Guidance on written consultations during an election period
The following guidance applies to all UK central government departments who
are undertaking public consultations during the UK General Election period.
In general, consultations should not be launched during the election
period. If there are exceptional circumstances where launching a
consultation is considered essential (for example, for
safeguarding public health), express permission should be sought from the
Propriety and Ethics Team in the Cabinet Office.
Departments should not take any steps during an election period that will
compete with parliamentary candidates for the public's attention. This
effectively means a ban on publicity for those consultations that are still
As these restictions may be detrimental to a consultation departments are
advised to decide on steps to make up for that deficiency while strictly
observing the guidance. That can be done, for example, by:
prolonging the consulation period to give the required 12 clear weeks;
putting out extra publicity for the consultation after the election in
order to revieve interest.
In many cases (for instance, consultations aimed solely at professional
groups) the election campaign (and the restrictions on publicity it brings)
will not have such an impact as those where a very public and wide-ranging
consultation is required. Departments need, therefore, to take into account
the circumstances of each consultation. Some may need no remedial action -
but this is a practical rather than propriety question so long as
Departments observe the election guidance.