Purdah … just a little reminder

“Purdah” is a period of time when major political decisions cannot be made before an election.

For a general election it starts as soon as Parliament has been dissolved.

It doesn’t stop candidates talking about national political decisions but it does stop the government from making announcements on them – unless it is a statutory duty or a court orders it to do so.

Here’s what the Consultation Institute has to say:

“Remember – at this time of the year, there are no local elections. Only if national policy issues are likely to impact the decision under consideration, will you be running the risk of contaminating the debate. It is not like a local housing development or a merger of schools where Councillors standing for re-election are competing for the public’s favours at the ballot box.

In the case of the NHS, it is not governed by locally elected Councillors anyway – but, of course, they DO have an influence through Overview & Scrutiny Committees. Where it is wise to defer or delay a consultation is where proposals attract challenge from Members of Parliament and where the election campaign may provoke candidates into a Dutch auction whereby they seek to outbid each other in the vehemence of their opposition. We know of one imminent consultation on the potential closure of a cherished community hospital where deferment is clearly sensible.

In general, if it is likely to become a political football, it is best not to proceed. If your consultation is technical and unlikely to be the subject of p9olitical argument, the case for deferment is weak. …”

Will purdah affect your consultation?