HC Deb 25 February 2002 vol 380 cc681-2W
38. Norman Baker

To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission if he will set out the Commission's responsibilities in respect of a referendum relating to membership of the euro. [34268]

Mr. Beith

The role of the Commission in the conduct of any national or regional referendum are set out in the Political Parties, Referendums and Elections Act 2000. In summary, the Act provides that broadcasters must have regard to views of the Commission before making any rules with respect to referendum campaign broadcasts; the Commission shall consider the wording of the referendum question; the Commission shall receive declarations from and maintain a register of permitted participants; the Commission may designate one representative campaign organisation for each outcome of a referendum, and provide assistance in the form of grants and the provision of free facilities; the Commission shall ensure compliance with financial controls governing referendum expenditure and donations; the Chairman of the Commission (or his delegate) shall be the Chief Counting Officer for the referendum (except for a referendum held only in Northern Ireland, in which case the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland is the Chief Counting Officer) and shall appoint counting officers in each relevant local government area who will be responsible for certifying the result in that area; and the Commission shall be consulted by the Secretary of State before the making of Orders regulating the conduct of referendums, the Commission shall prepare and publish a report on the administration of referendums.