) for your

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constituency will supply you with a Consent to nomination
copy on request. Contact details can You will also have to complete your
be obtained from your (Acting) consent to nomination. On this form
Returning Officer or from you will be asked to give your date
www.aboutmyvote.co.uk. of birth and declare that you are
both qualified and not disqualified
Descriptions and emblems from being elected. You will also
The nomination paper allows need a witness to attest the form.
candidates to enter a description.
This description will appear under You should be aware that it is a
your details on the ballot paper. serious offence to include false
information on any of your
You may use the word nomination forms. Anyone found
‘Independent’ (and/or ‘Annibynnol’ in guilty of such an offence may be
a constituency in Wales) or you may sentenced to imprisonment for up to
choose not to use a description at a year, or face an unlimited fine, or
all and leave that part of the both. The election may also be
nomination paper and the ballot invalidated as a result.
paper blank.
Delivering your forms
If you are representing a registered You should check the arrangements
political party, you may use a for the delivery of nomination papers
description, but this can only be with the (Acting) Returning Officer.
either one of the descriptions
registered with the Commission or Nomination papers can only be
the registered name of the party. delivered between 10am and 4pm
You must supply a certificate of on the days stated on the Notice of
authorisation signed by your party’s Election.
Nominating Officer (or a person
appointed by them to act on their The sooner you submit nomination
behalf). papers, the better. This will give you
time to submit a new set of forms if
If you are standing on behalf of a you have made a mistake that has
party and wish to have the invalidated your nomination.
registered party emblem printed on
the ballot paper next to your name, Nomination forms can only be
you must also sign and submit an delivered in person and by certain
emblem request form before the people:
close of nominations. • yourself
• your agent
Home address form • one of the first two subscribers
Your home address form must state shown on your nomination
your home address in full. If you do paper, who are also known as
not want your address to be made the proposer and seconder.
public and to appear on the ballot
paper, you must state the Deposit
constituency in which your home By the close of nominations you
address is situated. must also have deposited £500 with

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the (Acting) Returning Officer for You should contact a universal
your nomination to be valid. service provider such as Royal Mail
to make arrangements.
Always check payment
arrangements well in advance with Royal Mail guidance on candidate
your (Acting) Returning Officer. mailings can be found on their
website at
The deposit will be returned to you if www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/conten
you gain more than 5% of the total t1?catId=400109&mediaId=1790020
valid votes cast in your 2.
constituency.
Use of rooms for public
What else do I need to meetings
As a candidate you will be entitled to
know? use certain rooms free of charge to
hold public meetings. Such
Agents meetings can be held between the
day the (Acting) Returning Officer
Election agents receives the legal document that
Every candidate must have an requires them to hold an election
election agent – although you can (known as ‘the writ’) and the day
act as your own agent if you wish. before polling day.

The election agent is the person Contact your (Acting) Returning


responsible in law for the proper Officer for more information.
management of your election
campaign. In particular, the election Campaign publicity
agent is responsible for all the
financial aspects of your election.
materials
Campaign publicity material is
An election could be brought into
subject to a number of restrictions
question if your agent does not
under electoral law, and is also
perform their duties promptly and
subject to the general civil and
correctly.
criminal law relating to published
material. For example, no campaign
Polling agents and count agents
publicity material may resemble a
You can also appoint people to
poll card or contain a false
observe proceedings on your behalf
statement about the personal
on polling day in polling stations and
character or conduct of a candidate.
at the count, although there is no
obligation to appoint any such
All election publicity must also carry
people.
an imprint with details of the full
name and full postal address of the
Freepost printer and promoter of the material.
As a validly nominated candidate
you will be entitled to free postage Further information and examples
for one election communication to will be included in our more detailed
electors in your constituency. guidance for candidates and agents,
which will be available to download
from our website at

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www.electoralcommission.org.uk/gui Where can I get further
dance/those-we-
regulate/candidates-and-agents. advice on the
nominations process?
Spending limits
As a candidate, you are subject to We will be publishing a full guide on
spending limits during the regulated standing at a UK Parliamentary
period ahead of the election. election, which you will be able to
download from our website at
The regulated period runs from the www.electoralcommission.org.uk/gui
date a person becomes a candidate dance/those-we-
until the date of the poll. After the regulate/candidates-and-agents.
election, you will need to file an
election expenses return with your If you have any further questions,
(Acting) Returning Officer. you should contact your (Acting)
Returning Officer in the first
However, if the current UK instance. You can also contact the
Parliament is dissolved on or after 1 relevant English or devolved
January 2010 then new rules will Commission office:
apply to your election expenses. A
briefing note can be downloaded London
from our website at the address Tel: 020 7271 0689
given below. Detailed guidance on london@electoralcommission.org.uk
election expenses will be published
in September 2009. Eastern and South East
Tel: 020 7271 0600
south@electoralcommission.org.uk
Please note, money that you have
spent on the election cannot be Midlands
claimed back. Tel: 02476 820086
midlands@electoralcommission.org.uk
Further information on spending, as
well as donation controls, can be North of England
found on our website at Tel: 01904 567990
www.electoralcommission.org.uk/gui north@electoralcommission.org.uk
dance/those-we-
regulate/candidates-and-agents. South West
Tel: 01392 314617
If you have any questions about southwest@electoralcommission.org.uk
spending at elections or would like
more information, please contact us Scotland
on 020 7271 0616 or Tel: 0131 225 0200
pef@electoralcommission.org.uk. infoscotland@electoralcommission.org.
uk

Wales
Tel: 029 2034 6800
infowales@electoralcommission.org.uk