§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Further consideration of amendments on Report resumed.
§ [Amendment No. 25 not moved.]1340
§ Clause 3 [Referendums: supplementary]:
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 26:
Page 2, line 34, leave out subsection (2) and insert—
("(2) The Secretaries of State shall appoint an Independent Statutory Commission which shall monitor the conduct of the referendums provided for under this Act, and shall. in the light of those referendums, draw up recommendations for the conduct of future referendums, having regard to the 1996 Report of the Commission on the Conduct of Referendums, such recommendations to be laid before each House of Parliament.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I took the hint that Amendment No. 25 would not be welcome and so decided not to move it.
§ I hope that we can deal with Amendment No. 26 quite quickly. It returns to the general proposition set out in the report of the Commission on the Conduct of Referendums as to what we ought to be doing with regard to the situation in this Parliament: we are promised four or five referendums, of which this is to be the first.
§ I accepted the point made in Committee by the Government that to draw up a referendums Bill—which is, I believe, the right way to proceed—before starting on the first referendum would not allow the Government to obey their election manifesto promise to hold the two referendums in relation to Scotland and Wales in September. I understand that. On the basis of their manifesto the Government have a good case for saying that we ought to proceed in the way in which we are proceeding, with these two referendums.
§ However, I wish to place on record, and try to elicit from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate who will reply, merely some kind of appreciation—I do not even seek a commitment—of the argument in favour of having a generic referendums Act.
In Committee I quoted at some length the opinions of the commission, whose members included some very important people. The commission made this matter perfectly clear in its report. Perhaps I may quote from Guideline 3 of the report. It states:
If the Government is planning a series of referendums, it has the option of establishing a statutory framework for the conduct of referendums through the enactment of a generic Referendum Act. Such an Act would demonstrate the Government's commitment to the efficient, fair and consistent conduct of referendums. It would provide for the establishment of an independent 'Referendum Commission' and include fixed rules on some matters (for example the organisation of the poll and the count). For other matters, on which it is impossible to determine rules in advance (for example, the wording of the question), the Act should set out how a decision should be reached. Those matters which will be different in each referendum and are likely to be of Parliamentary concern could be dealt with through primary legislation on each occasion".
§ The proof of that argument is contained in the Marshalled List that is before us, in which the schedules contain—I make no complaint about that because it was my idea—the mechanism for holding the referendum. It does so in the way set out because it has to ride piggyback on the Representation of the People Acts. I think all noble Lords will agree that that is not a very satisfactory way to proceed. There is constant cross-referencing. It would be far better to have a proper Act which, like the Representation of the People Acts, allowed referendums to be fought on a common basis.1341
I wish briefly to draw to the attention of the House a letter that I received from Mr. Michael Clancy, deputy secretary of the Law Society of Scotland, who, I have no doubt, is not unknown to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate. He states:
I read with interest the exchange between you and the Lord Advocate (Official Report Volume 581 No.28, column 420). The Society considers that there may be some advantages to the enactment of a generic Referendum Act and is currently gathering information on Acts which relate to referendums in other jurisdictions.
There are of course many difficulties in relation to a Referendum Act not least the issue of the Referendum Commission. No doubt this and other issues will become clearer as the Society concludes its examination".
I know that the noble and learned Lord received a copy as that is stated at the foot of my letter. He will therefore know that this is the society's view. The letter uses the words,
there may be some advantages",
However, I suggest that there would be very considerable advantage.
§ This is merely a probing amendment. However, I hope that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate will think beyond September and see that, in relation to referendums to come, such a measure would save us all a great deal of bother. It would save schedules of the kind that we see here having to appear in every referendum Bill. It would be the right and proper way to proceed.
§ I suggest that we should set up a commission now. It would not take a lot of time to appoint one or two people merely to look at the way in which the referendums work in Scotland and Wales in September and then to report to both Houses of Parliament and to the Government. That could be used as one of the factors in the creation of a generic referendums Act. I beg to move.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ The Lord Advocate (Lord Hardie)
My Lords, the amendment is identical in terms to the one which was moved by the noble Lord in Committee. That was withdrawn after a lengthy debate. Noble Lords will recall that the question of an independent commission was debated at some length in Committee and I seem to recall that the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, acknowledged that he did not wish the bureaucracy of a full-blown commission. I am grateful to him for acknowledging today—as he did on the previous occasion—that it would not be appropriate to have a referendum Act as part of this referendum as that clearly would not be possible.
I remind the noble Lord of what he said in dealing with this amendment at Committee stage and contrast it with what he said a few moments ago about the time taken to set up such an independent commission. On 7th July, at col. 423 of Hansard, he said:Of course I appreciate the difficulty of setting up a commission, as I propose, in the short time we have available".1342 He acknowledged at that time that there were difficulties in the timescale in setting up the commission that he proposes in Amendment No. 26, which is in identical terms.
It is all very well talking about setting up a statutory commission, but the commission would have to be in place before the referendums in September if it is to have a proper opportunity to monitor them. The appointments procedure for such a commission would no doubt be a lengthy affair and, in my submission, it would be very difficult if not impossible to hold the referendums by autumn of this year, as promised in the manifesto, if one were to go along that route and accept the amendment.
During the passage of the Bill the Government have indicated the precise dates on which it is intended to hold the referendums. I am sure that the people of Scotland and Wales would not accept any unnecessary delay arising from my accepting this amendment.
I am also sure that the noble Lord did not wish to frustrate the Government's manifesto commitment in that regard when he put down the amendment. I urge him to reflect and to withdraw it today. He has quite properly, on several occasions, drawn the attention of the House to the report of the Commission on the Conduct of Referendums. Perhaps I may assure him that, were he to visit the Scottish and Welsh Offices, he would find a number of well-thumbed copies of the report, which has been an extremely useful document to the Government in preparing our proposals.
I said earlier that I thought the delay would be unnecessary. I also point out to noble Lords that the preparation of the report on which the noble Lord relies illustrates another matter. The commission did its work without any prompting from the Government. It did not require a statutory commission to be set up and in my submission it is unnecessary to have a commission at this time.
Previous referendums have been held successfully, as was recognised in the commission's report. Lessons have been learnt from them and noble Lords will appreciate that each referendum is different in many respects. However, I can assure the House that, should any lessons be learnt from the forthcoming referendums, the Government will take account of them in providing for future referendums. That is what was done in the past in respect of this referendum and it is what our predecessors did in respect of the 1979 referendums.
Quite rightly, I believe, Parliament will wish to consider on its merits the legislation providing for each referendum, as we are doing today. That allows the opportunity to consider how each individual referendum will be run, while taking account of past experience. I do not think that anything will be gained by these amendments, which would simply add another layer to the process.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for allowing me to interrupt his interesting reply. Is he taking no account of the last five lines of the amendment? Does he suggest that the Government 1343 do not want to contemplate the idea of a commission which would learn from what happens during these referendums? Do the Government not wish to learn from the report of the Commission on the Conduct of Referendums and lay recommendations before the House for future referendums? That course seems a practical idea. Is the noble and learned Lord discounting it?
§ Lord Hardie
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for seeking clarification on the matter. As I sought to explain, there is not time available to set up the statutory commission prior to the undertaking of the referendums. Of course we shall look at what happens in the referendums and learn any lessons that arise. I would not want to give the impression that either the Government or I are being complacent and saying that we could never learn from any experience. The way that this has been done in the past is to look at what happened in the past, learn from it and take matters forward.
It is not appropriate in this Bill, because of the timescale, to have such a commission. Therefore, it is not appropriate for the House to deal with it at this stage. I urge the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate for reminding me of what I said at Committee stage. I had not forgotten. One of the points of the Report stage in your Lordships' House, as it is in the other place, is that it allows Members to reflect on what was said in Committee. On reflection, I thought that I was rather overstating the difficulty of setting up a commission. Governments can do things pretty quickly when they put their mind to it. Probably a small commission could be put in place in plenty of time to look over the referendums. I am happy to hear that the Government will be looking and learning although, to be honest, I would rather have a slightly more independent eye than that of the Government to do the looking and learning.
Once again, however, the noble and learned Lord, like other Ministers, has failed to answer the second part of the debate about the conduct of future referendums. I know that this is Report stage, but I should be happy to allow him to intervene to indicate whether the Government have any sympathy for and are prepared to give any consideration to the proposition that there should be a generic referendums Act. If they do not, then the next time we come to a referendums Bill we shall have to go through many of the same hoops that we have gone through with this Bill. Then it will be the next one and then the next one, and that is very unsatisfactory.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
My Lords, perhaps I may intervene. If there is another referendum Bill, I trust and hope that we shall not waste the time on it that we have wasted on this one and that the Opposition's intentions will be a little better placed.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I do not think I need to take any lessons on opposition from the 1344 noble Lord, Lord Mackie. He has now moved to total support for the Government and has long forgotten that the Opposition's job is to probe and question, to ask what the Government intend by legislation. I suggest that he should go home—the noble Baroness on the Government Benches shakes her head—and, over the Recess, read some of the debates in the last Parliament where legislation was considered in great detail, quite rightly, by people on this side of the House.
I never made any complaint, even when we sat very late into the night, a good deal later than I have kept your Lordships with the Committee stage. That kind of intervention tempts me to show your Lordships that I am as capable as the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis of Heigham, at keeping a Committee stage going long after we should all decently be home in our beds. Government Ministers are looking at me with some horror. I assure your Lordships that I intend to resist the temptation.
I am afraid that we shall have to come back to these issues when we have the next referendum. That is a pity. But perhaps by then the Government will have had a chance to reflect and decide that in everyone's interests it would be better to bring forward a representation of the people (referendums) Bill so that we know the basis on which all referendums will be conducted and will not have to go through very large schedules, as we have on this Bill, which we then have to marry to the appropriate Representation of the People Act. With that expression of disappointment, I withdraw my amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 27:
Leave out Clause 3 and insert the following new clause—
§ REFERENDUMS: SUPPLEMENTARY
§ (". Schedule (Conduct of the referendums. &c.) (conduct of the referendums) shall have effect.").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 28:
After Clause 3, insert the following new clause—
§ PUBLICLY-FUNDED INFORMATION
§ (" . Every household in Scotland and Wales shall receive a publicly-funded leaflet giving general information on the conduct of the referendums, and statements of the "Yes" and "No" cases relating to each referendum proposition, such statements to be of equal length and to be prepared by the organisations campaigning in the referendums.").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, we discussed this amendment in Committee and at that stage the Government said that they would consider the matter of funding and come back to us. I quote the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn:
I said that we are currently considering how best to achieve public information and that I shall be grateful—I am sorry for any discourtesy—to all sources who wish to put forward their views. However, I stress that I have done nothing more than that".—[Official Report, 7/7/97; col. 474.]
He said that in response to the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, who graced us with his presence on that day. I believe I am right in saying that the Welsh
White Paper indicates that the Government have decided that there will be a shortened version of the White Paper, which will be a more popular version, and that it will be distributed—by post, I presume—to every household in Wales.
§ I have not had a chance to look at the White Paper but, frankly, it will be the first government White Paper which presents a balanced picture for and against the Government's case. I make no complaint about that. I do not believe that in 18 years we produced a White Paper which contained both the Government's case And the Opposition's case in the same document. I do not ask the Government to add another chapter to their popular version, if I may so call it, giving the other point of view. But, undoubtedly, if the Government are to do what I have just suggested, at cost to public funds there will be a document going to every person in Scotland and Wales indicating the contents of the White Paper and, I have little doubt, putting the argument for the White Paper. I make no complaint about that.
§ But I shall complain if there will not be a similar facility for those who are campaigning against the White Paper and against the proposition that there should be an assembly in Wales and a parliament in Scotland. When there is a general election, the Government do not usually send out at taxpayers' expense a publication urging people to vote for the Government; though no doubt the party managers of both parties, when in government, would consider that to be not a bad idea and equally, party managers of the party not in government would think it an extremely bad idea. Rightly, we have not done that. I have tabled another amendment for later discussion which addresses the way in which we proceed at general elections and probes whether that would be the better way. But this procedure in particular rides on the proposition that a document précis-ing the White Paper will be sent to every household. My amendment seeks to know whether we shall include with that document or send separately an argument—I shall be quite fair—for the "yes" campaign and another for the "no" campaign.
§ Your Lordships will realise just how fair I am being because there will be two "yes" to one "no" over the Government's White Paper, which will be set out in, I hope, measured tones; and then there will be the more campaigning leaflet of the "yes" campaign and the "no" campaign. Obviously, if the Government just want to send their précis of the White Paper and a summary of the arguments against it, I shall be quite content. But I am trying to be reasonable in this matter and accept that the White Paper stands a little apart—not much—from a campaigning document on behalf of those who wish the people of Scotland and Wales to vote for the propositions in the White Paper.
§ I hope that I have sufficiently explained the position on this amendment and that the noble Lord, Lord Williams, who will reply to the amendment, will be able to give us some further information on how the Government intend to use public funds to make people in Scotland and Wales aware not just of their White 1346 Paper but of the arguments for and against the propositions which have been put to them. I beg to move.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Lord Crickhowell
My Lords, let me briefly add a little background on what appears to be happening, which I believe is relevant. Again, I rely on the press in Wales. We are told that there will be a new "hi-tech Referendum Unit" established on Millbank and that the spin doctors who campaigned for the Labour Party and who led the campaign in the general election are spearheading the campaign to get a "yes" in the referendum in Wales. We are told that:Labour's campaign in Wales is being organised with an almost military precision".The Western Mail continues:The use of Labour's general election machinery, drafting in English MPs to help with the Yes campaign, the appearance of Cabinet Ministers, a party political broadcast, rallies and public meetings, all lead to the impression that the people of Wales are in for a pro-devolution blitz.Not only will there be £700,000 spent on Government publicity about the facts and figures involved in creating an Assembly, but there will also be a helpline for those with queries. A special bargain White Paper priced £3 will be available at newsagents across Wales".I believe that we ought to hear a little more about that helpline. Who will be sitting on the other end of the telephone? Will they be civil servants in the Welsh Office. Will they be the spin doctors on Millbank? Who will be responsible? Who exactly is paying the bills? May we be allowed to know exactly what will be the total costs of putting over the Government's case and whether we shall be told at the end of the day what they in fact were?
Bearing in mind the undoubted sympathy expressed by the Minister when we last spoke about these matters for putting over fairly to people in neutral terms the basic facts without the arguments, I hope that we can have some elaboration now of his ideas and that he has been able to come up with some positive thoughts to reassure us.
Lord Campbell of Croy
My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister also to comment on a report in the Sunday Telegraph two days ago. I hope that the Government Front Bench has seen it. It stated:The Government has earmarked more than £2 million of taxpayers' money for a 'propaganda fund' designed to help deliver victory in the referendums on devolution for Scotland and Wales.The money will be used to produce a range of videos and pamphlets, as well as to staff telephone hotlines explaining the proposals for a Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly".The Government have said that the referendum is to be modelled on the first one in this country in 1975 and also will follow the 1979 referendum in Scotland. On both those occasions a Labour government were in office.
Let me return to the 1979 referendum because I can compare it also with the 1975 referendum. In 1978, the Government said that they were modelling the referendum on the referendum on Europe. In 1979 the Government were officially supporting one side in 1347 the referendum. In the 1975 referendum on Europe, Ministers were allowed to campaign on both sides. There was no financial assistance, free printing or post provided by the Government. That was in 1979. There was no accounting by either side afterwards. On the other hand, in the Europe referendum, each individual's expenditure over a certain amount had to be included in the accounts and five senior Ministers' expenses were in the White Paper published afterwards. Four of them were on one side and one was on the other. Those were examined and certified by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Most of the money accounted for on that occasion had not been contributed by the Government. Most of it had come from other sources, but it still had to be declared and the expenditure reported.
In 1975—the year of the referendum on Europe—the Government gave a grant of £125,000 to each side. Both sides were required to account for all contributions and to state from where they had come. In 1975 the Government published free for both sides the equivalent of a manifesto prepared by each side. That is similar to the suggestion put forward by my noble friend. That was not done in 1979 although the 1975 procedure was supposed to be followed.
The first report to which I referred seems to suggest that propaganda for one side only is to be put out. I hope that the Minister can say whether or not there is substance in that report in the Sunday Telegraph. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate, speaking on the last amendment, said that the Government would want to learn from previous referendums. I initiated a debate in this House on 12th March 1979, nine days after the last referendum. It was quite a long debate—not the kind of short one which has to take place in the dinner break nowadays—and a number of points were made.
I agree entirely that, even though there is no time to set up the kind of commission proposed in the last amendment, lessons should be learnt from what is going to happen this time as well as taking into account what was done in the past. Certainly in the past two referendums, in 1975 and 1979, much trouble was taken to try to make sure that both sides received fair treatment. I am not at all happy that that is what is happening now.
Viscount St. Davids
My Lords, the "Yes for Wales" campaign is being funded by individuals and organisations who are accountable to the Inland Revenue in the United Kingdom. I understand that the "No for Wales" campaign is being funded by a tax exile—Sir Julian Hodge—who reputedly lives in Jersey. He may see it as a way of redressing the balance and giving some money to the UK taxpayer. If so, does not he meet some of the requirements of my noble friend?
