HC Deb 21 May 2002 vol 386 c218W
Mr. Don Foster

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions under what mechanism the date of the local elections was moved to 8 May in 1996; whether this mechanism will be implemented in May 2003; and if he will make a statement. [56843]

Dr. Whitehead

The local elections in 1996 took place as usual on the first Thursday in May. Section 37 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, as amended by section 18(2) of the Representation of the People Act 1985, provides authority for the Secretary of State to change the normal day of polling from the first Thursday in May to another day by order made no later than 1 February in the year preceding the year in which the order is to take effect. It is thus now too late to alter the date for local elections in May 2003 by this means. Postponement in any other circumstances would require primary legislation as happened for the local elections in 1986 and 2001.