European Union Referendum Bill — Government Influence in Referendum Campaign — 7 Sep 2015 at 20:57

John Penrose MP, Weston-Super-Mare voted to prevent the Government acting in ways which might influence the result of the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU in the run up to the poll.

The majority of MPs voted to allow the Government to act in ways which might influence the result of the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union in the run up to the poll.

The Bill as it stood at the time of the vote allowed the Government to act in ways which might influence the result of the referendum in the run up to the poll. The rejected amendment sought to prevent such Government influence, and would have specifically limited the restrictions it imposed to actions which directly address the question, and actions with other specified intents such as increasing turnout.

The rejected amendment also sought to extend restrictions to the Government of Gibraltar or any Gibraltar government department, exempting the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation.

In addition the rejected amendment sought to explicitly exempt the Electoral Commission and official campaigns from the restrictions.

MPs were considering the European Union Referendum Bill.[1]

The amendment rejected in this vote was[2]:

  • Amendment: 53, page 19, line 23, leave out paragraph 26 and insert—
  • “26 (1) Section 125 of the 2000 Act (restriction on publication etc of promotional material by central and local government etc) has effect for the purposes of the referendum with the following modifications (which clarify the effect of certain provisions of that section and apply it to public bodies in Gibraltar).
  • (2) Subsection (1) has effect for the purposes of the referendum as if for paragraphs (a) to (d) there were substituted—
  • “(a) provides general information about the referendum,
  • (b) directly addresses the question of whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union (however that question is worded in the material),
  • (c) contains any statement or claim that—
  • (i) a particular outcome in the referendum, or
  • (ii) the United Kingdom’s remaining a member of the European Union or leaving the European Union,
  • would have particular consequences or might have such consequences, or
  • (d) is designed to encourage voting in the referendum.”
  • (3) Subsection (2) has effect for those purposes as if after paragraph (a) there were inserted—
  • “(aa) the Government of Gibraltar or any Gibraltar government department; or”.
  • (4) Subsection (3) has effect for those purposes as if—
  • (a) for paragraph (b) there were substituted—
  • “(b) anything done by or on behalf of the Electoral Commission or a permitted participant designated under section 108 (designation of permitted participants to whom assistance is available);”, and
  • (b) after “Sianel Pedwar Cymru” there were inserted “or the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation”.
  • (5) Subsection (4) has effect for those purposes as if after paragraph (a) there were inserted—
  • “(aa) “the referendum” means the referendum under section1 of the European Union Referendum Act 2015;”.
  • (6) For the purposes of the referendum the following subsection is to be treated as inserted after subsection (4)—
  • (5) A reference in this section to expenses being defrayed wholly or mainly out of public funds includes those expenses being defrayed wholly or mainly by means of—
  • (a) payments out of—
  • (i) the Gibraltar consolidated fund; or
  • (ii) monies voted by the Gibraltar Parliament; or
  • (b) payments by the Government of Gibraltar or any Gibraltar government department.””

The amendment was accompanied by an explanatory statement saying:

  • This amendment applies section 125 of the 2000 Act with modifications which clarify that the prohibition relates to material which is directly relevant to the referendum; apply section 125 to Gibraltar; and add an express reference to the Electoral Commission as a body to which the section does not apply.

Paragraph 26 from the Bill at the time of the vote[3] was titled: Publication etc of promotional material by central and local government etc and stated:

  • 26 (1) Section 125 of the 2000 Act (restriction on publication etc of promotional material by central and local government etc) does not apply in relation to the referendum.
  • (2) In consequence of sub-paragraph (1), for the purposes of the referendum paragraph 1 of Schedule 13 to the 2000 Act (qualifying expenses) has effect as if for the first sentence of item (4) in the list of matters set out in that paragraph there were substituted—
  • “Any material which—
  • (a) provides general information about a referendum to which Part 7 of this Act applies;
  • (b) deals with any of the issues raised by any question on which such a referendum is being held;
  • (c) puts any arguments for or against any particular answer to any such question; or
  • (d) is designed to encourage voting at such a referendum.

Paragraph 4 of Schedule 13 to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 referred to section 125 which was being dis-applied in connection with the referendum. As a result the matters listed in section 125 are listed in relation to the definition of election expenses in Section 111 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 ie making clear that spending on the matters listed would count towards spending which has to be kept under the set limit for the referendum.

Section 110 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 enables the Electoral Commission to make equal grants of up to £600,000 to designated permitted participants - in other words the official campaigns for each option in the referendum,

Debate in Parliament | Source |

Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con37 277 (+2 tell)095.8%
DUP8 00100.0%
Green1 00100.0%
Independent0 10100.0%
Lab205 (+2 tell) 0089.2%
LDem0 5062.5%
PC3 00100.0%
SDLP3 00100.0%
SNP54 0096.4%
UKIP1 00100.0%
UUP0 20100.0%
Total:312 285093.2%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

NameConstituencyPartyVote
Adam AfriyieWindsorCon (front bench)no
Richard BaconSouth NorfolkCon (front bench)no
Steven BakerWycombeCon (front bench)no
Guto BebbAberconwyConno
Peter BoneWellingboroughCon (front bench)no
Graham BradyAltrincham and Sale WestCon (front bench)no
Andrew BridgenNorth West LeicestershireConno
Bill CashStoneCon (front bench)no
Christopher ChopeChristchurchCon (front bench)no
Geoffrey CoxTorridge and West DevonConno
Philip DaviesShipleyCon (front bench)no
David DavisHaltemprice and HowdenConno
Nadine DorriesMid BedfordshireCon (front bench)no
Liam FoxNorth SomersetConno
Cheryl GillanChesham and AmershamCon (front bench)no
James GrayNorth WiltshireCon (front bench)no
Philip HolloboneKetteringCon (front bench)no
Adam HollowayGraveshamCon (front bench)no
Gerald HowarthAldershotConno
Stewart JacksonPeterboroughCon (front bench)no
Bernard JenkinHarwich and North EssexCon (front bench)no
David JonesClwyd WestCon (front bench)no
Edward LeighGainsboroughCon (front bench)no
Julian LewisNew Forest EastCon (front bench)no
Tim LoughtonEast Worthing and ShorehamCon (front bench)no
Craig MackinlaySouth ThanetCon (front bench)no
Anne MainSt AlbansCon (front bench)no
Karl McCartneyLincolnCon (front bench)no
Stephen McPartlandStevenageConno
David NuttallBury NorthCon (front bench)no
Owen PatersonNorth ShropshireConno
Andrew PercyBrigg and GooleCon (front bench)no
Tom PursgloveCorbyConno
John RedwoodWokinghamConno
Laurence RobertsonTewkesburyCon (front bench)no
Andrew RosindellRomfordCon (front bench)no
Andrew TurnerIsle of WightCon (front bench)no

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