§ Lord Stanley of Alderley
My Lords, I support the amendment because I raised the issue at Second Reading. Can the Minister say whether, if the Government as opposed to individuals—I have no objection whatever to individuals giving whatever they 1348 wish—give money, it will go equally to the "No" and "Yes" campaigns? Alternatively, will they say that it is in their manifesto to go for "Yes"?
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
My Lords, the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Stanley, points to the difficulties which showed themselves when I began to investigate. On the last occasion I did not say that I would give consideration to public funding. That was a slip of the tongue. If the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, looks at the citation which he read, he will see that I did not say that I would give consideration to public funding. I said that there should be as wide dissemination of information to the public as possible.
We have no intention of providing public funds to support any campaign organisation. As the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, pointed out, the "Yes" campaign will raise donations from those who wish to subscribe. The "No" campaign, similarly, has the right in a free society to raise funds from wherever, whether on or off shore.
We do not intend to provide public money to allow campaigning organisations to send statements of their case at public expense to every household. To revert again to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, there are so many permutations—I am not teasing the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, but I can now recite the mantra; "Yes, No", "No, No", "No, Yes", "Yes, Yes"—that it simply is not practicable to give public funding to everyone who may have a view and regard themselves as a campaign organisation.
That is the stance in principle. There are practical objections to the amendment which the noble Lord will recognise. The amendment says,Every household in Scotland and Wales shall receive".That indicates, if one looks at it, that there is an obligation on campaigning organisations to prepare leaflets. That is not a burden that can be put on a campaign organisation, which may want to have no public dissemination at public expense. It is simply not workable. Someone would have to identify the campaigning organisations. They may be quite different.
We have heard a variety of views in Scotland. For instance, would a campaigning organisation urging people not to vote at all be eligible for public funding? There should be a good public debate. Debates in both Houses of Parliament contribute to that. It is difficult to sit on this Bench at the moment without having quotations from the Western Mail or the Sunday Telegraph put under one's nose with the question—perhaps rather more politely put—"What do you say about that?" I read the Western Mail; I do not always read the Sunday Telegraph. I am ashamed to confess that I did not see the specific reference. Sometimes the Western Mail is accurate; sometimes it is not.
We are not prepared to fund mailshots. I read out the Statement made by the Secretary of State in another place and I shall repeat it if I may:A leaflet describing our plans will go to every household and the White Paper text will be made available on the Internet".1349 The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, is quite right. It is a bargain White Paper. It costs only £3. That is the conclusion to which we have come. There should be a good public debate. I believe that there will be a good public debate in both Scotland and Wales. Each campaign organisation must fund itself as it thinks appropriate. Campaign organisations will not all have the same song to sing.
§ Lord Crickhowell
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, he said that he read the Western Mail on this occasion. Is it or is it not true that the Government are spending £700,000 on giving answers and disseminating information? I thought the noble Lord said that it was up to the campaigning bodies to raise their own money. The statement in the Western Mail is that the Government are spending the money. Can the Minister clarify what is the Government's role and expenditure?
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
My Lords, the Government will have a proper role. For instance, they will provide a "Reminder to vote" campaign. That is not a reminder to vote either yes or no. That sort of government expenditure will take place and I regard that as proper public expenditure in a matter of this importance. What will not be available are public funds for campaigning organisations as such. I read the Western Mail. I cannot say that I retain every syllable because I have to read other newspapers as well, with greater or lesser degrees of interest.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I am not sure whether I am grateful to the Minister or not. I take from his response that it is difficult for the Government to deal with the "Yes" and "No" campaigns. They are worried about who they are and how they will define their literature. At the risk of harking back to the last debate, if there were a generic referendums Act and referendums commission, that would be one of the tasks of the commission and the Government would not have to do it. That is another good reason for dealing with this issue before we hold any more referendums.
What worries me is that the précis White Paper will actually have in it the preface by the Prime Minister. I shall not bore your Lordships by reading out all the purple prose on the page. The last paragraph is sufficient.I will be campaigning vigorously for a strong yes vote on 18 September".Apart from the fact that the legislation now says that the Welsh referendum will be on the same day as the Scottish one, which is 11th September—I shall not go into that again—it seems to me that the précis White Paper will be campaigning vigorously for a yes vote. Therefore a document will be popping through all our letter boxes in Scotland and Wales urging us to join the Prime Minister in vigorously giving a strong yes vote on 11th September. That appears to me to be public funds being used to campaign on one side of the issue.
However, I recognise an uphill struggle when I see it. Getting the Government to address debates and accept the logic of arguments is indeed an uphill struggle. We 1350 will return to this matter in the next amendment which is perhaps more tightly drawn. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6 p.m.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 29:
After Clause 3, insert the following new clause—
§ FREE POSTAGE FOR CAMPAIGNING ORGANISATIONS
§ (" . The Secretary of State shall defray the costs of postage, subject to Post Office regulations, of any organisations designated by him for the purpose of campaigning for and against the propositions set out in Schedules 1 and 2, subject to a limit of one item per elector, containing matter relating to the referendums, not exceeding 60 grammes in weight.").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that we shall not have any textual criticism of this amendment because it is a very close crib from Section 91 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which states:
A candidate at a parliamentary election is, subject to Post Office regulations, entitled to send free of any charge for postage to each elector one postal communication containing matter relating to the election only and not exceeding 2 ounces in weight".
I have changed the "2 ounces", to take account of modern usage, to 60 grammes, which I am assured is the Post Office equivalent of 2 ounces. Otherwise the amendment, as your Lordships will have noticed, follows very closely the wording of the Representation of the People Act.
§ The reason for the Representation of the People Act 1983 and its predecessors deciding to allow political candidates in an election to send out free mail is simply in order to make sure that people are aware of each candidate's case and the arguments that that candidate wishes to put forward. It is part and parcel of our democratic process. If the Government have decided that that is one of the parts of our democratic process that one day, in the next year or two, they might remove, it would be nice to hear them say so today. I rather hope that all political parties are very much in favour of this service at election time which allows candidates to produce an election address and send it to each elector free of charge. What I am suggesting here is that an organisation designated by the Secretary of State for the purpose of campaigning for and against the proposition set out in the two schedules should be able to have the same facility, if it wishes to use it, as do candidates in an election.
I have tried to get round the problem of the organisations, which the noble Lord, Lord Williams, has put to me, by saying,
any organisations designated by [the Secretary of State]".
I am trusting the Secretary of State for Wales, whom I do not know, and the Secretary of State for Scotland, whom I do know, to carry out that task honourably. I am sure that they would do so. It would not be the most difficult task for them to carry out. In Wales, it would certainly be easier because there are only two answers—either a yes or a no. Scotland is more complicated. However, in general terms I think the first question is the dictating question, and it would be
perfectly easy for the Secretary of State for Scotland to designate a "yes" campaign, which I gather has been set up—I have read a little about it but not a great deal—and a "no" campaign, which I know has also been set up. They could easily be designated by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this new clause to receive exactly the kind of services that are received by a candidate for election. I have said in the amendment "one item per elector". That is probably over-kill. In this day and age I think that one item per household is sufficient. But that is the way we have organised it. We have one item per elector at general elections. I see no reason why we should not do exactly the same at this referendum.
§ If the Government are to put out at taxpayers' expense a précis of the White Paper, as they have made clear they are going to do, and if in that précis they are to advocate their proposition at public expense—I should be rather surprised if they did not do that—they should give serious consideration to this amendment which allows the two campaigning organisations in Wales and the two campaigning organisations in Scotland to do what candidates are allowed to do at a general election.
§ The Government cannot complain about unfairness because I conceded by withdrawing my previous amendment that the Government can go ahead with a précis of the White Paper to every household. The "yes" campaign will therefore get a second bite of the cherry. But the "no" campaign will also get a bite. If noble Lords opposite are genuine in wishing this matter to be resolved by the Scottish and Welsh people in a high turn out and wish to know the settled view of the Welsh and Scottish people, I cannot comprehend what argument the Minister will have against this amendment. I very much commend it to your Lordships and to the Government. I beg to move.
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
My Lords, I am afraid that I am going to disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, again and essentially on the same basis as I resisted his previous amendment. The Government have come to the conclusion that they will not provide any public funds to support any campaign organisation for the referendums. The "yes" campaigns in Scotland and Wales will have to be funded in the way that the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, indicated.
I agree that the amendment does not have the same technical deficiencies and I think I was careful to put the technical deficiencies in respect of the previous amendment very much as subsidiary to the point of principle at which the Government have arrived. We have come to the conclusion that it is not the occasion to provide public funds to support any campaign organisation, whether "yes" or "no". I realise that that is a disappointment to the noble Lord. I hope he will acquit me of discourtesy if I simply restate the Government's position as there comes a stage where simply repeating the Government's position with variations is not particularly fruitful. I feel a sense of time passing as this is the last occasion on the Report stage when I shall have to respond on behalf of 1352 Her Majesty's Government to the seduction of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, with whom it is always a pleasure to cross swords.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, the last part of the Minister's remarks certainly almost dulled my critical analysis of the first part of his remarks. I am grateful to him for what he said. The essence of debate occasionally is that we do go over some of the same issues. We try to look at them from a slightly different point of view, we try to accommodate the objections made at the Committee stage and come back at Report. While, I freely admit, it has been something of a learning curve for me to do it from this Dispatch Box, I am sure that it has equally been something of a learning curve for the Minister and his colleagues to do it from the other side. I suspect that we shall have plenty of practice in the years that lie ahead.
What worries me about what we have just heard is that when we read it in Hansard we will be able quite easily to pop "general election" into "referendum" and read an argument which the Government could easily bring forward in favour of actually abolishing the right contained in Section 91 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. I do not think even the Liberal Democrats would be happy if the Government were proposing that. I believe that all the arguments in favour of candidates having the right to send out a leaflet free of charge are as persuasive for these two referendums as they are for general elections and by-elections.
I am not happy with the answer. I wish to see how many of your Lordships will join me in registering our displeasure that the Government are not prepared to follow in referendums the procedures of Section 91 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. I wish to test the opinion of the House.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 29) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 91; Not-Contents, 111.1354
|Division No. 2|
|Ailsa, M.||Clark of Kempston, L.|
|Allenby of Megiddo, V.||Craig of Radley, L.|
|Anelay of St. Johns, B.||Cranworth, L.|
|Astor, V.||Crickhowell, L.|
|Astor of Hever, L.||Dacre of Glanton, L.|
|Barber of Tewkesbury, L.||Dean of Harptree, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Denbigh, E.|
|Biddulph, L.||Denham, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Denton of Wakefield, B.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Dixon-Smith, L.|
|Braine of Wheatley, L.||Downshire, M.|
|Brentford, V.||Elliott of Morpeth, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Fraser of Carmyllie, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Gage, V.|
|Carlisle, E.||Gisborough, L.|
|Camegy of Lour, B.||Gray, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L|
|Chesham, L. [Teller.]||Halsbury, E.|
|Clanwilliam, E.||Harlech, L.|
|Harrowby, E.||Palmer, L.|
|Hayhoe, L.||Pearson of Rannoch, L.|
|Howe, E.||Peel, E.|
|Howell of Guildford, L.||Perth, E.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Pilkington of Oxenford, L.|
|Inchcape, E.||Reay, L.|
|Jenkin of Roding, L.||Rees, L.|
|Jopling, L.||Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.|
|Kintore, E.||Renton of Mount Harry, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Lawrence, L.||Seccombe, B.|
|Lindsay, E.||Shrewsbury, E.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Long, V.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Lucas, L. [Teller.]||Stewartby, L.|
|Lyell, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Mar and Kellie, E.||Taylor of Warwick, L.|
|Marlesford, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Miller of Hendon, B.||Torphichen, L.|
|Milverton, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Monson, L.||Ullswater, V.|
|Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Nelson, E.||Waddington, L.|
|O'Cathain, B.||Wharton, B.|
|Addington, L.||Haskel, L.|
|Alderdice, L.||Hayman, B.|
|Archer of Sandwell, L.||Hilton of Eggardon, B.|
|Barnett, L.||Hollis of Heigham, B.|
|Berkeley, L.||Hooson, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Howell, L.|
|Blease, L.||Howie of Troon, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Hughes, L.|
|Borrie, L.||Irvine of Lairg, L.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||[Lord Chancellor.]|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Jay of Paddington, B.|
|Calverley, L.||Jeger, B.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Kennet, L.|
|Carter, L. [Teller.]||Kilbracken, L.|
|Castle of Blackburn, B.||Kirkhill, L.|
|Chandos, V.||Kirkwood, L.|
|Clinton-Davis, L.||Lestor of Eccles, B.|
|Crook, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|David, B.||Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Longford, E.|
|Dean of Thomton-le-Fylde, B.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Desai, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]|
|Dixon, L.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Donoughue, L.||Mallalieu, B.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Merlyn-Rees, L.|
|Eatwell, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Evans of Parkside, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Ewing of Kirkford, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Falconer of Thoroton, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Falkender, B.||Morris of Castle Morris, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Farrington of Ribbleton, B.||Nathan, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Gilbert, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Gladwin of Clee, L.||Paul, L.|
|Glasgow, E.||Peston, L.|
|Glenamara, L.||Plant of Highfield, L.|
|Gould of Pottemewton, B.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Gregson, L.||Ramsay of Cartvale, B.|
|Grenfell, L.||Rea, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal]|
|Hamwee, B.||Rochester, L.|
|Han worth, V.||Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.|
|Hardie, L.||Russell, E.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Sefton of Garston, L.||Thomas of Walliswood, B.|
|Serota, B.||Thomson of Monifieth, L.|
|Sewel, L.||Thurso, V.|
|Shepherd, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Simon of Highbury, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Smith of Gilmorehill, B.||Varley, L.|
|Strabolgi, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L|
|Symons of Vernham Dean, B.||Whitty, L.|
|Taylor of Gryfe, L.||Williams of Mostyn, L.|
|Thomas of Gresford, L.||Winston, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 6.16 p.m.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 30:
After Clause 3, insert the following new clause—
§ BROADCASTING IMPARTIALITY
§ (" .—(1) It shall be the duty of every broadcasting authority to satisfy themselves that, so far as possible, the programmes broadcast by the authority comply with the requirement that due impartiality is preserved on the part of the persons providing the programmes as respects matters relating to the propositions set out in Schedules 1 and 2.
§ (2) Organisations campaigning for and against the propositions set out in Schedules I and 2 shall be allowed broadcasting time at the same hour of the day and of the same duration only, such that strict impartiality is observed by the broadcasting authorities.
§ (3) No party political broadcast referring to the referendums or to the affairs of Scotland or Wales shall be transmitted between the enactment of this legislation and the date of the referendums.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this new clause comes in three parts. I have drawn the first subsection from the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act 1973. Essentially, it tries to lay down a duty of impartiality on broadcasting authorities. The second subsection discusses whether or not the campaigning organisations should have party political broadcasts. The third subsection relates to what I might call ordinary party political broadcasts on behalf of the political parties in the time between the enactment of this legislation and the date of the referendums. I hope that the Government will say that I have no need to be concerned about this. I shall be very grateful if I can get that on the record.
Dealing with the first subsection, the broadcasting authorities themselves must make sure that they give due impartiality to the,
matters relating to the propositions set out in Schedules I and 2.
In Scotland and Wales what normally happens in political broadcasting of every kind, including discussion programmes and radio and television news programmes, is that the broadcasters attempt, often on the same programme, to give balance and to have the four political parties in both countries represented. That is not done quite so often in news programmes, for obvious reasons, but they try over time to give balance. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, and I have taken part in a number of programmes in which balance has been attempted, although on at least one occasion a member of one of the minority parties did not turn up so that the balance that the BBC was trying to achieve failed. It could hardly be blamed because the balancing party decided not to come along or had forgotten the engagement or whatever.
§ What I am concerned about—and I am sure that the broadcasters are equally concerned—is what they will be doing during the time between the end of next week when this Bill becomes law and 11th September. What will they be doing when it comes to balance? If they continue the kind of political programmes that we are used to in Scotland and Wales, we shall have the nationalists, the Liberals and the Labour Party all advocating a "Yes" vote in a programme. I still find it hard to believe that the Government can be comfortable with the nationalists being on the same side and saying that voting "Yes" would be a good idea when we all know that they want to go the next step to independence, and beside them there is a claimed unionist saying that it is a good idea because he does not want to go the next step. There seems to be a contradiction there which we could expose. Nonetheless, there would be three people advocating a "Yes" vote in Scotland and in Wales, and one person, a Conservative, advocating a "No" vote. I do not think that that would be a proper balance when discussing the propositions set out in Schedules 1 and 2.
§ I hope that that is not the way in which the Government envisage that the broadcasters will act and I hope that the broadcasters will not act in that way. They might be grateful for some guidance. I also hope that the broadcasters will seek to achieve some balance between the "Yes" and the "No" so that in a programme on which four people are interviewed, there will be two people with views on the "Yes" side and two people whose views are on the "No" side. That will be the broad balance that the broadcasters should attempt to achieve.
