ON THIS DAY 1974: Campaign likely to be one of most bitter

EEN front page 7 Feb 1974. Photo: EDP Library EEN front page 7 Feb 1974. Photo: EDP Library

Friday, February 7, 2014
3:11 PM

As part of a new daily online series we look back on what was making the news on this day in Norfolk. Today, we look at the Eastern Evening News page of Febraury 7, 1974.

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BRITAIN is to go to the polls in a General Election on Thursday, February 28th - and that’s official.

Mr Heath’s decision to give the go-ahead to what seems certain to be one of the most bitter campaigns in recent British history was announced in a short statement from 10, Downing Street, writes a Press Assocation political correspondent.
The present Parliament, whose full five-year term was not due to expire until the middle of the next year is to be dissovled tomorrow.

The announcement, which ends days of speculation, came after a Cabinet meeting lasting nearly two hours. The Queen, who is on tour abroad will return home from Australia after opening the Australian Parliament on February 28th, to arrive in London on the morning of March 1st. The new Parliament will be opened on March 12th.

Mr Heath sought the approval of the Queen yesterday by telegram for the dissolution of Parliament after first warning her in advance.

The reply from the Queen, giving her assent, came in the middle of the night.

The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, who are acting as Counsellors of State, were informed and provided with copies of the two telegrams Mr Heath sent the Queen.

A similar procedure was adopted by Mr Harold Wilson when he called the election in 1966 and the Queen was out ofthe country.

Today’s business in the Commons has been cancelled although the Prime Minister will be answering questions as arranged.

MPs will be asked to pass an Appropriations Bill, which will allow the finances of the Goverment to continue during the election, a Pensions Bill and a Bill dealing with election expenses.

Mr Heath’s annoucement said Parliament will be prorogued tomorrow and will be dissolved the same day.

The new Parliament will be summoned on March 6th to elect a Speaker and swear in members.

The Queen will open the new Parliament on March 12th.

Pay stops

Snap elections have been frowned upon since 1935 when Stanley Baldwin gave only a weeks’ notice of a poll. Since the war the practise has been for the Government to give the long notice, sometimes amounting to six weeks.

MPs are technically without a job from the moment the Queen dissolves Parliament.

Their pay stops and traditionally most retire to their consituencies to prepare for the election campaign.

The Government continues in office - with Ministers receiving their Ministerial pay - until the election results are known.

Then the leader of the winning party goes to Buckingham Palace - and a new Government is formed.

Election nominations will close February 18th.

Timetable

The Prime Minister is to make a Ministerial broadcast on BBC television at 6pm this evening.

It will be the first time a General Election has been fought during state of emergency.

These are the key dates of today’s General Election announcment:

February 8th - Dissolution of Parliament.

February 18th - 3pm on this day is the last time for lodging candidates’ nominations.

February 28th - Polling day.

March 1st - The Queen, who is abroad, will return home.

March 6th - New Parliament will be summoned to elect a Speaker and swear in members.

March 12th - New Parliament will be formally opened by the Queen.

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