Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill — Orders regulating conduct of referendums — 14 Mar 2000
Amendments made: No. 111, in page 151, leave out lines 34 to 37 and insert--
Amendment made: No. 69, in page 71, line 24, after "if", insert ", without reasonable excuse,".-- [Mr. Mike Hall.]
Amendment made: No. 70, in page 72, line 21, at end insert--
'(1A) If the return contains a statement of relevant donations in accordance with section 113(2)(d), the Commission shall secure that the copy of the statement made available for public inspection does not include, in the case of any donation by an individual, the donor's address.'.-- [Mr. Mike Hall.]
I beg to move amendment No. 154, in page 72, line 41, leave out "relevant" and insert "referendum".
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord):
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 150, in page 73, line 10, leave out from "poll" to end of line 11.
We were disturbed, in particular, by the evidence we heard in Cardiff to the effect that the referendum campaign in Wales in 1997 was very one-sided, with the last-minute No organisation seriously under-funded and having to rely for financial support essentially on a single wealthy donor. The outcome of the Welsh referendum was extremely close, and a fairer campaign might well have resulted in a different outcome.
I do not know what the other side spent . . . but you can rest assured that we spent just short of £100,000. I am led to believe that the other side, with the booklets and everything else, possibly spent a seven figure sum. That puts it in proportion.
In any referendum campaign there must be a fair opportunity for each side of the argument to be properly put to the voters.
We believe that it is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for the government of the day to offer purely objective and factual information in the course of a referendum campaign, especially when, as will usually be the case, it itself is a party to the campaign. We believe governments should not participate in referendum campaigns in this manner, just as it would be thought to be wholly inappropriate during a general election campaign for the government to print and distribute, at the taxpayers' expense, literature setting out government policy.
In most of the cases in which referendums have been held so far, the purpose of the referendum has been to obtain the endorsement of the electorate for a policy which the government of the day has developed and adopted, and the view has traditionally been that a government has not only a right but a duty to explain and promote its policies.
The old system left universities short of funds and students short of money. Our reforms which were based on the Dearing review of higher education will provide more money for higher education.
Education is the Government's number one priority
Delivering economic prosperity for the many not the few.
Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.
A few miles from here, in Bruges, another British Prime Minister made a speech. From it stemmed the isolationist and hostile view of the European Union.
I am glad that the Bill includes the 28-day moratorium, which meets our point--[ Official Report , 10 January 2000; Vol. 342, c. 67.]
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed: No. 146, in page 75, line 17, leave out Clause 122.-- [Sir P. Cormack.]
Question put, That the amendment be made:--
The House divided: Ayes 164, Noes 290.
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