I do not know whether I drew this matter to your Lordships' attention previously, but, in the commission document to which I have referred on a number of occasions, Guideline 17 states:
A balance should be maintained between the 'Yes' and 'No' viewpoints rather than between the different political parties. Broadcasters should be encouraged to provide a limited amount of airtime for setting out the arguments for each option in the referendum".
If Wales is anything like Scotland I suspect that the broadcasters will provide what the public will rapidly regard as far too much airtime for discussion of this issue because the one thing that we know is that the chattering classes in Scotland and in Wales are a great deal more thorough on this than almost any other group in either Scotland or in Wales. That is my first proposition, which is covered by the first subsection. I hope that the Government will be able to reassure me on that point and give the broadcasters some guidance.
§ The second subsection relates to party political broadcasts on behalf of the "Yes" and "No" campaigns in both Scotland and in Wales. I think that that speaks for itself. Will the broadcasters be obliged under the legislation to give to the "Yes" and "No" campaigns equal time and equal positioning in the broadcasting environment with which to put forward their cases in the nature of a party political broadcast? That is a clear question.
§ The third proposition relates to party political broadcasts as we know them. It is possible to imagine that there may be party political broadcasts in August 1356 and September although I suspect that the parties know that people are on holiday and that they are not very interested in party political broadcasts at such times. In previous debates we have been told that the population of Scotland will be hard at work throughout the whole of August and September. Although I do not imagine that the parties will be desperately keen to put out such broadcasts during August or at the beginning of September, I should like to know what the Government envisage in that regard. The referendum will be a fairly important topic in August and September, so there may not be any other issues on which party political broadcasts will be made. That is why I think that this point is relevant.
§ Perhaps I may remind whichever Minister is to answer—I believe that it may be the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate, which will be most appropriate—of a case in the Outer House before Lord Ross on 19th February 1979. The case was Wilson v.Independent Broadcasting Authority. Party political broadcasts were under discussion in that case and your Lordships might be interested to know that the Wilson referred to was then a vigorous campaigner on the "No" side. He is now Minister of State at the Scottish Office and is keeping a very quiet profile on these matters. Indeed, he described himself the other day as a "caretaker Minister". He seems to have had a conversion on the road from Stornoway—perhaps it was the road from Ardrossan in his constituency or even on the road to Ardrossan before that area became his constituency. I am referring to Brian Wilson, whom I know well. We were both educated at the same school although not at the same time. He is therefore a man of high intellect and good education. I would not dispute that.
§ Brian Wilson and others, the executives of the then Labour "Vote No" campaign committee, brought that action against the Independent Broadcasting Authority because the parties in Scotland were going to put out party political broadcasts advocating a "Yes" vote and Brian Wilson and his friends thought that that was in breach of the IBA's responsibilities. Your Lordships will be happy to hear that I shall not bore you with the learned judgment of Lord Ross—your Lordships may not have been bored—but the conclusion was that party political broadcasts would be in breach and they did not then take place. In my third subsection I am simply seeking to establish that we shall start from that proposition and that there will be no need for Brian Wilson or anybody else—such as Mr. Smith in Wales—to go to court to try to ensure that party political broadcasts do not take place during the referendum campaign.
§ As we come towards the end of our procedures on this Bill, I am very much looking forward to receiving from the Lord Advocate the kind of assurances which will leave me deeply satisfied. I beg to move.
§ Lord Crickhowell
My Lords, I rise briefly but with a particular interest in the answer to this question as I am a director of one of the television companies which will be broadcasting during the referendum campaign and which is subject to the decisions of the Independent Television Commission. It is important that 1357 I should know the answer, particularly, as I believe that I pointed this out on an earlier amendment, given the report in the Welsh press that there will be a government party political broadcast in the run-up to the holding of the referendum. It would be most unfortunate if we got into a situation, almost by chance, where a government party political broadcast went out (perhaps because it had been scheduled for some time) but there was no opportunity for an alternative party political broadcast to be given which would allow the "No" campaign to have its say. Much the best solution seems to be that there should be no party political broadcasts at all during that period.
I turn now to the other question raised by my noble friend. It is desirable that there should be a balance. However, as I discovered when I took part last week (for the first time) in a broadcast at midnight—it is not a practice that I hope to repeat frequently—on exactly the topic of Welsh devolution that we are now discussing, "balance" to the broadcasters currently means having three who are in favour of an assembly and one who is supposed to do battle on the other side. I do not mind being in that position and I am sure that I made the case extremely powerfully and won the argument, but it is a pretty odd sort of balance and I do not want to have to spend the whole of August and September carrying out the job of being the odd one out on such a broadcast.
Lord Campbell of Croy
My Lords, perhaps I may add a footnote to what my noble friend Lord Mackay said when moving the amendment. There was yet another Wilson who could have been involved in the case. I refer to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilson of Langside, who was at that time the joint chairman of the "No" campaign in Scotland. He had been a former Lord Advocate in the Labour Government. He could easily have been another Wilson doing the same thing.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Lord Hardie
My Lords, I hope that I can give noble Lords opposite some comfort on this amendment. I do not think that there is any need to be concerned. I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, reminding me of the Wilson case. My memory is often bad, but in view of the fact that I drew that case to the attention of the Committee, I am bound to say that in the intervening two weeks my memory has not yet gone so bad that I cannot remember the case—although I must say that it seems longer ago than that. Wilson will be followed by the courts, and that is one reason why this amendment is unnecessary.
I said at Committee stage that responsibility for what was broadcast rested with the broadcasters and the regulatory authorities. Noble Lords will recall that at Committee stage I set out at length the position on broadcasting. I do not propose to repeat myself. I simply refer noble Lords to Hansard and cols. 420, 434 and 435 of the proceedings in Committee. But there are codes in place to ensure that the reporting of controversial subjects is treated with due impartiality and accuracy both in the news services and in the more 1358 general area of programmes dealing with matters of public policy or political controversy. In that situation I believe that the first part of the amendment is unnecessary. As the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, said at Committee stage (at col. 433 of Hansard), it is for the existing broadcasting authorities to ensure on behalf of Parliament that the broadcasters operate impartially.
The tradition is that the Government do not interfere in such matters. It is for the broadcasters themselves to observe the code and to face up to their responsibilities. I urge the House not to deviate from that norm. The matter is best left to the broadcasters. If they fail in their objectives the courts will intervene, as happened in Wilson. This has happened in very few cases. The very fact that there are few cases indicates that broadcasters act responsibly. I am sure that they will do so in the reporting and coverage of the lead-up to the referendums. I believe that the amendment in the three subsections seeks to interfere with the way in which broadcasters fulfil that duty. I suggest that such interference is neither necessary nor appropriate in view of the safeguards in place. The situation has worked well in the past both as regards general elections and referendums.
As far as concerns subsection (2), this introduces a new point. It imposes a particular view of what "impartiality" means. I am not sure what would be the effect of allowing organisations to campaign at the same broadcasting time for the same duration. Does it mean that any organisation that declares itself to be campaigning for or against the proposition should be given exactly the same air time? That raises the prospect of, say, half a dozen people coming together to form an organisation. It is quite legitimate for them to do so. Are they to have the same time as Scotland Forward or Think Twice, both of which organisations apparently have a substantial following? Is that fair or sensible? Should we not simply leave the matter to the broadcasters themselves to decide? Is it appropriate for us to set out in legislation that the time allocated to one organisation must be on precisely the same date or time of day as is allocated to another organisation? It may be that to do so will not result in appropriate impartiality on the part of the broadcasters. For that reason I suggest that this subsection is also unnecessary.
As far as concerns subsection (3), I submit that this is also unnecessary but that it goes further than Wilson. As the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, has already observed, Wilson is the law and it protects those who are anxious about party political broadcasts covering the referendum. No doubt the various broadcasting organisations and bodies will take that into account in deciding how they are to fulfil their obligations. I do not believe it is appropriate for me to give free legal advice to the company of the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell. No doubt it has access to lawyers who can advise it in appropriate terms, for which it will have to pay a modest charge.
As far as concerns subsection (3), it goes slightly further than Wilson in the sense that it prohibits a party political broadcast dealing with the affairs of Scotland or Wales during the referendum campaign. It is not confined to the referendum. One can imagine that something may arise in the run-up to the referendum that is unconnected 1359 with it which justifies a party political broadcast about that issue. That issue may have a bearing on the affairs of Wales or Scotland. This amendment will preclude that. I do not believe that that is a desirable outcome of this amendment.
In short, I ask noble Lords to reflect on the way in which broadcasting companies have fulfilled their obligations with responsibility in the past. Let us leave it to them to continue to do so, and let us leave it to the courts to ensure that on the rare occasions when they overstep the mark they are brought back into line. This is not an area in which the Government should seek to regulate and, with respect, it is not appropriate for this House to do so either. I urge the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, can he express a view on the point put by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish? He said that there were only two arguments for and against and therefore the time would be allocated fairly not between the parties but between the argument for and against. The noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, said that he had been involved in a broadcast which had been three to one against him. There is nothing more desirable than to have three to one against one if one has half the time available to put one's argument. It would be nice if the noble and learned Lord could give a view on that point.
§ Lord Hardie
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, raises an interesting question which, from recollection, was addressed in Wilson. Where in a referendum there are only two options, "Yes" or "No", as I understand was the position in 1979, the court has held that there must be balance as between the "Yes" campaign and the "No" campaign. This time the situation in Scotland is slightly more complicated. As the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, has pointed out, one has the "Yes, yes" group, the "Yes, no" group, the "No, yes" group and the "No, no" group. It will be for the broadcasting authorities to decide how to provide balance in that situation. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, that the question is not simply one of three against one, as the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, has said. In such a programme, obviously if the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, were given more time, or half the time, there would be a balance. Knowing the noble Lord's abilities, I am sure that he would not need such an advantage.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for that response and to the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie for his intervention which encapsulated some of the points that I was making. I hope that the noble and learned Lord does not think that such legislation is unnecessary because I cribbed—if that is the word—pretty closely from the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act 1973 which lays out some of the matters in subsections (1) and (2). I pretty well followed what is said in the Act, amending it slightly to take account of the fact that we are dealing with referendums and not general elections.
1360 Between what the noble and learned Lord said today and what he said in Committee, I am reassured about the first subsection. I have little doubt that the broadcasters will follow impartiality in the circumstances explained to us by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. On the second, I can see some of the problems, but clearly if the broadcasters decide that one of the parties should have a party political broadcast, they will have to give the same facility to the others. It has to be roughly the same day of the week and time as given to the other parties. The words are again taken from the Independent Broadcasting Act 1973.
It clearly would not be balanced to have a party political broadcast for one side at 9 o'clock in the evening on a weekday, and for the other side, let us say, at 9 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday. The law already laid down makes it clear that factors such as the day of the week and time of the day must be taken into account in deciding whether there is balance.
I was a little worried about the noble and learned Lord's answer to the third point. He seemed to be suggesting that the Government might want to have a party political broadcast on Scottish affairs. That would worry me. However, I am probably at ease with that proposition when I read the judgment of the Lord Ross, which I hope encapsulates what I believe to be the right way to proceed. He said:It is up to the respondents now to decide"—that was the independent broadcasting authorities—what political broadcasts if any should be arranged in relation to the referendum in place of the four party political broadcasts in question. It will be necessary however to ensure that the same time is given to the proponents of 'Yes' as is given to the proponents of 'No'. If no broadcast can be arranged that may be unfortunate but in that event there will at least be no question of a failure to maintain a proper balance. Nor will the public be entirely deprived of information contained in broadcasts regarding the referendum since, as I have already observed, there will be current affairs broadcasts dealing with the referendum".If the Government decided that they wanted a party political broadcast in Scotland or Wales because of something that had arisen, the broadcasting authorities would have to be mindful of the words that I have read out from that judgment. With the Lord Advocate's assurances, backed up by the judgment of Lord Ross, I am reasonably content that so far as concerns broadcasting the rules will be fair and reasonable to both sides. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 31 and 32 not moved.]
§ Clause 5 [Expenditure]:
§ Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 32A:
§ Page 3, line 7, leave out ("an Order in Council under section 1(1) or 2(1)") and insert ("Schedule (Conduct of the referendums, &c.)").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, my big moment has finally arrived. Because the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, withdrew Amendment No. 25, my place in the sun earlier was denied me. Having finally got to my feet, perhaps I may say, in the new spirit of co-operation and inclusivity, 1361 that the amendment is purely technical. It is consequential upon the need to incorporate Orders in Council into the Bill. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 33:
§ Page 3, line 9, leave out ("the Secretary of State") and insert ("a Minister of the Crown").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments No. 34 and 56. These amendments are technical and are intended simply to clarify the scope of the finance provision in Clause 5 which allows expenditure in preparation for the establishment of a Scottish parliament or Welsh assembly to be paid out of money provided by Parliament. The intention is that this provision should cover not only expenditure on the building or refurbishment of parliament/assembly buildings, but also advance expenditure on, for example, any adjustment to Inland Revenue and DSS computer systems required to cope with the tax-varying powers of the Scottish parliament. Such changes have a long lead time, and if the tax-varying power is to be available on establishment of the Scottish parliament (whether or not the parliament decides to use it), it may be necessary to incur expenditure before the main devolution legislation reaches the statute book.
§ These amendments are intended to put beyond any doubt the question of whether such expenditure would be covered by Clause 5. The estimated costs shown in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum remain unchanged. All expenditure under this provision will be subject to the normal parliamentary rules of supply. I beg to move.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I was tempted to the Dispatch Box on hearing that the amendment paved the way to the Scottish parliament having tax-raising powers. There were some interesting articles in the Scotsman this morning about powers wider than income tax, which I could go over. I shall not do so, because I should then raise the ire of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, who came to my help on the previous amendment. I am happy to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, on his amendments.
Lord Campbell of Croy
My Lords, I think I understood the Minister to say that it was likely that it would be Treasury Ministers who would be the additional Ministers concerned. If I am wrong, I should be glad if he would say so. My experience is that the Treasury is unlikely to approve any expenditure before a scheme has been approved by Parliament. Is he suggesting that the Treasury would approve the initial expenditure on equipment for a parliament before it had even been decided by Parliament that such a thing should exist, or are there other Ministers and other objects which this is to cover?
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, it is purely preparatory expenditure. It is not substantive expenditure. The amendment is designed to widen the definition to ensure 1362 that the authorisation can be given by a Minister of the Crown rather than by a Secretary of State. It is subject to the normal processes of government.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 34:
§ Page 3, line 11, leave out ("the establishment of").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 35 not moved.]
§ Schedule 1 [Referendum in Scotland]:
§ [Amendments Nos. 36 to 38 not moved.]
§ Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 39:
§ Page 4, line 9, at end insert (" . I UNDERSTAND THAT THE BILL ENACTING THE GOVERNMENT'S PROPOSALS MAY DIFFER SUBSTANTIALLY IN BOTH FORM AND EFFECT FROM THE WHITE PAPER THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS PUBLISHED.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is purely a probing amendment. It is a singleton amendment whereas, perhaps, there should be four amendments to complete the set. I am trying to find an answer to a question which has been posed a number of times by my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish and others; namely, just how advisory is the referendum? The question has been asked that way round and I am now asking it the other way around. I suggest that something should be placed on the ballot paper which states that the referendum is advisory and that things can change afterwards. Indeed, when the Bill is in its final form, there may be aspects of it which are unrecognisable from the White Paper. It may be that in the course of the consideration of the Bill, we shall find something which can be changed to advantage with which the noble Lord and the Government agree; for example, amendments in relation to the points raised today by my noble friend Lord St. Davids dealing with the independent members in Wales and how they could be fitted into the assembly. Therefore, I seek an assurance from the noble Lord that if the Government agree with proposals for change, they will not say that it was not in the White Paper and therefore, they cannot do it. I beg to move.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for the spirit in which he moved the amendment. I accept that it is probing. I can virtually say that I agree and leave it at that. I underline the point that, of course, during its passage through Parliament, it is possible for the Bill to be amended if Parliament so wishes. The Government will wish to take into account amendments when moved and if we consider them to be constructive to add to the Bill we should wish to support them. That is perfectly consistent within the framework of an advisory referendum.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1363
§ [Amendments Nos. 40 to 43 not moved.]
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 44:
§ Page 4, line 22, at end insert—
§ ("PART III
§ FORM OF THIRD BALLOT PAPER
§ Parliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament to be housed in a new purpose-built building and not in the building of the former Royal High School in Edinburgh:
§ Put a cross (X) in the appropriate box.
|I AGREE THAT THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT SHOULD BE HOUSED IN A NEW PURPOSE-BUILT BUILDING|
|I DO NOT AGREE THAT THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT SHOULD BE HOUSED IN A NEW PURPOSE-BUILT BUILDING||")|
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment adds a third question to the ballot paper. I was accused in the Herald of being mischievous by tabling this amendment. What a thought! I have absolutely no intention of being mischievous. But the whole subject indicates a certain amount of interesting confusion on the part of the Government.
