The period of time when unfinished parliamentary business must be dealt with after an election is announced.

Once an election has been announced but before Parliament is dissolved there are a few days when all unfinished business of the session has to be dealt with. This period of time is referred to as the 'wash-up' period.

It is the time for the Government, with the co-operation of the Opposition, to get any essential or non-controversial legislation on to the statute book. The procedure is sometimes described as too secretive as the majority of MPs, along with the independents and crossbenchers in the Lords, are not included. Debates take part between the parties' whips and business managers and government department officials.

Bills cannot be carried forward to the new Parliament which will be formed once the general election has taken place. This means that Bills which do not receive Royal Assent before Parliament dissolves will be lost or will have to be introduced again.

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 provides for five year fixed term parliaments and the date for a general election is scheduled on the first Thursday in May every five years. This should mean an end to 'wash-up' as it should be possible to plan ahead and ensure all legislation has been introduced and agreed on in plenty of time. The date of the next general election has been set as Thursday 7 May, it will be interesting to see whether in fact there will be no 'wash up' in 2015. 


Parliament's wash-up's a stitch-up | Martin Bell - The Guardian

Parliamentary wash-up | The Norton View

Fixed-term parliaments are fine – they just need to be shorter

Digital economy bill rushed through wash-up in late night .

Parliament's 'wash-up' brings cheer to cider fans - Channel 4 News

Churches, Scouts and sports clubs win battle over 'rain tax' - Telegraph

United Kingdom Parliament

MPs get ready to grubby hands in 'wash-up' • The Register

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