§ In the late 1970s, the building of the former Royal High School in Edinburgh was earmarked as the site for the proposed Scottish parliament. A great deal of public money was spent on refurbishing it and equipping an oval chamber for the parliament. As we all know, it did not come about and the offices became the offices of the Lord Advocate, although I think that his department has now moved elsewhere. The debating chamber was used on a number of occasions by the Scottish Grand Committee when it met in Edinburgh. Therefore, in my previous capacity, I have debated with, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Ewing of Kirkford, whom I see opposite, in the former Royal High School.
§ For the past 18 years, the campaigners in favour of an assembly have advocated that it should meet in that building. It has been picketed for years by one particular group, although I have not passed through or by that picket line. Indeed, it has been shown as one of the montages of Scottish views introducing Scottish political programmes. Clearly the broadcasters thought that if the parliament ever arrived, it would be seated in the Royal High School. Indeed, I suspect that that was the view of almost everyone in Scotland until about a couple of weeks ago.
§ My recollection was that in order to give the members of the parliament and its officials the necessary office space, use would be made of Old St. Andrew's House across the road. Indeed, about the only argument in favour of having the parliament is the off chance that you become prime minister and can choose for yourself the most beautiful 1364 panelled rooms in Old St. Andrew's House with terrific views over the city of Edinburgh. However, that is another point. That was the idea in the late 1970s and was throughout the 18 years of the government of my noble friend Lady Thatcher and my right honourable friend John Major.
§ Therefore, it came as a surprise to us all—including, I am sure, to the people picketing there—that the Secretary of State for Scotland suddenly discovered that the premises were not suitable. That seems amazing given the number of times that he must have debated in it as a member of the Scottish Grand Committee. I am still not entirely sure why that conclusion has been reached.
§ I wonder idly, and perhaps mischievously again, whether the simple fact is that the civil servants currently using the rather beautiful offices in Old St. Andrew's House told the new Government on 2nd May, "If you think we're moving out of here, have another thought. Possession is nine-tenths of the law and we are staying here." I do not blame them. When I was a Minister at the Scottish Office I occupied for most of the time an office in Old St. Andrew's House. Only very reluctantly did I move to New St. Andrew's House in the last year of my ministerial career. I can understand that the officials do not wish to move.
§ But, of course, if they do not move, then the parliament must be sited somewhere else. Mr. Dewar has now indicated that there will be a great competition to decide where it should he sited. I do not wish to go into the arguments but the former Royal High School has a lot going for it. Edinburgh is about to become a car-free city if some of the eccentric people who run its council get their way. As people will be coming from all over Scotland, it seems to me that the nearer the proposed parliament is to the main railway station, Waverley station, the better. That will certainly be true for the great majority of the members of the assembly who will be travelling from west and central Scotland. That can be done easily from Queen Street on the train. They will arrive at Waverley and can just walk up the hill. It is a short walk and it will be very good for them. It is slightly uphill, which will raise their heartbeats sufficiently to keep them healthy and prevent too many by-elections.
§ Seriously, I believe that there is a huge advantage, if the assembly is to happen at all, in it being in the centre of Edinburgh beside the railway station, if it must be in Edinburgh. The Government should make efforts to find their way round the accommodation problem. If that means having an argument with their civil servants and the permanent under-secretary, I suggest they have that argument. If my words of encouragement to them reinforce them in that argument, I shall be very pleased.
§ I do not believe that Leith is a suitable site. It is not easy to get to without a motorcar and it seems to me to be important that the parliament should be in the centre of Edinburgh. As I live in Glasgow and play a very small part in the life of that city, your 1365 Lordships might expect me to offer Glasgow as an alternative. The transport arrangements are certainly much better. Glasgow does not have that obsession against the motorcar. It has a good motorway system. The railway lines are extremely good and come into the centre. I am quite sure that the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Mr. Pat Lally, who is very adventurous in such matters, would very quickly find a site to accommodate the assembly and all the other necessary people if that were an option.
§ This small debate will give many of your Lordships an opportunity to put an oar in for a favourite place. I expect to hear Stirling mentioned, and perhaps Falkirk, as I see the noble Lord, Lord Ewing of Kirkford, present. Perth or even Aberdeen may come from the Minister, if he is allowed to have any independent thought at all. There are a number of variations.
§ But my serious point is to ask why, after all this time, it has been decided that the Royal High School is not suitable. Why should we embark on what will be a fairly expensive operation to build a purpose-built parliament building with all the necessary offices? It will be a considerable expense. Dare I suggest that that money might be used to get the Secretary of State out of the dilemma that he is in about the Skye Bridge. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate might certainly consider that to be a better use of £30 million or £40 million—or even double that—of resources. Before the extra money is spent—and, after all, it will come out of the Scottish grant, out of the health and education services—we, the Scottish public, ought to be allowed a view on the matter. As we shall be asked in the second question about whether we want tax raising powers, we should be asked whether we want to shift the Scottish parliament from the place where for the past 20 years everyone thought it would be to a purpose built place somewhere in Edinburgh or in another part of Scotland which has not yet been determined and for which there is to be an architects' competition.
§ Finally, even if the building is inadequate, would it not be better to start the process, if it starts, and then allow the parliament and its government to decide where it will be set up? If the Government are serious about wanting these decisions to be taken in Scotland, would it not be a good start to allow the Scottish parliament to decide for itself whether the buildings are adequate and where it ought to be set up? I believe that the big brother attitude which the Secretary of State for Scotland is exhibiting is out of kilter with his normal views. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, is urging me to complete my contribution and I shall do so. I beg to move.
§ 7 p.m.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
My Lords, either I am going soft in the head or the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, is improving enormously as the debate comes to a close. The amendment is nonsense, but what he says about the Royal High 1366 School is good sense. The people of Scotland have expected the parliament to be sited there and I believe that the Government must give serious consideration before they upset that idea. I do not know why they have announced that they are considering an alternative, but no doubt the Minister will tell us.
The Earl of Balfour
My Lords, I am concerned about the amendment. First, if Scotland is to have its own new purpose built parliament where will the money come from? In that respect, I was relieved when the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, moved Amendment No. 33 because I understood that the setting up of the parliament would be paid for out of Exchequer grants from Westminster rather than out of the Scottish grant. That gave me some comfort, but I was a little concerned when my noble friend Lord Mackay said that he believes that anything to do with the parliament will come out of the Scottish grant.
My concern is that any new building should be traditional and not, for example, like the St. James' Centre in Edinburgh. I have always believed that that is not in keeping with George Street, Princes Street or Queen Street and that when it comes to local authority planning there are double standards. That upsets me a great deal.
I believe that wherever the parliament is established it must have suitable parking facilities. As a Member of your Lordships' House for some years, it has been my experience that we do not keep normal hours and I would not necessarily want to keep any other hours. Any Member, from a Minister to a Back-Bencher such as myself, who is involved in a Bill needs a fair amount of the morning to carry out research. Therefore, parliament cannot sit at ordinary times and many people will need to use their cars when attending the parliament in Scotland. Unlike London, Edinburgh does not have a first-class public service. Although I do not know Glasgow too well, I do not believe that the service can be as good as it is in London.
Finally, if the Government are planning a new purpose built parliament, will they consider establishing it in Perth? Perth really is at the centre of Scotland. There is almost nowhere, from Dumfries to Wick, that cannot be reached in about two hours by motorcar. That is one of the great advantages of Perth. I realise that civil servants involved in the parliament would have to travel from Edinburgh, which would be their base, but I believe that the suggestion is worth making at this stage. I ask the Government to take it on board. I will not say that the amendment is the kind that I would support in a Division, but it has raised important points.
§ Lord Lyell
My Lords, I have been in the centre of Edinburgh only twice during the past 13 months, but I find St. Andrew's House akin to the maze at Hampton Court when one is attempting to find one's way around let alone to the Royal High School. Will there be parking for the future MSPs?
1367 Will the Minister confirm that Perth was the capital of Scotland until 1437 when the King was murdered? The court moved to Edinburgh to escape the warring clans, such as those of my noble neighbour Lord Mackie and myself. Indeed, one had to cross not one but two rivers, the Tay and the Forth. That is why the entire court and the administration of Scotland moved to Edinburgh in the 15th century. I believe that now is the time to reverse that.
§ The Earl of Perth
My Lords, I feel that I must take part in the debate since I have the honour to bear the name Perth. It is right that until the middle of the 15th century St. Johnstone, as it was in those days, and Edinburgh vied as the capital. Sometimes the court was at one place and sometimes it was at the other. I can promise the Government that if they considered Perth seriously I know that it can provide just the site at the Horse Cross. It is an admirable place near the Perth museum, which is perhaps appropriate. I do not wish to pursue the matter further, except to say that the parliament would be most welcome.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, we learn something new every day. Finally, we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, that he is so committed to the devolution project that for the past several decades he has refrained from passing through the picket line outside the Royal High School. That is good news.
I liked the argument about Perth. Of course, if one is looking around Scotland, no city can offer as much delight and delectation to Scottish parliamentarians as can Perth. I am interested in the argument that it should be the site of the new parliament because it is in the centre of Scotland. On the same argument, I take it that we shall shortly be moving to Meriden, which is the centre of England. I do not think we can decide this matter on the basis of geographical centrality, however attractive that may be.
There was criticism of why we had just announced the proposal to review the location of the parliament. We were asked if we had just woken up to the problem, as it were. The answer is simple. The government who were in office until 1st May and who had been in office for the previous 18 years had not been particularly concerned to establish whether the Royal High School was a suitable location for a Scottish parliament. They had a slightly different view of what should happen to Scotland in constitutional terms. Some 20 years ago the Royal High School was considered to be suitable but times move on. There have been changes and the condition of the building has significantly changed. I must make it absolutely clear that at this stage we are not ruling out the Royal High School. However, we believe we should take a broader view and take into account a broader range of options before reaching a decision to ensure that a new parliament for Scotland can be housed and can operate from a suitable building that is appropriate for a modern, 1368 functioning, working parliament. That is the point. It would be premature to cut short such consideration by determining the matter in a rather inadequate manner by means of the two questions that the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, offers in his amendment.
I make one serious point—not that the others have not been serious—in the context of the Royal High School. We all know that the nature of public life has changed significantly over the past two decades, and not always for the best. An issue which now has a higher profile than formerly is that of security. Those who know the location of the Royal High School will recognise that it poses significant problems for security. It may be possible to overcome those problems. As I say, we have not ruled out the site. We want to consider the whole range of options. Twenty years ago I do not think that we would have had in the forefront of our minds the need to protect the security of those who perform their day-to-day business on the site of the parliament and the fact that a wide-ranging group of people might visit it from time to time. For those reasons I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
The Earl of Balfour
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he bear in mind the problem of parking? Many of us, if we were members of the parliament, would still need to travel to Edinburgh by car.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, the noble Earl makes a fair point. The problem of parking will clearly be borne in mind.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I am grateful to those noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, who I believe described the amendment as daft—I am not sure whether that was the word he used, but it is a fair précis of it—but said that the argument had some merit. I am grateful to him for saying that because it was to get the argument on the record that I tabled the amendment in the form I did.
The Minister rather puzzled me when he suggested that this Parliament might move to Meriden because that is the centre of England. I wonder whether the Government have some further plans to turn this Parliament into the parliament of England. Perhaps the West Lothian question is a little deeper than even I thought it was.
I take the point about security and the former Royal High School. As regards the measures that I assume will be discussed on Thursday. I am not certain that the Scottish parliament will debate the kind of issues which result in security being as big a problem as it is for this Parliament. However, I appreciate that there may be a security problem. I could mischievously say that if all these difficulties exist there is a perfectly good parliament for Scotland here on the banks of the Thames as part and parcel 1369 of the United Kingdom. That is a fair point but it is not original. I noted that someone made that point in the letters page of one of the Scottish newspapers.
However, the authorities here have managed to adapt a 100 year-old building imaginatively and well to the needs and the work of a modern parliament. That has been achieved with the addition of buildings outside Parliament which are used as Members' offices. I suggest to the Minister—this is meant to be constructive—that a discussion with those who have adapted this building may be useful in terms of developing ideas about the location of the Scottish parliament. I notice that the Minister completely ignored the question of Old St. Andrew's House. However, if I were in his shoes, I might not want to send a message to my officials that I was about to turf them out of their rather nice offices and move them to rather poorer, modern offices. As the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, said, this is a serious issue. I hope that the Government will consider it in much greater detail than they have to date. Above all, I hope they will consider the point I made that perhaps we should leave this decision to the people who will sit in the new parliament, if that comes about.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, is the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, returning to his former area of specialism; namely, homelessness?
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I do not wish the parliament to be homeless. Indeed it need not be homeless. It has a home if it comes about; namely, the one that was earmarked 20 years ago. I do not wish to continue with this debate. It has been interesting and I hope that the Government have taken on board some of the constructive points made. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule 2 [Referendum in Wales: Form of ballot paper]:
§ [Amendments Nos. 45 to 47 not moved.]
§ [Amendment No. 48 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]
§ [Amendment No. 49 not moved.]
§ 7.15 p.m.
Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 50:
After Schedule 2, insert the following new schedule—
§ CONDUCT OF THE REFERENDUMS, &c.
§ 1. The provisions of this Schedule shall have effect in relation to the referendums under sections 1 and 2.
§ 2.—(1) In calculating any period of time for the purposes of any provision of, or applied by, this Act, the following days shall be disregarded.
§ (2) In relation to the referendum in Scotland, the days are—
- (a) a Saturday or Sunday, and
- (b)a day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 in Scotland.
§ (3) In relation to the referendum in Wales, the days are—
- (a)a Saturday or Sunday, and
- (b)a day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 in England and Wales.
§ 3.—(1) The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (Scotland) Regulations 1984 shall have effect in relation to the display on any site in Scotland of an advertisement relating specifically to the referendum under section 1 of this Act as they have effect in relation to the display of an advertisement relating specifically to a Parliamentary election.
§ (2) The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992 shall have effect in relation to the display on any site in Wales of an advertisement relating specifically to the referendum under section 2 of this Act as they have effect in relation to the display of an advertisement relating specifically to a Parliamentary election.
§ Premises used for election purposes
§ 4.—(1) In relation to premises in Scotland, section 98 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (premises not affected for rates) shall have effect as if the reference to public meetings in furtherance of a person's candidature at an election included a reference to public meetings promoting a particular result in the referendum under section 1 of this Act.
- (a) the reference to public meetings in furtherance of a person's candidature at an election included a reference to public meetings promoting a particular result in the referendum under section 2 of this Act, and
- (b)the reference to use by a returning officer for the purpose of taking the poll in an election included a reference to use by a person exercising functions of a returning officer in accordance with paragraph 5(1)(b) of this Schedule for the purposes of taking the poll in the referendum under section 2 of this Act.
§ Returning officers and counting officers
§ 5.—(l) Functions conferred by this Schedule on the returning officer shall be exercised—
- (a)in each local government area in Scotland, by the person who, under section 41 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (local government elections in Scotland) is, or may discharge the functions of, the returning officer at an election of councillors for that area,
- (b) in each county or county borough in Wales, by the person who is for the time being appointed to act as returning officer for that county or county borough under section 35(1A)(a) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (local government elections in Wales).
§ (2) A returning officer may, in writing, appoint one or more persons to discharge all or any of his functions.
§ 6.—(l) In Scotland, the council of a local government area shall place the services of its officers at the disposal of any person who is acting as returning officer or counting officer in relation to that area.
§ (2) In Wales, the council for any county or county borough shall place the services of its officers at the disposal of any person who is acting as returning officer or counting officer in relation to that county or county borough.1371
§ 7. A counting officer may, in writing. appoint one or more persons to discharge all or any of his functions.
§ 8.—(1) Order 45, rule 1 of the County Court Rules 1981 (application for taxation of returning officer's account under section 30 of the Representation of the People Act 1983) shall have effect in relation to applications made under section 30 of that Act as applied by paragraph 13(2) below.
§ (2) For the purpose of sub-paragraph (1). a reference in Order 45, rule 1 to a returning officer shall he construed as a reference to a returning officer, a counting officer or a Chief Counting Officer.
§ Hours of polling
§ 9. The hours of polling shall be between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
§ The ballot papers
§ 10.—(1) The back of the ballot papers shall be in the form set out in the Appendix.
§ (2) A ballot paper—
- (a) shall be capable of being folded up,
- (b) shall have a number printed on the back, and
- (c) shall have attached a counterfoil with the same number printed on it.
§ (3) For the referendum in Scotland, the two forms of ballot paper shall he of different colours.
§ Counting of votes, &c.
§ 11.—(1) A counting officer shall, in accordance with any directions given by his Chief Counting Officer, appoint persons to observe the counting of the votes and the verification of the ballot paper accounts.
§ (2) No person may attend the counting of votes for any voting area unless he is—
- (a) the counting officer for that area or a person appointed by him under rule 26 of the Parliamentary Elections Rules as applied by paragraph 13 below,
- (b) a Chief Counting Officer,
- (c) the Member of Parliament for a constituency wholly or partly within that area,
- (d) an observer appointed by the counting officer for that area under sub-paragraph (1), or
- (e) permitted by the counting officer for that area to attend the count.
§ (3) A counting officer shall give observers such reasonable facilities for observing the proceedings, and all such information with respect to them, as he can give them consistently with the orderly conduct of the proceedings and the discharge of his duties in connection with them.
§ (4) Before a counting officer makes a certification under section 1(6)(b) or 2(6)(b), or makes any public announcement as to the result of the count, he shall consult his Chief Counting Officer who may direct him to recount—
- (a) the ballot papers, or
- (b) in the case of the referendum in Scotland, either or both of the forms of ballot paper.
§ (5) In this paragraph "voting area" means a local government area in Scotland or a county or county borough in Wales.
§ 12. A counting officer shall, as soon as possible after his Chief Counting Officer has made the certification required by section 1(7) or 2(7), forward to the Secretary of State—
- (a) the packets of ballot papers in his possession,
- (b) the ballot paper accounts and the statements of rejected ballot papers and of the result of the verification of the ballot paper accounts,
- (c) the tendered votes lists, the lists of blind voters assisted by companions, the lists of votes marked by the presiding officer and the related statements, and the declarations made by the companions of blind voters,
- (d) the packets of counterfoils and certificates as to employment on duty on the day of the poll,
- (e) the packets containing marked copies of registers and of lists of proxies,
§ endorsing on each packet a description of its contents and the name of the area for which the counting officer was appointed.
§ Application of enactments
§ 13.—(1) The provisions set out in column (1) of Tables I to 4 below shall have effect in relation to the referendum in Scotland.
§ (2) The provisions set out in column (1) of Tables 1 to 3 and 5 below shall have effect in relation to the referendum in Wales.
§ (3) In their application for the purposes of a referendum, the provisions set out in column (1) of the Tables below shall have effect with the modifications shown in column (2) and any other necessary modifications; in particular, except where the context otherwise requires—
- (a) a reference to an election shall he construed as a reference to a referendum,
- (b) a reference to a constituency shall he construed as a reference to a local government area in Scotland or a county or county borough in Wales,
- (c) a reference to voting for, or a vote for, a candidate shall be construed as a reference to voting for, or a vote for, a proposition,
- (d) a reference to promoting or procuring the election of a candidate, or furthering a person's candidature, shall be construed as a reference to promoting or procuring a particular result in a referendum,
- (e)a reference to the return of a person shall be construed as a reference to a particular result of a referendum,
- (f) a reference to a person voting as an elector shall be construed as a reference to a person voting on his own behalf,
- (g) a reference to a person's entitlement as an elector to an absent vote shall be construed as a reference to a person's entitlement to vote by post on his own behalf or to vote by proxy,
- (h) where anything is required to be done in the presence of election, polling, counting or other agents, the reference to the presence of agents shall be ignored,
- (i) a reference to anything being prescribed shall be construed as a reference to its being provided for by a provision of subordinate legislation applied by this Schedule, and
- (j) a form which is required to be used may be used with such variations as the circumstances may require, and
- (k) a reference to the registration officer is a reference to the relevant registration officer appointed under section 8 of the Representation of the People Act 1983; and for the purpose of the exercise of a registration officer's functions in relation to a referendum, sections 52(1) to (4) (discharge of registration duties) and 54(1), (3) and (4) (payment of expenses of registration) of the 1983 Act shall have effect.
|REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT 1983|
|Section 18 (polling districts and polling places)||For subsections (1) to (8) substitute—|
|"(1) Every voting area shall be divided into the same polling districts, each with the same polling place, as have effect for the purposes of local government elections.|
|(2) Subsection (1) shall have effect subject to any direction of a returning officer changing polling districts or places where he considers it necessary to do so by reason of special circumstances.|
|(3) In this section "voting area" means a local government area in Scotland or a county or county borough in Wales.".|
|Section 23(1) and (2) (election rules, and returning officer's general duty)|
|Section 29(3) to (4A) and (5) to (9) (payments by and to returning officer)||A reference to a returning officer is to be construed as a reference to a returning officer, a counting officer or a Chief Counting Officer.|
|Section 30(1) to (3) (taxation of returning officer's account)||A reference to a returning officer shall be construed as a reference to a returning officer, a counting officer or a Chief Counting Officer.|
|Section 47(1) (loan of equipment for local elections)||Omit the words "at a local government election".|
|Section 49(2), (4) and (5) (effect of registers)||In subsection (5)—|
|(a) omit "a parliamentary or", and|
|(b) omit "prevent the rejection of the vote on a scrutiny or".|
|Section 50(b) and (c) (effect of misdescription)|
|Section 52 (discharge of registration duties)|
|Section 60 (personation)|
|Section 61 (other voting offences)||For subsections (2) to (4) substitute—|
|"(2) A person shall be guilty of an offence if—|
|(a) he votes otherwise than by proxy—|
|(i) more than once in the same voting area,|
|(ii) in more than one voting area, or|
|(iii) in any voting area when there is in force an appointment of a person to|
|vote as his proxy in the referendum in another voting area, or|
|(b) he votes on his own behalf in person and is entitled to vote by post, or|
|(c) he votes on his own behalf in person knowing that a person appointed to vote as his proxy has already voted in person or is entitled to vote by post, or|
|(d) he applies for a person to be appointed as his proxy to vote for him without applying for the cancellation of a previous appointment of a third person then in force or without withdrawing a pending application for such an appointment.|
|(3) A person shall be guilty of an offence if—|
|(a) he votes as proxy for the same person either—|
|(i) more than once in the same voting area, or|
|(ii) in more than one voting area, or|
|(b) he votes in person as proxy for a person and is entitled to vote by post as proxy for that person, or|
|(c) he votes in person as proxy for someone whom he knows already to have voted in person.|
|(4) A person shall also be guilty of an offence if he votes as proxy in any electoral area for more than two persons of whom he is not the husband, wife, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild.|
|(4A) In this section "voting area" means a local government area in Scotland or a county or county borough in Wales.|
|(4B) In this section a reference to voting more than once is, in relation to the referendum in Scotland, a reference to voting more than once with either or both of the two forms of ballot paper.".|
|Section 63 (breach of official duty)||The reference in subsection (3)(b) to a returning officer shall be construed as a reference to a returning officer, a counting officer or a Chief Counting Officer.|
|Section 65 (tampering with papers)||The reference in subsection (3) to a returning officer shall be construed as a reference to a returning officer, a counting officer or a Chief Counting Officer.|
|Section 66 (requirement of secrecy)||For subsection (l)(b) substitute—|
|"(b) every Member of Parliament and councillor so attending".|
|Section 92 (broadcasting from outside the United Kingdom).|
|Section 94(1) (imitation poll cards)|
|Section 95 (schools and rooms for meetings)||For subsection (1) substitute— "(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, any person is entitled, for the purpose of holding a public meeting to promote a particular result in a referendum, to use free of charge at reasonable times during the campaign period any meeting room to which this section applies.|
|(1A) In subsection (1) "the campaign period" means the period of 17 days ending with the day before the date of the referendum.".|
|Omit subsection (2).|
|In subsection (3), omit "situated in the constituency".|
|In subsection (4), omit "or on whose behalf.|
|In subsection (5), for "candidate" substitute "person".|
|Section 97 (disturbances at election meetings)||For subsection (2) substitute— "(2) This section applies to a meeting in connection with a referendum held during the campaign period.|
|(2A) In subsection (2) "the campaign period" means the period of 17 days ending with the day before the date of the referendum.".|
|Section 100(1) and (2) (illegal canvassing by police officers)||In subsection (1), for the words from "from giving his vote" to the end substitute "from giving his vote, in a referendum, in a local government area wholly or partly within the police area".|
|Sections 101 to 104 (conveyance of voters)|
|Section 105(1) and (3) (access to polling place by sea)||The reference in subsection (1) to a county constituency shall be construed as a reference to a local government area in Scotland or a county or county borough in Wales.|
|Section 109 (payments for exhibition of election notices)|
|Section 110 (printer's name and address on election publications)||For subsection (3) substitute— "(3) A person acting in contravention of this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.".|
|Section 111 (prohibition of paid canvassers)|
|Section 112(a) and (c) (providing money for illegal purposes)|
|Sections 113 to 115 (bribery, treating and undue influence)|
|Section 116(a) (rights of creditors)|
|Section 117(2) (granting employees right of absence to vote)|
|In section 118 (interpretation of Part 11), the definitions of "money", "pecuniary reward" and "payment".|
|Section 160(4), (5) and (7) (persons guilty of corrupt or illegal practices)||This section has effect only for the purposes of the application of section 173; and a reference in subsection (4) or (5) to an election is not affected by paragraph 13(3)(a) of this Schedule.|
|Sections 168 to 170 (prosecutions for corrupt and illegal practices)|
|Sections 174 to 176|
|Section 178 (prosecution of offences committed outside the United Kingdom)|
|Section 179 (offences by associations)|
|Section 181(1) (Director of Public Prosecutions)|
|Section 184 (service of notices)|
|In section 185 (interpretation of Part III), the definitions of "judicial office", "money" and "pecuniary reward", "payment", and "public office".|
|Section 200(1) and (2) (public notices, and declarations)|
|In section 202 (interpretation), the definitions in subsection (1) of "the absent voters' list", "citizen of the Union" and "relevant citizen of the Union", "elector", "legal incapacity", "the list of|
|proxies", "parliamentary elections rules", "person", and "voter"; and subsection (2).|
|Section 203(1) (local government provisions as to England and Wales)|
|Section 204(1), (3) and (5) (general application to Scotland)|
|Schedule 5 (use of schools and meeting rooms)||Omit paragraphs 1 and 2. For "candidate" and "candidates" substitute "person" and "persons".|
|PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS RULES (SCHEDULE 1 TO THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT 1983)|
|Rule 20 (ballot papers: official mark)||For paragraph (2) substitute— "(2) The official mark shall be kept secret.".|
|Rule 21 (disclosure of vote)||Omit "to question the election or return".|
|Rule 22(1) and (2) (use of schools and public rooms)|
|Rule 23(1) (notice of poll)||For "in the statement of persons nominated include" substitute "publish, not later than the tenth day before the date of the referendum,".|
|Rule 24 (postal ballot papers)||Omit "and in no event later than any date which may be prescribed as the last date for the purpose".|
|Rule 25 (provision of polling stations)|
|Rule 26 (appointment of presiding officers and clerks)||For the words from "but he shall not appoint" to the end substitute "and the counting officer shall appoint and pay such persons as may be necessary for the purpose of the counting of the votes".|
|Rule 28(1) to (3) (issue of official poll cards)|
|Rule 29 (equipment of polling stations)||For the notice referred to in paragraph (4) substitute the notice in the Appendix to this Schedule.|
|For paragraph (5) substitute— "(5) In every compartment of every polling station a notice shall be exhibited.|
|(5A) In Scotland, the notice shall be in the following form:|
|'Read the ballot papers carefully. On each ballot paper, mark a cross (X) in the box to the right of the proposition you are voting for. Put no other|
|mark on the ballot papers or your vote may not be counted.'.|
|(5B) In Wales, the notice shall be in the following form:|
|'Mark one box only. Put no other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.|
|Marciwch un blwch yn unig. Peidiwch â rhoi unrhyw fare arall ar y papur pleidleisio neu fe all na chaiff eich pleidlais ei chyfrif.'.|
|Rule 31 (notification of requirement of secrecy)||The duty under paragraph (b) shall be the duty not of the returning officer but of the counting officer.|
|Rule 32(1), (3) and (4) (admission to polling station)||In paragraph (1), for sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) substitute—|
|"(a) the Member of Parliament for the constituency within which the polling station is situated;|
|(b) a member of the council for—|
|(i) in Scotland, the local government area, or|
|(ii) in Wales, the county or county borough, within which the polling station is situated;".|
|Rule 33 (keeping order in station)|
|Rule 34 (sealing of ballot boxes)|
|Rule 35 (questions to be put to voters)||For paragraphs (1) and (2) substitute—|
|"(1) The presiding officer may put to any person applying for a ballot paper at the time of his application, but not afterwards, one or both of the relevant questions.|
|(2) In the case of a person applying to vote on his own behalf, the relevant questions are—|
|(a) 'Are you the person registered in the register of local government electors [for this local government area] [for this county] [for this county borough] as follows?' (read the whole entry from the register.)|
|(b) 'Have you already voted, here or elsewhere, in this referendum, otherwise than as a proxy for some other person?'".|
|(2A) In the case of a person applying as proxy, the relevant questions are—|
|(a) 'Are you the person whose name appears as A.B. in [the list of proxies for this referendum] as entitled to vote as proxy on behalf of CD.?'|
|(b) 'Have you already voted here or elsewhere in this referendum as proxy on behalf of CD.?'|
|(2B) In the case of a person applying as proxy, the presiding officer may|
|put the following additional question—|
|'Are you the husband [wife], parent, grandparent, brother [sister], child or grandchild of CD.?'|
|and if that question is not answered in the affirmative the following question—|
|'Have you already voted in this referendum on behalf of two persons of whom you are not the husband [wife], parent, grandparent, brother [sister], child or grandchild?'".|
|In the case of the referendum in Wales, article 5 of, and Forms 1 to 3 in Schedule 2 to, the Representation of the People (Welsh Forms) Order 1989 (which prescribe Welsh versions of questions) shall have effect in relation to rule 35 as applied in this Table, with the following modifications—|
|(a) in Form 1—|
|(i) for "seneddol" substitute "llywodraeth leol",|
|(ii) for "yr etholiad hwn" substitute "[y sir hon] [y fwrdreistref hon]", and|
|(iii) for "yr is-etholiad [etholiad cyffredinol] hwn" substitute "y refferendwm hwn",|
|(b) in Form 2, for "yr etholiad hwn" and "yr is-etholiad [etholiad cyffredinol] hwn" substitute "y refferendwm hwn", and|
|(c) in Form 3—|
|(i) for "yr etholiad hwn" substitute "y refferendwm hwn", and|
|(ii) omit "ac yn yr etholaeth hon".|
|Rule 36 (challenge of voter)||For "a candidate or his election or polling agent" substitute "a Member of Parliament or a member of the council for a local government area in Scotland or a county or county borough in Wales".|
|Rule 37 (voting procedure)||In the case of the referendum in Scotland, a person may apply under this rule for either or both of the two forms of ballot paper.|
|Rule 38 (votes marked by presiding officer)|
|Rule 39 (voting by blind persons)|
|Rule 40 (tendered ballot papers)|
|Rule 41 (spoilt ballot papers)|
|Rule 42 (adjournment of poll in case of riot)||After "returning officer'' insert "and the counting officer".|
|Rule 43 (procedure on close of poll)||A reference to the returning officer is to be construed as a reference to the counting officer.|
|Rule 45 (the count)||A reference to the returning officer is, except in paragraph (2), to be construed as a reference to the counting officer.|
|A reference to counting agents or election agents is to be construed as a reference to observers.|
|In paragraph (5), for "election agent" substitute "observer present at the verification".|
|In paragraph (6), for "in so far as he and the agents agree" substitute ", if his Chief Counting Officer approves,"; and omit from "For the purposes of this exception" to the end.|
|For paragraph (1) substitute—|
|"(7) During the excluded time the counting officer shall take proper precautions for the security of the ballot papers and documents".|
|Rule 47 (rejected ballot papers)||A reference to the returning officer is to be construed as a reference to the counting officer.|
|In paragraph (3), omit from "and shall add to the endorsement" to the end.|
|Rule 54 (sealing up of ballot papers)||A reference to the returning officer is to be construed as a reference to the counting officer.|
|The Appendix of Forms: form of declaration to be made by the companion of a blind voter||For "election now being held in this constituency"—|
|(a) in the case of the referendum in Scotland substitute "referendum now being held in Scotland under section 1(1) of the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Act 1997". and|
|(b) in the case of the referendum in Wales substitute "referendum now being held in Wales under section 2(1) of the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Act 1997".|
|For "said election" in each place substitute "said referendum".|
|In the case of the referendum in Wales, article 5 of, and Form 6 in Schedule 2 to, the Representation of the People (Welsh Forms) Order 1989 (which prescribe a Welsh version of the form of declaration to be made by the companion of a blind voter) shall have effect in relation to the form in the Appendix as applied in this Table, with the following modifications—|
|(a) for "yr etholiad a gynhelir yn awr yn yr etholaeth hon" substitute "y refferendwm yng Nghymru a gynhelir yn awr o dan adran 2(1) Dedff Refferenda (Yr Alban a Chymru) 1997", and|
|(b) for the second and third "yr etholiad" substitute "y refferendwm".|
|THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT 1985|
|In the application of any provision of the 1985 Act to a referendum, a reference to prescribed requirements is to be construed as a reference to the requirements of the provisions of—|
|(a) in the case of the referendum in Scotland, the Representation of the People (Scotland) Regulations 1986, and|
|(b) in the case of the referendum in Wales, the Representation of the People Regulations 1986, as applied by Tables 4 and 5.|
|Section 5 (manner of voting)||In subsection (1), for "at a parliamentary or local government election" substitute "in a referendum".|
|For subsection (6) substitute—|
|"(6) For the purposes of the provisions of this Act and the Representation of the People Act 1983, a person entitled to vote in the referendum on his own behalf is entitled to vote by post or by proxy if he is shown in the absent voters list for the referendum.".|
|In subsection (7), for the definition of "appropriate rules" substitute— '"appropriate rules' means the parliamentary elections rules as they have effect for the purposes of a referendum.".|
|Section 7 (absent vote at a particular election and absent voters list)||In subsection (1)—|
|(a) for "at a particular parliamentary or local government election" substitute "in a referendum", and|
|(b) for paragraph (b) substitute—|
|"(b) he is satisfied that the applicant will be entitled to vote in the referendum,".|
|In subsection (2)—|
|(a) for "elections of the kind in question", in each place, substitute "local government elections", and|
|(b) for "in respect of a particular parliamentary or local government election" substitute "in respect of a referendum".|
|In subsection (4)—|
|(a) for "in respect of each parliamentary or local government election" substitute "in respect of a referendum",|
|(b) for paragraph (a)(ii) substitute—|
|"(ii) those who are shown in the record kept under section 6 of this Act as voting by post at local government elections, together with the addresses provided by them in their applications under that section or, as the case may be, subsection (2) above as the addresses to which their ballot papers are to be sent,", and|
|(c) for paragraph (b) substitute—|
|"(b) a list ("the list of proxies") of those whose applications under this section to vote by proxy in the referendum have been granted or who are shown in the record kept under section 6 of this Act as voting by proxy at local government elections, together with the names and addresses of those appointed as their proxies.".|
|Section 8 (proxies)||In subsection (1), for "at any parliamentary or local government election" substitute "in a referendum".|
|For subsection (2) substitute—|
|"(2) The elector cannot have more than one person at a time appointed as proxy to vote for him in the referendum.".|
|Omit subsection (3).|
|In subsection (3A)—|
|(a) for "at a local government election" substitute "in a referendum", and|
|(b) for "at that election as an elector" substitute "in the referendum on his own behalf.|
|Subsection (6) shall not have effect to permit applications in relation to referendums; but an appointment made under subsection (6) which has effect in relation to local government elections shall have effect in relation to a referendum.|
|For subsection (7) substitute—|
|"(7) Where the elector applies to the registration officer for the appointment of a proxy to vote for him in a referendum the registration officer shall make the appointment if the application meets the prescribed requirements and he is satisfied that the elector is or will be—|
|(a) entitled to vote in the referendum, and|
|(b) entitled to vote by proxy in the referendum by virtue of an application under section 7 of this Act,|
|and that the proxy is capable of being and willing to be appointed.".|
|For subsections (9) and (10) substitute—|
|"(9) The appointment shall remain in force for the referendum, unless cancelled by notice from the elector to the registration officer.".|
|Section 9 (voting as proxy)||In subsections (1), (3) and (9), for "parliamentary or local government election" substitute "referendum".|
|Subsections (4) to (6) shall not have effect to permit applications in relation to referendums; but the record kept under subsection (6) shall have effect for the purposes of the application to the referendums of subsection (9).|
|In subsections (8) and (9), for "elections of the kind in question" substitute "local government elections".|
|In subsection (10), for "is or will be registered in the register of parliamentary electors, local government electors, or both (as the case may be)" substitute "will be entitled to vote in the referendum".|
|Section 12(3) and (4) (offences)|
|THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE (SCOTLAND) REGULATIONS 1986|
|In regulation 4(1) (interpretation), the definitions of "available for inspection", "electoral area",|
|"local authority", "local government area", "postal proxy", "register", "registration area" and "registration officer".|
|Regulation 5(1)(b) and (2) (forms)|
|Regulation 6(1) and (2) (sending of applications, notices, &c.)|
|Regulation 8 (misnomers) Regulation 10 (official poll card)|
|Regulation 12 (interference with notices, &c.)|
|Regulation 61 (absent voters: general requirements for applications)|
|Regulation 64 (applications in respect of a particular election)|
|Regulation 65 (additional requirements for applications for appointments of proxy)|
|Regulation 66 (additional requirements for application by proxies to vote by post at a particular election)|
|Regulation 67(1) to (5) (closing dates for applications)|
|Regulation 68 (grant or refusal of applications)||The reference to Form C shall be construed as a reference to the form of proxy paper in the Appendix to this Schedule.|
|Regulation 70 (cancellation of proxy appointment)|
|Regulation 72 (records and lists)|
|Regulation 73 (marked register for polling stations)|
|Regulation 74 (certificate of employment at an election)|
|Regulation 75 (interpretation of Part V)|
|Regulation 77 (form of declaration of identity)||Omit the words after "Form G".|
|Regulation 78(1)(a) (persons entitled to be present at issue and receipt of postal ballot papers)|
|Regulation 79 (notification of requirement of secrecy)|
|Regulation 81(1) and (2) (marking of postal ballot papers)|
|Regulation 82 (refusal to issue postal ballot paper)||For the words from "more than one ballot paper" to the end substitute "more than one of each form of ballot paper in respect of that elector".|
|Regulation 83(1) and (2) (envelopes)|
|Regulation 84 (delivery of postal ballot papers to post office)|
|Regulation 85 (provision of postal voters' ballot box)||For paragraph (2) substitute— "(2) Every ballot box shall, while empty, be locked by the returning officer and sealed with his seal in such manner as to prevent its being opened without breaking the seal.".|
|Regulation 86 (sealing up of special lists and counterfoils)|
|Regulation 87 (spoilt postal ballot papers)||In paragraph (1)—|
|(a) for "his postal paper" substitute "a postal ballot paper", and|
|(b) for "the spoilt postal ballot paper" substitute "both forms of ballot paper".|
|Omit paragraph (2).|
|In paragraph (3)—|
|(a) for "another postal ballot paper or, as the case may be, ballot papers" substitute "replacement ballot papers", and|
|(b) for "another ballot paper (or ballot papers)" substitute "replacement ballot papers".|
|In paragraph (5), for the words "The spoilt postal ballot paper, and any other postal ballot paper issued with it under regulation 76 above," substitute "The returned postal ballot papers".|
|Regulation 88 (receipt of covering envelope)|
|Regulation 89(1) and (2) and (4) to (7) (opening of postal voters' ballot box)||In paragraph (4) for the words from "and every such ballot box" to the end substitute "; and every ballot box shall, while empty, be locked by the returning officer and sealed with his seal in such manner as to prevent its being opened without breaking the seal.".|
|Regulation 90 (opening of covering envelopes)|
|Regulation 91 (sealing up of rejected votes and declarations of identity)|
|Regulation 92 (opening of ballot paper envelopes)|
|Regulation 94 (forwarding of documents)||For paragraph (1) substitute— "(1) The returning officer shall, as soon as possible after the Chief Counting Officer for|
|Scotland has made the certification required by section 1(7) of the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Act 1997, forward to the Secretary of State—|
|(a) any packets referred to in regulations 86, 87, 91 and 92, endorsing on each packet a description of its contents and the name of the local government area for which the returning officer acts, and|
|(b) a statement of the number of postal ballot papers issued by him in such form, and giving such details about the papers, as the Secretary of State may require.".|
|Omit paragraphs (3) and (4).|
|In Schedule 2 (forms), Form D (elector's official poll card)||On the front of the card, for the heading|
|"REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACTS" substitute "REFERENDUM".|
|On the back of the card—|
|(a) for the heading substitute "REFERENDUM",|
|(b) for "Constituency" substitute "Local government area",|
|(c) in paragraph 2, for "a ballot paper" substitute "one of each of two forms of ballot paper (unless you ask for only one)",|
|(d) in paragraph 2, for "on it" substitute "on each form of ballot paper",|
|(e) for paragraphs 3 to 5 substitute—|
|"3. Take the ballot papers to one of the voting compartments and read them carefully.|
|4. On each ballot paper mark a cross (X) in the box to the right of the proposition you are voting for. Put no other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.|
|5. Fold each ballot paper in two. Show the official mark to the presiding officer, but do not let anyone see your vote. Put the ballot papers in the ballot box and leave the polling station.".|
|In Schedule 2 (forms), Form E (proxy's official poll card)||On the back of the card, for "elector's ballot paper" substitute "elector's ballot papers".|
|In Schedule 2 (forms), Form F (certificate of employment)||For the heading "ELECTION IN THE CONSTITUENCY" substitute "REFERENDUM LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA".|
|For "constituency named above" and "above constituency" substitute "local government area named above".|
|For "election" in each place substitute "referendum".|
|In Schedule 2 (forms), Form G (declaration of identity)||On the front of the form, for the heading|
|"REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACTS" substitute "REFERENDUM".|
|For "Ballot Paper No." substitute "Ballot Paper Nos.".|
|For "the ballot paper numbered as above was sent" substitute "the ballot papers numbered above were sent".|
|On the back of the form—|
|(a) for paragraphs 2 and 3 substitute—|
|"2. Read the ballot papers carefully.|
|3. On each ballot paper mark a cross (X) in the box to the right of the proposition you are voting for. Put no other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.",|
|(b) in paragraph 4, for "ballot paper" in each place substitute "ballot papers",|
|(c) for paragraph 5 substitute—|
|"5. If you receive more than one of either form of ballot paper, remember that it is illegal to vote more than once (otherwise than as proxy) with the same form of ballot paper.",|
|(d) in paragraph 6, for "election" substitute "referendum", and|
|(e) for paragraph 7 substitute—|
|"7. If you inadvertently spoilt either form of ballot paper, you can apply to the returning officer for another one. To do this you MUST RETURN ALL OF THE POSTAL BALLOT PAPERS YOU HAVE RECEIVED, including the spoilt ballot paper. In addition, in your application for fresh postal ballot papers you MUST RETURN, in your own envelope, the declaration of identity and the envelopes marked 'A' and 'B'. Remember that there is little time available if fresh postal ballot papers are to be issued and counted.".|
|THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE REGULATIONS 1986|
|In regulation 4(1) (interpretation), the definitions of "available for|
|inspection", "postal proxy", "register", and "registration officer".|
|Regulation 6(1)(b) (forms)|
|Regulation 7 (sending of applications, notices, &c.)|
|Regulation 9 (misnomers)|
|Regulation 11 (official poll card)||The reference to Form E is to be construed as a reference to the form of elector's official poll card in Part II of the Schedule to the Representation of the People (Welsh Forms) Order 1986 with the following modifications—|
|(a) on the front of the card, for "REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACTS" and "DEDDFAU CYNRYCHIOLAETH Y BOBL" substitute "REFERENDUM" and "REFFERENDWM",|
|(b) on the front of the card, for "Constituency" and "Etholaeth" substitute "County / County Borough" and "Sir / Bwrdeistref Sirol",|
|(c) on the back of the card, for "PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION" and "ETHOLIAD SENEDDOL" substitute "REFERENDUM" and "REFFERENDWM",|
|(d) on the back of the card, for the third paragraph in English substitute—|
|"Take the ballot paper to one of the voting compartments and read it carefully. On the ballot paper mark a cross (X) in the|
|box to the right of the proposition you are voting for. Put no other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.",|
|(e) on the back of the card, for the third paragraph in Welsh substitute—|
|"Ewch â'r papur pleidleisio i un o'r cabanau pleidleisio a darllenwch ef yn ofalus. Ar y papur pleidleisio rhowch groes (X) yn y blwch i'r dde o'r gosodiad yr ydych yn pleidleisio drosto. Peidiwch a rhoi unrhyw fare arall ar y papur pleidleisio neu fe all na chaiff eich pleidlais ei chyfrif.",|
|(f) on the back of the card, in the penultimate and final paragraphs in English and in Welsh, for "this election" and "yr etholiad hwn" substitute "the referendum" and "y refferendwm".|
|(g) on the back of the card, omit the fifth paragraph in English and in Welsh.|
|The reference to Form F is to be construed as a reference to the form of proxy's official poll card in Part II of the Schedule to the Representation of the People (Welsh Forms) Order 1986 with the following modifications—|
|(a) on the front of the card, omit "REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACTS" AND DEDDFAU CYNRYCHIOLAETH Y BOBL",|
|(b) on the front of the card, for "PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION" and "ETHOLIAD SENEDDOL" substitute "REFERENDUM" and "REFFERENDWM",|
|(c) on the front of the card, for "Etholaeth" and "Constituency" substitute "Sir / Bwrdeistref Sirol" and "County / County Borough",|
|(d) on the back of the card, in the penultimate and final paragraphs in English and in Welsh, for "this election" and "yr etholiad hwn" substitute "the referendum" and "y refferendwm".|
|Regulation 13 (interference with notices, &c.)|
|Regulation 63 (absent voters: general requirements for applications)|
|Regulation 66 (additional requirements for applications in respect of a particular election)|
|Regulation 67 (additional requirements for applications for appointment of proxy)|
|Regulation 68 (additional requirements for applications by proxies to vote by post at a particular election)|
|Regulation 69(1) to (5) (closing dates for applications)|
|Regulation 70 (grant or refusal of applications)||The reference to Form D is to be construed as a reference to the form of proxy paper in Schedule 1 to the Representation of the People (Welsh Forms) Order 1989 with the following modifications—|
|(a) under "EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS ACT 1978" and "DEDDF ETHOLIADAU SENEDD EWROP 1978" insert "REFERENDUM" and "REFFERENDWM",|
|(b) on the right hand side of the form, opposite to "Local government electoral area(s)" insert "*County / County Borough",|
|(c) on the right hand side of the form, opposite to "Rhanbarth(au) etholiadol Uywodraeth leol" insert "*Sir / Bwrdeistref Sirol",|
|(d) omit the words from "*[who qualifies as an overseas elector" to "mewn perthynas â'r etholaeth uchod]",|
|(e) after "to vote for him/her at" insert "the referendum",|
|(f) after "i bleidleisio drosto/drosti yn" insert "y refferendwm",|
|(g) omit the words from "*[the * [parliamentary] [local government]" to "[etholaeth Senedd Ewrop] uchod.",|
|(h) before "any * [parliamentary or European Parliamentary election]" insert "and",|
|(i) before "unrhyw * [etholiad seneddol neu etholiad Senedd Ewrop]" insert "ac",|
|(j) in paragraph 2 in English, for the first "a particular election" substitute "the referendum", for the second "a particular election" substitute "the referendum only", for "the election specified in the proxy paper" substitute "the referendum" and before "at any parliamentary, European Parliamentary" insert "in the referendum and",|
|(k) in paragraph 2 in Welsh, for the first "etholiad penodol" substitute "y refferendwm", for the second "etholiad penodol" substitute "y refferendwm yn unig", for "yr etholiad a nodir yn y pappur dirprwy" substitute "y refferendwm" and before "mewn unrhyw etholiad seneddol" insert "yn y refferendwm ac",|
|(1) in paragraph 4 in English, after "However, you may not vote as proxy at" insert "the referendum or at",|
|(m) in paragraph 4 in Welsh, after "Er hynny, ni chewch bleidleisio fel dirprwy yn" insert "y refferendwm neu yn",|
|(n) in paragraph 5 in English, before "a particular election", in both places, insert "the referendum or at", and|
|(o) in paragraph 5 in Welsh, before "mewn etholiad penodol", in both places, insert "yn y refferendwm neu".|
|Regulation 72 (cancellation of proxy appointment)|
|Regulation 74 (records and lists)|
|Regulation 75 (marked register for polling stations)|
|Regulation 76 (certificate of employment at an election)||The reference to Form G is to be construed as a reference to the form of certificate of employment in the Appendix to this Schedule.|
|Regulation 77 (interpretation of Part V)|
|Regulation 79 (form of declaration of identity)||For the words from "shall be" to the end substitute "shall be in the form of Form 3 in Schedule 1 to the Representation of the People (Welsh Forms) Order 1989 with the following modifications—|
|(a) on the front of the form, for the headings substitute— "REFERENDUM REFFERENDWM",|
|(b) on the back of the form, for paragraphs 2 and 3 in English substitute—|
|"2. Read the statements printed on the ballot paper carefully. Mark your vote secretly in the following way. If you agree with the statement "I AGREE THAT THERE SHOULD BE A WELSH ASSEMBLY", put a cross (X) in the box to the right of that statement. If you agree with the statement "I DO NOT AGREE THAT THERE SHOULD BE A WELSH ASSEMBLY", put a cross (X) in the box to the right of that statement. Put no other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted. If you cannot vote without assistance, the person assisting you must not disclose how you have voted.",|
|(e) on the back of the form, for paragraphs 2 and 3 in Welsh substitute—|
|"2. Darllenwch yn ofalus y datganiadau sydd wedi eu hargraffu ar y papur peidleisio. Ar y papur pleidleisio rhowch groes (X) yn y blwch i'r dde o'r gosodiad yr ydych yn pleidleisio drosto. Peidiwch â rhoi unrhyw fare arall ar y papur pleidleisio neu fe all na chaiff eich pleidlais ei chyfrif. Os na fedrweh bleidleisio heb gymorth, rhaid i'r person sy'n eich cynorthwyo beidio â datgelu sut yr ydych wedi pleidleisio.",|
|(f) on the back of the form, in paragraph 5 in English and in Welsh, for "same election" and "yr un etholiad" substitute "referendum" and "refferendwm",|
|(g) on the back of the form, in paragraph 6 in English and in Welsh, for "this election" and "yr etholiad hwn" substitute "the referendum" and "y refferendwm", and|
|(h) on the back of the form, renumber paragraphs 4 to 7 in English and in Welsh accordingly.|
|Regulation 80(1)(a) (persons entitled to be present at issue and receipt of postal ballot papers)|
|Regulation 81 (notification of requirement of secrecy)|
|Regulation 83(1) and (2) (marking of postal ballot papers)|
|Regulation 84 (refusal to issue postal ballot paper)|
|Regulation 85(1) and (2) (envelopes)|
|Regulation 86 (delivery of postal ballot papers to post office)|
|Regulation 87 (provision of postal voters' ballot box)||For paragraph (2) substitute— "(2) Every ballot box shall, while empty, be locked by the returning officer and sealed with his seal in such manner as to prevent its being opened without breaking the seal.".|
|Regulation 88 (sealing up of special lists and counterfoils)|
|Regulation 89 (spoilt postal ballot papers)||Omit paragraph (2). In paragraph (3)— (a) omit "or, as the case may be, ballot papers", and (b) omit "(or ballot papers)". In paragraph (5) omit ", and any other postal ballot paper issued with it under Regulation 78 above".|
|Regulation 90 (receipt of covering envelope)|
|Regulation 91(1) and (2) and (4) to (7) (opening of postal voters' ballot box)||In paragraph (4) for the words from "and every such ballot box" to the end substitute "; and every ballot box shall, while empty, be locked by the returning officer and sealed with his seal in such manner as to prevent its being opened without breaking the seal.".|
|Regulation 92 (opening of covering envelopes)|
|Regulation 93 (sealing up of rejected votes and declarations of identity)|
|Regulation 94 (opening of ballot paper envelopes)|
|Regulation 96 (forwarding of documents)||For paragraph (1) substitute— "(1) The returning officer shall, as soon as possible after the Chief Counting Officer for Wales has made the certification required by section 2(7) of the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Act 1997, forward to the Secretary of State—|
|(a) the packets referred to in regulations 88, 89, 93 and 94, endorsing on each packet a description of its contents and the name of the county or county borough for which the returning officer acts, and|
|(b) a statement of the number of postal ballot papers issued by him in such form, and giving such details about the papers, as the Secretary of State may require.".|
|Omit paragraphs (2), (4) and (5).|
§ FORM OF BACK OF BALLOT PAPER: REFERENDUM IN SCOTLAND
§ Referendum: [name of local government area]
§ Note.- The number on the ballot paper is to correspond with that on the counterfoil and is to be printed in small characters.
§ FORM OF BACK OF BALLOT PAPER: REFERENDUM IN WALES
§ *County/County Borough……… *Sir/Bwrdeistref Sirol
§ *Delete whichever is inapplicable
§ *Dileer yr un anaddas
§ Note.- The number on the ballot paper is to correspond with that on the counterfoil and is to be printed in small characters.
§ Sylwer.- Rhaid i'r rhif ar y papur pleidleisio gyfateb â'r rhif ar yr wrthddalen a chael ei argraffu mewn cymeriadau bach.
§ FORM OF GUIDANCE FOR VOTERS: REFERENDUM IN SCOTLAND
§ GUIDANCE FOR VOTERS
§ 1. When you are given ballot papers make sure they are stamped with the official mark.
§ 2. Take the ballot papers to one of the voting compartments and read them carefully. On each ballot paper mark a cross (X) in the box to the right of the proposition you are voting for. Put no other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.
§ 3. Fold each ballot paper in two. Show the official mark to the presiding officer, but do not let anyone see your vote. Put the ballot papers in the ballot box and leave the polling station.
§ 4. If by mistake you spoil a ballot paper, show it to the presiding officer and ask for another one.1394
§ FORM OF GUIDANCE FOR VOTERS: REFERENDUM IN WALES
§ GUIDANCE FOR VOTERS
§ 1. When you are given a ballot paper make sure it is stamped with the official mark.
§ 2. Take the ballot paper to one of the voting compartments and read it carefully. On the ballot paper mark a cross (X) in the box to the right of the proposition you are voting for. Put no other mark on the ballot paper or your vote may not be counted.
§ 3. Fold the ballot paper in two. Show the official mark to the presiding officer, but do not let anyone see your vote. Put the ballot paper in the ballot box and leave the polling station.
§ 4. If by mistake you spoil a ballot paper, show it to the presiding officer and ask for another one.
§ CYFARWYDDYD I BLEIDLEISWYR
§ 1. Pan roir i chi bapur pleidleisio gwnewch yn si r iddo gael ei stampio â'r marc swyddogol.
§ 2. Ewch â'r papur pleidleisio i un o'r cabanau pleidleisio a darllenwch of yn ofalus. Ar y papur pleidleisio rhowch groes (X) yn y blwch i'r dde o'r gosodiad yr ydych yn pleidleisio drosto. Peidiwch â rhoi unrhyw fare arall ar y papur pleidleisio neu fe all na chaiff eich pleidlais ei chyfrif.
§ 3. Plygwch y papur yn ddau. Dangoswch y marc swyddogol i'r swyddog Ilywyddu, and peidiwch â gadael i neb weld eich pleidlais. Rhowch y papur pleidleisio yn y blwch pleidleisiau a mynd allan o'r orsaf bleidleisio.
§ 4. Os bydd i chi drwy gamgymeriad ddifetha eich papur pleidleisio, ewch a'i ddangos i'r swyddog Ilywyddu a gofyn am un arall.
§ CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT: REFERENDUM IN WALES
§ CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT
§ TYSTYSGRIF CYFLOGAETH
§ REFERENDUM / REFFERENDWM
§ *County / County Borough ………*Sir / Bwrdeistref Sirol
§ I certify that (name) ………
§ who is numbered………in the register of electors for the *County / County Borough named above, cannot reasonably be expected to go in person to the polling station allotted to him / her at the referendum on (date of poll) ……… by reason of the particular circumstances of his / her employment on that date for a purpose connected with the referendum—
§ Yr wyf yn tystio nad yw'n rhesymol disgwyl i (enw) ………
§ rhif ……… yng nghofrestr etholwyr y *Sir / Fwrdeistref Sirol a enwyd uchod, fynd yn bersonol i'r orsaf bleidleisio a bennwyd iddo / iddi yn y refferendwm ar (dyddiad y bleidlais) ……… oherwydd amgylchiadau arbennig sy'n gysylltiedig â'i gyflogaeth / chyflogaeth ar y dyddiad hwnnw at ddiben sy'n gysylltiedig â'r refferendwm—
§ as a constable.
§ fel cwnstabl.
§ by me.
§ gennyf fi.
§ Signature / Llofnod………
§ *Returning Officer / Police Officer
§ (Inspector or above).
§ *Swyddog Canlyniadau / Swyddog o'r Heddlu
§ (Arolygydd neu uwch).
§ Date / Dyddiad ………
§ * Delete whichever is inapplicable
§ * Dileer yr un anaddas1395
§ NOTE: The person named above is entitled to vote at any polling station of the above *County / County Borough on production and surrender of this certificate to the presiding officer.
§ NODYN: Y mae gan y person a enwyd uchod hawl i bleidleisio yn unrhyw un o orsafoedd pleidleisio y *Sir / Fwrdeistref Sirol uchod ar ôI dangos a rhoi�r dystysgrif hon i'r swyddog llywyddu.
§ PROXY PAPER: REFERENDUM IN SCOTLAND
§ FRONT OF PAPER
§ REFERENDUM PROXY PAPER
§ Local Government Area………
§ Electoral Ward………
§ Polling District………
§ Name of Proxy………
§ is hereby appointed as proxy for
§ (Name of elector) ………
§ who is qualified to be registered for
§ (Qualifying address) ………
§ to vote for him/her at
§ the referendum on
§ (date) ………
§ Signed……… ………Date
§ Electoral Registration Officer
§ BACK OF PAPER
§ YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE AS PROXY
§ 1. This proxy paper gives you the right to vote as proxy on behalf of the elector whose name is given overleaf.
§ 2. Your appointment as proxy will be for the referendum only. You have the right to vote as proxy only at the referendum specified in the proxy paper.
§ 3. Prior to the elector applying to have you appointed as proxy, you should have been consulted and asked if you were capable of being, and willing to be, appointed as proxy, or you should have signed a statement to the effect that you were capable of being, and were willing to be appointed as proxy. You are capable of being appointed as proxy if you are at least 18 years old on polling day, a British or other Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of any other member state of the European Union, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland and not for any reason disqualified from voting. If for any reason you are not capable of being, or are not willing to be, the proxy please advise the elector, without delay, in order that the elector may cancel the appointment.
§ 4. You may vote as proxy at the polling station allotted to the elector on whose behalf you are appointed. However, you may not vote as proxy at the same referendum for more than two electors of whom you are not the husband, wife, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild. Shortly before polling day you will be sent a proxy poll card telling you where the polling station is. You do not need to take either the poll card or this proxy paper to the polling station but you may find it helpful to do so. You should note that the elector may still vote in person. If ballot papers are issued to the elector at the polling station before you apply there for ballot papers as the proxy, you will not be entitled to vote as the proxy.
§ 5. You may also apply to vote by post as proxy at the referendum if the Electoral Registration Officer is satisfied that you cannot reasonably be expected to vote in person at the elector's polling station.
§ Any application to vote by post as proxy should be made on Form R.P.F. 11 REF (Scotland) which may be obtained from the Electoral Registration Officer. You should note that the Electoral Registration 1396 Officer cannot allow an application to vote by post at the referendum if he receives it after 5.00 p.m. on the eleventh working day before the poll.
§ 6. It is an offence to vote, whether in person or by post, as proxy for some other person if you know that person is subject to a legal incapacity to vote, e.g. if that person has been convicted and is detained in a penal institution in pursuance of his sentence.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is perhaps appropriate that at Report stage we reach the final series of amendments which echo the broadly constructive attitude that has been taken towards the Bill from all sides of the House. We recognise that there are significant differences of view and opinion and they have been fairly reflected as we have progressed through the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, in his normal helpful, positive and supportive manner, suggested at virtually the earliest possible stage, for reasons that were totally altruistic, that the orders through which the referendum would be implemented should be incorporated into the Bill. After mature reflection and a quick consultation with my diary, I similarly came to the view that there was great merit in incorporating the orders in the Bill. This series of amendments is the means by which that is achieved. I shall discuss the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, later. I beg to move.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, Amendment No. 51:
Leave out lines 94 to 96.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I decided that it would be easier on the Minister if I highlighted the three or four issues that I wish to mention in this schedule by tabling probing amendments rather than making a speech of which the Minister has no notice and to which he may not be able to give a substantive reply. There is a huge amount of detail in Amendment No. 50. To follow that detail your Lordships would have to sit in the Library with a copy of the Representation of the People Act.
§ At the risk of repeating myself, I believe that once that exercise is done the reason for my suggesting a referendums Act becomes even more apparent. But I shall not go over that again.
Amendment No. 51 takes out the paragraph which states that,
A counting officer shall, in accordance with any directions given by his Chief Counting Officer, appoint persons to observe the counting of the votes and the verification of the ballot paper accounts".
§ Normally in parliamentary and local government elections, names are suggested by the candidates for the people who will go to the count and verify that the procedure has been undertaken properly. They verify the ballot papers and that the counting has been done properly. The procedures are well rehearsed.
§ There is a limitation on the numbers. The returning officer can take into account the size of the premises available, how many people can reasonably be accommodated, and how many candidates are to be accommodated. It is clear that at general and local elections it is the candidates who nominate or suggest those who can go to the count on their behalf.1397
§ I merely probe this point. From where does the counting officer get his names? We come back to the campaigning organisations. I do not wish to go over all those difficulties. Is that where the counting officer looks for them? Alternatively, does he look to the political parties? Does he require balance between the "Yes" and the "No", given the referendum questions? The issue is more complicated with the two questions, but I shall leave the matter on the principal question, the "Yes" and the "No". Does he require a balance of persons to observe the counting of votes? Those are my points, I hope that the Minister will be able to respond.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, in effect there is little between us in what we wish to achieve. The difficulty is the amendment. If it were accepted, it would make it impossible for anyone to observe the count. I hope that it will therefore be withdrawn.
It is important that the count is observed: that it is open and seen to be fair. On the point about where the chief counting officer and counting officers look for people whom they can approve to attend the count, I am happy to fall back on their judgment. I am sure that there will be people who will seek to attend the count. I am happy to rely on the judgment of the professionals in deciding who will be there.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, as the Minister says, I do not propose to put the amendment to a Division because if I were to win that would result in no observers being present at the count.
I had rather hoped that he would go a little further. I understand that the counting officer may look to Members of Parliament for that area and councillors. But I believe that the counting officer should look for a balance. While I understand that it might be difficult to frame in law, given Pepper v. Hart and other matters, it would have been nice to have received an assurance from the Minister on the record that he would expect the counting officer to look for a balance between the two sides of the proposition when he decides who should be observers at the count.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, it would be quite proper for a counting officer to have in mind the attempt to achieve balance.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for clarifying that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment No. 51, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, Amendment No. 52:Leave out lines 420 to 422.The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment draws attention to the provisions of Rule 20 in the Representation of the People Act 1983. It involves the official mark. As noble Lords who voted recently in local government elections—it is all that we are allowed 1398 to do—will recall, a perforated mark is stamped on the ballot paper when it is handed over. If the ballot paper is not perforated when it turns up eventually at the count, it is not allowed. Indeed, the issue is a matter of dispute in the case of one parliamentary seat at the last election.
On the occasion of the referendum in Scotland, although not in Wales, the people presiding over the polling stations will have to stamp two ballot papers. I believe that that will add to the time taken to vote. It may not seem much, but if every person who votes at a busy time has to have his or her ballot paper stamped not once but twice, inevitably it will increase the time taken. It increases the danger of one or both papers being missed at that busy time. Is it wise to continue with that rule?
That brings me to my more general point. Why do we keep this rule? It may be an issue for wider debate, but I find it hard to understand what the perforation prevents. It may stop someone stealing a wad of ballot papers, filling them in, and popping them secretly into a ballot box somewhere, or somehow putting them on the table at the count when everyone's back is turned. I think that very unlikely. I do not think that anyone would try to steal the ballot papers, as I suggested. If they did, it does not seem to be a much further step to steal the franking machine. Therefore, the proposition appears even more ridiculous. I wonder why we carry on with the process. Have the Government given some consideration to the time taken; and the increased danger that some papers will not be franked?
As noble Lords who have attended counts will know, either because they are involved personally or because they are overlooking someone else's, there is always a small number of papers which for some mysterious reason have not been franked. I have never been able to understand why that happens.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, a noble Lord from a seated position has called out "Winchester". I was trying not to refer to that. But there were a considerable number there which were not franked. It has caused a problem. I do not wish to talk about that. I wish to talk about franking in general and the referendum in particular.
My recollection is that few papers are unfranked. I was always puzzled as to why they are unfranked. However, if there is a suspicion that something really naughty has happened, it is possible to count the number of votes that were scored off in the polling station and run a check. I accept that that might delay the count, but, frankly, one of these days I believe that we shall have to start using electronic means to deal with balloting. We undertake it in a pretty old fashioned way in this modern technological age. If we did so, we should not need the official mark.
As regards the referendum, I should like to hear the Minister's view on the need in Scotland to make the mark on two separate ballot papers, and whether he 1399 shares my slight concern that it may increase the danger of one or other ballot paper being missed at a busy time. I beg to move.
§ Lord Ewing of Kirkford
My Lords, before my noble friend replies, perhaps I may draw his attention to an incident that took place in the elections to the present all-purpose councils in Scotland. In the elections to the Falkirk Council and in the Borders, there were a number of unfranked ballot papers. The defeated candidates petitioned the sheriff court. The sheriff principals in both areas ruled that those elections were null and void because of the number of unfranked ballot papers. That is only two years ago. They ruled that the elections should be held again.
I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, has a serious point about the franking of ballot papers. We all know that if we go into polling stations at 8.30, and the close of the poll is 9 o'clock, there is usually a rush. The polling clerks are inclined to be under some pressure and fail to frank the ballot papers. Therefore we should examine this matter more closely.
I remember from my time as a parliamentary candidate that spoilt ballot papers could throw up some quite hilarious issues. When I was MP for Falkirk and Stirling Boroughs in 1974 a number of papers were spoiled by electors who wrote in referring to my previous occupation as a postman—"that postman from Fife"! The returning officer decided that in cases where the electors had indicated a specific preference for one of the candidates, namely, "that postman from Fife", those should be my votes. My majority was increased by that given number of votes.
To return to the serious point, there have been two recent cases in Scotland, one in Falkirk and one in the Borders, where the sheriff court has been petitioned on the question of unfranked ballot papers. Such cases should be much more closely examined. I suspect that the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, does not wish to press his amendment. However, it is a matter for discussion across the Floor of the House and a matter for much closer examination.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, this has been a useful short debate. I tend to agree with both the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and my noble friend Lord Ewing of Kirkford that even the early technological age has not been evidenced in the way in which we proceed with our electoral arrangements. We are almost back in the time of the quill pen.
There would be a requirement to have some safeguard against forgery at any election. The forging of ballot papers has been a point of debate and dispute historically. It is right and proper that there should be some safeguard against forgery. I have significant doubts as to whether in this day and age the mark is the appropriate method. I do not believe that this particular Bill, at this particular time, is a way to resolve the issue. However, I am sure that if there are sufficient Members of this House and the other place, and sufficient general commentators on the way in which we conduct our 1400 elections, who feel that perhaps the time has arrived for a change, they will not be slow in coming forward. At this stage, in the context of this Bill, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that understanding answer and to the noble Lord, Lord Ewing of Kirkford, for his intervention. The matter requires investigation. It is the responsibility of another place rather than of this House. Nonetheless, the system needs to be examined to see how we can move into the electronic era. I hope the fact that there will be two ballot papers to every person will not present an added problem at busy times, as the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, indicated.
I suppose that the only hope for this proposal is that if, on reflection, the noble Lord's colleagues think it sensible not to retain this particular rule, they could remove it at the final stage of the Bill. There is a small chance that the noble Lord might reflect upon this. If he sees it as presenting a problem for people at the polling stations, he has an opportunity to do something about it next Tuesday. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment No. 52, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, Amendment No. 53:
Leave out lines 469 to 471.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, Rule 31, which I seek to have removed, relates to notification of the requirement of secrecy. Those of your Lordships who have been present at a count or have been polling agents will know that one makes a declaration of secrecy. I recall from the dim and distant past that the declaration of secrecy was taken so seriously at one particular election that people were even discouraged from going out to the toilet in case they relayed some information to the outside world about the progress of the count.
§ Nowadays, we can all see the progress of the count because the television cameras are there, let alone the radio microphones. While I do not believe I have yet seen close-ups of the piles of votes in order—although I have come pretty close to seeing that—certainly people are interviewed during the count and asked how it is going. If they are winning, they try to pretend that they are not smiling too much; if they are losing, they try to pretend that their lips are not turned down. I have experienced both, so I know exactly how it feels.
§ At the last election it was pretty clear to me at every count where the television cameras were present what the result would be before it was declared. It seems ridiculous to ask people to sign a declaration of secrecy and yet allow the media to ride roughshod over rules and procedures established over many years regarding not telling people outside the count the result until the ballot is over and declared. I am pleased to see a number of noble Lords nodding in assent, indicating that they do believe this to be an abuse of the system. I am interested to hear the Government's comments.
§ I have little doubt, given the interest of the Scottish and Welsh media, that there will be television cameras present at the counts in the referendums. There will be 1401 only two piles of votes; there will not even be the complication of, say, a four-way election. It will become pretty obvious to all of us viewing what the result in a particular county is likely to be. That would seem to be a breach of the rules. If the rules are not to be obeyed, I suggest that it is best to change them. I beg to move.
§ Lord Ewing of Kirkford
My Lords, before my noble friend the Minister replies, perhaps I may help him out of what I see as a difficulty in answering this amendment. These are non-political matters for a Speaker's Conference; they are not matters for the Government of the day. Therefore my strong advice to my noble friend is merely to reply that "these are matters for a Speaker's Conference" and then sit down. Then we can all go for dinner.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, these are matters for a Speaker's Conference.
Before sitting down, I shall make one other point. The difficulty with the amendment, as the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, will instantly recognise, is that it removes the requirement for notification of the requirement of secrecy. It does not remove the requirement of secrecy itself. The last redoubt of the scoundrel in Committee and on Report is to take refuge in pointing out the defective drafting of the amendment. In this case I am happy to do so and echo the point made by my noble friend Lord Ewing of Kirkford; namely, that these are matters for a Speaker's Conference.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I rather fear that the quality of the replies has deteriorated again. I appreciate that that is the case. However, this was an opportunity to raise one or two issues. I took the trouble of sitting in the Library and going through this amendment with the appropriate Acts of Parliament in front of me, and it occurred to me that this would be an appropriate point at which to raise this interesting issue, which I believe is exercising other Members of this House and no doubt Members of the other place, especially if they are at the receiving end of a camera thrust into their faces when perhaps they are losing and the last thing they want is to be interviewed while the count is still going on and are busy trying to work out what gracious words they may say in defeat. The candidates who are winning have no such trouble; they are happy to be interviewed. The noble Lord, Lord Ewing, makes a perfectly proper point, but I hope that he and the Minister will not mind me raising the issue as something that is contained in the schedule. I believe that a Speaker's Conference or Parliament will have to return to it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment No. 53, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.45 p.m.
Lord Gray moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, Amendment No. 53A:
Line 488, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 53A, I also wish to speak to Amendment No. 53B which is a necessary adjunct to it and which also stands in my name.
§ The amendments seek to address one unsatisfactory consequence of employing local government electoral rolls for a purpose for which they were not intended. The unsatisfactory consequence is the potential for multiple voting. Unfortunately, I was unable to be in the House on the second day of Committee to move an amendment that I had tabled to Clause 1 dealing with the point. I apologise to noble Lords for having been unavoidably absent. However, I note from the Official Report that the amendment attracted some attention. At col. 332 of Hansard for 3rd July, the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, said, as part of his answer to the amendment, that the matter would be dealt with by an Order in Council applying Section 61 of the Representation of the People legislation.
§ I am grateful to the Minister for the change of heart which has brought the schedule to the Bill. By introducing it, he has obligingly presented me with perhaps a better opportunity to deal with the matter now. Nonetheless, my basic reaction is that it is all very well making something an offence if those who might offend do not know that they are doing so. It would be naïve to suppose that the electorate would seek out and familiarise itself with either the subordinate legislation, which it might have been, or the complicated formula, which is essential to the schedule.
§ Noble Lords will see on page 16 of the Marshalled List, commencing at line 486, that the schedule imports Rule 35 and substitutes for its paragraphs (1) and (2) the forms of question that a presiding officer may put to would-be referendum voters. At line 504, paragraph (2)(b) sets out the question designed to identify a multiple voting attempt. As the schedule stands, the presiding officer does not have to ask any of the relevant questions. My amendment, Amendment No. 53A, by substituting "shall" for "may", will ensure that the relevant questions are asked. Amendment No. 53B is necessary if we make the procedure mandatory.
This is not the first time that the problem has arisen. The solution I offer is not perfect, but at least it is a fair stab at going some way towards meeting it. Multiple voting is, I suggest, almost impossible to police. Confirmation of that view can be found in the Official Report for 12th April 1978, when this House was in Committee on the Scotland Act. Enfranchisement of Peers for assembly elections under that Act must be via the local government roll. In the course of replying to amendments that I moved, the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, for the Government, proposed following the same course as the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, outlined on 3rd July this year. But the noble and learned Lord added, at col. 640 of the Official Report for 12th April 1978:
Thus, we cannot stop Peers voting twice but we can punish them for it".
If the noble and learned Lord had been in his place this afternoon, I should have been tempted to invite him to consider whether, on this occasion, he might have added: "and if we can catch them".
§ Today we are dealing with the electorate at large. Some will receive polling cards in more than one electoral area and there are postal and proxy votes to be considered. Surely we must try to ensure that people do not offend, perhaps through ignorance.
§ I do not know whether the replies to amendments proposed are on an upward curve or a downward curve at the moment in terms of quality and I have no idea how my two amendments will be received. However, if the Minister who is to reply has significant difficulty with my amendments or their wording, perhaps in the course of his answer he will consider giving an undertaking that a statement making the position clear will appear, perhaps on every polling card and in any informatory leaflet which may yet arrive in households. I beg to move.
§ Lord Monson
My Lords, unfortunately my noble friend Lord Molyneaux has just left his place so he will not be able to verify my comments. As I understand it, a well-known maxim in Ulster, particularly in areas controlled by Sinn Fein, is: "Vote early and vote often". The pair of amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Gray, would help to obviate the danger of that malpractice occurring in Scotland. Therefore, I suggest that they should be supported.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I think my noble friend Lord Gray makes a valid point. It is all very well for legislators to say: "You should not vote more than once", but when people get two polling cards, for example, dare I suggest that they may become a little confused and think that they do have the right to vote more than once. After all, they have two polling cards in their hands. That is one of the penalties of having a local government register, but I shall not revisit that argument.
My noble friend has a valid point and he suggests a way of getting round the difficulty. He might even be prepared to accept that the second question in paragraph (2)(b) should be obligatory because that will bring to someone's attention the question: "Have you voted before?", or "Have you voted already in the referendum?". If people have done so because they appear on two registers as a result of the local government problem, they will at least know that they are, in sailing jargon, "sailing into danger". They will then be able to say: "Yes, I have", but they may also say: "But I have two polling cards. Am I not allowed to vote on each of them?". Then the presiding officer can explain. My noble friend has a good point on this.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Gray, explained, Amendments Nos. 53A and 53B deal with the questions that the presiding officer at the polling station may or should ask voters before giving them ballot papers. At elections, presiding officers can ask voters whether they are the person mentioned in the relevant entry in the register and whether the voter has already voted, as the noble Lord explained.
1404 Amendment No. 53A would require the presiding officer at the polling station to put those questions to every voter. At elections, the presiding officer only puts the questions if he believes it necessary or if specifically asked to do so by the candidates or their agents.
Amendment No. 53B is related and requires both the statutory questions to be put rather than "one or both". We believe that it would be better to leave the use of the statutory questions to the presiding officer's discretion. To use them on every occasion would, I am afraid, slow the voting process quite unnecessarily and may well cause problems in the polling station itself. As at normal elections, those questions would be available to be used if and when required, I am not convinced of the power of the argument that has been advanced. I am afraid that I have to ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who have supported me and thank the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, for his answer. I must say that the quality of the answers due to this side of the House is on the downward curve at this moment. It is a disappointing answer. I am not certain that slowing the electoral process is an adequate reason for perhaps condoning an offence. On the other hand, I am certain that the quality of the presiding officers is such that they will do their very best.
At this hour and in these circumstances, I do not think I have much alternative but to withdraw. However, I did not hear any comment on my suggestion that people might be advised of the position via the polling card or something else. If, before I withdraw the amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, would like to interrupt me and comment, I should be grateful.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, the whole range of issues that we have been discussing in the past few moments indicate general disquiet about the present arrangements. If at some future date there were to be a Speaker's Conference, that is clearly one of the issues which could be referred to and dealt with by such a conference.
My Lords, I hope that when the Minister reads the record of the debate and thinks about what I have said as to the undertaking that he might give, he might have second thoughts before a Speaker's Conference. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment No. 53A, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 53B, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, not moved.]
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, Amendment No. 54:
Line 492, leave out ("both") and insert ("more").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, if the House agrees, perhaps we can take Amendments Nos. 54 and 55 together. That will end the series of amendments and 1405 will, no doubt, bring a great deal of pleasure to some noble Lords. It will not bring half as much pleasure to your Lordships as it brings to me, I must say.
§ Amendments Nos. 54 and 55 are on a slightly different issue, although they address the same part of the rules that my noble friend Lord Gray has just discussed. I tabled them partly because, as I have told your Lordships before, I live in the constituency of Glasgow Govan, where a certain number of questions are posed over some of the people who voted. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Monson, drew our attention to the supposed adage about voters in Northern Ireland: "Vote early and vote often".
§ Suppose one intends to impersonate someone and vote in his or her stead, either because one knows that the person is not there and one is safe in doing so or simply because it has been arranged for imaginary people to be registered, their polling cards have been picked up and off one goes. Perhaps I may suggest that, even if the presiding officer asks the two questions, if one is into that kind of villainy, one will say, "Yes, I am the person registered and of course I have not voted anywhere else." So the two questions are rather weak. Therefore, if we are serious about this matter, I have suggested that we ought to give the presiding officer the power to ask a third question; namely, "May I have some verification of your identity?" I make that point very seriously, although I suspect that, having been well guided by his noble friend Lord Ewing, the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, will tell us that this is a matter for a Speaker's Conference.
§ If in fact this becomes a matter for a Speaker's Conference, I shall feel that I have done a reasonably good job for a few minutes this evening. It is a serious problem. People who vote for either imaginary people whom they have registered or other people whom they know to be out of the country and therefore not going to vote represent a much more serious problem than that addressed by franking ballot papers that we discussed a few moments ago. I do not say that many people do it but I am afraid that quite clearly it is done. Everybody who has been involved in elections has the occasional story about it, without much evidence. As I said, it has become a considerable scandal in the constituency of Glasgow Govan. I believe that this amendment would be one of the ways to get round that problem.
§ I should not go quite so far as my noble friend and make the question obligatory on every elector. In many polling stations, especially in rural areas, the presiding officer knows everybody who comes to vote. But in cities that is not the case at all. Therefore, I believe that if the presiding officer had the right to ask the third question, we should put up a blockade to personation which is not put up by questions (2)(a) and (2)(b).
§ Even if the noble Lord cannot accept my amendment, I hope that he will accept the argument that I put forward and suggest to his honourable and right honourable friends in government that, should a Speaker's Conference about electoral matters take place, we should consider this whole question. I do not say 1406 that my solution is perfect but I believe that the right of the presiding officer to ask for evidence inevitably has to come in our elections in the future. I beg to move.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, Amendments Nos. 54 and 55 seek to add a further statutory question which voters can be asked at the polling stations; namely, "May I have some verification of your identity?" I can imagine the response that is likely to be given in some of the polling stations with which I am familiar should an officer of the poll ask that question. But let us leave that matter apart; perhaps I know places which are too rough.
According to the amendment, voters will be invited to show some form of verification. As the noble Lord indicated, we do not have that feature at present in relation to elections, either parliamentary or local. I do not believe that a case can be made that it ought to be introduced specifically for a referendum. I do not think that that was the case made by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay.
In terms of the amendment, if a person could not produce some form of identity, he or she would still be able to vote; the ability to vote is not dependent on being able to produce some form of identity. But I take the general thrust of the amendment. I make nit-picking points.
§ Lord Ewing of Kirkford
My Lords, I ask my noble friend the Minister to forgive my interruption. I am reliably informed that, when the noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, was Minister in the Scottish Office, he was regarded as a lookalike for Robert Redgrave. So, what would happen if he turned up at a polling station with a photograph of Robert Redgrave and, on being asked for some evidence of identity, produced that photograph? What is the purpose of producing evidence of identity? The noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, could produce a Robert Redgrave lookalike!
§ Lord Mackay of Drumadoon
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may seek to save my noble friend some embarrassment. It was not Robert Redgrave for whom he was mistaken but a gentleman by the name of Redford.
§ Lord Sewel
My Lords, the only comment that I feel able to make is that the noble Earl's successor in office would not be mistaken for Robert Redford.
As for the general thrust of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, I fall back on my now well-worked formula, thanks to my noble friend: if there were to be a Speaker's Conference, I am sure that is one of the matters that could be looked at.
§ 8 p.m.
§ Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish
My Lords, I am not sure whether or not that was a sympathetic answer. However, I was making a serious point in relation to questions of impersonation and the fact that in city polling stations it is relatively easy to impersonate because the chance of a presiding officer knowing individuals is remote. That is the evidence which is 1407 reputed to exist in the Glasgow Goven constituency. I say "reputed" because I only know of these matters from newspapers and do not have any knowledge myself, not having gone to the polls on polling day for reasons known to all your Lordships.
It is a serious problem and one day we shall need to consider giving that extra piece of armoury to polling station presiding officers to ensure that people are not voting for people who cannot turn up or imaginary people whom they have arranged to reside at certain addresses on 10th October who receive polling cards. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment No. 54, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 55, as an amendment to Amendment No. 50, not moved.]
The Earl of Balfour
My Lords, in relation to Amendment No. 50 I wish to make a technical point. Perhaps noble Lords would be good enough to turn to the schedule at page 10 of the Second Marshalled List. I should first like to refer to paragraph (g) and then to paragraph (f). Paragraph (g) states,a reference to a person's entitlement as an elector to an absent vote shall be construed as a reference to a person's entitlement to vote by post on his own behalf—fair enough—or to vote by proxy".That seems to me to be a strange way of putting it. Perhaps it should be, "or to appoint somebody else to vote by proxy". I am wondering about that wording.
Paragraph (f) says,a reference to a person voting as an elector shall be construed as a reference to a person voting on his own behalf'.That seems fair enough. I feel that the wording should perhaps be, "or on behalf of another person by proxy". That is my first question. It is a technical one. Will the Minister be good enough to look at that between now and Third Reading?
To save time I shall ask my second question. There is an interesting difference between the elections for the European Parliament and the elections for the Parliament at Westminster or local government elections. For the European parliamentary elections, no polling agents are appointed. That is an interesting difference. Will the referendum be similar to a national election or a European election from the point of view of polling agents? Perhaps the Minister can answer that question.
§ On Question, Amendment No. 50 agreed to.
§ Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 56:
[In the Title]:
Line 5, leave out ("the establishment of').
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.